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Destinations

An American escape: The Weekly's guide to Yellowstone

Between bear-spotting, waffle-eating and hiking, The Weekly discover an American escape far from the Big Apple. Here's our guide to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

By Emily Brooks
Packed to the rafters. Over fifty people sit, filling aisle after aisle. Their mouths all move in unison as a hymn bounces off the walls at The Chapel of Transfiguration, which has been standing tall since 1925.
But we’re not at a Sunday service.
It’s 11am on a Tuesday and our tour guide, Jesse, has bounded through the chapel where a group of tourists sat in silence - taking in the history and the views.
“Do you all know the words to Amazing Grace?”
And it begins. Welcome to America; the land of plenty.
But we’re also far from the concrete jungle where dreams are made of, and La-La Land, and America’s playground.
Behind Jesse stands a cross, and behind the cross sit the Cathedral Group of Tetons - the highest peaks in Grand Teton National Park - an expanse covering more than 1000 square kilometres in the US state of Wyoming.
Euphoric views of baby blues line the mountain range which is home to over 300 kilometres of trails. The park is a playground of a different kind, for hikers, wildlife lovers and anyone wanting to find respite in a tranquil escape.
In a ten minute drive you'll find yourself at Jackson Hole. Visitors trade in their hiking boots for skis and snowboards for some fun on the slopes in the winter. At the bottom of the slopes lies Teton Village - home to good food, good wine and a heap of Après-ski fun.
And there’s more, still. In a two and a half hour drive you'll be at Yellowstone National Park. Home to 40 huge waterfalls, pristine lakes and steaming geysers, it’s a welcome sight to the curious eye. And like Grand Teton, it’s home to a lot of wildlife too. Bears, elk, wolves, moose, and bison. A lot of bison.
The rolling landscapes and bewildering mountainside are part of the United States you’re unlikely to have visited. But for the curious and energetic it’s a trip worth the extra flight.
So how do you get there? We’ve got you covered.
How to get there
Yellowstone National Park is about a two hour drive from Billings Logan International Airport in Montana. There are also smaller airports closer to the park in Cody, Wyoming and Bozeman, Montana.
Hire a car at any of the gateway cities to travel between the parks and through them at your own pace. If you feel like a scenic drive, start your trip at Salt Lake City, Utah, for a five hour road trip to Yellowstone passing through the Grand Teton National Park.
Stay
For a luxurious stay between hikes through Grand Teton National Park or skiing at Jackson Hole, stay at Hotel Terra or the Teton Mountain Lodge in Teton Village.
In Yellowstone, embrace the outdoors at one of the 12 campgrounds around the national park (which all provide showers and flushing toilets) or find respite at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins or Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins.
See
To see the best of both the parks, hiring a car is a must. Not to be missed is the Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone which erupts every 35 to 120 minutes (hence the name) along with hikes including Avalanche Peak, Delacy Creek Trail, and - for the experienced hiker - Uncle Tom’s Trail to see waterfalls like no other.
There are also day tours through Yellowstone including Yellowstone Safari Tours and Buffalo Bus Tours to guide you through the history of the parks and ensure you don’t miss the best of the wildlife.
Take the time in Jackson Hole to the ride the aerial tram up to top of the mountain for panoramic views and devilishly delicious waffles. And back in Teton Village pop in to Spur Restaurant for a meal or a few drinks after a day on the slopes.

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