Saturday, July 11, 2015


This summer, we planned our biggest, grandest RV-cation ever!  It started with the idea of driving up to Montana to visit friends.  We found so many great things to see and do along the way, that it then because a long RV trip with many stops, one of which was a brief stop to visit our friends.  We were gone for 20 days, drove around 4,500 miles, explored 3 state parks, visited 3 national parks, saw 2 national monuments, and spent a few days in Missoula, MT with the Thompsons.  We did lots of hiking and exploring, went river rafting, saw amazing sights (from canyons to mountains to caves), came across lots of wildlife, enjoyed sweet time with dear friends, and made some great family memories.  All in all, it was a successful trip, which means that we can plan another cross-country RV trip in the future!

Here are the stops we made and some thoughts on each:
  1. Fort Richardson State Park, TX: We had a brief one-night stay here just to break up the trip. It was a good brief stay and the boys enjoyed climbing the trees and exploring the rocks.  Randy and I appreciated all of the fort buildings (including a morgue, which was kind of creepy).  Not sure we'll visit it again, but it was a good stop along the way.
  2. Palo Duro Canyon State Park, TX:  We spent 2 nights here and were very glad that we did.  It was hot (summer in Texas), but beautiful.  Getting down to our campground at the bottom of the canyon was pretty scary.  It was a 10% grade down the canyon road, which was super tiny with no shoulder or guardrails - not exactly comforting in a big RV.  We hiked a couple of trails - our favorite was the canyon trail (up to the top of the canyon and then back down).  It was a "strenuous" hike (according to the park's hiking map), but well worth-it.  It was fun climbing up the rocky path and along the edge of the canyon and we were rewarded with breathtaking views.  We also saw the outdoor Texas musical that is performed in the park, which was cheesy but still a good experience - and it allowed us to see the sun set, the stars come out, and there was a fireworks show at the end.  We definitely want to visit Palo Duro again.
  3. Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge: We took a slight detour to see the tallest suspension bridge in the country.  Unfortunately, we were under the impression that is was free to walk across, only to get there and find out that it's something like $18 for adults and $14 for kids.  So we opted not to spend that kind of money (which I regret now, but oh well) and just enjoyed seeing it from where we stood. And our pit-stop there did put us at a fun little RV park for the kids, where they got to play and do a lot of neat things.
  4. Rawlins, WY: We just stopped here to sleep for the night on our way up to the Grand Tetons.
  5. Grand Tetons National Park, WY: This place was incredible!!!  The Teton mountain range is beautiful!  We did lots of hiking here and got to see many incredible sights.  The lakes are so clear and pretty.  We saw a fantastic waterfall.  We saw a moose out in the trees just munching away and sat and had a snack while we watched it eat.  We also had some osprey sightings, as well as pronghorn gazelle, and cute tiny chipmunks were everywhere.  We absolutely want to return to Grand Tetons again one day - many times!!
  6. Yellowstone National Park, WY:  It was neat to see all of the hydrothermal features and we are glad that we went and experienced them, but it's not something we'll want to revisit repeatedly.  They are cool to see, but not exactly pretty.  Also, we found Yellowstone to be too crowded and touristy.  And it is such a large park that it takes ages to get from one area to the next so we spent entirely too much time in the car instead of out exploring nature.  We did see lots of wildlife, mostly bison, but also lots of elk and mule deer, and we even had a grey wolf sighting which was neat.
  7. Missoula, MT:  We went to Missoula to visit our dear, sweet, wonderful, lifelong friends. Missoula is a cute, sweet little city, but we were mostly just happy to be with our friends.  We hiked "The M," ate ice cream at The Big Dipper, played at a waterpark, went to a movie, checked out the local farmer's markets, went on a river rafting trip down the Blackfoot River, did some fireworks, saw the town's fireworks, and made even more memories with the awesome Thompson family!
  8. Custer State Park, SD:  We loved Custer SP!  It's so pretty - rolling green hills, forests, streams, wildlife.  We didn't get to explore it as much as we would have liked because we were off visiting other neat places nearby - Jewel Cave National Monument (we toured the cave, which was awesome!), Wind Cave National Monument (so pretty!), and Mount Rushmore (one of those amazing sights that just needs to be seen up close and in person).  We did enjoy driving the awesome mountain roads in Custer (super windy with several carved-from-rock tunnels) and saw lots of wildlife (bison, burros, deer, pronghorn).  We definitely want to return to Custer S.P. and spend more time hiking and exploring.

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