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Old 03-17-2008, 05:31 PM   #1
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Wow! Have my husband and I ever learned a LOT from this forum of very experienced RV'rs! We would like to drive our motorhome out west from Michigan the last week of June and first week of July, 2009....so we've got to start planning and saving now. We've only flown out west, and have no idea what route to take, where to stay and visit on the way, etc. We only have two weeks off work...so will try to see as much as possible on the way, but our main goal is to see Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. Any help out there with a route? Thank you!!!
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Old 03-17-2008, 05:31 PM   #2
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Wow! Have my husband and I ever learned a LOT from this forum of very experienced RV'rs! We would like to drive our motorhome out west from Michigan the last week of June and first week of July, 2009....so we've got to start planning and saving now. We've only flown out west, and have no idea what route to take, where to stay and visit on the way, etc. We only have two weeks off work...so will try to see as much as possible on the way, but our main goal is to see Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. Any help out there with a route? Thank you!!!
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Old 03-17-2008, 07:59 PM   #3
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IMHO, 2 weeks is not enough time to see both.
I would suggest one or the other, Yellowstone is closer, via I-90 into Montana. Half the fun of a trip is planning, looking at maps, etc.

Somewhere around Missula, look for a road off I-90 south into West Yellowstone....
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Old 03-17-2008, 08:28 PM   #4
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2 weeks. Way to short to see both. Here is my suggestion for a trip to Yellowstone.

You'll be on 90, and will come across SD. Either on the way out, or one the way back, make sure you do a tour of the Badlands, then a stop at Wall Drug. Spend some time at the jewelry counters but watch what you buy if you want to have enough money to continue your trip.  Next stop will be Rapid City. Do the usual tourist things, but make sure you visit the Crazy Horse Monument.

On your way across Wyoming, if you have the time, a 2 or three day stop at Devils Tower. It's a few miles off the route, but again worth the drive in and out.

My next recommended stop for overnight is 255 miles from Devils Tower. To get there, drive to Buffalo, Wy, and take US 16 across the Big Horn Mountains to Ten Sleep. If you can find a place to park, this is an interesting place to stop and wander. If not continue on to Worland, then turn south on US-20 to Thermopolis. The best CG closed, so find what you can and spend a short time here. Thermopolis is the site of one of the largest hot springs in the world. They have 3 big swimming pools with multiple pools of different temperatures. There is also a really great Dinosaur Museum and Quilt Museum. This is good for a 3 day stop, IMO.

When you're done with Thermopolis, take a late start and head out SR 120 toward Cody. This route will take you through Meeteetse. This is an interesting little town. The reason for the late start is to allow you to stop for lunch at the Outlaw Parlor and Cowboy Bar, http://www.meeteetsewy.com/medapages/outlaw/outlaw.html . This is the only place where Butch Cassidy was arrested and actually convicted of a crime and sent to jail. He was arrested on the front porch. They have a portrait of him on the wall in the bar area. After lunch, on to Cody.

My recommendation for a place to stay on Cody is the Ponderosa. It's just a short distance from there to the Buffalo Bill Museum, and when you pay for you ticket it's good for 2 days, I think. It's a place that both the guys and gals will enjoy. I usually recommend a drive over the Beartooth Pass, but it won't be open until late May. You can do this drive while in Yellowstone as a day trip. I don't recommend driving this with your RV's. Wander the downtown area, stock up with groceries at the Super Wal Mart, and have at least one lunch at the BBQ place across the street from the Wal Mart, Bubba's Bar-B-Que. Keep in mind that once you get to Fishing Bridge, you are at least an hour away from any "real" grocery store. There is a small grocery section in the General Store, but the prices are a "little" high.

When you're done with Cody, head east on US-14 and in the East Gate of YNP. If all of you are eligible for the Senior Pass, now called America The Beautiful, make sure you have them. It will get you in the National Parks for free. Go here to see the different types of passes. If you're eligible you can pick them up at Mount Rushmore. https://pwrcms.nps.gov/pwr/fees_passes.htm

Change the number of days you stop at the various places, but everyone is worth stopping at.
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Old 03-18-2008, 03:01 AM   #5
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I join the previous posters saying do one or the other, not both. There is too much to see and do. We always plan for quality and not quantity. It takes us 10 years to do 49 states. We are on our second time around the country.

Bob sumed it up quite well. Add Mitchell, SD (the corn palace and prehistoric indian village). Go here to determine if you want to go on the Minute Man missile tour. This is something well worth considering. Follow the instructions to reserve a tour spot. It is in the same area as Wall Drug and the Badlands, consider planning some time in this area. You're going to have a wonderfull trip, enjoy.
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Old 03-18-2008, 05:16 AM   #6
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We did it ALL the WALL, the BAD and STONE FACE'S....BUT the most enjoyable was
BEAR COUNTRY out side of Rapid City. (I went under protest) but was there
after they took the baby bears from their mothers. Said they use a CHAINSAW!!
Make sure you get there after the NEW BABY come off....and go to the outdoor
arena where they have a verbal display of all the babys. As I remember they
had something like 20 or 25 Cubs at that time. And I think it was like $20
a head just to ride thru the park. We had to push the LARGE bears out of
the way with the front bumper, to exit the park. You will not be disappointed.
Tenn.
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Old 03-18-2008, 08:17 AM   #7
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We took our first trip out West 2 yrs ago and loved every mile. We had 28 days and drove 5300 miles but saw Mt. Rushmore and surrounding area, Rocky Mt. National Park, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon and Sedona...then, on the road to home we visited Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, visited St. Louis and Dayton, OH to see the AF Museum.

We never spent more than 3 days in any one place and we were on the road a lot but we understood this was a 'smorgasbord' trip...we wanted to see as much as we could. We never felt road-weary. This year we want to go to Yellowstone/Grand Tetons and will spend more time in those places. We will have 3 weeks.

For you, you can get to Yellowstone in 3 days if you don't mind driving full days. As others have suggested, head out I-90 and stop in the Black Hills, Hill City area, then head to Yellowstone. Regardless of where you end up, you will love the trip. Just depends on whether you like staying in a destination for a longer period or like to see a lot of different places in the time that you have.
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Old 03-18-2008, 02:22 PM   #8
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I agree with everyone else, 2 weeks is not enough to see both. The west is really BIG! There is a lot to see and do out there. You can spend a week at Yellowstone alone and not see everything you will want to see and and will be wishing you could stay longer when you have to leave. We have been out west a half a dozen times and still see things we haven't seen before and still look forward to going out there some more.
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Old 03-18-2008, 05:59 PM   #9
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Again...what a wealth of information!!! I believe all of you are correct in saying that two weeks isn't enough, but that's all we can get off work...so we'll have to make the best of it. Do you think we should just do yellowstone? What CG's should we stay at on the way there and back? Should we take a different route there and back? How many hours per day of driving do you consider "three solid days"? Will we be driving through some higher elevations? Does that pose any problems for the MH? This is all so new to us, but very exciting!!! Thank you!
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Old 03-19-2008, 07:15 AM   #10
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I would do one or the other. If you decide to go to Yellowstone, here are my recommendations. If you decide on the Grand Canyon, start a new thread.

Do the route and stops I posted, along with some of the other recommendations. Catch some of the places on the way out, and some on the way back.

Yellowstone is huge. 3,600 sq. miles, and over 12,000,000 acres. If you stay on the roads within the park, you will see about 2% of the park. If you can hike some of the trails, you'll see some things you cannot see from the roads.

You will be driving through higher elevations, up to about 9,500 feet. Most of the campgrounds in Yellowstone are at 7,800 feet, or higher. Within the park you will go over the Continental Divide several times at elevations of between 8,000 and 9,000 feet.

As you travel west, you will be increasing elevation with almost every mile you drive. Your first "real" grades will start as you leave Rapid City and go through the Black Hills. It's not a bad drive at all, and I've done it both ways with my 37' gasser. Once that's behind you, your next grades will be as you leave Buffalo, and drive over the Little Bighorn Mountains. That pass is about 9,000 feet or so, but again it's not a bad drive. Things flatten out once you are on the west side of the Big Horns.

Do not let any routing software kid you into going over US-14/14a from Ranchester to Cody. That route will take you over a high pass, with grades on both sides of 10%, and several hairpin turns.

Once you leave Cody, you will head west on US-14 to the east gate of YNP. As you enter the East Gate you will be at 6,980 feet elevation. You will go up the grade to the top of Sylvan Pass at 8429 feet elevation. It's a long grade, but they just repaved the whole thing last summer. I've done that grade in my 37' Winnebago, towing my Honda several times.

Yellowstone: There are several areas to stay in Yellowstone. Fishing Bridge RV Park is the only full hookup place inside Yellowstone, but it is central to most of the park. This year the daily cost is $39.20. There are several campgrounds in the park, and 4 of them, along with Fishing Bridge, are managed by Xanterra. Bridge Bay, Grant Village, Madison, and Canyon Village. These are no hookup, but do have a sewer dump, and water fill place. Campfires are allowed in all of the campgrounds, but absolutely forbidden in Fishing Bridge. Daily fees in the campgrounds are $18.00 to $19.00 per day.

Do not make your reservations online!!!!! The online place is a travel agency, and will charge you a $5.00 per day, non refundable service charge. Call Xanterra direct at 866-439-7375. They will charge you a one day reservation fee that is refundable with a 48 hour notice.

If you want to do a bit of a different route home, go out the North Gate to US-90, head back East and stop at the Little Big Horn Monument, (Custer's Last Stand).

How else can I help you? By the way, Mary and I worked for 2 months at Fishing Bridge last year, and had so much fun we're going back for the full season this year. Getting paid to stay in Yellowstone is a pretty neat deal. :-)
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Old 03-19-2008, 09:00 AM   #11
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You would probably get even more good information if posted in the "crossroad" forum. Since there have been several responses here already, I will link the topic to the Crossroad section rather than move the topic.
Good luck on the trip planning. It is a trip I hope to make one day.
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Old 03-19-2008, 09:41 AM   #12
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Sewbuzzy:

A tip..if you head out I-90 Westward, there is a Cabela's store in Mitchell, SD with plenty of designated and free RV parking. They even have a dump station and fresh water fill. Of course, they want you to come into the store and spend a few $$ but it is a great place for a quick overnite stay.

If you end up in Hill City, SD to check out Mt. Rushmore, I can highly recommend Rafter J RV park.
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Old 03-19-2008, 09:52 AM   #13
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SewBzzzy,

You have gotten lots of good information so far. Now, your first job will be to weed through it all and decide what you want/need to see. The second job is to decide on a route and how much or how little you want to drive each day. If you have not taken any long trips already with your MH, it will be a learning experience you'll have to go through.

My advice is to not schedule too many places to see on one trip. Hopefully, you will have many years and opportunities to see all that is out there in this beautiful country.

Let me say this. With a total of 14 days for the trip, travel may consume 7 days. Do you need 7 days to see YNP? Probably not(depending on your tastes for Nature). Let's say 4 or 5. That will give you a cushion to stop at Mt. Rushmore and/or drive thru the Badlands.

Ultimately, the bottom line is to choose your times and routes and tailor them to your travel preferences and limitations.

We all wish you a wonderful and safe trip. Be sure to let us know all about it later in the summer.
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Old 03-19-2008, 11:21 AM   #14
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Sounds wonderful!!! We've never driven out west before - just flown to Vegas or California. So we won't have a problem driving in those elevations with out 30' Winnebago? We may or may not be pulling a Honda. What Honda do you pull? We'd love more information on exactely what to see in each location. Should we purchase an eighty dollar pass for the parks? Thank you!
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