Travel

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556)

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556) | Alaina Ann Photography Finding myself above the tree line, enjoying near and distant waterfalls, unexpected rainbows and bears scurrying across the road all made Caribou-Targhee National Forest a memorable stop on my around the country road trip. An absolutely fantastic place.

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Grand Targhee Ski Area - all the expected snow activities during winter, with festivals, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding during warmer months. Plus amazing views of Grand Teton.
  2. Lower Mesa Falls - a more distant view of the waterfall, from above the tree line.
  3. Minnetonka Cave - nine rooms over the course of a half mile. The cave is open during summer months.
  4. Teton Scenic Byway - 69 mile scenic drive, with the Teton Mountain Range in clear view.
  5. Upper Mesa Falls - enjoy an easy boardwalk trail located at the top of the waterfall.

Tell me all about your favorites in Caribou-Targhee National Forest!

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Caribou-Targhee National Forest | Travel (112 and 113/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556)

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography My apologies for falling off the travel blog post wagon. Life has been a bit hectic the last few weeks since arriving home. Happily settling back into normalcy :)

Grand Teton National Park is an area I am happy to explore again and again. My third visit was spectacular, filled with stunning light, bears popping up everywhere, elk crossing the Snake River, dramatic clouds, cool temperatures and endless landscape goodness.

My top list of places to explore remains the same. Stop by my first blog post for more details.

Here are my recent favorite captures from this beautiful corner of Wyoming.

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Grand Teton National Park | Travel (111/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Bridger-Teton National Forest | Travel (109 and 110/556)

Bridger-Teton National Forest | Travel (109 and 110/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) The Bridger-Teton National Forest, although considered separate national forests, will be shared together. They intertwine beautifully across 3.4 million acres of land.

I covered ground here after leaving Yellowstone National Park and driving along the beautiful John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway.

Bridger-Teton National Forest | Travel (109 and 110/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Big Rocks Trail - two mile, moderate hike, through an old growth forest with large boulders waiting for you along the way to the top.
  2. Big Spring Scenic Backway - oh how I love a scenic road. This drive offers 68 miles of mountains, wildlife and valley goodness.
  3. Bridger Wilderness - located in the Wind River Mountains with more than 600 miles of trails. Loads of options for exploring!
  4. Gros Ventre Wilderness - a beautiful area called home to larger wildlife, including bison, elk, grizzlies, wolves and mountain lions.
  5. Teton Wilderness - located in the southern portion of Yellowstone National Park, be sure to stop in for a hike before heading south on the Parkway and into Grand Teton National Park.

What are your favorite hikes and places to explore in the Bridger-Teton National Forest?

Bridger-Teton National Forest | Travel (109 and 110/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Bridger-Teton National Forest | Travel (109 and 110/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway | Travel (108/556)

John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway | Travel (108/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) The John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway connects Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. The drive is beautiful, as you might expect.

Worthwhile stops while driving between the two parks include Flagg Ranch and Glassy Lake Road.

Enjoy the stunning views while moving out of one great national park, into the next.

Yellowstone National Park | Travel (107/556)

Yellowstone National Park | Travel (107/556) | Alaina Ann Photography Visiting Yellowstone National Park is always a treat. My time exploring was low-key and familiar since this was visit number five. Highlights included bison everywhere (as usual), steamy and colorful geysers and beautiful rivers.

As in any national park unit, national forest, wilderness area and the like, be sure to read signs and follow regulations. For your safety as well as protection of wildlife and the surrounding ecosystem.

Yellowstone National Park | Travel (107/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Lamar Valley - always a great place to see wildlife. Bison, bears and bighorn sheep are always my favorites in this area.
  2. Madison River - while driving toward the West Entrance of the park, the meandering Madison River is always a beautiful and peaceful stop.
  3. Midway Geyser Basin - contains two of Yellowstone's largest hydrothermal features, including the Grand Prismatic Spring.
  4. Upper Terrace Drive - a beautiful drive around thermal features, near Mammoth Hot Springs.
  5. West Thumb Geyser Basin - the largest geyser basin located on the shores of Yellowstone Lake. I walk the boardwalks here during every visit!

What are some of your favorite hikes and places to explore in Yellowstone National Park?

Yellowstone National Park | Travel (107/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Yellowstone National Park | Travel (107/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Shoshone National Forest | Travel (106/556)

Shoshone National Forest | Travel (106/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) Similar to Bighorn National Forest, Shoshone National Forest is another favorite to drive through on my way into Yellowstone National Park (from the east). With 2.4 million acres of land, there are many opportunities for exploring this beautiful portion of Wyoming!

Shoshone National Forest | Travel (106/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness - this wilderness area spans across the Montana and Wyoming border, features two mountains (Absaroka and Beartooth), hundreds of lakes, grasshopper glaciers, deep valleys and endless, rugged exploring.
  2. Cody - a great western, cowboy town in Wyoming. Also the location for the national forest Supervisor's Office.
  3. Kirwin - a historic mining town on the Wood River.
  4. Popo Agie Falls - a 3 mile round-trip hike with about 700 feet in elevation gain to the falls. Some people ride the falls down to the pool below. I am not one of those people!
  5. Stough Creek Basin Trail - a strenuous 16.2 mile hike offering access to a large alpine lake basin.

What are your favorite hikes and places to explore in Shoshone National Forest?

Shoshone National Forest | Travel (106/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area | Travel (105/556)

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area | Travel (105/556) | Alaina Ann Photography Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area covers ground (and water) in both Wyoming and Montana. And I must say, the extra drive to Devils Canyon Overlook in Montana is well worth your time.

Wildfire smoke was blowing in during my entire visit. Pops of blue sky showed up enough to make capturing photographs enjoyable.

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area | Travel (105/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Black Canyon - the sandstone cliffs rising high above the lake are absolutely stunning.
  2. Devils Canyon Overlook - the views are spectacular. Looking straight down, hundreds of feet, is sure to make your jaw drop a bit.
  3. Ewing-Snell Ranch - on of four historic ranches, once a gold mining location.
  4. Horseshoe Bend Marina - perfect spot for setting out on Bighorn Lake.
  5. Yellowtail Dam - the visitor center and viewing area are open each year from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

What are your favorite spots to visit in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area?

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area | Travel (105/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area | Travel (105/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area | Travel (105/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Bighorn National Forest | Travel (104/556)

Bighorn National Forest | Travel (104/556) | Alaina Ann Photography I love driving through Bighorn National Forest on my way to Yellowstone National Park, if entering from the east. Wildfire season was in full force and the landscape was more brown than green during my drive. Still quite beautiful to me.

Everyone I know who has driven through saw a moose EVERY time. Naturally, I have never seen one.

Bighorn National Forest | Travel (104/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Bighorn Scenic Byway - a 45 mile stretch of US Hwy 14 offering scenic valley views.
  2. Cloud Peak Wilderness - named after the tallest peak in the national forest, covered in snow most of the year. This wilderness area has over 189,000 acres of land.
  3. Cloud Peak Skyway - another 45 mile scenic drive, this one along US Hwy 16. Enjoy the southern Bighorn Mountains and distant mountain views along the way.
  4. Shell Creek Trail - a 5.2 mile hike along Shell Creek, through meadows and eventually reaching the boundary of the Cloud Peak Wilderness.
  5. Shell Falls - this waterfall along Shell Creek pours over granite. Also the site of the visitor center for the national forest.

What are your favorite hikes and places to explore in Bighorn National Forest?

Bighorn National Forest | Travel (104/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Bighorn National Forest | Travel (104/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument | Travel (103/556)

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument | Travel (103/556) | Alaina Ann Photography The most striking part of Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is the tombstones, placed where the soldier died during the battle. You will come across on single tombstone, small clusters and a large cemetery.

The Auto Tour is highly recommended to see the entire park. And the drive through the open horse range is stunning, briefly taking you away from the somberness.

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument | Travel (103/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument | Travel (103/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Custer National Forest | Travel (102/556)

Custer National Forest | Travel (102/556) | Alaina Ann Photography While traveling in South Dakota, I visited one of the Custer National Forest areas, separate from the main area in Montana. Roaming bison, antelope and scenic landscapes filled my time in the national forest. Sadly, I have no explanation for my complete lack of photographs from visiting.

I have included hikes and places from both the Montana and South Dakota regions below.

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Beartooth Scenic Byway - this 68 mile drive is claimed as one of America's most beautiful highways. The road is closed during winter when snow takes over.
  2. Capitol Rock - stunning butte standing tall in the prairie.
  3. Diamond Butte Lookout - open for reservations during non active fire months. This rustic cabin is on top of a 30 foot tower, offering amazing views.
  4. Historic Main Boulder Ranger Station - one of the oldest facilities still standing in the Forest Service System.
  5. Palisade Falls Trailhead - an easy half mile trail with views of Palisade Falls.

Tell me all about your favorite places to visit and explore in the comments below!

Devils Tower National Monument | Travel (101/556)

Devils Tower National Monument | Travel (101/556) | Alaina Ann Photography While driving into Wyoming, the sky was filled with residual smoke from surrounding wildfires. These photographs come from a hazy afternoon exploring Devils Tower National Monument.

Devils Tower National Monument | Travel (101/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Joyner Ridge Trail - this 1.5 mile loop is set back from Devils Tower, offering a more distant view and generally quieter experience.
  2. Red Beds Trail - a 2.8 mile large loop around Devils Tower.
  3. South Side Trail - an .6 mile walk through Prairie Dog Town.
  4. Tower Trail - a 1.3 mile trail along the base of Devils Tower.
  5. Valley View Trail - this .6 mile trail takes you along the Belle Fourche River.

Tell me all about your favorite hikes and places to explore in the comments below!

Devils Tower National Monument | Travel (101/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Devils Tower National Monument | Travel (101/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Devils Tower National Monument | Travel (101/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Devils Tower National Monument | Travel (101/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Jewel Cave National Monument | Travel (100/556)

Jewel Cave National Monument | Travel (100/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) Similar to other national park units with caves on this trip, I skipped the underground adventures in Jewel Cave National Monument. Maybe another day. They are, however, at the top of my list for folks who love stepping below the ground you walked in on!

Jewel Cave National Monument | Travel (100/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Cave Tours - choose between the Scenic Tour, Historic Lantern Tour, Discovery Talk or a Wild Caving Tour.
  2. Canyons Trail - a 3.5 mile rough trail, each way. Takes you into Lithograph Canyon and Hell Canyon.
  3. Hell Canyon Trail - a 5.5 mile moderate trail, through Jewel Cave National Monument and Black Hills National Forest. Views of limestone cliffs and Hell Canyon are along the way.
  4. Historic Area - open only during summer months, get a glimpse of the original ranger station.
  5. Roof Trail - easy quarter mile trail with canyon and forest overlooks.

Tell me all about your favorite experiences from Jewel Cave National Monument in the comments below!

Jewel Cave National Monument | Travel (100/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Badlands National Park | Travel (99/556)

Badlands National Park | Travel (99/556) | Alaina Ann Photography Over a decade went by between visits to Badlands National Park. I knew my arrival would be greeted with wonder, fresh eyes and amazement. During my first evening and morning in the park, storms were rolling in and out. The dynamic blue sky served as a stunning contrast to the badlands and areas with green grass and vegetation.

There's no way I will wait another ten years before my next visit!

Badlands National Park | Travel (99/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Badlands Loop Road - driving through the entire park on the loop road is a great way to see diverse badlands, stunning overlooks and enjoy short hikes.
  2. Big Badlands Overlook - my number one spot for sunrise.
  3. Castle Trail - a moderate, 10 mile hike passing through badlands formations.
  4. Saddle Pass - a short, strenuous quarter mile trail climbs up Badlands Wall offering a vantage point above the White River Valley.
  5. Yellow Mounds - the colors in this region are absolutely breathtaking.

Tell me all about your favorite hikes and places to explore, in the comments below!

Badlands National Park | Travel (99/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Badlands National Park | Travel (99/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Badlands National Park | Travel (99/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Badlands National Park | Travel (99/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Badlands National Park | Travel (99/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Badlands National Park | Travel (99/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site | Travel (98/556)

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site | Travel (98/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) Minuteman Missile National Historic Site is conveniently located to Badlands National Park. If you find yourself in the area and have an interest in Cold War history, I highly recommend stopping in at the visitor center.

During my visit, the mock-ups for the final visitor center exhibits were in place and an educational video was available in the auditorium.

Guided tours are available at the Launch Control Facility Delta-01 with a park ranger and Missile Silo Delta-09 by cell phone.

Black Hills National Forest | Travel (97/556)

Black Hills National Forest | Travel (97/556) | Alaina Ann Photography My first drive through Black Hills National Forest was in 2013, while visiting Mount Rushmore. It was a rainy, low fog morning and the views were spectacular. My favorite moment, of course, was meeting this mountain goat :)

Visiting last year came with more warmth and sunshine. Perfect for hiking and exploring new areas in the forest.

Black Hills National Forest | Travel (97/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Black Elk Wilderness - the only wilderness area in the national forest, said to be sacred to many American Indians.
  2. Gold Mountain Mine - the only gold mining site left in the national forest.
  3. Harney Point Overlook - the highest point in the United States, east of the Rockies.
  4. Old Baldy Trail - a 5.7 mile loop, with a short spur to the summit of Old Baldy Mountain.
  5. Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway - the best byway in the national forest for seeing waterfalls. The limestone canyon walls are also stunning.

Would love to hear about your favorite spots in Black Hills National Forest, in the comments below!