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Old 10-08-2019, 08:38 AM   #1
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Routes for 2wk trip CA to Yellowstone

Hi there-

We just bought our first travel trailer & we're planning a 2/wk trip from Bonny Doon CA to Yellowstone in May/June 2020. Two adults & 1 dog. Any routes, tips, great campgrounds & "must sees" would be appreciated. We'd like to spend one full week in Yellowstone.
Thanks!
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Old 10-08-2019, 08:41 AM   #2
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What part of California?
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Old 10-08-2019, 08:59 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by LaurieNScott View Post
Hi there-

We just bought our first travel trailer & we're planning a 2/wk trip from Bonny Doon CA to Yellowstone in May/June 2020. Two adults & 1 dog. Any routes, tips, great campgrounds & "must sees" would be appreciated. We'd like to spend one full week in Yellowstone.
Thanks!
Couple things I'd suggest you put in the thought process for the plan - Reservations in Yellowstone NOW. - Make it a loop trip coming or going through Utah - Try to set yourself up for a Leave Right After Work to get a jump on the drive, along with getting out of the worst traffic late on Friday.

Depending on traffic and route this is between 1100 1300 miles so it is a good drive. That couple hundred miles on Friday will really Help.

Floppy Hat - Good Hiking Boots - Sunglasses - All weather Gear - 3 pictures every time you think one will do..........

Two weeks without the dog might be Smart - as you will be in areas that will not allow the Dog. Just a thought.

Best of Luck,
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Old 10-08-2019, 11:10 AM   #4
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We did 3 days at Yellowstone this past August, on our way to the FMCA Rally in North Dakota. We stayed at the Yellowstone RV Park at Mack's Inn - about 20 miles south of West Yellowstone. We tried getting in to Grizzly RV Park IN West Yellowstone but it was full. If you want to stay there, get your reservations NOW!



And rather than trying to coordinate visits into Yellowstone, dealing with traffic, parking, etc. we found a great tour company: Yellowstone Adventure Tours. They use 24 passenger busses for their Upper Loop and Lower Loop tours, which are full-day affairs. We took the Lower Loop tour and got to see everything in comfort, with no searching for parking. Tons of bison, grizzly bears, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (awesome rainbow at the Falls!), and all the major hot springs areas. We even managed to see the Beehive Guyser, which was erupting right before Old Faithful erupted - a rare occurence! We had plenty of time at each stop for sightseeing, etc. We recommend grabbing some of the huckleberry ice cream they sell in the lodge at Old Faithful!
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:20 PM   #5
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From Bonny Doon CA to Yellowstone is 1000 miles and with a trailer allow 2.5 - 3 days to get there. Take 580 to I-80 to Wells, NV then 93N to I-84/86 to I-15 in Idaho. Then north on 20 at Idaho Falls to West Yellowstone, MT. There are RV parks right there and a nice state park along with national forest campgrounds. Use Google or this site:

http://www.campgroundreviews.com/

We like to stay in the park itself for the best overall experience. Fishing Bridge RV in the park should be open next year. It's the only one with electric. It was closed this summer for upgrading. The others are dry camping (no hookups) but they have dump stations and water fill. We like Mammoth, Madison and Bridge Bay. May/June is a very nice time to be there for all the animal babies and less crowds. The first 2 weeks of June would be better weatherwise, most likely.

Bringing your dog will have a lot of restrictions in the park. It can be done but you won't get to take it everywhere. Dogs and the wild animals aren't compatible.

Each national park has a wonderful web site giving things to do, maps, special alerts, road information/closings, camping information and especially information on dogs. Read it thoroughly.

https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/pets.htm

If you have time you need to check out Grand Teton National Park which is connected to Yellowstone. It is complete different in looks and things to do. It has some very nice hikes for all abilities; some to lovely little lakes. Taking the gentle float trip down the Snake River might give you a look at a moose. They hang out around the river area. If you wanted to allow two night for Grand Teton you can get there by driving through Yellowstone and using the south exit into the Tetons. You can stay at Colter Bay RV for hookups, Colter Bay campground (dry camping) - next door, or our favorite Gros Ventre campground (dry camping) closer to Jackson, WY. Colter Bay campground & Gros Ventre campground don't accept reservations but each has 300 sites and we've always gotten a site. You won't have a problem that early in the summer. Gros Ventre also about 20 electric sites so ask when you check in. Both have dump stations and water fill.

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

If you do this you can return home by going through Jackson to Alpine, WY then picking up 26 (nice & level) to Idaho Falls to backtrack your route. Don't take 22 from Jackson. You won't like it! Very steep.
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Old 10-09-2019, 07:58 AM   #6
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BD to Yellowstone

Thank you all so much for the great info! We'll be confirming our dates this w/e and will make reservations right away!


Good point about our dog. That's a tough one. Maybe there are pet day care options. It would be a shame to miss out on sight seeing because we can't take him with us or leave him alone.


Thanks again for replying!
Very excited about getting out there and seeing the great US of A!!!
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Old 10-09-2019, 08:53 AM   #7
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My son is a law enforcement backcountry ranger at Yellowstone. His advice is always to get out of your car and walk away from the road! Within an 1/2 mile you will be in peace and quiet. Also go early to the big attractions as parking fills up quickly.
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:12 AM   #8
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My son is a law enforcement backcountry ranger at Yellowstone. His advice is always to get out of your car and walk away from the road! Within an 1/2 mile you will be in peace and quiet. Also go early to the big attractions as parking fills up quickly.
OH how True!

But IMHO this goes for most National Parks - Yes they are great to ride through and see at the ViewPoints - BUT - The become Amazing when you get out - Touch - Hike - Experience - Be Part of these unbelievable resources, as you will find there are just sooooo many people that opt for option 1 and sooooo few who opt for option 2. Both are fine just depends on what you are After

One last note - talk to the Locals to get the Local Flavor - often, some of the Best sites are not even in the parks.

However you decide - there is no wrong choice, unless you stay home - Go for it and enjoy it.

Best of Luck,
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LaurieNScott View Post
Hi there-

We just bought our first travel trailer & we're planning a 2/wk trip from Bonny Doon CA to Yellowstone in May/June 2020. Two adults & 1 dog. Any routes, tips, great campgrounds & "must sees" would be appreciated. We'd like to spend one full week in Yellowstone.
Thanks!
Depending on how much snow we get May & early June can be a challenge in Yellowstone. Some roads and areas will not be open.
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Old 10-09-2019, 11:24 AM   #10
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Bonny Dune - used to be a pretty good nudist beach there, when I lived in Gilroy. Just hope you have reservations when you get to Yellowstone as looking for campsites in peak season can be a real trial. Enjoy the trip.
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Old 10-11-2019, 10:28 AM   #11
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Some helpful information about YSNP (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 9:00- 9:15 PM then there is a long and bright 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 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 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!

Now, for the early spring visitors, YSNP is closed to ALL wheeled traffic from mid November to mid March (Snow Machines, Snow Coach’s, Snowshoes, X-country Skiing etc only as of mid Dec) the first road to be plowed open in mid April is from West Y’stone, MT to Old Faithful. The last roads to be plowed is Norris to Canyon to Fishing Bridge, West Thumb south to GTNP. Other tourist facilities are open as the shelves are stocked, beds are made, winter debris cleaned up etc. All tourist venues are open by Memorial Day weekend the official opening.

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 slow 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 Coulter Bay (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 “ (FS CG) has no hookups and doesn’t take reservations. Both have about 300 sites and are basically across the road from each other.

The Gros Ventre FS CG in GTNP (about 5 miles north of Jackson and about 4 miles n/e toward the town of Kelly, on the right side of the road) is about 300 sites (including about 30 sites that are electric only) has no hookups and doesn’t take reservations.

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 on your trip! Check out their website.

http://www.barjchuckwagon.com

Also in Jackson check out the “COWBOY” bar, the bar stools are saddles and the # of Silver Dollars imbedded 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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