Road trips are an icon of American Travel. There is Nothing better than being in complete control over your destination and how you get there. We upped our road trip game in 2016 when we bought our first class A RV, a Winnebago Brave modeled after the iconic originals. Since that first trip to pick up our beloved Cheese Wagon in Ohio, we have had the opportunity to take many incredible trips. Our longest journey in time and distance (to date) is this trip to Glacier National Park.
In July, my family of four and my Mother-in-law loaded up in the Cheese Wagon for an Epic Road Trip headed to Glacier National Forest and Waterton Lakes plus every destination in between. Nineteen days from start to finish, we traversed multiple landscapes and experienced the mid west in a new way (for us at least).
The planning for this trip happened around 4 months out. We wanted to be sure and get reservations at some of the more popular places and attractions all while avoiding as many peak seasons happenings as possible. The Logistics were worked out by my husband and I helped supply a list of things we HAD to do.
The KOA and Good Sam systems helped us easily plan a route that made finding hookups for the RV easy with our nightly park cost averaging to $42. Considering the five of us require two hotel rooms in most hotels, this was a significant savings overall. Plus, most parks require a first nights stay prepaid so most of our lodging was prepaid before the trip even started making budgeting very easy. And since we ate most of our meals in the RV the cost for food was around the same as what it is at home. Gas was also way cheaper than plane tickets costing us less than $2,000,by far our biggest singular expense with food coming in at a solid second.
All of our destinations would have taken weeks to fully explore so we just picked the top things in each location.
I love traveling in an RV. Day to day life is easier maintain than other forms of travel. Plus checking into an RV park is easier than a hotel. Groceries, cooking, laundry, showers, and hanging out were all taken care of by the things we had with us all the time. And going down the road we could just take bathroom breaks and fix a snack as needed. Two things that make traveling with kids a much better experience.
Join us on this journey through the following blog posts showcasing all our adventures and reviews on this trip. Click on the links for a more in depth post of each tour and campground.
Go here for a root page of all our Epic Road Trips and Adventures.
We started our trip a day earlier adding an extra night to the trip. I felt by taking a few extra hours off the next days drive would lessen the number of long drive days in the RV. We left our home in the evening and traveled to the Nashville KOA. Nashville was an important stop for us since we needed to drop off a car at the Nashville airport for my mother-in-law’s return trip. (she was flying back early) We made it to the campground in time to set up and get dinner at a local restaurant.
This second drive day was a long one. We were still close enough to home that we didn’t have any stops we wanted to make. Plus the kids were still fresh and weren’t irritable about the drive. It gave us a great opportunity to get some miles behind us. We ended our travel day with a stop at the Double J campground in Chatham Illinois. Man this was a pretty park. We made dinner in the Instant Pot and played around the many amenities this park offered.
Day three was another long day of travel to the Jackson KOA in Jackson Minnesota. After setting up it was time to have some fun with the locals. Saturday night must equal party time at this small campground because they were seasoned vets at having a good time.
After two days with lots of driving, day four felt like a short trip. But South Dakota is still a big state. We made a stop at Al’s Oasis for lunch. Then headed into Badlands National Park the first official tour destination of this trip. Lodging for the night was at White River Badlands KOA.
Day was our second day in the tour of the Badlands area. After driving the scenic loop road we made a quick stop off at Wall Drug and then made our way to the Rapid City KOA. This was a short driving day leaving time in the evening for chores (i.e. laundry) and having a little fun. Our evening entertainment was the Ft Hayes Chuckwagon Dinner show, definitely a must see attraction in the Rapid City area.
Our next adventure was Big Thunder Mine and Mt Rushmore both local to the Rapid City area. After a morning of playing around, we traveled to our evening accommodations in Billings Montana the Billings KOA.
We left the Billings KOA with St. Mary, Montana in sight. After a quick stop in Great Falls to pick up a rental car and some groceries, we made our way to the outskirt of Glacier National Park.There were two roads to make it to St Mary and we chose poorly. It was a white knuckle drive over roads under construction. On a positive note it was beautiful. We made it to the St. Mary KOA with time to set up and grab a delicious dinner at the Snow Goose Grill.
This was it. What the drive was all about. Glacier National Park. We drove to Many Glaciers and enjoyed lunch in the Ptarmingan Dinner and a hike around Swiftcurrent Lake.
The weather cancelled our morning hike to Hidden Lake Trail so we rested and enjoyed not having to move the RV. We grabbed lunch at Froggy’s Cantina then headed to Glacier lodge in East Glacier. FYI there is a rental car place in this little town if you need one. We had a delicious lunch and relaxed around the lodge then hopped on a train to Whitefish for an epic train trip. Day 9 ended with us staying in a Whitefish hotel.
Our morning started early with a race back to the train station for our train ride back to East Glacier. A quick stop over to check on the RV and grab our passports and we were off to Waterton Lakes in Canada for high tea service. We ended our day with dinner at the Cattle Baron Supper Club, one of the top rated steak houses in Montana.
It was time to leave the East side of Glacier and make our way to the West side of Glacier National Park. We made it to the West Glacier KOA by lunch leaving us plenty of time to explore and head off to Polebridge, the weirdest little outpost I have ever visited.
Day twelve was incredible. Not only did we start by driving the Going to the Sun Road, getting Junior Ranger badges at the Logan Pass visitor center, and hiking the Hidden Lakes Trail, but we also stopped at Lake Mcdonald for lunch and playing in the water. Epic Epic Epic
After a leisurely breakfast it was time to pack up and leave west glacier. We stopped in Great Falls to drop off the rental car and made our way to the Hardin KOA in Montana.
Our morning started with a tour of the Battle of Little Bighorn National Monument. The cultural speakers were fantastic and the kids added another badge to their Junior Ranger vest. Laramie Wyoming was our next stop where we picked up another rental car and spent two nights at the Laramie KOA.
Day fifteen was another incredible day. I was pretty sure the 8700′ elevation was going to kill me but it was worth it to see Frontier days in Cheyenne Wyoming.
We left Laramie and drove to Denver Colorado where we did a little RV shopping then made our way to the Embassy suites at the Denver airport. My Mother-In-Law was flying out the next morning so we thought it best to get a hotel to prepare for her flight out.
We had breakfast in the hotel while Granny took a cab to get checked in for her flight then we took the long drive to the Wellington KOA in Wellington Kansas.
Another day of driving brought us 414 miles closer to home. We loved taking this time to talk about the trip and plan our next adventure. Plus we had to get our minds wrapped back around being back in the real world again. We stayed at the North Little Rock KOA and enjoyed an evening of swimming and ice cream.
Home was only 365 more miles away. We got home early enough to clean out the Cheese Wagon and pick the dog up form the kennel. We had a fabulous time and I can’t wait to hit the road again.