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Old 05-06-2016, 09:49 PM   #1
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3 weeks west, from PA

We are beginning to plan a 3 week (appx) trip out west from the Philadelphia area...for summer 2017. What are your "must sees", and what suggestions do you have? Our 2 daughters will be with us, and will be 12 and 14. We are thinking we will need to buckle down and spend the first and last 2 days doing a significant amount of driving. We'd love to see Yellowstone, and the like. I'd prefer to find maybe 3 "home bases" so we can spend time enjoying the sights and not driving large distances every few days.


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Old 05-07-2016, 04:44 AM   #2
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Three Home Bases

Originally Posted by Jagtec1 View Post
We are beginning to plan a 3 week (appx) trip out west from the Philadelphia area...for summer 2017. What are your "must sees", and what suggestions do you have? Our 2 daughters will be with us, and will be 12 and 14. We are thinking we will need to buckle down and spend the first and last 2 days doing a significant amount of driving. We'd love to see Yellowstone, and the like. I'd prefer to find maybe 3 "home bases" so we can spend time enjoying the sights and not driving large distances every few days.

It would help if you would provide some information as to what type of unit you are using, do you have a toad?, what are your likes/dislikes, how long do you intend on traveling each day and with two teen age daughters, what they might want to "see".

We traveled from Lake Wallenpaupack, PA to Yellowstone two years ago the first time my DW retired. We use KOA's for conveniences and amenities, i.e. showers and pools, (realize not all CG's offer same services).

Cody, SD is a nice area to stay in, has a town and things to do nearby.

West Yellowstone is also nice with town for supplies and things to do, that is in addition to the NP which we couldn't get enough of.

Let me know what you require, I have information at hand as planning next trip as we blog.


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Old 05-07-2016, 10:26 AM   #3
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I think with children 12 & 14, Yellowstone and Grand Teton Nat'l Parks would be our first choice. There's lots to do for children in both areas and they really give you a feel of the West. I would, however, suggest you move to each park instead of trying to do both from a base camp. The distances are too great and you'd be spending a lot of time in slow-moving traffic and you wouldn't want to do that often.

Each park has a wonderful web site with lots of good information on things to do, road info, camping info, etc. Check them out thoroughly.

One thing that children love to do in Yellowstone is a horseback or wagon train ride where the cowboys have breakfast or dinner waiting for you. It's fun for parents, too!


Yellowstone is all about the animals and the thermal features. Grand Teton Nat'l Park is completely different in looks (like a miniature Alps) and things to do. The hiking is awesome for all abilities to wonderful little alpine lakes. A gentle float trip down the Snake River in the park might get you a view of a moose in the water with you. It happened to us!

You didn't say what you will be traveling in or what kind of accommodations you require. In the Tetons, Colter Bay RV is the place to stay if you want full hookups. If you can dry camp but have showers nearby, water fill and a dump station, you'd have two great choices and neither one accepts reservations but they rarely fill. They each have 300 sites. Colter Bay campground is right next to the above-mentioned RV park. Further south in the park, towards the town of Jackson, is Gros Ventre campground. This is our favorite because it's more open so you can see the mountains. Moose and bison roam the campground occasionally. It's also easy to go into Jackson for the 'tourist' thing - shopping, including large grocery stores just south of town. It also has a summer rodeo.


Both parks have campground that don't accept reservations and for Yellowstone you'd want to get there in the morning as the campgrounds aren't large like the Tetons. Stay nearby the previous night. There are also reservable campground and in Yellowstone Madison or Bridge Bay are very nice. Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone is the only full hookup place.
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Old 05-08-2016, 06:06 AM   #4
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Thanks! We will be traveling with our Keystone Passport 2300BH towed by our Ford Excursion. Our tanks are not huge (30 gallons each), so lengthy dry camping is not an option. Full hookup would be preferred, although 2 nights without sewer would be feasible from a gray water standpoint.

Yellowstone, Grand Teton, the Badlands, and somewhere in CO heading home have been mentioned.
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Old 05-08-2016, 10:10 AM   #5
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In 2013 here is what I did and it took around 3 and half weeks. We left Southern NJ across the PA turnpike, I-80 to I-90 on the other side of Chicago and I-90 across - some of the places we hit SPAM Museum - Austin, MN, Corn Palace - Mitchell, SD, The falls at Sioux Falls, SD, Drove through the Badlands NP, Wall Drugs - Wall, SD, Stayed at Deadwood, SD, Visited Devil's Tower, WY, Little Big Horn Battlefield, MT, stayed the night in Billings, Mt, Did the rodeo at Cody, WY (great place), Then Yellowstone / Grand Teton NPS (four nights) came out the west entrance, stopped Potato Museum - Blackfoot, ID, Iron Spike Monument - Promontory, UT, Salt Lake City, UT, then headed back to Colorado, Visited friends at Colorado Springs, CO - visited Pikes Peak, Air Force Academy, and Garden of the Gods. From there Cabela's Main store and Campground at Sidney, NE, across I-80 to Omaho then south to Kansas City, MO for some BBQ, next stayed Springfield, IL saw Lincoln's tomb and home. Back down to I-70 through Kentucky and West Virginia to home. Probably a lot more stops than you were planning but nonetheless an idea what you can see. I should note we pass by a lot of things that would have made good stops, i.e. Mt. Rushmore (saw it before), and Arches NP, UT, Denver, Co.

Now taking the above into consideration - start with two 8 to 10 hour driving days - you should be near the South Dakota border. Then travel through the day stopping at the Badlands (2-3 hours) and come out the other side and stay in the area of Rapid City (first major stop) from here it is 2 hours or less to Devil's Tower, WY, Deadwood, SD (Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane fame), Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, Cody State Park (where the buffalo roam). Some of these can be done in a loop in one day spending 2-3 hours at each, others like Deadwood you can spend the entire day. The next stop for at least 2 nights would be Cody, WY - Just a real nice place - the night Rodeo is well worth it as the Buffalo Bill Cody museum among other things. From there I would try to book a spot in Fishing Bridge Campground in Yellowstone, for at least four or five nights, it is a full service campground and from there you can do all of Yellowstone and a day trip to the Grand Tetons. Next if you wanted to include Colorado you are about 9 hours to Denver so I would look for a place a hour or so North of Denver around Loveland, CO to be your last major stop. From there you are an hour from Denver and Cheyenne, WY, 45 minutes to Este's Park, CO and the Rocky Mountains. From Loveland, CO you are around 25 hours from home - jump on I-70 and head back to PHL in about 3 days.
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Old 05-08-2016, 07:06 PM   #6
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We did it last summer for 18 days on the road. We used the Wisconsin Dell's as a stop over to give them a break and use the water parks. We used the bonanza campground which included tickets to Noah's Ark Park. We drove long to South Dakota and stayed at Custer's Gulch outside of Custer State Park. Lot's of wildlife to see along with Rushmore and Crazyhorse. Did a one day drive from there to Cody and used that as a base camp for Yellowstone, Beartooth and Chief Joseph's highway. The drive to Yellowstone is an all day event back and forth. We enjoy using Cody as a base camp. There is a rodeo every night during the summer and there is a great museum. and the Irma Hotel. Stayed at the Ponderosa Campground. There is a lot to do and everyone will need a vacation when they get home. On the way home stayed at the White River KOA in the badlands for two days to again give them a chance to wind down and tour the badlands. And naturally took them to Wall Drug a tourist town. If you want to stay close to the Parks there a few campgrounds near Moran Junctions which will give you access to both the Tetons and Yellowstone. A lot of folks like staying in Yellowstone, but it is packed. Between Cody and Yellowstone is the Buffalo Bill State Park if you want to be a little closer. I believe only one loop has full hookups. You can check it online. If you need a stop over the Ohio turnpike has hook up in some of the rest stops if you are under 40'. Have fun keep an eye on your tires, they are the weak link out west.
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Old 05-08-2016, 09:59 PM   #7
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Awesome info, keep it coming!! Thanks!!

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