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Old 03-28-2011, 09:08 PM   #1
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Pensacola to Glacier & beyond

Hi all,

I've searched and read in the threads and have at least 10 pages in a Word document of stuff Ive saved. But still I'm not sure what route to follow. I'm getting a handle on where we want to go, just not sure exactly which is the best way to get there. I've studied the RV Road Atlas, done Mapquest and Good Sam routing, but nothing is a substitute from hearing from someone who has done it.

Quick background. We've been to Yellowstone twice (Winter and Summer) and the Tetons once (Summer). These trips were pre-RV so it was fly, rent a car, go have fun. We've driven the Beartooth and spent time in Cody, so we probably won't do either of those again.

Anything within about 1000 miles of Pensacola we can go see on shorter trips, so this time we want to put in a few hard days at first to maximize our time at the places we want to visit. We both drive the RV and have, on 3 occasions, pulled a 10 hour day when we needed to. Wouldn't want to do this for more than the first 2 days, however.

We'll leave sometime in mid-to-late August (if you know a better time, please tell me - we're flexible) and will be gone about 5 weeks. We could extend that but want to plan for that time frame. This is our first trip of more than 10 days so we're just not sure how it will flow. Or how well the 4 cats are going to handle such a long trip. They've all done fine, so far, but are accustomed to having a lot more room to get away from one another if they want to.

Anyway, the places we know we absolutely want to go:

Badlands, Blackhills, Mt. Rushmore, Devil's Tower, Glacier, Yellowstone, Tetons. (Is this the correct order?)

I'm thinking a week or so for the Badlands/Blackhills/Mt. Rushmore/Devil's Tower (I know we could spend much more time there, but this will give us a good idea what/where we want to come back to for a longer stay.

For Glacier - 10 days (should we break this up with stays on each side?)

For Yellowstone - a week, maybe more depending on how things are going.

Tetons - time here will depend on how much we've spent in Yellowstone.

We don't want to drive the same way there and back, although a certain amount of that may be inevitable.

We're really into day hikes, photography, and any interesting routes/roads we can travel in the Jeep.

Equipment- 2011 Vista 30W (gas) pulling a 4 door Jeep Wrangler

Thank you so much for any and help you can give us newbies. (Although our RV will celebrate it's 1st birthday while we're gone.)
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Old 03-29-2011, 07:08 AM   #2
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Sounds like you have it covered.

While in the Black Hills area, I suggest a drive around Custer State Park.

Glacier- that's what we did. We stayed in St. Mary for a week, drove around the south end of the park and stayed a week on the west side. We ended up liking the east side better for seeing the park. However it is more remote so go with full supplies as there is not a decent grocery store for many miles.

Yellowstone- this is a matter of personal preference, but we no longer can stand the crowds and traffic. Last summer, 3 days was all we could stand so we moved on to the Tetons.

Tetons- yep, we like it there.

But our favorite areas are the western slope of Colorado (Ouray area) and the many parks in Utah. Now those are areas for a Jeep! We have had our Jeep up to 14,200 ft. Will be there (CO) for 8 weeks this summer.

Enjoy your trip.
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Old 03-29-2011, 08:29 AM   #3
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"Badlands, Blackhills, Mt. Rushmore, Devil's Tower, Glacier, Yellowstone, Tetons. (Is this the correct order?)"

That is what we did last summer. I would recommend using 3 different CG's for the first four. Badlands NP for at least a night or two and take a ride into Wall. We spent 3 nights and that was about right for us. If it is real hot the animals are not moving.

Custer SP would make a great base for seeing the park, the Wildlife Loop and Needles Hwy. Also Mt Rushmore is right next to it and a couple of the tunnels in Custer SP are lined up with it for interesting photo's. Deadwood is must see and if you like caves then Wind Cave NP and Jewel Cave NM are fairly close by. Then on to a 3rd stop near Devils Tower. We went north into ND, but you can stay on I-90 to US-287. That will take you through Townsend and Canyon Ferry Lake is just past it. Real nice Rec Area CG right on the lake. $5 Golden Age and no hookups.

Glacier NP, check for other threads. But we agree with the other post that St Mary is the best base for seeing the park. Make sure you take the hike from Logan's Pass to overlook. St Mary CG takes reservations and we could only get a 4 night block and were unable to add nights (Aug 6 - 9). We were able to get a site in Two Medicine, first come first served. That is great for seeing Two Medicine but everything else is a good drive away. We spent 5 nights and then found a site in Apgar CG on the west side and spent 7 nights there. Good for the west side, but a longer ride up to Logan's Pass.

Missoula and Deer Lodge are nice stops. Deer Lodge has some nice museums and you could also take a day trip on the Pintler Senic Loop, visit the ghost town just outside of Philipsburg. The historic Grant-Kohrs Ranch is also here.

Then on to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons NP's.

Bob
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Old 03-29-2011, 09:11 AM   #4
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Envy you the trip... just can't imagine ever wanting to leave Yellowstone or even Glacier... well, maybe if I managed to break all the flyrods or the damnable bears chew everything up... :(

August would seem like "Primetime" for all the famlies and kids to clog it all up, the animals will be too hot to move much except at night, and "tourist mania" will be at it's peak. Personally prefer the less popular and packed times but then I flyfish so maybe my tiny lil mind can't expand to encompass all the August Granduer !
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Old 03-29-2011, 03:05 PM   #5
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Hi Floridafran,
I will be where you are going but a bit earlier in the year. I will have Gkids with me. My 1st suggestion is to move Glacier so you arrive just after Labor Day. If you arrive much later than that snow may start closing some of the higher hiking trails. Just after Labor Day will have the crowds gone and the weather cool. Then stop at your other places as you move south, just ahead of the cold weather.

Consider when at the Badlands to visit the Minuteman NHS at exit 131. You'll need to call for tour reservations. Go to Minuteman Missile National Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service) and read about it. Many of the tour guides are ex launch officers.
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Old 03-29-2011, 09:18 PM   #6
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First take a detour to Defuniak Springs and pick me up I know the way.
In aug I would go straight north on I65 to Chicago. Go around there up past Greenbay to US 2 and turn west and slow down. There are several variations on this but I would go north to avoid love bugs and heat here in the south. Then on the way home take a more southerly route. Look for me to do this next year as I am planning that trip this year. Also leave earlier and stay later.
Have fun
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Old 03-30-2011, 06:50 AM   #7
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One word of caution, when we were there last summer we were warned by several different people to avoid US-2 in Northeast MT. They are working on an oil field there and US-2 has constant heavy truck traffic we were told. Also, finding a site at a commercial RV park might be a problem as they are filled with oil field related construction workers. Even when we stopped in Miles City (I-94) the campground was filling with people coming in to work on a pipeline going thru the area. But there are a lot of rec areas with campgrounds, many / most are first come first served so time your arrival for a weekday.

Bob
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Old 03-30-2011, 09:27 AM   #8
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This is a rewrite on my last post. To get to the good stuff quickly I would go to Mobile take US 98 west to Hattiesburg, US49 north to Jackson, then I55 north to St Louis and I70 to Kansas City. From there take I 29 north to Sioux Falls and turn west on I 90. This will get you to the start of your trip.
I do think you have the right sequence of events. However I would do 1 week in Glacier and more in Yellowstone. It will probably be sep by the time you get to Yellowstone so that is just right. Glacier for scenery and Yellowstone for everything. Have you seen Cruzers website on Yellowstone and how to get there in an RV? It has become essential reading for my planning.
Those Gkids are not going to like those 10 hour days but when they see their first buffalo it will be forgiven.
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Old 03-30-2011, 11:51 PM   #9
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There is a fantastic show and dinner in SW North Dakota in a little town called Medora (on I-94) ... everyone calls it the Pitchfork Fondue ... they have a nice RV park there ...

Did I say it is a great dinner and show ...
dinner and show ...
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Old 03-31-2011, 09:44 PM   #10
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You guys are the best! Thank you.

Brigadoon,

Googled Ouray. OMG! That's added to the list. We're not into serious off-roading. No rock climbing. But we do like to get to beautiful scenery and or interesting/unique places by the road less traveled. Our first Jeep experience was when we drove up the Shafer Trail from Moab to Dead Horse Point in a rental. That's when I started wanting a Jeep. Had to buy a motor home to finally get one. If you have any trails in the San Juans you'd be willing to share, I'd love to hear about them.

Bob,

When you went into ND was it to go to TRNP? DH wants to add that, too.

MegaRoadie,

As we're now planning it will be close to the second week of September before we get to Yellowstone. Our first trip there was in August and we quickly learned if we got up early, rested in the heat of the day (those animals aren't so dumb) and stayed out late - and got away from the parking lots - that we could avoid the crowds even at the height of the tourist season. Amazes me how few people venture much beyond the parking lot/overlooks.

Gary,

The only reason I wanted to get to Glacier the last few days of August is because the Park shuttle stops driving the Going to the Sun Road on the 2nd of September. In need to find out more about the Red Bus schedule. I'd prefer to do it but just want us to have one trip across that road with DH able to enjoy the view. Have a great trip yourself.

Dagwood,

The beginning of your revised route is what we've been leaning toward. Even in our pre-RV days we've usually avoided interstates except when time is of the essence. Glad to know that's a good route.

I have Cruzer's info in a Word document already, along with bits from a ton of older posts on here.

The main reason I was allowing more days for Glacier is we've never been there before and have been to Yellowstone twice so we've already hit all the touristy "must-sees" and can concentrate on the more remote or out-of-the-ordinary things.

Skigramp,

Medora sounds great. And, since my DH now wants us to go up to TRNP, might as well plan on taking in dinner and a show.

Again, thanks for the wonderful replies. I see this trip getting longer by the day, even though DH hates to admit it. Good thing is, barring a hurricane that forces us home to secure the house, we aren't on anybody's time schedule but our own. Boy does that sound good.

Fran
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Old 04-01-2011, 06:47 AM   #11
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Fran,

Yes, we headed north from Belle Fourche, SD on US-85 and stopped in Bowman, ND. In Bowman we ended up talking with the manager at the golf course for about an hour. He was the first to warn us about US-2. We had planned on 3 nights in the southern unit of TRNP and then 3 nights in the northern unit.

We ended up spending 6 nights in the southern unit. US-85 was under construction and in real bad shape. So we never attempted a visit to the northern unit. We heard the same thing about US-2 from the CG hosts there. We also went to the show in Medora which is a real nice western town in a beautiful location.

It is worth adding to your trip if time permits and to see the Painted Canyon which is also nearby. Firgure a minimum of two nights, three would be better. There is a loop road and we drove it in both directions on different days. Lots of short easy hikes which are a must. From here I-94 takes you into MT and was an easy drive.

Bob
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Old 04-04-2011, 02:11 PM   #12
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Bob,

Thanks for the additional information.

There are just so many places worth seeing along this trip. Every time I look up one thing/place, I find at least 3 or 4 more to do in the same area.

I have to console myself with knowing that we will be back. We fell in love with the western half of our country on our first trip to Yellowstone. We've been back 4 times since then and have managed to see a lot in those 10-14 day vacations. It has always left us wanting more. I'm sure this trip will, too.

Since we've only had the RV since September, this is our first long trip. Tom is worried that by the end of a month we'll be dying to get back to the extra room of our home. I'm hoping that we'll discover that we're having such a great time that we won't care if we stay gone longer.
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Old 04-06-2011, 10:12 AM   #13
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Bob,

Thanks for the additional information.

There are just so many places worth seeing along this trip. Every time I look up one thing/place, I find at least 3 or 4 more to do in the same area.

I have to console myself with knowing that we will be back. We fell in love with the western half of our country on our first trip to Yellowstone. We've been back 4 times since then and have managed to see a lot in those 10-14 day vacations. It has always left us wanting more. I'm sure this trip will, too.

Since we've only had the RV since September, this is our first long trip. Tom is worried that by the end of a month we'll be dying to get back to the extra room of our home. I'm hoping that we'll discover that we're having such a great time that we won't care if we stay gone longer.
Sounds like a great trip! Good luck. We will be in Pensacola in Sept. for the song writers feast. Where is a good place at the beach to park our RV? Is there a campground on the beach?
Thanks.
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Old 04-06-2011, 11:41 AM   #14
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The closest beach campground for easy access to the songfest, that I know about, is at Fort Pickens. It's at the western end of Santa Rosa Island in the Gulf Islands National Seashore. There are two separate campgrounds there. Neither is actually on the beach - meaning you can't see the water from the campsites.

One of the campgrounds has 4 loops - B, C, D, and E. It's closest to the water of Pensacola Bay. There are a couple of paths from the campground to the Bay. The other campground is called A Loop. It's a closer to the Gulf side of the Island. To reach the Gulf you cross the Park road and walk a dune nature trail.

Reservations are made through Federal recreation, camping and tour reservation information - Recreation.gov or you can call 850-934-2622. You'll find maps there, as well.

There may be other campgrounds in the Pensacola area that are on the beach, as in beachfront. Since I live on Santa Rosa Island, just a few miles from Fort Pickens, it's the only one I know much about. We did our 2 night shake-down trip there when we got the RV last September. Otherwise, since we live across the street from the Gulf, we don't go camping at the beaches around here.

You might want to start a new thread with your question so more people will see it. Hopefully if there are other beach campgrounds I don't know about, someone will help you out.

Hope you enjoy our area.
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