Utah loop road trip: Yellowstone to Vancouver

After our no-shower days in Yellowstone National Park, I was determined to book a campground with showers. Using our Passport America app and discount, we found a well-reviewed place in White Sulphur Springs, about 1 ½ hours south of Great Falls, Montana. The campground had no shade trees to speak of, but it was clean, tidy, and quiet, and we arrived with only a couple of hours to go before sundown and a cooler evening.

From White Sulphur Springs to Great Falls, we drove on Highway 89. We were in no hurry as we were planning to take three days for a nine or 10-hour drive. On a beautiful sunny Wednesday, there didn’t seem to be another soul on the road. We wound gently through forested mountains, alongside creeks and rivers–a beautiful, easy drive.

The great falls of Great Falls
Looking away from the falls, the landscape appeared desert-like

We continued on Highway 89, a route that got us to the little town of Choteau where we stayed overnight in their City Park. It was a lovely little stop, though we weren’t sure at first when the road to get there looked more like a lane going behind giant silos with huge trucks buzzing around them. We were a bit confused by what looked like it might be the camping area, right out in the open with a view of the silos. A kind soul in a small pickup stopped for our questions and pointed a little farther around the corner and behind a copse. There, we found a sweet little camping area for no more than 5 units. A burbling brook ran behind the well-treed and green sites and a washroom was nearby. We were the only ones there at first but by the end of the evening, we were joined by three others, practically selling out for the night. We were just a couple of blocks off the town’s main road, so we walked to the grocery store and explored the very quiet streets before settling in for the night.

Continuing north on Highway 89 provided just a glimpse of Glacier National Park as the route skimmed its edge. We crossed into Canada just east of Waterton National Park and continued north to Okotoks where we driveway surfed for the night at the home of friends (thank you very much, Mark and Lynn!). They gave us a little tour of Olde Town Okotoks and shared a couple of their haunts.

From Okotoks, we scooted north the last 50 km to Calgary. We arrived early enough to switch to our son’s vehicle and head off to school to pick up our grandson. What a delightful reunion! As well as just hanging out and having fun together, as a family we were able to take in one of Calgary’s least expensive and most entertaining family venues—it was Masters’ weekend at Spruce Meadows, an internationally renowned showjumping complex. When there are tournaments on, the entertainment is endless with music, food, kids’ activities and, of course, the showjumping events. Spruce Meadows is open all year round if you want to see the park-like atmosphere and visit the stables, and there are several seasonal events held throughout the year.

We saw our wee boy uniformed up and off to his first official Beaver meeting and celebrated his seventh birthday a week early (birthday party #2 of several for him).

Though hard to say goodbye and pull away, it was time to get Artie home. We made a stop in Salmon Arm, roughly the halfway point between Calgary and Vancouver, staying at another Harvest Host, Grass Root Dairies. We tasted some cheeses, watched a video about the farm, and visited brand new calves in the barns. With cows and goats wandering around us all night, we slept soundly.

While stopping in the Vancouver area for a night, we were able to visit with both of our Moms and good friends and give Artie a much-needed bath. Onto Horseshoe Bay to catch a ferry to the Sunshine Coast where we enjoyed a meal with my sister and brother-in-law and spent the next couple of days unpacking Artie, removing the layers of dust that he had accumulated in every crevice, and repacking our car for our next outing.


TripBits

  • Conestoga Campground, White Sulphur Springs, Montana: $18.73 USD with Passport America discount (electric and water hookup, showers)
  • Choteau City Park Campground fee: $10 USD per night (no hookups; sani dump, potable water and flush toilets)
  • Spruce Meadows Masters’ Tournament entry fee: $5 for adults and teens, free for kids 12 and under and seniors 60 and over. Though the main event seating is ticketed, you can lay down a blanket on the grass and watch for free. At some events, parts of the stands also offer open seating.

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