Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Teardrop Camping in Grand Teton and Yellowstone

Several readers have requested a breakdown of our teardrop camping trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone, so this post will include where we stayed and the various things we did on our latest camping trip.


We drove up to Grand Teton from our home in western Nevada through Elko and Wells and up into Twin Falls, Pocatello and Idaho Falls, Idaho. Our first night was a slight disaster as we found ourselves driving into the small town of Elko in the dark. We decided to spend the night with a few other RVs in the Wal-Mart parking lot, but my husband ended up waking up at about midnight complaining that it was too hot to sleep on the store's black asphalt. Because the nearest parks were in the mountains about 40 miles away, we decided to bite the bullet and get a hotel room for the night. It really irks me to get a room when we have a perfectly good teardrop trailer bed, but when you don't have air conditioning...it's a necessary evil.


The next day was filled with driving through the wheat, corn and potato fields of Idaho. We spent the next night at the Snake River RV Resort in Idaho Falls — just a few miles shy of Grand Teton. We don't normally like to camp in these types of RV resorts, but it was actually really nice to have a clean place for the night with showers, laundry and a pancake breakfast in the morning.


The next day, we drove through the beautiful mountains just south of Grand Teton (nearly running into a large female moose on the road) and down into the the cute and bustling town of Jackson, Wyoming. We had been planning on staying at the Gros Ventre Campground since they don't require reservations and we were able to snag a spot about an hour before the weekend campers started coming in. The entire weekend we were at Gros Ventre (pronounced Grow Vont) the larger spots were all taken, but the place never filled up — even in mid-August.


When our friends arrived at the nearby Jackson Hole Airport, we had dinner at the Snake River Brewery and planned out what we were going to do. That evening we caught a ride on the free Jackson Hole tram to the top of the mountain and watched the sunset.





The next day, we found out that Grand Teton is a strange park for driving around in. We ended up driving around a large part of the park without even paying for the entrance fee ($25 per car for both Grand Teton and Yellowstone). For the next few days we explored the area around Gros Ventre, saw moose, pronghorn, bison and some fantastic cloud formations. We went for a great hike to Hidden Falls and woke up VERY early in the morning to watch the Perseid meteor shower over the south shore of Jenny Lake. As far as a national park goes, Grand Teton is nearly empty. Most people drive right through on their way to Yellowstone, but this area has turned out to be one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to.



After a few nights in Grand Teton, we went on one last shopping trip in Jackson and headed up to Yellowstone. The traffic and the construction on the Roosevelt Scenic byway was very busy and it took us at least three hours to make it to our campsite at Madison on the west side of the park. After our beautiful and green campsite in Grand Teton, I was disappointed with our spot at Madison. Madison is really just a glorified parking lot. There is a nice creek and mountain behind the campground, but the place is jammed full of RVs, trailers and tents. The food and bear rules in the park and the campground are strict. We even received a warning about our Dutch oven and had to pack it away in the car. However, the teardrop did get a fair bit of traffic during our time there. I gave a few tours and even one of the camp hosts came over to look at it.







Yellowstone is so huge and there is no way you can see the entire thing. Every morning we packed up our friends' rental car with everything we would need for the day and took off. We visited the geothermal pools of the Norris Basin and Biscuit Basin, saw Old Faithful erupt at 7:00 in the morning, had a breakfast buffet at the beautiful Old Faithful Inn, hiked to Mystic Falls and the hot pools around it, visited the Grand Canyon on a rainy day, hiked down Uncle Tom's Trail, and visited the Canyon Village area and the strange Mammoth Hot Springs.





Our best day had to be our trip to Lamar Valley. We woke up at about 4 a.m. to get onto the road before other travelers and ran straight into a pack of female elk. The day just got better from there. We saw a female moose and her calf in a small pond, many herds of bison in the fields and on the road, a wolf who decided to stand on a hill and howl woefully at us and a large grizzly bear named Scarface. We never even made it to Yellowstone Lake or the far east side of the park. This guarantees that we will have to go back.


On our way back home, we stayed at a KOA in Twin Falls Idaho (again for hot showers) and visited Shoshone Falls, the Niagara Falls of the West.


Photos by Andres Leon Photography, Nelly Leon and Christina Nellemann



6 comments:

  1. Wow. Looks like a beautiful trip!! We have the Little Guy silver shadow too and camped 7 weekends in a row early this summer. It was spectacular; like revisiting the Rockies all over again. I've wondered if the Yellowstone experience could be stretched out and it certainly looks like it can.

    Thanks for sharing! :)

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    1. Thank you Becky. It was a wonderful trip. Yes, you could be in Yellowstone for several weeks and still not see everything. I think the best thing would be to rest a little more (inside your teardrop). We were exausted!

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  2. Awesome write up! I have a question, I have been looking for a tent like the one you have over your picnic table in this photo http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-1peEjcL8PSg/Ui-NGEry_3I/AAAAAAAACSo/rS-sJ2JkAcc/s400/teardrop-grosventre.jpg Can you help me out?

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    1. Hi Scott. Thanks! It's called an REI Alcove. We also purchased the windwalls that go with it. It comes to around $150. It's lightweight and really strong in the wind. It has survived 7 years of Burning Man, too.

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  3. Great photos!
    Amazing areas & it's just the tip of the iceberg :)
    Thanks for sharing your campgrounds & hikes with us. This has helped me with planning our trip for next year.

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    1. Thank you Marie! Yes, my husband Harry and our friend Andres are excellent photographers. I highly recommend Gros Ventre campground. I was not able to experience the other campgrounds in Grand Teton, but if you can get the one at Jenny Lake, it looked incredible.

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