From Canada, we made our way south into Montana. Our first stop was Glacier National Park, which came highly recommended and consistently earns rave reviews from other visitors. We enjoyed the waterfalls and lakes of the Many Glacier region, but the real highlight was the spectacular drive on the “Going to the Sun” road. Thankfully, our RV just barely made the cutoff at 20 feet in length and under 9 feet in height because there certainly were some tight spots on this scenic drive. After Glacier, we linked up with Barb Eidel (our friend from our most recent Antarctica trip) at her lovely cabin on Placid Lake. What a wonderful oasis in Montana. Barb not only gave us tips and suggestions on what to see at Yellowstone National Park, but she also recommended we squeeze in a visit to the Lewis and Clark Caverns. Great suggestion, as the cave system there was truly a sight to behold and we enjoyed our tour immensely. From here, we entered Wyoming to visit Yellowstone and spent a few days soaking up all the amazing sights this park has to offer. From wildlife to geysers, to waterfalls and more, Yellowstone lived up to all its hype. And lucky bonus for us, we got to link up with Tom Murphy, who was part of the expedition staff to Antarctica back on our 2009/10 trip. Tom is considered one of the world’s premiere Yellowstone experts, and his collection of photographs from this region showcases his passion and skill. We found out that he is the only operator allowed to run tours within Yellowstone park itself, and fingers crossed, we hope to travel with him again one of these days. Yellowstone had plenty of wow moments, and was our favorite of the national parks thus far. From Yellowstone, we made our way towards Grand Teton National Park. Highlights here included drinking a huckleberry milkshake from Jackson Lake lodge’s Pioneer Grill (quite possibly the best milkshake of our lives), hiking up to Taggart Lake, and watching sunrise over the famous barn at Mormon Row. From Grand Teton NP, we drove east and spotted two moose grazing together near Bighorn National Forest…what a magical 30 minutes watching the moose in action. Our last stop in Wyoming was the Devil’s Tower national monument which was worth the detour. However, our best memory of Wyoming is undoubtedly freedom camping in a field of wildflowers near Grouse Mountain…who knew such beautiful places exist! We loved our 10 day jaunt around Montana and Wyoming and would definitely include this section on future a USA road trip.
28 June: Exit Canada and enter USA at Chief Mountain border crossing. Dispersed camping on a National Forest road about 8 miles from the border.
29 June: Drive to Glacier NP. At Many Glacier, hiked Apikuni Falls and Red Rock Falls and visited Many Glacier Lodge. Drove “Going to the Sun Road” which had spectacular views, but had to be careful of reckless drivers on the narrow passes. Free campsite at Blankenship Bridge (parked on the other side of the bridge away from the rest of the other vehicles in a grassy area, with toilet nearby).
30 June: Drove back to Glacier NP for the Avalanche Lake and Trail of the Cedars hike. In the afternoon, drove to Kalispell Walmart to camp.
1 July: Got vehicle maintenance done in the morning at Discount Tire and Quick Lube, drove to Placid Lake to link up with Barb Eidel from Antarctica. O/n at Placid Lake.
2 July: Spent morning with Barb helping to put her pontoon boat on the lake for the season. In the afternoon, drove towards Lewis & Clark Cavern State Park. Dispersed camped on BLM property at Whitetail-Pipestone.
3 July: Drove to Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park for a 9 am tour. In the afternoon, visited Yellowstone Park (Mammoth Hot Springs). Drove Lamar Valley for bison, deer, and a bear. Got a camping spot at Soda Butte Campground ($4.50 with annual park pass, toilets, fire pit. No tents allowed here due to a deadly bear attack a few years ago)
4 July: Entered the North East gate to Yellowstone and drove on Lamar Valley again. Saw bison, a bear, prong horn antelope. Drove to Tower Fall and hiked around Yellowstone Grand Canyon. In the afternoon, drove through Hayden Valley and visited Lake Yellowstone Hotel where we ran into Tom Murphy from our Antarctica ’09 expedition. Drove to West Thumb Geyser Basin, Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Geyser. Dispersed camped in Custer Gallatin National Forest.
5 July: Visited the Wolf and Grizzly discovery center in West Yellowstone. Afterwards, another visit to Grand Prismatic Geyser, Biscuit Basin and Black Sand Basin. In the afternoon, left Yellowstone and drove towards Grand Teton National Park. Went to Jackson Lake Lodge for a huckleberry shake, followed by a drive to String Lake and Jenny Lake. Drove Moose Wilson road and spotted a moose. For sunset, went to Morman Row to check out the old settlement and barns. Dispersed camping at Shadow Mountain. All the camping sites were already claimed, but we were able to squeeze in with another camper and gave them beer as a thank you. Gorgeous free camping spot.
6 July: Drove back to Mormon Row for sunrise photos. Hiked up to Taggart Lake and spotted a moose. Drove to Signal mountain for views of Grand Teton NP and then exited the park’s east entrance. Saw two moose grazing near Bighorn National Forest. Free spectacular campsite near Grouse Mountain in a field of wild flowers. Best campsite yet!
7 July: Drove to Devil’s Tower national monument. Headed west towards South Dakota in the afternoon.