The Great Northwest - 7/2009

A mountain road winds its way out of Yellowstone NP and into the vastness of Wyoming.

A video that shows exactly what it's like to bring a toddler into the woods for two weeks.


Dates: July, 2009, for 16 days. (Our longest camping trip yet.)


Areas Explored: east Lake Michigan, the Upper Peninsula, the Northwoods, both Dakotas, the Canadian Plains, the Canadian Rockies, the spine of Montana, northern Wyoming (9 states & 3 provinces)

Transportation: 2000 LeSabre

Wild Animals: bison (in rut), elk, 3 black bears, 1 "other" bear, beaver, swan, prairie dog, pronghorn, white-tailed deer, mule deer, wild goat, bighorn sheep, heron, pelican, wolf prints, gulls, geese, feral horse

Cast: Scott, Jessica, Andrew (every day), Israel, Glory, and progeny (days 2 and 3 in Michigan)


Trip Notes: Day 1: Scouting so drove from Chicago to Warren Dunes SP, MI, and then drove back to Chicago. Day 2: Drove back to the Warren Dunes for a swim and then north to Hoffmaster SP, MI. Day 3: Swam in the lake and camped at Hoffmaster again. Day 4: Said goodbye to our friends and continued north along lake to the Straits of Mackinac. Day 5: Swam at Brevort and then explored Seney, camping near Christmas, MI. Day 6: Drove across the UP through waterfalls and iron hills to Duluth, MN. Day 7: Exlored the Minnesota Northwoods and then drove out to Grand Forks, ND.  Day 8:  Drove to Rugby and then turned northward into Manitoba. Camped in Riding Mountain NP. Day 9: Successfully hunted for animals and then across the canola fields, through Regina, to Swift Current. Day 10: Drove across miles of gravel to the hidden Sand Hills of Saskatchewan and then into the Red Deer River Badlands. Camped at Dinosaur Park. Day 11: Drove across Alberta to scenic Waterton Lakes NP and then south into Montana's Glacier NP. We slept in Kalispel. Day 12: Through Flathead country and then ranches to the grizzly-filled mountains of Gallatin NF. Day 13: Squeezed through Yellowstone, spotting many animals and sites, and then through the night unsure to Lovell. Day 14: Drove through the sky and desert of the Bighorn Mountains, finally camping at the foot of the Black Hills. Day 15: Explored the Black Hills and Badlands. Day 16: Walked the Corn Palace in South Dakota and then east back home.


Our general route through the woods and plains is in red.
Hardly a mile of this route was planned, although I did just purchase passports and wanted to get "my money's worth." My original plan was to drive east to Nova Scotia, but on a fluke headed west. So west I went, and went, and went. When the car began falling apart in Alberta, I started back toward home. Time and miles flew by so I was shocked to find that I was way overdue for an oil change when I got home. The complete loop was about 5000 miles. It's funny we drove to Michigan and just stopped by the Rockies on the way home.

Part 1: Exploring Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas... again. 


The great dune at Warren Dunes SP, MI. I love this beach. We wanted to camp here, but it was booked so we went north.

Part 2: Fields and forests of Minnesota, North Dakota, & Manitoba


After spending the night in a cheap, shady motel in Duluth, we were pleased to find more pastral settings like this west of the city.


Part 3: The Canadian Plains are more exciting than they look...


Outside of Riding Mountain, the scenery changes quickly. We are in Manitoba's Canola country.


Part 4: Rocky Mountain Madness: from Waterton to Yellowstone



This photo album is like looking at heaven so hold on tight. Here is Waterton National Park in Alberta behind barbed wire.


Part 5: The high road back east

Click below to see 360 view!
Coming soon.

360s coming soon.


Outside Yellowstone on Hwy 14A we started east on a one-way course toward Chicago. We made amazing time considering the obstacles.


Photos copyright 2009 by S. Plencner or J. Bezold All other content copyright 2009 by S. Plencner