I just completed a 9-day trip looping around from SW Colorado up to Montana, Idaho, and then back down through Nevada and Utah. I try to avoid the popular tourist spots. There is no point in trying to replicate all of the photos that have ever been made, especially since many of them were made in better light than I will ever encounter.
I made this trip with a 13-foot Scamp trailer so I did not need hookups for a couple of days at a time. This allows me to avoid excessive reliance on the more expensive campgrounds such as KOA unless I need to load more water and empty my tanks.
The first night I stayed in a KOA north of Ft. Collins because I couldn't find cheaper campgrounds on my route. Temps were in the mid-90s that evening.
The next two nights I camped in an RV Park ($20/night) at Kaycee, WY. The purpose of this trip was to do some photography at The Hole in the Wall, about 21 miles to the southwest. As many of you know this was an impenetrable valley with many small starter ranches of questionable repute. It was also an area where outlaw gangs such as the Wild Bunch briefly hid out.
It was my intent to photograph this valley with monochrome to give it a period feel, but the colors were so vivid (grass was green green, sky was deep blue, rock walls were deep red) that I elected to photograph with Portra VC instead. Morning temps were from frost to 40.
On my way to Lewistown, MT, I stopped at the visitor center in Hardin. On the grounds they have moved in farm houses, railroad depot, cabins, barns, office buildings, etc.
The highlight, however, is the photography exhibit in the visitor center. The exhibit features area photographers ca. 1880-1960. There are photographs and write-ups for a dozen or so individuals with a replicated darkroom of one of them. They also have many cameras from this period on display. Hardin is approximately 40 miles east of Billings.
On the west side of Lewistown there is a free (donations accepted) campground run by the Kiwanis Club. It has toilets but no showers nor hookups. My purpose for traveling to Lewistown was to look up some cousins whom I had not seen in 60 years. I was hoping to get some ranching photos with people working on horseback. It turned out that although they are ranching around 5000 acres, they no longer keep horses, using ATVs instead.
Then on to Missoula. I checked out a Forest Service campground (without hookups) on the way at MacDonald Pass that looked good but I did not camp there. The area has photo possibilities and I will return for a couple of days at a later time.
The next night was at Twin Falls for hookups at the KOA and to visit old friends. Tried to think of photo possibilities with the canyon but could not think of anything that would make it unique.
Then I drove down through Nevada with the intent of spending several days in southern Utah around Valley of the Gods, etc. However south of Ely I encountered 50mph winds gusting to 65 according to the radio. I stopped for the night at Cathedral Gorge, a nice state park ($17/night for out-of-staters with water and electricity) about one mile north of Panaca.
I would have stayed there for a couple of days, but the predictions were for high winds the next two days. At this point I canceled my plans and decided to drive on home. Cathedral Gorge is on my list to return.
I was informed by campers that SH 9 was closed during daytime hours for construction and recommended SH 14. This is a very scenic road to the west of the Bryce Canyon area and worthy of another look under calmer conditions. I checked out a Forest Service campground on this road called Cedar Canyon. This is another nice area for camping.
The trip on home was again very windy. Page radio was reporting 35mph winds with gusts to 50. The air was dirty and sand was blowing across the road forming drifts, many were more treacherous than speed bumps.
In a week or so I will be retracing my steps into sw Utah and se Nevada. I hope this this helps give some ideas to folks planning to traverse this part of the west.