Adjusting Our Altitude: National Park Summer Roadtrip
Hey everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend. I know I always say that I'm excited to be blogging, but today I am extremely excited to be sharing with you guys my: National Park Roadtrip! I had an incredible summer traveling to some cool places but nothing compares to the amazing roadtrip I took with my best friend and Cas the doggy! We spent 18 days on the road driving to some amazing places. We went to:
- Mount Rushmore
- Glacier National
- Yellowstone National
- Grand Teton National
- Bryce Canyon National
- Zion National
- Grand Canyon
- Arches National
This has been a trip that ive been dying to do for a while. I finally found someone who loves the outdoors as much as i do and was willing to take this roadtrip with me. We started planning this around January and we narrowed down the national parks we were dying to see (the list above). We started doing research and within a few months we had mapped out our route. We bought a national park pass, which is good for a year. We got all our camping gear in order and ordered things that were missing. We booked a rental car and before we knew it, it was time for us to head out. We had no sleeping arrangements booked because most of these parks have campsites that are first come first serve.
I will have to say this was the longest drive of my life. It took us 27 hours to drive from New Jersey to Mount Rushmore, South Dakota. We left at night and we somehow managed to drive through the night. It was alot of switching back and forth between the two of us. We had packed snacks before the trip to munch on and we had red bull and coffee as well to keep awake. It was awesome because we never ran out of things to talk about so it made the drive fun!
We made it to South Dakota at night and was able to do mount rushmore early morning before a crazy amount of people could arrive. The monument is beautiful but its actually smaller than I expected. You also cant get as close to it as i thought you could. Either way, it was incredible seeing this amazing monument. It was another thing to cross off my bucket list!
At mount rushmore, we learned that not only were dogs not allowed near national monuments, they weren't allowed in the national parks as well! I think our hearts sunk because we had Cas with us and we were so excited to bring him along with us on the hikes. Thats when our brains went to work and we had to figure out another plan for this trip. We still wanted to to hike and see the parks but we had to find a way to leave Cas somewhere safe while we were out.
Glacier National Park
This has to be my favorite national park I have been to so far and also the scariest. The pictures dont even do justice when it comes to Glacier. We were lucky enough to find an Airbnb somewhat near the park which allowed us to leave Cas there while we hiked. There are over 700 trails in glacier but we chose the top 1 and probably the hardest hike of my life. One thing before coming to Glacier was preparing for grizzly bears. We watched videos, had bear spray, and even had bells on us to make noises while we hiked. Not only were we watching where we were stepping, we were also keeping a look out for any sign of bear activity and making a bunch of noise to let the bears know we were there.
Well the hike up the glacier was a long and painful hike. We chose to do the Grinnell Glacier hike which was about 12 miles out and back. The beginning was easy flat terrain but two miles into the hike, its start with the incline. It was a tough hike for me physically and mentally. It really did push me beyond my limits but it was so worth it! I was lucky that my best friend was patient with me to wait while i took 184819342 breaks. The views from the top and the glacier was incredible!
Yellowstone Natioanl Park
This park was amazing! We didn't do any hiking here because we camped in yellowstone and we couldn't leave Cas in the tent. So for those who are curious, there is a grand loop drive that is available for you to see all of yellowstone. It took us about 7-8 hours to complete this loop because we got out at everything to take pictures and to walk up to the geysers. Only sucky part was that it was a cloudy day and the geysers weren't as colorful as they would be but we did see some unique colors. The town right outside the park was super cool.
We got to see bear cubs, bison, and all types of different animals in Yellowstone. We were also able to see some towns close by. Jackson Hole is a town south of yellowstone and it was so amazing. It had a little western look to it. There was a ton of shops and restaurants. This had to be one of my favorite towns that I saw in all of this trip. It is also a huge skiing and snowboarding place for those who are interested!
Grand Teton National Park
I didn't even know this park existed until we did all our research. This park is is south of Yellowstone and it is so incredible. Just driving by the tetons was breathetaking. I had never seen peaks so beautiful like that and this national park has so many beautiful hikes. We had planned to do a two day hike here but we couldn't since we were camping and Cas wasn't allowed. Mind you there are many national forest around the area where dogs are allowed on every trail. So we decided to do a 6 mile hike that allowed dogs (some parks did have hikes where dogs were allowed). Do not be fooled, this hike was tough as well because it was 3 miles of just pure incline. It had incredible views and was definitely worth the hike. I really recommend this national park because it has so much to offer! I can't wait to go back and hike some of those multi-day hikes!
Bryce Canyon National Park
This park was completely different than the ones we first saw. This has to be my third favorite park on this whole trip! This is where the red-orange rock formations start forming. There were many hikes to chose from here so we did the most recommended one called the Navajo Loop. It was a cool hike because you walk down into the canyons first. It was breathtaking seeing all these amazing formations which were called Hoodoos. The hike back up was a bit hard because it was all incline of course but the higher you got up, the better the view got.
We got to stay at an Airbnb in this small town called Brian's Head, Utah. It was apparently a major skiiing and snowboarding town (i would really go back and ski here!). This allowed us to do the hikes that we wanted to because Cas had a cool place to stay. One thing that sucked is that Brian's head elevation was over 10,000 feet that it made it a little hard to breathe since it was so high up.
Zion National Park
Ahh I absolutely loved this park and the hike! This park has two of the top 10 hikes in America which are called, Angels Landing and The Narrows. I do not like heights and neither does my friend so we decided against Angels Landing and did The Narrows. This has to be the coolest hike I have ever done. The hike took place in the Virgin river and the water went from being at your ankles to up to your waist. It was funny because that day we saw a sign saying that it was dangerous to hike the Narrows due to the storms that were coming and that flash floods were expected (yet we were daredevils and were willing to risk it). We did 4 miles and the dark clouds started rolling in. You could see the height of the water rising slowly so we decided to turn around.
I recommend brining hiking poles here because it can help you balance in the water. Make sure your hiking boots are water proof and water resistance because it sucks have wet boots for the rest of the trip (luckily our boots were waterproof). Do not dress in cotton because you will be wet for a while but that should be common hiking sense!
This was my second time at the Grand Canyon and it still took my breathe away. My first time there, I went to the west entrance of the park and thats where the glass walkway is. This time we camped out and hiked the south rim because luckily Cas was allowed to hike the south rim trail. We had originally planned to hike the Bright Angels trail which was a multiple day hike into the canyon but Cas wasn't allowed. We did a 9 mile hike along the south rim and it was amazing. Most of it was flat and paved because this is where all the tourist are taking pictures. It was beautiful seeing the different sides of the Grand Canyon and learning about its history. This is also one of the 7 wonders of the world so I recommend everyone to visit the Grand Canyon at least once in their life.
This park wasn't originally on our list of parks to see but it was on the way to our last official night of the roadtrip. I had expected a little more from this park but most of it was closed off due to construction. Even getting into the park was free because the offices were closed but that doesn't mean the park was empty. There were so many cars and so many people inside the park. We did a drive into the park to find the main arch. What we didn't realize was that there was a hike that you needed to do in order to get to the arch. We didn't so any hikes because we needed to get to Colorado so we were short on time. But I am hoping to one day come back here and see all the park has to offer!
Due to all the driving, we did get to drive by some pretty cool cities. We got to spend one night in Salt Lake City and see what the city had to offer. We got to glamp in Idaho Falls which was a pretty awesome experience. We spent one night in Kersey, Colorado where we got to ride a tractor and ATV's.
This was my favorite trip I have ever taken and I dont think I could've done it with anyone better than with my best friend. The memories we made on this trip were amazing. All we did was laugh, hike, and spent some incredible time talking about God! This trip took a lot of planning and for those who are curious about my exact itinerary can email or comment and i would be gladly to pass it on! Again for those who are curious about how a college student could possibly afford a trip like this, it really didn't cost that much. Everything was paid between January through July. In total with food, gas, rental car, Airbnb's, campground, souvenirs, and everything else, we spent only about $2,000 which is pretty good for almost a 3 week trip!
I am crossing off another national park of my bucket list in October which is pretty exciting! So make sure you stay tuned to find out where I am off to next!