Yellowstone – Tower Roosevelt

The one section of the park we were struggling to get to was Lamar Valley, so we set out on a day we both had off with the goal of finally exploring it. I say finally because the weather has been so different here that we have had to turn back a couple of times trying to make it there and this day didn’t start out promisingly as you can see from the snow on our windshield. Still we decided to give it a go because you really never know what weather you will see in different areas of the park. To prove that please keep an eye on the sky during the next two blog posts. They all happened in one day and the weather changed frequently.

This is what we started with but like Lee says nothing exciting happens sitting on the couch.

The one benefit of overcast weather is we have found it does increase the chance of animal sightings. We saw this beautiful Elk early on in the day and most exciting a moose! I am in awe of how people see animals like the moose when driving by, but I am always happy to cheat from their paper when I see cars pulled off the road.

Thankfully the weather started to clear when we hit Mammoth Springs and the drive to Tower Roosevelt was really pleasant. Since we left early we also had that part of the park largely to ourselves and we were both surprised when we came upon a beautiful waterfall. I had no idea this waterfall was here, but what a great surprise and we enjoyed walking around and taking pictures with Jack.

Th visitors center was still closed. It finally opened Memorial Day weekend. We actually went back that weekend and the parking lot was packed so I am extra glad we got up here early in the season.
Absolutely gorgeous vistas

We walked Jack up the road a bit and saw a small waterfall and a creek. There was an explosion of smells and Jack really enjoyed himself.

Unfortunately Jack couldn’t walk to the waterfall so back in the car he went and we took a very short walk to see the falls. What a beauty, it was truly unexpected. The only bummer was there was no way we could see to walk down to it and get closer.

The rock spire next to the fall was the coolest part and makes this waterfall pretty unique. Using my 18-400mm lens I got some pictures that were closer.

Super cool

Out last stop in the Tower Roosevelt area was to drive a couple miles down the road to Canyon Village. The rest of the road is closed until May 27th, but our new friends Lisa and Bob (Lee’s coworkers at the camera store) had told us they had seen a black bear there. It’s been great getting to know them, because they like us take full advantage of their days off and sharing information has improved our animal sightings. Still we didn’t expect how lucky we would get when we pulled up and saw a mama black bear with her baby right across the road. It drew quite the crowd, but we got a great spot and both of us got some awesome pictures.

Lee’s closeup pictures with the 600mm were so good

I am going to stop here before I head into Lamar Valley, but as you can see the weather is much improved even at higher elevation. We did stop at a gift shop on our way home though and Lee bought a black bear and a moose magnet which are now added to the Grizzly and Bison we have on our fridge. It’s the little things in life 🙂

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes

Yellowstone – Hayden Valley

I have been trying to group these posts into areas, but on this particular day we traveled a wide circuit starting at Norris Basin and ending back in West Yellowstone. I have taken a map and highlighted below to show you where we went.

Our first stop was Artist’s Point, which is on the Yellowstone Grand Canyon’s south rim. This spot is where many beautiful pictures have been painted and it did not disappoint. It was very crowded though and I am glad we went so early in the season. I took a ton of pictures and here are my favorites.

It was really great but we had more places to see so we headed towards Fishing Bridge. Along the way we passed through Hayden Valley and got some pictures of a coyote. We have seen several foxes and coyotes hunting during mid-day which is kind of cool. With one sighting Lee even had time to set up the tripod and got a great picture.

My pictures weren’t as good, but I got to see the coyote poke his head in a hole and grab some sort of varmint and eat it. It was pretty neat to watch and the coyote could have cared less about us watching.

Next we stopped at LeHardy’s Rapids to see the Harlequin ducks. Lee learned at work that these ducks are only viewable at these rapids and they are here for a very short stint in the spring. They are very rare in the United States and we were so glad we got to see two small groups of them. These ducks actually hang out on the rocks right in the middle of the rapids and are famous for completely immersing their bodies in the water to catch fish. All we saw that day was them hanging out, but it was still really cool. As an FYI it’s kind of hard to find the boardwalk. As you face the pit toilet, it is to the far left.

Here are Lee’s pics

Next up was Fishing Bridge where we stopped and got some lunch. They had a lunch counter open in the gift shop and we had a simple but much needed meal. The waitress was really nice and talked about how much she liked doing something a little different in the park.

The lake itself was a little disappointing because it was pretty grey and almost completely iced over. Definitely want to go back when the ice melts. Jack liked it though.

Next up was Grant Village and we took a quick look at the gift shop. Not sure why Grant and Fishing Bridge are so close together, I can only imagine the lake is crazy busy when it gets hotter.

We started home and then we saw that the side road to Firehole Canyon was open. Casey had mentioned that was pretty cool so we took the side trip. Wow was that a pleasant surprise because it was an awesome canyon drive with a beautiful waterfall along the way. We got out and walked Jack around and spent almost an hour exploring this area.

Absolutely gorgeous

Lee is always getting Jack to walk in crazy places and Jack is totally up for it. I don’t mind so much because I can hang back a bit and take pictures!

It was a great end to a wonderful day and even though it was a long one was totally worth it to take advantage of the great weather. I took so many pictures here are a few more of my favorites.

Oh and one last thing. Along the river we saw a bear cave with bones right outside it. No bear but still VERY cool.

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes

Yellowstone – Norris Basin

Sunday morning of Julie and Casey’s visit we had by far the most beautiful weather we have had since we got here. Bright, sunny and in the low 60’s it was a perfect day to go into the park and Julie and Casey wanted to walk the Norris Basin. Since this was a new area for us, we were excited to go and we all headed out around 7:30am.

Since it was a clear day we stopped and took some pictures I have been wanting to take

And we stopped and saw some red dogs (that’s what they call the baby bison) and they were super cute

We also stopped and visited Gibbon Falls which we have passed several times but it was always too cold to get out and look. What a beautiful falls and its an easy walk to several vantage points. I spent some time trying out my new lens and was super happy I could take a wide variety of shots without switching lenses or pulling out my phone. Don’t get me wrong I still like taking some pictures with my phone, but its nice to be able to do most of it with one camera and one lens.

Simply Gorgeous

When we arrived at Norris Basin we saw there is a Forest Ranger museum (unfortunately still closed) and two different loops. The most popular loop goes to Steamboat geyser which is the tallest geyser in the park but goes off sporadically. Seeing it go off is a point of pride for people and we even met a young man who grew up in the area and has visited over 300 times but never seen it go off. Hey there are worse hobbies to have, but for me that geyser and really that entire section was only so-so.

On this section I actually liked the nearby Spring which drains when the geyser goes off. It’s pretty far away from the geyser and shows how connected these thermal pockets all are.

Still if you only have time to do one side I absolutely recommend checking out Porcelain basin. It is a huge area of activity with multiple spots and a great boardwalk that goes throughout. It was really very cool and I loved the picture I got there although I didn’t come close to capturing how wonderful it was.

So cool

It was a great morning and a very nice hike, but Julie and Casey needed to head back to the Tetons. Thanks for coming all this way to see us and we particularly appreciated that great picture you took of us!

Since it was such a gorgeous day, Lee and I decided to continue on to Artists Point and Hayden Valley, which I will talk about in my next post.

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes

Living at High Elevation, Snow, Sleet, and Rain

Since the last three posts have been so beautiful I think its important to take a moment and talk about the reality of the weather here. Those three days were the anomaly and over the last three weeks almost every other day the weather has been so much worse. We have had several days with 3-4 inches of snow and almost every day has been overcast with intermittent rain/sleet/snow.

Jack LOVES the snow
One nights accumulation

Personally I can handle the cold (although 9 degrees a couple of morning was a bit much) but the lack of sun has been a real bummer. It’s been a long time since we have been anywhere the weather has been this bad for so long and I have to say I haven’t missed it. And not to be too whiny but the high elevation isn’t helping. West Yellowstone is at 6,667 feet and this is the highest elevation I have ever lived at. I have intermittently found myself to be light headed, nauseous, and fighting off dehydration. To be fair these moments are getting fewer and fewer the longer we are here, but combined with the weather not so great. I really feel sorry for the folks that just have a few days here, because if they pick the wrong few days it’s hard to see much of the park.

A few times we did go into town which has a surprising amount of original buildings from the 1800’s and I have to say I still really like it here. I also wanted to mention that the Visitors Center is excellent and has not only the town visitors center but also a desk with park rangers. Really good!

And since Lee gets such a great employee discount at the camera store I invested in a new 18-400mm lens. It works really great and is just slightly heavier than my other long lens, while being 100mm better. I am VERY happy with it.

Practicing with my new lens

One of the reasons the weather has been frustrating is we have been dying to see more of the park. I know we have the whole summer, but we keep hearing horror stories about the crowds that will be here soon and we want to take advantage of the time we have. On May 10th there was a 30 minute wait to get into the park at park mid day so its hard to imagine what it will look like in July and August. My plan is to see as many of the “hot ticket” sights in the park as early as possible and save the rest for when the crowds get crazy.

This sign explains the crazy crowds

It’s still easy to get in during the evening though although with the cold and wind I usually don’t want to. One day Lee went by himself and got some great pictures of a sow and two baby bears, but since he had to stand in the cold and wind for 30 minutes to get them, honestly I am not that upset I missed it. I was super happy for him though.

So cute!!

I did rally though when Julie and Casey came to visit and it was nice to hear they were sick of the weather as well. This is their fourth season working in the Tetons and they said this was much worse than usual. They made the 3-1/2 hour drive to get a camera from Lee’s camera store and to see the park. We were blessed with the best day in weeks on Sunday, which I will save for the next post, but had a nice happy hour and dinner at the Slippery Otter in town on Saturday night.

It so nice to see friends and we can’t wait to return the favor and drive down to see them in the Tetons.

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes

One Million Website Hits

When I started this blog back in June 2013 my goal was to share some things I learned as a new RVer. My oldest daughter Kyrston had been writing a blog and she walked me through how to write down my thoughts and upload some pictures. I cannot stress enough that I had no idea what I was doing. Not in writing a blog and certainly not in RVing, as we had never owned one in our life. The one thing I did know was that if I was going to write my thoughts I would be as honest as I could, even if no one ever read it.

Our first little travel trailer and truck

I definitely had no idea that this new hobby would completely transform my life. That is in a relatively short period of time I would sell everything and live fulltime into a bigger RV. Throughout one of the most impactful transformations of my life I have held onto this blog. It is partly my memory keeper, partly my confessor, and still an attempt on my part to share information to others who don’t have all the answers. What is surprising to me is how well received these musings have been to other people. I will never get rich from this blog (I usually break even on costs), but every time someone reaches out and says what we wrote helped them it makes the hours I put into it worth it.

Lee and I want to sincerely thank you all very much for finding what I write interesting enough to click one million times. I wish I could do something for everyone who has hung in there with us all these years, but the best thing I could think of was to share my all time favorite posts.

  1. Putting Regular Gas into a Diesel Vehicle – Arguably the most traumatic event we have experienced on the road, this post is a raw account of when Lee accidently put regular gas in our truck and killed the engine in our 1 year old truck. More than any other post I have ever written people have reached out to me about this one and many people we know now actually touch the word diesel on the gas pump before they start fueling. I know I still do it to this day and if this post helped anyone not make the same mistake this blog was totally worth it.
  2. First Time in Shelter Cove – Lee and I have been so many beautiful places it is hard to pick my favorite, but if pressed I would have to say the day we drove down into Shelter Cove was overall the most beautiful. We found out about the remote location from a park ranger we were volunteering for and this isolated location was amazing. We also met a retired couple of was living there for the Park Service and I have rarely been in a place where I felt that level of peace. Check out the picture of me sitting on the tree and looking into the ocean. It really says it all.
  3. Comparing the Big Five Work Kamping Jobs – After I quit my corporate job in 2015, I set off to experience all of the different work kamping jobs. After literally years of working these various jobs I was able to sit down and write a summary of those experiences. The post is chock full of detailed information and although it doesn’t have the raw emotion of some of my daily accounts I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I finished the summation. Once I start a project I will usually finish it, come hell or high water, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into with committing to working all these different jobs. Still I am glad I did it, but there were certainly days when I questioned my own sanity.
  4. Eagles and Waterfalls – Not only did we spend the day with our mentors Howard and Linda, but we saw our first eagle in the wild and a gorgeous waterfall. That day for a variety of reasons really stands out in my personal memories and contains one of my all time favorite pictures of Lee and I.
  5. What am I doing with my life – Speaking of sanity I have written many posts about the emotional impact of quitting my job, living fulltime in an RV, and working seasonal jobs but one of my favorites was pretty early on in Alaska. I went from a high powered corporate job to working as an admin in a small campground and did not deal with the transition well. Looking back I think those feelings given the circumstances were incredibly valid and it took some courage in those days to say them out loud.
  6. Original Expectations versus Reality – Personally I am a fan of posts where I take a moment, look back and summarize my experiences. Written in 2018 I took a look at what I originally thought the life would be like and compared it to the reality. I tried to balance the positive and the negatives in this post and think I did a decent job of that. It also includes a cute puppy picture of our dog Jack which is always a value add to any post.
  7. TSD Logistics Fuel Card – Because many people view individual posts from the home page it is difficult to see what the all time most seen post is, but the post with the most link hits was around using the TSD Logistics Fuel Card. In a world where fuel costs can be a prohibiting factor for travel I think this post is still very relevant plus Lee wrote most of this one. As an update we are still using the fuel card when it makes sense and recently saved 30 cents a gallon using it. If you haven’t checked out the program I highly recommend it.
  8. What Lee will do to ride in a helicopter – This post was about Lee’s heart attack when we were gate guarding. I think this truly was one of the most traumatic event of our lives so much so that Lee and I were both diagnosed with PTSD months later when we continued to have issues processing it. This post is also the one that has the most all time comments and the support of the community was incredibly helpful to us at such a difficult time.
  9. First Time Gate Guarding Day 27-29 – I asked Lee what his favorite posts were so I could add them to the list and he said the ones where I went out on a limb and was emotionally open. He said the comments were a good way to see how these posts resonated with people so I went back and looked and this post stood out. I have written dozens of daily posts about work kamping jobs but for some reason this one really spoke to people. I think it’s because Lee added some really funny comments to this one 🙂
  10. Yellowstone – Canyon Village – We have been lucky to have had several near perfect days in our travels and it is hard to pick just one, so I will pick the most recent.

Once again Lee and I would like thank all of you for following along. This blog is truly a labor of love, but having other people find it enjoyable has certainly made it worthwhile.

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes

Yellowstone – Mammoth Springs

Our next full day off (with semi decent weather) we went to Mammoth Springs, with the goal of going to Lamar Valley. I wanted to make it all the way Lamar Valley, but the farther north we got the more snow showers we saw. Still it was a good drive, and since we left early we got to see a grizzly along the way. Once again I would like to stress that the best bear sightings happen before 9am or after dusk. If you are a late riser and a person who likes to be in by happy hour there are still lots of beautiful things you can see here, but bear sightings probably wont be included in them.

You can see the snow on his back. I took this one with my 75-300 Canon lens.

We also saw a bison jam on our way up, which I have to say I really enjoy. Lee not so much since he is driving, but I love the way these “furry cows” own the road. I may be less entranced as the summer goes along, but for now it tickles me and Jack gets VERY excited when he smells them.

One of the most interesting things about Yellowstone is how quickly the topography changes with the elevation changes. On the ride to Mammoth Springs we went through at least 4 different environments (including weather) and the variety is endlessly fascinating. What I wasn’t expecting was an amazing canyon area with a waterfall and some of the most beautiful rock formations I have seen since Utah. What a lovely surprise.

The waterfall was right off to the right.

While we were taking pictures of the waterfall a buffalo starting walking down the main road and he owned it. I got this great picture of the road, the waterfall, and the buffalo that I loved.

Right past that spot there was an awesome pullout behind some rocks and we got out and let Jack run around a bit. It was a magical little spot and made more so by the little patch of beautiful sunshine. I took a bunch of pictures but here is a gallery of some of my favorites.

After this section we came to a huge meadow area with lots of elk and bison. We saw our first “red dogs” which are what they call baby bison up here and got up close and personal with some elk. It wasn’t the prettiest area we have been in but the animal population was great.

Finally we arrived at Mammoth Springs and it started snowing again. This area’s claim to fame are huge hot springs area, but the weather was really not nice enough for me to walk around it. Instead we went to the visitors center which we both thought was the nicest one we have seen so far. The upstairs had animal information and the downstairs had the history of the park. Initially they only had a few rangers and the poachers ran rampant. Finally the Army stepped in and took over management which paved the way for the Park service as we know it today.

We also drove around the employee campus here which is where the workers stay. 50% of the seasonal employees are usually made up with college students from other countries but this year they are having a lot of trouble getting them Visas. Subsequently the park is incredibly short staffed and some of these facilities are empty.

The town is OK, they have Elk wander through town, but the weather wasn’t great so we kept moving east. I still wanted to get to Lamar Valley, but we did stop to see one more waterfall outside of town.

We were getting close to Tower Roosevelt when we saw lots of cars pulled over. There was a grizzly up on the hill and Lee wanted to test out the long lens he borrowed from the camera store. For me the lens was too heavy and here are the shots that I got with my 100-300.

Not bad but here are the ones that Lee got with his borrowed 600 lens.

Amazing right!! The difference was enough to make me think about getting a bigger lens but as you can see below the 600 is a bit much for me to handle.

We spent a long time watching the bear and were getting to leave when the bear stopped to take a poop. Then it slowly started making his way down the hill so we stayed right where we were at. A ranger came walking along (with a shotgun) and encouraged people to get into their trucks.. which we promptly did. Other people weren’t that smart though and were standing outside.

Finally, after much hesitation, the bear crossed the road directly in front of our truck!!! I got a video of it from inside the car and you can hear Jack let out a low whine. He was not so much a fan of the bear. It was really cool though and most importantly we were safe although the other folks just got lucky. Tremendous bear sighting and quite the thrill!!

After the bear we did make it to Tower Roosevelt but the lodge was shut down and it started to snow harder. We headed back the way we came and decided to go to Gardiner (outside the north entrance) and grab a bite to eat. Gardiner was a cool little town, but I will say I like West Yellowstone better. Gardiner does house the original stone marker for the park though and we had a great lunch at the Cowboy Lodge and Grill. I am not kidding it was delicious and the elk/bison chili was by far the best I have ever had.

The original stone entrance

It was a great day but weather once again stopped us from making our final destination. Still there is so much to see and do here it was still a great day.

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes

Yellowstone – Canyon Village

Because we are both working Lee and I have made a deal. Once we “clear” a section of the park together it is open to either of us going alone. That is part of the reason these first few posts are all going to be divided into sections because we are clearing the map.

On our second foray into the park I chose Canyon Village, because the roads were clear and I really wanted to see the canyon. The first time I saw a painting depicting this spot I was blown away and have always wanted to stand where Thomas Moran once stood.

Since we went in the evening after work, we knew animal sightings would be a crapshoot, but between the valley and the waterfall I didn’t really care. I do want to mention here that MANY people come with the desire to see animals and although I respect that (and want to see them as well) there is so much more to see here. If you only have a few days and come to check the grizzly bear box you may be disappointed. Instead I advise taking the park in all its natural beauty and letting the animal sighting come to you.

The road to Canyon Village actually has a small stretch of 7% grade and on another snowier day Lee turned around rather than attempting it. This evening though the roads were clear and the snow laden trees were gorgeous.

When we approached the canyon we realized that the trails closer to the falls (including artists viewpoint) were closed but thankfully the higher level viewpoints were open. There were three different views that we saw and everyone one of them was breathtaking. I haven’t seen anything quite like this since our visit to Bryce and the combination of snow, water, and valley blew me away. Truly I am not a good enough writer to express how it felt so I will let the pictures do the talking for me, but even they don’t come close to capturing the majesty.

You can see the walkway in the bottom center, but unfortunately it was closed. Can’t wait to go back and get up close and personal.

The smile says it all

Very few people were around and since the rules are that your dog can be outside your vehicle within 50 feet of the road we were able to let Jack out a bit, ON LEASH. He loves the fresh air and his nose is working overtime with all the smells. The pine trees and snow amongst the rocks were so beautiful as well and although it was a bummer we couldn’t hit the trails I am glad my first views were with the snow. We took a last few pics though because we were losing the light and headed back to the main area of the park.

On a whim we headed north towards obsidian cliff because Lee had heard there were grizzlies in that area. The locals and professional photographers all say if you are looking for animals 6am – 9am or after dusk are the best times so we decided to give it a shot. As we were advised we drove slowly along the road looking in the meadows and for cars pulled over. Truly as an amateur the best way to see things is to look for others who are experts at spotting and although sometimes you just miss the sighting when you don’t its really cool.

And in this case we got really lucky because when we saw a crowd we pulled over we got to see a grizzly bear!!! The bear was playing peekaboo in the woods, but by being patient we got a few shots with our long lens. This particular bear has a collar and a local told me it was bear 881 and was a 19 year old male. I asked how she knew that, but she got a little coy and said she knew her bears.

You can see the collar in this picture

We stayed for awhile and watched the bear but decided to move our truck to free up the area for other folks. We turned around and were heading back when we saw a horse trailer. Since there were cars on on both side of the road he waved us through and as we were passing we saw Forrie Smith (the actor who plays Lloyd on Yellowstone) in the truck cab pulling the trailer. Lee, always quick, stopped the truck and jumped out. He shook his hand and told him how much he loved his work and I managed to get a quick pic through the window.

Sometimes life hands you quintessential moments and I know meeting a Yellowstone actor, in Yellowstone park, while a grizzly grazed nearby was definitely one of them. We were both super excited as we headed back to our campground, but had one more stop as we passed a giant pool. I love this particular hot pool because it is right next to the main road and the hot water and steam go under the road into the river nearby. It was a beautiful night and the steam was billowing and capped a perfect evening.

Driving through the steam is cool

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes

Yellowstone – Old Faithful

One of the benefits of arriving in Yellowstone in late April is minimal crowds, but the weather was definitely problematic. I kept waiting for a clear sky day to go into the park, but finally realized that probably wasn’t going to happen so instead settled on a dry roads day. Although it was overcast it was still really exciting, and we finally entered our nation’s first National Park. Due to the time of year and weather not all of the roads were open, so we decided to focus on the Old Faithful section of the park.

Even if all the roads were open I would NOT recommend trying to see everything in a day or even two. This park is HUGE, with multiple sections that each deserve their own time in my opinion. To be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect, despite all the hype, but this park has absolutely blown me away. It truly has it all. Gorgeous vistas, tons of wildlife, waterfalls, and the geysers. Of course the most famous of them all is Old Faithful so of course that was high on my list. And did I mention this is the 150th anniversary of the park??? I would love to say I planned it that way but it is just a happy coincidence.

The entrance. Entering early or later is really important when things get busy because the lines we have heard can be two hours long.

We saw a sign when we entered that said watch for bison on the road and we were not disappointed. We had several up close and personal encounters with bison that first day and they were beautiful. We also saw some Trumpeter swans which I have only seen once before in Alaska. This was all less than 10 miles inside the gate which was a great way to start.

It’s hard to decide which pictures to highlight so I will share my favorites in gallery view and you can click on any for a larger version.

The rivers running through the park are absolutely gorgeous. I didn’t expect this much water.

The 14 mile drive to Madison was cool enough, but then we started seeing lots of geyser activity. That I did not expect as we would see billowing steam in all kinds of places. Yellowstone sits on an active volcano, and the steam vents and geysers are “release valves”. Frankly it’s incredibly cool and we stopped and took a walk around the Painted Pots area, one of the many walkways built through the geyser fields. We had a lovely conversation which a young ranger named Mary and then hit a section where three of them were all going off at the same time and we were in the middle. What an amazing feeling and I absolutely loved it!!

This pond reaches 195 degrees

The day was just filled with unexpected surprises and we hadn’t even gotten to Old Faithful yet. When we arrived we stopped at the gift shops first and met lots of other fulltime RVers who were working there. These stores are beautiful and had lots of staff so we picked up a couple of items.

We made it to the Old Faithful Visitor Center around 3:30 and to be honest I was a bit disappointed. Mostly that is because I am not that interested in the details around geysers, but it does have a beautiful large window you can see the geyser from while being inside. We finished the museum around 4:00pm and since the next eruption was scheduled for 4:14 decided to walk out and wait. Unfortunately it was cold and sleet while we were waiting but the eruption was pretty cool. Keep in mind this was off season and terrible weather and the crowds were still there. Can’t imagine what its like in season.

Because of the cold you mostly see steam but still really cool. VERY high in the air.

We were both really glad that we had checked Old Faithful off our list but to be honest I liked the experience at the painted pots better. Still its something everyone should do and I look forward to seeing the lesser known geysers in the future. Since we are here all summer our plan is to do the most famous attractions as early in the summer as we can and then spend the high season (July and August) exploring the lesser known places. Even in high season the park is supposed to be good between 6am – 10 am (prime animal viewing) and 6pm – Dusk. We have already made a couple more trips into the park in the evening and those are special as well.

So far I really love this park and I may come out of this experience with it as my all time favorite. I’ll continue to write about our adventures this summer and share my pictures!

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes

April 2022 Budget

April included a trip from Texas to Montana with multiple stops along the way. High gas prices aside we always spend more when we are traveling because we pay more for campgrounds, activities, souvenirs, and of course gas. With all the things we did in April I actually think $6800 is very reasonable. Please see below for more details.

Campsite Fees – $1,000 for fees on the move is really good for us and Lee’s idea of having us stay in more county and city parks is not only fun but saves in the wallet.

Entertainment – $635 was again not bad because it included first time visits to Fort Worth and Arkansas.

Dining Out – $625 was largely two meals we had with friends of mine in Fort Worth and additional “experience” meals during our travels. We are doing a much better job of not eating out as much on travel days.

Groceries – This is over $1K but by design. Anticipating higher costs and less choice in a small town like Yellowstone we stocked up on everything we could, using a lot of our basement space for non perishables.

Truck Fuel – $1414 isn’t totally awful considering how far we traveled. We worked really hard to use whatever method we needed to (EFS card, Gas Buddy, Wholesale club memberships) to get the cheapest prices we could.

We will be staying in one place for the summer with a free campsite so we will see how that impacts the budget.

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

First Time in West Yellowstone

Thankfully our driving day to West Yellowstone was a really nice one. In order to makeup the time we had lost the day before we did decide to push through. The drive was beautiful, especially when we reached the National Forest area and we loved driving along the Snake River.

We even found a beautiful rest stop to walk the dog. If you look right above the front of our RV you will see a bear cave.
We knew we were getting close to Yellowstone when we saw this sign. This is where Lee will be working all summer.

After a long driving day, we finally arrived at West Yellowstone a little later than we would like but were excited to arrive at our summer home, Fox Den Campground. Many campgrounds here are parking lots, but this one is older and has lots of trees. It also has a very nice family running it and they have gone out of their way to make us comfortable. Keep in mind if you come in April things are still pretty muddy (and snowy), but the clean air and lack of crowds might make it worth it.

The snow and mud can make walking Jack a little challenging. Had to give him a bath the first day when he jumped into a mud puddle 🙂

I had heard some negative things about the small town of West Yellowstone, but so far I really like it. The prices are higher (which we were prepared for) but not gouging like we have seen in other small resort towns. They also have all of the basic services including post office, library, police department, two small grocery stores, several gas station, restaurants, and tons of shops. Since the closest cities are Idaho Falls (1-1/2 hours) and Bozeman (2 hours) I was relieved to see the grocery stores carried the basics. In all fairness though I like the town now when hardly anyone is here, but I’ll let you know what happens when it is full of tourist for the season.

In addition to the services I mentioned there is a health clinic in town and three more in Yellowstone itself. Again I found that reassuring. Of course lots of restaurants and lots of hotels which range from the very fancy to more basic. These places get booked way in advance though so if you are planning on coming up here (even out of season) I would do some planning. When we arrived April 22 MANY of the places were still closed and the park itself only had main roads open. We have learned that most of the business in town are owned by various members of one large family and as their workforce trickles in more places are opened. Even without those places though this is a town people live in year-round. I asked one local who said the roads to Bozeman and Idaho Falls stay open all year long, which I thought was interesting.

Getting here early meant Lee was the first seasonal employee to start at the camera store and so far he really likes the job. He worked 10-6 five days the first week, but we are guaranteed at least one weekend day off together. We can even go into the park after he gets off work some days but unfortunately the weather has been really hit and miss. It has rained quite a bit and snowed several days and we have yet to have one clear sky day off together to visit the park. Still we have the whole summer so we are trying not to be too impatient with the grey skies and overnight freezing temps.

We very much appreciate your support of our blog

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes