The American West – Yellowstone & The Tetons

To start things off, we’ll meet Fred Hagedorn, of Michigan, an RVing veteran. After 33 years of RVing, Fred and his wife, Wilma, joined friends for a three-week trip to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. It was the first time the Hagedorns had ever ventured west of the Mississippi. And to hear Hagedorn tell it, their journey was the trip of a lifetime.

“This was the first time we’ve ever been out West. And it was the best trip. I think it was, in part, because we had another RV couple that traveled with us. We’ve been RVing with them since 1973. Having them go with us gave the assurance that if one of you broke down, you had help. For all of us, it was an uncharted area, so everything we saw was new.”

“We’ve been through the Smokies (Great Smoky Mountains), the Eastern mountain ranges. But we’d always heard that the Western ranges were much, much more scenic. And we wanted to see Old Faithful, all the tourist places.”

“A friend told me that right below Yellowstone National Park we would find the Grand Tetons, and we definitely needed to make a point to see them. Of course, he was right.”

Buffalo in campsite“In Yellowstone, we often had to stop and let the buffalo cross the road. Sometimes they would have a herd of maybe 200 buffalo and you’d have to wait an hour. It was actually pretty cool.”

“So one night, after we had done some sightseeing, we were talking between the rigs and my friend points over my head, “Look! Look! Look!”

“Within 50 feet, this big bull buffalo happens to mosey right on through our campsite. I mean a real wild buffalo strolling through the campground!”

“We went on to Grand Teton National Park. We were staying east of the park, but you could see the mountains from where we camped. If you drove 30 miles south, you came to the town of Jackson, where we met really friendly locals, just great people.”

“There is just something about the mountains out West — I think it was the vastness, the openness. The size of the mountains, the wildness. Even the air was different. As soon as you reached Iowa and farther west, the air was just fresher. I didn’t know I was living in smog in Michigan until I went out there!”

“And the smells! The wildflowers, the sagebrush — we were there the last two weeks of July and the first week in August, and everything seemed to be in full bloom.”

“For anybody living east of the Mississippi, I would recommend they make a point to go out West. I mean, you see it in pictures, on TV and it just doesn’t do it justice. It was mind-boggling.”

“I was so thankful that I have a digital camera — I think we took about 800 pictures. When I showed them to friends, they would look at the color of the sky, the purity of the water and ask if it was ‘camera magic.’

‘Nope,’ I would tell them. ‘That’s exactly what it looked like.”

“It’s a different world out there.”

Mt. Rushmore“If I have any tip to pass along, it would be that we called about six months before going and made all our reservations. We also set a regular itinerary, sat down with maps and plotted everything. We knew we only wanted to drive eight hours a day.”

“On the way west, we stopped at Mt. Rushmore, which was beautiful. I’d recommend it to anybody. We were staying in a campground about halfway between Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse monument, which is just as impressive, if not more so.”

“Our biggest challenge was probably going up the Bighorn Mountains. It had been close to 100 degrees in South Dakota, and we had to tackle the mountains in somewhat treacherous weather, with thunderstorms all around us.”

“At the top, the temperature was 34. On the other side, it was in the high 90s — from blistering to freezing to hot again, all within six hours.”

“As for our next trip, I think we’re in a holding pattern for a year. Then it’s on to the Grand Canyon.”

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  • We are also planning this trip next year.Can you recommend campgrounds or Rv parks?

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