California & Montana (Yellowstone) Road Trip and Family Biking Trip Glacier National Park

California & Montana (Yellowstone) Road Trip and Family Biking Trip Glacier National Park Claimed

2 weeks | August 2018 | Mon/Son and Family of Teen/Adult Boys | Driving and Biking/Hiking

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Trip Overview

Part 1: Mom/Son Roadtrip from California to Montana Part 2: Family (Parents with boys 18, 20, 22) Biking/Hiking Camping Trip in Glacier National Park

Full Itinerary

PART  1: Mom/Son Roadtrip Bay Area to Whitefish, Montana

Day 1:

Drive from SF Bay Area to Wells Nevada. Stop en route in Reno for wonderful lunch at Great Full Restaurant and visit to the Sundance Bookstore (located in an old Victorian home). Not the most exciting drive, but lots of open horizon and desert landscape. Slept at Sharon Motel in Wells (very basic, but clean and fine) and had dinner at the Bellas restaurant which was good and has fun local diner atmosphere (NOTE: don’t go by accident to the other Bellas Ranch in Wells…..its a ‘comfort stop’…should we say… that’s legal in Nevada??!). 

Lodging: Sharon Motel in Wells, Nevada

Day 2: 

Drove from Wells to Jackson, WY. Stopped for breakfast/coffee at Twin Beans in Twin Falls. Made a stop Shoshone Falls Park to see the waterfalls which are worth a visit. Beautiful drive through farmland and open horizons. Also did a stop at the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot….just because it was there. Arrived Jackson late afternoon. Grabbed a coffee at the Cowboy Coffee Co, wandered through town and then explored around the Tetons, doing a loop of the park and around it.  Dinner at Thai Me Up (ok…not great) and stayed at Motel 8 in Jackson which was basic but fine for our needs.

Lodging: Motel 8 in Jackson

Day 3:

Headed out of Jackson mid morning. Stopped for a hike/run in the Tetons on the Taggart Lake trail which ended at the beautiful lake. Then drove on to Yellowstone – beautiful drive. Once in Yellowstone made a stop to see Old Faithful do its thing and grab some lunch, go to the Grand Prismatic mineral site stop and then on to the other side of park/Lamar Valley where we spent the rest of our day until nightfall, photographing Bison, looking for wolves and enjoying the scenery. Drove down to Gardiner where we had dinner, spent the night in an AirBnB, picked up groceries for camping the next day etc.

Lodging: AirBnB in Gardiner

Day 4:

Up at the crack of dawn to get into the park to get a camping spot for the night. We were able to get a spot at the Middle Lamar campground where we pitched our tent and then went out to look for the wolves. Over the day we met some of the wolf followers and got info on them but didn’t see any that weren’t super far away. Then did a hike at Specimin Ridge Trail and came across a black bear out eating berries and a badger. Had  lunch by the river at the Slough Creek campground, lounged a bit around our campsite during the heat of the afternoon (had a nice fox come through the campsite) by the beautiful river. Early dinner in the campground followed by ‘game drive’ in the evening. Went back for another visit the badger and found his ‘hole’ right on the trail and got some great photos. Beautiful sunset pics with bison as well.

Lodging: Camping at Middle Lamar Campsite, Yellowstone

Day 5:

Packed up campsite early as we needed to get to Montana by late afternoon. On drive out found one of our new wolf spotter friends on the side of the road with his scope and spend the next hour or two watching a large pack of wolves work on a small elk it had just killed. Word finally got out about the pack but for a long time just a few of us were enjoying it – including a very knowledgeable ranger. Then drove on to Whitefish, Montana. Met up with the rest of the family in Whitefish at the Grouse Mountain Lodge, we had dinner at Mambo and spent the night at Grouse.

Lodging: Grouse Mountain Lodge, Whitefish, Montana

End of Roadtrip 🙂

Part 2: Family Backroads Bike/Hike/Raft Camping Trip

This portion of the trip was booked/managed by Backroads, a top adventure travel company. We opted for a camping trip, where as most of their trips clients stay in hotels. We recommend the camping. We have two sets of people who helped us – the three ‘leaders’ who arrange and accompany us on the day to day excursions as well as a 3 person ‘support team’ who goes ahead and sets up camp (pitches tents, sets up cots with sleeping bags, puts luggage into the tent, as well as the cooking/clean up etc – basically they do everything for you for this ‘glamping’ experience).

Our trip was a kids/teens camping trip biking/hiking/hiking/biking/rafting in Glacier National Park.

Day 1:

(day 6 of overall trip)

Met up in the morning at the Grouse Lodge Hotel with the other participants. Our trip was a ‘kids/teens’ trip which we joined even though we have have 18, 20 and 22 year old boys (they do offer trips for families with older kids) due the trip being the location/timing we wanted. There were about 24 people on the trip – all families (some both parents and multiple kids and a few moms/daughters). All the kids except one were girls 13-17, and one 13 year old boy.

After intros we boarded 2 vans and traveled to the start of our first biking day. We parked at the Apgar area on shore of Lake McDonald. Choice of biking 6, 12 or 23.8 miles. We all chose the 23.8 and had a beautiful ride (we are not bikers…) and ended getting huckleberry ice cream in Apgar village and then biking to our campsite.  Plus have to mention that Backroads never leaves you hungry, offering great snacks and drinks at all stops throughout the day, every day.  Then a quick ‘refreshing’ dip in Lake McDonald (we did a lake a day challenge) A wildfire started that day and there was threat of having to be evacuated, but we were able to spend the night.

Wonderful dinner and slept in tents at campsite.

Lodging: Apgar Campground

Day 2

(day 7 of overall trip)

Due to the growing wildfire the Going to The Sun Road was closed and after breakfast we packed up and drove a couple hours (detoured- note map in pics below is of original map, not detour we took) to start our beautiful hike day. All the days had less than great visibility due to smoke – starting this day – but was still beautiful hike. Options of 3.8 miles, 5.6 miles or 6.7 miles (we chose 6.7). Through meadows, forest, rivers, waterfalls ending at St. Mary Lake. Then off the the campground where we were to spend two nights. I preferred the first campground (more forested) but still nice. Drove to nearby beautiful chilly lake for a dip.

Lodging: camping at Johnson’s of St. Mary campground

Day 3

(day 8 of overall trip)

Due to a closure of a the Iceberg Lake route due to grizzly bear activity we took another nearby route instead.  Almost entire group did the 10 mile route and a mountain lake dip. Plus another lake dip when back ‘home’ at the campsite. Kids had option to horseback ride instead of the longer hike. One mom/cubs grizzly sighting.  (note – map below shows originally planned hike, not altered one)

Lodging: camping at Johnson’s of St. Mary Campground

Day 4

(day 9 of overall trip)

Big biking day. Options of 15 (kiowa junction route), 28 (divide mountain route) or 34 (two medicine valley route) miles for biking. For a 6 mile climb to start the day we left directly from campsite. Hills blocked with smoke from wildfire but still beautiful day of biking along eastern border of Glacier, with prairie and hills.  People could jump on/off at various segments as desired and we all had lunch by a river. Ride ended at a mexican restaurant for beer and chips before proceeding on to the campsite run by a Blackfoot indian where we slept in tipis.

Lodging: camping at Lodgepole Tipi Village

Day 5

(day 10 of trip)

Packed up after our final breakfast and headed to a couple hour rafting (more of a float due to being late in the season and low water levels), putting in at Moccasin Creek. Picnic lunch at the end and then dropped off for goodbye at the airport where we flew home!



Time of year


Type of Trip

Adventure/Active, Nature


2 weeks

Who Went

Family with teen kids, Family with adult kids

Accommodation Type

Hotel, Motel, Camping




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