06/28/17 - 07/11/17
Photos and text by: Michael Schwarz
Day 1 and 2: Badlands National Park
Location: Badlands National Park, SD
Miles Traveled - 1,304
Ventures: - Purchased 5-cent coffee at Wall Drug (super touristy, but worth a look).
- Hiked Notch Trail to a gorgeous vista overlooking the Badlands (6.5/10)
- Drove the entire length of the park including the gravel section of Sage Creek Road (highly recommend).
- Ate a delicious lunch at the Caputa General Store. Mom and pop spot located in the deserted Caputa valley. Skip fast food and support your local businesses! A must-visit (9/10)
-DGI Mavic Pro Drone -GoPro Hero 4 Black
-Canon 6D Camera -LED Light
-17-35 f2.8 L-Series -Smoke grenade
-24-105 f3.5 -Canon 430EX Flash
-Manfrotto mini tripod -2012 Macbook Pro
Day 3 - Black Hills National Forest ------------------------->
Location: Black Hills National Forest, SD
Miles Traveled - 1,416
Ventures: - Went to see Mount Rushmore. Incredibly underwhelming. Skip it! Tourist- trap at its finest. We were there for 10 min. (2/10)
- Hiked around Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park (part of the Black Hills). Be sure to check out the hike on the back side of the lake. It traverses the rocks of a beautiful creek running down a massive canyon. Hike around sunset. (9/10)
- Got dinner at Buglin' Bull Restaurant and Sports Bar in Custer, SD. Custer itself was quite pleasant. The dinner was sub-par and overpriced. Garrett got a bowl of elk soup and a beer for $25. (6.5/10)
-Take note of the incredibly awesome Custer-themed Hollywood sign perched up on the hill above. One of the many interesting props in Custer's unique aesthetic.
-Ranch dressing is used as a condiment on everything out west. I love it.
- Spent the night in a rest-stop parking lot outside of Sheridan, WY.
Day 4 and 5 - Big Horn National Forest
Location: Big Horn National Forest, WY
Miles Traveled - 1,710
Ventures: - Hiked Porcupine Falls. Far and away one of the best hikes on the trip. A steep downhill 3/4 of a mile (400 foot elevation drop) leading to a beautiful 70- foot waterfall. A must-see (9.5/10)
- Watched the sunset from the peaks of Big Horn.
- Burnt our breaks out exiting the park. Literally they were smoking. Discovered the perks of 1st gear. Solid lesson learned.
- Found an awesome free campsite, complete with grills and bathrooms in Lovell, WY. (8/10)
- Unfortunately grocery stores are not open past 6 in Lovell, soooo we drove an hour round trip to grab some cook-out supplies.
- Worth it. Enjoyed open-fire cooked burgers, egg salad, beans, cherries, and Cesar salad.
Day 6 and 7 - Yellowstone National Park
- Checked out the Big Horn National Recreation Area.
- Went swimming in Bighorn Lake. Fairly average spot to take a dip. Quite stunning environment, but the restricted swimming area and lifeguard take away from the fun.
- After swimming we decided to hop over to the Montana version of Horseshoe Bend. Solid decision. Worth the visit.
- Enjoyed lunch at Granny's Family Diner in Cody, WY. Got country fried steak for under $10. Very pleasant service and unlimited coffee. The best classic diner meal of the trip hands down. (9/10)
- Visited the rodeo stadium in Cody, WY. Since the town is known as the “Rodeo Capital of the World," this was a worthwhile stop-off.
- Drove into Yellowstone from the east, stopping at about 8-10 roadside pull-offs.
-Settled into our campsite at Fisherman's Village. Despite having beautiful facilities, laundry, a general store, and great lakeside hikes, this was definitely one of the worst camps. One word: mosquitos! You could not stand outside for more than 30 seconds without being surrounded. Bug spray proved useless. This was the only evening we spent the majority of our time in the RV. (4/10)
Day 8: Grand teton national park, Wy
Location: Grand Teton National Park, WY
Miles Traveled - 2,009
Ventures: - Drove from Canyon Village in Yellowstone to Leek's Marina. Gorgeous spot to enjoy lunch and take a dip in the lake.
- Got lunch at Leek's Marina Pizzeria. Kinda pricy, but delicious! Definitely worth the stop. (7.5/10)
- Hiked around Jenny Lake to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. Regret not taking a canoe out on the lake. Great hike to a worthwhile waterfall and vista. (8/10)
- Drove south to Jackson, WY. Quaint little ski town with plenty of good food and shopping. We mooched wifi off Starbucks for 3 hours and did some much needed photo-editing.
- Drove 7 hours straight through Idaho from Jackson, WY ----> Deer Lodge, MT. Let me tell you something. NEVER go to Idaho. It's a barren flat wasteland with no food, water, or shelter. The speed limit is 80mph so you can leave the state faster. Idaho: (-1/10)
- Crashed in a truck-stop parking lot at around 4:30am.
Location: Yellowstone National Park, WY
Miles Traveled - 1,912
Ventures: - Checked out the thermal pools and hiked to Mystic Falls. Moderate hike to a decent waterfall. (7/10)
- Grabbed lunch in West Yellowstone at the Timberline Cafe. Solid food for a good price amidst the other touristy options. (7/10)
- Managed to catch the West Yellowstone 4th of July Parade after lunch. Complete with fire trucks, assorted floats, classic cars, and saddled rodeo cowboys, it was quite an unexpected afternoon highlight.
- Tossed our new Smoky the Bear frisbee on the courthouse lawn until the parade traffic cleared out.
- Headed back into Yellowstone to our camp at Canyon Village. Stopped at Gibbon Falls and Artist Point along the way. Artist Point was stunning. Must- see: (8.5/10).
- Enjoyed a meal of grilled chicken sandwiches and salad upon arriving at Canyon Village. One of our favorite camps. Small pine groves with an RV pull-up and grills. No mosquitos! (9/10)
day 9 and 10: Glacier National Park
Location: Glacier National Park, MT
Miles Traveled - 2,486
Ventures: - After waking up several hours south of Glacier, we spent the morning driving through Salmon Lake State Park. Upon seeing a beautiful lakeside cabin, I decided to launch my drone for some ariels. To cut a long story short, the Mavic engine malfunctioned 60-meters above a lake. Five seconds later, my drone was at the bottom of said lake. To see photos and read more about my drones unfortunate demise, click here.
- Grabbed lunch at the Moose River Bar And Grill in Seeley Lake, MT. Solid mom and pop spot. Would go again. (8/10)
Day 11, 12, 13, and 14: Banff and Jasper National Parks, Alberta, Canada
- After lunch, we drove the remaining hour to West Glacier and made our way toward Going to the Sun Road and Logan Pass.
- Drove the entire length of Going to the Sun Road to our hike on the other side of Logan Pass. Far and away the best driving portion of our trip. (9.5/10)
-Hiked the Sun Point Nature Trial and saw Baring Falls + St. Mary Falls on the same hike. Best hike of the trip hands down. (9.7/10)
-Left the park from the east and settled down to camp in St. Mary. Found ourselves a beautiful fire pit and grill at Johnson's RV Park. Great facilities with wifi and laundry. Ask for Randy, he gives the best hiking/camping/directional advice of any man...ever.
-After buying insanely over-priced groceries at the local market, (Advice: buy food before entering remote park areas) we scavenged tghe campground for firewood, and began cooking an incredible chicken breast dinner.
-Shortly after we drank bourbon and Pabst until around 4:30am, and promptly passed out.
Location: Banff National Park, Alberta
Miles Traveled - 2,836
Ventures: - Woke up really hungover. Got showers. Did laundry. Went to the Glacier's Edge for lunch and a recharge. Got a much needed Huckleberry milkshake. If you haven't had one, you're just missing out. Besides Granny's Family Diner, this was the best meal of the trip. (9.5/10)
- Went to the wrong Canadian border and had to turn back. After turning around, we realized we now had to go back through U.S. customs. Waited in line for 30 min. Solid mess up on our end. Moral of the story: there are multiple border entrances. Make sure you get the right one.
- Finally made it into Canada. Took photos in a beautiful field of Canola flowers. Stunning.
- Drove to the nearest Tim Hortons (the undisputed best place for free uninterrupted wifi in Canada) and edited photos for about 4 hours.
- We worked until sundown at 11pm, and then hopped back in the car to make some headway towards Banff National Park.
- We decided to stop in the small town of Longview, AL. This town marks the start of the Kananaskis Highway, a scenic route our friend Randy (from St. Mary) recommended to us.
- Found a solid fire station parking lot full of abandoned 18-wheelers to sleep in. Got to sleep around 3am.