Author

Kim Hudson

Kim Hudson has 91 articles published.

Tulum Travel Guide

tulum travel guide

Have you ever felt like you were decades too early or 5 years too late for something? Back in April of 2017, we pretended we were college students and decided to go to Tulum for Spring Break. As a child, my family frequently traveled to Mexico for our winter reprieve from the frigid, Alaskan winters. When I was 12, we spent several weeks in the Yucatán Peninsula, visiting all of the hotspots like Cancún, Cozumel, Mérida, Akumal and even the tiny town of Tulum.

Tulum Beach by Ruins

I remember the trip well — mostly for strange illnesses, like when my little brother ate too many beets at the hotel buffet and had 2 days of testing for what we thought was blood in his stool. (Ahem!) Or when my mother was violently sick on the ferry to and from Cozumel. She brought home a lovely souvenir of Hepatitis-A that year that she blames on said ferry ride. I spent a month post-vacation thinking she was going to die, not to mention we all had to get shots to protect us from yellow eyes and tormented livers. Oh the unsaid joys of traveling!

Maladies aside, it was a fantastically fun vacation. I can still visualize the colorful, colonial buildings of Mérida, mostly in vivid hues of pink, yellow and orange. We climbed the massive pyramid in Chichén Itzá (which sadly is no longer allowed.) We took in the ancient astrological observatory and marveled at the terrifying ways in which the Mayans sacrificed themselves. In Akumal, we tried parasailing (quite unsuccessfully) and much to our horror, found ourselves swimming with water snakes. We snorkeled in the turquoise waters off Cozumel and further south into Quintana Roo, we discovered the equally cerulean cenotes and caves underground. Lastly, I vaguely remember driving down to see the ancient ruins of Tulum — but other than that, I have no recollection of anything else there. 

Abarrotes Tulum Town

Fast forward 30 years, when Tulum was on everyone’s radar. This tiny beach town had become a chic, bohemian mecca. It was literally featured on every website, Instagram and magazine I followed. For years, I’d tried to find a way to revisit — perhaps for a yoga retreat or a girls’ trip. But sadly, by the time I made it back, I had already missed the bygone era of Coqui Coqui and other boutique hotels that I’d dreamed about visiting. In 2016, over a dozen hotels and businesses were raided and seized by police over land disputes. Over the course of the next few months, things went from bad to worse and it was clear that the Tulum I had wanted to see was no longer there.

photo (above) by The Selby prior to the raid and (below) after the seizure

Coqui Coqui Hotel Tulum 2017

When we arrived in Spring of 2017, the affected properties were torn down, disfigured and/or covered by reed curtains built by greed and shady politics. Even though the area still reeked of jetset, model-worthy air, I had the sinking feeling that I had missed it at its peak. I have very mixed feelings about Tulum and it’s not just because like my mother, I too, came back from the trip extremely sick for a month. It’s hard to say how Tulum will be rebuilt, but perhaps one day, those devoid spaces will be filled with new, bustling properties and the organic, rustic beginnings will be a distant memory for those that witnessed it at it’s heyday. Now, nearly two years later, I give you a belated, rough guide. Chances are decent that things have changed, but I’m guessing my story remains largely the same.

SAFETY

Let’s get the one thing that tends to come up when visiting Mexico out of the way first… “Is it safe?” Between the property seizures of top hotels, drug cartels, organized crime and corruption — it did make me pause to consider the safety of visiting the area. Generally, I do not allow fear to get in the way of my travels. Instead, I try to be as informed as possible. Warnings were mostly given against traveling into the jungle late at night — which was certainly not on my to-do list! 

That said, I would be remiss to not mention all of the police presence. Literally every mile or so on the main roads, there would be a small building with about 10 heavily armed policemen standing outside. It was hard to know whether we were to stop or keep going, so we would usually slow down and be waved on. Police were also seen all over the roads, driving in blue trucks with about 7 or 8 machine-gunned men in the back. The trucks almost always had their lights flashing and sometimes sirens going, which was very confusing. We would try to pull over so they could pass whenever possible. It was definitely disconcerting to see so many guns and policeman and the children were worried that it meant the whole area was unsafe. But by the end of our trip, we were sort of used to seeing them everywhere and hoped it just meant that there was more protection than none at all.

I had also read about the gas station and car rental scams. Thankfully we managed to escape both of those. But as with any travel, it’s crucial to: pay attention, take videos as proof, watch money transactions carefully and most importantly, don’t look like a target! 

Tulum Beach Ruins // Tulum Travel Guide
TO DO

Beach

Tulum is situated on the Caribbean Sea, complete with warm turquoise water and white sand beaches. We really wanted to relax on this trip and there’s no better way to do that than to park one’s self (or family in my case) on the beach. Despite our condo rental being in town, they had a sister property (Coco Beach Tulum) on the beach that we were able to use.

tulum coco beach club

One major thing I did not find in my research was the seaweed problem in Tulum. Technically known as Sargassum, this macro-algae washes up along the shore and can create quite a nuisance for the ecosystem and travelers alike. The beach was covered 3-4 feet wide in it and it floated all around the water, making it hard to swim or relax near the shore. Hotel properties actually employ people to bury it in the sand all day, which is a temporary bandaid and never-ending work since it continually reappears. It’s also releases a sulfurous smell as it decomposes, that can create yet another unpleasant problem for beach goers. The good news is that it’s not always there. The bad news is that it’s hard to predict when it will bloom. Sadly, it pretty much ruined swimming in the ocean and lying on the sand during our stay. Whereas, the partygoers at the beach club next to us didn’t seem to mind a bit!  

Tulum Seaweed

Tulum Coco Beach Club

Cenotes

If by chance the seaweed is blooming, no worries! There are other bodies of water to swim in — like the infamous and mystical Yucatan cenotes! In case the word seems unfamiliar, they are deep, natural wells or sinkholes from collapsed limestone that leads to a source of freshwater at the bottom. There are many to choose from, all with different and interesting features. In the end, we only made it to 2 cenotes and really only spent time at one because the other (Zacil-Ha) was packed with people. It would’ve been ideal to visit far more and perhaps even go diving in one. The photos below are from Gran Cenote. 

Tulum Gran Cenote

Kaan Luum Lagoon

This was one of the random finds from my travel research. It seemed worth checking out as it was just down the road from where we stayed. Despite reading it was hidden, we had no trouble finding the lagoon. There’s a signpost on the highway, followed by a short drive down a dirt road that ends at a large parking lot. We changed into our bathing suits in the car, paid our entry fee and then followed the trail and boardwalk to the lagoon. There appeared to be more locals there than tourists, which is often appealing — but what really stood out was the aquamarine colored water. I’d read that there were doctor fish (the ones that nibble feet for pedicures), so my teenage daughter refused to get in the water. I never felt anything biting my feet, so I’m not entirely sure if that is fact or fiction. Either way, it was a beautiful location even if it felt like taking a bath with a lot of strangers. 

Kaan Luum Lagoon Tulum

Laguna Kaan Luum Tulum

Tulum Kaan Luum Lagoon

Ruins

On one of our last days, my family wasn’t particularly interested in seeing the Tulum Ruins, so they dropped me off in the parking lot and headed to the beach. Truthfully, these are my favorite kind of travel moments because I can go wherever I want, spend as much time taking photos as I feel like, no one is complaining and I can walk, walk, walk. Pure heaven!

If you’ve ever been to Chichén Itzá, these ruins probably won’t seem too spectacular by comparison. The beauty, however, is in the fact that they are by the sea, which makes them definitely worth visiting in my opinion. I wandered around aimlessly then decided to try to walk the entire length of the beach back to meet my family. Unfortunately, this wasn’t really possible and after a lot of rock scrambling in some hairy areas, I finally had to find my way back to the beach road for a portion. Nonetheless, it was a peaceful and exciting little adventure. 

tulum ruins beach boat

Tulum Ancient Mayan Ruins

tulum flower and buddha

Finally, one of the only things on my list that we didn’t make it to was the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

TO EAT

As most everyone knows, Tulum has become a foodie destination. I had an enormous list of places to eat and we barely touched the surface of it. Number one on the list, which will come as no surprise to anyone, was Hartwood. Thankfully just before our visit, the restaurant started taking reservations. Unfortunately, the only one available was at 8pm — which is late by our standards when traveling with kids. We took it anyway because we had to see if it was worth the hype. Even with a reservation, we still had to wait an additional, painful hour that no amount of cocktails while corralling tired, hungry children could ameliorate. 

Finally, we made our way to a communal table. Despite the pre-meal annoyances, the food and ambience were spectacular. The humble restaurant truly is a feast for the senses. It’s equal parts ancestral, sustainable and farm to table. Lantern-lit and open to the elements, the smell of charred wood and burning copal wafts around the space like a Mayan spirit. Everything we ate seemed to carry the same attentive details; earthy, fresh, simple, clever. It was a meal I won’t forget. 

Tulum Hartwood Restaurant

Other restaurants we tried: Posada Margherita, Casa Banana, La Zebra, Juanita Diavola, Burrito Amor, La Malquerida, Cetli, plus a few we stumbled upon once we were there. There were a handful on my list that we never made it to as well: Gitano, Casa Jaguar, Kitchen Table, Del Cielo, Taqueria Honorio, and Taqueria La Eufemia.

Tulum Posada Margherita

Needless to say, there are plenty of options to choose from both at the beach and back in town.

TO STAY

Finding the perfect lodging takes some serious research. I always spend hours studying locations, reading reviews and travel guides to find the right spot no matter where we are headed. In Tulum, there are a few options; staying on the beach, near the beach, in Tulum town or on the outskirts of town. I looked high and low for a hotel or Airbnb on the beach road but did not find what I was looking for. As usual, most hotels wouldn’t fit our family of 5 and those that could were either out of our budget, did not have electricity, A/C, WIFI or some other element that I was hoping for. There were several large condo complexes that were within walking or biking distance to the beach, but there was something about them that felt too touristy or they had no character. 

In the end, we found a place in Tulum town. It turned out to be the best of both worlds because they had a sister property on the beach that we could use at will. It was a large, 2 story penthouse condo in a quiet, gated, secure location with a pool, jungle views, A/C and all amenities we could ever need. It also gave us a broader sense of the area had we only stayed on the beach road. I would highly recommend it if you happen to be traveling with family. If not, stay by the beach! 

Coco Village (We stayed in one of the Penthouse residences, which I’d highly recommend.)

Calle Kohunlich Mz 22 Lt 2 
Tulum Centro,
Tulum, Quintana Roo
México CP 77780

Coco Beach Residence Tulum Town

GETTING AROUND
We rented a car because we wanted the freedom to travel around at will, which we did quite a bit. I had read several horror stories about car rentals and when I went to book ours, the prices on Expedia were $1-2/day. That seemed very strange to me, so I looked into it. Apparently rental companies like Avis and Hertz are not technically related to their American counterparts, thus their rules are different. Reports claimed that they would charge a fortune for random insurances and cars ended up costing far more than expected. After much deliberation, I decided to go with a local company, Easy Way Rent A Car that had fairly good reviews. The car we got was old and basic but there were no unexpected charges. (I highly recommend videoing any rental before and after using, just in case.)
Please note: A car is certainly not required here. A transfer or taxi from Cancun would be necessary though. Once in Tulum, one could easily get around by foot, bike or taxi. Some of the cenotes will require a taxi or longer bike ride. It’s approximately 5 miles from the beach to the town. We had planned to take day trips to Valladolid and Coba, which would not have been as accessible otherwise. 
tulum beach road south
This is Tulum Beach Road.
THINGS TO NOTE
Last but not least, I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the unpleasantries that come along with visiting this area, namely: no flushing toilet paper down the toilet, unsafe drinking water and Montezuma’s revenge. I didn’t realize that Tulum was like Greece and that we’d have to put used toilet paper in a garbage bin. Apparently all of those travel bloggers I’d read forgot to put that in their guides! I can handle it, but it definitely makes me feel a little paranoid about the cleanliness of everything in general.
Whereas it’s pretty common knowledge to NOT drink water in Mexico, we made the mistake of ordering a cocktail that had ice in it on our last night. And just like my mother, I returned home with one of the worst illnesses of my life. I was sick for nearly a month and despite loads of testing, my doctor couldn’t identify the parasite or bacteria in my system. Without a doubt, it tainted my experience a bit but was also a good reminder how lucky we are to live somewhere with safe drinking water and modern sanitation systems. 
FINAL THOUGHT
I hate to end this extremely long guide on such a sour note, but even with two years of mellowing, I still have mixed feelings about Tulum. There’s no question that I wish I’d gone earlier — when it was at it’s prime. I’m optimistic that it will come back in a new form, but I’m afraid that the truly special artisans and properties I wanted to experience were driven away for good. This was an important reminder for me to not wait too long to visit any places that beckon. And beneath the seaweed, shady politics and likelihood of a foodborne illness — Tulum still has that rustic, free-spirited quality that makes it a unique destination worth visiting.
 
Tulum Travel Guide
tulum travel guide

Simple Marinara

The more time I spend in my kitchen, the more I appreciate the notion that some of the best recipes are the simplest. With only 5 ingredients and a short cooking time, this sauce has become my go-to on school nights or when I’m crunched for time. I’ve made this recipe so much over the past decade, I couldn’t possibly count! Plus, it is the one my children know and love — a comfort food they will forever remember.

Originally discovered in Heidi Swanson’s, Super Natural Cooking, I’ve only marginally adapted her version to suit our tastes; namely adding more garlic and cooking it slightly longer (I think it develops a better flavor that way.) But by all means, it can be ready in 20 minutes! The recipe can also easily be doubled and frozen. I usually serve ours over penne or rigatoni, but it could also become the base of a pizza, layered into a lasagne, or used as a dipping sauce.

Simple Marinara

A quick, 5 ingredient tomato sauce.
Prep Time5 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Sauces
Servings: 3 cups
Author: 180360 (adapted from Super Natural Cooking)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes (or more for spicier sauce)
  • 1/2 head garlic, finely minced (or less if sensitive to garlic)
  • 28oz can organic, crushed tomatoes (do not use diced, pureed or whole)

Instructions

  • Prep all ingredients, including finely mincing the garlic cloves. In a saucepan on medium-low heat, add olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes and garlic. Cook gently for about 5 minutes or until garlic has softened. Do not allow garlic or pepper to burn! Add the can of tomatoes and stir well. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring regularly. (If I have time, I cook mine for at least 30 minutes or more to develop the flavor.) Serve with pasta, use as a pizza or dipping sauce, or freeze for later use.

Modern Mixtape Vol. 25 – Outside Looking In

Hello friends! I’m back with a new Fall/Winter 2018 mixtape for you! Excuse the back to back mixes, but it’s better to have extra music than not enough. Despite all of these grandiose ideas of having SO. MUCH. TIME. once all 3 children were in school, life has had other plans for me. Nevertheless, listening to music helps keep me sane whilst driving to and from school 12 times a day. This particular mix is one of my favorites in awhile. These songs magically fit together and even create an accidental story line. I love it when that happens!

I’m pretty sure I’ve listened to “Bite the Hand” by boygenius and “Pristine” by Snail Mail hundreds of times. Other standouts include Sharon Van Etten’s latest release, “Comeback Kid.” I have to be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of her past music, but I really like the energy behind this new song. Her voice has a PJ Harvey vibe, but the beat and drive are what really get me. It will be interesting to hear the rest of the album once it’s released. I’m also digging some of Mitski’s tracks from her 2018 album, “Be the Cowboy.” I recently heard an interview with her where she said she purposely tries to do the opposite of what fans tell her they like most about her songs. HA! Perhaps that is why she has such a unique sound? There’s something a little bit off in her music and that is exactly what catches my attention. (Please don’t change that, Mitski!)

The Beths, Rubblebucket, Jealous of the Birds, Yves Tumor, The Twilight Sad, and Houses are all new-to-me bands. I haven’t had time to dig further into their albums, but hope to in the future. Lastly, there are groups I am always keeping my eye on for new releases. These would be: Bob Moses, Wild Nothing, Death Cab, Beach House, The Breeders, Kurt Vile, Santigold and Wolf Alice. 

I hope you enjoy this playlist as much as I do!

LISTEN ON SPOTIFY

Modern Mixtape Vol. 25 Tracklist

Heaven Only Knows // Bob Moses
Letting Go // Wild Nothing
I Dreamt We Spoke Again // Death Cab For Cutie
Fruity // Rubblebucket
Bite The Hand // boygenius
Pristine // Snail Mail
Talking Straight // Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
Plastic Skeletons // Jealous of the Birds
Run the Road // Santigold
Fast Talk // Houses
Loading Zones // Kurt Vile
Comeback Kid // Sharon Van Etten
Licking an Orchid // Yves Tumor
Why Didn’t You Stop Me // Mitski
Future Me Hates Me // The Beths
I/m Not Here [Missing Face] // The Twilight Sad
MetaGoth // The Breeders
Don’t Delete The Kisses // Wolf Alice
Lose Your Smile // Beach House

Modern Mixtape Vol. 24 – Between My Fingers

As I was finishing up my Fall Mixtape, I realized that I never posted my Spring/Summer 2018 mixtape. Oops! I suppose it doesn’t matter, since they’re all great songs and many are still on air. In this mix, there are some perennial faves like Beach House, The Breeders (loving their latest album — All Nerve), The Decemberists, The Kills, Rhye, MGMT, Death Cab for Cutie, Twin Shadow, etc. And there are few new players like Starcrawler, Yuno, The Internet. My two favorite songs in this collection are by Destroyer and Allie Crow Buckley.

I was super bummed to miss Destroyer when they played at the Bunkhouse in Las Vegas this summer. And as for Allie Crow Buckley, I love this song soooooo much. At 24, she has such an amazing, soulful sound. Plus, the lyrics to Captive are pretty much perfect. The mix starts out a little more rocking and then ends with an electro vibe. I hope you like it. And if not, I have a new fall mix coming out next week!

LISTEN ON SPOTIFY

Modern Mixtape Vol. 24 Tracklist

1. Wait in the Car // The Breeders
2. Severed // The Decemberists
3. I Love LA // Starcrawler
4. Six Wave Hold-Down // Hot Snakes
5. List of Demands (Reparations) // The Kills
6. Nameless, Faceless // Courtney Barnett
7. Date Night // Father John Misty
8. Captive // Allie Crow Buckley
9. My Enemy // Chvrches
10. Taste // Rhye
11. Me and Michael // MGMT
12. No Going Back // Yuno
13. Roll (Burbank Funk) // The Internet
14. When You’re Wrong // Twin Shadow
15. Gold Rush // Death Cab for Cutie
16. Lemon Glow // Beach House
17. Tinseltown Swimming in Blood // Destroyer

Best Chicken Enchiladas

Food from our childhood evokes such strong emotion, doesn’t it? My mother’s Chicken Enchiladas were one of the staples of my youth — but honestly, they weren’t my favorite. Fast forward twenty years to the point where I started cooking for myself. This was one of the first recipes I tried making on my own. I considered what I didn’t like about them and knew with a little tweaking they could be so much better! Over time, I worked out what I think make these pretty much perfect. Unfortunately, at the time, I eyeballed everything and had to share the recipe verbally with a lot of suggestions. I’ve finally taken the time to figure out the basic measurements. However, I do have a few tips and suggestions to follow.

First, there are some recipes that are worth making in large quantity and this is one of them. I always make at least 2 meals worth (sometimes it turns out to be 3) and I freeze what we won’t be eating right away. There is nothing better than having some fool-proof meals ready to pop in the oven at a moments notice. The amount this recipe makes varies on a few things — size of tortillas, how many pans are used and how full the enchiladas are filled. The good news is, the recipe is quite forgiving and flexible. Second, I’ve tried many different varieties of chicken, but this is the one I keep coming back to. Yes, you could use a rotisserie chicken, but I found the meat to be drier and stringier than the large diced breast meat. You could also swap the breasts for thighs, but they weren’t quite meaty enough for me. I’ve seen my mom use canned and pre-cooked, packaged chicken (ACK!) but that completely makes my head spin. Whatever you do, don’t do that! Poaching the chicken in salsa is simple and gives a nice, subtle flavor.

Lastly, I realize these are not exactly traditional. Enchiladas are supposed to be made with corn tortillas but I prefer to use flour for these. I’d call this “American-Mexican” comfort food at it’s finest. All I know is, they are the number one thing my children and husband request I make.

Best Chicken Enchiladas
Print
Ingredients
  1. 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  2. 1 jar of salsa (I always use Frontera Foods)
  3. 5 cups of grated cheddar cheese
  4. 3 containers of whole milk sour cream (16 oz/ea)
  5. 2 cans diced green chiles, drained (4 oz/ea)
  6. 1/2 can of cream of mushroom soup (optional)
  7. 1 TBL milk
  8. Freshly ground pepper
  9. Olive (or other vegetable) oil
  10. Flour Tortillas (approx 12-15 medium sized ones)
Instructions
  1. Place the chicken breasts in a large sauté pan. Pour the salsa over the chicken and make sure to coat all of the pieces evenly. Cover with a lid and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes (flipping them over halfway through.) Don't worry if the chicken isn't fully cooked through. It should be close, but definitely don't overcook it. Remove the chicken from the pan and set on a cutting board. Heat the remaining salsa in pan on high until substantially thickened and reduced. Once chicken has cooled enough to touch, slice it into bite-sized cubes and place in a large bowl. Pour the reduced salsa over the top.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine 2.5 containers of sour cream, the canned chiles (drain first), the mushroom soup mix (if using) and 3.5 cups of grated cheddar cheese. (These amounts are quite flexible. I usually just wing the ingredients in and stir until it feels right. It should be quite thick.) Mix well and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 375º F, if cooking right away.
  4. Now here's where it gets a little tricky; figure out which pans you want to use and what size your tortillas are. *See note below.
  5. Line up your baking dishes, place a little bit of oil in the bottom of the first one. Rub it around to coat the bottom and sides of the dish, so the enchiladas do not stick. Grab a tortilla, fill it with a 2" wide line of chicken all the way down the center of the tortilla, then spread the cream mixture over the top, following the line. They will look nearly equal in size, with perhaps a tiny bit more chicken than cream. Set the tortilla down in the pan and roll it up tightly, flipping to place the seam side down in the dish. I leave the ends of mine open. Repeat until the baking dish is full. Keep making more enchiladas and filling up other pans until you run out of chicken. Now, there should be extra cream mixture left over. If not, throw a little sour cream and cheese into the bowl. Add a splash of milk to the mixture to thin it out. It should be fairly runny. Pour this over the top of all of the enchiladas, then using a spatula spread it around. It shouldn't be a huge amount, just enough to lightly cover a little bit of every enchilada. Then sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese over the top. Finally, I like to add some freshly ground black pepper for a little extra seasoning and color.
  6. If eating right away, bake in the oven for approximately 45 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown on top. These can also be made in advance and left in the fridge for a few hours. I personally like to freeze anything that won't be eaten that day. I cover the extra pans with plastic wrap, then a layer of foil. They can be cooked straight from frozen. It will likely take a few extra minutes, or if you can remember, take them out a little earlier to defrost prior to cooking.
  7. I like to serve mine with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, Cholula, salsa, and a side of refried beans. But they are just fine on their own, too!
Notes
  1. TORTILLAS: I've tried all different kinds of tortillas, from the "Traditional" Whole Foods brand, to the Flame Cooked ones at Trader Joes, to the "Traditional" Trader Joe's variety, to the Indian Life from WF, to most recently, the Siete Grain-free Brand Almond and Cassava flour variety. They are all different sizes and thickness, so it will change the amount of enchiladas you get in the end. The key is to pick whatever tortilla you like the taste of most.
  2. BAKING DISHES: I generally start with one 13x9x2 Pyrex, then fill a couple of smaller pans that I will freeze. Sometimes I do two 13x9x2 (and freeze one of them). Other times, I'll do a mix of 3 different baking dishes of varying size. It can be nice to occasionally make smaller portions for when I only need a couple of enchiladas. You want the enchiladas to fit snugly together, so it may take a few tries to get it right for your pan and how many are needed at one time.
180360 https://www.180360.com/

Poaching + Assembled

 

North to Alaska Roadtrip: One Day in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is one of those places I’d heard about my entire life but really had no idea what to expect. I did know that it is most certainly not a park to visit in one day! It truly deserves days and probably multiple visits to really experience it correctly. However, we knew going into this trip we’d have to make do with our brief stay and luckily, picking the top places we’d see was fairly easy. First, we had to stop at the most famous geyser in the world, Old Faithful, and then, we’d swing by the other-worldly and technicolor Grand Prismatic Spring. 

We drove up from Jackson Hole via the scenic route on US-191, giving us more of the park to see. As we were there in July, the traffic definitely wasn’t ideal. However, the slowness allowed us more time to look out the window. After a quick picnic lunch, we went to the geyser area. 

Highway to Yellowstone

I have to admit that I had no idea that Yellowstone contains the majority of the world’s geysers and the largest concentration in one area! In the Old Faithful area alone, there are multiple geysers to view. Prior to the eruption, we checked out the Old Faithful Inn, the Visitor Center, some of the other geysers and grabbed some ice cream to eat on the boardwalk. Sure, it was all a bit touristy, but also one of those things everyone should probably experience once!


Geothermal pools and springs along the boardwalk

Good Old Faithful


Old Faithful Erupting

After visiting the Upper Geyser Basin, we continued along the road to our next stop, the Grand Prismatic Spring. I had seen photos of this on Instagram and it looked incredible. The parking area but was full, so we parked along the road. Although I would’ve preferred to do the Fairy Falls Trail hike that overlooks this area, my children weren’t feeling up for it. Instead, we simply hiked straight to it from the road, which is a dead easy walk over a bridge and to a boardwalk. I carried our littlest one in the Ergo because I was worried he might be tempted to dive into the steamy, colorful pools. Despite not getting the best photo op from above, I’m so glad we saw it. It’s such an incredible wonder of the world!

180360_Yellowstone_FireholeRiver

180360_Yellowstone_River

180360_Yellowstone_GP

180360_Yellowstone_ExcelsiorGeyser2

180360_Yellowstone_ExcelsiorGeyser3

180360_Yellowstone_GPLines

180360_Yellowstone_GrandPrismatic_2

180360_Yellowstone_GrandPrismatic1

180360_Yellowstone_GrandPrismatic_6

180360_Yellowstone_GrandPrismaticKids

180360_Yellowstone_GrandPrismatic_Tourist

Finally, we got back in the car and headed to our hotel in West Yellowstone. This was one of the places that was well-booked in advance, so we didn’t have many options. The Days Inn hotel was our least favorite on the trip, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. Honestly, nothing looked too spectacular in this small town. We walked down for a casual pizza dinner at the Wild West Pizzeria, came outside to a beautiful double rainbow and then called it a night.


Definitely not taking anything from this hotel. HA!
 

Up next– Day 4: Yellowstone to Glacier National Park

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