Explore America’s National Parks through the eyes of a fellow traveler

With 2016 marking the centennial of America’s National Parks, millions of people have traveled to experience these natural gems firsthand. One of these inspired travelers was Paula Galland, a veteran Vantage traveler. Along with four of her adventurous girlfriends, Paula set out to explore several National Parks with Vantage on America’s Treasures: The U.S. National Parks.

Here are a few of our favorite trip highlights from her personal blog Traveling On:


YellowstoneDay 2 – Yellowstone – Old Faithful Snow Lodge
Headed south around Yellowstone Lake and learned the story of the invasive species Lake Trout. These trout are eating the native fish and generally wrecking havoc. In the ’90’s, the park service offered a $10,000 reward for anyone who could tell them who put the Great Lake invasive trout in the lake. Three years ago, the park service discovered they were the culprits. The park service put these trout into some glacial lakes, and fishermen caught them and later released them into Yellowstone Lake after deciding not to cook and eat them. Park service is still trying to figure out how to get rid of them!


Day 4 – Jackson Hole – Snow King Resort
Entered Grand Teton National Park at about 10:30 and made quite a few stops during the day to enjoy the majestic Tetons and to take hundreds of pictures. Had a great lunch at the Jackson Lake Lodge, the ritzy spot in the park with a huge glass wall for Teton viewing. Saw a moose quite a distance away from the beautiful viewing platform outside of the restaurant. Finally found the PJs for the grands I was searching for in a little hotel shop there. Other wildlife of the day included many elk and a fox, which kindly crossed the road right in front of us.

Arrived at the Snow King Lodge late afternoon. This hotel is a little bit out of Jackson at the foot of downhill ski slopes. This is a pretty place to stay, especially for winter downhill skiers as the lift begins at the lodge and most of the slopes end there.

We took a free shuttle into Jackson and dined at Bubba’s, a local BBQ place recommended by Jason, Margie’s son, who had spent two years in Jackson working 10 years ago. It was not a tourist joint and was packed with locals enjoying delicious ribs.


Day 6 – Salt Lake City – Marriott Downtown
Our day began with a performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a unique organization made up of hundreds of volunteers. All are between the ages of 25 and 60 and live within 100 miles of Temple Square so they are able to attend weekly rehearsals and about 75 performances a year. Each Sunday morning they practice to the TV and radio show from 8:30-9 then perform live from 9:30-10. We arrived in time for about 15 minutes of the rehearsal and were lucky enough to be able to see the large screen of the TV camera in front of us. We loved seeing which shot was actually used on the show.


Day 8 – Arches and Monument Valley

Arches notes:

To be an arch, must be 3 feet across at least – landscape arch is the largest at 361 feet – 2,000 documented arches here. Erosion caused by rain, water, wind, and gravity

Slick rock – white smooth rock that is actually petrified.

Thelma and Louise was filmed in this park.

Very green in the park which is not typical – flowers blooming – rain last week

Courthouse Rock – filmed a car commercial on top. Wind picked up so helicopter could not get car and girl down. Had to spend the night.


Day 9 – Monument Valley – Grand Canyon – Yavapai Lodge
My mental alarm woke me up at 5:15 a.m. to be sure to watch the sunrise over the monuments from my bedroom window. I have a great photo of Harriet and me working on one of these patios back in our Georgia Virtual days while on a workation with Bob touring Northern Arizona. I think it was my most scenic work spot ever.


Day 10 – Grand Canyon
Next came the highlight of the trip, so far, our flight over the Grand Canyon. Our 12-passenger plane was piloted by a young female pilot so we all felt very safe. Weather was beautiful with little wind and lots of sunshine and fluffy clouds. The $159 hour-long flight was more than worth the money!


Day 12 – Bryce Canyon
Mr. Bryce settled here in the 1870s to raise cattle. He said of the canyon, “It’s a hell of a place to lose a cow.” Over 200 freeze/thaw cycles each year cause the canyon to be constantly changing. The highest point of our tour was at 9,000 feet. Native Americans were afraid of the canyon because they thought coyote had turned people into hoodoos. Only slightly over 1 million visitors each year – the least-visited of our tour parks due to its remote location. … Our bus stopped half a dozen times after driving to the extreme southern end of the part as we returned to the park entrance. Each view was more breathtaking than the previous one.


You can read more about Paula’s travels by visiting http://pgalland.blogspot.com/.