Small House Big World


Summer 2015 Route: First Drafts and Calculations

Kelly Reid • December 2, 2014

Our absolute last day in Chicago is April 30th.  From there, we have 6 weeks until we aim to be at Castle Grenhjeim (also known as Anna’s family’s cabin in Cass Lake, Minnesota).  We’ll probably spend about 2 weeks there before beginning our 4 month summer excursion out west.

Based on a loose understanding of the climate and what I’ve seen others do, we should probably wrap up whatever we’re doing in the Pacific Northwest by Halloween.  As winter encroaches, we’ll head south along one of a number of possible routes.

I’ve used Nina’s write-up from WheelingIt.US to understand how people pace themselves.  It seems like a week at each location is the sweet spot.  Based on this, we think we can comfortably cover 2000-3000 miles in the months of July, Aug, Sept and Oct.  We have about 10 stops we want to make, including 5 national parks and 4 cities in the Pacific Northwest.  We’d like to avoid driving for more than 4 hours a day, or 200 miles, so we can leave our site after breakfast and be settled in at our destination in time for lunch.

I love the idea of boondocking as often as possible, and staying at cheap campsites otherwise.  Campsite fees can be really expensive.  WheelingIt has another great resource about this.

Route Options, July – October

The Great Plains, Rockies, and Pacific Northwest.

Note: Olympic Nat’l Park is included in the “Seattle” destination stop for time and planning purposes, and is not being counted as one of the “additional” parks along the route.

Direct to Seattle

1500 Miles (7-10 travel days)

Parks: Glacier or Yellowstone


Canadian Parks to Seattle

2100 Miles (10-15 travel days)

Parks: Glacier, Banff, Jasper


American National Parks

2500 miles (12-17 Travel Days)

Parks: Yellowstone, Glacier



3000 Miles (15-20 Travel Days)

Parks: Yellowstone, Glacier, Banff, Jasper

Stops: 8  (4 parks, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Bend)

This is the ultimate.  We can see 5 national parks and 4 cities while spending about a week at each destination.  The longest single leg is the ~1000 miles from Minnesota to Yellowstone.    It might be nice to find cheap / free overnight parking for 5-7 days across the northern plains and do this leg as its own week, rather than trying to log 500 miles a day and do it in 48 hours. ( 1 week, of which 7 are leisurely travel days).

The next leg is between Yellowstone and Glacier Parks, about 400 miles.  There are plenty of places worth seeing between the 2, so splitting this into at least 2 travel days seems fine.  (1 week at Yellowstone, 1 week at Glacier, plus 2 travel days)

Crossing into Canada, it’s about 350 miles to Banff, with very little in between.   Can either do a long haul and have more time in the park, or durdle for a few days and boondock for fun. (1 week at Banff, plus 2 travel days)

Jasper is under 200 miles from Banff, so we can simply pick up camp after breakfast and settle in before dinner. (1 week at Jasper, plus 1 travel day)

It’s 500 miles from Jasper to Vancouver, with a smattering of smaller parks in between.  Could do this as a single overnight, or stretch it into a few days. (1 week in Vancouver, plus 3 travel days)

The final leg of the summer trip stretches 450 miles from Vancouver through WA and Portland, all the way to Bend.   Each of these cities is an afternoon’s drive from one another, so we have a lot of flexibility.  We must budget time for Olympic Nat’l Park in Seattle, to be sure. (1 week each in Seattle, Olympic Nat’l Park, Portland, and Bend, plus 3-5 travel days).

Total: 9 destinations, 1 full week at each. 1 “road trip week” across the northern plains plus 13 travel days.  Approx. $1000 in RV fuel ( $2.75 – $3.50 / gal @ 10 mpg over 3k miles ), not including fuel for the Honda when we go on errands / exploring.


Route Options for Fall / Winter 2015 TBD much, much later…

Kelly Reid • December 2, 2014

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  1. Lorraine February 20, 2015 - 2:45 am Reply

    You MUST do the Canadian Rockies! The Canadian side of the Rockies far surpass the American side – you’ll see when you get there. But, I might add that “350 miles to Banff with very little in between” might be a big surprise to you 🙂 There is a lot in between. I assume you will be visiting Glacier National Park. The Canadian side (Waterton National Park) is small by comparison, but the two Country’s Rotary groups got together in the 1930s and they renamed it Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. The two sides (Montana and Alberta) co-manage the park. Not far from Waterton, near Fort McLeod, Alberta, is a place called Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump. Very interesting history going back 6000 years or more. Your route appears to go up through British Columbia. If you did go to Head Smashed In, and then into British Columbia, you can go from Cranbrook through Fairmont Hot Springs to Golden, then to Banff. What would be more exciting, it to go a little farther West to Creston, up Hwy 3A to the little free ferry across the Kootenay Lake and on to Revelstoke. There are Provincial Campgrounds in this area. Google BC Provincial Campgrounds. You will find BC is HUGE – you can fit Texas and Wyoming inside BC with a little muffin top 😉 Banff is touristy – you may not need a whole week. The Icefield Parkway to Jasper is awesome. If you came south toward Vancouver BC, via Kelowna/Penticton/Osoyoos, you would find that this area of BC is desert – yup, desert! And wine country – over 100 wineries. Good luck trying to find a place to boondock other than Walmart. There are lots of free places to camp, but they are usually out in forestry areas along gravel logging roads, and you kind of have to know where. This will be a good year for Americans to visit Canada because our dollar is low, making it more affordable. Gas & diesel are about $1 more per gallon (sold by litre) but we have a lot of taxes that fund our infrastructure and health care system. Canada has 4 million people less than the State of CA, so stuff costs more. Gentle reminder – leave your guns someplace, or check the Canada Border Services website for the paperwork necessary to transport guns with you, and which are allowed. Also, check the Canadian and US border websites for what foods you can and can’t take across each border. For example, you can’t take avocado and cucumber, into Canada and you can’t take fresh meat, dairy, produce into the USA. If you have pets, make sure they have their shots and papers. Hope this helps – enjoy your travels 🙂

    • Anna Edgren February 20, 2015 - 8:52 am Reply

      Wow thanks for all the advice! A friend of mine also recommended the Canadian Rockies, so we will definitely look into that. Will need to revisit this post when we are closer to that area. Thanks for taking the time to write this up!

  2. Marilee Downing February 22, 2015 - 12:24 am Reply

    Hi. I am a friend of your grandmother, Jane Reid. I arrived at your site here through her Facebook site. My husband Howard and I have been full timing for 11 + years. I enjoyed reading about your plans and your future adventures. If there is ever any thing I can help you with or answer any questions please do not hesitate to email me and ask. Would be glad to try to help anytime. I do not know if you are aware of Escapees Club. This club is a support club for RVers, whether you are full time or part time. There is a lot of information that any RV should find helpful on their site at They also have a forum to ask questions or just read what others have asked and answered. You mention about campsites and expenses. Please consider joining Passport America. It is a 50% off camp club that RV parks participate in by offering half price camping, but many do have restrictions. The price is $44 for a years membership. If you only stayed 3-4 nights a year at a Passport park, you have paid for your membership. I would say that 80% of the parks we stay at are Passport, which is a huge savings. Many parks offer unadvertised discounts for longer than nightly stays. Usually 1 night (some 2 nights) free for staying 6 days. Other parks offer a monthly rate of stay 3 weeks get the 4th week free. We have stayed at a few parks that monthly rate is not much more than a weeks stay so be sure to ask for all prices. Happy trails to you both and hope you like and enjoy the full time RV life as well as we do.

    • Anna Edgren February 24, 2015 - 9:46 am Reply

      Hi Marilee, we will definitely be checking out Passport America, sounds like a deal! Since you’ve been doing this for a while, is there any place that you found to be your absolute favorite? And where are you right now? Thanks for the message!

    • Kelly Reid February 26, 2015 - 10:40 am Reply

      Thanks for the suggestions! Were looking at Escapees, Passport America and Thousand Trails. I hope to have a better idea of which to go with soon.

  3. Marilee Downing February 22, 2015 - 12:35 am Reply

    Hi, Me again. It appears by your site here that you are interested in National Parks. There is a small book that you could order on line that lists all national parks. Another small book you might find helpful and interesting is the Corp of Engineering Parks book. All Corp of Engineering Parks are on water, well maintained, some sites have full hook-ups, but all we have been to have water and elec. with a dump station. Camping prices are reasonable. IF you are 62 or older, or if not when you are, make sure you get your Golden Age Passport (maybe the name has changed) Ours was $10 but I believe the price has gone up. This will get you into many National Monuments, National Parks free to you and all in your vehicle. Also camping fees at a Corp of Engineering parks are 50% off and at all National Camping sites that are not concessionary run.

  4. Marilee Downing February 22, 2015 - 12:42 am Reply

    I just checked on the Golden Age Pass. Go to and scowl down to Senior Age and it is still only $10 for lifetime pass for 62 and older. Another one is offered for those younger. Sorry if I am being a pest. I am just trying to pass on information to you that you might not be aware of.

    • Anna Edgren February 24, 2015 - 9:44 am Reply

      Marilee – Thank you so much for all of the information! It is much appreciated. So nice to hear that you have been doing this for a while and enjoying it, it is great to get recommendations from a pro, and also encouraging that you have been able to make it work so well. Thanks for reaching out.

    • Kelly Reid February 25, 2015 - 3:11 pm Reply

      Any info is good info at this stage!

      • Cait Morton April 26, 2015 - 7:39 pm Reply

        You probably already know this, but the National Parks and Forests have restrictions on pets:
        It is always best to check with the parks you are planning to visit for specific information and restricitions – superintendent and manager have the discretion to further restrict areas open to pets, like trails, buildings, and campgrounds.

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