The Mountains Win Again


This year’s family trip will lead us to 2 National Parks and 2 National Monuments!

Now, this trip was NEVER on our radar.  Last year our family traveled to the Black Hills of SD.  We met extended family for 3 days of cabin sleeping and adventure.  We saw Badlands National ParkMt. Rushmore, Wind Cave (though we were too late for a tour), Rushmore Cave (which we did tour and I ziplined with my brother), Keystone and more.    At the end of the trip we joked that “next year” (this year) we would go twice the distance and take the kids to Yellowstone National Park…..after the 7.5 hour drive home, my husband and I thought we better wait until the kids were a bit older 🙂

Well, then my cousin got engaged and decided to get married in Billings, MT this Labor Day weekend.  At first we weren’t going to make the trip, then I was going to ride with my brother or parents, until finally we decided to take the whole family and make an epic adventure of it !   I am joyfully anticipating the whole experience, though I know traveling with 3 children ( 11, 9 & 4 ) is going to take its toll on everyone. Oh, did I mention we are camping each night in a different location also 🙂  So we will have to put up and pack up camp each day…..can’t you feel the adventure!!!

I have my knitting  to keep me sane.  We purchased Chat Pack cards for the trip.  (We use them at the dinner table and they really help get us thinking and talking!)  Our children do have a DVD player for the car and all have hand-held video game devices and we have an MP3 player that can be shared.  We also got each of our children a National Parks Passport, so they can have the excitement of receiving their stamps along the way.

We plan to have a flat of bottled water and a cooler for sandwich makings, granola bars, pop tarts, etc.   We will eat out 1 time each day (at least).

Here is our itinerary.  I will share a post adventure post and let you know what we thought of the whole experience.

Day 1:

Leave Brookings, SD  with our final destination of Devil’s Tower View Campground.  We will make “tradition” stops at Al’s Oasis and Wall Drug.   I hope to make a quick stop at Crow Peak Brewing to grab a little 1st day beverage.   We will then set up camp, possibly enjoy a buffalo burger at the Campground restaurant and take time to enjoy Devil’s Tower National Monument.

Day 1 will take us just under 500 miles traveled, with a travel time of at least 10 hours after stops for food, gas, bathrooms.

Day 2:

We will get up and pack up camp.  Heading further into Wyoming from the east and heading north to Billings, MT.  We plan to arrive in Billings, MT around 1pm.  Set up camp at my Aunt and Uncle’s and get ready for my cousin’s 4pm wedding at Oscar’s Park 🙂   I am SO excited to see my family!!!

Day 2 will take us just under 300 miles, with a travel time of about 6 hours after stops.  We are hoping to make Day 2 the quickest day possible.

Day 3:

The real adventure begins on day 3!  We will awake early and pack up camp at my Aunt & Uncle’s.  We plan to get on the road and enjoy breakfast in Red Lodge, MT.   I look forward to enjoying some baked goods, coffee and maybe even an early morning Red Lodge Ale.    From Red Lodge, we have decided to face the Beartooth Pass!   I traveled this stretch of road last in the early summer of 2003.  It was scary and fun all at the same time.  I look forward to a family photo at the elevation sign!  This road will bring us right into Yellowstone National Park.   We will be staying at Grant Village Campground and have dinner reservations set at The Old Faithful Inn.

As we make our way through the park we will see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Tower Falls and a few other sites along the road. We plan to set up camp, make our way to Firehole River (hotsprings), Morning Glory Pool and Old Faithful Geyser.

Day 3 will take us roughly 230 miles and just over 7 hours (counting stops in Red Lodge, Beartooth Pass and sites along the roads to our camp site)  Dinner at 5:45pm and more site seeing before bed.

Day 4:

Day 4 will be a long one, but also very enjoyable.  We will pack camp up in Yellowstone and head south to Grand Tetons National Park.  I have only ever seen the Tetons from the Idaho side and I am very excited and hopeful to get our family holiday photo here!    We will enjoy a drive along Teton Park Road and Jenny Lake Road until we arrive in Moose, WY for breakfast at Dornan’s Chuckwagon 🙂  ( Also See ) I might even get to enjoy a Snake River Brewery beer.  After a hearty breakfast in the middle of the mountains, we will make our way back into South Dakota.   We will make camp at Beaver Lake Campground just outside of Custer, SD.

Day 4 will take us almost 600 miles and at least 12 hours with stops for breakfast and breaks.  This will be the most trying day in my opinion, but I look so forward to sitting in the middle of the Grand Tetons eating breakfast !!!

Day 5:

Going home.  After packing up camp early, we plan to hit Jewel Cave National Monument for a short tour/talk.   We will then proceed home, with a stop at Al’s Oasis again and keep moving.

Day 5 will take us 430 miles and at least 8 hours.   And then it will be time to wash a ton of clothes and unpack after our adventure.

In 5 days we will drive close to 2000 miles, hit altitudes of 10,947 feet, spend close to 32 hours in a car, camp 4 nights in 4 different locations, see 3 states, 2 National Parks and 2 National monuments……it all equals 1 epic family adventure to the mountains.   Maybe next year we can get to Glacier National Park…..LOL

I am so excited for our trip!  Can’t wait to show you photos when we return 🙂



One thought on “The Mountains Win Again

  1. Pingback: #HouckTheMountains2015 – A Review | earthcakes & cupquakes

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