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February 3, 2021

Traveling during the Pandemic: How to stay safe when traveling & traveling tips – Salt Lake to the Grand Tetons to Yellowstone to Glacier NP Road Trip

After last year’s rollercoaster, we still can’t find an end to the pandemic and many traveling plans saw a sad fate before even starting. Canceled flights, blocked frontiers, and restricted parks did their fair share of sabotage to scare any potential adventurer away.  One of the most valuable things I have learned during the pandemic was the appreciation of our own backyards.  I live in the US, so yeah, our backyard is pretty huge and there is so much to explore.  I’ve done quite a bit of exploring but before covid, I never got to explore the incredible Wyoming, Idaho and Montana areas of this country.  And man, I am so glad and grateful for that opportunity this year.

Despite the pandemic’s refusal to die out, we still can find many ways to travel around and enjoy safely. So brace yourself because if you want to know how to stay safe when traveling, this is the right place.

As I traveled during the pandemic to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, I have a few traveling tips to stay safe while traveling cheaply. So let’s start our potential journey to the Glacier National park and Grand Tetons national park with traveling tips to fly safely.

How to stay safe while flying?

The most important traveling tips during the pandemic start with how to stay safe on an airplane. This is because the first step of our journey is taking a flight to enjoy National Parks like:

  • The Glacier National Park.
  • The Grand Tetons Park.

So you can book a cheap flight and be there the same day. For my travel, I picked Delta and spent only about $170 from LAX to Salt Lake City and from Spokane to LAX. I chose Delta for the obvious reasons – They have less people on the plane.  At this moment, as I’m writing this, Delta still does not book that middle seat on the plane which means less people, which also means, more room, less covid threats, etc… etc…. not to mention More room?! Did I say that already— yes, I did.  It was really nice.  Thank you Delta Airlines for trying to keep us safe.

The one way Car Rental was $846 without gas. This for a pick-up in Salt Lake and a drop-off in Spokane.  Kind of pricey but I didn’t want to do a roundtrip back to Salt Lake City.  I wanted to make it convenient to fly out of Spokane, Idaho.  You can certainly do the roundtrip which would cost cheaper both for flights and for car rentals, but you’re going to add a lot more mileage and perhaps less days exploring the parks.  These were major reasons for me as to why I chose to make it a one way trip!  Worth it, in my opinion.

Another thing to consider is the cost of the entrance fees to Glacier, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons.  It might be worth it to get the annual park pass at this point especially if you are passing through multiple parks.

For each park, the fee is $35 per vehicle/$30 for motorcycle

A NPS America the Beautiful Card which is valid for a whole year is $80

I’d say definitely get that Annual Card but y’all have to make your own decisions

That said, for our safe traveling tips you should:

  • Pick up a date that is one or two weeks before or after the “Good Seasons” to avoid the crowds.
  • Take your COVID test before and after your travel.
  • Try to book a flight that is not so popular.
  • Keep your distance as much as possible.
  • Keep on your mask.
  • Avoid touching anything unnecessary.
  • Clean your hands with sanitizer if you have to touch anything.

I know, I know. You are tired of hearing about safety measures. But do keep in mind that these can, and in many cases will, make the difference between a great experience and a fiasco.

First off, my favorite National Park was the Grand Tetons.  Why?  Because of the space!!! We went to the nearby Yellowstone NP but it was like Disneyland.  Maybe this is an unpopular opinion but I actually spent a day and half in the park and rushed through it than initially planned because of the sheer amount of traffic and people.  If there was any place you could get Coronavirus, this is it.  So we ended up cutting the trip.

This is how our trip went:

Salt Lake City to Salt Lake (gotta touch the lake at least) to the Grand Tetons to Yellowstone to Glacier National Park to Spokane, Idaho

Today, we are going to highlight the two parks that were my favorites.

Grand Tetons National Park: Traveling Tips and best Hikes

Now if you are more into crystalline waters than snowy mountains, the Grand Tetons National Park is your best shot. With waters clear enough to mirror the mountains and the perfect rides in a kayak the Grand Tetons National Park will certainly keep you entertained.

Traveling Tips: Where to Stay

To enjoy the Grand Tetons National Park take into account that you may need to wake up quite early. I am talking about 4 to 5 AM only to grab a spot. We got one at Colter Bay and by 6 AM the line was HUGE.

Colter Bay Village has great showers, a store, and food places. Besides, it is also near the kayaking dock so I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Now, if you want Jenny Lake, you better stay overnight or prepare to go at 1 AM and wait out the ranger. This isn’t a joke.

Traveling Tips: Check our Favorite Hikes

Camping is not the only thing you can do at the Grand Tetons National Park. As I like hikes quite a bit, these two are my preferred ones:

Delta Lake: DIFFICULT BE PREPARED IT’S SLIPPERY – The Delta Lake Trail is a beautiful but strenuous hike.  You start the trail at Lupine Meadows.  TIP!  ARRIVE EARLY.  PARKING IS LIMITED and you might have to add an extra mile or so for parking if you don’t get there early enough.  The first part of this hike starts off on the main trail that goes to Ampitheater but then leads off to the right on a separate off trail.  This may be hard to find as there are tons of trails that go off to other locations so highly, highly suggest you download “ALL TRAILS” so you can see exactly which trail you need to take because I was definitely confused.  I managed to find someone who had the all trails app and we all went together.  That’s what’s nice about hiking, you end up meeting some incredible people.  When you turn off the trail, it quickly becomes less leveled and the trail descends and ascends a few times pretty quickly.  Then you reach a few rock fields that you have to scramble over.  This takes some time as it takes some route finding skills.  Again, asking other hikers where the trail always helps!

After several rock fields, the trail goes straight up!  BE CAREFUL.  This is very slippery.  A slipped a few times because the terrain is loose.  What’s scary about this trail is the last part of it because the terrain goes straight up.  At the top, we ran into a teenage girl with her dad who had sprained her leg at the top of this very loose and steep trail.  Please heed the warning and take your time.

The Stats:
Trail Difficulty Rating: Strenuous 
Trail Miles: 8.8 miles (out and back)
Trail Location: Lupine Meadows
Elevation Gain: 2,329 ft

String Lake to Leigh Lake:  EASY TRAIL BUT NOT BORING – If you feel like taking it easy, this hiking trail is your best choice. With less than 4 miles and an elevation that tops at about 50 feet, this walk is among the easiest in the Parks. However, easy does not mean boring as the hike still has wondrous views for you to discover.  Also, if you do go in the summer, taking a dip in these crystal waters isn’t a bad idea.

The Stats:

Trail Difficulty Rating: Very Easy  
Trail Miles: .9 miles
Trail Location: String Lake
Elevation Gain:  6 feet
Downside: The easier the trail, the more people.  Be prepared. However, the later you go in the afternoon, the less people I found in the farther areas and there was no one at Leigh Lake at all.

 

 

Glacier National Park: Traveling Tips and Favorite Hikes

Done with our safety traveling tips, let’s begin checking the first candidate for one fun yet worth it escapade. I am talking about nothing less than the Glacier National Park, standing proud just below Canada and featuring some of the most beautiful natural views.

Now, it is true that with the ongoing pandemic I found about half of the Glacier National Park closed. However! Do not get discouraged because I still enjoyed more than enough hikes to get tired in the open parts of the park.

Traveling Tips: Check beforehand the places to stay in Glacier National Park

While Glacier National Park is a beautiful place, full of great hikes and spots to camp, even with the pandemic you need to book your campsite in advance. Getting a good spot is usually hard enough but with the restricted areas, the amount of campsites is even more limited right now.

However, if you can’t get a spot in the park, there are still plenty of options in the neighboring areas.  We ended up at West Glacier Motel.

Traveling Tips: Best Hikes in Glacier National Park

Once you find a place to stay, the next step is picking up your hikes. In my experience, these two are if not the best, at least among the top ones.

Piegan Pass: I recommend this hike for young couples in search of a quiet place to enjoy some quality time. That is because, while the hike will take you through some beautiful landscapes, the hiking on itself is still somewhat demanding. Nevertheless, you can take it easy and enjoy the views at your leisure. Who knows? You may even find some company on your walk!

The Stats:

Trail Difficulty Rating: Strenuous
Trail Miles: 12.4 miles Approx. (out and back)
Trail Location: Siyeh Bend
Funny thing that happened on Piegen pass:
IT WAS REALLY, REALLY WINDY.  My hat almost flew off a few times at the actual pass area.  HOLD ON TO YOUR HAT if you have one because it will actually fly away. LOL!

 

Highline trail: With plenty of snowy peaks and gorgeous scenery, the Highline trail can take your breath away. A word of caution though, the hike elevation can also take your breath! So if you pick this trail you should brace yourself and prepare properly.

This hike is very popular so be prepared to wear your mask up until the pass, walking in single file, but once you get past the first pass, you will have less people next to you.  We weren’t able to do the entire thing because I actually hiked this trail with a broken metatarsal so we only went a little bit past the first pass. 15.2 miles for the loop was too much for a broken bone. However, I highly recommend even doing a short portion of this amazing hike if you can’t do the whole loop.  If you can handle the long 15.2 miles, I’d say go for it!  The views of the glacier are supposed to be amazing.  Precaution though, you need a ride to get to back to Logan pass if you do the whole loop so make sure you prepare for that.  During pre-covid, you were able to arrange to take the shuttle, but now you have to have another personal vehicle take you back up to Logan pass as you pop out at “The Loop”

Another good tip!  If you want parking, you better come real early.  There were only a few spots left at Logan pass at 6:30AM when we arrived.

Regardless of how far you take it, your reward? The perfect spot for a romantic picture and long-lasting memories.

The Stats:

Trail Difficulty Rating: VERY Strenuous
Trail Miles: 15.2 Miles (Loop)
Elevation Gain 1920
Highest Elevation: 7280 Feet

Stay in Touch for more Traveling Tips!

That’s it for today fellas, but if you want to know more about hikes like those in the Glacier National Park or Grand Tetons Park, do stay in touch. Because we are going to keep bringing more traveling tips and safe traveling tips during the pandemic.

Feel free to leave me your comments, ideas, and opinions or sharing this article with your friends. Till next time!

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