You will see that I love everything about travel and seeing new things! I prefer going some place new and taking new adventures with my kids and even when I am solo as you will see. My goal for my family and for myself is to see EVERY state! With kids spanning a decade and all 4 of my kids being born in different states this is a little challenging. Some kids have been places the other have not but that is ok my goal is to experience them as a family. I understand I am against a clock with my oldest already in high school and after he graduates he may not want to go with us anymore so we are making the best out of it.
This vacation started in Denver, CO! We had to fly to start our over 2k mile roadtrip. It was amazing seeing National Parks, the wide open spaces, and experiencing the local life of wherever we stopped. Planning these trips takes a lot of time because we are always on the move! Never in one hotel for longer than 2 days! I present to you our Western Road Trip 2018!
July 20, 2018
We flew out of CVG airport off to Denver, CO 2 parents and 4 kids in tow! Once we arrived in CO I will say that it was not a great first impression! I had utilized expedia.com to do some of our hotels and even our rental car. Yes, we had to get a rental car for a family of 6 to go on over 2,000 miles of road trip and we arrive at the rental car place and they say they are out of cars!? So mama flipped her lid a little, we ended up being accommodated to get a rental car from a very busy other car company where we waited for over an hour for a nice giant Yukon! That worked for us. We were out of there and off to enjoy our time that I had scheduled for us in Denver. We grabbed a bit to eat on a recommendation of a friend who lived in the area and since I didn’t have time to get haircuts before we left we found a local Great Clips and my boys were now presentable boys once again!
July 21, 2018
We all got up early to venture into the mountains! We stopped along the way at Flatirons Vista where we saw cattle roaming and a path through their pasture. We don’t get to do this so often in Ohio so of course we call got out to get up close and personal to the animals!
We packed up the car to continue our drive to the mountains. We stopped at the Visitor Center for Estes Park and even had ice cream in the town’s little ice cream shop. Everyone had to take their shoes off and feel the water!
We were on to Rocky Mountain National Park. I have another blog about this but did you know that all 4th graders in the US are eligible for a program where they get into every state park for free? My youngest son was going into the 4th grade and we were able to apply for the free passes into all of the parks we visited on this trip! This was the first one. I am not sure the highest point or how many miles I drove to get up and down that mountain but I will tell you I was SCARED and white knuckling my steering wheel the entire time! We were in a large vehicle but nothing compared to some of those campers coming up and down those windy roads with no railings! We did stop a few times up the mountain because it was beautiful but I was nervous! Here are a few pictures of us stopping along the way. You could feel the temps dropping as well.
This is a picture of all of us at the very top! As you can see we even had to bring a blanket for the little one!
The trip down was a little easier for me since I was on the inside lane. We made a stop or two on the decent as well.
On our way back to our hotel we had to take a pit stop for Carson to see the Denver Broncos stadium! He is a big fan. It would have been a fun time to actually go to a game but it was before preseason. Maybe we will try again one day!
We all packed up for our last day in CO and ventured to Red Rocks Amphitheatre before we left! There was no concerts while we were there but were happy to visit it during the day. I didn’t realize how busy it was with yoga classes, people working out, and even a little museum to walk through. What a beautiful place!
And on to the next State! NEBRASKA!
We stopped at Scotts Bluff National Monument. This landmark is 800 feet above the Norht Platte River and has served as a landmark for peoples from Native Americans to emigrants on the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails. We took the top and visited the museum below. The kids had some fun with that. We also checked out the replica wagons that would have been used on the Oregon Trail. We did spend the night in this small town in Nebraska. There was not much around. We had the whole hotel to ourselves just about which was nice so good swimming time for the kids. This is definitely a ½ a day trip!
July 23, 2018
We hit the road again leaving our new checked off state of Nebraska off to South Dakota! This was going to be a good day with activities planned, animal watching, and visiting Mt. Rushmore which everyone had learned about in school except little Emma. Our first stop was to Custer State Park. We were able to see buffalo, horses, prairie dogs, and donkey (up close!).
Next stop Mount Rushmore National Memorial!
There was so much more to do in South Dakota but I had only given ourselves a day and a night. We stayed in a little cabin which I thought was cute on the outside. The fact that we were all in the same room and it felt a little damp from the previous rainfalls I wasn’t sad that we were only there for one night though! I pre bought tickets for the Rushmore Tramway Adventures. We were able to ride the lift to take small cars down a narrow path down the mountain. The boys were able to zip line too! The videos are hilarious!
This was where we stayed and had dinner: The Powder House Lodge
While hanging out on the playground we met another family and they told us about Bear Country! I did not know about Bear Country but they said you could drive right through it and see all sorts of animals. One of my biggest goals for this trip was to see bears, buffalo, and other wildlife. We hopped in the car and were surprised by how close we actually got to the animals (while in our car of course!). They had a little zoo type exhibit at the end that we could walk through. I am thrilled we went! The baby bears at the end were worth the price of admission!
July 24, 2018
The next morning we got up at the crack of dawn to get on the road to head to our next state MONTANA!! We drove the whole width of the state that day to get to Gardiner, Montana. This small town was the North entrance to Yellowstone National Park. I splurged a little for this little cabin. The photos on the website were beautiful and while it was nice and tucked away the view from the front was amazing!! I felt like I was looking at a painting each night and every morning! We had a full kitchen (well small but full) so we went to the grocery and grilled our dinners for the next two nights. The meats were fantastic! We were tired and the boys liked the little loft but I wanted to see a little bit of Yellowstone that evening because I was sure we would have trouble seeing it all in just ONE day! Here are some pics of our place. I was in love!
Our first trip into Yellowstone and the town.
July 25, 2018
Now this image I could wake up to every morning. Having my coffee in pure peace. After my moment of peace and quiet we headed into Yellowstone National Park again! We did the whole loop! I feel like we traveled every inch of WYOMING! It is amazing all of the different things that are in that park!
Onward! We stopped and saw Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Dragons Mouth Spring, Norris Geyser Basin, Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, waterfalls, and much more! The pictures don’t even do it justice!
July 26, 2018
This was our last morning in Montana as we were heading to our last planned spot before our return to Denver to catch a flight home. We were headed to Salt Lake City, Utah! Along the way we did stop at a gas station so that we said we were in and stepped foot in IDAHO! We drove straight to where we were planning on going first: the Great Salt Lake. I was a little underwhelmed honestly. I did not think that it does look different at different times of the year. The end of July it was HOT! The lake had receded and there were lots of bugs around. They had a small shop that we went in for a magnet (I try to collect one every state!). We pretty much took our picture here and headed out!
We stayed the night in Salt Lake City and took advantage of the opportunity to have some In and Out Burger since we don’t have them at home. This was a first that the kids remember anyway. While it was hot as heck out there the skies night and morning are a sight to marvel at.
July 27, 2018 we headed back to Denver, Colorado! We had covered over 2200 miles with 4 kids visiting 7 states never visited before, numerous state parks, seen animals up close and personal and all made it to tell the story! I know that not every minute was wonderful. Families of 6 rarely have a perfect day for every member but I don’t let them stop us from taking the adventure! This knocked out 7 of our states of 50. Now we have a few under our belt already as you will see in my other posts but we are blessed to take these road trips and experience the wonder as a family. Here is to our next one!