Welcome back to the second part of my travel tales. Along with visiting the big metropolitan cities, I also planned my expedition through some adventurous places as well as some quieter towns of the United States. Stay tuned while I share my trip along the West Coast.
Yellowstone, Wyoming, Montana & Idaho: Tree-mendous Amount of Isolation
I had heard of Yellowstone to be the most beautiful national park of the United States, and so I planned a camping voyage to the Yellowstone National Park in September 2020. I flew down to Salt Lake City and then started the road trip to get to Idaho via Wyoming. The drive was smooth, but you cannot expect very many coffee stops or eateries on your way. The phone signals would drop gradually, and indeed you would get an experience of isolation amidst dense forests.
We reached the park around midnight, and with the help of car and phone lights, we were able to set up our tents. It was super cold due to the high elevation, and I felt the sleeping bags did not help much. So, make sure you have quite a few cozy blankets or jackets to save yourself from the chill. The howling of wolves and the shrieks of bison would be a familiar sound while you sleep in the dense campgrounds.
The next few days we spent cooking our meals by the little stove that we took along, and then we also hiked along the beautiful Grand Prismatic and Old Faithful. The look of all the geysers at Yellowstone is just so surreal. Don’t miss the huckleberry ice cream at Teton Mountain Park.
The Tetons stand tall with their alluring aura that is sure to leave you wonderstruck when you drive along their path. In Jackson Hole, the gondola ride and the mountain-top cappuccino were such a delight.
This trip was not very easy though. You only plan it if you can eat cold food, tolerate extreme cold weather, don’t fear the wild, and stay without Wi-Fi or cellular service. The best time to visit Yellowstone National Park and its suburbs is mid-April through September. The month of September captures the most beautiful fall colors when you drive along the roads of Wyoming and Idaho. Just make sure you have a good playlist ready with all the country songs to enjoy the vibe.
Las Vegas, Nevada: Casinos Amidst Death Valley
Las Vegas is a very famous city in the west coast of the United States and it’s known for its epic party scenes, luxurious hotels, amazing year-round weather and, of course, gambling in each corner. From the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign to the unique theme-based casinos on a four-and-a-half-mile strip, from world class cuisines, to spectacular Fremont views, from Bellagio Fountains to the fantastic road shows, this area is competitive with the enormous attractions it offers.
You can get a room anywhere from $30-$600. It all works around your budget, but don’t forget that all the casinos hold an additional resort fee that adds to the cost. You can fly down to Vegas or you could do a Death Valley road trip by car, but it entirely depends on where you are traveling from. The city has a great connectivity through the city bus that goes along the whole strip and also covers most nearby locations. The bus ride is cheap, and it takes you anywhere and everywhere.
Vegas is mostly hot, but it’s more expensive in the summer. To me, the ideal time of visit would be July through November. Don’t forget that the Hoover Dam, Mt. Charleston, and the Seven Magic Mountains are just about an hour drive away and are definitely worth not missing.
Salt Lake City, Utah: Moon-Textured Land on Earth
Sprawling over the snow-capped Wasatch Mountains, Salt Lake City is “just big enough” with wide open streets, great public transport, amazing restaurants, and the cutest coffee shop corners. Three Pines Coffee on the Main St. has the most amazing matcha latte that is worth giving a shot.
While moving around the city you would hardly find any traffic. The famous Temple Square showcases many Mormon pioneers in service. The Ensign Peak is a 0.9-mile hike and gives you a panoramic view of the entire city.
Park City, home to the 2002 Winter Olympics, has an amazing look of its own with a marketplace that has an array of handcrafted embellishments, bars, lounges, and other eateries. It was such a delight to walk down this Victorian-style street and shop for some exclusive souvenirs.
The city is great for hikes and soothing drives, and undoubtedly Bryce Canyon National Park can’t be missed. The Salt Flats are exclusive in themselves. It feels like a huge surface of the moon with salt clusters looking like craters. I drove, ran, jumped, and even danced on this surface, and it felt just so open and breathtaking. This is one ideal site for some great drone shots. The trip summed up with the sunset at the Salt Flats which is one of my favorite views ever. The best time to visit Salt Lake City is between July through October.
Travel when you can. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a trip has to be long to be worth it. This is one of the rare periods of your life where you will have a lot of control over your schedule. It may feel like you don’t have much time to travel, but the truth is you have way more flexibility with a student schedule than with a 9-5 and a set amount of vacation days. Find ways to travel efficiently. Use your weekends, holidays, school breaks, and other free time well. Take advantage of long breaks like winter and summer vacations while you have them — they won’t exist once you graduate.
Also, one of the toughest parts of traveling as a college student is budget. For this, plan well in advance. Planning with friends and splitting the cost is always a good way to save money. Take public transportation whenever possible. Choose weekdays over weekends for your getaway. Watch out for sales on plane tickets. That definitely saves a good chunk of your cash. Just do it!
Aanchal Tangri from India is working towards an associate’s degree in Communication Studies at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada.
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