It was late afternoon by the time we got all of our “hit the road affairs” in order. We usually make sure we fill our water storage, have two full tanks of gas, groceries, and snacks before we set out on the open road. The course was set due west, uncharted territory for both of us. We drove through the Black Hills and spilled out onto the rolling prairies of Eastern Wyoming stretching as far as the eye could see. It was like looking out on the open seas, endless sameness to the horizon (which was a bit unsettling after our fuel system issues back in Rapid City). We drove for hours through this desolate landscape until we came across some large red rock formations that were so intriguing we had to pull over to gaze at them in all of their glory.
Late that evening we stopped for the night in Casper, worked the next day, then finished the trek to our next destination – Jackson, WY and Grand Teton National Park.
Jackson is a beautiful little mountain tourist town with all of the shops and restaurants you and your family could ever hope for (as long as long as you don’t get hungry past 9pm, but we will get into that later). You could definitely kill a day or two visiting all of the shops in town if you’re into that type of thing. There’s also the Jackson Hole People’s Market Every Wednesday from 4-7 pm in the Summer and the second Saturday of the month from 2-6pm in Winter. We were lucky enough to catch the market and get in on some tasty food and local wares, which was a cool way to take in the Jackson scene.
Some things to note about Vanlife in Jackson:
-There are a bunch of public restrooms with places to fill your water bottles all around town.
-You can pay to shower at the Rec Center, however keep in mind you will be showering to a symphony of screaming children in the women’s showers or out in the open within eye shot of the pool in the men’s.
-There are a few parks in town that don’t have “No Overnight Parking” signs that we parked by consecutive nights in a row without issue.
We left the city to camp in Teton National Park at a beautiful remote spot the locals call Wedding Tree. With a view of the sun setting over the Teton Range, we made a fire and settled in for a night of whiskey and chats with friends we made.
The next morning we headed out early after breakfast to hike Amphitheater Lake Trail. The trail starts at around 6,700 ft elevation and stretches 5 miles with 3,000 feet elevation gain to 3 glacial lakes. The last leg of the trail was completely covered in several feet of snow, making for a winter wonderland in July which was pretty incredible to a couple of Floridians. We were definitely ill prepared for the snow, but we slipped and slid our way up the mountain to see two of the glacial lakes, Surprise and Amphitheater. (Delta Lake is off of the trail and, moving slowly through the snow, we had to skip it for fear of losing daylight).
We completed the hike around sunset and headed back to Jackson Hole for some much needed grub. Much to our dismay however, almost every restaurant in Jackson closes at 9pm! Luckily, we were able to find one place to spare us from starvation. Thai Me Up, which also houses the award winning Melvin Brewing ended up being just what we needed. The food was amazing (especially for their limited late night happy hour menu), and the beer was even better. 10/10 would recommend.
The next day we were on our way out of Jackson when we saw a bunch of cars pulled over and people running out into an open field. BUFFALO finally!!! We frolicked out into the field and snapped a few photos before some of the other tourists got too close and risked all of our lives. (Note to self: tourists = danger [additional note: finally seeing buffalo in real life was totally worth it])