The Month-Long Camping Rockies Road Trip....This Is How We Do!

Published: July 9th 2014
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This is how we do...the philosophy of our trip. Again, any plans we made resulted in the least favourite and the stumbled upon amazed us! Having traveled a lot, this one thing consistently rings true - no plans = good plans!

TRIP ROUTE: Vancouver - Mt. Robson PP - Jasper NP - Icefields Parkway - Lake Louise - Banff - Kananaskis Valley - Peter Lougheed PP - Waterton Lakes NP - Glacier NP - Whitefish - Flathead Lake SP - Yellowstone NP - Grand Teton NP - Jackson - Sandpoint - Nelson - Conkle Lake PP - Vancouver

Total Km: Approx 8000km

So the plan - keep it simple, stay off the grid, and no hotels only camping for a month. We could have gone another 3 months. This trip was amazing! There was a sense of freedom to this trip (as compared to others) as we had the ability to go anywhere we wanted at any time - not prone to bus schedules, and all the other typical travel woes. Also, seeing our own backyard for a change- and being consistently amazed by how beautiful it is - was a blessing. In all, the wildlife encounters we had, the amazing places we went, created a trip that far exceeded any expectations we had made!

After much deliberation (aka over a beer or two) we decided to start our trip up in the Jasper area and we were glad we did as the wildlife show began. First night we bombed up to Mt Robson PP and had a cool little campsite all to ourselves right on the Robson River - a perfect start to the trip. Spent the next day in the Jasper area driving the Maligne Lake Road and encountering both crazy beautiful scenery and getting up close and personal with all sorts of wildlife - including the cutest bear cub ever! With no real plans on where to stay - we just drove - ending up in the Icefields Parkway (nicest drive ever) at a campsite right beside the Athabasca Glacier at about 10000ft asl, for what turned out to be the first of many super cold nights!

Next were the tourist traps that are Lake Louise/Banff - all we could stand was a poke in and out as the crowds were ridiculous. Having seen the typical tourist stops - we blasted off again into the unknown. Attempting to get a camping spot in Banff proved fruitless - and thank god it did as what we stumbled on next blew our minds! Ending up in Alberta's Kananaskis Valley we landed in the crazy beautiful Peter Lougheed Provincial Park - a string of campsites laid out in what seems to be endless Rocky Mtn vistas - again us finding the solitude we desired.

From here we drove to what was our favourite stop of the entire trip - Waterton Lakes National Park. The little known Canadian cousin to the popular Glacier NP which is right across the border (and five times busier!). Waterton was killer, the town = peaceful, the campsite (Crandell Mtn) = the best of the trip, the scenery = beautiful, the vibe = you wanna stay longer, the animals = everywhere! We spent hours with four foxes at a den we discovered, watching the 2 brothers play, the shyer little sister sitting by and watching - always close to the den and then mom returning home with food and always greeted with zealously by the young foxes. This wildlife encounter will never be forgotten as they would just run by us less than a foot away!!!

Next was Glacier NP in Montana - and our first introduction to the insanely busy US National Park system. Crowded or not - its beautiful here and we managed to find our own corners of the park - spending time on super nice hikes and getting hammered in a row boat fishing in the lake! Our timing could not have been better as the weather started to roll in and roll in hard! Now rainsoaked and content with what we saw in the park (we missed some stuff due to weather which was unfortunate) we moved on in search of bluer skies - and we found them at Flathead Lake in Montana - again with a whole campsite all to ourselves and we spent the night drinking caesars and fishing on our own personal dock on the lake.

This place was great but the pull to Yellowstone was greater and so we moved on. This is the irony - we were soooooo excited for Yellowstone and it turned out to be our least favourite. Now we had been camping in peace and quiet for about 12 days now - getting stinkier with every shower missed and becoming increasingly unsocialized and loving it so a stop here was a bit of a shocker. The crowds. That's all I can say. It ruins this place. We found some amazing spots and had fun - thank god we found a sweet wilderness campsite. There are 2 types of wildlife in Yellowstone - animals and tourists the latter drove us insane and we couldn't leave soon enough.

Needing to decompress and regain our stinky camping troll status we headed to Grand Teton NP and found the sweetest spot ever right on the lake. All we wanted to do was nothing - and that's what we did - nothing in a beautiful place. Spent the days drinking by the lake, tanning and fishing and laying in the hammock. Perfection.

Time now at a premium and trying to find a spot for the 4th of July we headed north. Ending up in Sandpoint Idaho. Here's where no plans = good plans. With it being the 4th, we had small hopes of actually being able to find a spot to stay. All hotels booked (good cause we didn't want one anyways) we had to find a campsite and we literally found the last one available so we gobbled it up - its position in family-filled small area more than slightly annoying. Not wanting to spend any time here we set out to the big lake for some chill time. Now tanned-er and a couple beers in we headed back to the familycentric campground - dreading it. On the way we see a sign to a marina - por que no, lets go check it out and sooooooo glad we did. Found a bar on stilts over the lake that poured the most delicious 4oz maragritas for $5 - right on the lake did I mention? Better yet, there is a huge field right behind this place where some RV's are set up. Lets go ask. And boom, we find the campsite of campsites and with glee we abandon our other one. Spent the night drinking more than several of those delicious limey margaritas and watching hours of fireworks for the 4th as we hoped!

Then the way home - stopping at Nelson (which was our fave city by far - would love to live there!!!) and stumbling across a beautiful PP just outside of Grand Forks called Conkle Lake - perfect for our last night - which we spent in true BUCKALYN style consuming much of the US booze we brought back with us.

In all - this was one of our favourite trips - we enjoyed the solitude, became increasingly OK with not showering and will never forget the beautiful places and wildlife we saw - an amazing time!

Peacenluv T&S

Additional photos below
Photos: 31, Displayed: 26


9th July 2014

Great trip......
Yup, can't beat just 'heading out' w/o any stupid plans. Sounds like a great trip. (Kinda wondering about that 'body-bag' sleeping bag deal, though - like, after 2 weeks with no shower, and spending a night in that thing, guessing you wouldn't want to be striking any matches around that thing come morning, huh?)
10th July 2014

Fantastic - as always!
Loved your blog and amazing photos as always! Learned a new word today that seems to aptly describe your trip - chillaxin! You seem to have that done to an art!
12th July 2014

I don't know...
how PBR became so popular, and I've downed my share of PBR. I blame Blue Velvet! Wicked post and photos, looks like an awesome trip. Roberta and I have been going back and forth between Northern Rockies and the Colorado Plateau for our next trip (once we're back on the continent). Maybe we'll just do like we did in Borneo and copy your trip again! Matt p.s. I was thinking along the same lines as Rich, that "body-bag" looks awesome but how was it after a few days of cleaning fish and a few nights of beers/margaritas? p.p.s. I totally agree with you about Yellowstone, but if you get a chance to visit in October it's a totally different world.
22nd July 2014

22nd July 2014
Lower Waterton Lake

Sublime...exquisite...magic...feeling for words...great pic!
1st August 2014

Loved the pics! Thanks for sharing!
such beautiful area! You guys should go to Ky
1st August 2014

Thanks for sharing!
Beautiful pics! You might want to consider going to Kyrgyzstan + Tajikistan and enjoy some nice and peaceful camping adventure over there next !
4th August 2014

I'm not really into the camping thing, BUT I wanted to say GREAT pics!! Amazing wildlife out there! Have fun and enjoy!

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