How We Successfully Spent Two Weeks Car Camping in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks – Part 2 – Surviving
This is the follow up on how we did after all our preparations that we did prior to our big adventure. You can read all about how we did that in my previous post! I absolutely loved taking this trip and hope that so many others will enjoy it as well. Here are my top tips on how to successfully survive two weeks out in our National Parks.
I am the type of person that likes to have everything planned out and actually follow through with my plans. Due to driving across the country and being in the outdoors, my plans didn’t exactly pan out. In going to a national park, it is best to be flexible (or at least know in the back of your mind that things may not go your way).
Remember in my first post when I suggested to get AAA or make sure your insurance had roadside assistance? I am so very glad that we had it because we broke down right outside of Ft. Collins, Colorado! Not a flat tire or anything that we could do ourselves, but the exhaust manifold completely broke. This put us one day late getting to Grand Teton but allowed for time to explore a new city.
It’s important to remember that the parks will still be there whether you are there or not. We were not in a rush to see and do everything because we knew the same things would there tomorrow.
Check the weather.
It should be noted that night time is VERY cold. We have a travel alarm clock/thermometer that we take on every trip. There were mornings that we woke up and it was below freezing outside. During the day it was normally sunny and in the sixty to seventy degrees Fahrenheit range.
Early summer brings rain and storms. Having gear that protects you from getting soaked is essential. If you prepare for nothing else, please plan on cold nights and wet days. This was us at Old Faithful as a storm suddenly dropped a huge amount of rain and hail. Emergency ponchos for the win.
Prepare for Traffic.
Have you ever seen a buffalo jam? I hadn’t either until I witnessed several buffalo just hangin’ out in the middle of the road one day while we were driving in Yellowstone. People LOVE to stop and look at everything while in the parks. D and I joked that we should pull the car over, get out and randomly point into the distance to see how much of a traffic jam we could cause. No kidding – people will pull over for anything.
There are not only family vehicles like yours, but also giant tour buses and huge RVs. These beasts take up a lot of space on the roads and tend to go slower than the speed limit. Whenever you get near a landmark or anything remotely interesting, the traffic will come to a halt with cars waiting to turn in. There were several geysers that we didn’t venture to because we couldn’t pull into the parking lot and there was no where close by to park and walk.
Because you’ll be in your car a lot, roll down the windows and relax! The fresh air will do you some good 🙂
Just pay the $4 for a shower.
For real. Showers were $4.75 and laundry was $2.50 a load in Grand Teton. Was it worth it? Oh yeah. Taking care of yourself while you are camping is important. There are ticks and mosquitoes in the region that can leave you feeling ill if you let a bite go untreated. It is also nice to have fresh clothing for the second part of your trip or for the trip home.
I highly recommend purchasing a package of Norwex body cloths (which are reusable) or another type of disposable body and face wipes. It gets the grit off of you without taking a shower or a sponge bath in the camp sink.
Dress in layers.
The temperature in mountainous Wyoming varies so greatly during the summer that dressing in layers is essential. My normal outfit was either jeans or hiking pants, an athletic shirt, thermal pullover, a light scarf, and a hat. I always took off the pullover and scarf by lunch time but in the morning I was very comfortable.
At night we both wore long johns, socks, and a beanie stocking cap. At the end of June, the temps still dropped into the low 30s at night. Even in a sleeping bag it was chilly.
I call this look “I woke up like this hobo chic” 😛
Don’t eat junk.
Vacation is sometimes a place to over-indulge on your favorite snacks and meals. Camping and hiking can burn a lot of energy and eating properly (not deviating too far from your regular diet) is important.
We mostly avoided eating at the restaurants inside the park. This was partly because we are cheap but also because the vegetarian/vegan options that aren’t salad are not the healthiest of meals. We did a lot of meal prep at home before we left. We chopped veggies and bagged them so that they would be ready to cook when we wanted them. We also had a lot of sandwiches, hummus, and canned soup. We had easily portable options for lunch. That saved us so much time and money during the day. It was great not to have to wait in line for lunch and get on to more sight seeing!
Don’t live behind your screen.
This is my last piece of advice but it is perhaps the most important. We all go on vacations and trips to relax and enjoy ourselves. We take pictures to remember how much fun we had or how beautiful a place was. But when you spend all your time trying to get the perfect shot of the sunset, do you actually stop and enjoy it?
We turned off our cellular function on our phones and strictly used them as alarm clocks and cameras. We became less focused on trying to get an impressive picture to show off to our friends and spent more time enjoying the Parks with each other.
Now go get some Vitamin N!