Bison and Campfires: Brodin Family Trip to Yellowstone and UnderCanvas

The Brodin family went glamping for the first time ever in July and it was a great success! Gavin, Benji, Hunter and I had such an extraordinary time having a true Yellowstone camping experience, but will all the creature comforts make this mama really happy! We saw Bison, antelope, geysers, and bubbling hot springs by day, and roasted s’mores by night, while stoking our wood stove for the night at UnderCanvas Yellowstone, gazing up at the star above. We can’t wait to go back again!

Trip to Yellowstone and UnderCanvas

Gavin and I love nature. We hike almost every morning in the canyon near our house, connecting to nature and setting our intentions for the day. And, of course, my career is also based around nature, creating botanical art for my company Art Botanica. Nature is healing and vital for a healthy body and mind. So naturally, we want to instill these values in our children so they too can love and enjoy all the joys nature can bring.

Now, I must admit, when we told the boys we were whisking them off to Montana, turning off the technology, and playing Where’s Waldo looking for wildlife, they weren’t exactly thrilled. “But MOOOOOOOOM! Benji’s not finished building his house in Minecraft!” Was Hunter’s reply, as Benji stood beside him quiet and sullen. “It’s going to be amazing, you’ll see. We’re going to see really really BIG BISON!” I reply with a huge forced smile. Benji looked away and Hunter was staring down at the floor. They were not pumped.

And off we went to Montana.

We landed in Bozeman, rented a car, and hit the road, Big Sky style. We sang songs and made goofy videos, laughing and having a blast being super silly to pass the time away. And before we knew it we had arrived.

We turned down the long dirt driveway to UnderCanvas and a herd of cattle greeted us, crowding the narrow road. Baby calves were suckling their mamas and we rolled down the window to get a better look.  Benji and Hunter were enthralled. Nothing like baby animals to get the kids enrolled!  Of course, Gavin had to get out of the car to try to make contact with the cute wet-nosed calf, despite my strong debate-style lecture to attempt to get him to stay in the car.  Right away mama cow gave self-proclaimed Dr. Doolittle a confronting side-eye, and back to the can Gavin ran. I passed on saying the “I told you so!” but definitely thought about it, and sent it energetically in his direction and he laughed. You’d think he’d learn by now, but, uh, NOPE. Not yet.

Once we were able to navigate our way through the cattle we checked in and made our way to our stargazer tent, with an adjacent tee-pee for the kiddos. We settled in, bounced on the bed for a bit, and then ran down to the river for a quick cool-off. Kids were swimming and making mud pies on the riverside, as the parents were watching over sipping wine and beer solo-cup style. Benji and Hunter played in the smaller pooled water on a bank they called the “hot tub,” and they invited their new found friends into their posh hot tub club on the river lol.

Trip to Yellowstone and UnderCanvas

That night after we tucked the boys into their cozy cots in their tee-pee, Gavin and I laid down and gazed up at the stars as we lay in our super comfy cozy bed. (This bed is RIDICULOUSLY comfy!) I’ve never seen so many glittering stars in my life. I grabbed Gavin’s hand and I asked him “How amazing?” He replied, “Yes, we are so lucky.” Moments like these, to me, are a testament that we are walking the right path, a sign we are aligned, and that always feels so good to acknowledge. Have you had those moments too? They are my favorite 🙂

Next morning we woke up early to drive into Yellowstone and tour the park. There is a lot of ground to cover in our 1-day tour of this expansive National Park, so we wanted to beat the crowd (which didn’t really happen) and we planned to do the main loop. Once we got past the traffic backup to the gate the front half of the park was pretty backed up, and several parking areas were traffic jams, but once we got past that it freed up most of the way. 

A few tips for Yellowstone with kids:

  1. There is practically no cell phone service, so bring other games and activities to keep the kids entertained because there is quite a bit of driving.
  2. Pick your top sites to visit but have back-ups in case the parking lots are full. 
  3. Bring lots of food and water. We stopped at the stores to get food in the main center complex near Old Faithful and it was a ZOO. 
  4. Plan out where the bathroom breaks (should) be. There aren’t many bathrooms fyi, and some are closed due to COVID.
  5. Old Faithful decided not to be as faithful when we went  and was 15 minutes late (the whole crowd thought it wasn’t going to happen at all because every minute felt like a hour staring a hole in the ground), so give yourself a good window of 1 hour here to park, get a spot early, and be prepared to maybe stay a bit later if the geyser is having a lazy day.
  6. Go with a full tank of gas, gas stations are sparse.
  7. You will see Bison more likely on the north side of the loop road where the open prairie is, so be patient. We started to think we were not going to see any towards the end of the day, but then they were right in the road!
Yellowstone National Park

Sites we saw that are not to be missed:

  1. Grand Prismatic Springs: A short 1 mile hike, some of it is uphill but kid-friendly, to a vista overlooking the massive and colorful prismatic springs.
  2. Old Faithful: no explanation needed
  3. Yellowstone Lake: It’s ginormous so keep driving and you’ll see plenty of stops for beach and picnic access.
  4. Lower and Upper Falls: This is the “Grand Canyon” of Yellowstone and these falls are mighty impressive! A approx. 2 mile trail to Inspiration Point is recommended as the views are stunning. Just note that the hike back up is a good grade uphill for a while, but our kids did it fine.

Grand Prismatic Springs

Trip to Yellowstone and UnderCanvas

Old Faithful

Trip to Yellowstone and UnderCanvas

Lower Falls from Inspiration Point


Trip to Yellowstone and UnderCanvas

After seeing the sites we got back to UnderCanvas just in time for the open bar/live music/smores roasting festivities. A glass of wine next to the campfire, listening to a local cowboy sing and strum his guitar was the best way to end the day, while Benji and Hunter played parachute with the other kids.

Trip to Yellowstone and UnderCanvas

The next morning we decided to pop into The Grizzly and Wolf Rescue Center which was well worth it! We saw bears, wolves, eagles, and otters. This facility is gorgeous and the habitats were really top-notch. This was a great way for the kids to see the animals up close and learn more about them. Which animal was their favorite? The otters of course!

Trip to Yellowstone and UnderCanvas
Trip to Yellowstone and UnderCanvas

I know they had a great time when Benji and Hunter still talk about this trip to this day, and when they set me straight when I mistakenly say  “Buffalo,” and they exclaim: “No! It’s Bison! Not Buffalo.” See, they did learn something!

So that sums up our Yellowstone trip. It certainly was one to remember!

If you have any other questions about our trip or the area feel free to hit me up in the comments below!

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