Of the eight National Parks I visited on my month long roadtrip, Grand Teton was my favorite. Gros Ventre is a great location to explore the park, particularly the southern half (Moose and Jackson, WY).
There is next to no privacy - the campground is in the middle of a few cottonwood trees and lots of scrub brush. Bathrooms were clean, staff was incredibly friendly.
Mormon Row is less than five minutes away by car if you want a great place to watch the sunrise! Craft beer could be found in Moose where there's a roof top bar.
Went for a night to get out of the city and found a newly opened campground that had a lot of charm and amenities. The camp hosts are extremely friendly and have lots of tips for the area.
This became a favorite car camping spot of mine while living in Vail, Colorado. The lake is situated in White River National Forest and is accessible only for a few months during the summer via Red Sandstone Road. I have seen 2wd sedans drive up this road, however I would definitely recommend something with high clearance and 4wd if possible as the roads up there are not well maintained. There are plenty of first come, first serve USFS campsites near the lake, additionally there are quite a few service roads off of Red Sandstone Road that provide access to miles of additional dispersed campsites. It is hard to find a spot to camp without a breathtaking view of the Gore Range from Piney. In addition to camping, there are hiking trails near the lake and the privately owned Piney River Ranch offers horseback riding, boat rentals, fishing, a restaurant, and other lodging options. This area is also known for the moose that frequent the area, be sure to keep your distance if you are lucky enough to spot one! If you are interested in camping at Piney in the early summer or fall, you may first want to call the Minturn Ranger’s Station at 970-827-5715 to check on the closure status of Red Sandstone Road.
Ipsut Creek Campground is a relatively easy 5 mile trek or bike ride with a 700’ elevation gain, down a closed road (due to the road wash out about 3 miles in) to a wooded campground nestled along the Carbon River.
Located at the trailhead are two bathrooms, a covered picnic area and a handful of parking stalls with additional parking located along the road.
The trail begins behind the closed gates into the shade of the old growth forest. The trail then alternates between the shade of the forest and sunny skys with river views and wildflowers along the way.
There are a few side trips off the main Carbon River Trail even before reaching the Ipsut Creek Camp;
1) Mini Rainforest Loop, 0.25 miles
2) Old Mine Trail, 0.6 miles round trip
3) Green Lake & Ranger Falls trail, 3.6 miles round trip
Note: Sadly, the trail to Chenuis Falls has washed out, so now there is just a log bridge into the water to nowhere.
Once you reach the campground, it has about 20 campsites with about half the sites located on the river. We were lucky enough to swoop up site number 15 though, strangely, another family decided to share it with us for our easy river front access. Thankfully the river is pretty loud and drowned out the noise of our close campers. We did choose to camp on the high-profile weekend of the 4th of July, so all the cool campsites along the river were obviously full, which is why we think we had “friends” join us. There was a large fallen tree sort of splitting the camp site in half, so we took the left half, with the smaller 1 picnic table option, while the strangers took the right half with 2 picnic tables.
The trees in camp are great for setting up hammocks. We set up a hammock triangle upon arrival in camp near the river for lazy afternoon naps. My siblings both slept in their hammocks fulltime, while my husband and I set up a tent in a small clearing on the opposite side of the picnic table, closer to the bear lockers (bear lockers are a huge plus, meaning a bear canister isn’t necessary if you’re not heading deeper into the backcountry).
The campground had a decent amount of wildlife running around. We had a number of chipmunks running around our camp cleaning up any scraps left daily; we found a live mouse chilling in a water bottle one morning upon setting up for breakfast, and deer came through the camp just about anytime it was quiet.
The campground does have two restrooms but they smell like the bog of eternal stench, so bring strong essential oils, a scented hanky, or a shovel to dig cat tracks in the woods far from camp and water sources.
The campground is a good base camp to explore the surrounding Carbon Glacier/ Mowich Lake area. We visited Ipsut Falls, which was less than a half mile round trip out of camp, making for a sweet little trip to break up the day in camp.
We also chose to make the adventure up to the Suspension Bridge and to the Carbon Glacier view point. Our morning started off cool in heavy fog, which burned off throughout the day, giving way to magnificent views of the mountain and glacier. The trail was covered in wildflowers, cairns, creeks and mini waterfalls. It made for a beautiful day trip out of camp with plenty of opportunities to go further into the backcountry closer to Winthrop Glacier, out to Tolmie peak area or back out along the Wonderland Trail. Backcountry options seemed endless.
Though the trail and camp (and site) were crowded, the hike to the glacier made the entire trip worth our cozy campsite. The Carbon Glacier is a bit dirty looking but to be standing in front of something so ancient and magnificent is truly amazing. My husband, sister and I have now added a new item to our bucket lists and that is to see as many glaciers as we can before they melt, here’s to our first. =)
Note: The campground is located within Mount Rainier National Park (no pets are allowed) so you’ll need to stop by the Carbonado Ranger Station for a Wilderness Permit and National Park Day Pass or Annual Permit to display for parking. No campfires within the campground.