This entire road trip started with a conversation about a year ago when I told Matt that Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Yellowstone were at the top of my road trip bucket list. Instead of blowing me off, he got into it. In early January we really started talking seriously and in March we invested in our roof-top tent. Once that tent was on the top of the truck, our Jackson Hole (We’ve dubbed it J-Hole) dreams started forming into an actual road trip plan with dates, destinations and research. Pretty soon our 4Runner (Sookie) had a partner in crime (Pedro the camp donkey trailer) and Matt spent many hours making them both J-Hole worthy. You can read all about his skills in my earlier blog posts titled, “before and after” and “the mechanic behind it all”.
Long story short, on day #6 we finally rolled into the famous J-Hole Wyoming! We drove into with reservations at the slightly cheesy themed RV park The Virginian. The trailer was in need of a few repairs and it was a little late to be heading up the mountain to camp. It worked out very well because it gave us a chance to check out the town and do the tourist thing. We had dinner at very popular Snake River Brewery, had a killer pizza, salad and some real beer! It was cold and rainy but we walked around town and through the shops with the crowds and had a great night. J-Hole was a hit!
The RV park served its purpose for the night but was not my get down! I will most likely own an RV some day and stay in one again but until then it’s campgrounds all the way! Packing up was super simple and we were prepared to head through The National Elk Reserve and up the mountain to our camp destination. Mind you, we were ready to see some Elk, Moose, bears and everything Wyoming had to offer! We’d been seeing road signs cautioning us to BEWARE of roaming wildlife but by that point we’d seen neither hide nor hair 🐻 so we drove the few miles through the reserve before heading up the mountain without a sighting! Still not sure why this piece of land is called an Elk Reserve.
As we climbed the mountain to the Bridger-Teton National Forest, the rain started coming down. As we climbed higher the rain turned to snow! Man, had the climate of our road trip changed! We continued climbing the mountain, passing a very cozy campground but moving on to see what off-road camping was available. As we climbed, the temperature dropped and we quickly realized that if we continued on, we’d be camping in the middle of the snow. The temp was 35 degrees and we knew it would drop pretty low overnight. We had prepared for a lot of things for the trip but camping in the snow was not one of them. To add insult to injury, the roads were turning into big time mud. Getting snowed in, stuck in the mud and sleeping in the cold was not on the agenda. So we enjoyed the view, took some photos and headed back to that cozy little campground half-way down the hill.
When we reached the campground it was still cold and it was still raining but we had shelter and fire. We setup camp, made an awesome dinner and watched Leah entertain herself with what nature had to offer. It was an awesome camp day and we were excited to be staying for 2 days!
We were able get a great nights rest with the piter patter of the rain and the mountain air. We woke up to sunshine and of course camp coffee! Since we were staying another night, there was nothing to pack up but plenty to explore. We hopped in the car and headed towards the Tetons and Jenny Lake. It was a beautiful drive with an close up view of the Tetons and a a nice hike along the lake. We stopped at the Jenny Lake visitor center for snacks and info. While speaking to the friendly store employee he brought up the subject of all the wildlife in the area. We had to laugh because up to this point, the only Wyoming wildlife we’d laid eyes on was a squirrel! The man went on and on about bear spray and the areas “bear jams” every afternoon. We didn’t ask for clarification because this was the kinda fella that would talk your ear off all day if you let him. So, we had to rely on our imaginations. Was a bear jam a band of bears jamming on their banjos? Were they making homemade jam? Needless to say, we left Wyoming without ever seeing the infamous bear jam, but it was definitely the source of a few good laughs 🐻🎶😂.
After visiting the Tetons, we made our way back through the National Elk Reserve (still no Elk Sightings) and to our camp for a little lazing around, walks and sitting around the campfire. Right before sunset, we hopped in the truck and drove up the mountain for a good view of the sun setting behind the Tetons.
We then spent our second night in our peaceful little nook and woke up to prepare for our next adventure in Montana. We couldn’t leave without one more trip through the reserve (still no Elk but finally some four legged friends) and into J-Hole for a scrumptious breakfast at Bubba’s BBQ Joint. Last an most importantly, we grabbed a cup of Joe strong enough to knock your socks off at Cowboy Coffee Company.
Right before heading out of town, we met a very cool guy who was super impressed with Pedro the camp donkey, chatted us up and exchanged stories with Matt. Just a few minutes later, we had the opposite experience with a not so cool guy at the gas station. He parked his truck in the middle of all 4 pumps, preventing us from pulling in to gas up. Matt asked him to make room and he jumped out of his truck, looking directly at our California license plate, threw his hands in the air and said, “figures!” He was making a pretty big deal and Matt’s not one to back down! Needless to say he eventually moved his truck, exchanged a few more “pleasantries” with Matt and decided to then hide behind his truck. The whole exchange left us perplexed and with the feeling that gas station guy could take his gas station etiquette and shove it up his J-Hole!!!!!!