Portland to Yellowstone and Back Again – A Two-week Itinerary

Many of you who read the blog and follow us on Instagram will know we have just returned from an epic two-week USA road trip in which we went from Portland to Yellowstone and back again. It was 11 months in the planning, from Portland to Yellowstone, and came around rather quickly after we moved to Portugal. Before we knew it, we were getting ready to go.

I have so much to write up about our trip. From amazingly beautiful Yellowstone, to smoky Montana, to hip and trendy Portland, we packed in a lot over our two weeks. I’ve had some people ask me about our itinerary so I thought I should get cracking with it. So, in the first of a few (ok, maybe many) posts about our wonderful trip, here is what our itinerary for our two-week trip looks like from Portland to Yellowstone and back again, with 36 hours in London.

portland to yellowstone

Portugal to London – Thursday, 1000 miles, 2 hours 30 minutes

When we booked our flights to Portland from Heathrow last October, we were still well and truly living in Wales. Delta Airways had just opened their new (and the only) direct route from Heathrow to Portland, in association with Virgin Atlantic. This made a huge difference to how our trip was going to work out. When we had previously looked into the trip, we would have had at least one, if not two stop-overs. With a toddler in tow, this would not have been ideal. But a direct flight most definitely was.

That said, once we moved to Portugal, we needed to book flights to and from the UK to connect with our Portland flight. The only airline flying to Heathrow from Faro around the weekend of our trip was British Airways. We flew to Heathrow on the Thursday evening (there were no other flights before our Portland one), two days before our flight to Portland. This flight was just under two and a half hours. Following this, we had 36 hours in London and we had a great day in London. More on that to come.

portland to yellowstone - kid on luggage in airport
Starting our epic trip

London to Portland – Saturday, 4897 miles, 10 hours

Our flight from Heathrow to Portland with Delta Airways left London at 12.30pm and was scheduled to be 10 hours 55 minutes, arriving at 3.15pm local time. We actually arrived ahead of schedule at 2.30pm. This is the longest flight we have done with our son to date and it was us adults who were getting bored long before he was.

Portland, Oregon to Richland, Washington – Saturday, 227 miles, 3 hours

Our first destination on our road trip was going to be Yellowstone but to drive there in one trip would have involved between 762 and 829 miles, and a minimum of 12 to 13 hours driving, without stops, depending on the route we decided to take. You can either go over the top of the Nez Perce Clearwater National Forest or around the bottom of the Sawtooth National Forest. We had a look on Google Maps and saw nice roads around the Nez Perce route, so opted for that.

But with our son in tow, we decided to break up the driving by stopping at a town called Richland, in Washington state, for an overnight stay before driving the rest of the way to Island Park close to Yellowstone. So, after picking up our Hertz car for the two-weeks, hubby drove us to Richland via I-84 and the very beautiful Columbia Gorge Creek.

Richland, Washington to Island Park, Idaho – Sunday, 607 miles, 12 hours

From Richland we made our way to our AirBnB accommodation in Island Park, Idaho, located 30 minutes from the West Yellowstone entrance. We had looked into staying within Yellowstone itself but this proved to be outside our budget.

Leaving our hotel at 6am, our route took us along some stunning scenery past Coeur D’Alene, along I-90, until we turned off onto US-287. From there we met up with I-20, just south of West Yellowstone and it was a short hop to Island Park where our log cabin was located. This was a long haul and we stopped four times along the way, twice to fill up with gas (as the Americans would say), once to stretch our legs, and once in Missoula for lunch. It took us a total of 12 hours to drive the 607 miles. Our drive from Santander to Tavira, when we moved to Portugal, was good practice for this trip.

Yellowstone – Sunday evening to Friday morning

We spent 5 nights in our AirBnB wood cabin and toured Yellowstone National Park over four days. Although we didn’t get to see absolutely everything, we came away from our visit thoroughly content with what we did see. Our son did not complain once during the trip, as you have a lot of driving around the park to do. We got to see some stunning natural wonders along with quite a few of the animal inhabitants of Yellowstone. I cannot recommend Yellowstone National Park enough.

my sunday photo - gibbon falls in yellowstone national park
Gibbon Falls, Yellowstone National Park

Island Park, Idaho to Lolo, Montana – Friday, 280 miles, 4 hours 30 minutes

Leaving our AirBnB accommodation in Island Park at 9.30am, we took I-20 to US-287. We stopped once to fill up and use the toilet and, taking I-90, we arrived at Missoula, Montana, the main town beside Lolo at 2pm. Since we arrived early and before our check-in time for our next AirBnb, we stopped for lunch at a great Five Guys in Missoula.

This drive back was not as clear as the drive towards Island Park. We later discovered that a lot of Montana’s forests were on fire and the smoke we drove through was pretty awful, reducing visibility quite a bit.

Lolo and Missoula, Montana – Friday evening to Monday morning

We spent 3 nights in Lolo, the next town over from Missoula. Our plans were to visit Lolo National Forest while we were there but unfortunately those plans went by the wayside as there were wild fires across Lolo National Forest, along with many of the other forests in Montana. So, instead, we discovered some other delights close to Lolo like the National Bison Range, the Garden of 1000 Buddhas, and Missoula town itself.

portland to yellowstone - smoky skies in Montana
The incredible smoky skies in Montana

Lolo, Montana to Richland, Washington – Monday, 350 miles, 6 hours

As we made our way back towards Portland, we had another overnight stay in Richland planned. Leaving our AirBnB accommodation in Lolo by 9.30am, we travelled back along I-90, through 350 miles of smoke haze, which had various degrees of visbility, until we arrived in Richland at 4pm, local time. We had crossed a time zone when we left Montana.

We filled up just once on this trip and stopped once for lunch in a town called Spokane. I drove the first 230 miles, while hubby did the last 120 miles. We passed Coeur D’Alene again but could barely see this beautiful lake due to the smoke haze.

Richland, Washington to Portland, Oregon – Tuesday, 227 miles, 5 hours 30 minutes

We left our hotel in Richland at 9.30am but didn’t arrive at our accommodation in Portland until 3pm. The reason for this was the forest around Multnomah Falls and along the Columbia Gorge Creek had gone up in flames on the Sunday, and as a result, I-84 was closed. This meant we were diverted around Mount Hood, adding a couple of hours onto our journey.

Our intent was to visit Multnomah Falls on our way to Portland as I really wanted to photograph it, but that never happened. We filled up once on this trip and stopped for lunch off Highway 35 for lunch. Our final long leg of driving had come to an end.

Portland, Oregon – Tuesday afternoon to Saturday afternoon

We spent four nights in Portland and thoroughly enjoyed our break from driving. We visited a few places where our son could relax and enjoy himself like Oregon Zoo and the Children’s Museum. It was nice to have a chance to relax after an epic 11 days, 3000 miles and 60+ hours in the car. We did a little shopping, ate good food and got ourselves ready for our return trip to Portugal via London.

portland to yellowstone - trendy Portland building right out of Grimm
Hip and trendy Portland

Portland, Oregon to London Heathrow – Saturday, 4914 miles, 8 hours 42 minutes

As always, on the return trip from America, we had a good tailwind, so our original flight time of 9 hours 55 minutes was a lot quicker and we got to Heathrow ahead of schedule. I managed a few hours’ sleep, along with our son, but hubby never manages more than a few minutes on planes. It was a pretty uneventful flight.

London to Portugal – Sunday, 1000 miles, 2 hours 15 minutes

We had a few hours to kill in Heathrow between flights, so once we got rid of our bags we had lunch and did a little shopping before our flight to Faro was called. Unfortunately, we were delayed by almost 2 hours as they couldn’t get a passenger with a broken leg off the aircraft. Not what we wanted at the end of our holiday, all we wanted was to get home to our beds.

portland to yellowstone

So, there you have it, our full itinerary for our recent USA road trip from Portugal to London, to Portland to Yellowstone, and back again. We covered a lot of miles, both in the car and by plane, and we’d do it all again. That said, if we were to do it all again, the only thing we would change would be the time of year we go.

Due to wild fires in many of the forests in the Pacific North West, we didn’t get to visit Lolo National Park or Multnomah Falls. We also drove through 600 miles of smoke haze from Montana all the way to Portland and had it until our very last day in Portland itself. We’d perhaps choose to go earlier in the summer before it gets hot, and dry, enough for wild fires. Other than that, we wouldn’t change a thing.

Have you done an epic road trip similar to this? I’d love to hear all about it!

Cath x

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39/52 My Sunday Photo: 24/09/2017

On our last evening in Yellowstone National Park, we went to the Wild West Cookout, which was brilliant. On the way back to our accommodation outside Yellowstone, we took a drive along the River Drive on the way towards the West Yellowstone gate. It was getting late and the sun had set but the scenery and colours along the river drive were amazing. It was the most fitting end to our trip to the most amazing place we’ve had the privilege of visiting.
my sunday photo - amazing sunset colours along the River Drive in Yellowstone National Park my sunday photo - amazing sunset colours along the River Drive in Yellowstone National Park - panoramic view
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Be In The Picture 8

As mentioned last month, I am falling behind big time with getting this post done at the beginning of each month. That said, we were travelling in America so I’ll use that excuse this month. Either way, here is August’s post. And wow, what a month it was. We had a quiet start to the month but ended on a huge high in Yellowstone National Park. I’ve managed a few rather nice captures in front of the camera with BattleKid.

We didn’t do much at in the first half of the month. We took this picture of BattleKid and I for a post Cathryn of Cardiff Mummy Says. She was writing about parents twinning and this was me and BattleKid, rockin our blue tees and awesome Toms shoes.

Be in the picture 8 - Mum and son laughing in the garden

BattleKid and I also had a fun evening on the couch and I managed this picture of the two of us. He was happy, I was happy (despite the crazy hair) and it even got featured in a roundup of #showyouwerethere by Madeline of This Glorious Life.

be in the picture 8 mu and son with happy faces on the sofa

August here in Portugal has been hot, hot, hot but we did manage one evening at the beach, which was long overdue. BattleKid loved every minute as he always does and we enjoyed some time together at the shore paddling together. That was before he started jumping waves with BattleDad.

be in the picture 8 - Mum and son holiday hands at the beach

Before we hit America we had 36 hours in London and we decided to have a family day out while we were there. We visited the London Eye, saw the fish of SeaLife and even went dragon hunting at the Tower of London. This picture was taken on Embankment Bridge as we made our way from Southbank to the Tower of London.

be in the picture 8 - mu and son at Embankment Bridge in London

After our fun-filled day in London we flew to America to start a wonderful two-week road trip and it started in wonderful Yellowstone National Park. From geysers to bison to waterfalls, we saw so much and enjoyed every minute of our four days in this stunning place. What a way to end August!

be in the picture 8 - mu and son smiling while waiting for Old Faithful to go off
Happy smiles while waiting for Old Faithful to erupt
be in the picture 8 - mum and son on the Fishing bridge of Yellowstone River
A quiet moment on the Fishing Bridge of Yellowstone River
be in the picture 8 - mum and son watching a herd of bison in Yellowstone
Checking out a small herd of bison in Yellowstone
be in the picture 8 - mum and son beside Gibbon Falls in Yellowstone
An early morning visit to Gibbon Falls in Yellowstone, one of the many waterfalls in the park

 

If you didn’t catch July’s Be in the Picture post, why not check it out. Our USA trip didn’t end there and some of the pictures in September’s post will come from the rest of our trip. So pop back next month to see those!

Initiated by Kerry of Kerry Louise Norris and Alana of Baby Holiday, Be in the Picture encourages us to get in front of the camera instead of always being behind it. I’m guilty of this and by joining in with Be in the Picture, it ensures BattleKid will have pictures of me as well of himself when he grows up.

Our Visit to Yellowstone – Planning Part 1 of Our USA Road Trip

BattleDad and I have wanted to make a visit to Yellowstone ever since seeing the 3-part BBC documentary. It just looked like the most wonderful place to visit, full of wildlife and earth’s raw power. I can’t quite believe it was broadcast in 2009. We’ve watched it a few times since, and each time our desire to go to that part of the world just got stronger. I’ve mentioned this desire before on the blog.

visit to yellowstone
Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone – Picture Source

When BattleKid came along we knew we wanted to share our visit to Yellowstone with him but we became very torn. Do we go and just take lots of pictures for him to look back on when he’s older? Or do we wait until he is older so that he can remember the trip? We also wondered if we did the trip while he was young, would it be something he would do himself in years to come, therefore helping with some of the guilt we might feel at doing this trip of a lifetime while he was too young to remember it.

By last October, our patience ran out and we decided just to book it. We felt a little guilty as BattleKid will be three and a half and will most likely not remember the trip but we really wanted to go. We started by looking into flights. Originally we planned to fly to either Billings, Bozeman or Yellowstone airport itself, all via Salt Lake City, and hire a car there. We then wanted to drop the car off at Portland Airport as we would be combining our visit to Yellowstone with Portland.

However, when considering the car hire option we saw quotes of over $4000. That is just crazy money. To take that option would mean our transport costs would be well over $7000. That was our budget well and truly blown. So, we started again and found that car hire from and to Portland airport, for a big 4×4 RV car, was $1000 for two weeks. This was a bit more reasonable and so we took the decision to fly in and out of Portland and drive to Yellowstone.

I should point out that we are not doing the entire 860-mile drive from Portland Airport to Yellowstone in one go. Once we arrive into Portland, we’ll drive 220 miles to a place called Richland in Washington state near the Columbia River. We are staying overnight before then doing the 600-mile drive from Richland to Island Park, in Idaho, which is where we are staying. Our recent drive from Santander to Southern Portugal will have been good practice for us for a full day in the car. It’ll be a long day but worth it in the end. We had considered staying within Yellowstone itself but it was crazy money. 

Instead of staying in Yellowstone itself, we managed to secure a fabulous looking log cabin in the woods, through AirBnB, just outside a town called Island Park. This town is just a 30-minute drive to West Yellowstone. This base is ideally located for us and we might even see some wildlife from the cabin. We are staying there for 5 days before we slowly make our way back to Portland via Missoula and Richland again. The first two days of our USA road trip will be long and tiring but I am looking forward to our visit to Yellowstone.

With flights, car and accommodation all sorted, I started investigating what we should see and do in Yellowstone, beside the famous Old Faithful geyser. I asked a few travel Facebook groups I’m in for their recommendations. We got a varied response and here are what we’ve been recommended for our visit to Yellowstone.

Recommendations for our visit to Yellowstone

An ice cream at Mammoth Hot SpringsMammoth Hot Springs, located some 76 miles from Island Park in the North of Yellowstone National Park, is apparently a great place to watch elk parading while enjoying an ice cream. There is also a visitor’s centre and Fort Yellowstone is also located at Mammoth Springs. You can walk on boardwalks above the thermal spring features or drive around the travertine terraces, amazing looking terraces formed from limestone. I think this is a must-do area for our visit to Yellowstone.

The Boiling River – The Boiling River is only a few miles north of Mammoth Hot Springs, it is a Hydrothermal feature, popular for seasonal bathing, where a hot spring flows into a cold river water. It is one of the few legal areas within Yellowstone that is suitable for people to bath in; the river itself, not the spring. That said, it is not always open, there is no lifeguard on duty at any time, currents can be very strong and disease-causing bacteria thrive in the warm waters and there is only one toilet. While this would have been a nice idea to do during our visit to Yellowstone, I think we might give this a miss. I don’t fancy any of us getting ill just a few days into a two-week USA road trip.

Old West Dinner Cookout – This dining experience within Yellowstone was recommended to us and it is one we are seriously considering. Leaving from Roosevelt Lodge within Yellowstone itself, you travel for 30-45 minutes by traditional canvas wagon to the cookout area where you will find the cookout site serving steaks and traditional sides. As the experience starts at dusk it is one of the best places around the Roosevelt area to see wildlife. The only drawback is the 2-hour drive back from Roosevelt to our accommodation at Island Park.

The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Centre – This wildlife park and education centre is located just outside Yellowstone at the West entrance, just 30 minutes from Island Park. The Centre is home to both grizzly bears and grey wolves, who unfortunately cannot live in the wild. The centre offers visitors to Yellowstone a unique chance to see these creatures who act as ambassadors for their wild counterparts within the park. As we will be passing through West Yellowstone to enter the National Park itself, we will definitely be visiting this centre!

Bear World – This drive-thru wildlife park is located south of Island Park, about a 55-minute drive, in a town called Rexburg near the Jackson or Teton Gate of Yellowstone National Park. You have a chance to see Mountain Elk, Bison, various Deer, Mountain Goats, Moose and both Black and Grizzly Bears. It also boasts a petting zoo, amusement rides and bottle-feeding experiences with the keepers. I think we will be taking time to visit here too.

Other recommendations for our visit to Yellowstone

Running Bear Pancake House – This eatery located in West Yellowstone has been recommended to us for breakfast. As we will be passing through West Yellowstone most days on our way into the National Park, I think we’ll definitely try this place out. I have suggested to BattleDad that we eat here on our first morning and if it’s good, we’ll eat there most mornings on our way into the park.

Jackson Lake Lodge – Located in Grand Tetons within Yellowstone, this hotel has been recommended to us for either breakfast or lunch. It is quite a drive from where we are staying in Island Park, so we may only go there if we are nearby one day.

To save money, buy groceries before going into the park – One person recommended we buy our groceries and lunch before going into Yellowstone as everything inside the park is very expensive. We are expecting the worst and so our plan it to eat breakfast outside the park if we don’t cook ourselves. Then on our first day we’ll try somewhere inside for lunch, and if it is extortionate then we’ll do as this person has suggested. But I do think lunch near Old Faithful is a given really. I’ll report back on the cost of things inside the park in forthcoming posts after our visit to Yellowstone.

Homemade pies made from scratch – While looking at the Bear World website I stumbled across a recomendation on their site for a place called Frontier Pies in Rexburg. They make and serve homemade pies of all sorts and I think we might just stop for pie there. I quite fancy the sound of the Jumbleberry Pie or the Lemon Meringue Pie.

All of this, alongside things like Old Faithful Geyser, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Mystic Falls, is going to make for a jam-packed few days during our visit to Yellowstone. And this is just the start of our USA road trip. From Yellowstone, we head to Missoula and Lolo National Park. Then we plan to drive along part of The Dalles Shamrock Tour on our way back to Richland, before we head for Portland. While in Portland we want to take a day to drive along part of the famous 101, the Pacific Coast Highway.

So, our Yellowstone Bucket List looks a bit like this.

visit to yellowstone

Come back after our visit to Yellowstone to see if we managed to tick them all off.

Cath x

visit to yellowstone visit to yellowstone

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Holiday Diaries 2017

By now all my readers know that we are a wanderlust family and 2017 is shaping up nicely in terms of holidays. 2016 was a good year for time away as a family and with friends and this year is going to be no different.

This year I would like to take BattleKid home to Ireland for his first ever Saint Patrick’s Day. However, that’s not going to happen as I didn’t realise it’s Ireland’s game of the Six Nations against England and it just happens to be in Dublin. So as you can imagine the price of flights for that weekend has sky-rocketed. Instead, I have decided to take BattleKid home the weekend before to visit family and maybe visit somewhere nice (and maybe scenic) while we’re there. Plus Mum needs to get a shopping trip in tsome point too!

Soon after that it will be Easter and we have a trip to Portugal to visit my Mum and Dad’s new home near Tavira, where BattleKid and I went to last Easter and which I blogged about in the Portugal Diaries. I’m so happy my folks have finally found a place for their retirement and we are more than happy to have it as a place for some holidays. Even better that BattleKid gets to see his grandparents in the process too!portugal day2

In June we were supposed to be heading to our first ever festival, the Wychwood Festival. I read about this when Kerry of Kerry Louise Norris was lucky enough to attend last year. Her post set me thinking and very soon after reading her review I booked our tickets. However, due to personal circumstances we have had to postpone it until next year. Luckily the operator allowed us to defer our tickets rather than lose them as they are non-refundable which I thought was very kind of them. So June 2018 it’ll be! BattleDad and I have never been to a festival, can you believe that, and so we are really looking forward to it.

After a long wait during the summer our trip of a lifetime will soon be looming. We are doing a two week road trip in America next September, starting and ending in Portland, Oregon. We will be spending five days exploring Yellowstone National Park. Soon after we will be visiting Lolo National Forest. As soon as I found out there was a forest with the same name as my Dad, albeit a nickname of his, I knew I had to visit it. And to find it so close to Yellowstone and en-route to and from Portland was a bonus.  I’ve blogged about wanting to visit Yellowstone before and we had considered waiting until BattleKid was old enough to remember it but we just bit the bullet last October and booked it. Sometimes you just need to be spontaneous!

BattleDad wants to take a drive down part of the Pacific Coast Highway from Portland so that will be a day trip for us. There is also an amazing waterfall 30 minutes drive from Portland, the Multnomah Falls, that I definitely want to photograph. So it’s easy to see why this is going to be the trip of a lifetime for us. It’ll be a busy two weeks but I’m hoping we come away with great memories alongside some awesome pictures. I’m just not looking forward to the 11 hour plane journey to and from Portland with a three and a half year old.

Multnomah Falls

In October we have another trip to Bluestone planned with our friends who we go there with. It’s a mid-week visit this time and I cannot wait. October seems like such a long time away though! We will most likely visit Folly Farm while there and perhaps a few castles in West Wales we don’t get to visit due to the distance.

Then sometime before Christmas we are intending to visit Euro Disney with W and S (of the Bluestone Diaries) with their 2 children who will be just turning one and just turned three. BattleKid won’t be far off his fourth birthday so we felt that this year in November or December it would be the right time to bring him to Euro Disney for the first time. We invited W and S and they jumped at the chance. Both families are looking forward to it and we will also take a day or two to go into Paris as it’s been a few years since BattleDad and I last visited Paris and I need my fix, haha.

So 2017 isn’t looking too shabby when it comes to holidays for the Battle Family. It’s always nice to start the new year with something to look forward to and I think we can safely say we’ve got things to look forward to. What are your holiday plans for 2017?

Cath x

*Updated 19/03/2017
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