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Old 12-30-2018, 11:11 AM   #1
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July 2019 trip to Yellowstone

I am planning a trip from Kentucky to Yellowstone and would like to run my itinerary by the experts to see how it looks. Some background and parameters: It will be me, wife, and 2 12 year old girls. and we have 2 weeks. We are driving a 2018 Ford F-350 dually towing a Premier 34BHPR 38 ft travel trailer. In order to maximize vacation, make good time, and keep girls from going stir crazy in the truck the trip out will be driving at night. I work third shift and mostly 12 hour shifts so driving at night isn't an issue for me. I have cousins in Rapid City and Gillette, WY who will be joining us in a convoy to Yellowstone and the Tetons.

7/17 - Leave Kentucky 8pm, arrive Rock Port Rivers Edge Campground in Rock Port, MO around 8am 7/18. Girls will swim and hang out in camper while i sleep.

7/18 - leave Rock Port, MO around 4pm, arrive Rapid City 4am 7/19 staying at Rapid City KOA. After I get a nap, tour Badlands, Mt Rushmore and hang out with family.

7/20 - leave Rapid City 8am and head to Hardin, MT KOA via Gillette WY and arrive at Little Bighorn Battlefield 2pm.

7/21 - leave Hardin, MT 9am to West Yellowstone, MT KOA via I-90, arriving 2pm

7/21 through 7/26 - tour Yellowstone NP

7/26 - leave West Yellowstone KOA 9am via US 191, arrive Virginian RV park in Jackson, WY 12pm. Drive through Grand Teton NP and see a few sights.

7/27 - Leave Jackson, WY 9am, arrive Cody, WY KOA 2pm. Tour Buffalo Bill Museum and drive the Beartooth/Chief Joseph Highway.

7/29 - Leave Cody, WY 9am, arrive Kennebec, SD KOA 8pm.

7/29 - Leave Kennebec, SD 3am, arrive Kansas City KOA 1pm on 7/30.

730 - leave KC KOA 8pm, arrive home at 6am.

To those in the know, how does this trip look? Any advice? Any other forums or threads I should be posting this on?

Thanks in advance,

Adam
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Old 12-30-2018, 05:20 PM   #2
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You are highly organized, so I am guessing you already know how brutal the traffic is in the park in July? I mean, people literally just stop and get out of their vehicles on a single lane road, both directions.
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Old 12-30-2018, 05:58 PM   #3
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travel in Yellowstone

As the other post stated traffic will be bad stop an go .Get out very early you will see more wild animals. maded that trip in September in 2016 had snow in the park.no traffic.In joy your the trip
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Old 12-31-2018, 05:45 AM   #4
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My comment is more about your travel times. Are you going to feel safe traveling overnight with a trailer? Also, most campgrounds have a check out time around 11 or 12 unless you’re paying for an extra day but leaving in the afternoon for the first couple of days.

Good luck and enjoy!
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Old 12-31-2018, 05:58 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wadecool View Post
I am planning a trip from Kentucky to Yellowstone and would like to run my itinerary by the experts to see how it looks. Some background and parameters: It will be me, wife, and 2 12 year old girls. and we have 2 weeks. We are driving a 2018 Ford F-350 dually towing a Premier 34BHPR 38 ft travel trailer. In order to maximize vacation, make good time, and keep girls from going stir crazy in the truck the trip out will be driving at night. I work third shift and mostly 12 hour shifts so driving at night isn't an issue for me. I have cousins in Rapid City and Gillette, WY who will be joining us in a convoy to Yellowstone and the Tetons.

7/17 - Leave Kentucky 8pm, arrive Rock Port Rivers Edge Campground in Rock Port, MO around 8am 7/18. Girls will swim and hang out in camper while i sleep.

7/18 - leave Rock Port, MO around 4pm, arrive Rapid City 4am 7/19 staying at Rapid City KOA. After I get a nap, tour Badlands, Mt Rushmore and hang out with family.

7/20 - leave Rapid City 8am and head to Hardin, MT KOA via Gillette WY and arrive at Little Bighorn Battlefield 2pm.

7/21 - leave Hardin, MT 9am to West Yellowstone, MT KOA via I-90, arriving 2pm

7/21 through 7/26 - tour Yellowstone NP

7/26 - leave West Yellowstone KOA 9am via US 191, arrive Virginian RV park in Jackson, WY 12pm. Drive through Grand Teton NP and see a few sights.

7/27 - Leave Jackson, WY 9am, arrive Cody, WY KOA 2pm. Tour Buffalo Bill Museum and drive the Beartooth/Chief Joseph Highway.

7/29 - Leave Cody, WY 9am, arrive Kennebec, SD KOA 8pm.

7/29 - Leave Kennebec, SD 3am, arrive Kansas City KOA 1pm on 7/30.

730 - leave KC KOA 8pm, arrive home at 6am.

To those in the know, how does this trip look? Any advice? Any other forums or threads I should be posting this on?

Thanks in advance,

Adam
this is what I said on the other forum last night;

Adaam,

OK - Let's try to be Honest Here - First RV/TT trip?

Night travel is fine - BUT - if anything Happens and Sh*t happens - you will be totally out of cycle. Waiting for help/repairs till morning, when things open - just keep that in Mind. (keep in mind check in and Check Out times as they might not fit into your schedule - Girls can handle 6-8 hours in the vehicle [emoticon])

Big Rig and Big trailer - Not fast and Not Cheap to run in. Might just think a little about a Rental Class C - everyone will have room to stretch out and travel is just easier, day or night - As most of us have done these crazy trips when we were young, we do have a bit of experience. Another thing to think about is using three weekends to add a few more days to the trip 16.5 vs 14 with your middle of the week start and finish you will lose these days.?????

Why not just shorten the trip a Bit and Take the Girls to the Beach? Just have to throw this out there as girls do love the Beach and whole it would still be a drive - it would be closer.

Wall Drug and Bad lands are both just drive throughs so a few hours at each is fine - Custer might be a good spot to stay - lots of things to see every day as you drive to and from the CG. Next Cody is a good stop with a Walmart so stock up there before entering no man's land in YNP, just add 20-30 percent to everything - Be sure to have a good Camera - but small - and good boots for everyone for hiking - floppy hats and sunscreen - Layers of clothes and a good cooler for lunches - it will likely rain at least once - start early and come back early - most start late and come back late - there are fun and beautiful things outside the parks - Keep the water in your plans, as kids love the water - Find a good travel App - I use Bing map to YNP - https://binged.it/2R3wEEr ........

Send off to get info from the states and the areas you plan to visit - amazing how little we Know.

Keep working on the plan it will be fun to follow your adventure.

Might take it over to irv2.com good forum with more info.

Best of luck


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Old 12-31-2018, 02:38 PM   #6
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First of all welcome to the Forum, you have found a great place to get advice, I too love driving at night-BUT- I second the comments about towing at night, especially if you are not a very experienced puller. I do have a couple suggestions for your campsites you might find helpful-unless you really want those KOAs for your girls to swim, I would suggest staying at Gros Ventre USFS campground in the Tetons instead of in Jackson, and Westin Bend State Park when by Kansas City. One other thing - not sure how you arrived at the time allotted for travel, just know that it takes a lot more travel time towing that camper than simply driving in a car, If in a 10 hour driving day you average 50 mph that is about it. Most of us don't drive over 62-65 no matter what the speed limit is, just sayin'.
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Old 12-31-2018, 03:01 PM   #7
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I would shorten the trip and plan on traveling in the day when the places you are traveling through and to are at least visible. Otherwise you might as well fly there and rent a car. Trust me, with fuel prices and KOA charges it might cost the same.

At 12 the kids will not care all that much about the scenery but will remember the times you spend together. Remembering how they had to be quiet so dad could sleep to start driving at 3 AM might not make the treasured memories list.

Many of your travel days are more than 8 hours with several being 12 hour days, some of them back to back. These are fun for NOBODY. Try to cut your days to less than 400 miles/8 hours. Even at 8 hours a day that is an exhausting day. It is much more enjoyable to pick a spot to stay for several days between moves making day trips without the trailer, coming back to it each night than to travel long distance and set-up/tear down each day. If I were planning your trip I would either cut out several destinations or add at least a week to the trip. Most of us would need a vacation after a trip that busy/hectic. For what it's worth my first long trip was about 3000 miles and 7 destinations in just under 3 weeks and while it was fun there were just too many travel days to be "relaxing".

Also you will most likely average 50 MPH when you factor in fuel/food stops, less if you stop at scenic overlooks and roadside attractions. Travel times listed in Google maps or Waze assumes you will travel at posted speed limits but most agree it is unwise to tow faster than 65 so keep that in mind.

Lastly, unless you just really like KOA you may find state parks or Corp of Engineer parks to be much nicer and have full hookups for half price or less than KOA. Below is a pic of a CoE campground that cost just $12 a night for full hookups in the middle of summer. Sometimes they just feel more like camping rather than parking.

Good luck with the trip, still a long time to plan it out so you have lots of options.
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Old 12-31-2018, 06:39 PM   #8
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I noticed some of the KOA campgrounds you are checking in during the morning hours during the prime summer season. They may charge you a "early arrival" fee. And do they have the site you reserved, open that early in the day.

I notice your staying at the downtown Jackson ( Virginian RV park ) $$$$$ $110 a night. Any of the KOA's are going to be pricey...Another more wilderness option would be Gros Ventre National Park Campground about 10 minutes north of Jackson. Chance to see moose walking thru the campground...

While in Jackson, the Bar J Chuckwagon dinner show is a must see. Reserve your tickets early, show up 30-60 minutes before the 5:30 doors open to get the best table up front by the stage...

We did a 6 week Yellowstone / Teton's / Mammoth Caves trip last year home based out of NE. Ohio. Our long hauls across the country were during the day, and used Walmart's and Cabela's as overnight stops.

We spent 2 whole weeks inside Yellowstone, staying inside Yellowstone (Madison and Bridge Bay 7 nights each) And one week at Gros Ventre in the Teton's ( late May to June 13th) July will be grid-lock inside Yellowstone, plan your daily excursions with careful planning. Meaning, leaving West Yellowstone before 8am in order to get a parking spot at one of the popular geyser parking lots. Then as a lunch stop, head to the Old Faithful geyser parking lot, as it is the only parking lot I would classify as a "very large parking lot". Either pack a picnic lunch as at the rear of the parking lot there are a few (10-15) picnic tables or at the Old Faithful Lodge ( front right of parking lot) there is a covered veranda with some nice seating to eat your lunch.Then do some exploring in that area.


Bison who stayed in our campsite at Bridge bay for two days.
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Old 01-01-2019, 09:12 PM   #9
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I'd do Cody before Yellowstone and then drive through the park to West Yellowstone. I'd cut a day off Yellowstone and add it to the Tetons. Leaving West Yellowstone again drive though the park to the south entrance taking you into Grand Teton. Stay in the park at either Colter Bay campground (no hookups; no reservations) or Colter Bay RV next door. We really like Gros Ventre campground which is closer to the town of Jackson if you wanted to do the rodeo. The girls would like the gentle float trip in the park on the Snake River. They just might see a moose in the water with them. We did! The Tetons have some nice easy hikes to beautiful lakes. Cody also has a rodeo and the girls would enjoy that rather than the Museum in Cody. The Museum's great but not for 12-year-olds.

I agree about checking with campgrounds about your arrival/leaving times. Arriving in Rapid City at 4am? Your neighbors wouldn't appreciate your setting up noise. I don't believe any of you would get good rest and the girls getting their sleep sitting up in the truck. Kids can do it but not days of it. Doesn't sound like you'll get much sleep either. For instance on the first day you said girls will swim & hang out in the camper while you sleep. You must be a sound sleeper. Plus, you're missing out on the days for family fun.
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Old 01-01-2019, 10:43 PM   #10
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I'd do Cody before Yellowstone and then drive through the park to West Yellowstone. I'd cut a day off Yellowstone and add it to the Tetons. Leaving West Yellowstone again drive though the park to the south entrance taking you into Grand Teton. Stay in the park at either Colter Bay campground (no hookups; no reservations) or Colter Bay RV next door. We really like Gros Ventre campground which is closer to the town of Jackson if you wanted to do the rodeo. The girls would like the gentle float trip in the park on the Snake River. They just might see a moose in the water with them. We did! The Tetons have some nice easy hikes to beautiful lakes. Cody also has a rodeo and the girls would enjoy that rather than the Museum in Cody. The Museum's great but not for 12-year-olds.

I agree about checking with campgrounds about your arrival/leaving times. Arriving in Rapid City at 4am? Your neighbors wouldn't appreciate your setting up noise. I don't believe any of you would get good rest and the girls getting their sleep sitting up in the truck. Kids can do it but not days of it. Doesn't sound like you'll get much sleep either. For instance on the first day you said girls will swim & hang out in the camper while you sleep. You must be a sound sleeper. Plus, you're missing out on the days for family fun.
This sounds magnificent!
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Old 01-02-2019, 11:47 AM   #11
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Some general information about YNP (some general items apply to GTNP also)

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 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 all stop 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 9:30- 9:45 PM then there is a long 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 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 holes) 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 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 dinning room are “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 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 CoulterBay 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.

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 for your trip! Check out their website.

Bar J Chuckwagon

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 01-04-2019, 03:34 PM   #12
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Taking into account the girls needing burn energy after driving long days and shortening the days somewhat as well as all of us being on same sleep schedule, i have updated the itinerary:

With u getting another day off here’s my updated itinerary:

7/17 - leave home at 3am arrive KC KOA 2pm

7/18 - KC KOA to Kennebec, SD KOA 8am to 6pm

7/19 - Kennebec KOA to Rapid City driving through Badlands and Wall Drug on way 8am to 2pm. Tour Mt Rushmore after setting up camp

7/20 - rapid city to Hardin, MT via Gillette, WY 9am to 3pm. Go to Little Bighorn battlefield in afternoon

7/21 - Hardin, MT to West Yellowstone KOA 9am to 3pm

7/26 - West Yellowstone to Jackson WY 7am to 1pm. Tour Tetons in afternoon

7/27 - Jackson to Cody 7am to 3pm. Tour museum and beartooth highway in 2 days

7/29 - Cody to Ft Collins KOA 6am to 2pm. Drive through RMNP.

7/30 - FT Collins KOA to Topeka KOA 8am to 6pm

7/31 - Topeka KOA to home 8am to 6pm
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Old 01-04-2019, 04:07 PM   #13
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Your updated itinerary looks a lot more realistic and enjoyable, only thing is you might still have a problem on your days going from west Yellowstone to Jackson, and Jackson to Cody. You will be driving thru both GTNP and YNP on both of those days and I think you will need way more time. Traffic at that time of year will be heavy and slow.
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Old 01-04-2019, 04:16 PM   #14
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I agree, that is a better, more rest-ful trip...Yes, the South and West Entrance to YS will be a doozy....If your able to get thru the West Yellowstone entrance at 7am, that will be better that at 9am...
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