It was my birthday in July and to celebrate, I wanted to go on an expedition. I had dreamed of going to Canada and visiting Banff National Park. That was the end goal in mind. Thus the, The Epic Western US and Canadian Road Trip was born.
The end goal was not the most important, but rather the journey getting there and getting back and everything that happened in between. I have never been on such a grand road trip as this.
*You can click on any of the links in this post to check out the individual blog posts for each place. I will be updating and adding to it as I write them.
So here is the The Epic Western US and Canadian Road Trip!
Calf Creek Falls
Starting out from Arizona and headed north for Utah. The goal for today was to put in some miles and get to Calf Creek Falls in Utah and hike to the falls.
Read the full blog post: HIKING CALF CREEK FALLS
After hiking the falls and driving so many miles we needed a place to stay and decided that camping was the best way to save money, and experience more so we camped as much as possible on the trip.
Aspen Grove Campground
We camped out at this site, I found it on the iOverlander app and it was called Aspen Grove Campground. It was an awesome place to stay for the night and waking up in the morning the views were magical.
Read the full blog post: ASPEN GROVE CAMPGROUND
Passing through Utah
Momentum at Mill Creek
Being a climber, gyms is where I trian and hone in on my skills. I hat taking time off from climbing but at the same time I love to see new places. I was lucky enough to stop at this awesome climbing gym in Utah.
It was the Mill Creek Momentum Climbing Gym. An amazing place to climb with 60 foot walls. This was incredible since my home gym only has 30 foot walls. We Climbed for a few hours, showered, then headed out to find some grub.
Redrock Brewing Company
Pizza and beers were on our mind so we stopped at the Red Rock Brewing Company in Salt Lake City before heading back out on the road.
It was a getting late in the day and we needed to cover a little bit of ground. We made our way up to an area just outside of Wyoming border and found a campground for the night.
Palisades Reservoir Campground
Palisades Reservoir campground was totally free and awesome! We cooked some good food that night right next to the water, staying warm near the camp fire. We were under a full moon and got some great rest, listening to the rain fall on the camper shell.
Read the full blog post: PALISADES RESERVOIR
Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
From the Palisades Campground we made our way into Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We played around in town for a few hours. Jackson Hole is an awesome little town that I would love to visit again someday.
We picked up some essentials. Bear spray, beer, food and specialty coffee from Jackson Hole Coffee Roasters. The important stuff. Then made our way into Grand Tetons National Park for the next few days.
Colter Bay Campground
Our sleeping arrangements for the night were in the Colter Bay Campground. One of the biggest campgrounds in the park and close to a shopping and eating area. We looked through the area and got a nice birthday dinner at John Colter’s Ranch House.
Hidden Falls Hike
Behind Jenny Lake there is a hike to some Hidden Falls, its not long and you can cut it in half by taking the boat ferry back to the start of the trail. The ferry crosses Jenny Lake, so you can get a different view of the Tetons.
Read the full blog post: JENNY LAKE HIDDEN FALLS HIKE
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
After some time spent in the Grand Tetons National Park we headed up more north into Yellowstone National Park. The Picture above is the Grand Prismatic Spring.
We spend a bit of time in Yellowstone as there is so much to see from the Yellowstone Lodge to all the geysers and geothermal activity, massive waterfalls, giant rivers, valleys, and a plethora of wildlife. Yellowstone is a magical place, a Disneyland for outdoor travelers if you will.
Check out some other posts I have made about other in depth locations in Yellowstone.
Read about: TOP PLACES TO SEE IN YELLOWSTONE
Check out: ARTISTS” PAINT POTS IN YELLOWSTONE
Rainbow Lake Campground
Our sleeping arrangements for Yellowstone were tough to find since we were not planning this trip out rather, we would just see what we could find along the way. We ended up staying a night in Rainbow Point Campground just north of West Yellowstone.
there were a lot of skeeters but the camp hosts were cool and let us borrow some wood to make a fire and keep the bugs down. We had some tasty grub and crashed for the night only to head back out to Yellowstone for the next day, then off toward Glacier National Park.
Livingston KOA Campground
After leaving Yellowstone late in the evening we were headed for glacier but needed to find a place to sleep. My app I was using was not finding me very many campsites in the direction we were going.
We ended up finding a KOA campground in Livingston, Montana. I have never stayed at a KOA before. It was awesome! We had a nice hot shower, played some games while washing our clothes, and went to bed only to wake up to a pretty campground with a lot of amenities to check out, after a quick bite we headed for Glacier National Park.
Look more in to it on this post: LIVINGSTON KOA CAMPGROUND
Glacier National Park
In Glacier NP we stayed at the Avalanche Campground. We got extremely lucky to find a vacant site late in the day, and it was the perfect spot!
Read the full blog post on the campground: AVALANCHE CAMPGROUND
From the campground we hiked around the Trail of the Cedars, a beautiful short hike that you can link up to the Avalanche Lake trail and make a long day hike out of it.
Read the full blog post: TRAIL OF THE CEDARS HIKE
We drove the entire going to the sun road and at the highest point on the road we stopped and made some coffee and snacks and even got hail dumped on us in the middle of July!
After Passing through Glacier National Park, we quickly arrived to the border of Canada. We worked our way through customs, and were quite thrown off by the speed limit signs. I had to pay attention to my speed more so than I normally do.
We stayed for a night in Calgary before heading into Banff National Park. We hit a few food spots and an MEC in Calgary, which is the equivalent of REI in the states.
Banff National Park
We spent a couple days in Banff and explored all the lakes that were quick and easy to get to. We hung out in the town of Banff, and did some short hikes to different lakes.
Lake Minnewanka was our first stop once we got through the park entrance. It was beautiful, but I had always seen and heard that the lakes were more blue in color.
I was determined to find these lakes. You can take a ferry ride on this lake, and there are several hiking trails surrounding it. We didn’t spend a lot of time at this lake because our eyes were set on Lake Louise.
Lake Louise did not disappoint. I Have never in my life felt at such peace as when I stood at the edge of this lake. The air was crisp, and the smell of the mountains, trees, and glacial water pierced my nose. Im pretty sure a piece of my heart is still there at Lake Louise.
Look at the full post: LAKE LOUISE
You can rent kayaks and kayak on the lake. Motorized boats are prohibited. There is a large hotel overlooking the lake that you can stay at as well. It’s quite impressive. After spending some time walking the banks of Lake Louise, not wanting to leave, we knew we needed to so that we could go find a campsite.
Silverhorn Campground is where we found a spot to stay for the night in Banff. Most of the other sites were taken up and we arrived here and ended up loving it. There were toilets to use, and free firewood! The surrounding was beautiful as well.
Read the full blog post: SILVERHORN CAMPGROUND
Once we established our campsite, paid for it and claimed it, we knew we had a lot of light hours left in the day. We decided to head out of the campsite and go see one more lake before going back to camp and getting some rest.
To see Peyto Lake it is a short hike from the parking lot. We parked in the bus parking because it was so late in the day and no one was driving up. The lookout is amazing and the water so blue!
Read the full blog post: PEYTO LAKE
It was getting late in the day and much more chilly out. We decided to go back to camp get some food in us, then hit the sack so we could get up and keep exploring the next day.
When we woke up in the morning we snacked a little, and then made a beeline for Moraine Lake. What a gorgeous lake it was. It takes a short hike to get to the view point to see the lake. This one had the most amazing blue color of all the ones we saw in my opinion!
Read more on this spot in the full blog: MORAINE LAKE
Read the Top Lakes in Banff blog post: TOP LAKES IN BANFF
After seeing Moraine we headed north toward Jasper National Park, on the way through we saw Sunwapta falls and took the short walk to check out the little spot with the large falls.
Taking a walk across the bridge that goes over the top of the falls was breathtaking and the views surrounding were worth the stop.
Read the full blog post: SUNWAPTA FALLS
On our way up to the town of Jasper we drove through the Icefields Parkway. It was pretty cool to see all the different glaciers from the sides of the road. We didn’t take the time to tour any of the glaciers; but you can do that if you have time.
After making it to Jasper; we decided we wanted to go back through Banff once more.
Banff Brewing Co.
After we made it back to the town of Banff, we made a stop at the Banff Brewery for some grub and beers. It was absolutely delicious! We took a little time to check out the shops near by to grab a few souvenirs for us and family. It got late in the day and we needed to get out the west side of the park to find a place to sleep for the night.
We ended up driving through Kootney National Park. We didn’t take the time to explore the park as we needed to start making our way back down to the states, we were half way through our allotted time off.
I found this little campsite for the night, it was perfect for people sleeping in their vehicles as you can see above. It was located in a secret little spot over two little river crossings a little west of town.
Radium Hot Springs
Upon morning we were awake nice and early. I camped so close to town because I wanted to take a nice soak in the Radium Hot Springs, so that’s exactly what we did, and it felt so nice and rejuvenating. Back on the road and headed back to the states.
Returning back to the states through Idaho, we quickly moved into Washington. We drove a lot of miles that day and didn’t do much exploring. I found this awesome little campground on private property a little southwest of Spokane.
I asked the owner of the property if I could write a blog on it, and he didn’t want me to since he would be turning into a trailer park.
As a result, I can not post anymore info on this place, it was beautiful and one of the top campsites on this trip.
Multnomah Falls, Oregon
We really spent a short amount of time in Washington and quickly moved into Oregon. Driving along the Columbia River Gorge was pretty sick! Eventually we made our way into Oregon from there and pulled over to see Multnomah Falls.
What a spectacular waterfall it is and such a short simple hike to get up close to it. From Multnomah Falls, we headed into Portland and what a big city and interesting place. We were hungry!
Once we got into Portland I wanted to eat and drink somewhere that had to do with the Sasquatch. Oddly enough we found Sasqutch Brewing and it was delicious.
After eating we headed down toward Mt. Hood and drove through the national forest area looking for Sasquatches! We didn’t find any so we decided to camp out at the base of Mt. Hood and hope that one would wander into our campsite and have some beers with us.
Frog Lake, Free Campsite
Pulling into an area called Frog Lake, we found a campground there but it was full, so was damn near every other campground in the area.
With not being able to find a spot in a campground, we ended up finding our own amazing campsite that was way better than the crowded campsites we drove through when searching.
Read the full blog post: FROG LAKE FREEBIE CAMPSITE
Deschutes Brewing Bend, Oregon
After a couple beers and some snacks at Deschutes brewing we were back on the road again. We visited a few other places as well throughout the town, and enjoyed the countryside. We were headed south back toward California.
Crater Lake National Park
Heading south, we made a stop to visit and check out Crater Lake National Park. It was pretty impressive and cold. Apparently it used to be a huge volcano that collapsed and filled with water.
There is only one way down to the water and you must hike to get there. There are fish if you are a serious angler you can fish inside Crater Lake. If you visit keep an eye out for the old man of the lake that has been here for at least 120 years.
Waterwheel Campground is where we ended up staying south of Crater Lake National Park, due to the fact that every campground immediately surrounding the lake, were full.
I loved this privately owned campground. There was RV sites and tent sites, and the owner was so friendly and accommodating. They were right next to a river, and had immaculate restrooms, showers and laundry facilities. A very clean campground and very beautiful.
Onward down the coast of California was where we ended up next, heading toward the famous Redwoods National Parks. The ocean smells filled the cabin of the truck, and that cool California sea breeze came through the rolled down windows from the coast.
Redwoods National Parks
Having not been to the Redwoods in over 10 years or so, I was blown away by the sheer size of the redwood trees. They truly are massive and make you feel so small. These trees would have dwarfed even the dinosaurs!
Walking through al the many giant redwood forests you immediately get a sense of adventure and feel like a little kid would feel in any forest. It makes you want to run, and play and climb in and around the trees. An amazing place it is!
Emerald Forest Campground
Being in the redwoods all day was amazing and I didn’t want to leave. I was determined to find a campsite in the redwoods. I got lucky and found one last campsite in the redwoods at a place called the Emerald Forest Campground.
It was awesome, and I could camp at that site for a week straight and make food, drink, read many books, and play card games. This was also another top campsite for me that I have stayed at in all my travels.
Sequia and Kings National Park
Out of the Redwoods, we headed straight for Sequoia and Kings Canyon. I have been here before and thought it to be a great addition to go back again and see everything.
Crystal Cave in the Sequoias
Having never been on the crystal cave tour, the opportunity came up to go and we took it. It was pretty awesome, and worth the little bit spent on the tickets. I will have to go back and take the exploratory tour one day!
Click HERE to get your Crystal Cave Tour tickets ahead of time.
Sunset Campground in the Sequoias
Sleeping arrangements among the Sequoias was awesome. We ended up near the west side of the park in the Sunset Campground. Pulling in late in the day we snagged the only campsite left, and it was perfect!
San Diego, California
San Diego was calling us to end our trip there. We stayed at Pacific Beach Inn and it was close to the beach, and the Gaslamp district. We went to the San Diego Zoo, Balast Point Brewing, and a few other places while we explored.
Hodad’s was the last stop on the trip in Ocean Beach. I got to meet up with some friends that happened to be there at the same time. Awesome and huge burgers with good beers.
Like all good things, The Ultimate Western US and Canadian Rockies Road Trip had to come to an end. We had to head back to normal life in Arizona, and head back to work. This documents most of the major points on the trip, but there was so much more stops and little things we did along the way and in each place.
I hope this expedition inspires you to get out there and take a massive trip for yourself. You will be glad you did!
If you want to see some of the gear I used to stay on the road check out the post on what I bring with me on road trips to eat and live out of my vehicle.
Read the full blog post: TRUCK CAMPING ESSENTIALS