We’re excited about our 2018 trip. This may be our most ambitious plan since we started RVing almost four years ago. Our 2016 “Grand Loop Trip” plan had a slightly higher mileage, but our 2018 “Mountain State Trip” involves dangling off cliffs, 4-wheel drive, petting wild bison, and mountain lion sightings.
We might not do all those things. Maybe we will.
Mountain State Trip 2018
- Bison at Caprock Canyons State Park (north Texas).
- Drive across New Mexico and potentially revisit Sedona, where we botched wild camping in 2016.
- Hit all five national parks in Utah. I see this as the cornerstone of our 2018 trip. We plan to arrive at the end of April and stay through the beginning of June, hitting Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capital Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches. I want to do lots of hiking and Eric wants to do lots of off-roading with our Jeep Rubicon.
- Bison at Antelope Island State Park (Utah).
- Wild camping in Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming).
- Back to Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming) to hopefully focus on the north end of the park. We visited for a weekend in 2015 without our RV, but we have so much left to explore.
- Glacier National Park! The beginning of August should be the perfect time to reach the northernmost point of our 2018 RV journey (Montana).
- Depending on how adventurous we’re feeling, we might leave Meriwether in the States and take our Jeep up to Banff National Park in Alberta. I’ve been there and really want to show Lake Louise to Eric.
- Eastward to bison at Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota).
- Lots of cool stuff in South Dakota: Badlands National Park (bison), Custer State Park (bison), Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Mountain Memorial.
- Wind down to Colorado, where I’d love to stay in Golden again. Golden is one of my top five favorite places we’ve stayed since we started RVing. It’ll probably be mid-October by this point, so we’ll see how the weather is holding up.
- Bison at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma).
Do I need to explain something? One of my life goals is to see all the wild bison herds in the United States. Thus the stalking and celebrating of bison throughout our 2018 trip.
If all goes according to plan (it won’t), we’ll add seven states to our map before the end of the year: Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. We only count states if we spend at least one night there in our RV. Thus the awkward gaps in the current map on our blog sidebar!
Why Do We Want to Make This Trip?
People getting to know us always ask, “Where do you go in your RV?” My typical answer: “Wherever we want.” Yes, but the country is so big! How does our decision-process really work? I’ve written a big picture article about planning our RV travels that you can access here:
➡️ Keep reading: “Planning Our RV Travels and the Evolving Quest to Find Balance”
…More specifically, here are a few reasons we’ve chosen our 2018 route and the stops along the way:
- We want to finish our Grand Loop Trip: If you look at the map for our 2016 trip, we only made it as far as Seattle before we had to make a beeline back to Texas for the rest of my pregnancy. Glacier National Park is basically where we’ll pick back up on our Grand Loop Trip.
- We want to exercise our Jeep: Going to Moab, Utah is like a pilgrimage for Jeepers. There are a number of Badge of Honor trails in the area, so Eric is thrilled.
- We want to be outside/hike: I miss hiking, which I was really getting into back in 2016 during the beginning of my pregnancy. While I’m going to need to build my endurance back up, I am freaking excited about all the opportunities to explore out west–especially in Utah.
- We want to dry camp: We may have four years of full-timing under our belts, but we’re still newbies when it comes to off-grid camping. We plan to stretch our wings this year, though. We have brand new batteries, and we’ll at least pick up a portable solar suitcase before we start our trip. We aim to wild camp for a week at a time. Eric and I know we can easily go that long with just the two of us, but there will be a learning curve with #BabyNomad.
- We love National Park Service sites: It doesn’t seem possible to visit so many unbelievable national parks in one year. I sometimes use the phrase “dream come true” off-handedly, but in this case I’ll mean it literally.
- We have time: When we started traveling, I didn’t realize how much weather would play into our schedule. Yes, there’s the whole moving-away-from-the-equator factor, but I didn’t realize what a difference elevation makes (see photo comparison between Redding, CA and nearby Lassen Volcanic National Park). Since a lot of this trip is in the mountains, there’s a small window during the year that we can visit comfortably. With our March 3 departure date, I think the timing is going to work out. Spring should arrive before we hit high elevation, and we should have months to explore the northern states before we have to worry about winter.
- The real thing is so much better than photos: I’ve spent four years looking at photos from RV friends, showing breath-taking scenery in Glacier National Park and across Utah. I’m more than ready to see it for myself.
We could use your help with our travel plans. Knowing our general route, what do we have to see? Where should we camp? Thanks in advance for your suggestions!