Posted in Travel Adventures

Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park
july 2018

RV There Yet?

Last summer, we loaded up a 28 foot Class C RV we rented and drove about 3,000 miles west to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks for an 8 night trip in two of American’s most beautiful National Parks. We put on a lot of miles and equally as many smiles as we traversed landscapes and geology millions of years in the making. For this trip, I consulted with friends who had been to the parks before, poured over the park websites and used a guidebook. We made the journey in late July (a very busy time year) so we knew there would be no sleeping in as we tried to beat the hoards of guests as well as the heat at very popular attractions.

Itinerary

  • Day 1-Load up and move out
    • We picked up the rented RV at 2:00pm (the earliest available time) and brought it home to be loaded with clothes and gear. Then it was off to Walmart where we picked up the online grocery order we’d placed the day before. Then we hit the highway.
    • Our first day consisted on loading and packing and about 6 hours of driving to Abraham Lincoln State Park in west central North Dakota. Here we spent the night and were wheels up early the next morning. Wyoming or bust!
  • Day 2-Drive to Yellowstone National Park
    • We spent the entire day on the road.
    • We had planned to cover 630 miles in about 10 hours, but we made a couple stops for lunch in the RV and walked around the town of Bridger, MT. I mean, we have a son named Bridger, so we were obligated right? This meant we didn’t get to Yellowstone and checked into our campsite until about 8:00pm.
    • Bay Bridge Campground (3 nights)
      • We chose Bay Bridge because it is inside the park, could accommodate an RV our size and we could reserve in advance.
      • Camp site are close together here but the location can’t be beat. Since we were in the RV and gone most of the days, we didn’t mind.
  • Day 3-Yellowstone National Park
    • Old Faithful and Geyser Hill
    • We arrived around 7:20am. There were very few people and parking was a breeze. Old Faithful erupts about every 90 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Get there early!
    • After the eruption we explored Old Faithful Lodge and walked the 1.3 mile Geyser Hill loop to see other geysers including Castle and Grand Geyser.
    • Lunch: we made sandwiches in the RV at a pull out near Midway Geyser Basin.
  • Noon-while everyone was headed to the park restaurants for lunch, we snagged a parking spot at Grand Prismatic Spring.
  • Grand Prismatic Spring was spectacular and photos can’t capture it’s beauty.
  • Fountain Paint Pots-boys were delighted by the sulphur smell
  • Mammoth Hot Springs
    • Highlight: an elk had parked himself on the lower terrace of Mammoth
  • Dinner: we made tacos in the RV at the parking lot at Calcite Springs Overlook.
  • Back to Bay Bridge Campground for campfire and bedtime.
    • Pro tip: We brought a bean bag game, scooters and helmets and soccer balls so the boys could burn energy at the campground while we made supper or took care of other needs.
  • Day 4-Yellowstone
    • We started early again today at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. We walked to Artist’s Point on the South Rim.
    • We had wanted to hike Uncle Tom’s Trail, but it was under construction so we improvised. We drove to the North Rim to hike Red Rock Point.
    • Then on to Canyon Village where the boys shopped for souvenirs.
    • Then to Mud Volcano to see Dragon’s Breathe and then Sulphur Cauldron.
    • Lunch: picnic area on the way to the Lamar Valley
    • Drive Lamar Valley
      • Trip highlight: before going back to campground we stopped near Pebble Creek where the boys splashed in the icy, rocky river.
  • Day 5-Grand Teton National Park
    • We pulled out of our Yellowstone campsite around 5:30am for the 1.5 hour drive to Grand Teton National Park.
      • Don’t tell anyone but we let the boys sleep while we drove and just enjoyed the sunrise and coffee together.
    • We wanted to get a camp spot of Signal Mountain Campground (2 nights) which is a first-come, first-serve site. We had to circle the campground a couple times, but scored a spot around 7:30am.
  • Once settled in our spot, we got ready for the day and headed to Colter Bay for a short hike. This picture was taken about 10 minutes before we encountered a mama bear and her two cubs. No photos of that thrilling experience.
  • Lunch: On our way into Jackson, WY we stopped at a pullout overlooking Mt. Moran to make a quick lunch in the RV before we went to Jackson Village to ride the Aerial Tram to Rendezvous Peak; elevation 10,540 feet. We didn’t do it, but the waffles at Corbet’s Cabin at the top look good. Boys wanted a cookie instead.
  • Dinner: Jackson at Caldera Pizzeria. A nice break from cooking in the RV every night.
  • Ended the evening at the nightly old west show on Jackson Square.
  • Day-6
    • We were up early again today to get to the Taggert Lake trailhead. The views were amazing!
    • Our boys are young, just 5 and 8 years old so we need to choose hikes that are easy enough and not too long. Taggert checked all the boxes. They wore their National Park Ranger vests with the batches they’ve located from the various parks we’ve visited.
      • Pro tip: let the littles lead and go at their pace. Find them a hiking stick from a fallen branch. Our youngest will often pretend there are dragons on the trail and he will run ahead and slay them for us.

Of all the paths you take in life, I hope a few of them are dirt.

John Muir
  • After our hike we drove Lake Jenny Scenic Drive, Antelope Flats, Signal Mountain, Schwabcher’s Landing and Mormon Row.
  • Dinner: we grilled burgers and hotdogs at Oxbow Bend and watched the sunset over Willow Flats.
  • Day 7-Devils Tower National Monument
    • We hit the road about 5:30am for the 8 hour drive across the state of Wyoming to Devils Tower National Monument. We arrived at the park around 3pm.
    • Walk Tower Trail around the monument. Let kiddos climb rocks and count prayer cloths tied to trees near the monument.
  • Day 8 and Day 9
    • We drove the rest of the way home to Minnesota on day 8 and unloaded and cleaned the RV. It needed to be fully cleaned and ready to be returned to the RV rental company by 10am on day 9.

Tips and Tricks

  • RV travel is great. Kiddos were able to play games and do activities. We didn’t need to stop at restaurants for lunch or snacks. I made lunch while we were moving. Same with bathroom stops, there’s no need with an RV.
  • Pro tip: There is very limited cell/data service in the national parks. Bring an atlas or map.
  • Camp at Devils Tower National Monument-if possible. It’s an awesome campground with a spectacular view and amazing ranger led night program.

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