After many months of preparations and planning the best and safest way to navigate a road trip during a global pandemic, it was finally time to hit the road to shoot Rumpl’s next R.A.D. artist, and capture some beautiful content along the way. The destination was Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, a few states over from Oregon. We partnered with Escape Campervans for this trip, which allowed my dog Jax and I to be fully self-reliant for sleeping, food, and water. The van has a full kitchen, fridge, and a queen-size bed so you can cook all your meals and sleep in a comfortable and self-contained unit.
The first stop of the trip was in the mountains of Idaho for a soak in a secluded hot springs. After driving most of the day, it was a relief to drive up a dirt road along the Middle Fork Payette river and find plenty of car camping options with views of the river. We cooked dinner and enjoyed the sounds of the river and even saw some wildlife stroll by. It felt really nice to cozy up in the full-size bed and stretch out for a good night's rest. We planned to get up early the next morning to soak in the nearby hot springs. Luckily, everyone decided to sleep in, and the hot springs were totally empty. Soaking in the springs with the sound of the river rushing by is one of the best ways to wake up. As the sun crested over the mountains, we made our way out to continue the drive east.
It was a beautiful drive through the Sawtooth National Forest, and we marveled at the Sawtooth Mountains reaching up into the sky. The rivers were packed with people enjoying the perfect weather. Getting into Wyoming over the Teton Pass Highway reveals an epic landscape. I met up with a local artist and we found an amazing spot to watch the sunset behind Teton Mountain Range as we talked about what we had ahead of us the next few days.
We spent the next day roaming around Grand Teton National Park and avoiding crowds. It was peak season, and there were a lot of people visiting, but if you tried hard enough, you could find little pockets of calm. After filming all day, we set out to find a spot for the night. We ended up at the top of a mountain with a perfect view of the Tetons. The full moon also came out to light up the night. We woke up at dawn to get some sunrise shots and enjoyed the mosquito-free morning as the sun hit the mountains.
We took our time leaving our mountain top camp to begin the drive through Yellowstone and into Montana. Yellowstone is one of the most popular national parks, and this year it was crowded. We were lucky to find a few areas to park and eat lunch and go for a swim, but the main attractions were too busy to see safely. After a few river swims to cool off, we made our way out of the parks and said our goodbyes. I was lucky to find a great camping spot outside of Big Sky, MT, next to a river. After an evening swim and a nice van-cooked meal, it felt great to enjoy the warm fire and wind down.
The following day Jax and I drove west towards Missoula, MT. I decided to take the scenic route and drive along a river the whole time. This decision paid off as it had some great spots to stop and enjoy the view. I ate lunch next to a river watching hawks soar in the sky above. The two-lane highway twisted through big valleys, eventually leading to the main highway. I spent the evening talking to new friends around the campfire about traveling around the US. We all agreed Montana and Wyoming were beautiful and that we would be back.
After a week on the road, it was time to head back towards Oregon. The road home was long but allowed some time to scheme about going back to Wyoming for some more exploring. Being able to travel with all the essentials in one vehicle made the trip much more enjoyable. You could stop and enjoy a meal at any pretty vista, or even better, pop up the rooftop tent and call it a night.