Friday, June 6, 2008

Battling the mountain weather

We are at the Longhorn Lodge and RV park, on the Wind River in Dubois, just east of the Tetons (map). This is a commercial park, for which we are paying $35 per night (plus tax, after 10% AAA discount) for a river-front site -- very uncharacteristic for us.

After leaving Riverton yesterday we had a very scenic drive along the Wind River, ascending gently through the sculptured hills and hoodoos of this region. The river here is swift and has carved the valley into some majestic formations. Our destination was the laundromat here in Dubois, with a National Forest campground a bit further west as the planned stop for the night.

We were taken a bit by surprise with just how touristy this town is, a rather stark contrast to last night's stop in Riverton. We rolled slowly past the laundromat, looking for parking spots and wondering if the night's plan was sound. Fortunately, before nailing things down, we came across the forest service office, and went inside to check on conditions.

Good thing we did -- the campground we had targeted for the night is closed for renovations, and all the other spots just a little further along are closed due to snow drifts, at the moment. There's no urban boondocking here in Dubois, and so that left our options as
  1. The KOA downtown
  2. This place, three miles south, which we passed on our way in
  3. State land 15 miles further south, including seven miles of a dirt road that we had inspected on our way here, and rejected as a possible mud bog in the event of significant rain (and it is raining as I type).
This is one of those occasions when the current price of diesel has made an impact on what choices we make. In the past, it would have been a no-brainer to back-track to the nearest public land, reasoning that we could wait out any poor road conditions. But a ~30 mile roundtrip, at our current per-mile operating cost of about $0.84, would cost us $25, and, in these temperatures, we could figure on at least a gallon of diesel, maybe two, for heat, for another $5-$9. At those rates, $35 full hookups here in town start to make sense.

Coupled with the fact that we needed water, for which we'd have to hunt here in town before we headed for the hills, the possibility of poor road conditions, and the fact that we still needed to do the laundry, we just decided to bite the bullet and stay here in this full-service park, complete with coin laundry. (As I've written here before, KOA, the only other game in town, is always our last choice -- although their location would have made walking into town for dinner a snap.)

It's actually a very nice place -- everything is brand new. And I do mean brand new -- they asked us not to use the fire ring (we didn't plan to) because they had literally just set them all in cement. And our spot here on the river is right out of a postcard picture of Wyoming, with hills in the background, log cabins in the middle, and the river in the foreground. The only missing photo element is the canonical fly fisherman in waders, hip deep in the river.

Today we will attempt to cross the hills into Grand Teton National Park, where our target destination is Colter Bay Village. It's going to be frigid up there for the next couple days, so we will likely again bite the bullet and spring the $52 (gulp) per night for hookups. Dry camping there is $17, and the $35 difference could easily be swallowed up by the cost of running the Webasto and the generator to keep ourselves warm. More importantly, the Webasto has been finicky lately, requiring multiple restarts to keep it running (I'm hoping that's just a matter of cleaning out the burner), and until I get around to fixing it, we don't want to have to fidget with the thing all night long to keep from freezing.


  1. We spent a night at a rustic cabin in Dubois last year. Loved the Wind River.

  2. Did you take any pictures of this scenic spot?

  3. @rob -- Sorry, just the one that's already in the post.


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