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About WanderLust in Real Life
Hi there! I’m so glad you’re here on my little corner of the internet. Let me introduce myself, I’m Heather, the blogger, content creator and group travel organizer behind this blog, WanderLust in Real Life. I’m a 30 something professional that has a passion for exploring. Not only exploring, but I love travel and itinerary planning! I’ve traveled to 32 states in the USA, 28 countries and have been to all continents (but Antarctica.) Since studying abroad in college I have always had the WanderLust “bug”! I love exploring new places whether near or far and would love to take you with me on my next group trip. Lets get traveling!
What is group travel (or a group trip)? It’s a small group of people you don’t know getting to know each other through travel by going on a group trip together. Some of my best friends became even closer after traveling together and I met so many amazing friends during my time studying abroad. I went on my study abroad not knowing a soul but it was an amazing way to expand my horizons beyond the actual travel I was doing. Who knows, you may meet your bestie that you never knew existed by going on an epic group trip with me as the group travel organizer! (By the way, the groups aren’t too large, typically between 10-20 other passionate travelers.)
Why Choose Group Travel?
I realize not everyone wants to solo travel. While solo travel can be extremely empowering and rewarding, I realize it’s not for everyone. I’m one of those people, I like to share the memories and experiences with friends or a significant other. Group travel is a great way to go even if you don’t have close friends or a significant other or spouse that wants to go. Don’t hold back on chasing your travel dreams due to others not being available! The best part, you don’t have to plan the itinerary you can just book it then go.
Reasons why you Should Travel with me as your Group Travel Organizer
1) Travel is my love language
I love traveling but I also like to share that love with others. I’ve been to 32 states, 28 countries and 6 of the 7 continents. I always have a trip planned, but that next trip could include you!
2) Travel & Itinerary Planning
Not only do I love to travel, I love to PLAN travel even more! Leave the planning to me. SERIOUSLY! Many people I talk to want to travel, but planning is a huge barrier for them, they don’t even know where to start and easily get overwhelmed in the details. So save yourself the grief of getting lost in the sauce planning your trip and just come travel with me! It will be a no fuss way to see destinations you’re dying to explore.
3) Meet new friends
Meeting new friends after you’ve graduated from college (uni/university) is tough! I remember my struggles as a young 20 something on how to meet new friends and how to settle into my life as an “adult” (whatever that means!) It became increasingly difficult to meet people not at work or out at a bar. Meeting friends that have a common interest (ahem, traveling!) from all over the world is just an added bonus to going on a group trip planned and organized by me.
4) Remove barriers to traveling
I understand the struggles of coordinating a group of friends, trying to research a trip, aligning on timing and budget all too well! Travel planning with a group can be so difficult. When I was in my early 20’s (shortly after my whirlwind study abroad experience) all I wanted to do was save, travel, repeat. (I’ll be honest not much has changed!) But, I had several trips that I was deep into planning with different friends after I’d done a bunch of research, bought travel books, the whole ordeal just to have them say that they couldn’t go anymore. I was devastated and at that time had family and friends convince me not to travel solo. Truly, I don’t want anyone in that same boat as me. I want to remove the barrier to traveling by offering small group trips so the people that aren’t comfortable with traveling solo can still go with me as their trusty group travel organizer.
5) Photos (& video)
Whether everyday life or on vacation/traveling, I’m always taking a ton of photos and videos to have memories and document moments. (I’m huge on nostalgia and I am obsessed with the app “Timehop”) So lets take some travel photo’s and videos together to create memories to last a lifetime! (But, you can also share them on social media as well although it’s not required.)
6) Food & Craft Beer
When traveling, the culinary experience is one of my favorite things. I love to try all the local dishes, the hot spots that have amazing off the wall entrees or in the USA I’m a sucker for DDD (Diners, Drive-in’s and Dives) spots. If you travel with me, you can rest assured that NO MEAL will ever be skipped! There will be ample time to sample the local delicacies including brewery visits, winery visits, and fancy cocktail bars to wind down the amazing days of exploring. If that sounds like your cup of tea, or pint of beer you definitely should come on a trip with me as your group travel organizer I will be sure we sample the local brews.
7) Explore new places
Based on the group travel survey (linked below in “How to get on the list!”) I will plan some epic trips to places you may have never been before! Some of the destinations that I’m the most excited for (to return or to explore for the first time) include: Iceland, Alaska, Maine, Greece, Croatia,Italy, Londonand more! There are so many places we could travel together. The possibilities are endless! So, what are you waiting for, get on the list by filling out the Group Travel Survey linked below!
8) I’m a Versatile Traveler
Truly, I love travel of all kinds! Whether it’s hiking in National or state Parks, exploring International destinations (I will admit I am partial to Europe! but want to explore more of Asia and South America), exploring big cities, history museums, or even RV traveling I love to experience a lot of different things. I will say, i’m not a “luxury traveler” although I do like nice things for cheap, bougie on a budget (am I right)?! When traveling I like comfortable accommodations but will spend more money on experiences vs. places to stay. If that sounds like your jam, we would get along really well.
How to get on the list!
So, you’re amped right and thinking I definitely want to travel and go on a trip with you as the group travel organizer! First things first, you need to fill out this Group Travel Survey.
What this does is puts you on my interest list and lets me know that you’re down for me to plan an epic trip that you want to go on. Once the trip is planned, you’ll get an email once you can book the trip with me! This survey is so helpful because it lets me know your preferences. For example, where you want to travel, what destinations you’re most excited about, what your budget is and what time of year works best FOR YOU. This allows me to compile the most common answers from the survey to plan the trip with your input and preferences. Literally the trip is planned with you in mind. Then you just book your flight pay the deposits for the trip and leave the rest of the planning to me!
I’m looking forward to traveling with you soon!
Questions? Contact Me: Group Trip Organizer
If you have any specific questions feel free to send me a DM on Instagram or an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
A guide to give you inspiration & ideas for planning your vacation in the midwest state of Minnesota.
This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.
Minnesota became the 32nd state of the United States on May 11, 1858. The state of Minnesota is located in the Midwest of the United States boasting a landscape full of more than 11,000 lakes. Commonly used nicknames for the state of Minnesota include: Land of 10,000 lakes, North Star State, Gopher State & The State of Hockey.
Minnesota is located in the Midwest of the United States. The state is bordered by North and South Dakota to the West; Iowa to the South; Wisconsin and Lake Superior to the East & Canada to the North. When you look at the shape of the state of Minnesota, the small little “nub” on the very top of its unique shape makes Minnesota the most northern state within the lower 48 states of the USA. So when we say “up north” we really mean it!
Minnesota is such an underrated state! From all of the lakes and outdoor activities in all seasons to the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area Minnesota truly has something to appeal to everyone. Read on to help you start planning to give you Minnesota vacation ideas to explore beyond what you might already know about this Midwestern state.
How to get to Minnesota
If you’re flying into Minnesota, there are two international airports. Minneapolis/St. Paul & Rochester. Minneapolis/St. Paul services the majority of air traffic for Minnesota having the most passengers. The other airports I list below are small hub and non-hub USA airports. American Eagle, Delta and Allegiant Air are the most common airlines at these smaller airports. When planning your travel to Minnesota, passengers should consider Minneapolis as it’s the main international airport in the state.
MSP (Minneapolis/St. Paul) International Airport is comprised of two terminals. Terminal one being the main terminal and where most of the International flights leave out of. A majority of the restaurants, shopping & amenities are located in terminal one. If you go through the south security checkpoint in terminal one my favorite restaurant at the airport is located right on the other side. Stone Archfocuses on pub fare and having an extensive MN craft beer draft list. MSP is a huge hub for Delta flights. Metro Transit and Light Rail Transit options offer public transportation from and to the airport. From the airport there are also, taxis, shuttles and there are designated app based transportation pick up spots available.
There are several other smaller regional airports across Minnesota, however, availability and timetables are much more limited. Many of these regional airlines you will fly into MSP (Minneapolis/St. Paul) and have a connecting flight to your final destination. Regional airports within Minnesota include: Bemidji (BJI), Brainerd (BRD), Duluth (DLH), St. Cloud (STC), International Falls (INL), Chisholm-Hibbing (HIB).
Depending where you hail from and what your thoughts are on road trips, you could definitely drive to Minnesota on vacation. Even in the metro area of Minneapolis/St. Paul, the public transportation options here aren’t as robust compared to other metropolitan cities in other states so keep that in mind when planning. Typically having your own car would be great! If you do fly, I would definitely recommend renting a car if you’re planning to travel to the northern part of Minnesota. As it will be a lot easier for you to get around.
Located in St. Paul, MN, Amtrak trains leave and arrive from the historic Union Depot from many different destinations. There are several Amtrak stations in both central Minnesota as well as in the southern part of the state. You can navigate from MSP (Minneapolis/St. Paul airport) to Union Depot via the light rail system.
When to goto Minnesota
Minnesota experiences all four seasons. Don’t let that deter you, there are plenty of vacation ideas in Minnesota year round! While it can be difficult to predict the weather at times, the most mild weather is typically experienced in the spring and fall. Summer can get extremely hot and humid. After enduring long cold winters native Minnesotans welcome the short stint of warmth.
Minnesota summers are enjoyed by long weekends at many lakes, camping, boating & generally enjoying many of the outdoor activities the state has to offer. Typically the best weather in Minnesota is from May-September. September and October are absolutely gorgeous with the fall foilage. Depending on where you are in the state, peak fall colors usually occur between September and October. This largely depends on the weather and the part of the state you’re planning on visiting.
Check out more in depth information on what to pack when visiting Minnesota by season in my Minnesota packing guide. (It even includes a free checklist!)
Minnesota is so diverse in the activities you can enjoy all year round. It really creates a lot of vacation ideas within the state of Minnesota. Here are some examples of activities for your trip.
In the winter: skiing (cross country and downhill), snowboarding, curling, skating or playing hockey, snowshoeing, and ice fishing.
In the fall: hiking, biking, leaf peeping, stretching out patio season, camping or glamping.
During the summer: long days boating or fishing on many of the lakes and rivers, having a drink or food on one of the many outdoor patios, biking, golfing, barbecues, camping glamping or staying in a cabin, kayaking/canoeing and stand up paddle boarding.
In the spring: hiking, getting outside more as the snow melts. (Spring activities are very dependent on the snow and mud level but many summer activities will start at the end of the spring season.) In 2021, it was 80 degrees Farenheit hiking at Tettegouche State Park the first weekend in May. For the record, that is extremely warm that far north for early May!
Minnesota experiences all seasons. We have what can be a really long winter, a crisp fall with beautiful fall colors as the leaves change, a brisk and vibrant spring and an absolutely unforgettable summer. Summers tend to be short, but absolutely worth braving some of the colder months for.
Average temperatures by month can greatly vary. Typically January is the coldest month of the year with July being the hottest month. Spring and fall in Minnesota are somewhat subjective. We’ve been known to have gorgeous pre-summer weather in April and there have been some years where it snows a foot or more in April! There are many Minnesota vacation ideas that can be amazing during all seasons. (Including winter!)
If you’re planning on spending any time in Minnesota, before you pack definitely check the weather. We’re one of the lucky states where you can experience harsh extremes within the same day.
Minnesota’s landscape includes over 11,000 lakes that are 10 acres large or more. Another idea to add to your Minnesota vacation ideas is renting a houseboat to actually stay on a lake for an extended period of time. According to Minnesota’s DNR, the ten largest lakes that are within the borders of the Minnesota include:
1) Red Lake (both upper and lower)
2) Mille Lacs
3) Leech Lake
4) Lake Winnie (Winnibigoshish)
7) Mud Lake (in Marshall county)
8) Cass Lake
9) Lake Minnetonka
10) Otter Tail Lake
While the largest lakes crossing the Minnesota state border are Lake Superior & Lake of the Woods.
The largest lake located in the city of Minneapolis is Bde Maka Ska (formerly named Lake Calhoun). This lake is a part of the chain of lakes including Lake Harriet, Lake of the Isles & Lake Nokomis. This popular chain of lakes have an extensive biking and walking path system around them. This is a very popular part of Minneapolis to enjoy the many parks dotted along their shores to stop and relax.
MN Vacation Ideas: Minnesota State Parks
There are 66 state parks across Minnesota. The oldest being one of my favorites, Itasca State Park. Itasca State Park is where the Mississippi River starts. Believe it or not, you can actually walk across the river here! I grew up a little over 30 miles from this state park so personally Itasca State Park holds a lot of great memories for me and is my favorite. I remember in elementary school we would come here on field trips and I’ve camped here numerous times with friends over the years. Itasca also has several cabin lodging options as well so definitely check those out!
Other than Itasca State Park, some of my other favorite state parks are mostly on the North Shore. I actually got engaged at Gooseberry Falls State Park in the fall! The state parks located on the North Shore are especially popular during the Spring & Fall. During the spring for waterfall chasing and in the fall, for seeking out the gorgeous fall foilage.
National Parks & Monuments in Minnesota
Another Minnesota vacation idea includes visiting the National Parks and monuments recognized by the NPS within Minnesota. The most well known National Park in Minnesota is Voyageurs National Park (BWCA) Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
There are several other monuments and areas in Minnesota that are recognized by the National Park Service. My favorites include the Saint Croix River & Mississippi River which are close to the metropolitan area of the Twin Cities.
The skyway system in downtown Minneapolis is the world’s largest continuous indoor pedestrian pathway. It stretches over eight miles and connects 73 blocks. You can sleep, eat, work and shop without ever needing to step foot outside. (Which is a great perk considering how cold MN winters can get!)
Twin Cities suburbs
The state of Minnesota is home to the largest mall in the United States, Mall of America. The mall opened in 1992, which has over 400 stores and attracts nearly 40 million people each year! Mall of America, is located in the southern suburb of Bloomington and isn’t far from MSP airport. In fact, you can even take public transportation to get to the mall from the airport. Prior to living in the metro area, I’ve done this on longer layovers at MSP.
There is so much to do in the large metropolitan area of the Twin Cities. From Minneapolis to St. Paul and all of the sprawling suburbs in between. One of my favorite memories growing up was always going to “The Cities” and doing some fun things such as the Mall of America, sporting events, the MN Zoo or the MN State Fair. It’s just such a fun memory of getting to spend a weekend before school started shopping and spending time with my family. Although now my yearly trips to the Minnesota State fair look a little bit different as I’m scoping out the new and state fair exclusive craft beers. For more detailed information check out this post that has tons of suggestions for Things to do in the Twin Cities. It includes both Minneapolis, St. Paul and beyond into the sprawling suburbs in the surrounding area.
Day Trips from the Twin Cities
If you’re in Minnesota for more than a week, I suggest at least taking a day trip away from the metro area. There are several great day trips located only a short drive away. Some of the best day trips (or weekend trips) from the Twin Cities include: Stillwater, the Cuyuna/Crosby area or Brainerd area, several state parks such as Afton, Nerstrand Big Woods, William O’Brien, St. Croix & Interstate State Park.
Beyond the metro area there are many vacation ideas within Minnesota located up north. As an original “Up North” dweller growing up here there are definitely a lot of things to take advantage of that I took for granted growing up. The north woods has a lot of opportunity for time outdoors whether hunting, fishing, hiking, biking or spending time on the lakes. Some of the best places to spend time up north in Minnesota include: Bemidji, Walker & Itasca state Park. More details on things to do in the Bemidji area are located here.
Way Up North (bordering Canada)
I haven’t personally spent a lot of time in this area of the state. Popular locations include: Lake of the Woods, International Falls & Rainy Lake or Ely, Minnesota.
Along the North Shore, closer to Canada than the United States sits Grand Portage which is a part of the National Park System. Grand Portage State Park is a day use only state park featuring hiking trails and stunning waterfall views. From the parking lot you can actually see just down the road border control for Canada.
The Boundary Waters (BWCA) Canoe Wilderness Area is partially located in Minnesota and in Canada. This is a very remote and outdoor experience but there are also many resorts and less roughing it options available. So it truly is a location for everyone. Especially if you’re looking to really unplug and relax.
I consider Duluth to be the “gateway” to the North Shore as it’s always a stop for me whether it’s a few hours or a day before heading to the smaller towns and more of a remote experience on the North shore along Lake Superior.
There’s a lot to do in Duluthwhether you’re planning on staying there for a weekend or longer or if you’re continuing on along the North Shore. Check out my post that goes more in depth on Things to do in Duluth, and of course, you always have to stop at a few breweries. Here’s the scoop on the best breweries in Duluth to help you to drink local wherever you are!
North Shore of Lake Superior
Past Duluth, up along Lake Superior to Canada is what makes up the North Shore in Minnesota. This is one of my favorite parts of the state. There are so many gorgeous state parks to hike in with waterfalls abundant and views of Lake Superior for days! Some of the more popular destinations along the North Shore include Grand Marais, Tofte, Lutsen, Grand Portage, Tettegouche State Park, Gooseberry Falls, & Split Rock Lighthouse.
The drive from Duluth up the North Shore has received the national designation of “All American Road”. There is an abundance of things to do along theNorth Shore. It really is a great destination within Minnesota to slow down and relax. Of course, you will want to have some great beer on the North Shore. One of my favorite cities along the North Shore is Grand Marais, MN.
Central Minnesota: Cuyuna/Crosby
Another great Minnesota vacation idea is Cuyuna or Crosby, Minnesota is practically located right smack dab in the middle of the state of Minnesota. It’s an easy day trip from the Minneapolis/ St. Paul metro area but an even better destination to spend a weekend.
Downtown Crosby has several restaurants, bars & even a brewery. But, what they’re the most well known for is their biking. Throughout Cuyuna Country State Recreation Areathere are 50 miles of mountain bike trails. Not only that, but the iron ore lakes in this area are absolutely stunning with the most beautiful crystal clear water. So taking a kayak or stand up paddle board out after biking is the perfect end to a great day in Cuyuna.
Central Minnesota: Brainerd & Brainerd Lakes area
Brainerd is a very popular destination from the metropolitan area as well. It’s a short drive and there are many resorts and golf courses making it a great vacation spot within the state of Minnesota. Between mini golf and full courses there are 16 within the Brainerd area! There are also many resorts along the lakes so you could fit in some golfing or just lake and cabin or camping time.
Southern Minnesota: New Ulm
New Ulm is a smaller MN town that’s well known for its German heritage. So, it should come as no surprise that August Schell Brewing Company is a German craft beer brewery located in New Ulm. August Schell’s is America’s second oldest family brewery. Since August Schells acquired Grain Belt, it’s the largest brewery in Minnesota.
Other points of interest in New Ulm include Flandrau State Park & the Glockenspiel that chimes at noon, 1, 3, 5 & 6 PM daily. True to its German heritage many shops downtown carry authentic German goods & food.
Just a short distance from the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area, Rochester is most well known as the birthplace of the Mayo Clinic. The city of Rochester boasts over 100 city parks with 85 miles of bike trails so it’s a great location in Minnesota to get outside. After your bike ride, Rochester has some great breweries to enjoy as well. We spent some time at said breweries during a road trip. Read more about the specific breweries here.
Western Minnesota (Moorhead & Fargo, NoDak)
Moorhead is actually located in Minnesota & Fargo is just over the border into North Dakota. But it’s a great vacation idea, especially if you’re a craft beer fan like me! Honestly, one of the main reasons I travel to Fargo/Moorhead is for beer. Two of my absolute favorite breweries are located in the Fargo/Moorhead area. Luckily, they also distribute to the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area but road tripping to visit their taprooms every once in awhile is fun. It’s literally a straight shot from MSP to Fargo/Moorhead north on I-94. On your way there you pass through Alexandria & Fergus Falls which are
“Bluff Country” from Red Wing to Winona
Red Wing is located south east of the Twin Cities metropolitan area and is most well known for being the birthplace of Red Wing shoes. It has a very cute downtown area and an awesome historic hotel, St. James Hotel. A long weekend or mid-week stay any time of year is a great idea.
The Cannon Valley Trail is a paved bike trail that connects Cannon Falls, Welch, & Red Wing. It’s 20 miles one way and is available for year round use for biking, hiking/running & cross country skiing.
This southeastern stretch of the state is along the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin which is carved out by the Mississippi River. The dramatic limestone bluffs and views out over the river will be sure to leave a lasting impression. There are many popular hikes to take in these impressive views in this area. One of the most well known in Winona is Sugar Loaf because of the amazing view at the top.
Most Well Known Minnesota Vacation ideas
Some of the most well known attractions that easily come to mind in Minnesota for vacations include: Voyageurs National Park (Boundary Waters Canoe Area- BWCA), Mall of America, and the North Shore of Minnesota along Lake Superior from Duluth, Minnesota north to the Canadian border and hiking the Superior Hiking Trail.
Minnesota in the fall truly is so colorful and beautiful. Especially in the northern part of the state. It’s always my favorite to make it up to the North Shore or my hometown of Bemidji to hike and take in all of the foilage changing colors.
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About North Cascades National Park
If you’re planning on visiting North Cascades National Park in Washington, use this two day itinerary to plan your trip. North Cascades National Park is one of the most underrated parks in the United States. While it’s not too far from Seattle (less than 3 hours!). North Cascades National Park still doesn’t get as many visitors compared to Olympic or Mt. Rainier National Parks in Washington. But don’t discount this park, it is absolutely beautiful! Many of the overlooks, lakes and jagged mountain peaks resemble Glacier National Park. Now, onto the logistics of where to stay and all of that good information (including what to do during two days in your North Cascades itinerary.)
Where to stay near North Cascades National Park
The main road that goes through North Cascades National Park is Hwy 20. During the winter, it’s actually closed so North Cascades NP is seasonal when the winter weather gets intense. The two main cities on the West and East side of North Cascades that most people stay in are Marblemount & Winthrop, Washington. (When we visited we stayed with our RV in Winthrop and went back and forth.)
However, you could definitely strategically stay for a few days in Winthrop, explore the area then spend time in North Cascades National Park for 2 days or so and then stay in Marblemount. It all depends on if you’re camping, RVing or planning on staying in a hotel or short term rental property.
You truly need at least one full day to see the best of North Cascades National Park in your itinerary. However, if you tack on an additional day or two (especially if you plan on doing some longer hikes) you will cover a lot of ground and see a lot of this National Park. But, it also depends on your pace and if you like to truly maximize your days and pack them full or move at a more leisurely speed. I will admit, I’m the first option (especially when visiting National Parks!) North Cascades was no exception! I left Winthrop, WA early each day and arrived into the evening, although I will say one day was a bit rainy so we arrived back earlier. (But it was still around 4 PM whether you consider that a full day or not is open to interpretation!)
North Cascades National Park: 2 day Itinerary
North Cascades Itinerary: Day 1
Leaving from Winthrop, WA early in the morning up and at ’em with a coffee in hand, breakfast to eat on the drive & snacks as well as lunch packed in the cooler. (Trust me on being that prepared, it maximizes your enjoyment for a packed National Park day!) It is a little bit of a drive from Winthrop to North Cascades. (A little over 30 miles for reference) to the first stop at Washington Pass Overlook.
Washington Pass Overlook
With just a short walk on a paved trail through a wooded area from the parking lot you will be rewarded with stunning views of the mountain pass as you stand on the highest point of the North Cascades Highway (Hwy 20). Click herefor more specific details on the trail leading to Washington Pass Overlook.
Rainy Lake Trail
This next stop is a hike. Originally I wanted to hike Maple Pass, but according to AllTrails it was still really snowy and icy in some spots. The Rainy Lake Trail started at the same trailhead and well, we accidentally did part of the Maple Pass hike on accident! Whoops! We share more on our debacle on the WanderLust in Real Life YouTube Channel.
Ross Lake Overlook
There are turnouts off the main roady (Hwy 20) to have a viewpoint of Ross Lake as well as Diablo Lake within North Cascades National Park. You definitely want to include these stop offs within your North Cascades Itinerary. Perfect viewpoints to take in the beauty around you as well as stop and enjoy a snack or meal you packed with you for your day or two within the park.
Happy Creek Falls Trail Hike
The hike to the falls was more strenuous than we had anticipated. Much of the trail is covered and trees are overhead making it decently warm, almost stifling with a decent incline to get to the falls. There is a shorter just boardwalk area, but you won’t see the full falls if you choose to cut it short just to do that little jaunt.
Ross Dam Trail
The Ross Dam Trail leads you to Ross Dam. I’ll be honest, it’s my least favorite kind of hike where the way there is downhill so the way back is uphill. But, Ross Dam is so impressive! It’s huge and just looking down over the sheer power and the blueish green water with the mountains off in the distance. It definitely rivals Diablo Lake as far as beautiful views are concerned. It was well worth the effort to get there. It’s a popular hike and some people park at the trailhead and backpack to the
Diablo Lake Overlook
Possibly one of my favorite things about spending 2 days in North Cascades National Park was the gorgeous Diablo Lake. It seemed somewhat like the lakes located in Glacier National Park which is why it’s so surprising that the North Cascades National Park isn’t visited as much in comparison to other National Parks.
North Cascades Itinerary: Day 2
Thunder Knob Trail
Thunder Knob Trail is under 4 miles and moderately challenging hike. At the end (it’s an out and back trail, there is a view of Diablo Lake as well as the mountains. At first we weren’t sure if we were going the right way because the trail sign is really tucked back into the trees at the trailhead. Then it starts through a campground but the trail really starts near the creek and there were markers on the trees to help guide and mark the trail. Unfortunately it was really rainy and foggy when we hiked it so really there was no view. If it’s raining or foggy, I’d definitely say skip this hike if you’re wanting the reward of a view at the end.
Ladder Creek Falls Trail
This quick under a mile loop is in Newhalem, WA it’s located behind the Gorge Powerhouse. We visited during the day, however at night there is a light show that appears as the waterfall looks like it is illuminated and runs every 15 minutes. You can visit the falls then return back the way you came or complete the loop over a suspension bridge. This is really close by the Trail of the Cedars trail and suspension bridge.
Trail of the Cedars Nature Walk to the Suspension Bridge
A short easily accessible stroll across a suspension bridge hovering over the Skagit River. This is one that’s definitely doable for the whole family. (Leashed dogs are even allowed on this trail!) That is something additional to note that North Cascades National Park compared to other National Parks in the USA there are more trails where dogs are allowed. But, be sure to check the specific trail before hiking with your furry pal as they’re not allowed on ALL of them.
North Cascades Visitor Center
The visitor center in North Cascades National Park is located near Newhalem, Washington on the West side of the park. (Near Milepost 120 on Highway 20 it’s near the Newhalem Creek Campground.) Since the North Cascades National Park is seasonal, the Visitor Center is only open from mid April through mid November.
Sterling Munro Boardwalk
This is located just a short walk on a path behind the North Cascades Visitor Center so you definitely want to add it into your itinerary! Again, it was super foggy so we weren’t able to see the mountain range that presents itself in this nice little opening but the effort was minimal when we were already in the visitor center.
Note: You definitely can fit more into a second day in the North Cascades National Park, however due to rain and being drenched we called it a day! Be sure you’re prepared for the weather and dress appropriately. But, even if you do so in the rain eventually you’ll reach your threshold of putting up with it. But hey, you never know when you’ll encounter rain hiking and exploring outdoors in the PNW!
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About the Minnesota State Fair
If you’ve never been to the Minnesota State Fair, this guide is for you! An inside look into a perfect day (or multiple days) to have the best time at the Great MN Get Together! As a born and raised Minnesotan, I’ve gone to the Minnesota State Fair every summer for over a decade since I moved to the “Twin Cities” Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area of the state. But, womp womp this is the first year (2022) I won’t be going, but I know for a fact I won’t be able to stay away long! Hence this Minnesota State Fair Guide, to help you have the best time for me.
The Minnesota State Fair coined “The Great Minnesota Get Together” is one of my absolute favorite things about summer in Minnesota. (I mean who can turn down fried food, great weather and stellar beer?!) Click here for the Ultimate Minnesota Summer Bucket list beyond this Minnesota State Fair planning guide.
When is the Minnesota State Fair?
However, since the State Fair is at the end of the summer it’s also kind of the last hurrah as well. We’ve been lucky in recent years to have experienced gorgeous weather into September but really prime Minnesota summer is June-August.
But lets get back to the state fair, it starts the last Thursday in August and runs through Labor Day. Which means you really have to plan ahead when you’re able to go because it’s only a little over a week. Many dedicated Minnesotans will take Thursday off of work on the opening day and be the first visitors there to try new foods & the state fair exclusive local craft beer. The Minnesota State Fair is the second most attended state fair in the nation so that’s holding a testament to how truly awesome it is. The first ranking is Texas and even the length of time of the state fair is bigger in that state! Stay tuned, as I will be visiting the Texas State Fair for the first time this year (2022)!
The Minnesota State Fair Grounds are located in Falcon Heights, MN. It’s somewhat central between the two “Twin Cities” of Minneapolis & St. Paul. The state fair grounds are used obviously for the Minnesota state fair every year. There are also other events that take place here throughout the “off season” of the Minnesota State Fair such as Christmas light display events during the holidays and Oktoberfest beer events in the fall.
How to get there
On-site parking is usually really limited and a total headache. I honestly don’t even mess with it! I usually take a Metro-transit bus that brings you to and from the fair. It’s just really convenient! There are metro transit locations all over the Twin Cities suburbs.
How it works: Essentially you park at the metro transit station, then the bus will pick you up, bring you right to the fair. Then when you’ve had your fill of food, drink & fun you get a return trip back to your car to head home by getting on the bus back to the metro station. Click here for more information on transportation options and where the nearest Metro transit is to you.
Minnesota State Fair Admission tickets
Typically if you pre-purchase your admission tickets prior to the state fair starting you can get a discount on them. You can purchase them in advance online and select mobile delivery. Otherwise there is a fee to have physical tickets sent to a mailing address. In the past, Cub Foods also sold hard copies as well as the blue ribbon bargain coupon books that have savings at many different vendors within the fair. Several organizations will also offer pre-buy discounts (for example my husband’s previous employer did this.) For specific information and to pre-purchase your tickets find the specific information located here.
Your Guide: What to eat at the Minnesota State Fair
I think the better question is, what not to eat? Haha! In all honesty though there are several items that I always have on my list to sample while visiting the Minnesota State Fair. There are always new foods for each year that I will add to my list that entice me once the new foods list is announced. But here are my standards (things I will always get, no fail!)
Maple glazed thick cut bacon, on a stick! need I say more?
Deep Fried Pickles
Over the years there have been many different variations of deep fried pickles at The Perfect Pickle stand at the Minnesota State Fair such as cream cheese/cheesy, cajun or just a pickle (not deep fried!) But, I prefer the standard pickle chips with a side of ranch. Just thinking about it makes me so hungry!
Deep Fried Olives
Technically the stand that you can find these delicious olives at is a fried fruit stand. But, the olives are what keep me coming back! I just love the combination of salty and savory. There are a few different variations but the classic olives w cream cheese are my go to!
A Pronto Pup is a specific brand of corn dog. The batter just makes them better. So, for a Minnesota State Fair classic, a corn dog (of the pronto pup variety) is definitely warranted. I like mine with just ketchup, however slather it in mustard if you must!
I don’t have any particular vendor or location I stay loyal to for cheese curds. (The Big Cheese, listed below is a solid choice!) But, I always have to have them. I mean one of my mottos for life is “cheese is the glue that holds my life together”. So, melty gooey deep fried cheese is a given, right?
I’ll be honest, sometimes I skip the actual donuts and just get the mini donut beer. But, when I do get the actual donuts they’re piping hot and thrown in cinnamon sugar. But, lets be honest if you’re a pastry beer fan you’d 100% agree with me that the liquid form is very tasty!
If you’ve ever been to the MN state fair I’m sure you’re wondering why I didn’t add Sweet Martha’s Cookies. So many people love them but honestly they’re just not my jam! Same with the roasted corn. Tried it and didn’t live up to the hype for me. But hey, you should probably at least try it once!
Your Guide: What to drink at the Minnesota State Fair
This quite honestly is one of my absolute favorite parts about the Minnesota state fair! Sooooo many local Minnesota craft beer breweries make special over the top flavored beers that are exclusive to the Minnesota state fair. Every year, they publish a list of new and returning state fair exclusive beers and from their list I make my “to-drink/to-do” list. For a craft beer enthusiast like myself, it’s a lot of fun, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of the main reasons to go to the fair. Last year (2021), I even wrote a post about the beers I tried. Click here for the deets!
Usually, the state fair will send out an announcement about all of the new (and some returning beers) that are available for that year at the Minnesota State Fair. My hands down favorite to date is the mini donut beer by local brewery Liftbridge Brewing located in Stillwater, MN.
A Guide: What to drink in 2022 at the Minnesota State Fair
I.e. the new Minnesota State Fair exclusive beers that would have been on my list if I wasn’t in the middle of a relocation. If you don’t want to make your own list, use mine! Be sure to strategically make your list according to the location at the fair though. You can also download the MN state fair app but be forewarned sometimes it’s hard to get service due to the concentration of people with phones attending the far. (The beers listed below are in alphabetical order.)
Baklava Cream Ale by Bent Brewstillery
A pastry lighter beer, definitely is intriguing. Plus, there aren’t many baklava flavored beers. Add this to the 2022 beers “to drink” at the Minnesota State Fair list.
Chili Pineapple Express Sour by Pryes Brewing
Pryes is a great Minneapolis brewery. Honestly, one of the almost contenders for my top favorites. This spicy but tangy chili pineapple flavored beer sounds really intriguing hence why it would be on my 2022 beers “to drink” at the Minnesota State Fair list.
Cucumber Summer by Indeed Brewing
Cucumber beers are so refreshing and if the weather is hot, you’re walking around all day exploring the state fair, a cucumber beer sounds like it would truly hit the spot! Which is why I would add it to my 2022 beers “to drink” at the Minnesota State Fair list.
Electrik Empress by Schells Brewing
Super fruity but also aged in wood leads me to believe this will be fruity but yet funky as well. I’m super intrigued by the description of this beer so of course I would add it to my 2022 beers “to drink” at the Minnesota State Fair list.
Grain Belt Lim’ by August Schell Brewing
Living in Minnesota for most of my life thus far, Grain Belt Premium is a light beer of choice when I’m not feeling particularly “crafty”. It’s a light easy drinker and in my opinion better than domestics such as Bud Light or Coors Light. However, for some odd reason I really love Bud Light Lime. (insert shrug here!) So, of course I would try a lime version of my beloved Grain Belt beer. You know what to do, add it to the 2022 beers “to drink” at the Minnesota State Fair list.
Green Apple Caramel Sour by Mankato Brewing
Mankato brewing has had some bangers of Minnesota State Fair Beer in the past. A caramel apple beer has definitely been done before. It seems like every year one brewery or another does one. However, I’ll still try it to compare to beers past. I’m sure they hope there’s people like me that just want to try all of the beers.
MN Brew Together: Blue Macaroon (Modist Brewing & Forager collab)
Every year there’s typically a MN Brew Together which is two MN breweries making a collab beer. Plus, this year it’s a pastry style beer. Modist is a brewery on my top 5 in the Twin Cities list and I’ve loved Forager by trying it through shares and when friends drive down to Rochester to pick up beer. We did stop in once on the way home from our 2020 roadtrip. It’s true, we based some road trip stops solely on breweries we wanted to visit.
Olive Lager by Insight
Inspired by the classy MN favorite, light beer (preferably a domestic not craft) with green olives in it. This wasn’t ever really my thing, but lets just say I’m intrigured by a craft brewery making a rendition of this so, you know what to do add it to the 2022 beers “to drink” at the Minnesota State Fair list of course!
Pitt Boss by Bauhaus Brew Labs collab with Animales BBQ Co.
Animales BBQ Co. is literally the best BBQ that I’ve had in the state of Minnesota. The fact that they’re doing a smoked beer collab is mind blowing. Their food is phenomenal and I’m definitely a super fan so missing out on this brew is a huge bummer! But, now you know so add it to the 2022 beers “to drink” at the Minnesota State Fair list.
Strawberry Squeeze by Lupulin
This beer just sounds like summer. A light drinker with a little bit of strawberry sweetness. I’m venturing to guess that it may be similar to their apricot beer but swapping out strawberry. If that’s the case, it’s sure to be a tasty brew! So you know what to do, add it to the 2022 beers “to drink” at the Minnesota State Fair list.
Tootsie Hop by Lakes & Legends Brewing Co.
Reminiscent of younger years and parades some of my favorite tootsie rolls were the raspberry and original flavors. So, because Lakes & Legends made a beer in this form I’d definitely add this local brew to the 2022 beers “to drink” at the Minnesota State Fair list.
Trippple Orange by Modist Brewing
Modist Brewing is one of my ultimate favorites in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota brewery scene. Read more about my other Twin Cities top 5 breweries. Smoothie sour style beer and one of my top breweries, a no brainer! I think it’s a toss up between this beer and the Animales collab as to which one would be my most aniticipated beer to try, but I definitely would be adding this to the 2022 beers “to drink” at the Minnesota State Fair list.
2022 New Minnesota State Fair Beers to try recap
Whew! That’s quite the hefty list of new beers (12 in total!) & then there are several state fair exclusive beers that I always have to get each year. (Ahem, mini donut beer & Grainbelt blu with a slushy top!) But, we always share and get the smallest pours possible.
Seriously after going through all the new brews I’m even more bummed not to go–if you go and try any of these send me a message and let me know how they are!
Minnesota State Fair Guide: Things to do
Can there really even be a fair without the somewhat unsafe rides to go on after pounding cheese curds or other fried delicacies? This area of the fair is definitely more geared toward the younger demographic so there are rides for all ages and many children and families in this area of the Minnesota State Fair.
I’ll be honest, the livestock really is my least favorite part of the fair but I’ll take a spin or two through barns depending on who I’m at the fair with. I’m usually more of a domestic animals type person vs. a hobby farmer. I can appreciate those who show animals and raise them but it really just isn’t my cup of tea!
The Grandstand at the State Fair always attractions an awesome lineup of concerts. There’s usually a great mix of different genre of performers that appeals to everyone. Concerts at the State Fair do require a daily admission to the fair on top of the ticket price so keep that in mind! I’ve only been to a few concerts at the State Fair but I know many people that go to at least one concert every year.
There are so many vendors beyond just food and drink vendors at the state fair. There are many truly unique clothing and housewares vendors that have booths as well. A perfect way to spend your time while eating and drinking is walking around and browsing all of the unique offerings.
Eat & Drink!
See the previous few sections above, I’m definitely passionate about eating and drinking my way across the Minnesota State Fair. To be honest, that’s usually the reason I attend! I spend one full day drinking all of the awesome local Minnesota craft beers and eating food that’s bad for me. But, if you only go for one day, that’s moderation, right?
Beyond the Minnesota State Fair, you could spend time all across Minnesota further exploring. Starting with things to do in Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area and expanding all across our gorgeous state. August truly is a beautiful time to visit!
Winthrop, WA is located in the Methow valley in Washington state. While RVing on a long roadtrip, this was our first stop in the PNW (Pacific Northwest) of the United States. (We visited in early July.)
Take a step back in time and visit the downtown area which makes you feel like you’re in the old Wild West! A smaller town, with a lot of charm. Not to mention a lot of fun things to do nearby!
Things to do in Winthrop, WA
Winthrop, WA is a close proximity to the North Cascades National Park and there are many hikes within the park and on the outskirts that make hiking the ultimate thing to do when visiting Winthrop, WA.
Be sure to plan ahead which hikes you plan on taking and where the trailheads start. Many trails are dog friendly which is really nice! (Even some within the National Park which is rare.) Other considerations while hiking include being bear aware & carrying bear spray. One trail we hiked had a note left that there were several bear sitings recently.
Another great place to explore while in Winthrop, WA is Pearrygin Lake State Park. You can camp, hike, boat or swim here. There are even day use facilities available for picnicking.
Bear Creek Golf Course, located in Winthrop, WA was recognized by AAA as a hidden gem. If you’re a golfer and in the area definitely take the time to check it out! When making a tee time, inquire about local leagues if you’re planning on golfing during the week. Many local courses will have leagues during the weekday evenings. Other than the baha ing it to the driving range, this really was a great course to get in a round while in Winthrop, WA. Definitely add it to your things to do list when visiting Winthrop, WA.
Spend time on the Water (rafting/SUP)
While we were lucky enough to be staying right on a lake in Winthrop to take our stand up paddle board out when temps got into 90 degrees, there are many options in Winthrop as well as nearby Twisp to partake in water sports. So, if the temps are up definitely take to the water to experience Winthrop, WA. Some options include SUP or kayak rentals or even a whitewater rafting tour!
Explore Downtown Winthrop, WA
Downtown Winthrop is so much fun! It’s literally like stepping into a time capsule and transporting yourself to an old wild west town. Aside from the novelty of the businesses and how it’s such a fun setting there are many shops, bars & restaurants that are definitely worth checking out! Many of the restaurants listed below are located in downtown Winthrop.
Have a bite to eat or sip a drink in Winthrop, WA
Winthrop, WA has many different restaurants and places to have an amazing drink. Whether you want to head into the downtown area that is very busy or not you will not have a hard time finding a great meal & drink.
East 20 pizza
Super casual pizza digs with tasty unique signature pizzas. Need I say more? If you order a larger pizza they will also do half and half of specialty pizzas. This, is a huge plus when you can’t completely decide.
Honestly, this was probably one of my favorite meals in Winthrop, WA. We ended up ordering a chicken caesar salad, a 16″ pizza half and half sweet and spicy sausage and the other half 509er (which is kind of like a supreme style pizza.) We even had dessert which I can’t completely remember the name of but I think it was a methow mud pie or something like that. It was a chocolate crust, a layered ice cream pie topped with whipped cream and sprinkles as well as a drizzle of chocolate sauce. It was so tasty on a warm summer day to cap off a tasty meal.
Methow Valley Ciderhouse
Near the Welcome to Winthrop, WA sign, is the Methow Valley Ciderhouse. While I’m definitely a bigger fan of craft beer vs. cider, I’ve been trying more cideries as of late. A lot of them have great more dry and less kick you in the teeth sweet options. I was very impressed by the ciders at Methow Cider. My favorite was the blackberry cider called Black Raven. They also had a really unique cider that actually had hops in it and it was quite tasty as well. They are dog friendly and serve food as well so a perfect place to hang out in the evening with your furry friend.
Located in downtown Winthrop, WA it was definitely one of my first things on the list to check out! Craft beer travel & brewery life am I right? Anyway, we decided to have a bite to eat as well. The beer bread here is phenomenal! Definitely get the beer cheese, whether it’s with the pretzel or beer bread that was one of my favorite things here. It was really busy while we were there and there was a decent wait if you wanted to sit out back on the riverfront deck/patio. In my opinion the beer was decent but didn’t blow me away. (I’m a tough critic of beer though!)
Located in the downtown wild west area of Winthrop, WA this craft cocktail bar has limited opening days and hours so be sure to check out the specific operating hours before heading there. Located in the “wild west” downtown area it’s a great place to have some really unique and tasty drinks either before or after walking around and exploring the area. I enjoyed an elderflower margarita and persephone’s return. The latter was my favorite, it was really complex and had a lot of different flavors.
Sheri’s Sweet Shoppe
No visit to the downtown Winthrop area is complete without something sweet from Sheri’s Sweet Shoppe. Ice cream, caramels, truffles you name it they have it if its sweet. You can even grab an espresso to go with your sweet treat. Outside if the weather is nice there is ample seating on a deck area where you can hang out and enjoy whatever you picked out to quell your sweet tooth. It’s a perfect end to an evening grabbing something here to enjoy later or after dinner.
Three Fingered Jack’s Saloon
If you’ve ever been a fan of old school western movies, Three Fingered Jack’s Saloon is very much what I would say a quintessential old wild wild west style bar & grill. No surprise, it’s located in what seems like frozen in time wild west downtown area of Winthrop, WA. The walls were covered with historic artifacts as it is rumored to be the oldest legal Saloon in the state of Washington. Just for that fact alone, Three Fingered Jack’s Saloon deserves a stop for dinner or a beer to pay a tribute to its history. It was pretty decent bar food and I don’t normally order Bloody Mary’s outside of brunch but for some reason it sounded amazing.
Pro tip: definitely order the Bloody Mary if you’re a fan, they make the mix in house! (House made mix & a selection of infused vodkas are usually my indication to order the Mary!)
Spend a day (or two) in North Cascades National Park
North Cascades National Park is definitely one of the most underrated National Parks. Which is surprising as it’s only located 3 hours from Seattle you would think many people would flock to the gorgeous glacial colored lakes and alpine peaks wilderness. Especially since this National Park doesn’t have an entrance fee!
Unlike some National Parks, this park is better experienced via hiking trails. Sure, there are lookouts and some things to see just off of the main road but the North Cascades are less accessible if you’re not really looking to lace up your hiking boots. However, if you’re in the area and driving through definitely take the time to take the North Cascades Scenic Highway (hwy 20). Keep in mind, this road is seasonal and does close for a portion of the year.
I was blown away by the gorgeous glacial lakes! The North Cascades is known as “The American Alps”. There are three different sections to this National Park but more about how to spend 2 days in North Cascades National Park here.
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About Whitefish, Montana
Whitefish, Montana is located in the northwest region of Montana and has plenty things to do no matter what season you visit! Summer boasts a multitude of fun adventures and more daylight to enjoy them with. Read on to add all of these activities to your summer things to do in Whitefish, Montana list!
Whitefish is sometimes referred to as “Stumptown” due to the fact that it was cleared out of trees during the towns early days.
There are an abundance of hotels, resorts and vacation rentals all over Whitefish, Montana that have year round availability. You will find resorts as well as well known hotel chains in the Whitefish area.
Click hereto look at more information to help you decide where to stay while exploring Whitefish, Montana.
Things to do in Whitefish, Montana
1) Downtown Train Depot& Historical Museum
The train depot in Whitefish, Montana is a long standing piece of this mountain town’s history. Established in 1928 and you still can take an Amtrak train into Whitefish to this day. It was revamped and restored in 1990 check out Amtrak to look into arriving into Whitefish, Montana by rail.
You can learn more about Whitefish (or Stumptown) logging and rail early days by exploring the historical museum. With limited hours, be sure to check before you make your way there! The museum is free, but donations are gladly accepted.
In Whitefish, there are several paved bike trails throughout the city, some even go along the river. Definitely be sure to bring your bike with if you’re on a road trip or there are several companies in Whitefish where you can rent a bike. So get out on a two wheel adventure in Whitefish, Montana!
3) Hiking (or mountain biking) on Lion Mountain Trail
Lion Mountain Trail is an easy jaunt on a mountain bike or a short hike that you definitely should include on your things to do in Whitefish, Montana list. At under 3 miles and only about 350 ft of elevation gain it’s really enjoyable for the whole family. My favorite part was the overlook where there is a bench that looks out over Skyles Lake. Dogs are permitted just make sure that you put them on a leash & clean up after them!
There are many places within Whitefish that you can go paddling with a kayak or SUP (Stand up paddle board) such as Whitefish city beach or __ River. However, not too far from Whitefish is Flathead Lake that has an island called Wild Horse island in it that you can explore. The only caveat is you can only reach this island by water. Taking a tour with Seame paddle company to Wild Horse island was an amazing way to spend a Saturday while in Whitefish. Although a bit of a drive from Whitefish, it was so worth it!
Another great option would be to rent a boat on Flathead Lake to have a lake day especially if you’re traveling with a bigger group. Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River.
5) Shopping DowntownWhitefish, Montana
There are so many cute shops in downtown Whitefish, Montana be sure to set aside an early afternoon to stroll through the area and shop. One bit of advice though, shops aren’t open really late (many close around 5-6 PM with a select few open til 7-8) so when carving out time don’t expect to do it after happy hour as many of them will be closed! This really surprised me especially since there are so many people here as tourists but it is a small town after all.
Whitefish, Montana is a great destination if you’re wanting to golf many different courses. It’s not the first place I would think of to plan a golf destination trip but given the fact that there are 10 golf courses in the Flathead Valley area it’s a great option for the golf enthusiast to get multiple rounds in.
7) Sip Craft Cocktails
Located in downtown Whitefish, Montana Spotted Bear Spirits is a small craft distillery with a tasting room that’s perfect for a happy hour drink or two! Offering distillery flights of the liquor as well as deliciously crafted cocktails. Keep in mind, it isn’t a late night spot it closes relatively early. They also switch out their menu seasonally and the drink I had (and absolutely loved!) doesn’t appear to be on the menu anymore. (Insert sad face!) It was called the “Bad Bee”. With honey, lime, orange and a tasty jalapeno agave spirit it was just the right amount of sweet but with a little spice. It reminded me of a spicy margarita but less acidic and a just a little bit sweeter.
8) Visit a Craft Beer Brewery
Bonsai brewing project was a perfect evening after biking to have a few beers and dinner. They have a wide open outdoor space with shady areas to chill with a cold brew. The array of different beers on tap was top notch and the food menu also was delicious. Definitely recommend stopping in for just a few beers or a meal as well while you’re in Whitefish.
9) Have a bite to eat or Sweet Treat at Whitefish Restaurants
So the Bulldog’s are Whitefish, Montana’s local high school mascot. This divey and local spot has great wings and food. The beer selection was only so so but it was a good spot overall. The huckleberry wings are a must here!
Definitely a sports bar vibe with many different TV’s. At first we were skeptical of the spot and we ended up going there due to multiple places being a really long wait. First of all, we had awesome service. I always notice when a server has a ton of tables but is hustling and totally on top of it. (In all honesty it gives me nostalgia a little bit having served for about 12 years before I solely worked only my corporate job but that’s a story for another time.) The service was top notch and a lot of places it’s really hard to come by these days.
Another healthy dose of nostalgia going back to my 25th birthday in Vegas, this sports bar offers beer towers! My husband and I don’t always see eye to eye on beer selections so sadly we didn’t get one but I just love that they do that. Our food was great and the drinks we ordered were amazing as well. I honestly can’t say enough great things about this sports bar. I would go back in a heartbeat because of the great experience & excellent food.
Loula’s is a must for breakfast or brunch! Get there early or you will likely wait. (Especially on the weekends.) It’s a place where you can enjoy great homestyle meals and really attentive service. Even if you’re there for breakfast, check out the pie board. They typically post on the white board the pies they have available for the day. Trust me, you neeeeed to get a slice of pie to go. It was one of the best pieces of pie I’ve ever had! I loved the fact that they had a complete separate kitchen dedicated to just pies. (That’s when you know they’re really serious about their pies when they have that kind of real estate committed to just dessert.)
There is usually a line, however it moves pretty quickly. It’s small batch locally sourced ice cream. Need I say more? It’s truly worth the wait. After deciding on what sweet treat to enjoy, outside you will find some picnic tables to enjoy your tasty dessert.
10) Visit the Whitefish Mountains ski resort
Yes! Even in summer visiting Whitefish Mountains Resort is a fun thing to do. You can stay here year round at the resort and during the summer there’s mountain biking, zip lining, hiking, and scenic lift tour up out over the town of Whitefish. Be sure to make it out to the resort as one of the things to do while you’re in Whitefish, Montana.
11) Explore Flathead National Forest
Flathead National Forest is located south of Glacier National Park in Flathead County. If you’re planning on exploring here, it’s good to have a plan of where you’re going and what you want to see. (If you’re like me, that’s always a good idea to be organized and maximize your time and the amount of things you’re able to do and see!) But fair warning that Flathead National Forest is absolutely huge! Parts of it can be accessed from Whitefish.
12) East of Whitefish, Montana: Explore Glacier National Park
Summer definitely is the best time to visit Glacier National Park as it’s one of the National Parks in the United States that has the most limited season for visitors. When we visited in early summer (June) there were still winter storms and snow which created avalanche conditions. Not all parts of the park were accessible because of this. However, July-early September are usually optimal times to visit Glacier. If you’re in Whitefish then I’d definitely pop over to the park to view stunning glacial lakes and snow capped peaks into the summer months.
Beyond things to to in Whitefish- More Montana Travel:
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What does packing up an RV for travel from spot to spot really look like? Traveling all over the United states in an RV (travel trailer, motor home, 5th wheel) no matter what flavor of recreational vehicle you have is a fun experience. But, there are several very important aspects of traveling in this manner. Packing & preparing your before you set off and if you’re long term traveling, packing up between each destination.
Much of RVing comes with practice but here is a general checklist once we made the decision to buy a travel trailer that helps us to ensure that we haven’t skipped any important safety tasks before getting back on the road to exploring. This checklist is focused on the outside of the RV detailing how to pack your RV for travel. Read on for all of the details!
Short Term Travel Trailer Living
RVing and living out of a travel trailer definitely can be a more permanent lifestyle. It’s not for everyone but it creates a great amount of flexibility especially for those who love to explore. Just to give a little context, I grew up camping however as an adult this is my first ever travel trailer that I have owned. My husband and I are relocating from Minnesota to Texas and in the interim purchased a travel trailer to live out of, work remotely from & travel throughout the United States. It’s definitely a lot of packing up and moving, but in the time so far that we’ve been doing it gets easier and easier. The system of how to pack an RV for travel will help you if you are newer to RVing. I’ve also shared several other things about how we decided on our specific travel trailer as well as how we set up our trailer with mobile RV internet so we’re able to work remotely.
How to pack an RV for Travel: External RV Pack-up Checklist
This checklist is focused on the external part of the RV/travel trailer and all of the items that need to be addressed before you’re ready to hook on and head out down the road to your next adventure!
We’ll start the exterior RV packing up for travel checklist with probably the least fun task of all, the holding tanks. Depending on your specific model of travel trailer, you may have a different configuration or capacity of holding tanks but regardless you’ll want to follow these steps:
Empty the Black Tank
The black tank is essentially your sewer holding tank and you’ll want to empty it if you’re in an RV park with a full hook up you can do it at your site, while some RV parks or even gas stations have RV dumping facilities. Depending on the type of camping you’re doing and where you’re staying you may have to transport your trailer somewhere before you empty the tanks.
(Disclaimer: This RV packing to travel checklist is more specific to a full hook up RV site but the same steps can be performed at an RV Dump site.)
Connect Black Tank Flush hose (if applicable)
Not all trailers or RV’s have a blank tank flush. However, if you do have that connect it to water and flush out your black tank. It’s a great feature to have for ongoing maintenance to ensure your tanks are as clean as they can be.
Fill Black Tank 2/3 Full
You’re always supposed to dump your black tank at 2/3 full as a good rule of thumb. The more water you have in the tank, because it’s a gravity flow system, the more clean your tank will get while you’re flushing it out.
Empty Grey Tank
Your grey tank is your shower & sink holding tank(s). Your rig may have more than one grey tank but generally you will have at least one.
Empty Black Tank (once again) repeat as necessary
In order to flush out the water that you put into the black tank and drain it. Empty the tank yet again. Continue to add water and flush the black tank as needed. (See more details and tips in our exterior RV packing to travel YouTube video!)
Empty Additional Grey Tanks
If your trailer or RV has more than one grey tank, flush the additional tanks as you’re completing your exterior packing checklist before traveling with your RV.
Stow Sewer Hose& all connections
Once you’re completely flushed and all of the tanks are empty, stow your sewer hose. It’s a good rule of thumb to keep your sewer hose and other hoses separate. (In bins or on opposite sides of the stowage or separate compartments if that’s your configuration of your specific RV.)
Fill fresh water tank 2/3 full (if needed for next location)
Depending on where your next location is and if you have full hookups, you can fill your tank if you need it once you get there and won’t have access to water. Typically, we like to have full hookups but it depends on how long you’re going to be somewhere and if you have access to other water or shower facilities etc. as to what makes sense for you to do. You don’t want to travel with extra water in the fresh tank if you don’t need it because it just adds extra weight that you’re towing around. So, this step may be null and void as it’s specific to everyones own situation but it’s something to consider as you pack your RV for travel.
Optional: Fill Black Tank (10-15% capacity)
Again, another optional item but definitely wanted to mention it in the RV packing to travel list. Before removing your water hose connections, you can also fill your black tank just a little to help clean it out further by adding a little water to slosh around as you tow to the next location.
Remove hose connection
Be sure to turn off the water first, then remove the hose connection. Otherwise you might spray water everywhere!
Stow water hoses
After you’ve filled appropriate tanks if needed and removed your water connections be sure to stow the hoses. You’ll want to ensure your water hoses are stowed separately from your sewer hoses to not cross contaminate any germs.
Bring Slide in
When the RV is still connected to power at your site, bring your slide in. You can conserve your battery energy by using the electricity when you’re still connected to bring it in. If you have multiple slides this could make a huge difference! While you’re bringing the slide in be sure someone is outside watching to make sure you don’t hit something and people stay out of the way for safety.
Retract Stabilizers (if electric)
One of the best features of our trailer is the electric stabilizers. Not all trailers have this feature but it’s definitely nice! There are buttons on the outside of the trailer as well as a handy dandy remote to make packing up your RV on travel day really slick.
Remove additional stabilizers (if applicable)
If you have any additional stabilizers, be sure to remove these and stow them. We have additional stabilizers that really make a huge difference toward the back of the trailer. They aren’t necessary but they are definitely nice to have.
Power off & remove surge protector and cables
First, turn the power off using the breaker (that is the most important part!) Then remove the surge protector and electric cables from the pedestal and then trailer.
Stow surge protector & cables
Roll up your electric cables and surge protector and stow them away safely.
Check PSI of wheels
Check the tire pressure of the RV wheels with a tire pressure gauge. Keep in mind that as you drive and your tires heat up it will expand so don’t fill them to the max. Your tires on the sidewall should state what PSI to keep them at. For example for our trailer, if it is at the maximum weight the PSI of the tires should be at 65 PSI.
Torque wheels (if needed)
Before setting out on a longer term time on the road, we replaced our tires to the trailer. According to the tire technician he recommended torquing the wheels and checking them every so often. Just so you don’t lose sight of it, it doesn’t hurt to check and torque them as a part of your pack up routine. For reference, the wheels on the tire are aluminum rims so recommend torquing the wheels to 100 Ft-lb. Essentially what this means is how much force is applied per foot. Definitely check the specifics on your wheels and what they should be torqued to.
Remove chocks & stow
Remove any chocks out from under the wheels and ensure you stow them in their appropriate place.
Final once over/walk through:
The last thing you should do when packing your RV for travel is to walk around your whole trailer making sure everything is as it should be before hooking on and heading out!
Be sure your tow vehicle is gased up, has tires in good condition and is good on the oil change as well as no other known issues with the engine or general operability.
Check your hitch lock and be sure it’s secure. That the electrical connection is working as well as the trailer braking and lights to the trailer are operational.
Be sure to switch your propane off! It’s very dangerous even if it was a mistake to leave this on while driving down the road.
Storage Doors & passthroughs
All of your storage for the hoses, tools and the things you need to set up and tear down your RV are really important so be sure the areas where these things are kept are closed, locked and secure!
Double check that windows are closed & locked before you head out.
Double check that the stabilizers are fully up.
RV entry steps & door
After you’ve completed the interior RV pack up checklist, ensure that the RV entry steps are stowed and secure, the bar is tucked away and the door is locked.
Downloadable PDF: how to pack your RV for travel
Beyond How to pack your RV for Travel: More RV & Travel Trailer Information:
It’s no surprise after spending three days in Glacier National Park in northern Montana that it truly is the crown of the continent. The romantic turquoise blue glacial lakes, flanked by the rugged rocky mountain peaks capped with snow even in the summer months make it a dreamy outdoor destination that seems like it’s on another planet it looks so unreal.
Glacier National Park is located in Northern Montana and even spans into our northern neighbor, Canada. Given how north this park is situated the peak season for travel is really limited in comparison to other National Parks across the United States. It’s no wonder this park fills up when the sun is glistening and the weather is perfect.
Many people will road trip to National Parks during the summer no matter where you’re based out of in the United States. However, if you’re looking for a quick in and out trip and plan on flying to spend 3 days (or more) in Glacier National Park you can fly into the following airports:
Glacier Park International Airport (FCA)
This airport is located in Kalispell, Montana (near Whitefish) and is the closest to Glacier National Park. Compared to the other airports listed below, it’s definitely the most expensive but also the most convenient. You can rent a car from here, but depending on your lodging you may have an airport pickup option. Definitely all things to consider when planning to have the best 3 days in Glacier National Park.
Missoula International Airport (MSO)
Missoula airport located in Missoula, Montana is a considerable drive to Whitefish & West Glacier at just under 3 hours and around 130 miles. Depending on the time of day you’re flying in, that may not be feasible for you. So, it may be the comparison of paying a little more to fly into the closer airport and not have to spend the extra time driving. If you’re anything like me, you’ll pay a little extra for convenience (and to be able to fit in more of the things I want to do!) vs. sitting in a car in transit. Traveling is all about priorities.
Helena, Montana (HLN)
Flying into Helena, Montana is going to be a similar situation where you’ll spend even longer in the car to get to the west side of Glacier National Park.
Even if you fly to visit Glacier National Park, you will likely have to rent a car as well to get around. During peak season in Glacier, there are shuttles but that’s more so once you’re in the park. It may be doable depending on where you’re staying if they shuttle people to Glacier then take the shuttles or do one of the famous red bus tours. Especially if you plan on hiking and want to fit in the most during your time in Glacier, renting a car is your best bet!
Entrances to Glacier National Park
East Glacier (St. Mary, Many Glacier, Two Medicine)
While we visited Glacier National Park over 3 days, we were on the East side of Glacier in St. Mary. It was really remote and crazy windy. I definitely wasn’t expecting to experience a winter storm and winds up to 30 mph in June. It was so wild! Personally, I wouldn’t base myself out of this side of Glacier again. But, the areas on the east side of Glacier National Park are definitely not to be missed!
St. Mary Entrance begins the Going to the Sun Road on the east side of the park and it goes completely through the park. If the Going to the Sun Road is closed, it can drastically reduce the things you can do in central Glacier but you can easily access the Many Glacier & Two Medicine areas. (Which are absolutely stunning and shouldn’t be missed, btw!)
Many Glacier is a lot closer to St. Mary while Two Medicine is a more considerable drive taking around 40 minutes. The road to Two Medicine is really winding with some great views. It’s a narrow road with barely any shoulder and please for the safety of others, DO NOT STOP on this road! It’s really dangerous to do so while the views are amazing and enticing to stop, it’s so curvy and could cause a really bad car accident!
The West Glacier entrance to Glacier National Park is definitely more popular as it has easier access to nearby airports and is located closer to Whitefish and there are many lodging options. Personally, when we return (to actually drive on the Going to the Sun Road, we will probably opt to stay closer to this side of the park or even within Glacier National Park for at least 3 more days!) I’m definitely always scheming, but as a person who loves to travel and is always planning the next trip you probably aren’t surprised!
Where to stay when visiting Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park has many in park lodging options. Which makes it easy to maximize your 3 days in Glacier National Park. Keep in mind that booking lodging within the park books up really fast! You will want to plan about a year in advance. Especially because Glacier is such a seasonal park, planning ahead is even more important. (Now if only you could plan the weather too and order that in advance! haha)
The best part, there are many different options within the park to choose from! Honestly, depending on what hikes and plans you have in the park it would even make sense to stay at a few different ones so you’re not doubling back all the time. But, that’s your decision to make! For all of the lodging information within Glacier National Park, click here.
However, you can also choose to stay outside of the park in Whitefish, Montana or the West Glacier area just outside of the park as well. But, again depending on what your plans are how much hiking you want to do (if any!) this will greatly dictate where you decide to stay.
The best season to visit (from a park ranger!)
Visiting in early June and experiencing a winter storm warning was so wild! Especially staying on the east side of the park in St. Mary the wind REALLY gets whipping! Having this type of weather does happen in June, it’s not ALWAYS typical but it’s possible. The “high season” for Glacier National Park really is from July-August.
However, after chatting with a park ranger he said that he always tells his friends and family to visit in early to mid September. Because the weather is still nice (usually!) and there are a lot less families due to kids being back in school this time of year.
So keep that in mind while visiting. But, weather a little bit is up to luck because we experienced a winter storm in June while he said last June it was 90 degrees. Momma nature be crazy sometimes!
Best Things to do in Glacier National Park
Going to the Sun Road
Many of the really iconic views are off of the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park. Unfortunately, if there are avalanche conditions portions of what I’ve heard is a really stunning road are closed. So, definitely have your itinerary and things to you want to do in Glacier but know that you may need to pivot like we did! Continue reading to for an itinerary unlike another for 3 days in Glacier National Park, it doesn’t include GTS (Going to the Sun) Road! (Insert gasp here!)
Red Bus Tour
The red distinct “jammer” buses have been operating tours in the vintage bright red buses in Glacier National Park since 1936. It’s definitely an iconic thing to include when spending 3 days in Glacier National Park. There are many different routes and distances for these tours offered. Red bus tours were still operating even when the Going to the Sun Road was closed. (Which really surprised me!)
How to Spend 3 Days in Glacier National Park
Hiking in Glacier National Park
Three of the most popular hikes are higher in elevation and can be effected by weather as well as one of them is accessed via Going to the Sun Road. I’d be lying if I wasn’t slightly bummed we weren’t able to do the below hikes. But, definitely check trail closures to assess if you can hike the following trails (even if GTS is closed!) All trails really is the best for planning hikes and knowing what to expect!
An epic glacier lake & glacier view hike. Harder, however, you can also shave off some distance by taking the boat from the Many Glacier Hotel across Swiftcurrent Lake then Lake Josephine. If choosing this option, it shortens the hike by about 3.5 miles.
Be sure to book your boat in advance to ensure you get a spot for the time you want to! You can do that here. If you book in advance, you can pick up your tickets once you arrive at the kiosks that look like the below picture.
Logan Pass is located off of GTS Road. There are many different ways that you can choose to hike this route. We were planning on hiking from Logan Pass Visitor Center to Granite Park Chalet then taking the shuttle back. But, a few caveats effected those plans the biggest one was that Going to the Sun Road was closed (insert sad face) and two, the shuttles only operate from July 1 through Labor Day in September. More information on that here. So, be sure to keep that in mind when you’re planning!
Avalanche Lake Trail via Trail of the Cedars is an extremely popular hike due to the clear waters and colorful rocks glistening through. If you’ve seen that type of picture of Glacier National Park it was likely taken at Avalanche Lake, but due to the avalanche danger we had to skip it! How ironic is that? [Add it to the for later list.]
Glacier National Park is bear country. If you’re doing any type of hiking, you’ll want to be sure you have bear spray with you. Know how to use it and be prepared on how to act if you do see a bear on the trail. Don’t let this deter you from hiking though, most bears will leave you alone even if you do encounter them while hiking. But it’s just better to be prepared and aware of how to interact with a bear and what to do if you have an encounter in close proximity. Here’s a great resource to read from the National Park Service on what to do.
Day 1 of 3: Glacier National Park
Hopeful, heading into the park from the east via St. Mary’s entrance on the first day. Glacier National Park has been a bucket list park for so long so the anticipation was high. Driving to check out the following lookouts before realizing the Going to the Sun (GTS) Road was closed at Jackson Glacier: Goose Island Lookout, Sunrift Gorge, St. Mary Falls Trailhead, Gunsight Pass then seeing the signs indicating the road was closed at Jackson Glacier.
**It definitely isn’t worth it to disobey these signs as they’re for your own safety. Also, if you’re caught doing so you will be fined $5,000. Not worth it in my opinion!**
St. Mary Falls
Doubling back to St. Mary Falls and taking the hike to the falls was a great option. While this hike was on the “to do list” it got bumped higher on the list after not being able to drive the Going to the Sun Road like planned. It definitely exceeded my expectations! The milky green waterfall is what hiking dreams are made of. Absolutely stunning and it was so worth the effort. You can even choose to extend your hike to Virginia Falls past St. Mary Falls.
After this hike, proceed back to the St. Mary entrance and navigate to the Two Medicine area of Glacier National Park. (This is also on the east side of the park but doesn’t require the use of the GTS road.) You technically will exit the park and then re-enter at the Two Medicine entrance. It’s a bit of a drive (around 40 mins) to the Two Medicine area because the roads are very narrow and windy! But, there are some spectacular views. Just, please do not stop along the road as there aren’t shoulders and the roads are really narrow as it is. It’s just extremely unsafe to do this! So be courteous to your safety and kind to others.
Once in the Two Medicine area, Running eagle falls is an easily accessible hike for the whole family. Short and sweet to a cute waterfall and river area.
After leaving Running eagle Falls, head to the South Shore Trailhead where there are MANY hikes of differing lengths and difficulties that all start via the same trailhead. Since it was already afternoon we set out on the paradise point & Aster Falls trails. It was muddy in spots but really an enjoyable hike. After hiking, pop into the Two Medicine General Store where they sell souvenirs, some camping items as well as beer and food. (However, due to convenience the food items are from what I saw on the pricier side!)
Day 2 of 3: Glacier National Park
Heading back to the Two Medicine area of Glacier National Park earlier in the day to the same Trailhead at the South Shore.
Rockwell Falls Hike was a good distance & not overly challenging. However, setting out earlier in the morning the best part was not seeing anyone until well 80% done with the hike.
After spending the morning and early afternoon in the Two Medicine area, heading to Many Glacier to get a little bit of a change of scenery. Depending on what hikes you do and how long they are you could also opt to just relax or call it a day.
Day 3 of 3: Glacier National Park
On day three, head to the Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park. This area can also be accessed without the Going to the Sun Road. Closer to St. Mary than the Two Medicine area of the park. Many Glacier has the stunning Swiftcurrent and Josephine Lakes that are glacier fed so a beautiful blue green color. Even in the rain, it seemed almost unreal how vibrant they were.
In the Many Glacier area you can usually see goats roaming around and moose will hang out alongside the lakes as well. Moose can’t regulate their own temperature (like dogs pant to regulate their temperature) so you’re definitely more likely to see moose near water. Moose can even dive up to 20 feet deep! They will dive and eat vegetation because they can actually eat underwater.
Glacier National Park Advance Reservations
Visiting Glacier National Park in 2021 & 2022 advance reservations are required for Going to the Sun Road as well as other areas of Glacier National Park. This helps to alleviate the congested traffic in the most popular areas and allows a better experience for visitors.
Be sure to create an account on recreation.gov search for Going to the Sun Corridor Reservations. You’re able to make reservations in advance 120 days prior to when you’d like your three day pass to start. While some additional reservations will be available at 8 AM Mountain Time the day prior to when you want your 3 day pass to start. So, if you forget you could still get a reservation the day before but it’s definitely a gamble! For more information on vehicle reservations, visit here.
This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.
About Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is incredibly iconic. It was the first National Park in the United States established in 1872. Just this year it celebrated its 150th year. 11 years after Yellowstone National Park was established, the railroad made it much easier for the public to visit. Honestly, I just always remember watching Yogi bear as a kid stealing picnic baskets in “Jellystone”.
With all of Yellowstone’s unique natural beauty, it’s a great place to visit with family, friends & loved ones. Spanning across three different states (Montana, Wyoming & Idaho) makes it a great location for a summer road trip. It’s very popular to visit Yellowstone & Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming within the same trip.
Yellowstone from the North Entrance a two day Itinerary
The north entrance of Yellowstone National Park is right by Gardiner, Montana. Gardiner is about an hour drive from Livingston, Montana or about an hour and a half from Bozeman, Montana. There are many vacation rentals and some really bougie resorts in between Yellowstone & Livingston. Alternatively, you can also stay inside of Yellowstone by getting a hotel or camping. But, it really just depends on the type of experience you want to have.
Day 1 in Yellowstone from the North Entrance:
Drive from Livingston, MT to Gardiner & the North Entrance
As you make your way to the North Entrance of Yellowstone on day one of your two days in Yellowstone, near Roosevelt Arch is a small coffee stand offering espresso drinks and breakfast items called Bears Brew is located in Gardiner. Definitely stop to fuel up for the day! We stopped here both days for coffee and one day got a muffin & another a breakfast burrito. Everything was phenomenal I can’t recommend them enough. Definitely get the white chocolate blueberry latte. It was so unique and tasty!
Spend some time driving under, walking under or near but at least snapping some pictures of Roosevelt Arch. It is one of Yellowstone National Park’s most famous monuments. You definitely want to take some time to explore this arch as a part of your two days exploring Yellowstone. The arch now can be bypassed when accessing Yellowstone via the north entrance but in the past it marked the official north entrance into the park. Since Yellowstone was the first National Park in America, it served as visual flair standing 50 feet high and two flanking towers measuring 12 feet across to allow horse drawn carriages to pass through.
45th Parallel of Latitude
Along the road from the North entrance of Yellowstone there is a sign denoting the 45th parallel of latitude. This means that where this sign is located in Yellowstone National Park, it marks the halfway point between the equator and the north pole. Pretty cool that this is within America’s First National Park.
Hike #1 Hellroaring Creek Trail
From Roosevelt Arch to Hellroaring Creek Trailhead it’s about a 20 mile drive that takes just under 40 mins. Arriving at the trailhead early there should be ample parking. There are many different hikes you can take from this trailhead, but since we planned on a few other hikes throughout the day we opted for the easier out and back hike to the suspension bridge and back. This hike was a little over 2 miles and a relatively easy journey but I must note that it’s mostly downhill on the way there, so the way back could take a little longer as you’ll be hiking uphill.
There was a lot of fresh bear scat in the area, although we didn’t encounter a bear it’s definitely possible. Another group of hikers stated they saw a black bear about 45 mins earlier near the bridge. So, be prepared and have bear spray with you and most importantly, know how to use it!
Scenic Drive East through Lamar Valley
After hiking, take the time to relax in the car a bit by taking a scenic drive heading east through Lamar valley. In Lamar valley there are so many opportunities to see wildlife. I was blown away at the herds and herds of buffalo as well as other animals we saw. Be careful though, they will get close to your vehicle and do not approach them or get too close to them. Remember, it’s not a zoo this is their habitat that you’re in. Stay back to stay safe! Most cameras or phones have really impressive zoom features.
Throughout Lamar Valley there are many places to pull off alongside the road to view wildlife or just relax.
Hike #2 Trout Lake Loop Hike
After relaxing for a bit in the car and being blown away at the amount of wildlife in Lamar valley although it was sprinkling a bit, a short hike around Trout Lake was a great stop. This easy loop at just over one mile offers stunning views of the mountain reflecting off of the lake and the possibility for wildlife viewing as well. While we visited we saw two bald eagles & a cute little otter swimming.
Hike #3 Bunsen Peak Trail out and back hike
Heading back toward the North Entrance and Mammoth Hot springs area is a moderate but longer hike. Honestly, it felt a lot more challenging than moderate to me at 4.4 miles. The last 0.30 mile of the trail toward the peak on June 11th, there was considerable snow on the path. It was melty snow and plus had loose rocks so I was a little wary of stepping and needed to gather footing before trusting it. Once we reached the summit, it was so extremely windy! But, still definitely worth the effort for the amazing view out over Yellowstone and the North Entrance area.
As we finished the hike, we did notice an incredibly fresh scraping on the tree. So glad we didn’t actually encounter the bear during our hike. But, it’s always a possibility! Be bear aware and ensure you’re carrying bear spray with you! It’s very unlikely you’ll have to use it, but you are in bear country so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Golden Gate Canyon
As you head back toward the entrance and the Albright Visitor Center, you will see the Golden Gate Canyon area. You were able to see down into the canyon from the Bunsen Peak hike you just completed but I’m always an advocate for viewing things from different angles and perspectives. There are a few pull offs right off of the side of the road where you can see a waterfall and the canyon area that are definitely worth stopping at.
Albright Visitor Center
At the conclusion of day one, hit up Albright Visitor Center to get your National Parks passport stamp. This is the visitor center closest to the North Entrance of Yellowstone so you could even stop to ask any questions you may have at the beginning of the day. But, if you’re like me you already have your day (mostly) planned and are hitting the ground running a lot earlier than the visitor centers open.
Day 2 in Yellowstone from the North Entrance:
Entering Yellowstone from the North Entrance on day two, you’re probably a little sore from hitting it so hard the day before but still super excited to explore more of what the Northern part of Yellowstone National Park has to offer.
Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs area is near the North Entrance of Yellowstone. It seemed like many of these hot springs were somewhat dormant until we got up to the upper terraces. We parked in the first parking lot and went around the right part of the lower terrance then moved our vehicle and completed the loop around the left side of the lower terrace. Then we chose to drive up and around to the parking area for the upper terrace. You can definitely just park in one spot and explore all over the lower and upper terraces. Just for times sake and due to the rain, we wanted to be as efficient as possible.
Artists Paint pots Trail
This short easily accessible trail is only a little over a mile (total distance) to walk along the lower part of the artists paint pots. The paint pots consist of hot springs, geysers & a few colorful little mud pots. (Hence, the name artist paint pots.)
Canyon Visitor Center
This visitor center is in an area where there are a lot of amenities. The visitor center, then there’s a general store where they sell groceries, snacks, souvenirs and items you may need but have forgotten as well as a smaller sporting goods store. You can also rent bear spray from this area if you plan on hiking. Across the road there is also a gas station.
At this visitor center, there are museum like exhibits explaining the geothermal activity in Yellowstone National Park. As well as a huge map showing where the volcanic activity is and interactive explanations. I’m a complete nerd when it comes to maps so I really loved learning about this and why Yellowstone is so unique. Plus, I got another visitor center stamp as well!
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
You’ll enter the loop to view the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone that’s a one way road. (Don’t be like the people we saw and turn around and go the wrong way on the narrow one way. Insert face palm here!) This is the North Rim drive loop along the northern part of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. There are many parking areas to pull off along the different view points and even some small trails in the area. We had planned to hike the Canyon Rim South Trail to Artists Point but ended up skipping it due to the rain. Regardless of the inclimate weather Grand Canyon of Yellowstone was absolutely stunning. Aside from Yellowstone’s more known landmarks of the Grand Prismatic Spring & Old Faithful in my opinion they don’t have anything on the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Hands down this is what I would say is the must stop destination in Yellowstone National Park. Especially when visiting the park via the north entrance.
Listed below are all of the pull off spots along the North Rim drive of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone:
All of these (aside from Artists Point) you can access by driving then parking and walking a short distance to the overlook or viewing platform.
Upper Falls View
This viewing platform you get near the waterfalls of the Yellowstone River within the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
Personally this was my favorite turn off point along the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The platform is up close and personal by the rushing waterfall within the canyon. One thing I will note is the walk down to this lookout is quite steep down. On the way up it’s not long but it’s quite an incline. It’s definitely worth the effort!
The short paved path will bring you out to an observation point. You will see the views of the falls as well as the beautiful colorful walls that make up the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
Grand View Overlook
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is truly mesmerizing. Looking at it from multiple different angles and all of the view points is a must.
The view from inspiration point is gorgeous, but like the others a slightly different view of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. From inspiration point you can only see a little bit of the falls but it offers sweeping views of the canyon. Technically this is the last overlook that you can access without hiking by driving the loop and stopping at all of the lookout spots.
This is only accessible via a hike. If it wouldn’t have been as rainy, I wanted to hike out to Artists Point. If it’s great weather, definitely take the hike and check it out! I was super bummed I didn’t get to do this. If the weather is nice, definitely take the time to hike out to Artists Point.
Not sure if it was the weather but there really wasn’t as much to see in Hayden Valley in comparison to Lamar Valley. We ended up pulling over at the outlook area and eating our lunch but this really wasn’t my favorite compared to the other things we saw during the second day in Yellowstone.
You definitely could smell this before you even saw it! (Insert cheesy rotten eggs joke here.) You could just feel the heat radiating off of this area. There are many areas within Yellowstone where you can observe the effects of geothermal activity such as this. Mother Nature really is something else!
Le Hardy Rapids
This was another item we nixed due to the rain. However, these rapids are located on the Yellowstone river. (That was really rushing while we were there!) Which, sadly the very next day caused a lot of flooding and destruction in the area the next day causing Yellowstone to shut down for who knows how long at this point to ensure safety & repairs of the damaged structures such as roads and bridges. The cause of the flooding was due to the rain and also snow melt.
The main reason I wanted to visit Le Hardy Rapids was due to the fact that you can sometimes see the iconic cutthroat trout leaping upstream. Bear will often be there trying to catch trout for their next meal.
Wraith Falls Hike
This was another item we had decided to nix just due to the rain and weather. However, this hike is near the north entrance so it would make a perfect first hike of the day or one to cap off an itinerary if you were entering and exiting Yellowstone National Park via the north entrance.
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel
Located in the lobby of Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel there is a map room where depending on the time of day you can have a coffee or cocktail. But, the map attraction you guessed it, is the large wooden map. Being a sucker for maps, I knew I had to stop and check it out. It was absolutely beautiful!
Seeing such a large scale map and taking a step back realizing my husband, dog and I have already traveled a considerable distance was really a wow moment for me. One of those moments in time you just want to realize you are capable of doing hard things and taking the road less traveled. Yellowstone is the second National Park that we visited along this relocation road trip as we left Minnesota and will be settling in Texas (my husbands home state.)
This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.
Working Remotely in Montana
With the world changing a lot since 2020, many more people have the capability to base themselves wherever they want and work remotely. If you are in this position and want to get the most out of remote work, why not work remotely in Livingston, Montana? There are plenty of things you can get out and do after you’re done working to be able to maximize your time in the gorgeous surroundings.
After basing ourselves remotely in Livingston, Montana for a little over a week in June here are all of the fun & easy things we did!
About Livingston, Montana
Livingston is located a little over an hour north of Yellowstone National Park while still being around 30 mins from Bozeman, Montana. Livingston has a small town feel but it’s large enough where there are several restaurants, breweries and things to do. It’s a perfect place to base yourself out of for some adventures around remote working!
Things to do in Livingston, Montana
Imagine golfing with picturesque scenery along the Yellowstone River with the snow capped Absoroka & Crazy Mountains off in the distance. This perfectly explains what its like golfing at Livingston Golf Course. You can book a tee time in advance online or by calling the clubhouse. You can easily fit 9 holes in after a day of work so be sure to add this activity to your list of things to do while working remotely in Livingston, Montana.