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Old 10-11-2018, 03:53 PM   #1
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Smile Excited but Nervous!

Hi all,
We have had our toy hauler for about 5 years now but have only used it for weekend beach camping and short desert trips that have all been local. I've finally been able to convince my husband to go on a "real" RV trip and I have sooooo.... many questions! We have a 30' toy hauler which we're towing with our Chevy Silverado 3500. We'll be going from San Diego to Zion and then onto Yellowstone. Not sure how long our total trip will be but we're hoping for a total of 2 weeks. We have mostly questions about the best/safest routes to take. As of now, I'm planning on booking a site in Zion at the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort and haven't yet had a chance to do research on RV sites in Yellowstone yet. This will really be our first time navigating the trailer through mountainous terrain so my husbands a little anxious about that. Any routes and/or tips you guys can give us will be extremely appreciated! Oh, and we're planning our trip for July of 2019.
Thank you!
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Old 10-11-2018, 04:32 PM   #2
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Heading to Yellowstone is always exciting. Zion too!

We live just south of you guys in the northern part of San Diego County. If it were me, I would zip north on I15 past Zion (or just an overnight recon stay for a future trip) and head straight for YNP. Spend a 3-4 days EACH in the North, the Middle, then the South sections of YNP. On the way home I would go out the South Gate and spend 3-4 days at Grand Tetons NP.

If you’ve never been, YNP is huge. It takes a very long time to get around because of the long distances, the slow speed limits, and the BHM’s (Big hairy mammals). There is so much to see, it would be a shame to rush yourselves through it.

Hope that you guys have a wonderful time!
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Old 10-11-2018, 06:47 PM   #3
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I hope you won't be 'hill' shy driving the truck into Zion daily. You will be east of the tunnels and you'll have a steep, curvy hill going into the park. However, to get your RV to Zion Ponderosa RV Park you don't have to use this hill or the tunnels. Here's how:

Take UT I-15 to Hwy 9 just beyond St. George, UT. At Hurricane, UT take Hwy 59 south into Arizona which becomes Hwy 389. This will take you to Fredonia, AZ. Go north on 89 to Hwy 9 near Mt. Carmel, UT and take Hwy 9 west to your RV park. No big hills.

Leaving get back on Hwy 89 and take it north to I-70 and west to I-15 again.

Take I-15 north to Pocatello, Idaho then north to Idaho Falls, ID. Then pick up Hwy 20 taking you into West Yellowstone. There are many RV parks in and near West Yellowstone. No hills on this route.

That said.... can you take more time for this trip and include some national parks that you will be very close? Bryce NP, Utah and Grand Teton NP just south of Yellowstone. They are absolutely 'musts'.

If going to Grand Teton after Yellowstone, backtrack on Hwy 20 to Idaho Falls and take 26 east to Alpine, WY then north to Jackson, WY and into Grand Teton. (Don't be tempted to take a shortcut from 26 to 31 at Victor and into Jackson. You definitely won't like it. This is Teton Pass.) You could also drive through Yellowstone and take the South Entrance which will then be Grand Teton.

For Bryce from Zion take Hwy 89 north to Hwy 12 at Panguitch and east on Hwy 12. Ruby's RV is just outside the park entrance and the free shuttle stops there all day long to take you into the park. You could do a day trip from Zion but it will be rushed and especially if you want to do some hiking you need more time. The hiking is like going through a fairy wonderland.

I'd recommend you purchase the 'Mountain Directory for Truckers & RVers' for this and future trips. It's very helpful. I predict you'll feel comfortable with hills in no time. You have to drive them if you want to get to awesome places. Your RV isn't big compared to others you'll see on these routes so you shouldn't have any issues. Uphills are easy. Downhill - get into low gear before even starting down. Then you will only have to tap on the brakes at intervals. Don't try to gear down in the midst of the hill.

Don't worry! Have fun. . . and add more days if you can.
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Old 10-13-2018, 05:52 PM   #4
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Going to agree with HavingABlast. Both areas are fantastic and sort of need their own vacation times. If you have kids, which it sounds like you do, then you will be going to YNP in the summer time which can be a very crowded time thus spending more time dealing with crowds and traffic in the park. To spend time only in Zion and not see much of the other parks in Southern Utah would be a mistake. IMO, you really should have two separate trips. You can easily spend two weeks in Southern Utah to see all the national parks and have enough time to hike, sightsee and travel around each day to various locations.


Same with YNP. You need a good two weeks to really see everything in and around Yellowstone. IMO from everything inside YNP to visiting Bozeman MT, Cody WY, Grand Teton NP and many of the other places around the park, you really need two weeks there as well. Of course that is how I would do it but we are all different.
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Old 10-14-2018, 05:47 PM   #5
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Thanks so much for your great advice. It will talk about 7 hours for us to drive from our home to Zion and then about 9 hours from Zion to YNP. Actually, probably longer on both trips because these calculations are based on driving a car and not towing a trailer. So, we definitely need to stop somewhere in between to rest for a bit. But our main destination is YNP and I definitely don't want to rush our stay there. Since it seems like there is tons to see in Utah, I think we'll have to save a longer trip in that area for later. Since my vacation time will only allow me about two weeks total, I'm thinking that maybe just spending about two days solely in Zion to rest up and see some of the park before heading to YNP and spending the rest of the trip there might work better. We'll still need a mid point rest break on the way back too so still have to figure that out and see if it's possible to fit in Grand Tetons also.....Ughhhhh, deep breaths....At least I still have some time to plan before next summer!!
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Old 10-23-2018, 04:54 PM   #6
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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 10-23-2018, 04:57 PM   #7
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Hi ! Welcome to IRV2! We're sure glad you joined the gang!

I'm not the one to advise you on that trip, 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 11-28-2018, 12:48 PM   #8
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Zion used to be our favorite place to visit UNTIL we went to YNP and Grand Tetons!!! Everyone I know (including us) would love to live in Jackson, except that it is on the spendy side, to say the least.
Enjoy!!!
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