Explore {our first great American roadtrip – itinerary}

Several of you asked about our itinerary for our big road trip. I told Chris I feel like I need to make a million disclaimers before sharing this. Chris and I have both traveled overseas and can handle primitive/rustic living conditions. We are both pretty low-maintenance and can ‘go with the flow’. We travel that way. With a big family, we also try to do cheap and free. Mainly free. So, for whatever it is worth, here are some of the places we went and stayed. I don’t recommend them for everyone, but we sure had an incredible time! Most days we woke up and decided what we would do that day…we had a very loose ‘plan’ which allowed us to explore as we found things.

For the most part, we picked one location to camp and then explored several surrounding areas. This method worked well for us.

Below is the itinerary for our trip with a few notes (the blue font designates it links to a post I wrote during our trip):

Steamboat Springs, CO

  • we explored all over this town and surrounding areas for about a week. You can find tons of things to do on the city website.
  • Fish Creek falls – great hike for young kids
  • Sarvis Creek – drove until the road ended and then hiked (really rough, single lane road)
  • Pearl Lake
  • Steamboat State Park
  • Botanical Gardens – kids loved this
  • Dumont Lake – closed access (but we found a way in πŸ˜‰ )
  • Hiked to the top of the ski slope – drove up as far as we could, then hiked
  • Alpine Slide – my kids loved this
  • Horseback riding – my son and I made a date of this, he soaked it up

Wyman Museum– Craig, CO

Dinosaur National Park (CO, Utah) – we missed this because we got there too late, but it looks cool to explore

Flaming Gorge– Utah

Grand Tetons – it was really cold and snowing while we were here, so we didn’t do as much hiking and exploring as we would have liked

  • Colter Bay – we stayed in a handicap accessible spot in the campground that are a first come-first serve basis if not used. This spot was more spacious than the RV park spots. We really liked Colter Bay.
  • Jackson Hole
  • Jenny Lake
  • South Yellowstone Entrance/Old Faithful area (accessed this part of the park from where we stayed in the Grand Tetons)
  • West Yellowstone (the town) – great taco bus, Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center

Shoshone National Forest

Glacier National Park

  • Avalanche Lake hike – 4 miles, but so worth it
  • Running Eagle Falls – super short walk to the falls
  • Lake McDonald
  • Polebridge
  • Bowman Lake – wish we could have spent more time here (bring bug spray, lots of mosquito), the road is bumpy gravel and single lane (4 wheel drive would be nice)
  • Glacier Campground RV park – this park allows for reservations, so we booked it instead of searching for one in the park. Free laundry service and showers – we really liked this one.
  • Whitefish – we got to visit The Red Caboose – so good!

West Montana

  • Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest

Bozeman, Montana

  • Palisade Falls
  • Museum of the Rockies
  • Sola Cafe – we just tried the tea & lemonade bar before heading out of town…everything looked yummy though
  • Granny’s Gourmet Donuts – FireCracker got to make her own donut, totally worth it just for that. The donuts were yummy too.

Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming

Mount Rushmore (take the trail that leads up closer to the monument)

And some of my favorite phone pictures from the trip.

7.14schedule-1

Chris uses the Trip Advisor app tons too….and Google Maps πŸ™‚

I’ll post more details about living in the trailer and hiking with kids. If you have any questions about our itinerary, you can ask them below. I’ll be in Africa when you read this, but Chris or I will try to answer your questions at some point.

 

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  • Tara - Love this! So inspiring. We are planning to explore some southern states in the next year in our travel trailer. I’m a little nervous on how we (as a family of 6) will manage going from an over 4,000 sq ft home to a 33ft trailer. I would love to see some behind the scenes pictures and tutorals on how to pack, organize, keep the trailer clean, etc.

  • Pamela - Africa? Where in Africa??? Anywhere close?

  • grace - it’s our dream vacation (to hit up all the national parks).
    If possible, could you show a map of where you went? I just want to see how much land you covered.

  • Amanda @ Click. The Good News - Wow- the trip of a lifetime! So glad we readers got to share in this with you- not only the incredible scenery, but the true joy and happiness of your family exploring these places.

  • Heather - Sounds like such an amazing trip – exactly what my husband and I hope to do when the kids are a little older. Our dream is to get an RV and travel around the U.S. during the summertime, so I’m really looking forward to how you all made it work.

  • Kimberly Oyler - thanks for typing all this out! now to just find a roadtrip buddy (or a husband ;))

  • Laura S. - What a glorious trip for your entire family. So happy to hear you are all safe and sound at home. I truly enjoyed every post and picture.

  • Ujjaini - I want to go on an American roadtrip very soon. This is very helpful!

    http://imyownmuse.blogspot.com/

  • Trisha - Memories for your kids that will last a lifetime! LOVE your blog!

  • Agnes - Please share how long your trip took.

  • Heidi Jo the Artist - I’ve always wanted to take the kids to Dinosaur National Park, among many others on your list. I will definitely be bookmarking this post! One of these days we will head out west to explore more. We went to Mt. Rushmore in fall of 2012, it snowed when we arrived and it was awesome, except Mt. Rushmore wasn’t very visible. We stopped back a couple days later and it was clear, so we were able to see its glory, and get some nicer photos. But we were on a time crunch, so next time we will definitely do the trail. We visited Crazy Horse too, which was pretty amazing and chocked full of history. Looks like you guys had an amazing trip. Love seeing all the beautiful photos and reading the stories.

  • Katie Founds - These are so much fun, Ashley! And it was such a joy for me to look at; these are the places I spent my childhood exploring, the mountains I miss so much during this weird season in Kentucky. I love seeing glimpses of you guys as parents and your crazy kids. It’s a ministry in pictures, to be sure πŸ™‚

  • Ashley - What a great family trip! It inspires me.

  • Sarah - I love following your blog! God Bless you and your adorable family. I was curious if you had any advice on how to find campsites that worked with your Avion and it’s clearance? All of your campsites looked beautiful and remote. We have a similar camper and don’t want to always have to drive into to more formal campsites and have to pay for the hook up’s, etc. to park it. Did you use a phone app or book? Thank you for your help!

  • annaO - My family took a similar camping trip when we were all a little older than your kiddos. We’re from Kansas and went up through Nebraska, South Dakota (saw Mt Rushmore), Montana (Billings and Devil’s Tower), Wyoming (Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons and Jenny Lake!) and down through Colorado. These posts have brought back so many memories. I’m 31 and that’s still by far my favorite vacation. I’m so glad you are willing and able to give your kids these experiences. Kudos to you!

  • AshleyAnn - Thanks Sarah! On this trip, since it was one of our first with a trailer, we really tried to reserve sites as best as we could ahead of time for our trailer. We have not really “boondocked” but I believe in a lot of the national forests that it is an option too. If you really like rustic, we saw several folks just parked in the woods, still in designated areas but there I believe for free. I recommend doing the research before you go on the internet and having some set base camps that you can reserve initially. You could then leave a couple of days open where you could move to a different location after you scout out the area. Chris Campbell

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I love your ‘plan’. It sounds just my speed!

  • Courtney Ward - Ashley,
    You are the type of mother I hope I can be one day. I love reading about your growing family, your faith, and all of the adventures you guys take. The pictures you take are so incredible. Thanks for your blog!
    Courtney

  • Sarah D. - Hi Ashley,
    I was revisiting this blog post because my husband and I are planning a two week trip out west for next June with my eight year old twin boys. We are planning on splitting our time between Glacier, Yellowstone and Tetons. Currently we are planning 2 days in Glacier, 3 in Yellowstone and 2 in Tetons. Based on your experience, is that a good split? And I am thinking that if we go during the second half of June we should plan for some cold weather (based on your pictures!). Do you agree? I am going to use this blog post to do lots of planning! Thank you!

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