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  • Writer's pictureAndi Johnson

Solo Camping in the Tetons

Updated: Mar 12

It was the summer of 2020 and I had to get the heck out of my house! After months of looking for a job, having worked in the event world prior to the pandemic, with little to no bites, I decided to hit the road. The allure of escaping onto the open road and experiencing the beauty of nature was too strong to resist. At the time I was living in Colorado and had never seen the Grand Tetons, Glacier National Park, Banff, Idaho, Washington, Oregon... you get where I'm going here - pun intended, lol. Over several posts, I will be sharing all the ins and outs of my solo road trip in the summer of 2020. This post will be specifically about the Grand Tetons.

Andi Johnson, selfie in suv

Before we delve into my trip to the Tetons, here's a little background on me... I was single, had an SUV, and needed the great outdoors. Having grown up in Southern California, I was spoiled by living 1 mile from the beach. However, my family and I would go camping nearly every other weekend in the mountains. So you could say I was no stranger to camping. However, I had never camped solo before, but I was pretty confident in my abilities. I also was also a girl scout, I'm an avid hiker, and am fiercely independent. So I felt pretty confident about my plan to head out for 2 weeks and car camp across 6 states. But despite numerous hours of researching and planning, over the next 12 days, I would find that this was way harder than I thought it would be.

Being that we were in the middle of the pandemic, this made planning and prepping challenging. I will be sharing all the research, including what to pack, where to go, and more in another blog post.

view through the passenger window of grasslands with rocky mountains rising in the background

So here's where the first leg of my journey begins. Bright and early at 3:30 am, I left Denver for my 11-hour drive. Although this may feel like a daunting prospect for anyone traveling alone, I was ready to take it on. The beauty of a solo road trip is that you are free to take your time and make your own schedule. As I took in the landscape around me, I marveled at how I went from the mountains of Colorado to the prairie lands of Wyoming.

empty road leading to the Grand Tetons

The landscape began to shift the closer I got to the Grand Tetons National Park. As I was taking it all in, I came across what would be the first of many bear sightings on this trip.

After entering the park, I drove through a couple of campgrounds before finally settling at Signal Mountain Camp. This campground is nestled right on Jackson Lake, which I believe is one of the most stunning spots. In my experience, one of the most beautiful things about a solo road trip is the opportunity to meet new people and gain perspective. Unbeknownst to me, the photo below was captured by my neighboring camper, whom I would later meet.

Backside view of Andi Johnson with Jackson lake and the Grand Tetons in the background

Sitting by the campfire that first night, I struck up a conversation with my neighboring campers. We began sharing our respective journeys and our love for the outdoors, and at that moment she shared this photo with me. It was a simple interaction, but it left a lasting impression on me. I realized that despite the chaos of the world, there is still so much beauty and goodness to be found. Thanks to social media, I am still connected to the beautiful souls I met to this day. One is an Osteopathic Manual Therapist, named Kylie, and her partner, Manas is a phenomenal drummer who shares his gift with others not only with downloadable songs, and concerts, but online lessons as well.

Selfie of Andi Johnson with the Grand Tetons and rushing river in the background

Over the next few days, I hiked and explored the Tetons, and the surrounding area, all while meeting incredible people. For instance, I met a group of climbers who had just trekked the Cascade Canyon Trail, and their stories of adventure and perseverance inspired me. I also met a family who had been traveling the country in their RV for months, and their sense of freedom and spontaneity left me feeling envious and energized. Speaking of families... I can't leave out "meeting" infamous Bear 399 and her 4 cubs, not once but several times! I honestly felt honored to have gotten to experience that - in a safe manner.

But perhaps the most impactful encounter I had was with a park ranger. As we chatted about the impact of the pandemic on the park, she shared with me the importance of preserving our natural spaces and the impact that we, as humans, have on the environment. As I had worked for an environmental non-profit, and having been raised to be mindful of our planet, having another’s perspective about the impact of travel and tourism is something that I continue to carry with me. It was a humbling conversation, and it solidified for me the importance of being mindful of our impact on the planet.

sunset after a storm over Jackson lake with the Grand Tetons in the background

The Grand Tetons will always hold a special place in my heart and mind. The tranquility and majestic beauty of Wyoming, as well as all the conversations and perspectives of others, will be with me for years to come. Despite this having been a solo car camping trip, I never felt lonely at the Grand Tetons National Park. So, if you get the chance, don’t pass up the opportunity to explore the Grand Tetons.

Andi Johnson at Grand Teton National Park with a waterfall in the background

Thank you for taking the time to read my post. If you have any questions about car camping, going on a solo trip, or anything related to Wyoming and The Grand Teton National Park, drop them in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you. Check out my ultimate packing list for a car camping trip, and check back later for the other legs of this road trip.

*Remember to drive safely, be alert, and take breaks in well-lit parking lots when needed

*Recreate responsibly; do not approach wild animals, stay at least 200 yards away from wild animals, and be sure to pack out what you bring in.

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