Over a year ago, we started to plan a trip to Yellowstone National Park. Though Corey and I have been there multiple times together, we have never taken the kids. Logistics and common sense kept us camping within a short drive from the house for the past few years. Our kids finally reached the age where we thought a cross country camping trip would be fun for everyone. Planning a camping trip that involves air travel threw in some added headaches. Thankfully we found a secret weapon. In June of 2019, we started making campsite reservations in the park for August of 2020.
The secret weapon was a truck rental from Hatch Adventures. This company based near Bozeman, Montana, allowed us to have a stress free, week long, National Park adventure. They have a selection of SUV's and Trucks that are set up for the ultimate camping (and fishing) adventure.
After talking with Alisa from Hatch, we decided that the four door Toyota Tacoma would fit all of our needs.
The great thing about these rentals, is that all you need to bring is a sleeping bag, and possibly a sleeping pad, to camp comfortably. Each rental comes with a yeti (or comparable) cooler, camp chairs, table, stove, cooking supplies, and most importantly a drip coffee maker.
An issue we had pre-kids, was the cost flying all of our camping gear and fishing tackle along. During this trip we only had to check three bags. We had help from compression sacks to make this happen, but we were able to pack everything we needed.
(Above: Time lapse as a buffalo walks by on an impromptu picnic)
The flexibility this truck gives you is a major plus. While driving through the park, you may see a herd of bison or a beautiful valley that beckons you to stop and soak it in. At a moments notice we were able to stop the truck, set the awning up, and have an impromptu picnic next to a herd of bison or picturesque river. For two hours one day we watched a herd of bison and some Pronghorn while we ate PBJ's in the shade.
Shade is the important word here. In most of the valleys where wildlife is readily visible, there is no shade, making the awning a day-saver.
(Below: Easy set up of awning and tent. Less than 4 minutes)
Setting up the awning with the available tent and rooftop tent took less than five minutes. Our first night we camped at a spot that had a healthy population of mosquitos. In short order, we added the enclosure to the awning and had our own mobile screened in porch.
We brought two sleeping pads to sleep in the screened in porch, as the roof tent can only hold two people. Sleeping in the porch provided more than enough room for me and the kid who wasn't sleeping in the pop-up.
(Above: Julie and I give a tour of the tent on top of the truck)
I can't think of any downsides of this rental. It was a great price and allowed for easy mobility with a young family. If we had rented a Subaru and flown all of our camping gear, the price difference would have been minimal but the experience would have been diminished.
If you want to take a family trip to Yellowstone, even if you don't want to camp, I would strongly recommend this company. Having a portable picnic shelter allows a comfortable place wherever your wanderings take you. Before we had even returned the truck, we were talking about the next time we go back to Yellowstone and rent another Hatch Adventure vehicle.
Check them out at Hatch Adventures, and tell 'em we sent ya. Let their awesome vehicles open your family up to incredible adventures. To all the families thinking about going to Yellowstone, its easier than you think. It's time to go west.