Nineteen days and 5,734 miles later — the ultimate road trip was made. Starting in Arizona, we traveled through Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and Canada. After reaching Canada, we traveled back to Arizona through Washington, Oregon, and California. Many stops were made along the way, so here are some of the bigger stops.
1. Lower Calf Creek Falls, Utah
This beautiful waterfall stands 125 feet tall. It was a 6-mile roundtrip, moderate hike. It stayed relatively flat with some up-hill hiking towards the falls. Overall, this hike was a little long but totally worth it. It took us about 3 hours from start to finish with a break at the falls.
While hiking along the path, keep your eyes peeled for some ancient hieroglyphics. There are signs at the beginning of the trail in regards to these as well.
2. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Arriving to Grand Teton National Park was a sight to see. This park is home to the tallest peak on the Teton mountain range, the Grand Teton towering at 13,770 feet.
If hiking is something that you enjoy doing, this is a great place to be. The picture is of Jenny Lake. The crystal clear water allows for beautiful pictures, kayaking, and viewing of the fish as they swim by.
Jenny Lake offers many trailheads that are available for use between the months of May and October. The Hidden Falls Trail is a 2.5 mile hike back to the falls (pictured right). It is mostly uphill and a little rocky. A boat ride is also available; which makes for a 0.5 mile hike back to the falls. The weather was in the 80s for the high and 40s for the low.
This National park is located in bear country, so be sure to bring bear spray for back-up. Don’t be alarmed, it is for protection and rarely needing to be used. We did not use it once, but carried it anyway.
3. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Becoming the first national park in 1872, Yellowstone National Park brings a variety of different hypothermal views to the world. Located mainly in Wyoming, this park also stretches into Idaho and Montana.
Among the most known attractions this park offers is the Grand Prismatic Spring (picture to the right). Available to be seen from either the ground-level boardwalk or from above through the Fairy Falls Trail overlook. The Fairy Falls trail leads two ways; you can either take it all the way back to Fairy Falls or branch off to the overlook of the Grand Prismatic Spring. We took the turn-off towards the Grand Prismatic Spring where I was able to capture this picture.
Yellowstone National Park is also home to Old Faithful Geyser, Mammoth Hot Springs , Artists Paintpots, and many other unique hypothermal sites. Mammoth Hot Springs gives you the ability to walk around and see the different spots of the spring. Pictured above is the Mound Spring, and the stormy weather helped me capture this image above. Also, don’t forget to pass through Lamar Valley for opportunities to see wildlife, which include Bison, wolves, deer, elk, and other little critters.
4. Glacier National Park, Montana
We were lucky enough to get a campsite located inside Glacier at the Avalanche Creek Campground. This was a perfect spot to stay due to the relatively close distance to the Trail of the Cedars trailhead. This is an easy, 1-mile roundtrip trail. The unique thing about this trail is the pathway, it is a wooden boardwalk stretching the entire length of the path (pictured to the left).
Glacier National Park offers many hiking trails along with must-see spots accessible by driving. One go-to place accessible by vehicle is the Going-to-the-Sun Road (pictured to the right) . It is a 50-mile long road that takes about 2 hours to drive. Many turn-outs are available to stop at for some breath-taking picture opportunities. Along the mountains, keep an eye out for bighorn sheep scaling the edges.
If driving the 50 mile road doesn’t sound too appealing to you, there are shuttles available for the length of this drive, as well. Biking is also an option for this scenic road; only accessible by bike from July 15 through Labor Day.
5. Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Where do I begin? This park was one of my favorite places that I’ve been to so far. Crystal clear bright blue water that almost looks unreal. Banff National Park is one place that is a must-see in person; pictures just don’t do it justice.
Moraine Lake (pictured to the right) is among the more popular lakes to visit. Kayaking is allowed in these waters, you can either bring your own or rent them from the shop that’s waterside.
In my opinion, Lake Louise is probably the most popular lake in Banff and is my favorite as well. The high popularity and time of year made parking pretty space, so we took the shuttle that was offered. The weather was beautiful, pretty chilly and a little rainy but completely worth it. With crystal clear blue water, this lake is not one to miss. Renting kayaks are also an option at this lake. Besides the lakes here, there is hiking, fishing, and scenic views available to do. Canada also has longer days in the summer which allows more time for adventuring — it was about 10pm when it started to get darker out. The town of Banff is also a cool place to check out; gift shops, restaurants, nightlife, and much more.
6. Redwoods National Park, California
Redwoods National Park was a quicker stop for us. We drove in a little later, so we decided to find a campsite and do more exploring the next day. Emerald Forest Campground is a little further south, but it was a pretty cool place to stay. RV sites with hookups and tent camping is available. Showers, bathrooms, and running water is also available… which was music to my ears.
There are a few scenic drives that can be taken to have good views of these towering trees. These roads are: Cal-Barrel drive, Redwoods Highway, and Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. There are a few other roads that can be taken that are smaller off these roads as well. Taking a picture of these trees is quite the challenge, unless taken with panoramic while holding your phone sideways. My attempt (without panoramic) is pictured above.
7. Sequoia National Park, California
You know that tree you would see that’s big enough for a vehicle to drive through? Well, Sequoia National Park is the home to these colossal trees. One major attraction in this park is the General Sherman tree (pictured right). It is a small, paved downhill hike to the world’s biggest tree where information and photo opportunities are. This park offers hikes and driving opportunities to explore these one-of-a-kind trees. Some places to stop are the Tunnel Log, Parker group grove, Giant Forest Museum, and the visitor centers for more information on the park. Kings Canyon National Park is also bordered with the northern portion of Sequoia National Park.
Also a big attraction in the Sequoia National Park is the Crystal Cave Tour. We did the Discovery tour that was $25 each for a 90-minute tour using just flashlights — well worth it for sure. This cave was founded by the park, so it allowed for appropriate preservation. Staying at a consistent 50 degrees Fahrenheit, a light jacket is recommended and a water bottle as well. No other items are allowed in the cave — a paper will be given with all restrictions when tickets are purchased. Due to the delicacy of the cave, the tour guides strongly request a “no touch rule”. The cave is still actively growing and if touched by our hands, the oil will create a barrier killing that area of the cave. Walkways and railings are there for use. Cave tours are only available from May through September with tickets available at the Lodgepole Visitor Center or the Foothills Visitor Center — tickets are not available for purchase at the cave.
8. San Diego Zoo, California
Opened in 1915, the San Diego Zoo is home to more than 3,500 animals with over 650 different species. Included in the general admission ticket are all the exhibits, shows, Skyfari, and the Kangaroo guided bus tour. The safari encounter can be bought separately for a closer viewing of the desert animals. It does get busy, so the earlier the better. If the zoo is something that grabs your attention, this is not a place you’d want to miss. Gift shops and restaurants are also available in each designated area.
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir