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Old 02-23-2019, 12:02 PM   #1
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Chicago to Yellowstone Help

My husband and I are leaving the end of August to head towards Yellowstone National park. We really need some help please. I know we can't avoid mountains entirely. Can anyone suggest a route to avoid the steep grades. We have a Sunset trailer that is 27' long and we are pulling it with a 2017 Ford F150 and it does not have 4 wheel drive. We also are not on any time line because we are both retired so if we have to drive out of our way to get there it doesn't matter. I did read that the "Northeast entrance" isn't recommended. I would appreciate any help.
Thank you,
Lynn
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Old 02-23-2019, 04:27 PM   #2
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Interstate 80 west to 287 near Rawlins, Wyoming to 26 to Yellowstone does not look too bad. Have not driven that route myself.
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Old 02-23-2019, 04:43 PM   #3
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We went in the North route last year, 90 to state route 89. It's probably the easiest way in. We also toured the Black Hills along the way there.
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Old 02-23-2019, 09:42 PM   #4
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From Chicago take I-80 into Wyoming then 191 north toward the town of Jackson, WY. Then continue north into Grand Teton Nat'l Park. Definitely stop for a few nights. It's a beauty and altogether different from Yellowstone in looks and things to do. The hiking is awesome for all abilities. Take a gentle float trip tour down the Snake River and you just might find a moose in the water with you. We did!

We like to stay at Gros Ventre campground just beyond the town of Jackson - in the park. No reservations accepted but we've always gotten a site even with our 40' motorhome. A little north in the park is Colter Bay campground. No reservations. Each has 300 sites. Next door is Colter Bay RV with hookups.

Then continue north through Teton NP and you'll be in Yellowstone. Madison campground is in a nice central area. We've also stayed at Bridge Bay and Mammoth.

Each national park has a great web site listing campgrounds and closing times, things to do, road information, special alerts, etc.

https://www.nps.gov/grte/index.htm

https://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm

You won't need 4x4 to drive in these areas. Your truck will do just fine.

After Yellowstone, since you have plenty of time, why not head south and do the southern Utah national parks. They're awesome and the weather would be perfect. You could even work in Grand Canyon Nat'l Park while in the area. Then take I-40 east and veer north to Chicago.
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Old 02-24-2019, 07:48 PM   #5
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I agree with I80 west to Hwy 191 north. Nice easy route, very beautiful following the river bottom as you get near the park and Jackson Hole.
We stayed at Colter Bay RV park in the Tetons for two days, it is really a must see area.
We then went north through Yellowstone and stayed just west of the park for 4 days while we traveled the park itself on our motorcycle.
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Old 02-25-2019, 08:34 AM   #6
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Smile RE:Chicago to Yellowstone Help

Thank you for all of your advice!
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Old 02-27-2019, 01:58 PM   #7
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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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Old 03-04-2019, 06:49 PM   #8
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If you don't have reservations for the Yellowstone Teton area you better hurry. Most if not all of the campgrounds are booked for the summer. Enjoy the trip. We will be in that area the end of May and early June. Our daughter is running a half marathon there on June 1.
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Old 03-04-2019, 09:58 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ivykrewe View Post
If you don't have reservations for the Yellowstone Teton area you better hurry. Most if not all of the campgrounds are booked for the summer.
There are campgrounds in the parks that don't even accept reservations. Teton has 600+ non-reservable sites. Yellowstone also has unreservables.
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