Welcome to the itinerary section! This section is going to highlight my routes, my days, and my suggested places to play, drink, eat, and sleep on my trips! Obviously YOUR trip and my trip will be different, but I think mine have been mainly AWESOME and I want to share what I did to hopefully help YOUR trip be awesome and amazing as well!
Yellowstone with a bit of Grand Teton, MT,WY
New River Gorge, WV
Alaska: Anchorage, Girdwood, Seward, Denali Talkeetna
Yellowstone with a drop in on the Tetons, 3.5 days, June
This is a 3.5 day itinerary based on flying into Bozeman, staying 2 nights in West Yellowstone, and 2 nights is Gardiner. For full transparency, I put together a preliminary itinerary and had some locals review it. But, I’ll be damned if they did NOT SUGGEST MANY CHANGES TO IT!? Best part was we the Sidekick and I put this into motion and it was almost a flawless execution! Ok, now that I am done patting my back, I should also note that I generally hate the word itinerary and any kind of planning with a fierce passion, but I love putting together this kind of stuff for my travels!
Day 1, a half day. Landed in Bozeman, got the car and made a beeline for West Yellowstone. We stayed that night and the next night at Al’s Westward Ho Motel . That motel is super no frills. It is 200 a night, which is actually fairly cheap for the town and it no joke the closest lodging to the west park entrance. No early checkin either, and noone was available at the desk until 4 PM. Also, pro tip: getting out of the hotel parking lot, and into the line, pretty much is not possible without cutting into the line near the front and there’s not really a lot to be down about that. Use that to your advantage. We went in through the west. First stop was a bison area next to the river for some good wildlife viewing. Next the Fountain Paint Pots was up. Next we headed past Grand Prismatic just to see what was going on with the Old Faithful area. We turned around, stopped at the Fairyfalls Trail to see Grand Prismatic from the overlook. Next up was a short drive and stop down Firehole River Drive which was just a little bit north of prismatic and not super well marked. That night was dinner at a place called the Slippery Otter. I think what we had was not great, but it looked like a decent little place with some ok local beers.
Day 2. Stopped for breakfast at the Book Peddler. It was good! Definitely recommend, especially considering it’s a knick knack store and not well advertised as a breakfast spot. The sidekick had some huge delish veggie thing and I had a turkey breakfast sandwich. Back in through the west. Drove down Firehole Canyon road to explore, this is right south of Madison Junction. Came back north and stopped at Gibbons Falls, another cool road side bubbling pool of death called Beryl Spring, and then Norris Geyser Basin. You come to a stop sign and take a left to get there. But if you take a right you can find overflow parking requiring a short walk. Earlier is probably best here. After that we went straight across the park at this point to the Grand Canyon of The Yellowstone. We explored the village first for lunch, a beverage and to relax for a minute. Then we went parked at the lot for Uncle Tom’s trail. This gave a great view of the upper falls. That trail is closed though, down to bottom of those falls, but another part of it follows the canyon up top and leads to the Artist point and on to Point Sublime. Afterward we headed back to Als and had dinner at Bullwinkles…not particularly noteworthy, but an option.
Day 3. This was the Old Faithful day. We stopped for coffee at Go-Go Espresso. This is one of those converted cargo container coffee shop but with bagels! And, it also happened to be the earliest opening coffee shop. We got down to Old Faithful around 7. THIS IS THE TIME TO BE THERE. It was a tiny crowd! We had planned to head to Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park and boat over to some hikes, but out start was a little late and concerned with the drive time (plus any unscheduled jams) up to Gardiner we actually decided to drive up and explore Signal Mountain instead. GORGEOUS views up there of the Tetons and the lakes. DEFINITE MUST STOP. Next stop was back in Yellowstone at the West Thumb and Yellowstone Lake area. Then off all the way up to Gardiner, with no stops. In Gardiner we stayed at a motel called Yellowstone Big Rock Inn. This was another 200 a night place, but was also very close to the north entrance and had KILLER views. And, just like Al’s this place did not have a working staff outside of certain hours. But there is also a bear spray rental machine in the lobby which is super convenient as we rented bearspray from one of these in West Yellowstone and were able to return it here as well. We stopped for dinner at Iron Horse Bar and Grill a place that had a GREAT spot with a big balcony literally right on the Yellowstone River, but seemed like the staff was severely short handed.
Day 4. This was designed to be sort of a flex day if we had time. First up was a stop at Mammoth Hot Springs, right inside the entrance of the park here. Then we drove across into Lamar Valley and all the way to Cooke City. Here we stopped at the town visitor center which is the only place in town with a connection to the outside world via wifi. There is no cell signal here. We stopped at neat bar called the Miner’s Saloon. Neat spot, met a cool bar tender who also authored a book about Hemingway’s time in Cooke City/Yellowstone. The pizza here is outstanding, especially the tree hugger! After that we were going to drive Beartooth Highway out for a while, but after the stop at the saloon we found a spot to check out an amazing waterfall Crazy Creek Falls. Then we found a spot to cozy up for some hammock time. This spot was a pretty empty campground between the Crazy Creek Falls and Cooke City. The return drive to Gardiner ended our Yellowstone visit!
All in all, there were some audibles, but what a great plan and this allowed for seeing damn near everything cool that is on the list of cool things to see in Yellowstone! Best of all! With the exception of Day 3, we never got up SUPER early and we were always back to our hotel and town by 7 ish oclock!
Happy Travels! Do Cool Shit. Live the Adventure!
New River Gorge, 2 full days, plus before evening and an after morning July
This was 2 full days plus a pre-afternoon and a post-morning. We flew into Cincinnati to do something else first. If you are coming directly to the park and are content with Delta/United/America, you would fly into Charlestown. Arrived in Beckley, WV, which is the best place to stay if you want a full town at your immediate disposal. Easy 20 minute drive to the southern visitor center, Sandstone, and then easy and quick access to the Sandstone Falls Overlook. This is the only overlook of the falls on this side of the river.
Day 1. Early departure for Sandstone falls. IT IS NOT easily accessible from the visitor center. So, allow 45-60 minutes to get there. The road is sketch, and be prepared to allot for potential issues on the road (we had a hillbilly catch his load of hay on fire, blocking the road). If you get down there and are stuck trying to leave there is a “road” to get you back. But, you aren’t doing it in a car or a non 4WD/AWD vehicle. Hike around the falls. This can be as quick as 30 minutes or as long as a few hours. The more time you spend probably equates to getting closer to the big falls, which will start to involved some bouldering and scrambling. We whitewater rafted with Ace and hung out at their Adventure Resort water park for the rest of the day. The times for rafting is up to the company, so you could do a vice versa.
Day 2. Headed up to a 9 AM Bridge Walk tour. This takes a couple hours from check-in to leaving. Visitor the Canyon Rim Visitor center. After lunch, hiked the endless wall trail. Honestly, this was a light day and there could have been more done, so plan away!
Bonus AM. Early start to the Grandview Visitor Center. Hiked the Canyon Rim Trail.
Happy Travels! Do Cool Shit. Live the Adventure!
Alaska, 10 days, with shoulder night, June
Awesome itinerary! 10 Pretty full days, plus a pre-evening. Day 10 was the travel day back, but the flight was late, an overnight. Flight into Anchorage, arrive evening. Head downtown and check out Humpy’s and Williwaw.
Day 1. Drive to Girdwood along the Seward Highway. Explore Girdwood. Dog Sledding with Nic Petit. Hang out around Girdwood in the evening.
Day 2. Early start, head to Seward. Do whale watching tour of Resurrection Bay with Kenai Fjords Tours. Return to Girdwood. Dinner at 7 Glaciers Restaurant
Day 3. Return to Anchorage, turn in rental truck and pick up RV at Great Alaskan Holiday. Depart for Denali. Check into Riley Creek campground. Evening: check out area, hang at the Salmon Bake, check out “sunset.”
Days 4-6. Denali National Park stuff. Incudes: Bus tour through the park to Eielson center-a day long excursion, hiking, whitewater rafting the Nenana River, checking out the dinner theaters – Cabin Nite and Music of Denali.
Day 7. Depart Denali and head for Talkeetna, check in at RV park, flightseeing tour of Denali, with landing, with K2 Aviation.
Day 8. More exploration of Talkeetna.
Day 9. Return to Anchorage. Dinner at Moose’s Tooth pizzeria, chilled at Humpys…..visit the Great Alaskan Bush Company….come on, we are all adults here…haha 😉
Day 10. Return RV, Explore Earthquake Park in Anchorage. Overnight flight home.