Stephanie and I have been in the thick of planning our summer 2021 camping trip to Yellowstone National Park. So we thought we would take you along for the ride on today’s episode of The RV Atlas! I tend to drive Stephanie bonkers planning our big trips because I vacillate and hesitate and act like Prince Hamlet. Perpetually unable to make a decision and creating chaos all around me. Stephanie is more precise and decisive and she has great track record for picking the right places and planning the right routes. So I basically bombard her with options and force her to decide. It’s a bit dysfunctional, but our track record for planning epic adventures out west is impeccable.
To listen to Stephanie and Jeremy discuss planning their big summer 2021 trip to Yellowstone National Park, click on the media player above, or subscribe to The RV Atlas wherever you get your podcasts!
Our Late Summer Strategy For Heading West
When it comes to planning our big summer trips out west, we have settled into a pattern that we both love. Instead of taking our own RV out west, we fly in and rent an RV. Or we rent a car and stay in cabins or NPS lodges. We only have about 12 days for this Yellowstone trip, so driving out is not a viable option. That would mean too much time in the truck, and not enough time in the parks. We think that too many RV owners never get around to their bucket list trips because they are totally committed to their own RV’s and don’t have enough time to drive to many of the epic locations out west. So instead, they spend all of their vacation time closer to home.
Fly and camp trips have allowed us to see the PNW, South Dakota, and Glacier on our own timeframes and on our own terms. Staying in NPS Lodges, glamping tents, and cabins has been an incredibly experience that we wouldn’t trade for the world.
We have also fallen in love with traveling out west in late August and early September. Why? Because we find that many popular locations, like Mount Rushmore, are less crowded at that time. This is because so many kids are back in school. Our boys don’t start school until after Labor Day, and we are thankful that we can travel at a time when the weather is great and the summer crowds have thinned out a bit. We are taking this same approach for Yellowstone. Max and Theo have a baseball tournament that ends around August 21st. We have about 14 days before school starts, so why not do Yellowstone, right?
So this year LORD WILLING we are flying into Jackson Hole and doing a loop—staying first at Grand Teton National Park, then West Yellowstone, East Yellowstone/Cody, and back to Jackson Hole. We are missing out on Devil’s Tower on this trip, but besides that, this loop looks perfect! We will have time to explore Grand Teton National Park, both sides of Yellowstone, and Cody and Jackson Hole. Sounds like a perfect 12 days to me.
First Stop: Colter Bay Cabins
Our first stop will be at Colter Bay Cabins. We were surprised that there was NPS lodging available inside Grand Tetons National Park–so we grabbed it! Yellowstone basically had nothing left–so this was our one chance to stay inside one of these monumental parks. The cabins look pretty basic on the outside–but they look really nice and cozy on the inside. But most importantly, they comfortably sleep five! This is a huge reason why we prefer cabins over hotels when we do fly trips—room and sleeping accommodations for the whole family. Pictures of the interiors of this cabin look absolutely charming–and we think it will be nice and centrally located for our trip. We are hoping to do the hike around Jenny Lake and visit mormon row while we are here. I would also love to rent canoes or kayaks.
Second Stop: West Yellowstone
I am thrilled that we are staying two nights in a luxury glamping tent at Under Canvas Yellowstone. I will never say the price of this splurge on the podcast or here on the website! It is EXPENSIVE! But this place looks amazing and they actually have family-friendly glamping tents. The Collective Retreats did not have family friendly glamping tents. This Under Canvas has comfy beds with high linen counts, wood burning stoves, gourmet meals onsite, guided excursions, and a gorgeous location. Our next book, Where Should We Camp Next, definitely covers the glamping scene–and we are excited to try an Under Canvas location.
They have glamping tents with a tent for mom and dad–and then a separate tent outside for kids, or two tents connected by a deck–but we can never enjoy such things. Our boys would end up in our tent anyway. So we got a suite that sleeps five.
Then we are staying at a cabin at the West Yellowstone KOA Mountainside–for two nights. We choose this one over the other KOA up the road because it looks quieter and prettier. The other one has a pool and hot tub–but we are opting for pretty over amenities. This KOA is located right next to Gallatin National Forest and the cabins are nestled along a cozy creek. KOA cabins have been a solid choice for us in a number of places—Glacier, Redwoods, Philadelphia KOA—they are always cozy and fairly well equipped with options for linens.
After our stay at West Yellowstone we will drive across the park and make a big day of it and drive to Cody to stay at the KOA there. This KOA received a rave from Kate Dunbar on the Campground of the Week podcast a few years back and most folks say not to miss CODY WHEN visiting Yellowstone. We want to do the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and do a Rodeo and all of the fun (and maybe cheesy wild west stuff.) Our kids will love it and so will we.
After that we are driving back to Jackson Hole. We really wanted to stay right in town, chill out, swim, and eat some good food and check out the shops etc..so our last two nights are in a hotel right in downtown.
Say a prayer that the world gets better soon. So we can all have a healthy and happy 2021. I’m sick and tired of cancelling trips and reevaluating every decision that we make as a family because of Covid. I bet you are too.