We spent three nights in Jackson, WY. We love Jackson. If you are RVing, stay at the Virginian RV park. There is a hotel attached and you can use the pool and spa too. Jackson’s bike paths are fabulous. There are miles and miles of paved paths and many miles unpaved for the mountain bike enthusiast. This would be an awesome place to train for long rides like the STP (Seattle to Portland). I want to be prepared for the STP when we get back to the pacific northwest in June, 2017. It’s one of those things on my bucket list for no other reason than I want to meet the challenge. I guess you could call this one a quest.
There are hills on all the rides, some of them super steep and some pretty tame. We rode about 13 miles one day on a loop. Next time we visit we will get the map of all the paved trails. It also appears the city is expanding the paths. It’s great because it keeps us out of traffic! If you love cycling, this is a must stay place.
Next stop, Thermopolis,WY for three nights at the Eagle RV Park. Thermopolis is home to the largest mineral hot spring in the world. We went to the state bath house to soak in the water. It feels really awesome and all our aches and pains just disappeared. It would be a great place to live, if it didn’t snow. It would be lovely to soak everyday!
The state bath house is free. Yep, free. They ask you limit your soak to 20 minutes. The indoor and outdoor pools are the spring. The water is flushed every 48 hours. There is a bit of a sulpher smell; not in an annoying way. Wierdly, I kind of like the smell. You might too.
Thermopolis is also home to the Wind River Canyon. There is one outfit you can use to ride the white water on the Wind River. Why? The river is on tribal lands and the owner of the rafting company is a tribal council member. They are the only ones who can guide people on the river. They provide rafting and fishing tours. It’s a fly fishing mecca.
We rafted the lower river, but you can do a whole day where rafting the upper portion and lunch is included. We rafted late in the season so the water was pretty low; that doesn’t mean we didn’t get wet. We would like to do it again closer to opening day (Memorial Day weekend) to get a taste of high water rafting in the canyon.
From Thermopolis we stopped in Buffalo for one night on the way to Deadwood, ND. Deadwood is the quintesessential western town. It’s awesome. There are re-enactments of gunfights in the street. A 20 minute treat every now and then. Deadwood is home to legends like Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane. Wyatt Earp was here for a while too. Deadwood offers substantial history of the settling of the west. To make the most of our brief stay, our first stop was to take a trolly tour of the town. This helped us decide what areas to visit because our time was limited.
We toured of the Broken Boot mine and learned many historical facts about mining in the area. The cool part about this tour is you can pick up rocks along the way. They even provide plastic baggies for that purpose as you begin your tour. I won’t go into detail so as not to spoil your visit. I will say I was shocked at the amount of graphite in the mine. The actual amount is unknown but I would imagine you could make millions of pencils with the graphite from this one mine.
We visited the Theodore Roosevelt Friendship Tower, built in 1919. It’s an awesome memorial to friendship. It is worth the drive and the walk to see the site. If you go while the weather is mild, take a box lunch and spend some time. There are awesome views and also walking paths in the area for further exploration.
If you do nothing else in Deadwood, you must visit the Adams House Museum. It is an absolutely stunning home built in 1892 the home has been lived in by three families. The builder who sold it to his son who sold it to the Adams family (I know, the tune is going through my head too). Mr. and Mrs. Adams spent about seven years in the home before he passed away. She didn’t care for Deadwood so she locked up the home, leaving everything behind. The furnishings and such were essentially untouched for 51 years. Upon her death, the home was sold to the city of Deadwood and with a bit of work made habitable for tourists. This is probably one of the most beautiful homes I’ve ever toured and I love to tour old homes. Just ask my husband, I’ll tour a shack if it has some historical value.
From Deadwood we headed to Medora, ND. We stayed just outside the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The town is essentially non-existent. There are restaurants and specialty shops. There is a boot shop that has one of the most extensive inventories of women’s western boots I’ve seen. I bought my boots there and would recommend you stop in if you are in the market. They don’t have an official website but you can visit the Medora Boot and Western Wear store on Facebook.
A word of caution, we stayed four nights in Medora, there are are no grocery stores. The nearest grocery store is about 30 miles away. Make sure you have provisions for your stay if you are camping. You won’t be able to purchase any supplies while you are in the area. The Medora area map lists three grocery stores; they are at various campgrounds in the area. If you’ve been to a campground grocery store then you know the limited availability. It’s pretty much s’mores stuff, milk, beer, and bread.
On the way to Bismark you is one of the coolest things we’ve encountered so far. The Enchanted Highway. There are giant metal sculptures along a 30 mile stretch of road. We would recommend you drop your car (if you are towing) and leave your coach at the first site so you can cover the ground a little easier. The road is pretty rough so this will help avoid the shake rattle and roll we all know about from rough roads. It’s out and back, reconnect your car, and be on your way. We didn’t know it was here so we only saw a couple of the sculptures. If we are in the area again, we would definitely drive the whole 30 miles.
Next stop Bismark, ND at the KOA. Crossing the mighty Missouri River, you’ve now re-entered the land of retail stores. Everything is available from groceries to fast food. We spent two nights and ran errands replenishing our depleated supplies. We took the opportunity to catch up on laundry, wash the outside windows and deep clean the bathroom. We stayed two nights and spent the second afternoon kicked back at the pool.
We hit a great streak of weather in North Dakota, at least to date. The sun has been shining and the wind just a breeze. Most people we’ve talked to don’t like it here because the wind blows “all the time.” I don’t like wind so I’m happy the weather is a bit out of the ordinary.
By the way, while we were traveling in some of these areas the technology capabilities are limited. Be prepared to unplug for a bit!
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See ya on the pavement!