The year was 1916, and America was brimming with breathtaking landscapes. The only problem was not many people could access them until a little outfit called AAA showed up and advocated for the building of better roads.
Soon, legislation opened Yellowstone National Park to cars and the epic road trip was born. Suddenly a whole new world was opened up to people. People like the Smiths.
“It started five generations ago with my great-grandpa, who took my grandpa in his Motel T back in the 1930s,” says Landon Smith.
There the family reveled in the vast wilderness, casting their gaze on the majestic animals and casting their lines over fishing bridge. And much like the trout they caught, the Smiths were hooked. Many, many dad jokes later, the family had made a tradition of it, settling into Bridge Bay Campground in Yellowstone park and making it their home away from home.
Landon and his family enjoy camping in Yellowstone National Park, especially near Bay Bridge
Now, Cosette and Landon Smith are the fourth generation of their family to stay in Yellowstone, enjoying Bridge Bay every year with hikes, fishing, and finding wildlife through a spotting scope, and sometimes without one.
“One of my favorite memories is when my sister, Amber, literally had bear cubs rolling around at her feet.”
From grizzly encounters to hiking to rope swings, the Smith family has found a special place in their hearts for Yellowstone park, but this next trip will have a different feel to it as the Smiths will be going back to Bridge Bay for the first time without their father.
Landon and Cosette Smith are excited to take a new generation camping in Yellowstone National Park this year
“It'll be a really different trip without my dad. But that's the place where we feel like he is too. You know what I mean?”
However, there will be a new family member joining them as Cosette and Landon's new son will attend, becoming a fifth generation Smith to sleep under the towering lodgepole pines, just like his great, great, great granddaddy did nearly 90 years ago.
It's been over a century since AAA advocated for cars to enter Yellowstone National park, and we hope these roads will continue to connect even more families for years to come.
Where will the open road take you?