Rocky Mountain States


New member
Four weeks in the VW micro

how time flies when you are in a coma....and spending five weeks in the veedub, 5,500 miles of mountain, desert, more mountians and desert, kind of makes one appreciate the mountains....and desert. I had left Vancouver in the last week of September, just after my 50th birthday with the knowledge that I was not going to have to do anything more than sightsee for a very long time..long in the terminoligy of a working stiff.

I had a self-described photo project to do at a rest area in Eastern Oregon, on what is left of the Oregon Trail. This is a highway rest stop, Weatherby, in what is known as Burnt Canyon, about 50 miles east of Baker City. While part Oregon Trail in the late 1800's and early 1900's, Burnt Canyon was a miserable piece of work..taking days to traverse the river at the foot of the hills and then to have to grind their way back up the other side. Overturned wagons, teams of oxen dragged and household goods scattered. Not a place that one mentions with fondness. And yet, the records show that more than 300,00 people came over that trail in the forty years of it's existance, heading for the west from St. Louis. I had been through the rest area in years past and had suddenly thought of the neatness of that rest stop still being used by travellors. I recieved permission from Oregon D.O.T. and spent 2 full days there, photographing people and recording their story...where they were going. and why's.

So...down the road and feeling bored, I am on my way east to the western part of Nebraska for a birthday party and cake,'s good cake....anyway, I hang a fast left off one Interstate onto another and wind up in a terrible wind storm that followed me for three you know how Interstates came to be? At the outbreak of the second world war, there was not a proper road system that crossed the U.S., allowing for fast convying of war material in case of an they built the Interstate's. Anyway...I fought wind all through Wyoming...pushed me right past Jackson Hole...what a sad place, for me. I have read so much about this place, who lived there and wrote there and I wanted it to be just them and me...wrongo...the whole world is well represented there. All the big clothing names, coffee names, name names....just a name place instead of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I stopped to get gas and was be told that I had to go to a 'proper' RV place....something I don't do.....bye bye Jackson Hole.

Alliance, Nebraska....truly the midwestern heartland of the U.S. Leftover from the 50's...rush hour is a two car line-up at the pump. eatery that was hot in the 60's and still is. Staff are still wearing the long outfit with bobby sox and this is for real, not a Jackson Hole 'name' place. Just real nice people. One of those places where people don't lock the doors and everyone knows everyone. The stockcar track oval over on the east part of town and football and basketball at the highschool rules...all the local radio stations do play-by-play's...that's all there is on the am dial, at night in the US in the fall. This is harvest time for sugar beets and the tractors and trucks go all day and night. If not sugar beets, then it's corn or's farm country. Big people, big hearts..and Carhenge...... it out on the web....draws people from a project, created an exact replica of Stonehenge..using cars. Too funny.....

I am picking up a date in Denver, flying from Vancouver. Someone to keep me warm on those cold nights...that and and spend 10 days tripping about the Moab and Lake Powell area. We motor over to Hite Marina on Lake Powell, not thinking that if we didn't buy some wine in Moab, we weren't going to have any. This is Utah...Morman, wineless and whining, we have plans to spend 6 days or so kayaking on Lake Powell. A mighty wind has come up and it's even raining...and after waiting a couple of days at Farely Canyon, we reshape the big plan and head a bit further south....over the Mokee Dugway and down into the Valley of the Gods...where we..ok ok...' I ' got stuck and needed a four wheel to get us out. We overnighted at the Goosenecks in southern day went over to Chinle, in Arizona, on the Navajo Reserve, next to Canyon de chille...(de shay)....spiritual home of the Navajo, breathtaking views from the canyon rim and open to exploration, tho you have to hire a guide or go with the tourist herds. Never been?....go.

We have trekked back to Lake Powell, unload and set up the kayak once again at Farely Canyon and wind. A fabulous day...and we are off for three days. We have some good laughs and a glorious camp at White Canyon...just around the corner..this is an inside wanna know, write wine, tho....the area's we have been in?..dry...however, we are about to make up for that. I find too, that all the info that I have found for Lake Powell is geared towards power boating. Kayaking is not a big thing here and there are some hazards that are not mentioned. One of them being the wind...this is a huge lake, actually a resevoir...more than 180 miles long and very narrow, with many sections of the shore inaccessible. It is easy to find yourself on the lake and no place to get off in the event of weather....and that happens more than I had thought. Talking to people that use the water a is both beautiful and really ugly, at times. The wind can be just wild and there have been more than a couple houseboats lost over the years. Also, we find that just with the level of the water very low at this time of year, many of the nice looking beaches are in fact major mud/clay banks. This takes some of the fun out of stopping for lunch and presents challenges for setting camp. We made out fine, but people need to be made more aware than are, presently.

ahhhhhhh...we make it to the state likker store in Moab, Utah...get two reds, zip across the street for another reward, a night in a motel. Hot running water, actual bed, what's this switch one the wall?...LIGHTS!!!......out for a great burger and beer at Eddie McStiff's....and back for a swim in the pool and hotub...and collapse. Till 2:40 in the bloody morning, when the smoke alarm on the 14 foot vaulted cieling decides it needs a new battery...screeeepp.......screeeeep.....every three minutes. No ladder in the building, clerk says we can sleep next a suite, yet...and in the morning, in discussion with supervisor person, who is so very condesending....and finally offers to take fourteen dollars off the, I am impressed? oh...the Gonzo Inn Motel...nice enough, but not real caring.

My kayaking partner splits for Denver on a Greyhound out of Green River, Utah, saving me a three day drive..thank you, Sandra, thank you. She flies back to Vancouver and I remain in Moab...but not at the Gonzo, in the veedub, here and there. Taking lots of magic pictures of canyons and walls of red slickrock. of the mountain bike world....and that really scary rock climbing stuff...where they go straight up, using their fingers?..(shudder).

It's report says rain and maybe some snow for the weekend....I scramble for the highway north, grinding out of Moab, through Green River, end of one highway, begin another...maybe I should go to Vegas?...nahh....turn right towards Salt Lake City. Funny thing happens here, as I drive through in the late am rush..the US Army has just unleased a 'harmless' gas over the city...testing it's ability to track gases in case of a terrorist attack during the Winter Olympics...well, ****....I have done SOOO much to look after my health..and now I am under a gas cloud....of course, it's harmless....right......I hate Salt Lake City.

There's a hot spring on the Oregon/Idaho border, just outside of I decide to spend a Saturday there, rather than drive. Good idea....and the following couple of days I meander towards the west...Burns, Bend and finally the home of, in Eugene, Oregon. I had written ahead and the sidewalk had been swept...the veedub was parked right in the middle of the parking area, as per instructions. Introductions made....vw inspected, and soon after...beers. The lads put up with me for a couple of days, we ate, had some beer and wine.... trolled the U of O campus. I was awarded the coveted hat and have to LEAVE before they give it to you. I wonder if there is a message there?

I do some visiting in Seattle and fianlly, four weeks and 4 days later, I cross back into Canada. Home.

Gary Haupt

[ 07-08-2001: Message edited by: Capt. Mike ]

A. Cooper

New member
Westy travelers interested in visiting Glacier National Park may want to check out the travelogue and photos of our recent visit there:

The highlights of our two-week trip to Glacier include Fort Peck Dam, Great Falls, Fort Benton, and a day spent along the Missouri Breaks Backcountry Scenic Byway. We also visited several points along the Lewis & Clark trail, this being the bicentennial of their famous expedition.

Opting to avoid the hectic pace and dull scenery of the interstate, we instead drove US Route 2, following the old Great Northern railroad from Duluth, all the way to the gates of Glacier. This northernmost transcontinental road varies from twisty two-lane asphalt to wide superslab four-lane, but with a lot less traffic and more small-town prairie charm. As an added bonus, we had fewer Freightliners tailgating us when the stiff Great Plains headwinds began to blow.

September and early October is a great season to travel there: smaller crowds meant lighter traffic, more camping choices, and ample vacancies in the historic National Park lodges. Temperatures ranged from daytime highs in the low 80's to nighttime lows around 40. Some campgrounds close for the season, partly or entirely, in mid- or late October, so check ahead.

Unlike our trip to the American Southwest in 2002, we had no mechanical troubles (well, except for nearly running out of fuel once, and trying to keep the campground mice from shimmying in through our air ducts), and the old diesel dependably pushed us over the Continental Divide and back again. You know it's a good trip when you don't have to so much as open the engine lid even once!


New member
I wanted to toss out as a side destination, to places like Glacier National Park, that of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the Badlands of North Dakota. I know what you're thinking -- North Dakota! For vacation! But it's very nice. Eastern North Dakota is classic endless farm field. Western North Dakota has a western look all its own.

It is right off of Interstate 94 in a picturesque area of the country most people don't bother with. Camping at the National Park is usually wide open because they don't have showers or electricity. (Flush toilets, yes.) The campground is right near the river around the only stand of trees for miles. A large male buffalo sauntered into our campsite.

For birders, this is the easiest place on earth to see a variety of species. Because the trees -- mostly large cottonwoods -- are in the campground the birds come to you. In our trip from Minneapolis to Theodore Roosevelt, we recorded 52 species. Many of those we saw sitting in a lawn chair, drinking a beer, with a pair of binoculars and a bird book in our lap.

We were there in June after three days of rain and the northern desert came alive -- cactus flowers everywhere.

The local town, which is right outside the park, is Medora. I thought it was a bit of tourist trap, but everyone else seemed to love it. Prices are cheapish in the stores and the restaurants.


New member
travel tips?

Greetings from Portland,
I have been searching the web to try and get more information on mountain passes and grades. We are planning to take our 82 Westfalia from Portland, Or, to the East Coast, down the East Coast to Florida and across the southern states with a stop to visit the Grandkids in Nevada before we swing north back home. I am using the “Road Trip USA” book as a guide.
Now the question for the members. I was planning on crossing into Wyoming using the west entrance of Yellowstone in late April. I have heard concerns about possible closed roads due to snow pack. Anybody have experience at this time of year? The other concerns I have is avoiding steep grades along the route. We don’t mind going low and slow, but want to keep the engine load as manageable as possible. Any help and tips would be appreciated. Thanks, Dan

Capt. Mike

Topo maps are available from dozens of sources in hard copy and in CD. Google "Topo Maps" and you'll get dozens of resources. I have DeLorme's Topo USA set and it is satisfactory. US Geological Survey, is probably the best as it produces most of the maps. Calculating rough grade is relatively easy with a topo map.


New member
The Rocky Mountains, often called the Rockies, are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than 4,800 kilometers (3,000 miles) from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in Canada, to New Mexico, in the United States. The range's highest peak is Mount Elbert in Colorado at 14,440 feet (4,401 meters) above sea level. Though part of North America's Pacific Cordillera, the Rockies are distinct from the Pacific Coast Ranges, which are located immediately adjacent to the Pacific coast.

The eastern edge of the Rockies rises impressively above the Interior Plains of central North America, including the Front Range which runs from northern New Mexico to northern Colorado, the Wind River Range and Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming, the Bridger Mountains and the Rocky Mountain Front of Montana, and the Clark Range of Alberta. In Canada geographers define three main groups of ranges: the Continental Ranges, Hart Ranges and Muskwa Ranges (the latter two flank the Peace River, the only river to pierce the Rockies, and are collectively referred to as the Northern Rockies). Mount Robson in British Columbia, at 3,954 meters (12,972 ft), is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.

The western edge of the Rockies includes subranges such as the Wasatch near Salt Lake City and the Bitterroots along the Idaho-Montana border. The Great Basin and Columbia River Plateau separate these subranges from distinct ranges further to the west, most prominent among which are the Sierra Nevada, Cascade Range and Coast Mountains. The Rockies do not extend into the Yukon or Alaska, or into central British Columbia, where the Rocky Mountain System (but not the Rocky Mountains) includes the Columbia Mountains, the southward extension of which is considered part of the Rockies in the United States. The Rocky Mountain System within the United States is a United States physiographic region.