National Parks Road Trip

6:42 p.m. on January 17, 2011 (EST)
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Hey guys, I haven't been on the forums in little over a year.  I think my last post was Climbing New Heights. A lot has happened since that post in 2009. I got married and started a new business and well... gained some weight. 

But the worst part is, I haven't spent much time outdoors the last year. So this year, me and my wife are planning a national parks tour out west.

route.png

Our Destination Plans

  • Grove, OK < Visit some family
  • Rapid City, SD (Black Hills, Keystone, Mt Rushmore, Custer NP) < attending a friends wedding, doing some exploring, we'll be here for a couple days before and after the wedding
  • Devils Tower, WY < A day spent here, great climbing, probably one of the days we're staying in Rapid City as it's not a far drive and I've done it once before.
  • Grand Tetons National Park, WY < No plans yet
  • Yellowstone National Park, WY < No plans yet
  • Glacier National Park, MT < No plans, except we think we might back country here, weather permitted.
  • Yosemite National Park, CA < Be tourist and gawk at stuff, lol
  • Grand Canyon, AZ < Rafting, Horseback riding, hiking ..... No real plans yet..
  • Colorado Springs < We might be moving here after the trip, so we thought we’d check it out. If you know of any good micro-brewery-restaurants here, tell me!

At this time I haven’t determined the amount of time to be spent at each of the major parks. I know we’ll probably do all the touristy stuff at Yellowstone and Yosemite. Maybe try some back country backpacking in the Grand Tetons. I’d like to rent a romantic cabin for two nights in Glacier National park, and maybe do a 2 day hike while in Glacier. I know my wife has her sights set on horseback riding, so that’s something else I’ve got to figure into this plan. Perhaps at the Grand Canyon?

Lot’s of things to see and do on this trip. And I plan on keeping an active blog of all our travels during this trip.

First post: http://www.mikekey.com/epic-summer-road-trip-planning/

So I'm back here on Trailspace, ready to purchase new gear, read about other people's awesome adventures, be inspired, learn and hopefully give back.

If anyone has any feedback, feel free to leave it!

 

 

6:53 p.m. on January 17, 2011 (EST)
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Wow, looks like a nice drive, like a second honeymoon! Looks like you'll have a great time visiting all those parks and the places in between.

1:29 p.m. on January 18, 2011 (EST)
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sounds like an awesome trip! I am so jealous. My boyfriend and I are working on making it to as many national parks as we can. We have not made it very far yet but we did visit Yosemite, the Tetons and Yellowstone. If you have time, my favorite hikes at Yosemite were half dome and sentinel Dome. The Half Dome hike offers some beautiful waterfalls and the view at Sentinel Dome offers a 360 breathtaking view of the whole park.  Hope you have fun and look forward to reading your blog!

10:37 p.m. on January 18, 2011 (EST)
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Thanks for those tips Shell, I'll take a look at them. I just started gathering up data on each park and trying to make some educated decisions to paint a little bit of an iternary of things to do when we get to each park.

I plan on leaving some things up in the air.

You know, there are times you get there and it seemed like is was going to be amazing and then 5 minutes in you're like "Ok, seen it, ready to go now".

That happened to me with Crater Lake, such beautiful pictures online, always wanted to see it, and when I finally did, I was bored after 10 minutes, lol.

Complete opposite, I never once looked up Custard NP in South Dakota, but I thought it was beautiful.

So I'm staying open minded. :)

11:36 p.m. on January 18, 2011 (EST)
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Where did you draw the map above?

12:01 p.m. on January 19, 2011 (EST)
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It's a cropped screenshot of Google Maps.

8:11 p.m. on January 25, 2011 (EST)
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Here is our National Parks Road trip from this summer. Looks like we hit many of  the places on your agenda. Let me know if I can help in any way.

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A few pics from the trip here. 
http://www.trailspace.com/forums/backcountry/topics/80163.html#80769

8:40 p.m. on January 25, 2011 (EST)
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For horseback riding... I would recommend a place just the other side of the mountain from Jackson...

Here are some pics from that ride. If you are interested I can try to dig up the company we used.

 


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7:16 p.m. on January 28, 2011 (EST)
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mike if your going to be stoping by the grand canyon why dont you take a couple more days and drive up into utah there capitol reef, canyon lands, brice canyon, zions, and arches all just right there, lots of fun!

12:26 a.m. on January 31, 2011 (EST)
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There's a bunch of forest service cabins available for rent outside of Glacier and throughout Montana.  They're like 20-30 bucks a night and pretty rustic.  They got lots of character.....along with hanta virus warning signs.  There's quite a few of them just outside the park along highway 2 and on the way to Polebridge.  A forest service cabin or lookout tower would be a great place to spend the night on your way through Montana.     

Here's the forest cabin reservation site

http://www.recreation.gov/

Happy trails

11:01 p.m. on February 3, 2011 (EST)
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Thanks for all the great info guys, trying to keep up with it while dealing running my business.

 

@BigSmoke, I defiantly would love to know the name of that Horse back company.

Might have to ask you about your experinces at the parks. Anything you learned, things to avoid.

@Trevor Golding, I am heavily thinking of Zion. We are considering taking along bikes on this trip as well, and this is one place I'd love to ride.

@Kleon, your avatar makes me hungry. thanks for the info!

After looking over my calendar we might extend this trip to a full 60 days.

11:15 p.m. on February 3, 2011 (EST)
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@BigSmoke Did you use the Annual Parks pass by chance?

 

Also, anyone want to recommend reading material I should check out before heading out?

12:29 p.m. on February 4, 2011 (EST)
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Yes we did Mike. We have had a pass for many years now. As much as we hit Shenandoah, it pays for itself many times over.

I would wait until you enter your first park to buy the pass as it is stamped by the month bought.  It will be good for a year from that date.

One thing I might recommend you incorporate into your trip, depending on your wife's tolerance for filth, is a hotel ever 4th or 5th day. We used Motel 6 and Best Western. Both fairly cheap, with Motel 6 being the bargain at around $39 an night.  It is no Ritz but after camping for 4 or 5 nights, it feels like it. You can also get free breakfast and load up on ice for your cooler. That saves you around $20 right there so the actual cost for the hotel is really cheap! We had 5 people so the breakfast paid for the hotel stay, and some every time.

 

I have to dig through some files to find the HB riding company we used... I will talk to the wife also as her memory is a bit sharper than mine:)

1:21 p.m. on February 4, 2011 (EST)
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Yes we have a few places where we will stay hotel wise.

Two places I've added are "romantic" stops. I know my wife's heart, and while she loves the outdoors she'll appreciate something special for "her" on the trip too. So I am looking for a cabin near the Glacier leg and I already found a few day spas I'd like to take her to near the Grand Canyon. 

Part of the trip we've made connections with friends here are their to couch surf.

While this is probably wrong, I have to admit, my travel buddy taught me you can pretty much walk into the breakfast area of any hotel lobby with out being bothered, lol. Just a little tip.

He also taught me that if you want a nice restroom, stop at a hotel, ask how much a room is, then ask where the restrooms are. lol

Probably not the best advice!

1:49 a.m. on February 5, 2011 (EST)
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Here is the company we used for our horseback ride. Small outfit and very good at what they do.

http://www.wydahooutfitters.com/

Ask to have Jonesy as your guide , he was a great guy!

11:53 p.m. on February 8, 2011 (EST)
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When you are visiting the Black Hills go see the Crazy Horse Monument.  It was very cool looking and a good counterpoint to Mt. Rushmore.

http://www.crazyhorsememorial.org/

7:40 p.m. on February 12, 2011 (EST)
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Here is the company we used for our horseback ride. Small outfit and very good at what they do.

http://www.wydahooutfitters.com/

Ask to have Jonesy as your guide , he was a great guy!

 

BigSmoke, you sir are a HERO! A Hero in my book! lol

Thank you very much.

7:41 p.m. on February 12, 2011 (EST)
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When you are visiting the Black Hills go see the Crazy Horse Monument.  It was very cool looking and a good counterpoint to Mt. Rushmore.

http://www.crazyhorsememorial.org/

 

Mt Rushmore ticks me off, they ruined some of possibly the best climbing in the world with that thing.

Amazing how few people every walk around the back side, yet alone climb the allowed areas behind it.

8:23 p.m. on February 12, 2011 (EST)
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Mt Rushmore ticks me off, they ruined some of possibly the best climbing in the world with that thing.

Amazing how few people every walk around the back side, yet alone climb the allowed areas behind it.

Funny you mention that. My wife really wanted to stop by on our road trip... and we did of course but my running comment to her was that it was one of the biggest monstrosities of graffiti there has ever been. It is a national monument that honors the defacing of nature. If anyone proposed a monument like that today it would never happen.

 

Enjoy that horseback ride! It is one of the best I have been on, and I have been on quite a few. We lucked out and only had one other couple along with us. They let you free ride. You are not obligated to stay in a nice orderly line behind the guide the whole trip which I loved!

July 23, 2014
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