Communal Boondocking: How Grand Teton Became Our Favorite Stop Yet

We had the pleasure of boondocking right outside of Grand Teton National Park earlier this week/last week for 8 days.

Before I forget the details of our experience, I want to blog about it and note what made it so amazing. When discussing it, Tim and I realized that a lot of factors perfectly aligned to make this our favorite experience in our past year on the road.

We think we’ve discovered our recipe for our ideal RVing experience….problem is, there are so many factors that are impossible to control that it may never be duplicated!

Here are the factors that made this experience one for the books:

Our Boondocking Spot

We boondocked at Upper Teton View. It’s about 1.5 miles off of the main road that leads to Grand Teton National Park. At the bottom of the forest road, you are actually in the park. The road is a one lane dirt road up a fairly steep hill (if you don’t want to go up the steep hill – the road does have ruts/big bumps – you can easily boondock at Lower Teton View). We took it slow and were able to make it up without incident. Once you reach the top of the hill and pull into the flat part, you realize what is in front of you: an unobstructed view of the Grand Teton range.

Upper Teton View Boondocking

The first day we were there, we were actually unable to see the Tetons due to wildfire smoke. Thankfully, it cleared out after that first day. Some days were hazy in the afternoons, but overall, we had a great view of the mountains. We ended up switching spots at Upper Teton View. The first few days, we were in a spot that had a great view of the mountains, but was right next to a few other RVs. We didn’t mind this, because everyone we met was awesome. In fact, we all still keep in touch!

The Fox in our first boondocking spot

However, our new friends Mike and Erin had their school bus parked in the ultimate spot at Upper Teton view. It was very private, and had room right on the edge (so even MORE amazing mountain views) for a tent or two – and we knew our friends Sarah and Brad were coming to spend the weekend with us and they were going to stay in a tent. So when Mike and Erin moved on to their next destination, we snagged their spot!

View from the tent at our new spot
Setup at our second spot: Our RV, Tim’s dad’s RV, and the Tetons and tent space behind us
Our friend’s tent. Can you imagine waking up to these views?

New Friends

The kids playing – a break for parents and fun for the kids too!

We met so many amazing people at Upper Teton View – we joked that it was like a neighborhood block party most nights, with the kids playing in the middle of the area and the adults socializing. After the kids went to bed, we sat in our chairs and watched the night sky and shared stories of life on the road. Tim called it a “communal boondocking” experience and I think that really sums it up. It certainly was unique.

Not everyone had kids – we met 3 single women traveling by themselves (one in a tent, one in a small class C, one in a small travel trailer) and a few couples traveling in vans. I learned so much from these people…I was especially impressed by the women willing to do 20 mile hikes alone in the Tetons, despite the bear warning signs everywhere. Now that’s bravery! I’m hoping to interview at least one of them for the blog soon.

These were everywhere

Everyone we met was so like-minded. We joked that dragging your RV to Upper Teton View is a filter – most people aren’t willing to do it! But those that do are usually full-timers and value true nature experiences more than hookups in a campground. It was special for us to be around people who think like we do, and for everyone to be so friendly. We’ve done a lot of boondocking but this was our first experience with everyone being so social. At one point, we had a group of friends from Germany, Delaware, New Mexico, Washington, Phoenix, Louisiana and Vermont. We loved talking with everyone. Amazing how we can all be from different places and in different phases of life but have so much in common.

I went for a couple hikes with new friends – it was so nice to hike with other people!
The Fox got its first dog visitor…Rosi!

Old Friends

I say “old friends”, but truth is, we’ve only known Sarah and Brad since we met them in Moab in May! But it feels like we’ve known each other for a lifetime.  We stayed in touch after meeting at a boondocking spot in Moab, and our paths crossed as they are parked for a month in Idaho and wanted a weekend away…so they came and met us in the Tetons. Rather than tow their RV to the Tetons, they wanted to simplify and just tent camp. It was so amazing to get to know their family better. We went on hikes, went swimming, and Calla had a great babysitter in their oldest daughter. I’ve never seen Calla so happy as she was around their girls – and we were pretty darn happy to have our friends around, too! We plan on meeting up with them again this winter.

How cute are they?
Group Hike
Playing with Brad and Sarah’s girls
Swimming fun at Jackson Lake

Family

Tim’s dad has a teardrop camper and does not full-time, but he takes extended trips with his trailer. He came and met up with us in the Tetons. Calla was so happy to have some one on one time with her Pap, and she asked for him every morning when she woke up! Play-doh with views like this?!

Calla and her Pap making breakfast in the teardrop’s kitchen
Getting ready to hike to Hidden Falls

 

Great Hiking

Grand Teton National Park has some amazing hiking. Over the course of our stay, we hiked:

  • Bradley Lake
  • Taggart Lake (we got in and swam here! Alpine lake…BRRR)
  • Hidden Falls Trail
  • Delta Lake Trail (saw so much wildlife..including a grizzly and 3 cubs)
  • Two Oceans trail

I’m not going to go into detail about these hikes, mostly because I am getting blogging fatigue, and I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Overlooking Bradley Lake
Calla at Taggart Lake
Calla and I at Cascade Falls
Brad and I hiking through boulder fields to get to Delta Lake
Tim and Brad at Delta Lake
Tim and I at Delta Lake
So scenic…just can’t get enough of these pics!

Good weather

Another ingredient for a good RVing experience is good weather. RVs do not shine when the weather is bad. You’re confined in a small space and it’s pretty taxing. Thankfully, the weather was pretty perfect for our visit to the Tetons: highs in the lower 80’s and lows in the 40’s. Tim and I are really loving these kind of temperature swings. Even though it’s hot during the day, it’s not humid…and it cools off so nicely at night that you can sleep really well. Our RV did really heat up in the mid-day sun. Almost every day, it was 96 degrees inside the RV. Remember, we are boondocking, so no air conditioning! Yes we could have gotten our generators out but we really try not to run them. Thankfully it really cooled off at night so the heat inside was really only an issue from about 3-9pm.

Taking a break on the Delta Lake Trail

Stargazing

We weren’t able to get any pictures, but we had super dark night skies at our boondocking spot. And the timing worked out perfectly: the Perseids meteor shower was happening during our stay. I have never seen shooting stars like this: huge fireballs with tails. They went across the sky for long enough that I was able to say “Wow, look over there!” and everyone in our group could turn their heads and see it for themselves. In the past, when I’ve seen shooting stars, they are always very quick and pretty faint. These were in a different category completely, and I saw 10-20 of them each night. Stunning!

This was the sunset from Calla’s bedroom

I’ll be the first to admit that full-time RV life is a rollercoaster. So many ups and downs – sometimes large swings, from a big “UP” to a big “DOWN”. Well, this was a major swing “UP” for us, and much of the credit is due to the friends and family who were with us and the new people we met. This experience really gave us some food for thought on how we miss social interaction and experiencing new things – not by ourselves, but with others. We think that’s where the magic happens. And we are thinking about how to integrate more of that magic into our lives.

Grand Teton Magic

Date Visited: August 2018

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