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Old 07-05-2019, 11:52 AM   #1
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Help with Yellowstone plan - where to basecamp

I'm looking for some advice on where to basecamp on a week trip (extremely flexible, could be longer or shorter if necessary) to Yellowstone and Grand Teton. We'll be in a smallish TT (20 feet). Two adults and two teenage daughters. This is for a trip in late June 2021 (I'm a planner, can you tell?)

How would you go about seeing these two parks? I assume one basecamp means lots of driving everyday? With that assumption, would moving camp once or twice work best? While perhaps one camp could be inside Yellowstone, I think my girls and wife would like hook ups for a good portion of trip and I am familiar with Yellowstone's campsite limitations (Fishing Bridge only campground with full hook ups, right?)

Any advice on how to manage a week in YNP and GTNP would be greatly appreciated! I'd also take itinerary suggestions as well.
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Old 07-05-2019, 12:17 PM   #2
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Yes, Fishing Bridge RV has the only hookups in Yellowstone. It's closed this year for renovations but will be open when you go. The best centralized for no hookups is Madison campground. Remember, you're not going to be at the campground much. You'll be leaving early morning and returning late afternoon or evening. It's best to start your Yellowstone touring around 7 or 8am. It will be more enjoyable for those early hours and better chance to see animals all to yourself!

For Grand Teton, stay at Colter RV park inside the park. Again, the only one with hookups. For non-hookups we like Gros Ventre campground closer to the town of Jackson (big groceries & better fuel prices just outside and south of Jackson) There's also a non-hookup campground at Colter Bay - next to the hookup park.

Any chance to add more time? One week for both parks is going to be very rushed. Each park is completely different in looks and things to do. Hiking is best in the Tetons for all abilities. Take the gentle float trip down the Snake River in the park and you just might see a moose in the water with you. We did! Yellowstone's main attractions are the geysers and wildlife in the roads (slow traveling). We've been to both many times but the Tetons is our favorite. If you've never been then definitely do both.

Each national park has a wonderful web site giving things to do, road information, special alerts, maps, etc. Check them out thoroughly.

Here is Yellowstone's:

https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvis...ngbridgecg.htm

... and Grand Teton's:

https://www.nps.gov/grte/index.htm
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Old 07-05-2019, 04:00 PM   #3
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We stayed in west Yellowstone. Found it was the most convenient place to stay. Grizzly Rv park. Book now. For Tetons, you have to visit colter bay if you can get in. Keep trying.

Absolutely LOVED Tetons. As they say about Yellowstone, it’s so crowded no one ever goes anymore.
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Old 07-05-2019, 05:40 PM   #4
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I’ll second twogypsies advise. Colter bay for Tetons, and Fishing bridge for Yellowstone. It’s good that your planning early. Make reservations as soon as you can. You’re going to love it. We’ve been there 3 times, and it was some time ago. Nowadays, reservations are a must. Welcome to the forums, and do hang around and keep us posted on how things go before during and after.
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Old 07-05-2019, 09:06 PM   #5
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We stayed at 3 campgrounds in Yellowstone on our trip in the summer of 2017, just before the big solar eclipse (it was what we could manage booking 5 months out). We stayed at Grant, Canyon and Fishing Bridge. We have a 28 ft 29.5 ft bumper to bumper class A with no slides and no TOAD (yet), we had booked 30 ft RV sites at all 3 campgrounds, and all 3 were tight fits due to sapling trees growing up all around the sites. Not only were the rv sites tight, but the camping loops at Grant and Canyon were tight also, one of which while pulling out we probably had less than 12 inches of clearance on each side while going around a curve and down a slight slope between an RV on the left and a tree on the right. (lots of people had orange cone markers out for there slides at pull out sites).


Grant and Canyon are physically large campgrounds, we were all the way in the back at one of them, and as I recall it was over a 5 minute drive at posted (low) speed limit from our site to the check in station, due to this we skipped the evening ranger led programs. Fishing bridge is not as big, though still large, here everyone is packed in like sardines, how it will be after the major year long remodel is any ones guess.


As to the need for full hookups, this really depends on what luxuries you need, the nights will generally be cool, expect a good chance of needing to run your furnace at night even in August, days are generally mild rarely getting above the 70's. There is almost no cell signal in the park, I think we had cell signal at the Grant visitors center, but not at the campground. All the campgrounds have dump stations near the entrance, and I think all have fresh water fills available too, plus at least Grant and Canyon have restroom buildings with running water and dish washing stations.


Ike


p.s. note it seems yellowstone rv sites are total length (expect a 30 ft site to be 30-32 ft long end to end, with saplings growing up along the back edge of the pavement so no room to overhang) with no side parking for tow vehicle except some at fishing bridge that have room to park the tow vehicle side by side with the trailer, though even this may be limited in length as the hookups tend to be in front of the truck parking space.
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Old 07-06-2019, 04:53 AM   #6
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When visiting Yellowstone, we have stayed at both the Grizzly RV Park in West Yellowstone (full hookups) and the Madison Campground in Yellowstone (no hookups). We absolutely loved Madison but, with two teenage girls onboard, full hookups will make your life much easier - unless the teens are comfortable using a campground's bathhouse for showers. We stayed away from Fishing Bridge because many reviews commented on how tight the sites were - definitely not our thing. I don't know anything about the current renovations - maybe it will be better space-wise, but I can't imagine them completely redesigning all the sites. Maybe you can find more information online. That being said, you probably won't be spending much time in the campground and if you'd prefer to stay in the park, Fishing Bridge is your only option with full hookups.

For Grand Teton, another vote here for Colter Bay Village RV Park (full hookups). Excellent location - but make reservations early!

I would respectfully suggest that a one week trip to visit both of these magnificent National Parks is not enough time - depending, of course, on your family's interests and inclinations. If your preference is to drive through a Park, stop at all the popular viewpoints and enjoy a meal at the Park lodge, then you can probably see both Parks in seven days. If you enjoy hiking, biking, rafting, fishing, exploring, picnicking, photography and Park Ranger programs, then I'd suggest making it a two week trip. The last time we were at Yellowstone, we spent four full days in the park, didn't see everything and didn't hike at all. West Yellowstone and Jackson Hole are fun towns to explore but, if you're outdoor enthusiasts, you'll fill up two weeks with activities in no time even without spending any time in town.

Have fun planning your journey. You've chosen two spectacular National Parks to visit - enjoy every minute of your trip!

Mary
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Old 07-07-2019, 08:04 AM   #7
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Some helpful information about YSNP (some general items apply to GTNP also)

YNP is BIG!, about 45 miles E/W and about 65 miles N/S (2.2 mil. Acres total). The “figure 8 grand 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 as you planned on in the allotted time. The Bison think that they own the road (they do!) and will slow down the traffic to walking speed or stop all traffic for 1/4 mile or more blocking both directions of travel, 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! (The entrance stations will have current construction information or go on line to check it out)

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 and there are passes on the grand loop road that are close to 8000 ft or so! Drink plenty of liquids and pace yourself when walking.

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 May to mid July in YNP the sun doesn't set until about 9:00- 9:15 PM then there is a long and bright twilight.

Cell Phone Service- Only at the major visitor centers, otherwise non-existent!

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 shiny 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 the boundaries of either NP. It can save you a few anxious moments.

Water- Now I will have to contradict myself, at the altitude of YNP yes, drink lots of water! HOWEVER, be aware that the flush toilet restrooms are in the major tourist areas- Mammoth, Canyon, Fishing Bridge, Lake Hotel, Bridge Bay, Grant Village, Old Faithful, Madison Junction etc. The geyser basins and other thermal attractions areas only have pit toilets. I have seen the pit toilet line at the lower Geyser Basin (2 R/Rs) 25 or more feet long (bless the tour buses) So be smart about drinking your water and use the major tourist area R/Rs before leaving the area! I.e. “Never pass up a flush toilet!”

Sun- At YSNP altitude the Sun is intense (uv) have and apply sunscreen, wear that old floppy wide brim sun hat, wear Sunglasses!

If your luck is like mine Old Faithful will have just erupted when you get there and you will have up to a hour and 10 to 15 minutes wait for the next one. Tour the O/F Geyser basin while waiting. O/F INN is a must see, reportedly the largest LOG building in the U.S. (Meals in the O/F Inn dinning room are “A OK” also.

We have lived about 110 miles from West Yellowstone, MT since 1964, go to YSNP 3-4 times a summer (normally before Memorial Day and after Labor Day) and haven't seen it all yet! So don’t be discouraged that you didn’t have the time to see all of it. Just plan on coming back another time!

I honestly don’t mean to scare or discourage you but to give you a heads up as to what to expect! After all there was 4.1 million visitors in 2015! As far as I know we didn’t lose one of them. Except those who by their own stupidity step off the board walks into BOILING HOT water and ignoring the warnings about the WILD ANIMALS! That is called purifying the gene pool!

Note I have seen on this blog and others about folks “day tripping” from YSNP to GTNP, it is done all the time (myself included) however remember this is BIG country and with the speed limits, animals and thermal attractions you will be doing a LOT of slow driving. From Grant Village Visitor Center (extreme S/E corner of the lower loop road) to Jackson, WY is about 80 miles with Coulter Bay being about 1/2 way then from Grant Village you have to add the distance to your CG it will be a Long days trip!

A point of Coulter Bay (GTNP) clarification- there are two (2) CG’s at Coulter Bay, One the “Coulter Bay RV Park” a full service “RV Park” with FHU’S that takes reservations. The other is the “Coulter Bay Campground “ has no hookups and doesn’t take reservations. Both have about 300 sites and are basically across the road from each other.

The Gros Ventre CG in GTNP (about 5 miles north of Jackson and about 4 miles east toward the town of Kelly, right side of the road) is about 300 sites (including about 30 sites that are electric only) has no hookups and doesn’t take reservations.

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/ TABLE 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 championship twice". If you decide to go you will sit at picnic type of bench seats/table, they get pretty hard, I recommend that you take along a blanket/pads to sit on. We day trip it there 2-4 times every summer just 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 on your trip! Check out their website.

http://www.barjchuckwagon.com

Also in Jackson check out the “COWBOY” bar, the bar stools are saddles and the # of Silver Dollars in the bar. The Wort Hotel Bar (just around the corner from the Cowboy Bar) also has Silver Dollars imbedded in the Bar
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Old 07-07-2019, 10:58 AM   #8
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Hi ! Welcome to IRV2! We're sure glad you joined the gang!

I can't help with that but noticed you are kinda new on IRV2 and wanted to say hello! Have fun and keep her between the ditches!

Good luck, happy trails, and God bless!
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Old 07-08-2019, 05:42 PM   #9
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We stayed at Yellowstone Holiday RV Park, about 15 minutes from the west entrance. Nice, clean park on a lake, can accept any size RV.
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Old 07-17-2019, 11:36 PM   #10
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Been there four times, have 4 kids including two teenage daughters. Full hookups were mandatory. At Yellowstone we stay at Fishing Bridge, Tetons, Colter RV.
Fishing Bridge is basically a parking lot type area. It won’t feel like camping but you aren’t there for that. Colter is more camp like and we hung around the camper more.
We are hard core when we go. We live in PA so we want to maximize our time there. We get up it’s still dark or just getting light depending on the days plans.
Get out early and stay late. You see the most wildlife early and late. At 6am you practically have the park to yourself in the middle of summer. Considering what it gets like later. Pack to be gone the whole day. Enough food and drinks. We pack a portable propane stove and just pull off when hungry and eat. I too plan everything. Every meal is set up before we leave from PA.
Hit the touristy stuff super early while checking for wildlife along the way. You can be gone from that stuff by the time tour buses arrive. Then hit some out of the way stuff during the day. This is the unplanned part. Always leave 4 or more hours unplanned. We have a rule, if someone wants to stop at something we do it, no matter what. Whether it’s a chipmunk on the side of the road, or a stream to make a few casts. It’s amazing how empty the park is if you get away from the main attractions. We did a 6 mile hike just a few miles from Old Faithful craziness at the height of tourist season and middle of the day. We saw exactly 3 people. Get away. Plan, plan, plan. Enjoy!
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Old 07-18-2019, 03:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 8ptspike View Post
Been there four times, have 4 kids including two teenage daughters. Full hookups were mandatory. At Yellowstone we stay at Fishing Bridge, Tetons, Colter RV.
Fishing Bridge is basically a parking lot type area. It won’t feel like camping but you aren’t there for that. Colter is more camp like and we hung around the camper more.
We are hard core when we go. We live in PA so we want to maximize our time there. We get up it’s still dark or just getting light depending on the days plans.
Get out early and stay late. You see the most wildlife early and late. At 6am you practically have the park to yourself in the middle of summer. Considering what it gets like later. Pack to be gone the whole day. Enough food and drinks. We pack a portable propane stove and just pull off when hungry and eat. I too plan everything. Every meal is set up before we leave from PA.
Hit the touristy stuff super early while checking for wildlife along the way. You can be gone from that stuff by the time tour buses arrive. Then hit some out of the way stuff during the day. This is the unplanned part. Always leave 4 or more hours unplanned. We have a rule, if someone wants to stop at something we do it, no matter what. Whether it’s a chipmunk on the side of the road, or a stream to make a few casts. It’s amazing how empty the park is if you get away from the main attractions. We did a 6 mile hike just a few miles from Old Faithful craziness at the height of tourist season and middle of the day. We saw exactly 3 people. Get away. Plan, plan, plan. Enjoy!
I LOVE your way of seeing the parks. Excellent post!!!!
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Old 07-24-2019, 09:27 PM   #12
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Has anyone stayed at Headwaters Campground at Flagg Ranch? They have full hookups and It's about mid way between Yellowstone and Grand Teton. We've planned a trip in mid September going through there on our way to British Columbia. I thought that might be a good base camp to check out the area for 4 days.
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Old 07-24-2019, 09:44 PM   #13
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A week for both parks is not enough. If you want to see lots of wildlife go early jun and stay at canyon for the whole time. Lamar valley and Hayden are best places to see animals. Animals like wolves and bears are up very early or after dinner. We ate our dinner at 11am then went out till dark. You will see plenty of bison and elk at any time of day. Lots of thermal attractions that can be seen at any time. After mid June crowds get large. Get your reservations early. Like next may for 2021.
Enjoy the journey
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Old 08-02-2019, 05:36 AM   #14
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John Jackson, we stayed at Headwaters spring of 2017. Some people have posted unhappy reviews but we had no issues. It is a forested campground and our site was FHU and very spacious. The bathrooms/showers were extremely clean (beginning of season?). I don’t usually use them at campgrounds but did there. It’s a pretty good central location to GT and Yellowstone.
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