Family Road Trip to Yellowstone via Bronco Turns into Quite an Adventure

bsmith922
Jun 22, 2022

Rank III

Jun 22, 2022

Last fall, my wife and I planned on taking our kids (ages 10 and 7) on a Yellowstone trip, leaving from our home in Southern California. At the time that we planned the trip, we assumed that we’d have my 2021 Bronco Badlands by then, and I was fortunately enough to have it delivered on January 5th (I was a day 1 reservation). However, for the trip, my wife really wanted to take our Explorer ST since it’s a smoother, quieter ride, and it’s a bit larger inside. Fortunately, I was able to persuade her that we should take my Bronco and that it would be roomy enough and that it would end up being a comfortable ride. We figured the trip would be about 2,600 miles and about 40 hours in the Bronco, so it would be a great test of how comfortable (or not) it would be on such a long road trip.

So we set off for our trip to Yellowstone on June 11th, noting that there were some thunderstorms showing in the forecast, but we had planned to first stop for a day and night in Las Vegas, and then a day and night in Park City, Utah. On Monday, the 13th, we made the long trek from Park City to West Yellowstone, Montana. As we arrived, there was no rain at the moment, but there was a lot of commotion near the road to the entrance to Yellowstone Park. At about that time, we receive a text form a friend about flooding and roads being washed out. We got out and started talking to people and learned about all of the flooding and damage, particularly in the northern portion of the park. We knew immediately that the park would be closed for at least the next 2 days, so we would potentially be “stuck” in West Yellowstone with "nothing" to do for at least 2 days, or maybe longer.

So we had to scramble to decide what to do. We decided to make a leap, pack our things, and leave West Yellowstone to go see Mount Rushmore. From West Yellowstone to Mount Rushmore alone is about 580 miles and 9 hours, a huge addition to our trip that was originally unplanned, and that was just travel in one direction; we’d eventually have to make our way back south and west after a few days…

The morning of the 14th, we woke up to snowy conditions on our way out of town. We were lucky that the main roads and highways in the area were still intact and very safe. We did unfortunately see a few homes with water up to their windows in the Gardiner, MT area. We feel so bad for the people that were affected by what we've been told is a once-in-a-100-year storm.

IMG_4544.JPG

IMG_1960.JPG


We eventually made it to Mount Rushmore the afternoon of Tuesday, June 14th, after 9 or so hours. Mount Rushmore was a great experience! The Bronco had been doing great so far, and everyone was comfortable, and it handled really well on the highway.

IMG_4599.JPG

IMG_4577.JPG

After Mount Rushmore, we still had to figure out how to then spend the rest of our time in South Dakota. We did some Google searching, and my wife reached out to a friend who had grown up in SD, and all signs pointed us to taking my Bronco Badlands to BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK!!! I couldn’t have been more excited (and my wife couldn’t have been more annoyed by my excitement)!

Badlands National Park is an amazing sight to see, and I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face as I was driving through the park and stopping at every chance that I could to get a picture of my Badlands at its namesake park! I didn’t research (or do) any off-roading options at or around Badlands because I didn’t bring any recovery gear on our trip, and I was solo with just my family and didn’t want to take any chances when so far away from home. In any case, it was still a great experience!

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IMG_4662.JPG

IMG_4695.JPG

IMG_4665.JPG

We made some other stops in SD (Crazy Horse Mountain, Custer State Park, and the Black Hills Caverns) before finding our way to Hot Springs, SD to stay overnight in a cool little cabin. On the morning of Thursday, June 16th, it was time to start heading west, to get back on track with our original itinerary. We had originally planned to go through the southern-most portions of Yellowstone that day and to then drive through Grand Tetons National Park. From Yellowstone, that would have been an easy hour-long drive or so, but from Hot Springs, SD, it was about 450 miles and over 7 hours.

IMG_4767.JPG

We drove through the Tetons, and they were quite impressive (and I even got to annoy my wife some more by taking some photos of my Bronco in front of the Tetons)! We then made our way down to Jackson, WY for the night.

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IMG_4858.JPG

After Jackson, WY, on Friday morning it was on to Tropic, Utah, near Bryce Canyon. This leg of our journey was about 520 miles and 8 hours long. Again, the Bronco performed well on this long haul and there were no complaints about its comfort, ride, and handling. On Saturday, the 18th, we drove into Bryce Canyon National Park and enjoyed the amazing views. Much like Badlands, the rock formations and colorings we like something from a Star Wars movie. It’s truly amazing what water, ice, wind and time to do to a natural landscape. I didn’t get many pics of my Bronco here, but I did still snag one.

IMG_4911.JPG

IMG_4960.JPG

After a picnic lunch (which was easy to set up using the tailgate table accessory) we left Bryce Canyon, we did some light off-roading on a trail that leads to Willis Creek Slot Canyon. At least I finally got to go off-roading on our trip, even though it was nothing challenging. It was still fun and the Bronco did great through the sand, gravel, and ruts! My wife and I had always wanted to walk through a slot canyon and this one did not disappoint! When we got back to our AirBnB, I rinsed off my baby and we prepped for our long ride home.

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Finally, on Father’s Day, June 19th, we drove from Tropic to home, another 489 miles and about an 8 hour drive. We stopped in Vegas for some lunch at In-n-Out, since it had been about 2 weeks since we had eaten at one of our SoCal favorites. After fighting through the infamous home-bound Vegas traffic, we finally made it home that afternoon, and of course the first thing I did after unpacking was to take my Bronco to the car wash.

It was quite an adventure and even though we missed out on our main goal of visiting Yellowstone National Park, we still found lots of other things to do and explore. The big bonus to me was being able to drive my Badlands through Badlands. Plus, now we have an excuse to take another similar trip in a year or two, when we feel that things will be settled down in Yellowstone and we can finally get to see all that it has to offer (and I can take a million pics of my Bronco there as well)!

  • 2021 Bronco Badlands
  • Non-Sasquatch
  • 2.7 L, 10 Speed Auto
  • Lux Package
  • MGV Seats / Washout Floors
  • MIC Top

  • States Travelled: CA, NV, AZ, UT, ID, MT, WY, SD
  • Total Trip Miles: 3,617.8 (includes driving through parks like Badlands, Bryce, etc.)
  • Total Trip Driving Time: 61:06:06 (includes driving through parks and some idling time here and there)
  • Total Trip MPG: 18.0 (I have a lead foot and generally drive at least 10% over the posted speed limit, lol, and I definitely took advantage of the 80 MPH Speed Limit in many of the states that we visited.)

IMG_5168.JPG

The Bronco did really well on the trip and my wife even admitted that I was right to push for us taking that vehicle on our trip. I found the seats to be very comfortable on the long legs of our trip, even more so than on the 2018 F-150 that I traded in for the Bronco. The 2.7 L provided plenty of power uphill and when passing. The transmission never seemed to wander for the right gear at any point, and there was plenty of pep and response when I punched it several times. The Bronco is a great road trip vehicle, and I can’t wait for future trips like the one that we just got back from!
ChuckO, Laura and 12 others

Rank VI

Jun 22, 2022

#1
Excellent road trip photos. I'm impressed you were able to do 3.6K miles with kids. When I had kids, 3.6 hours and I was at my wits end with the kids
Bronco 202?, Deano Bronc and 2 others

Rank VI

Jun 22, 2022

#2
Wow, sounds and looks like you and your family had a blast! However, I couldn't stand my own company for 60+ hours yet alone my crazy kiddos that would be in the back as they are a lot like their dad.
Deano Bronc, bsmith922
Moderator

Occasionally Grumpy

Jun 22, 2022

#3
Last fall, my wife and I planned on taking our kids (ages 10 and 7) on a Yellowstone trip, leaving from our home in Southern California. At the time that we planned the trip, we assumed that we’d have my 2021 Bronco Badlands by then, and I was fortunately enough to have it delivered on January 5th (I was a day 1 reservation). However, for the trip, my wife really wanted to take our Explorer ST since it’s a smoother, quieter ride, and it’s a bit larger inside. Fortunately, I was able to persuade her that we should take my Bronco and that it would be roomy enough and that it would end up being a comfortable ride. We figured the trip would be about 2,600 miles and about 40 hours in the Bronco, so it would be a great test of how comfortable (or not) it would be on such a long road trip.

So we set off for our trip to Yellowstone on June 11th, noting that there were some thunderstorms showing in the forecast, but we had planned to first stop for a day and night in Las Vegas, and then a day and night in Park City, Utah. On Monday, the 13th, we made the long trek from Park City to West Yellowstone, Montana. As we arrived, there was no rain at the moment, but there was a lot of commotion near the road to the entrance to Yellowstone Park. At about that time, we receive a text form a friend about flooding and roads being washed out. We got out and started talking to people and learned about all of the flooding and damage, particularly in the northern portion of the park. We knew immediately that the park would be closed for at least the next 2 days, so we would potentially be “stuck” in West Yellowstone with "nothing" to do for at least 2 days, or maybe longer.

So we had to scramble to decide what to do. We decided to make a leap, pack our things, and leave West Yellowstone to go see Mount Rushmore. From West Yellowstone to Mount Rushmore alone is about 580 miles and 9 hours, a huge addition to our trip that was originally unplanned, and that was just travel in one direction; we’d eventually have to make our way back south and west after a few days…

The morning of the 14th, we woke up to snowy conditions on our way out of town. We were lucky that the main roads and highways in the area were still intact and very safe. We did unfortunately see a few homes with water up to their windows in the Gardiner, MT area. We feel so bad for the people that were affected by what we've been told is a once-in-a-100-year storm.

IMG_4544.JPG

IMG_1960.JPG


We eventually made it to Mount Rushmore the afternoon of Tuesday, June 14th, after 9 or so hours. Mount Rushmore was a great experience! The Bronco had been doing great so far, and everyone was comfortable, and it handled really well on the highway.

IMG_4599.JPG

IMG_4577.JPG

After Mount Rushmore, we still had to figure out how to then spend the rest of our time in South Dakota. We did some Google searching, and my wife reached out to a friend who had grown up in SD, and all signs pointed us to taking my Bronco Badlands to BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK!!! I couldn’t have been more excited (and my wife couldn’t have been more annoyed by my excitement)!

Badlands National Park is an amazing sight to see, and I couldn’t wife the grin off my face as I was driving through the park and stopping at every chance that I could to get a picture of my Badlands at its namesake park! I didn’t research (or do) any off-roading options at or around Badlands because I didn’t bring any recovery gear on our trip, and I was solo with just my family and didn’t want to take any chances when so far away from home. In any case, it was still a great experience!

IMG_4641.JPG

IMG_4662.JPG

IMG_4695.JPG

IMG_4665.JPG

We made some other stops in SD (Crazy Horse Mountain, Custer State Park, and the Black Hills Caverns) before finding our way to Hot Springs, SD to stay overnight in a cool little cabin. On the morning of Thursday, June 16th, it was time to start heading west, to get back on track with our original itinerary. We had originally planned to go through the southern-most portions of Yellowstone that day and to then drive through Grand Tetons National Park. From Yellowstone, that would have been an easy hour-long drive or so, but from Hot Springs, SD, it was about 450 miles and over 7 hours.

IMG_4767.JPG

We drove through the Tetons, and they were quite impressive (and I even got to annoy my wife some more by taking some photos of my Bronco in front of the Tetons)! We then made our way down to Jackson, WY for the night.

IMG_2132.JPG

IMG_4858.JPG

After Jackson, WY, on Friday morning it was on to Tropic, Utah, near Bryce Canyon. This leg of our journey was about 520 miles and 8 hours long. Again, the Bronco performed well on this long haul and there were no complaints about its comfort, ride, and handling. On Saturday, the 18th, we drove into Bryce Canyon National Park and enjoyed the amazing views. Much like Badlands, the rock formations and colorings we like something from a Star Wars movie. It’s truly amazing what water, ice, wind and time to do to a natural landscape. I didn’t get many pics of my Bronco here, but I did still snag one.

IMG_4911.JPG

IMG_4960.JPG

After a picnic lunch (which was easy to set up using the tailgate table accessory) we left Bryce Canyon, we did some light off-roading on a trail that leads to Willis Creek Slot Canyon. At least I finally got to go off-roading on our trip, even though it was nothing challenging. It was still fun and the Bronco did great through the sand, gravel, and ruts! My wife and I had always wanted to walk through a slot canyon and this one did not disappoint! When we got back to our AirBnB, I rinsed off my baby and we prepped for our long ride home.

IMG_2249.JPG

IMG_5021.JPG

IMG_5112.JPG

Finally, on Father’s Day, June 19th, we drove from Tropic to home, another 489 miles and about an 8 hour drive. We stopped in Vegas for some lunch at In-n-Out, since it had been about 2 weeks since we had eaten at one of our SoCal favorites. After fighting through the infamous home-bound Vegas traffic, we finally made it home that afternoon, and of course the first thing I did after unpacking was to take my Bronco to the car wash.

It was quite an adventure and even though we missed out on our main goal of visiting Yellowstone National Park, we still found lots of other things to do and explore. The big bonus to me was being able to drive my Badlands through Badlands. Plus, now we have an excuse to take another similar trip in a year or two, when we feel that things will be settled down in Yellowstone and we can finally get to see all that it has to offer (and I can take a million pics of my Bronco there as well)!

  • 2021 Bronco Badlands
  • Non-Sasquatch
  • 2.7 L, 10 Speed Auto
  • Lux Package
  • MGV Seats / Washout Floors
  • MIC Top

  • States Travelled: CA, NV, AZ, UT, ID, MY, WY, SD
  • Total Trip Miles: 3,617.8 (includes driving through parks like Badlands, Bryce, etc.)
  • Total Trip Driving Time: 61:06:06 (includes driving through parks and some idling time here and there)
  • Total Trip MPG: 18.0 (I have a lead foot and generally drive at least 10% over the posted speed limit, lol, and I definitely took advantage of the 80 MPH Speed Limit in many of the states that we visited.)

IMG_5168.JPG

The Bronco did really well on the trip and my wife even admitted that I was right to push for us taking that vehicle on our trip. I found the seats to be very comfortable on the long legs of our trip, even more so than on the 2018 F-150 that I traded in for the Bronco. The 2.7 L provided plenty of power uphill and when passing. The transmission never seemed to wander for the right gear at any point, and there was plenty of pep and response when I punched it several times. The Bronco is a great road trip vehicle, and I can’t wait for future trips like the one that we just got back from!
Thanks for taking the time posting this great write up. Sounds like you made the best out of a bad situation. It's great to hear that the Bronco is a good long distance traveler.
Superstition AZ, bsmith922

Rank VI

Jun 22, 2022

#4
Great story. I’m happy everything went smooth for your trip. That will be something your kids will remember for the rest of there lives.
Deano Bronc, bsmith922

Rank III

Jun 22, 2022

#5
The kids actually weren't too bad. We'd occasionally give them a bit of iPad time, generally no more than an hour on, than about an hour off, to help keep them entertained. They generally melted down on the last 30-45 minutes of each leg of the trip, but we figured that would happen. They definitely did better than we thought they would, though.
Bronco 202?, Deano Bronc and 1 other

Rank 0

Jun 22, 2022

#6
What state is MY? Maryland is MD, and Montana is MT.
Oh, I see. The T is next to the Y.

Great post, nonetheless, and times like this I wish I had a 4D Bronco because the 2D tanks are so tiny.
It's amazing what a few gallons can change.

From LA to Vegas, I couldn't make it in 1 tank. Left on a full tank, had to fill up in Yermo, again before leaving Las Vegas, and a final fill up in Victorville. It is now cheaper to fly to Vegas than it is to drive. But I would pay to do a trip like yours!
bsmith922

Rank VI

Jun 22, 2022

#7
Last fall, my wife and I planned on taking our kids (ages 10 and 7) on a Yellowstone trip, leaving from our home in Southern California. At the time that we planned the trip, we assumed that we’d have my 2021 Bronco Badlands by then, and I was fortunately enough to have it delivered on January 5th (I was a day 1 reservation). However, for the trip, my wife really wanted to take our Explorer ST since it’s a smoother, quieter ride, and it’s a bit larger inside. Fortunately, I was able to persuade her that we should take my Bronco and that it would be roomy enough and that it would end up being a comfortable ride. We figured the trip would be about 2,600 miles and about 40 hours in the Bronco, so it would be a great test of how comfortable (or not) it would be on such a long road trip.

So we set off for our trip to Yellowstone on June 11th, noting that there were some thunderstorms showing in the forecast, but we had planned to first stop for a day and night in Las Vegas, and then a day and night in Park City, Utah. On Monday, the 13th, we made the long trek from Park City to West Yellowstone, Montana. As we arrived, there was no rain at the moment, but there was a lot of commotion near the road to the entrance to Yellowstone Park. At about that time, we receive a text form a friend about flooding and roads being washed out. We got out and started talking to people and learned about all of the flooding and damage, particularly in the northern portion of the park. We knew immediately that the park would be closed for at least the next 2 days, so we would potentially be “stuck” in West Yellowstone with "nothing" to do for at least 2 days, or maybe longer.

So we had to scramble to decide what to do. We decided to make a leap, pack our things, and leave West Yellowstone to go see Mount Rushmore. From West Yellowstone to Mount Rushmore alone is about 580 miles and 9 hours, a huge addition to our trip that was originally unplanned, and that was just travel in one direction; we’d eventually have to make our way back south and west after a few days…

The morning of the 14th, we woke up to snowy conditions on our way out of town. We were lucky that the main roads and highways in the area were still intact and very safe. We did unfortunately see a few homes with water up to their windows in the Gardiner, MT area. We feel so bad for the people that were affected by what we've been told is a once-in-a-100-year storm.

IMG_4544.JPG

IMG_1960.JPG


We eventually made it to Mount Rushmore the afternoon of Tuesday, June 14th, after 9 or so hours. Mount Rushmore was a great experience! The Bronco had been doing great so far, and everyone was comfortable, and it handled really well on the highway.

IMG_4599.JPG

IMG_4577.JPG

After Mount Rushmore, we still had to figure out how to then spend the rest of our time in South Dakota. We did some Google searching, and my wife reached out to a friend who had grown up in SD, and all signs pointed us to taking my Bronco Badlands to BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK!!! I couldn’t have been more excited (and my wife couldn’t have been more annoyed by my excitement)!

Badlands National Park is an amazing sight to see, and I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face as I was driving through the park and stopping at every chance that I could to get a picture of my Badlands at its namesake park! I didn’t research (or do) any off-roading options at or around Badlands because I didn’t bring any recovery gear on our trip, and I was solo with just my family and didn’t want to take any chances when so far away from home. In any case, it was still a great experience!

IMG_4641.JPG

IMG_4662.JPG

IMG_4695.JPG

IMG_4665.JPG

We made some other stops in SD (Crazy Horse Mountain, Custer State Park, and the Black Hills Caverns) before finding our way to Hot Springs, SD to stay overnight in a cool little cabin. On the morning of Thursday, June 16th, it was time to start heading west, to get back on track with our original itinerary. We had originally planned to go through the southern-most portions of Yellowstone that day and to then drive through Grand Tetons National Park. From Yellowstone, that would have been an easy hour-long drive or so, but from Hot Springs, SD, it was about 450 miles and over 7 hours.

IMG_4767.JPG

We drove through the Tetons, and they were quite impressive (and I even got to annoy my wife some more by taking some photos of my Bronco in front of the Tetons)! We then made our way down to Jackson, WY for the night.

IMG_2132.JPG

IMG_4858.JPG

After Jackson, WY, on Friday morning it was on to Tropic, Utah, near Bryce Canyon. This leg of our journey was about 520 miles and 8 hours long. Again, the Bronco performed well on this long haul and there were no complaints about its comfort, ride, and handling. On Saturday, the 18th, we drove into Bryce Canyon National Park and enjoyed the amazing views. Much like Badlands, the rock formations and colorings we like something from a Star Wars movie. It’s truly amazing what water, ice, wind and time to do to a natural landscape. I didn’t get many pics of my Bronco here, but I did still snag one.

IMG_4911.JPG

IMG_4960.JPG

After a picnic lunch (which was easy to set up using the tailgate table accessory) we left Bryce Canyon, we did some light off-roading on a trail that leads to Willis Creek Slot Canyon. At least I finally got to go off-roading on our trip, even though it was nothing challenging. It was still fun and the Bronco did great through the sand, gravel, and ruts! My wife and I had always wanted to walk through a slot canyon and this one did not disappoint! When we got back to our AirBnB, I rinsed off my baby and we prepped for our long ride home.

IMG_2249.JPG

IMG_5021.JPG

IMG_5112.JPG

Finally, on Father’s Day, June 19th, we drove from Tropic to home, another 489 miles and about an 8 hour drive. We stopped in Vegas for some lunch at In-n-Out, since it had been about 2 weeks since we had eaten at one of our SoCal favorites. After fighting through the infamous home-bound Vegas traffic, we finally made it home that afternoon, and of course the first thing I did after unpacking was to take my Bronco to the car wash.

It was quite an adventure and even though we missed out on our main goal of visiting Yellowstone National Park, we still found lots of other things to do and explore. The big bonus to me was being able to drive my Badlands through Badlands. Plus, now we have an excuse to take another similar trip in a year or two, when we feel that things will be settled down in Yellowstone and we can finally get to see all that it has to offer (and I can take a million pics of my Bronco there as well)!

  • 2021 Bronco Badlands
  • Non-Sasquatch
  • 2.7 L, 10 Speed Auto
  • Lux Package
  • MGV Seats / Washout Floors
  • MIC Top

  • States Travelled: CA, NV, AZ, UT, ID, MY, WY, SD
  • Total Trip Miles: 3,617.8 (includes driving through parks like Badlands, Bryce, etc.)
  • Total Trip Driving Time: 61:06:06 (includes driving through parks and some idling time here and there)
  • Total Trip MPG: 18.0 (I have a lead foot and generally drive at least 10% over the posted speed limit, lol, and I definitely took advantage of the 80 MPH Speed Limit in many of the states that we visited.)

IMG_5168.JPG

The Bronco did really well on the trip and my wife even admitted that I was right to push for us taking that vehicle on our trip. I found the seats to be very comfortable on the long legs of our trip, even more so than on the 2018 F-150 that I traded in for the Bronco. The 2.7 L provided plenty of power uphill and when passing. The transmission never seemed to wander for the right gear at any point, and there was plenty of pep and response when I punched it several times. The Bronco is a great road trip vehicle, and I can’t wait for future trips like the one that we just got back from!
I see you stayed at Craig and Steph's place in West. Nice choice. Bummer the trip took a bad turn but glad you made the best of it!
bsmith922

Rank III

Jun 22, 2022

#8
What state is MY? Maryland is MD, and Montana is MT.
Oh, I see. The T is next to the Y.

Great post, nonetheless, and times like this I wish I had a 4D Bronco because the 2D tanks are so tiny.
It's amazing what a few gallons can change.

From LA to Vegas, I couldn't make it in 1 tank. Left on a full tank, had to fill up in Yermo, again before leaving Las Vegas, and a final fill up in Victorville. It is now cheaper to fly to Vegas than it is to drive. But I would pay to do a trip like yours!

Oops, typo... MT for Montana. Crazy that the 2-door tank is that much smaller. I'm still driving on my tank from Vegas, 4 days later, granted I've only driven about 50 miles since my return home.

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