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Old 01-22-2019, 11:08 AM   #1
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Yellowstone trip- is Cody worth the detour?

This will be our first MAJOR trip; planning 2-3 months out west. We are definitely going to Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP’s. I’ve read a bit about Cody and not wanting to miss something, am thinking of adding that between the two NPs.

We are staying near YS west entrance for 4 days. I had planned on heading to Grand Teton right after Yellowstone. If we add Cody, well that seems to really add on a lot of travel. Going from Cody to Grand Teton is about five hours. Can I get any suggestions from those whom have done this trip in the past?

Disclaimer: we are going to Yellowstone after Washington state, so we will likely approach from I90 (haven’t mapped out exact route yet). Arrival in YS is May 27th.

Thanks oh wise travelers...I’m sure I will have many more questions.
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Old 01-22-2019, 11:27 AM   #2
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I would go there!! Good campgrounds and lots to see.
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Old 01-22-2019, 11:46 AM   #3
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Really good museum in Cody ... and we aren’t museum folks.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Top notch!

We have made a number of trip between Cody and Grand Teton NP ... if you don’t dilly dally, you can do it in less than four hours (in a car, so an RV would likely be a bit slower).

Out west time is more often expressed in days or parts of days, not hours

Tip ... look for what may be going on this summer with road and bridge construction at and near Fishing Bridge, that could leave something undesireable in the punch bowl, so to speak.
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Old 01-22-2019, 12:48 PM   #4
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It's a great place to see, you can still eat at the historic Irma hotel which goes back to the Buffalo Bill days. During the season there's a rodeo several nights a week.
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Old 01-22-2019, 12:55 PM   #5
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The Chief Joseph Scenic Highway just north of Cody is beautiful if you stay long enough to do any sightseeing.

And I'll second SeeTheUSA's recommendation of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. It is outstanding.
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Old 01-22-2019, 02:43 PM   #6
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I also would recommend going to Cody. Not sure of the 4-5 hours between it and Tetons.
Any time we have driven out that east entrance the traffic because of animal sightings puts a damper on travel speed.
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Old 01-22-2019, 02:57 PM   #7
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While there is not much there for me personally (and that totally depends on what you like) the museum is excellent and I will go back there next time I am up that way as we went through it fairly quickly and would like to spend more time there.
What about going to Cody first then cut across the park to the west entrance for your 4 days there?
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Old 01-22-2019, 03:19 PM   #8
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We spent a week in Yellowstone last year and didn't get to see it all. Spend a few more days there would be my suggestion.
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Old 01-22-2019, 04:16 PM   #9
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I love Cody. It is a true "western" town. We were there on July 4th and the town really goes all out in the celebration. There's lots to do there.
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Old 01-22-2019, 06:19 PM   #10
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Cody is a nice town, I work there several times during the summer and have a few friends who live there. IT's worth going to for sure, the museum you can spend a week in if you wanted, it's HUGE.
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Old 01-22-2019, 07:37 PM   #11
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Thanks all- think we will go to Cody! That way we can also go back into YS if we didn’t get enough. Can y’all give me a suggestion for a nice, reasonable campground? 40ft Redwood 5er, no generator.
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Old 01-22-2019, 10:53 PM   #12
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Stay at the Ponderosa campground and if you are reasonably fit you can walk to the Buffalo Bill Museum (excellent as others have noted). The drive from Cody to Grand Tietons should include a stop at the Buffalo Bill Dam.
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Old 01-22-2019, 11:51 PM   #13
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We added Cody to our Yellowstone Trip and we loved our time there. The gun collection at the Museum was amazing and my wife now thinks my little collection is insignificant. (haha). We enjoyed our dinner at Bubba's BBQ so much we went back several times. The Plains Indian Pow Wow was being held on the Museum Grounds when we were there. We went and we were amazed. I thought we were just going to a show, it was so much more, but the Pow Wow is a story in itself. We stayed at the Ponderosa RV Park, it was near anything we wanted to see. One of our days there, my wife went "window shopping" while I went out and checked out the outlying area. I am not sure how she spent so much money just looking in windows. At the Ponderosa, they had a Mountain Man Presentation. I enjoyed learning about the history of the people and the area, the Grandkids were a little bored, but ice cream made it all better. We stayed in two different RV Parks near the West Entrance, Grizzly was by far the better of the two. Being right next to the Wolf Sanctuary was quite entertaining for the Grandkids, nothing like a good ol Wolf Howl just before they go to sleep. I could go on, but it only makes me want to get back there sooner and please provide a trip report. JH
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Old 01-23-2019, 03:13 PM   #14
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Some general information about YNP (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 9:30- 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 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 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 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 (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.

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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