Travel Thursday- Sequoia National Forest

Travel Thursday-it's a thing or well, if it isn't a "thing" I'm making it one ; ) . I've been able to experience some pretty amazing places thus far (and hopefully many MANY more) and wanted to share with you some of my favorites (and maybe some advice, too). We road-tripped to California last October and it was possibly one of my most memorable experiences ever. I highly suggest traveling via car if you really want to try to see as much as possible. To make it the most affordable, we did a bunch of camping along the way and our first night of camping was in Sequoia National Forest (on our way from Death Valley National Park and to Sequoia National Park/ King's Canyon). I think this was one of my favorite campsites EVER. It could've been the season that we visited that helped keep the crowds down or excitement of the trip or the fact that we were camping right along a beautiful river, but everything about this part of our stay was amazing. 

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Our campsite was one of maybe 6 or 7 total sites in the Limestone Campground and we were less than a 1/4 mile walk down to the river (site was situated directly above the water on a small hill). 

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It was also super sandy at our site (which is a total change from normally pretty hard ground here in Colorado), which made it feel amazing! The site had a good amount of shade, but I think our favorite part was the sandy beach that awaited us down below!

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Stella, oh, and Alex's butt ; )

Stella, oh, and Alex's butt ; )

I was also already so impressed by the size of pinecones that California has! It's no wonder why it's such a big state- they need enough room to fit all of the GIANT pinecones! 

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Once we left our site, google maps took us on this super remote stretch of roads to go to Sequoia National Park (which we were basically already in, but we had to leave the park and then re-enter it to get to the main entrance)- Sherman Pass. It was a pretty terrifying road at some points and did not offer much cell service, however the views that it took us through were fantastic! I think the speedlimit for the entire pass was maybe 30 mph and I'm pretty sure it took us twice as long to go this was as it would've going back out on the highway, however I would recommend it if you're looking to make your way to Sequoia/Kings Canyon area! 

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I think the drive between the Limestone Campground and Sequoia Nat'l Park took us 3-4 hours (much longer than we thought), so I would recommend trying to get one of the sites that is located between Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park if you want to see more of the scenery. Regardless, this campground and area is stunning and I highly recommend visiting!

What's one of your favorite trips you've taken recently?

Any favorite campgrounds or National Parks?

Any recommendations on where we should travel to next?!

YELLOWSTONE - America's First National Park

I took SO MANY PHOTOS from our long weekend in Yellowstone and wanted to share them with you! It was pretty hazy in the park from all of the wildfires out west, so some of the photos didn't come out great, but this park is really beautiful and must-see. Alex and I both agree that we love the nature and all of its natural geysers in this park and camping here is also a must. This was our second time visiting Yellowstone and it was still just as marvelous as we last remembered it. It's definitely worth taking 4-5 days to fully see the park (it's really BIG) and there is a lot of driving to be done. We also highly recommend getting up early (think 5 am) to go see some of the hot springs and geysers when the morning sun is coming up and there are few people. The more crowded the park gets later in the day, the less enjoyable it really is. This was our 9th National Park that we've visited together and one of our favorites (rivals Yosemite for the top spot). 

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Resident Elk that visited our campsite! We stayed at Bridge Bay Campground and stayed at Jenny Lake during our last visit. 

Resident Elk that visited our campsite! We stayed at Bridge Bay Campground and stayed at Jenny Lake during our last visit. 

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If you haven't seen buffalo before, Yellowstone is your park to see them. They are everywhere! This one was right next to the road just munching away on some grass and could care less that we were stopped taking pictures of it. We saw maybe 5 buffalo walking along the roadways during our trip. 

If you haven't seen buffalo before, Yellowstone is your park to see them. They are everywhere! This one was right next to the road just munching away on some grass and could care less that we were stopped taking pictures of it. We saw maybe 5 buffalo walking along the roadways during our trip. 

Yellowstone Falls from Artists Point. The light was pretty terrible and it was hazy out, so the photo does NOT do this one justice. It's my favorite part of the park by far. 

Yellowstone Falls from Artists Point. The light was pretty terrible and it was hazy out, so the photo does NOT do this one justice. It's my favorite part of the park by far. 

Road Trip Recap Part 5- South Dakota Badlands & Mt. Rushmore

Well, here it is- the final recap of our trip! I seriously cannot believe that we only got back a week ago. It feels like it was so long ago (but also kinda feels like we just got back..). 

After leaving our hotel in Eastern South Dakota (I got in a 5.3 mile run by 6:30am thanks to the treadmill at the gym!), we decided to make a drive through the badlands (since we had the National Parks pass anyways) and then either decide to head home from there or go see Mt. Rushmore as well. I was totally gung-ho to see Mt. Rushmore (we were literally 30 MILES away from it and it was July 4th and all...), so you can probably guess which way we decided to drive through to get home ;)

We ended up getting to the Badlands super early before 8am (thanks to the hour time change that we hit an hour after we left our hotel AGAIN...*eye roll*), which really was perfect timing. It was just starting to get hot there and the crowds weren't too terrible yet. I'd HIGHLY recommend trying to see the park either in the off-season or getting up early to see it before the heat/crowds get too crazy. We did the same for Yellowstone and it was the only way I'd ever recommend seeing the park- there's something so magical about the early mornings if you can swing it. 

Dog's aren't allowed on any of the trails (probably a good thing because there are A LOT of rattlesnake signs and the two young boys that I was talking to said that they actually had an encounter with one the day before (their mom corroborated their story)). You are, however, welcome to travel on a lot of the voodoos, which is really cool! We didn't see much wildlife through the park, until we got ready to exit it and super happy I had my eagle-eye on!

The Badlands and Mt. Rushmore are also really close (about an hour or so), so I HIGHLY recommend planning to see both attractions if you're in the area. 

We didn't actually go into the park for Mt. Rushmore (which is fine because there was a giant line of traffic), but honestly we still got the most amazing view/photos of it (which is all I really wanted). 

Mt. Rushmore is only about 7.5 hours away from Steamboat, so isn't too far away for us to visit again (which I definitely want to do). Afterwards, we drove through parts of Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park. Unfortunately, the Wind Cave Nat'l Park was SO busy and dogs weren't allowed, so we just drove through it and couldn't get out and check out the caves (next time!). 

We arrived back in Steamboat a little after 8pm and it was a really long day (we drove for over 15 hours total...), but so worth-it (I think) to see all that we got to see! South Dakota is actually really pretty and has some pretty amazing things- we will be back!

Also I couldn't resist showing this photo that I took from my Canon of Stella curled up on the Ferry we took in Canada...how cute is she?!?