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Old 08-10-2015, 10:41 PM   #1
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Sacramento CA to Yellowstone/Tetons

We are planning a trip from Sacramento CA to Yellowstone and the Tetons for the Spring of 2016. We are going to have 3-4 weeks. We are traveling in our 30' Class A Motorhome with a toad.

Tentative Route I-80 East to US-93 North to Idaho-74 to US-30 to I-84/86 to I-15 to US-20 then we will return through the Tetons.

I have used the search function and get great ideas but am looking for suggestions. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and/or experience.

1) Must do items along the way. Places to see and things to do. (we enjoy scenic, photography, unusual and historic)

2) Best entrance to Yellowstone for a motorhome.

3) Roads to avoid.

4) Alternate Routes and why.

Thank you,
Ron
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Old 08-11-2015, 10:36 AM   #2
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The park is beautiful and really has few roads that are not RV accessible. However for our week there (wished we had more time planned there), we camped in West Yellowstone and entered the park each day with the toad. This worked very well for us. If you have never been there be prepared for the distances - THE PARK IS HUGE.

What's a "must see" or "must do" are different for everyone. I suggest starting at the visitors center and ask lots of questions.

My one remark is about the "spring" visit reference. Even in late May during our trip, there were large areas of the park closed from snow. Weather each year will be different and the park service reportedly uses weather vs. a hard schedule to clear and open park roads and gates (an issue that West Yellowstone businesses gripe about).

I understand two points are typical...The North gate is a year-round entrance. The South gate (nearest to the Tetons) is the last to open.
http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/entrances.htm

This late South gate opening required us to go around from the west vs. touring south through the park to the Tetons and Jackson.


Best luck
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Old 08-11-2015, 04:35 PM   #3
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I am partial to Interstate routing, as it's faster, with more facilities. I would continue east on I 80 to SLC, north on I 15 to Idaho Falls, Hwy 20 into West Yellowstone. If you go up on I 15 take a side trip Golden Spike National Historic Site, west of Brigham City, We are partial to West Yellowstone, fairly centrally located, good facilities. Check out RV Park Reviews - Trusted Reviews of Campgrounds & RV Parks for West Yellowstone lodging. Try to nail down you stays and book in EARLY 2016. You didn't say if you were towing? I would recommend that you do, parking at popular spots can be limited. (The exception is Old Faithfull) The roads within YNP are good, but slow, don't plan your days travels based on mileage, it's almost guaranteed to take longer than you think.

Enjoy your trip.

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Old 08-11-2015, 04:59 PM   #4
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We'll be heading out the end of this month for a trip back east. We're going north from Sacramento to visit folks in Redding, Trinity and southern Oregon before heading east. We plan to roughly take the old oregon trail route and have Yellowstone on our radar. We're going to Jackson Wyoming first and then up thru the Tetons to Yellowstone. I'm not making reservation in advance but at this time of year, I'm hoping that won't be a problem. We'll try calling a day or two in advance but not more than that as we hope to keep our schedule loose. Then on east thru South Dacota and onward.
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Old 08-12-2015, 07:50 AM   #5
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We just visited Yellowstone with grandkids this June. As always, I tend to over plan. Glad I did by the way, there are definitely some routes in and around Yellowstone that you should approach with care. This website has some of the best and most comprehensive info - Road to Yellowstone.

Biggest thing is ENJOY. We learned that the best time to observe wildlife in the park is earlier in the day or later in the day - feeding/watering times. Grandkids loved it.
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Old 08-12-2015, 08:23 AM   #6
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Two nice drives in the park that are often missed, but shouldn't be are the Firehole River loop and the Virginia Cascades loop.

One "must see" is the Beartooth Highway (U.S.) 212. from the N.E. entrance through Cooke City to Red Lodge. Then, turn around and drive back. Do it in your toad.

This is one on the most spectacular roads in the country. The high point is just shy of 11,000. Along the way, make sure to stop at the Rock Creek Vista.

On the way back, try dinner at the Cooke City Cafe. Their food is excellent, and reasonably priced. If you like craft beer, their list is several pages. If the weather is nice, they have outdoor tables.

Joel
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Old 08-15-2015, 11:25 AM   #7
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Thanks everyone for the help. Got a couple of big trips planned for 2016 so I will be back later with the other trip for info. Everybody is great.
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Old 10-01-2015, 10:07 PM   #8
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We were just there and had a great time even though it rained most of the time we were there. When we left to the east, we had a drive on hiway 14 and I really recommend this if you have the time. Here is my posted info on that day.
Beautiful drive
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Old 10-01-2015, 10:26 PM   #9
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We were also in Yellowstone in June, but came up from Los Angeles on I-15 then on Rte. 20 into West Yellowstone.

Since you will have a toad, I also agree that you should make your base camp in West Yellowstone and take trips into the park with your toad. The park's west entrance is just blocks from West Yellowstone.

It was on the way home we left through Yellowstone's south entrance to go through Grand Teton National Park. It was a beautiful ride.
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Old 10-01-2015, 10:43 PM   #10
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If you're taking I-15 toward Idaho Falls and West Yellowstone and if you're ready to stop for a night or two around American Falls, ID, Massacre Rocks State Park has a lot of Oregon Trail history to explore. It's in a very pretty setting.
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Old 10-01-2015, 11:00 PM   #11
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Also make extra time for the traffic jams
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Old 10-11-2015, 10:16 PM   #12
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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 itself 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. The Bison think that they own the road (they do!) and will slow down the traffic to walking speed for 1/4 mile or more, the thermal attractions also tie up traffic and with a 4-5 month long tourist season that coincides with a 4-5 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 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! I don't mean to scare you but to inform you. (The entrance stations will have current construction information)

Then there is the elevation- YNP ranges from a low at Mammoth- 6239 ft, Old Faithful- 7365 ft, up to 7734 ft at Canyon and Grant to 7784 ft at Fishing Bridge. Drink plenty of liquids and pace yourself when walking. And again I don't mean to scare you but to inform you, after there is normally 3.5 million visitors annually.

I recommend that you get up EARLY, leave the CG and be back by 4 or 5 PM and be sitting in your recliner drinking a cool one when your neighbor drags himself back to the CG at 7-10 PM. Remember that from mid June to mid July in YNP the sun doesn't set until shortly before 10 PM.

If your luck is like mine Old Faithful will have just erupted when you get there and you will have a hour and 10-20 minutes wait for the next one. Tour the O/F geyser basin while waiting for the next eruption. Old Faithful INN is a must see!

We have lived about 110 miles from W. Yellowstone, MT for 51 years, go there 3-4 times a summer (before Memorial Day and after Labor Day) and haven't seen it all yet.

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 TICKETS/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 contest twice". We day trip it there 2-4 times every summer 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.
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Old 10-11-2015, 10:40 PM   #13
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They normally (depends on the weather) close the park to over snow travel by mid Mar. Start plowing first to mid Apr. Limited Wheeled traffic opens late Apr (Other than the Mammoth area, W, Yellowstone, Mt to Madison Junction to Old Faithful opens first) tourist facilities open on a limited baises as that section of the road opens. The Canyon area, the pass between O/F and Grant and the road between YNP and Grand Teton NP are the last to open. All roads and tourist facilities are open by Memorial Day.

As I said before weather permitting. When the time approaches check the YNP web site for up to date information.
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Old 10-12-2015, 07:41 AM   #14
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richardcoxid hits it spot on. Plan, plan, plan - we've been 3 times and have yet to scratch the surface. The altitude thing is a BIG deal. Easy to underestimate the impact. My wife and I are in fairly good condition - exercising a great deal. But when we got to (as my memory serves me) Lower Falls on the Yellowstone River, it is a down hill walk to see the falls. BUT and obviously it is an uphill walk out. We were not acclimated to the altitude and is was a real workout getting back out. One of the things we noticed is several folks that should not have gone down - struggling to get back out. Lots of places have assistance for those that have physical limitations - the only help I saw was the common sense of NOT going down. So enjoy - it is a rare, natural treat..
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