West Trip 2019

Consolidated rundown of the “West Trip” road trip from Chicago to Rocky Mountain NP, Snowy Range, Tetons NP, Yellowstone NP, Glacier NP, Roosevelt NP, Wind Cave .

West 2019 – Day 0/1 – Prelude

Saturday, 8/10 I drove down to Chicago in the Subaru getting in at around midnight and with the expectation that we would be driving the Subaru westbound the next day. Something about the drive made me uncomfortable enough with that plan that we decided to take Janet’s Honda Fit instead. … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 2 – Rocky Mountain NP, Mt. Ida

Monday, 8/12 We expected to need to be to the trailhead early to get parking as well as to get an early start on the hike to allow time and avoid potential afternoon storms. We mostly succeeded, even though a construction zone took a slight toll. We still got to … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 3 – Rocky Mountain NP, Sky Pond

Tuesday, 8/13 Second day of success – we got up early enough to get to the Sky Pond trailhead and secure parking.  We were still in prime season at the parks, so the need to find parking early ended up being something of a theme for the entire trip. We … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 4 – Mt. Elbert

Wednesday, 8/14 We were far from the first people in the parking lot the night before, nor were we the last.  The late arrivals made sleep slightly more challenging than it already was expected to be.  I always wonder in these scenarios how much sleep I actually get.  I don’t … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 5 – Snowy Range

Thursday, 8/15 We hadn’t originally planned on driving the Fit, and it was close to needing an oil change, something that would seemed unwise to postpone for several thousand miles, so that was the first order of business for the morning. We found a Walmart that did oil changes and … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 6 – Tetons, Phelps Lake

Friday, 8/16 Though sleeping in the car might not be ideal, it had the desired effect and we were able to get a first come first serve spot in the Jenny Lake Campground.  I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing that fewer than 10 spots opened up that day.  … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 7 – Tetons, Cascade Canyon & Paintbrush Canyon

Saturday, 8/17 Back to the long hikes – we started up Cascade Canyon with some uncertainty as to how far we would get. There were a few logical stopping points – Hidden Falls, which we had been to before, the end of Cascade Canyon, Lake Solitude or the full loop … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 8 – Tetons, Taggart & Bradley Lakes

Sunday, 8/18 We had done the Taggart & Bradley Lake trail before, but it was in April and covered in snow, and we couldn’t actually see the trail in some places. The hike was easier this time, though with more people around, but not too horribly busy. There’s nothing super … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 9 – Tetons, Hermitage Point

Monday, 8/19 Trying out a new area of the park in the Colter Bay area, we decided to hike the loop out to Hermitage Point and then back along Swan Lake. Overall, not as interesting as some of the other hikes and a bit more exposed on an open peninsula … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 10 – Yellowstone, Norris Basin

Tuesday 8/20 We got a moderately early start heading back into the park, but we stopped briefly for groceries and coupled with it being an hour drive to the closest campground, we weren’t getting there until well past the line-up-to-get-a-site hour. We ended up trying three campgrounds, which might have … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 11 – Yellowstone, Various

Wednesday 8/21 We were up early to grab a campsite at Norris Basin campground. We should have committed, given up the site at Indian Creek and taken the tent, but we weren’t sure what the chances were. There were expected to be around 15 spots opening up, including 8 in … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 12 – Yellowstone Canyon

Thursday 8/22 Our first stop was along the north side of Yellowstone Canyon (near Canyon Visitor Center). We hiked down to the brink of Upper Falls then continued up part of the North Rim Trail stopping off at the various overlooks. We were able to spot an Osprey nest from … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 13 – Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs

Friday 8/23 For the final day in the park, we drove up to the Mammoth Hot Springs area and hiked the loop there. The hike goes past a portion of the driving tour route, but we skipped doing the full drive.  I’m sure Mammoth is not the only area to … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 14 – Glacier, Avalanche Lake

Saturday 8/24 We woke up and drove from Kalispell about 30-40 minutes into the park. This was our first time in the park, so we weren’t quite as sure what we were going to find. We arrived around 10:00 and the first order of business was, of course, finding a … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 15 – Glacier, Fish Lake

Sunday 8/25 Our plan was to hike Highline trail and we attempted to do just that. Up early, made oats and coffee for the ride, and drove up to Logan Pass to get parking before 8:00. It was slightly rainy / foggy, so we dressed appropriately (raincoats, etc) and started … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 16 – Glacier, Highline Trail

Monday 8/26 Attempt number two at Highline Trail followed the same basic plan as the first, but with vastly improved results. It was an excellent day for the hike, low fog in the morning rising up and leaving a nice afternoon. Highline is a 12mi one-way hike (I guess you … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 17 – Glacier, Grinnell Glacier

Tuesday 8/27 The plan for the day was to do Grinnell Glacier hike along Swiftcurrent Lake, Lake Josephine, Grinnell Lake and then Upper Grinnell Lake and Grinnell Glacier. We didn’t start super early, so we just left the car at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and walked the extra 1/2 mile … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 18 – Roosevelt NP

Wednesday 8/28 We drove the remainder of the drive from Billings to Teddy Roosevelt National Park, getting there in the afternoon. Found a campsite at the Cottonwood campground that was sufficiently shady and set up the tent under a tree. Stopped at the picnic area to make lunch and then … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 19 – Roosevelt NP

Thursday 8/29 As noted, the park isn’t huge, so we headed up the main drive again stopping at a few of the same spots and a few new ones on the way. We did a few shorter hikes, some of which seemed to be kind of hikes to nowhere and … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 20 – Custer State Park / Wind Cave

Friday 8/30 Up, breakfast and then started driving South towards Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park. It was a little rainy for the drive through Custer. Apparently, since it’s on a main highway, there’s a “loophole” where you don’t have to pay the state park fee of $20/car … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 21 – Badlands NP

Saturday 8/31 We wandered through Wall Drug again in the morning for coffee. Refills are only 5 cents!… As advertised on multiple billboards. Apparently Wall doesn’t have any dedicated coffee shops, so we we inadvertently played the tourist role of getting nearly free coffee at the end of the 100 … Continue reading

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West 2019 – Day 22 – Travel & Recap

Sunday 9/1 We drove the rest of the way to Chicago, and got in around 3pm.  We unloaded / swapped car stuff and verified that Janet had not been charged three weeks worth of parking passes for leaving the Subaru in her spot, then wandered down to Mariano’s for some … Continue reading

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