Posted by: Tommy | June 28, 2010

National Parks Roadtrip Itinerary

By far the most asked question we’ve been getting about our trip is “When are you leaving?”.  We hope to have an answer for that by Thursday.  We’re in the final stages of booking our travel, at least through Thailand.

In the meantime, we’ve finalized our itinerary for the “small” trip – a month of camping in Yellowstone/Glacier National Parks.  We wanted to take this trip for 3 reasons.  First, we are taking Jack, Anna’s brother, as his high school graduation present.  Being almost 10 years older, Anna hasn’t ever really gotten to spend that much time with Jack.  By the time he was old enough to be interesting, she was in high school and too busy.  Then she was in college in Kansas and too far away for daily interaction.  When we moved back to Dallas, Jack was starting high school and had a busy life of his own.  Fortunately (sort of), Yellowstone is 3 full days of driving so we’ll have plenty of time to catch up with Jack.  He’s been helping prepare the equipment and getting things ready to go and has proven that he knows a lot more about camping than either of us.

The second purpose of the Yellowstone trip is to test out our gear for the around-the-world trip.  We’ve purchased most of the stuff we’re planning to take around the world, but before we leave the comfort of America and the REI down the road, we want to make sure that we can be comfortable with the things we’re taking.  When you only get 2 changes of clothes for an entire year, they better be items you are happy with.  We’ll be taking our shoes, shorts, shirts, pants, waterbottles, backpacks…pretty much the whole load of stuff for the big trip.  This will give us an opportunity to use those things and make sure everything works ok.

An added bonus of the Yellowstone trip is that we won’t be in Dallas during most of August.  I hear summers in Wyoming and Montana are a lot nicer.  I’m sure the gym and the Tivo will miss us, but we’re looking forward to a change of scenery.

We’re leaving for Yellowstone on July 24th, driving to Amarillo.  Anna’s grandparents live there and we’ll stay with them for 2-3 days.  Grandpa Harold owns a small private airport and has promised to get one of his friends to take me up for a while in a small plane.  We’ll also get to see the remodeled bathroom that Grandmother June has almost completed.  On the 27th, we’ll drive to Denver for the night.  We’ll spend the 28th in Denver, seeing the sights.  Sally and Jerry are meeting up with us on the 28th and Jerry, Jack and I will see the Rockies play the Pirates that night.  Jerry has gotten some sort of deal at the Brown hotel (apparently a super-fancy hotel in Denver) which will undoubtedly be the nicest accommodations of the month.  On the 29th, we get up and drive to Cheyenne with Jerry and Sally to attend the Frontier Days Rodeo.  Known as “The Grandaddy of  ’em All” (a term I thought applied only to the Rose Bowl) Cheyenne Frontier Days is the largest rodeo in the world.  There are at least 11 rodeo events per day that we’ll get to check out.  That night, we have tickets to the Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert concert.  (note, I am attending only under extreme durress).

We get up early Friday, July 30th and drive the 433 miles from Cheyenne to Jackson, WY at the foot of the Grand Tetons.  We’ll introduce Jack to his first hostel that night, staying at The Hostel in Jackson Hole.  Campsites in the area are all first come-first serve, so we went ahead and booked something definite for the night we’re driving in.  We’ll get up early and find a campsite inside the national park and set up base camp for the next 2-3 days.

The Tetons have some spectacular scenery, combining large mountains, streams and forests.  I went with my grandparents when I was 12 and still remember the height of the trees and the clear water.  We’ll spend time primarily hiking and hanging out, looking for animals and possibly doing some rafting.  On the 2nd or 3rd of August, we’ll pack up our tent and head into Yellowstone.  These campsites are also first come- first serve so we’ll be getting up early again.  Old Faithful is on our list of to-dos for Yellowstone, and we don’t have much else that we’ll have to do.  We’ll probably sign up for some guided hikes.  I remember giants fields of buffalo and having a very easy time spotting elk, moose, beaver, eagles and other small animals from the last time I visited.  We’ll be able to take the Element out on some driving trails, in addition to the hiking trails.

On the 7th or 8th, we’ll pack up the tent again and head north out of Yellowstone, leaving Jack at the Helena airport for his flight home.  Anna and I will continue on to Glacier National Park, about 400 miles north of Yellowstone on the Montana/Canada border.  I’m concerned about the weather (a chilly 43 on average at night) while Anna is more concerned about the bears.  We’ve been assured by a former resident that we will definitely see some bears and should take a pistol to scare them off.  Unfortunately, firearms are not allowed in the national park.  Pepper spray was recommended as a secondary option.  I’m really looking forward to staring a 1500 lb grizzly in the face and spraying some liquid at it.  That thought makes Anna feel real comfortable.

We’ll spend about a week in Glacier, or more if we feel like it.  We’ll cross into Canada for the drive home.  I’ve never been and would like to see some rural Canada.  We’ll drive through Saskatchewan! until we are north of North Dakota, and then turn south for the drive back to Texas.  We’ll stop in the Badlands and at Mt. Rushmore (because really, how often are we going to be in South Dakota with a car…hopefully never again).  Then drive through Nebraska!, Kansas! and Oklahoma (uggh) and back to Dallas.

All of that may change – that’s the beauty of the month-long roadtrip.  We’ll post pictures and stories as the opportunities arise.  Look for the “Big Trip” itinerary on Thursday.


  1. Ooooooo, what fun! I’ll be watching for the updates.

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