National Parks · Travel

3 National Parks: A Retrospective

So, here are a few facts and a few subjective thoughts on our trip to three NPs.

We put 4820 miles on the monster truck. That cost us, at 9.8 mpg, $1186.42 in fuel over 27 stops. Our RV parks stays averaged $40/ night @ 23 nights for $980 total. Roll in food, drink, & stuff for another $900 adds up to over $3000 for our 3 week vacation. That is a chunk of change, but half of the cost of airfare, hotel, meals, and stuff over three weeks.

The Drive
The worst part of the trip was to and from Lubbock, Texas. West Texas is nothing more than miles and miles of miles and miles. Flat, dry terrain speckled with scrub cedar, a few bumps, and lots of nothing. If you are from, and still live, there, God bless your stoical soul. A close sister to that drive is the one through Eastern Wyoming. It is the same drive with small hills…boring. Or, perhaps, a great contrast that makes one really appreciate the other states along our trip.

Other than the mountain roads, the most beautiful drive is through Montana. We drove from south to north and from west to east and it is all beautiful. Montanans, y’all have something that most people envy. Never take it for granted, and lock the gates.

The RV Parks
We did a lot of one night stands, eight frankly. They ran the gamut from nice to poor. (See my opinions in RV Park Reviews) The nicest is Jim and Mary’s in Missoula, MT. It gives one wide spaces under a canopy of shade trees with a plethora of flowers. The accommodations are clean, functional, and relaxing. The worst is AB Camping & RV Park in Cheyenne, WY. It gave us a cramped space with two concrete strips on which to park bordered by a mobile home park. It was a pretty miserable July 4 overnighter.

Our multi-night stays varied as well. In Estes Park the KOA was a bit cramped on dusty gravel sites. Just downwind from a large horse stable for tourist rides, we felt quite home-on-the-range. However, that was not as bad as Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone NP. We drew a bad card winding up in the unpaved section. The dry roads and gusty winds prevented any enjoyable evening outside. Dust covered everything. The jewel of the parks is West Glacier KOA, truly a resort RV park. Level spaces with landscaping, swimming pools (one adult only), an ice cream shop, and an on-sight diner provided a true vacation experience.

The National Parks
RMNPWe “luv-ed” Rocky Mountain NP. It is a steep pull up the mountain, but well worth it. The mountain views, the mountain meadows, the small glacial lakes, the mountain streams, the flora and fauna make for a magical mystery tour. Driving up to Bear Lake for a morning hike stimulates the mind, body, and soul. Mother Nature’s artistic abilities shine brightly across this land. On the trails in the early morning we met few other hikers. By 10-ish, hikers filled the trails up and down. We may very well return to RMNP.

FBmainYellowstone, our second park, exudes her majesty as the mother of all national parks. The drive up to Fishing Bridge from the east entrance is truly the stairway to heaven. The Lake demands one’s attention, and humbleness. Gazing across its vastness is like gazing across a brilliantly clear night sky; one feels insignificant. The bison, elk, geese, and other animals seem to ignore us Sapiens as just another pest. The rivers with their forceful, yet conquerable, rapids pull one’s soul along. And, of course, the volatile, fiery geothermal belchings give Yellowstone that unique, strange attraction that one cannot resist.

atentranceLast, but certainly not the least is Glacier NP. OMG! Just when we thought it could not get any better, it did. The valleys carved out by mile high glaciers beckon one to explore their beauty. The icy lake shimmers with life from high mountain streams that roil down points higher than heaven itself. The Going-to-the-Sun road winds through all this beauty to the apex of Logan Pass where one feels that pull toward the sun. It is a beauty experienced, not written about or expressed meagerly with photos.

So, which was our favorite? Really? That is like asking which is one’s favorite child. The answer is always, each carries its own special beauty and character. And, again like one’s own children, we love each for their uniqueness.

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