Only 3 Months after my last 2 week road trip I decided to embark on a trip all over Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington
Did I bite off more than I can chew? Almost
Was the majority of this drive quite boring? Very
Would I do it again? Not the same route, No
Was it worth it? Every minute, Yes!
Day 1 – Kimberley, British Columbia to Waterton and Glacier National Park
For the first night of this trip I had brought along a friend who has never been to Waterton or Glacier National Park. It was wonderful to experience both of these beautiful parks that I have spent so much time in through the eyes of someone who has never been before.
Waterton National Park and Glacier National Park are a UNESCO site and share the Canada / United States Border. Both parks are unique in their own ways with wonderful things to see and do in each park, both of which include a couple hours of driving to see everything you can possibly see in one day.
After exploring Waterton with an obligatory stop at The Taco Bar in Waterton (Well worth a quick pit stop if your in the area!) we set off to Glacier National Park to drive the Going To The Sun Road!
Glacier National Park has many premiere hiking trails and diverse wildlife throughout the park, It is common to see big horn sheep, mountain goats, grizzlies, elk, deer and many small rodents all within a days trip around the park.
The night was spent at St.Mary Campground in Glacier National Park. The campsites are wonderful, very spacious and private and have nearby flush washrooms with hot water. Prices are very affordable and reservations are quite flexible if need be.
*A forewarning for those who are travelling to Glacier National Park – Cell phone service is very, very limited. There is no service in almost all of the park, but there are several visitor centres with WiFi if necessary.
Day 2 – Glacier National Park to Butte, Montana
We set off for an early morning hike before the crowds and summer heat to enjoy a portion of the Highline Trail. My goal was to see mountain goats, and we did! Within minutes on the trail we found our first mountain goat resting by the hiking trail. Mission accomplished!
Highline Trail starts from Logans Pass Visitor Centre and has a variety of points where you can turn back or complete a full loop. We opted for the 15 Kilometre round trip version as I had ground to cover once we had gotten back to our vehicles.
My advice to anyone wanting to hike in Glacier National Park on any of the trails is to get there early! Parking is very limited on many trailheads, by 10AM most trailheads are full of people. There is the option to park at visitor centres and take a bus if you do not want to worry about any parking issues. The bus runs every day and stops at every trailhead or viewpoint on the Going To The Sun Road.
The night was spent in a hotel in Butte, Montana to recharge my camera equipment, have a good shower and get a good rest for the following day of travel.
Day 3 – Butte, Montana to Yellowstone National Park
A couple hour early morning drive gets me to the West Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. With no clue what to expect or how to tackle Yellowstone National Park I decided to go clockwise and stop at all the points of interest along the way.
Yellowstone feels like an entire different world from the moment you enter the park! It is fascinating to see many roadside pullouts with boiling mud pools or active steam venting from the side of a mountain. The colours of these hot pools are highly pigmented and remarkable to finally be able to see in person.
There is so much to see and do in Yellowstone and with only a full day to explore the park I was limited to how long I allowed myself to stay at each stop all while still driving the ring road around Yellowstone.
The ring road around Yellowstone is long. I spent the majority of my day driving to locations, stopping and taking a couple pictures, hopping back in the vehicle and driving to the next viewpoint. I was able to see everything I wanted to in one very long, exhausting day.
Be prepared to get stuck in a unique traffic jam near the south side of Yellowstone! Bison frequent the area and are often on the road causing chaos on the roadways.
I stayed at Bridge Bay Campground just across from the massive Yellowstone Lake, and was able to enjoy a sunset at West Thumb overlooking the lake before heading back to call it a night.
Day 4 – Yellowstone National Park to Grand Teton National Park to Ontario, Oregon
Today was going to be a long, long drive out of Wyoming, through Montana and all through Idaho to Ontario, Oregon.
I set off early to get some wonderful views of Grand Teton National Park just south of Yellowstone. If you are ever travelling to Yellowstone I highly recommend taking some extra time to enjoy the Grand Tetons as well, it is a spectacular mountain range with some world class hiking and mountain climbing from what I had been told by locals. Unfortunately, I did not have time to stop in the Tetons as I was set on making it across Oregon to the coast by the following day. When I do come back here, I will most definitely be spending some time in this wonderful mountain range.
Day 5 – Ontario, Oregon to Reedsport Oregon to Pacific City, Oregon
Another long day of driving ahead of me through the entire state of Oregon! Who know that most of Oregon was desert land?! I certainly did not, which made for a very diverse trip across Oregon. It was a pleasure to watch Oregon transform right in front of my eyes from desert land to lush forests to the beautiful, breathtaking coastline!
I stopped along the way at the dozens of stops along the highway, including the Sea Lion caves and Thors Well to get some pictures of Oregons spectacular coastline.
I spent the majority of the rest of the day driving from place to place to find different viewpoints along the way and enjoyed every minute. The drive through the coast is world class and has some of the most beautiful coastal towns along the highway.
I spent the night car camping at the public parking for Haystack Rock beach in the heart of Pacific City. It was wonderful to fall asleep to the sound of the ocean and wake up to a beautiful sunrise over Pacific City. Although I was a bit paranoid about parking overnight there was many people parked alongside my vehicle – which was comforting to know that I was not the only person staying for free in Pacific City!
*See slideshow for pictures of the coast
Day 6 – Pacific City Oregon to Cannon Beach, Oregon to Spokane, Washington
An early start to my day would take me to finish the rest of the Oregon coast drive before heading all the way across Oregon again to Spokane, Washington!
As a side note – this drive would best be enjoyed going southbound instead of northbound as all of the stops are on the left hand side of the road if you are heading northbound. This makes it difficult to stop in many places on a split second decision and can also be a bit dangerous given the amount of volume this highway sees daily pulling out and back into traffic.
I spent some time in Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park north of the little town before heading out to Seaside to fuel up and set off on the long drive to Spokane (Cannon Beach does not have a gas station!)
I did not get to see any of the waterfalls in the state parks before or after Portland, but intend to fully when I repeat this trip next year all the way through to California. I am hoping for more time to enjoy some hiking as well as sightseeing next time around.
After a long day of driving, I arrived in Spokane late and stayed at a hotel to get a good nights rest after a long day of driving before setting off to drive home the following day.
Thank you for reading! This trip was a whirlwind of sightseeing and driving. I know this is not everyones version of a fun vacation or travelling but this is the way that suits me best – I feel that for my own personal safety when travelling solo it is best to keep moving. I do not like to stay in one place for too long and since I had so much I wanted to fit in this was the best way to do it all!