|Itinerary:||Las Vegas, NV to Missoula, MT|
|Cost:||$345 per person, all inclusive*|
|Pts Earned:||3,500 (valued at $50) + Elite Qualification|
They say Yellowstone is beautiful in every season and they weren’t wrong. One of our first and most memorable trips last year was to Yellowstone National Park. The flight was booked as a “status run”, that is a flight booked with the sole purpose of maintaining or attaining elite status at one of the airlines. Elite status comes with perks such as mileage multipliers, free upgrades to First Class, lounge access, etc. (rationale and mechanics to be covered in a later post). This being one of our earlier trips when we had less frugal travel savvy under our belts, the price points for the flights and other incidentals are higher than our average trip today, but still quite low compared to booking your standard discount fare (average non-refundable fare alone would run you $300). To convince me to play along with his mileage game, my husband lured me with the prospect of visiting one of our nation’s great national parks – Glacier National Park – about a three hour drive from Missoula, MT.
Alas, Glacier would have to be saved for another day, as we found out on the day of our flight that the park was still mostly closed to traffic due to weather. Never fear, a quick internet search revealed that Yellowstone had just opened for the season and was just a hop and a skip (okay, 5 hours) away. This last minute change of plans proved to be a blessing in disguise.
The drive, though long, was picturesque, and the air was nippy and fresh. Before my usual roadtrip crankiness could even set in, we were there. The Yellowstone that awaited us was unlike any I had seen in pictures or on travel shows. The only way I can think to describe it is as a sleepy giant that was slowly beginning to awaken to the dawn. There had been incessant chatter in the car during our drive, but when we entered the park, we became speechless as we drove deeper and deeper into the snow laden valley.
The park was empty, save for a handful of like-minded winter travelers, and we had the winter wonderland to ourselves for the 5 brief hours we would be there. Like kids at Disneyland, complete with the wonder and giggles, we slowly made our way from vantage point to majestic vantage point, each one different than the last.
Twilight marked the end of the day, and with the darkness seeping in, we grudgingly made our way back to our car and headed to our motel. It was a short trip, but just enough to recharge our wearied spirits and inspire us to come back again.
|* Total Cost Breakdown for Two People||$690|
|Activities/Incidentals: (fee free weekend – yay!)||$-|