National Parks: Exploring America as a Family – Part 2

On the Beartooth Highway...

On the Beartooth Highway…

Here’s my #1 tip to remember when exploring our National Parks:  There is very little cellular service and WiFi in the parks so get over yourselves and DEAL WITH IT!  That being said, once I got over the cold turkey shakes, I ENJOYED not being connected.  I was not able to stay up-to-date with my posts while we traveled, but I did manage to take over 2,000 photos and journal!  Here’s the continuation of our trip across America – highlights of day 5 & 6!

#ElevatorSelfie down to Jewel Cave National Monument

#ElevatorSelfie down to Jewel Cave National Monument

Day 5:

Jewel Cave National Monument:  We took the 20-minute, 1-room tour included with our National Parks Annual Passport fee of $80 (per family for 1 year).  If you have time, I would suggest taking a longer tour because this 20-minute tour was a disappointment, but good enough for our family since we had already visited Wind Cave.

Lunch with a view of Devil's Tower National Monument

Lunch with a view of Devil’s Tower National Monument

Devil’s Tower National Monument:  One of my favorites because it is just TOO COOL!  Having grown up in the 70’s and having seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind Devil’s Tower National Monument is just TOO COOL!  I had visited here as a young child and again just TOO COOL!!  Did I mention that I think it is still wicked cool and takes my breath away!!!  We’ve visited Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland and Devil’s Post Pile National Monument in California and this volcanic columnar basalt takes the cake.  Next time I visit, I’m going to climb it.  #NewBucketListItem

Little Bighorn National Park - Last Stand Hill

Little Bighorn National Monument – Last Stand Hill

Little Bighorn National Monument:  The site of Custer’s last stand and epic battle.  Very moving.  Very sad.  SIGH.  I’m not even going to discuss driving through the Indian Reservation.

Inside KOA Camping Cabins

Inside KOA Camping Cabins

KOA Cabins:  Spending the night in a KOA in Red Lodge, Montana.  Clean cabin with electricity for only $67 per night.  Campground had clean shower rooms, pool, laundry, and best of all FREE WiFi.

Beartooth Highway

Beartooth Highway

Day 6:

The Beartooth All-American Road:  We took the 68-mile Beartooth Highway from Red Lodge, Montana into Yellowstone via the Northeast entrance.  The Beartooth is the highest elevation paved highway in the Northern Rocky Mountains.  It starts at 6400 feet in elevation and then the road rises to 10,947 feet in elevation at Beartooth Pass.  It ends in 7500 feet elevation in Cooke City, Montana.  We stopped at Rock Creek Vista Point for view of Rock Creek Canyon and Hellroaring Plateau, the International Summer ski/Snowboard Camp (at 10,737 feet) complete with groomer and lift, Top of the World Store and Crazy Creek Cascade.

Northeast entrance park sign

Northeast entrance park sign

Yellowstone National Park:  We entered the park via the Northeast Entrance and had a picnic lunch near Soda Butte Creek.

Fishing in Trout Lake, Yellowstone National Park

Fishing in Trout Lake, Yellowstone National Park

After lunch we decided to take a small hike up to Trout Lake to see the otters and fish.  Note – fishing licenses are required for adults and are $18 for 3 days (longer term licenses are available).   The hike to Trout Lake was only ½ mile, but it was steep and gave us a quick workout.  Unfortunately, we didn’t see an otters and the fish were not biting, but Jack & the kids enjoyed the experience and I got to enjoy the scenery and read a book.

Lamar Valley, bison

Lamar Valley, bison

Lamar Valley:  After fishing, we drove along the Lamar River and through the Lamar Valley.  We saw hundreds of grazing bison and then more grazing bison.  Beautiful and peaceful.

Roosevelt Lodge, Rough Rider Cabin

Roosevelt Lodge, Rough Rider Cabin

Roosevelt Lodge Cabins:  We checked into the Roughrider units – little cabins with plank floors, a braided rug and a cast-iron wood stove!  Our unit #88 – sleeps 6 and has 3 double beds.  It has a shared bathhouse.  $74/night (NOTE:  I will update my blog shortly to include more photos of the cabins)

Dinner, Roosevelt Lodge

Dinner, Roosevelt Lodge

Roosevelt Lodge:  We had dinner in the dining room.  Ribs, bison burgers and Roosevelt beans!!!  YUMMY!  Bet my bottom dollar Disney Imagineers used this dining room to inspire Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Try the Roosevelt beans!!!

Try the Roosevelt beans!!!

Have you traveled to any of these places?  What was your favorite part?  

One Comment on “National Parks: Exploring America as a Family – Part 2

  1. Oh my gosh…I cannot even count how many times I’ve been to Yellowstone. We’re only about 8 hours away. Never been to Devil’s Tower. I would probably be humming the tune to Close Encounters of the Third Kind the whole time I was there. Love the pics!


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