Let your mother know you’re safe
And by the time she wakes
We’ll have driven through the state
About one month out from our amazing western road trip, and I’m still a little bit in awe of how great it was. I was a little worried about spending so much time in the car at first, but it turns out that was one of my favorite parts. There is nothing quite like driving through Utah, into Idaho, across Wyoming and southern Montana. If you’ve ever seen an old western movie: It. Looks. Just. Like. That. Completely blew my mind.
We landed in Salt Lake City and headed south to Arches National Park, where we camped in Devils Campground, the only campground in the park. This year is the National Park System’s 100th Birthday, which made our trip even more special because we made it to three of them! Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Arches National Park, with a lot of national forests thrown in there as well. America seriously amazes me.
We did about 25 miles of hiking in all under 24 hours. We definitely made the most of our time here and we were so excited by every turn we took and every arch we saw and every cliff we got to climb up. We even were able to go into Moab to see that little quaint mountain tourist town. We ended our night back in Arches with the full moon rising over the Fingers area of the park.
We also found out firsthand that car camping without a sleeping pad is not that comfy. (Note for next time.) But it was so amazing to wake up to this view in the middle of the Moab desert.
The next morning we did a small hike then got on the road for Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. Arches is definitely somewhere I would love to go back.
The weather on this trip ran the gamut of everything – warm, dry and sunny in southern Utah, to wet and cool tropical feeling into Idaho, then cool mountain temps, and snow in Yellowstone. Our second day had a lot of on and off rain going into the mountainous area of Eastern Idaho.
That night we were staying in an old mining camp turned Airbnb. The cabins are ran by nicest family who we met upon arrival. They had a bunch of dogs, chickens and goats running around. My dream.
Shortly after we settled in, the rain stopped and we were able to hike up the mountain behind the cabins. This is an old mining area so there are a lot of rushing mountain creeks and rivers and man-made canals. I was skeptical that I could climb a mountain, but with some encouragement we made it to the top finally and I was pleasantly surprised by our view. Idaho is a sleeper state- it’s simply gorgeous.
That night we relaxed in town and ate some pizza at a little local restaurant, then went to the Hot Spring Baths hot thermal natural pools, which felt amazing after three days straight of hiking and no showers. The next morning we woke up early to make it across Wyoming to a ranch outside of Cody, where we had planned to trail ride and our awesome hosts, the Geislers, were waiting for us.
If there ever was a cowboy town Cody, Wyoming is it. Outside of Cody is the gorgeous Buffalo Bill reservoir, and surrounding it are rocky mountain peaks and smaller gorgeous green mountains.
After we got settled into the Geisler’s we hiked up the mountain behind their home on Bureau of Land Management Land, on which a lot of horses roam free.
This mountain is filled with caves and natural valleys, and large craters from where the caves have fallen in. We hiked to the big crater and had an amazing view.
That night Val took us on a trail ride into the Wyoming wind around the mountains, with sweeping views of the reservoir. Truly a memory we will never, ever forget. I was so mesmerized and loving the feeling of being on free backcountry land on a horse that I only took one photo.The next day we drove back into Yellowstone, but took a detour to do a small drive and hike in Montana. There was still quite a bit of snow, but if we ever felt like we were in the middle of nowhere, this state was it. In the best way possible, Montana feels remote and untouched and wild.
The end of that day took us into Yellowstone to see the touristy sites and car camp again that night.
We stayed at Bridge Bay campground and were welcomed by rain that turned to sleet. After a beer run, getting our fire to start, then starting our neighbors fire, it actually turned into a fun cozy night even though the weather around the lake wasn’t awesome. The mountain lake effect in the middle of Yellowstone is no joke because we woke up to about 4 inches of snow.
That morning I was very happy about our decision to car camp instead of having to pack up a snowy tent. We saw mostly everything on the Yellowstone must-see list, including a grizzly and her three cubs, and the best geyser, North Star, which involved a little hike. Easily the best geyser and worth the long wait time as sometimes it’s not the most reliable.
After Yellowstone we headed into Jackson Hole and on to our home away from home cabin nestled into the Tetons with 9 of our friends for the next five days in Victor, Idaho.
Just through the mountain pass from Jackson Hole, Victor was a quaint little town with great views of the Tetons and picturesque valleys.
Our cabin at Moose Creek Ranch was perfect. The grounds backed up to some smaller mountains and a momma moose gave birth right near camp!
We spent the end of this epic trip hiking, enjoying way too much of Idaho’s delicious food, sampling all the western beers we could get our hands on, relaxing, and enjoying the fabulous company while sending a sweet couple into married life.
The great American road trip of the west was the best decision I’ve made in a very long time.
Cheers to many more adventures!