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Old 04-26-2016, 09:25 PM   #1
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First Big Trip - Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone

In the process of trying to plan our 1st big trip. We live in North FL, and will travel to WI in mid August to attend a World Barefoot Water Ski Championship our son is competing in.

When the tourney is over, late August, we plan in traveling West along I90 to Billings MT, to visit another son there. Plan to take our time and spend some times in all the parks, Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Deadwood, etc.

Once we leave Billings, would like to travel down to Cody, and then into Yellowstone and down to Jackson and Grand Teton NP. When we leave there was thinking of taking 191 out the south end to Rock Springs and picking up I80 back east.

Will be traveling with a 38' MH with a F-150 toad.

My questions at this point a mainly focused around the Yellowstone, Grand Teton part of the trip although I love suggestions related to other parts of the trip.

I was thinking after leaving Cody, I could find a campground inside Yellowstone for a few days then move on down to Jackson and camp again.

Are the roadways inside the Nation Parks suitable for my rig ? Do you have campground recommendations? Points of Interest not to miss ? Suggestions on how to get the most out of this?

Again, this is our 1st big trip. Planning on 4-6 weeks after leaving WI to get back to FL. Trying to do lots of planning, searching this forum for ideas and suggestions on other threads as well. Seems like others have similar plans for this time of year.

Currently getting acquainted with Good Sam trip planner.

Thanks for any input.
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Old 04-26-2016, 10:12 PM   #2
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It seems like you might be arriving at Yellowstone in Sept. Here's their web site for lots of good information on things to do, road conditions (keep checking before your trip as they're updated) and campground information.

https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm

With our 40' motorhome and Jeep we've stayed at Mammoth which is open all year but no reservations. You need to be there early morning when folks are leaving.

We've also stayed at Madison which closes Oct. 16 and Bridge Bay which closes Sept 5.

All are dry camping.

The one full hookup in the parks is Fishing Bridge which closes Sept 18. We have not stayed there.

If you're going to Cody a nice RV park is Yellowstone Valley RV. It's out of town a little way in a lovely valley. The town itself does get hectic with traffic. The Cody Museum is a wonderful place to spend a few hours. It's topnotch. You could stay here for Yellowstone but it would be quite a drive to see the park on multiple days. Yellowstone is huge.

For Grand Teton we always stay at the dry campground of either Colter Bay or Gros Ventre. Each has 300 sites and rarely fill. We like Gros Ventre the best because it has a more open feel with mountain views and moose walking through. It's an easy drive into Jackson and large grocery stores. South of town is the best fuel prices at the big stations.

There's also Colter Bay RV for full hookups. We haven't stayed there.

https://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/camping.htm
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Old 04-26-2016, 10:16 PM   #3
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Fishing Bridge is a huge campground with full hookups. It's a nice place to plan your daily trips there. Just don't cook fish on the grill and store the grill in a compartment. The bears are not really aggressive, but really like cooked fish. I wish I'd snapped a picture of the guys right rear compartment when that bear decided to investigate the fish smell. You'll love it there.
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Old 04-27-2016, 02:53 PM   #4
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Hi mineralslee,
Not to repeat destinations you, most likely, already know about here are three not often visited but well worth the stop:
https://www.nps.gov/mimi/index.htm
Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office - National Register of Historic Places - Search Result
https://www.nps.gov/crmo/index.htm

Also at the south entrance to the Badlands is an amphitheater. Ranger talks are given most nights. The sky is black (no light) this results in a sky full of stars. There is no empty space. The sky is full of stars. One can see the Milky Way and Russian spy satellites passing over head.
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Old 04-27-2016, 10:43 PM   #5
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YNP is about 45 miles E/W and about 65 miles N/S (2.2 mil. Acres total). The figure 8 loop road inside the park is about 140 miles around. The lower loop is 96 miles and the upper loop is 70 miles around and yes, it is bigger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.

Whatever time that you think you will need to see YNP you better double it, or to say it another way is that you will see one half as much in the allotted time. The Bison think that they own the road (they do!) and will slow down the traffic to walking speed or less for 1/4 mile or more, the thermal attractions also tie up traffic and with a 5 month long summer tourist season that coincides with a 5 month long road construction season and a 45 mph radar controlled speed limit it will take about a full day to see each loop and then you will only see the main attractions. In addition to the occasional construction delays they will also sometimes close whole sections of road (for uninterrupted night construction) between 10 PM and 8 AM in the morning, if you are running late and get caught at night in the wrong area it CAN be a LONG way around to your CG! I don't mean to scare you but to inform you of reality. (The entrance stations will have current construction information or go on line.)

Then there is the elevation- YNP ranges from a low at Mammoth- 6239 ft to 7784 ft at Fishing Bridge or higher if you go hiking! Drink plenty of liquids and pace yourself when walking. And again I don't mean to scare you but rather to inform you, after all there was 4.1 million visitors in 2015 (record number)

I recommend that you get up EARLY, leave the CG and be back by 4 or 6 PM have dinner and be sitting in your recliner drinking a cool one when your neighbor drags himself back to the CG at 8-10 PM. Remember that from mid June to mid July in YNP the sun doesn't set until shortly before 10 PM.

Clothing- Especially in the early or late season it is not unusual to have a 30 or even the occasional 40 degree temperature change throughout the day. Dress with easily shed layers of clothing. Also dress in bright easily seen clothing. I am sure that we all have been to a sporting event, parade or Disney World etc. and we blink our eyes and our partner/child has disappeared. My DIL was born and raised in HI, you guessed it, every Xmas, b-day or Father's Day I receive a Hawaiian shirt. One of them is black with 4-5 inch dia. bright flowers. Not many of them in Wyoming and in YSNP, that is what I wear. If your partner has on a Violet blouse and a Orange scarf with a Pink hat I guarantee that she will be the only one within 1/2 mile of you with the same colors. It can save a few anxious moments.

Water- Now I will have to contradict myself, at the altitude of YSNP yes, drink lots of water!HOWEVER, be aware that the flush toilet restrooms are are in the major tourist areas- Mammoth, Canyon, Fishing Bridge, Grant Village, Old Faithful etc. The geyser basins and other thermal attractions areas have only pit toilets. I have seen the pit toilet line at the lower Geyser Basin 20 or more feet long. So be smart about drinking your water and use the major tourist area R/Rs before leaving the area!

Sun- At YSNPs altitude the sun is intense (uv) have and apply sun screen, wear that old floppy wide brim sun hat, wear sun glasses!

If your luck is like mine Old Faithful will have just erupted when you get there and you will have a hour and 10-20 minutes wait for the next one. Tour the O/F geyser basin while waiting for the next eruption. Old Faithful INN is a must see (meals are "OK" also)

We have lived about 110 miles (4739' elevation) from W. Yellowstone, MT for 51 years, go there 3-4 times a summer (normally before Memorial Day and after Labor Day) and haven't seen it all of it yet!

When in the Jackson area I highly recommend seeing the Bar J Chuckwagon dinner show! If you go, MAKE RESERVATIONS and BE THERE EARLY TO PICK UP YOUR MEAL TICKETS/SEATING ASSIGNMENTS! They seat you by when you show up to get your tickets NOT by your reservation number. Tim, their fiddle player has won the "Idaho state old time fiddle contest 7 times and the US open fiddle contest twice". We day trip it there 2-4 times every summer to see them! Disclaimer- We have no financial or other interest in the Bar J only that it will be the best $$ value for your money for your trip! Check out their website.

Bar J Chuckwagon
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Old 04-27-2016, 10:51 PM   #6
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^^^^^ Nice writeup. We go there as often as possible. Was gonna go this Sept, but doubt we can make it. Never new about the Bar J Chuckwagon. We don't tow a vehicle, so we can only go where the MH takes us. Might rent a car in W Yellowstone next time. Makes things a lot easier. Thanx for all the info.
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Old 04-27-2016, 10:58 PM   #7
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I appreciate the responses I've got so far. I'm looking forward to this trip. I appreciate the information related to campgrounds, etc. as well as the info related to things to see not on most travel guides.

I will begin putting together my itinerary. I will have about 2 1/2 weeks to get from central WI through the Badlands, Black Hills NP, Mt. Rushmore, up to Billings to visit my son for couple days and down to Cody. I'm thinking of trying to get into Falling Bridge in Yellowstone their last week of operation, 9/11-18. I'd like to spend 2-3 weeks in the Yellowstone / Grand Teton area before heading back to FL.

Does that sound reasonable ? Allowing to much time ? not enough ? Should I make reservations this time of year or just wing it, hoping for the best.

I hope to gather the experience some of you have in years to come, and look forward to passing on gained information with novice travelers like me in the future.
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Old 04-28-2016, 10:51 AM   #8
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Regarding the Badlands, the campground in the park has some electric sites and some without. Even when it is hot during the day, it oops down at night. The ranger astronomy talks are great! If you need full hookups, there is a campground just south of the park that we used a few times.

Rapid City has a fun museum on the grounds of the School of Mines. Geology and fossils. Mt. Rushmore is over-rated IMHO. see it from the road. Custer State Park is outstanding! There are a number of campgrounds with a variety of accommodations. It is very big, so plan on staying a day or two if you can.
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Old 05-05-2016, 09:39 PM   #9
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Does that sound reasonable ? Allowing to much time ? not enough ? Should I make reservations this time of year or just wing it, hoping for the best.


After Labor Day, sure wing it. In August, reservations recommended.
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Old 05-07-2016, 03:39 PM   #10
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What a great trip. Did most of this last summer with grandkids - the loved it, Mammaw and Pappaw loved it. I try to plan things in high traffic areas as far in advance as possible. We don't mind dry camping but with grandkids on board preferred at least water and electric. Stayed at Buffalo Bill State Park - great pull throughs with water and electric. Went to the West Yellowstone - Grizzly RV Park. Very commercial but well run and maintained.

Not sure what your intentions in the park are but it is an easy week to see it all.

Since retirement we've had Devil's Tower on our list of places - finally made it for a short stay and enjoyed it (lots of music playing).
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Old 05-08-2016, 11:46 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twogypsies View Post
It seems like you might be arriving at Yellowstone in Sept. Here's their web site for lots of good information on things to do, road conditions (keep checking before your trip as they're updated) and campground information.

https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm

With our 40' motorhome and Jeep we've stayed at Mammoth which is open all year but no reservations. You need to be there early morning when folks are leaving.

We've also stayed at Madison which closes Oct. 16 and Bridge Bay which closes Sept 5.

All are dry camping.

The one full hookup in the parks is Fishing Bridge which closes Sept 18. We have not stayed there.

If you're going to Cody a nice RV park is Yellowstone Valley RV. It's out of town a little way in a lovely valley. The town itself does get hectic with traffic. The Cody Museum is a wonderful place to spend a few hours. It's topnotch. You could stay here for Yellowstone but it would be quite a drive to see the park on multiple days. Yellowstone is huge.

For Grand Teton we always stay at the dry campground of either Colter Bay or Gros Ventre. Each has 300 sites and rarely fill. We like Gros Ventre the best because it has a more open feel with mountain views and moose walking through. It's an easy drive into Jackson and large grocery stores. South of town is the best fuel prices at the big stations.

There's also Colter Bay RV for full hookups. We haven't stayed there.

https://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/camping.htm
mineralslee will never receive better advice
This website will keep travelers better informed about current road conditions:
One Stop Shop for Travelers
When used for route planning it shows elevations along route too.
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Old 05-10-2016, 05:40 AM   #12
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Ray,IN - wow, been traveling for lots of miles and I am really tech savvy but this site (One Stop Shop for Travelers) is GREAT!! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 05-10-2016, 08:19 AM   #13
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If you want a different experience, and a bit slower, take US 2, it runs parallel to the Canadian border and takes you through some great towns, it is not a super slab, just beautiful 2 lane road with something to see that is worthwhile. It is further north than you are planning, but it is a great trip. One other place I would go out of my way to see, Medoria, ND. See the musical after the Pitchfork Steak Fondue http://medora.com/., yes those are rib eye steaks on a pitchfork, they are delicious!!!! You will regret it if you don't.
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Old 05-10-2016, 03:59 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by mineralslee View Post
When we leave there was thinking of taking 191 out the south end to Rock Springs and picking up I80 back east.
Fun trip you have planned. At the end though on 191, don't be afraid of cutting across at Farson on Rt 28 though South Pass across the continental divide. You'd have no problem in your motorhome, which is why the Oregon Trail went through that area. South Pass City is a fascinating mining ghost town and a preserved State Historical site. You would want to take your toad from 28 to South Pass City (dirt road), not the MH. From 28 take 287 South to Rawlins.

Alternative, and overall shorter trip, is to take Rt 26 from Grand Teton area through Dubois, then south to 287 and Rawlins. Not as interesting of a route, however.

Point of trivia. Inside the southern part of the area bounded by 287, 28, and I80 is the "Great Divide Basin". It's the only place in the United States where the continental divide splits. No coincidence there's a town called Red Desert on I80.
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