Yellowstone has been on our family’s bucket list since our kids first started exploring the wilderness in our suburban backyard. As full time working parents with kids beginning to take up hobbies outside of school and spending less time outside, the dream of going somewhere as legendary and wild as Yellowstone has been at the front of our minds. When we were finally able to plan for our trip out west, we began searching for unique ways to really immerse ourselves into the wilderness, out of the car and unplugged from work, school and video games.
This story was created in partnership with Flying Pig Adventure Co.
Getting our Feet Wet
At the beginning of our Yellowstone road trip we had booked a whitewater rafting excursion with Flying Pig Adventure Company, based in Gardiner, Montana at the north entrance of the park. We felt excited to give our 8 and 10 year old kids an opportunity to have thrill and excitement while also finding a new appreciation for nature. Our guides were not only informative, telling us the names of native plants and animals along the Yellowstone River, but were also so kind and caring in making sure this family of rafting novices had a safe and fun experience. After splashing through some rapids we stopped on a river bank to enjoy a picnic provided by our guides. As we basked in the afternoon sun and watched our little explorers finding colorful rocks, we noticed something move on the opposite bank. Right before our eyes we watched a bald eagle swoop down to strike at a fish in the river. The awe and excitement from that moment stayed plastered on all of our faces for the rest of the day. It was an incredible way to be fully present with the wildlife of the west.
A Fish of Our Own
At the beginning of our next day of adventure we picked up to-go breakfast sandwiches and coffees at a small cafe as well as all of our provisions for the day in Gardiner. It was such a relief to have easy access to all of our needs in this small town before another big expedition. The second part of our package with the Flying Pig Adventure Company was the Walk and Wade Fly Fishing experience. After seeing the fishing expertise of the eagle the day before, we were excited to try our hand at it! Our guides took us to a remote lake where we learned to cast, tie on our flies (the colorfully decorated hooks) and find the perfect spot to search for fish. My wife caught the first fish, a stunningly iridescent cutthroat trout, native to Yellowstone. Shortly after, our 10 year old caught the second fish, almost too big for her little hands to hold as she beamed proudly at her catch. She won the bald eagle award for the day! Toward the end of our walk and wade, we watched the colors of the sky change from blue to pink and in the meadow next to us, saw a herd of elk lazily grazing, just as at peace in this wild place as we felt. It’s amazing how comfortable we can be in an environment so far from home.
When Pigs Fly
Our adventures with Flying Pig left us feeling so lucky to have had the knowledge and resources from our guides and the opportunity to share such a unique and unforgettable experience with our kids. The ability to get out from behind the windshield and into nature transformed our trip and gave us inspiration for what we can do as a family. We are already scheming next year’s vacation, and are excited to book again with Flying Pig Adventure Company, but this time on horseback! After soaking up the western experience, our 8 year old son is now determined to be a cowboy. We thought a trip like this would be out of our reach, “when pigs fly” as some would say, good thing we found the Flying Pig!