#Arch2Arch By The Numbers
#Arch@Arch was a family vacation. Jeff Howell (@MissouriHowell on Twitter) and I welcomed this. His kids Kate and Rex were going with us. Families take their children to National Parks. Such trips make memories. A family vacation with children is way to cultivate respect and even love all things wild. We wanted them to be engaged and interested during this turn-and-burn adventure to celebrate the Centennial of the National Parks This photo suggests they were.
At times maintaining their interest was challenging. We averaged four hundred miles of driving each day. You’ve heard it–“are we there yet” echoed frequently from the backseat. Ultimately, we decided to see as much as we could with them. Lots of adventures, we reasoned, would keep the attention of Kate and Rex. We also believed it would spark their curiosity and create the best opportunity for them to learn. Besides, we are go-big-or-go-home type guys. We planned frequent stops and made numerous spontaneous side adventures.
Unwittingly, #Arch2Arch became a “numbers game”. We created an impressive register of accomplishments during our brief eight day #NPS100 adventure. Here is the list of every place we visited during #Arch2Arch in chronological order:
1. Jefferson National Expansion Memorial St. Louis, Missouri (planned).
The Arch is symbolizes the gateway for the United State’s westward expansion to the Pacific. It is also the pride of St. Louis, Missouri. Of course, it was raining the day we visited.
2. Pony Express Station at Gothenburg, Nebraska (unplanned).
We wanted the history lesson that this Pony Express station provided. We learned, for example, that it cost $5.00 to send a letter the length of the route in 1860.
3. Jail and Courthouse Rock Bridgeport, Nebraska (unplanned).
These outcroppings were among the first rocky landmarks that pioneers along the Oregon Trail saw. Our followers on social media were surprised that there was any height in Nebraska at all.
4. Chimney Rock National Historic Site Bayard, Nebraska (unplanned).
Chimney Rock was another landmark on the Oregon Trail. The site has an excellent visitor center and we snagged our first National Park stamp of the trip here too. The Rock is surrounded by private land so don’t expect to get to close to it.
5. Scottsbluff National Monument Gering, Nebraska (planned).
Jeff called this the best view in Nebraska and I had to agree. The Monument has a fair amount of hiking–some of it is quite steep.
6. Wildcat State Park Gering, Nebraska (planned).
Wildcat is close to the Scottsbluff National Monument. We made our first of six consecutive camps here. It was also the first place that the Milky Way made an appearance on #Arch2Arch. No crowds.
7. Fort Laramie National Historic Site Fort Laramie, Wyoming (planned).
This frontier fort was a great place to stretch our legs and learn a little history. Pictured is “Old Bedlam” regarded as the oldest building in Wyoming. It has stood since 1849.
8. Register Cliff Guernsey, Wyoming (unplanned).
Pioneers along the Oregon Trail used the Cliff to let future generations know they had passed by. 21st century graffiti artists do the same thing today.
9. Oregon Trail Ruts Guernsey, Wyoming (planned).
The Ruts brought home to us how difficult travel was in the 19th century. Imagine driving your wooden wheeled wagon along this “road”.
10. Hot Springs State Park Thermopolis, Wyoming (planned).
We soaked in the 103 degree hot springs with the Director of Wyoming State Parks Dominic Bravo at this terrific park. They also have spring fed water slides. Really.
11. Boysen State Park Shoshoni, Wyoming (planned).
This scenic state park provided our second campsite.
12. Bridger-Teton National Forest Jackson, Wyoming (unplanned).
This National Forest is just east of the Tetons. This scenic byway was a great warm-up for the parks to follow.
13. Grand Teton National Park Moose, Wyoming (planned).
This bull was dining in our campground at the Tetons. Were we too close? Of course not.
14. Upper Mesa Falls Targhee National Forest Ashton, Idaho (unplanned).
The south entrance to Yellowstone National Park was closed due to forest fires. We had to detour through Idaho to the West Yellowstone entrance. This route is not particularly scenic, mostly farmland. Still we found a pretty cool diversion in the Targhee National Forest. By the way, don’t tell anybody about the Falls. No crowds.
15. Yellowstone National Park Wyoming, Montana and Idaho (planned).
The Old Faithful area is always the most popular (and crowded) space at Yellowstone. We get it.
16. Devils Tower National Monument Hulett, Wyoming (planned).
I have been to Devils Tower at least eight times. I can’t get enough of it. We caught this interesting sunset from our campsite.
17. Badlands National Park Interior, South Dakota (planned).
Welcome home. I consider the Badlands my home park.
Plus #Arch2Arch also followed each of these National Park Service managed trails for significant parts of the adventure:
18. Pony Express National Historic Trail (planned).
19. Oregon National Historic Trail (planned).
20. Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail (planned).
21. Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail (planned).
Here are a few more numbers from our #Arch2Arch adventure:
*We drove approximately 3500 miles in the #NPS100RoadTrip mobile.
*We tent camped six consecutive nights at six different campsites.
*We showered four times.
*We had exactly one sit down meal in a restaurant with wait service.
*Due to extreme fire danger in the west we had just one campfire.
*We spotted one Grizzly Bear. He’s a denizen of Yellowstone National Park.
*We had an infinite amount of fun.
I used the word “accomplishments” previously in this blog. I recognize that making a long drive on generally good roads is not an accomplishment. Like all National Park trips I have taken, this one was about people more than anything else. #Arch2Arch allowed me to meet new people and strengthen friendships that I already had. This was my real accomplishment. I can’t think of a more fulfilling way I could have celebrated the Centennial of the National Park Service. Many thanks to the Howell family for indulging me.