The Open Mike RV Tour West Arrives at Yellowstone

 The Open Mike RV Tour West Arrives at Yellowstone

My eyes hurt. Yellowstone National Park is so beautiful, so big, so geographically and geologically diverse that after 12 hours of hiking, photographing and standing around this park with our eyes open that we're overwhelmed.

The video above was taken right at sunset…that's why it's dark. But it was so cool I had to show it to you. One of the neatest things we've ever seen on what was a great day at our main destination out West – Yellowstone National Park.

The Open Mike RV Tour West pulled into our base campground in West Yellowstone, MT late Thursday. We were delayed by some costly repairs that left us stranded in Billings for a day and a half and we had some issues getting here.

Those issues all turned out to be Operator Error. I had switches in the wrong position, ran our house battery down and that made it appear we had refrigerator problems.

Thanks to lots of help from other FMCA members and readers of my blog, I found how to reset my inverter and get everything charging again. I felt like one of the guys from Dumb and Dumber. But the bottom line is our Roadtrek is running great and Friday, our first day in the park, we drove more than 100 miles of what's called the Lower Loop.

Covering 3,472 square miles and measuring 63 air miles north to south and 54 air miles east to west, it lies in parts of three states -Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. It's highest elevation is over 11,000 feet, though most of our travels were in the 8,000-8,300-foot range. Even so, that has a noticeable effect on you, especially if you come from the pancake flat Midwest.

The Lower Loop that we took Friday was the geothermal route. We didn't realize until we got here how active this place is. It contains more than 300 geysers and 10,000 thermal features like boiling calderas, steam vents, fumaroles, and hot springs. The park is among the most active geothermal regions in the world and experiences about 2,000 earthquakes a year. It is the largest volcanic system in North America.

We saw dozens of the geysers, including Old Faithful. There were over 1,000 people waiting for it to go off when we found our spots up front on the benches the park service has installed. About every 70 minutes it erupts, plus or minus five minutes or so and it did not disappoint.

There was a steady stream of traffic throughout the park that the workcampers I talked to who stay in Yellowstone all year and work for the park service or the vendor that handles concessions told me the summer crowds are starting to diminish as people get ready to get their kids back to school. An RV was about one out of every six vehicles we encountered.

I am not a crowd person. But Yellowstone is so vast that I never felt it was touristry, unlike the town of West Yellowstone, which reminded me of Mackinac Island, Michigan. In the park, it was very easy to get alone. We hiked a backcountry trail to Mystic Falls, surprised by how winded we were. That's because of the altitude. We followed the suggested protocol of drinking lots of water and had no serious issues, except probably moving a little slower than normal. Maybe that was also because of the signs reminding us we were in bear country and should be alert and make a lot of noise and be ready with our bear spray. Maybe it was because, at $40 a can, I decided not to buy bear spray.

Jennifer saw that pricetag and when asked if we should get it she said, “if a bear gets us, it's meant to be.” She's pragmatic, that Jennifer.

We were so glad we had our Roadtrek. There were long lines at the public bathrooms. We travel with our own bathroom.

We also got into places larger motorhomes and RVs can't. Our RS Adventurous fit in regular parking spots.

When we woke up in West Yellowstone, it was 30 degrees. So, setting out,  we dressed in warm clothes.

By noon, the temperature was in the upper 70's and that bright mountain sun would have made us way too hot to enjoy the day with the long pants and sweatshirts we began with. Since we have all our clothes with us in the Roadtrek, we changed to shorts right in the park.

We also found a secluded picnic spot off the main loop road that a a larger RV couldn't navigate. We parked in the shade of a ]odgepole pine forest and snuck in a delightful 20 minute power nap.

The wildlife is, like Yellowstone, big and bold. We saw and photographed Elk and bison.

We'll hit the Upper Loop next. Meantime, here's an assortment of our pictures from Friday.

The Open Mike RV Tour West Arrives at Yellowstone 1
Old Faithful


The Open Mike RV Tour West Arrives at Yellowstone 2
Mike photographing a bull elk



The Open Mike RV Tour West Arrives at Yellowstone 3
One of the shots Mike got
The Open Mike RV Tour West Arrives at Yellowstone 4
Jennifer photographing one of the geysers


The Open Mike RV Tour West Arrives at Yellowstone 5
The bison are as big as a car and walk right out in front of them
The Open Mike RV Tour West Arrives at Yellowstone 6
This herd of bison created a mile long traffic jam
The Open Mike RV Tour West Arrives at Yellowstone 7
The beautiful blue water is boiling. A dozen people have died from being scaled by pools like this at Yellowstone and many more badly injured.The colors are amazing.
The Open Mike RV Tour West Arrives at Yellowstone 8
This caldron is called Saphire Caldron


The Open Mike RV Tour West Arrives at Yellowstone 9
We hiked in to Mystic Falls along a backcountry trail


The Open Mike RV Tour West Arrives at Yellowstone 10
We found a secluded picnic spot just big enough for the RoadtrekThe Open Mike RV Tour West Arrives at Yellowstone 11


Mike Wendland

Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.


  • Great pictures!!! Love the shot of the bison causing the traffic jam. also glad to your mechanical problems are resolved.
    Looking forward to the next posting!

  • Hi Mike and Jennifer, Glad you are having such a great experience in Yellowstone. The photos are very good and show just some of the diversity of that fabulous park. Also enjoyed your comments about how traveling in the Roadtrek gives you the flexibility to change outfits as the day warms, avoid public restroom lines, and explore out-of-the-way places where only the Roadtrek can be parked.
    Seems like you are gaining valuable experience in how to have fun on the road even when mechanical isues arise. Keep the photos and descriptive posts coming.

  • It was two years ago that a guy (who to this day I can’t remember his name) I worked with doing the US Census that told me about Roadtrek. While your pictures are awesome, (I’m so glad you continued on your trip) what impressed me was the ability to move around and park and change clothes and use the bathroom they way I hear the advantages of a Roadtrek should be.
    I’m looking forward to hearing more about your trip and how your Roadtrek is giving you a advantage over the Type A and C Motorhomes!
    And again, the pictures are just beautiful.
    Good night!

  • Thanks for the updates Mike. Enjoying your reads. I know how Jennifer feels about those buffalo’s. When we were in Yellowstone 2010, a herd of buffalo was running down the road right towards our RT. There was traffic in both lanes. I was crawling up the back of the seat. Both our mouths were open and the look of fear on our face. The day before, a park ranger told us a story how a buffalo killed someone and did major damage to a car, when it felt threaten. Ran right over the top of the car. Fortunately, the guy in the other lane stopped, we stopped, and this herd went around our RT. You could have touched them from inside of the RT. Our little dog was just shaking. She didn’t know what was going on but could smell them. After that, I had a lot of respect for them.

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