No animals were harmed during this trip


Jeff and I just came home from my amazing 60th birthday trip to National Parks I had not yet visited. I’ll be posting pictures and memories later but before I start describing the amazing time we had I have to comment on one thing: Some tourists are horrible humans and dumb asses.

In our travels we saw more bison than I could take pictures of and yes, there were quite a few, cute baby bison. Much to our horror the bison-in-the-van incident happened just days after we were introduced to the beautiful beasts. We were stunned that anyone would be so stupid and thoughtless. You can barely walk through a visitor center or read a pamphlet without seeing very clear warnings and instructions about co-existing with wildlife.

Also, just a day after we were enjoying all of the geysers and pools at Yellowstone, this little gem appeared in the media. Evidently, a group of “tourist bros” decided to just tromp around on the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone.

I’m very glad Jeff and I visited before all the madness of the tourist season which, evidently, begins on memorial day weekend. If you are traveling to national parks this summer may I suggest getting out in nature early in the morning (most of the visitor centers open at 8am but the parks themselves are open much earlier). Drive carefully, obey the rules of safely observing wildlife, and take all the pictures you can handle.

The Next 30

I’m starting my next 30 years on the 8th of May. To celebrate, Jeff and I are taking a driving trip to some National Parks I have never visited. We leave in a couple of days and though I have planned the whole route and where we are staying along the way, I wonder about points of interest that exist on our route that would make this even more fun? Here’s my route. Please feel free to comment with some of your favorites.

Portland to Kalispell

We are starting in Portland and going directly to Kalispell for just one night. Here is our route. I doubt we will be stopping much along the way except for a meal and a few breaks.

Kalispell to Glacier

The next day will be driving to East Glacier. Ideally, I would like to have taken Going-to-the-sun-road from Kalispell all the way to St Mary. However, according to the Glacier National Park road status site the road is closed at Avalanche Creek coming form the south, and closed at Jackson Glacier Outlook coming from St Mary on the east side. I suspect we will go from Kalispell to Avalanche Creek, then turn around and follow this may up to St Mary and all the way to Jackson Glacier Outlook. Our first day will be mostly driving and taking pictures. The next two days we will do some hikes and try to not get eaten by bears. If you have recommendations for easy hikes I’m interested.

East Glacier to Theodore Roosevelt National Park

After two+ days in Glacier we are meandering to Billings, about a third of the way to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, for a quick overnight. From there we will continue to meander to Dickinson, ND with easy access to Roosevelt where we will hang out for a couple of days. Again, any sights along the way or at Roosevelt would be greatly appreciated.

Badlands National Park, Wind Caves National Park, Mt Rushmore

You will have to zoom in a little on this map to see these three locations (click on More options to open a bigger map). Jeff knew I was thinking about this trip at Christmas so I was happy to find this great book by National Geographic about the National Parks under the tree on Christmas morning. Reading about the Badlands and Wind Caves was inspirational. Mt Rushmore–I just want to see that for myself.

Yellowstone National Park

The last three full days will be spent in and around Yellowstone. We will be staying at an Airbnb on the East side of Yellowstone. Based on what I’ve read and heard Yellowstone should keep us very busy for those three days. While we are there we will also do a day trip to Grand Tetons National Park.

Back to Portland

We will head back to Portland, stoping for a night in Boise, ID just to break up the long drive. Clearly we are driving a LOT. But I figure now is a good time for this great American driving trip. Gas is on the lower side and it’s the 100th anniversary of the National Parks. We will be hiking, eating, mixing with the locals, going to every odd and interesting thing we discover, and taking a HUGE number of pictures, which I will post here as we go.