Day 7 – Two Medicine and St. Mary
We didn’t begin this day quite as early since the previous day was so full, but we started out after breakfast and drove south an hour to the Two Medicine portion of GNP. I’d read that this is less populated with visitors and yet still just as pretty, and it was true! We stopped first at Running Eagle Falls and Nature Trail and enjoyed a flat, easy hike to some waterfalls and a river where the boys enjoyed skipping rocks (they’re pretty good at it!). The nature trail portion highlighted multiple plants and berries and their medicinal and practical uses – pretty interesting!
We then drove on to the visitor center near the lake and went into their store to stock up on some more snacks. It was super windy in this area, and the lake was closed to any boating due to it. But once we started our hike through the trees, the wind was mostly blocked from us. This trek took us to Paradise Point- 1.5 mile round trip hike with some elevation change that ended near the lake. Carmen fell and scraped her knee pretty well on our return hike and Behr was eager to pull out his homemade first aid kit (which he had assembled at one of our homeschool adventure club gatherings this past Spring). Behr in turn got tired before we reached the car, and we knew it was time to drive back north for lunch at our RV.
We ate turkey sausage tacos and the boys played baseball while Nick and C napped, and I washed and dried some of our clothes. I put a harvest chili recipe in the instant pot on slow cooker setting, and we loaded up to go back to some more planned hikes at St. Mary, but a steady thunderstorm deterred us. Instead we went into the St. Mary visitor center and viewed their many displays about the Native American tribes in the area- it was interesting and a good option since we couldn’t hike.
We did drive through the park a bit more hoping the thunder and lightning would stop, but it didn’t. We pulled over at a few stops on the Going to the Sun Road, and eventually returned to our RV for chili!
After dinner, we returned to Johnson’s cafe for one final dessert – we all shared homemade peach cobbler, strawberry rhubarb pie, and huckleberry trifle- all delicious!
We then returned to the RV and began packing up for our early departure the next day.
Day 8 – Moving Day, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks
Today was perhaps the smoothest and most beautiful day of travel we’ve ever had! We started at 6am and went 450+ miles through some mountainous roads, some without much of a shoulder, and the views were seriously the most spectacular I’ve ever seen. I’ve included a picture below of our route- southern Montana was maybe my favorite!
The kids stayed asleep during our departure and continued sleeping for 2.5 hours, so Nick and I enjoyed a quiet few hours watching the Sun rise as we drove.
Around noon we realized we would be driving through Yellowstone and right beside Old Faithful- this is a park Nick visited in the 8th grade, but I’ve never been to before. We didn’t include it in this trip’s itinerary because his parents want to plan this trip with all of his siblings and families at some point in the future. However, since our route was taking us into West Yellowstone and straight by Old Faithful, we decided to plan a stop there and just see when the next predicted eruption would be.
The timing was perfect! We found a parking spot for our rig easily, and at 3:45 walked up to see the next eruption predicted to be at 4:18, so we went into the general store and all got some ice cream to share, which we finished eating as we waited for the geyser. In between walks, we saw a fox loping across the parking lot!
After seeing Old Faithful, we loaded back up and headed east and then south outside of Yellowstone and straight to our RV camp for the next two nights at the northern tip of Grand Teton National Park- Headwaters Campground at Flagg Ranch. Rarely do we get to stay in state or national parks because our rig is so long and we prefer full hookup. Upon research I had found that Grand Teton is perfect for big RVs, and thankfully was able to find reservations for 2 nights within a week of when we needed them! We wanted 3 nights but decided we would rather take 2 than pass up the opportunity!
We love this campsite! It’s wooded, yet spacious enough for us to fit, and we enjoyed an evening with everyone in their happy place- Nick grilling steaks, the boys playing baseball, Carmen stacking rocks, and me planning the next day’s hikes from our picnic table while drinking some huckleberry lemonade we got from GNP.