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  • Writer's pictureRachael Nitz

Adventures in a VanDoIt Camper Van (part 2)

We have loved every minute of our adventure over the last few weeks in the van and are excited to keep sharing the story with you. Remember to leave me a quick comment at the end to let me know what you think or if you have any questions that need answering or if you have ideas about the next adventure blog!


Part 2: Yellowstone

Waiting to see Old Faithful erupt
Waiting to see Old Faithful erupt

We left Shoshone Falls in the evening and made a 4-hour, night-time drive to West Yellowstone and parked in a hotel parking lot for the night. Another great part about having this van is that we stopped at a gas station on the way, had Maddie brush teeth, and only had to move her from her seat to her bed when we pulled in. It’s the same for Rob and me. Once we park it’s about a 5-minute set-up and we are in bed! This set-up includes putting the window covers on up front and prepping ourselves for bed. We drive into the night quite often and usually end up stopping somewhere between 11pm and 1am. Then we just hop in bed and have an entire day wherever we are at.


This stop happened to be Yellowstone…

 

Day one: Old Faithful

What can I say about Yellowstone National Park? There are

One of many smaller geysers near Old Faithful
One of many smaller geysers near Old Faithful

not enough words to describe the beauty and majesty of this place. The enormity of it. The different landscapes and wonders. It truly is something else. We were in Yellowstone on the 4th of July and West Yellowstone, MT where we were staying does quite the celebration, so we spent half of day one at Old Faithful and the surrounding area and the other half in the town watching the parade and fireworks, shopping, resting, and just checking out the cute little town.

Old Faithful was so neat. We got to watch three eruptions while we were there. Maddie and I walked up just as it was erupting our first time while Rob was parking (this place was packed so parking wasn’t the best). Since Rob missed the first one, we went back to the van for snacks then walked around to other geysers until the next eruption. We found a cool spot around the backside of Old Faithful with hardly any other people and watched our second eruption. Then it was time to go for a trek and man! did we find a good one!

The view overlooking Old Faithful
The view overlooking Old Faithful

There was a path that went out towards the back of the basin and climbed 200 feet in elevation over a half mile to an observation point for Old Faithful. If you get the chance to go, hike up to the observation point and watch the eruption from there. While we didn’t time it well and didn’t get to see it from there, it was a gorgeous view and would have made for a good show. The trail took us around to a solitary geyser that erupts every 5-7 minutes and around to a few scattered other ones. All-in-all we did another 2-ish mile hike around the basin and saw 10-15 geysers erupt. While I would love to hike all day, Maddie is not about it, and we have found her “sweet spot” to be between 2-4 miles, so we make it work!

 

Day 2: Grand Prismatic and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

The Grand Prismatic Spring from the ground
The Grand Prismatic Spring from the ground

Day two was spent checking out the Grand Prismatic Spring which was chaotic to say the least. It took us about 25 minutes for Maddie and me to get dropped off at the path while Rob again went to find a parking spot. He drove around for 20 minutes before giving up and coming back to pick us up. He did luck out right at the end with a spot and literally ran up the path to see the geysers and springs.

How beautiful?!? Pictures really don’t do it justice. Seeing what the various bacteria and minerals do to change the colors of the water and surrounding rock is nothing short of amazing. The Grand Prismatic Spring was a natural rainbow in water form and we understood that the chaos was warranted.

Maddie and Rachael at the Grand Prismatic Spring
Maddie and Rachael at the Grand Prismatic Spring

***Another “plus” in the camper van column: when we were leaving a travel trailer came down to the parking lot looking for a spot and there was no way they would find one whereas we can fit the van pretty much anywhere (except those darn compact spots).

I would have loved to have stayed longer and hiked up to the lookout above the Grand Prismatic Spring or to stop at any of the various turnouts, but we were meeting up with friends after lunch who also happened to be in Yellowstone with their “overland set-up.” But we did get to see a small herd of bison on our way which was cool to see.

Lower Falls on Yellowstone River
Lower Falls on Yellowstone River

We went north to Norris then East to

Canyon Village to do a hike with our friends. Unfortunately, there was quite a bit going on while we were in Yellowstone. There was a shooting on the 4th of July which had the area we were going to meet-up with them closed (we didn't know that when we planned this). Without cell reception we couldn’t figure out where they were, and they couldn’t figure out where we were, so we went on a solo hike of the South Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

We just drove until we saw something that caught our eye. We had some yummy lunch, ramen and stove stop pizza bites. Again, this van was great because we could just pull up, set up a table, cook, and go! We grabbed our walkies (just in case we got separated) and went off to hike the South Rim.

Maddie and Rob cold plunging in Yellowstone River
Maddie and Rob cold plunging in Yellowstone River

I know I keep using the same descriptors, but I don’t know any others to describe what I saw in Yellowstone: beautiful, majestic, serene, gorgeous, awesome, all of the above! It was just so cool. Our hike again was about 2.5 miles and was all along the Yellowstone River. We saw the upper and lower falls and a doe and her twin fawn. We found a small inlet we called our private beach that Maddie and Rob cooled off in. And my anxious self sat there with her feet in the water praying no one would slip into the rough-looking current and get carried off down the waterfall! I am always a sucker for beautiful water and would hike day and night next to a beautiful lake, river, ocean any day.






Adventures are Better With Friends...

Meeting up in Yellowstone
Meeting up in Yellowstone

If you’re wondering, we did end up finding our friends. We were heading out of Yellowstone to get to Rapid City, SD for a waterpark and Mount Rushmore but we knew they had a campsite at Bay Bridge and decided to just show up and see if we could find them. We went down a few lanes looking for their “rig” and were about to give up when they came rolling in! How crazy?!? We got to see their set-up and they saw ours. We chatted for a bit then hit the road!





Check back for part 3 soon where we head to Mount Rushmore and the Badlands!




Much love & Blessings,

Rachael

Much Love & Blessings
Much Love & Blessings

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