Rocky Mountain National Park

Friday June 18, 2021

RMNP is now requiring a timed entry permit to enter the park between the hours of 5 am and 3pm to control the crowds. Since we didn’t have one we couldn’t get into the park until 3pm today.

So I lounged in bed this morning and Jim made me a hot chocolate to sip while he made us a sausage and potato hash with eggs. Yup, I’m spoiled!

Again we had another half a mile line to get through before entering the park. Luckily this one went much laster than the last one.

Shortly after entering the park we see a mule deer then two moose. At the same spot later we see two more moose there. These two were closer so I was able to get some pictures with my cell phone camera zoomed out to the max.

We do one short and easy hike to Horseshoe Falls. This one had a nice smooth path that I could wear my sandles and Jim his flip flops. Jim is happiest with his flip flops on.

Saturday June 19, 2021

The alarm goes off at the god awful time of 3:45 this morning and we are out of camp and on the road by 4:15am.

We don’t have timed permits to enter the park so we have to go in before 5am. It is pretty dark and we see deer twice that we have to stop for. Jim is shocked at how many people most likely don’t have permits and are entering the park this early with us.

Today we hike to a few of the lakes off of Bear Lake Road. In some areas crossing snowy patches.

Snowy Range

Thursday June 17, 2021

Today’s agenda was to visit snowy range and disperse camp up in the area. So after doing some grocery shopping, a trip to the fly fishing store, an oil change and wash for the van we were on our way.

The area is truly breath taking. Plus at elevations over 10,000 feet there was still a lot of snow and ice adding to the beauty.

We did some exploring on forest roads, which are mostly dirt roads, looking for a place to camp and had to turn around at some of them because of snow covering the road making it impassable.

Last year I never really explored any of these areas since I was by myself. It is way to hard to drive and look at a map at the same time. So it was a special treat to see some of these areas.

The Snowy Range area is just as beautiful as I remember it from last year. Although there is much more snow here this year.

Jim meet a fisherman in the parking lot and found out from him that 2000 rainbow trout were just released into the lake.

You could look into the water and see a bunch of them just swimming around.

Jim did end up catching one of them. It was just a young one and was released back into the water.

Spearfish Canyon

Wednesday June 16, 2021

We had a lot planned for today so we were out early. I wanted to drive spearfish canyon and walk to a couple of waterfalls. The walks were both easy so I don’t think Jim was swearing me. Plus we were out early and it was actually cold.

The Roughlock falls area offered Jim a fly fishing opportunity that he couldn’t resist although he didn’t have any luck this time.

Then we said goodbye to South Dakota and enter Wyoming.

When we arrive at Devil’s Tower National Monument around noon, the line to get in is 6/10ths of a mile long. So Berkley and I make the best of this opportunity. I make us some egg salad sandwiches from some eggs that I cooked up in the instant pot on the drive there and Berkley takes a nap in Jim’s lap.

It is really warm so we only do a quick tour around the tower. Dogs are not allowed on the trail and we didn’t want Berkley to get to hot in the van so we didn’t leave him for long.

On the way out there is another village of prairie dogs. Of course I make Jim pullover.

Custer State Park

Sunday June 13, 2021

We arrive at Game Lodge campground in Custer State Park yesterday and our campsite is directly in the sun. So I am glad we have electric to run the AC it has been really hot in the afternoons.  It was the only campsite available and I bet it was a last minute cancelation.

This campground is beautiful and the bathrooms are super clean. I would definitely stay here again. There are some campsites with shade and a creek running behind it. So if you plan to come here I would try to get one of those.

I am awake early this morning. I am out of the van before 5am for my morning walk. I leave Jim and Berkley in bed. I walk the creekside trail to the next campground. It is a 2 mile walk there. I see a buffalo laying in a grassy field. On my way back he is up having breakfast.

Today we drive the wildlife loop through Custer SP. We see a heard of buffalo, they  cross the road right in front of us. There were many babies in the heard.

There were numerous donkeys and their young and of course a collection of prairie dogs on our scenic drive.

We continue on and see a few deer and a turkey. Then stop at a pullout because for some reason I am super sleepy. I lay down for a short nap and Jim explores the creek we are parked next to. He sees a good sized trout and decides once I wake up he is going to get the fly rod out and see if he can catch it. He doesn’t catch anything large, but he does catch 5 fish.

Monday June 14, 2021

I believe today was our best day as far as weather and campsites go. Sunny skies, 80 degrees with a breeze and a shady campsite at Legion Lake, inside the park.

Today starts with a scenic drive on Needles Hwy with three narrow and low tunnels. I chickened out on them last year, but since Jim is here and he is a much better driver I put it on the intenery. It was great being a passenger  rather than the driver so you can look all around.

We made it through the first tunnel without any issues. The second tunnel had mountain goats inside. There were two moms and two kids. The moms appeared to be licking the tunnel’s rock walls. I am guessing that there is salt in the rock. We wait about 15 minutes hoping they would leave, but after several cars drive through they remain. So we decide to give it a go and take it super slow and we make it through without harming them. That was an awesome experience to see them so close.

By the time we get to the Cathedral Spires trailhead for our hike today it is already pretty warm. The trail is rated as moderate to strenuous with little shade. Berkley gives up pretty early in the hike and I end up carrying him up most of the uphills. I’m sure Jim is silently cursing me.

We slowly make our way to our campsite and relax for the rest of the day.

Mount Rushmore

Saturday June 12, 2021

I peel back the sun shade at 4:30am and I see pink sky. It is already starting to get light.

I get up to go for a morning walk and see the sunrise. Berkley and Jim stay in bed.

We are going to see Mount Rushmore today. On the way we stop at a car wash and clean off the van. The rain/ windstorm from two nights ago really made a mess of the van.

We arrive at Mount Rushmore around 9:30 on a Saturday. It is already hot and crowded. We are back at the van a half hour later with drinks in hand. There are so many people traveling this summer.

We drive Iron Mountain Road toward Custer SP. I highly recommend it. It’s very scenic and fun to drive.

I managed to get us a campsite in Custer SP for the next two nights with electric so we can run the AC.

Badlands

Thursday June 10, 2021

It’s hot! Blazing HOT!

We are up early this morning and headed into the Badlands to hike three short trails and to see prairie dog town as well as drive the scenic loop road before it gets to hot.

My favorite hike today is the Door trail. You are actually walking on and through the rock formations looking for the next numbered marker to find your way. Plus we really beat the crowds on this one.

Friday June 11 2021

We had one hell of a storm come through last night. Winds 30+ mph, lightening and heavy rain.. I love storms, but this one had me nervous. I thought the winds were going to blow the van over. Upon inspection the van looks fine, but man is it filthy. It is covered in sand and dirt blown around by the winds.

Today we were heading into the town of Wall, population 818, to visit the famous Wall Drug. It is a tourist trap, but when you start to see billboards about 160 miles from the town it is hard not to check it out. We only buy 2 donuts. They are pretty famous for them.

While we are in town we also do laundry. At the laundry mat we meet another couple that were camped in the same area as us last night. The wife admitted to being pretty scared also. Then in comes a younger kid that was also in the same area camping in a tent! His outcome was not as good. He decided to ride out the storm in his tent since a couple a nights prior a storm came through and things were fine. Well this storm broke 2 of his tent poles making his tent unusable. So his mission for today was to get that tent replaced.

Ruby Falls

Monday June 7, 2021

Ruby Falls

It’s day 2 and Jim is still with me after spending the night in a Cracker Barrel parking lot!

Today we interrupt our travels with a stop atop Lookout Mountain to view Ruby Falls. Although, Ruby Falls is far below the mountain. Yup! An underground waterfall. It is the tallest and deepest underground waterfall in the United States. You descend 26-stories by elevator into a cavern and it is less than a half mile walk to the falls. The walk to the Falls is scenic and well lit taking you 1120 feet below the earth’s surface. It is a guided hike and you have to remain with your group, which is a bummer for those that like to break the rules or those that don’t like kids! We had a couple of kids in our group that were climbing and touching everything. The cavern has a no touch rule because the oil from our hands alters the growth of the rock formations.

News Flash

Sunday June 6, 2021

I am traveling again this summer, but that is not the news flash. The news flash is that Jim is with me! He decided to join me for about 8 weeks. It will be tight in the van, but with enough alcohol he should be able to make it.

Please text him with good vibes and best wishes that he makes it.