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Old 12-13-2019, 07:28 AM   #1
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Looking for Yellowstone advice

Planning a trip from Ohio to Yellowstone late August next year. I cannot stay inside the park due to rig length, so my initial thoughts are arrive in Cody (after a couple days stay in Custer), this will be Tuesday stay Wednesday (explore Cody and do the beartooth hwy) and leave Thursday. Thursday travel to North Yellowstone and stay at Gardiner till Sunday (explore north loop). Sunday move to west Yellowstone stay Sunday through Wednesday (south loop). Now, here are my questions, is that too much unnecessary moving? Would I be better off with 1 or maybe 2 base camps? Is the 2 days at west Yellowstone enough to visit the Tetons from there? I do have a day buffer built into the trip that would allow a stop in the Tetons but didnít know if it would be needed. Most of the trip will be sightseeing, probably a few of the shorter (mile or so) hiking trails. My plan was for the KOA in Cody, Yellowstone RV park in Gardiner, and Grizzly in west Yellowstone. Thoughts on other campgrounds welcome. I will be pulling a 44í 5th wheel so has to be big rig friendly and I am not equipped for boondocking.

Thanks
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Old 12-13-2019, 10:30 AM   #2
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A little more research I may have just answered my own question. I just read that the eastern side of the north loop road will be closed for the next 2 years. May drop Gardiner from my plans
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Old 12-13-2019, 10:55 AM   #3
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If your staying in W Yellowstone I highly recommend that you use the tour bus from the CG. The guides know where to find the wildlife and they also know how to itme your arrival at the lodge to see Old Faithful. You can even buy a boxed lunch for the trip and you aren't fighting the traffic or looking for parking in the park.

https://www.yellowstonevacations.com...mer-activities
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Old 12-13-2019, 11:41 AM   #4
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Thanks Grumpy, will definitely look into that
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Old 12-13-2019, 01:05 PM   #5
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We stayed about a week at the Headwaters at Flag Ranch in Oct Ď16 and enjoyed it. It sits on the Snake River. Our 5th is 39í (a bit shorter than yours) and it was no problem to navigate thru the park. It is outside the South Entrance and is close to the Tetons NP. We were there late in the season and it seemed to rain, sleet or snow the whole time. The northern parts of the park were being closed and the traffic was pretty light. Old Faithful in the snow as well as the rest of the NP is beautiful. Walking thru the hot springs with the bison wandering around was pretty cool too. This park was mostly dirt and not very fancy but we loved the location and the weather.
On the same trip we stayed in Custer SD (KOA CG) for 10 days and thoroughly enjoyed the area and town. IMHO if you plan to visit Mt Rushmore and the Crazy Horse monuments do it in that order. The magnitude of the latter site is staggering. The progress is slow and I donít expect to be alive to see it finished.
Devilís Tower is also worth a visit. Left me with an odd craving for mashed potatoes tho,
Enjoy your trip!
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Old 12-14-2019, 08:29 AM   #6
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Redhorse1 Devils tower is on the ďif we have timeĒ list. Only staying in the Custer area 3 days, planned on staying at the Rafter J-bar ranch. I hadnít really looked much at the southern entrance for campgrounds I will definitely have to give that a look. Thank you
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Old 12-16-2019, 12:33 AM   #7
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If you’re going to scratch Gardiner off your list, I agree with exchanging it for the southern entrance area, I have never been to the campgrounds near Flaggs Ranch, but I would agree this will be a better option for getting to Teton Park.

Yellowstone is huge and swallows up thousands of tourists easily, but you will find crowded highways and attractions at times, Yellowstone is one of my favorite places by far, don’t let crowds or traffic deter you, it is definitely worth it!
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Old 12-16-2019, 08:06 AM   #8
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I second the Headwaters CG idea. Good location between the parks. You can get a jump on crowds going to Yellowstone from Jackson. GTNP. The park is enormous so don’t try to see it all you’ll end up spending all day driving. You will definitely want to see GT.
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:37 AM   #9
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We decided to visit the kids this summer, so drove from Portland, OR to Fargo, ND. We took the Southern Idaho route and ended up camping at the KOA just West of Yellowstone. Since Yellowstone and the Tetons are National Parks, be ready to pay up $25 to enter. We have a National Park annual pass which I strongly recommend if you're going to more than 2 parks in a year. It also gives you free entrance to National Monuments (not parking). I believe the West side of Yellowstone is the most popular and the busiest. However I hear it dies down a bit in late summer/early fall.

It's nothing but 2 lane roads all the way through. The running joke is - " There are 2 seasons at Yellowstone - Construction and Winter. " That said, there was a series of road paint trucks in one section. Another section they were fixing the road. Once you get past the painters, you stop to see something. Then you find they've gotten ahead of you again. The park is pretty awesome and it's BIG. If you want to take it all in, give yourself several days to enjoy it. We did the North Loop on one day and the South Loop on the next day and I feel that was rushed. So much territory to cover and the landscape changes all over the place.

You will probably see Bison and deer. Wolves are around but only in certain areas and we only saw 1 - from about 500 yards away, chewing on an animal carcass. Bring binoculars!! People love to stop on the road/side of the road. If someone THINKS they see something, they stop. Then everyone else behind them assumes something's there, so they stop. UGH! You'll see what I mean. Have a camera/phone handy. Bison do cross the road and walk up to your vehicle. It's cool to get pics or video when that happens.

I favored Old Faithful and that area because you can see the hot springs and all the colors and steam, etc. Plenty of shopping opportunity there too. Keep in mind that the park does not allow pets outside the parking lot. We took our dogs, let them potty in the parking lot area and left them in the truck with the AC running. That limited our sight seeing time because we were compelled to check on them often. It's best if you can leave them at the base camp BUT consider the round trip time. You'll most likely be gone all day. If you have the time, check out the park in sections and a few hours at a time. This way you won't be overwhelmed.

Grand Tetons isn't as big as Yellowstone but it's still pretty cool. You're more likely to see BEAR at the Tetons area. We got a glimpse of a black bear running through a parking area - rangers at the ready. Exciting! They have Moose out there too but they're hit/miss. It's really dumb luck when you run across animals. One area had a grizzly but a ranger blocked it off because some tourist decided it'd be neat to walk into the woods and follow it to get pictures. Come on people - wild animals will hurt you given the opportunity! Don't make that "selfie" the last thing you do.

If you're headed towards Custer and the Black Hills area, we loved checking out the small towns. Keep in mind this is the "old west" so it's all about cowboys and buffalo bill and indians. They've made a tourist trap out of the whole thing but it's neat to see the old town format and learn about the history. If you're a Harley Davidson fan, Sturgis is in that area. Go check out that town and visit the local motorcycle museum. Pretty cool old bikes in there. Get something for the wife as well. I got mine jewelry (Black Hills Gold). They're famous for it. Wall Drugs kinda falls into the small town tourist trap genre. It's small, lots of shops and overpriced fast food. Worth the trip if you're already headed that way but otherwise it's kind of by itself. Maybe if you're checking out the Badlands.

I'd definitely visit Mt. Rushmore but it had some construction going on when we were there. I wasn't too impressed with the Crazyhorse monument. Apparently it's still not done yet and someone's been at that for over 20 years now. Get a picture from the road/parking lot unless you just want to pay to be closer. Needles highway is cool - lots of twists and turns. DO NOT TAKE YOUR RV. Some of the tunnels are just big enough for a Pickup Truck. Be ready to see some wild animals in this area too. Bison, deer, mules, prairie dogs, etc. The wind cave elevator was broken so we couldn't do that trip but the rangers were nice.

One last thing. When you're in the Teton Area, go see the town of Jackson (Jackson Hole). Great SKI town - lots of upscale touristy stuff to see. Good food. Lots of shopping! I wish we could have spent more time there. Heading West out of Jackson was a beast - the pass had 10' degree or better hills. Towing my rig in a gasser was something in itself.

Good Luck and Have fun!!
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Old 12-20-2019, 11:41 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy220 View Post
Redhorse1 Devils tower is on the ďif we have timeĒ list. Only staying in the Custer area 3 days, planned on staying at the Rafter J-bar ranch. I hadnít really looked much at the southern entrance for campgrounds I will definitely have to give that a look. Thank you
We just stayed there earlier this year (Rafter J Bar Ranch), and I can definitely recommend. SUPER easy access to all the Black Hills has to offer. We stayed in the area 3 days too, and I could easily have stayed another 2 before I was satisfied I'd seen what I wanted to see.

I would say Devil's Tower is worth the effort. We made it a day trip. Drove out there through Deadwood (not all that interesting, just an old gambling town), scenery was pretty spectacular all over. The tower itself reminds me in concept of Enchanted Rock here in TX. A VERY interesting and unique geological structure that is starkly different than its surroundings. It's worth it to at least walk the trail around the base (an easy hike on paved trail).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Packerbacker_TX View Post
...snip

If you're headed towards Custer and the Black Hills area, we loved checking out the small towns. Keep in mind this is the "old west" so it's all about cowboys and buffalo bill and indians. They've made a tourist trap out of the whole thing but it's neat to see the old town format and learn about the history. If you're a Harley Davidson fan, Sturgis is in that area. Go check out that town and visit the local motorcycle museum. Pretty cool old bikes in there. Get something for the wife as well. I got mine jewelry (Black Hills Gold). They're famous for it. Wall Drugs kinda falls into the small town tourist trap genre. It's small, lots of shops and overpriced fast food. Worth the trip if you're already headed that way but otherwise it's kind of by itself. Maybe if you're checking out the Badlands.

I'd definitely visit Mt. Rushmore but it had some construction going on when we were there. I wasn't too impressed with the Crazyhorse monument. Apparently it's still not done yet and someone's been at that for over 20 years now. Get a picture from the road/parking lot unless you just want to pay to be closer. Needles highway is cool - lots of twists and turns. DO NOT TAKE YOUR RV. Some of the tunnels are just big enough for a Pickup Truck. Be ready to see some wild animals in this area too. Bison, deer, mules, prairie dogs, etc. The wind cave elevator was broken so we couldn't do that trip but the rangers were nice.

...snip

Good Luck and Have fun!!
I agree with all of this regarding Black Hills area.

Rushmore was under construction when we were there too, but there's still plenty to see, and TOTALLY worth it IMO.

We took the old steam train from Hill City to Keystone and toured an old gold mine. A little touristy, but my son had an absolute blast! DW and I enjoyed too...

If you're prone to motion sickness, you will not likely enjoy driving anywhere in the area, but Needles Highway (or really anywhere on the Norbeck Scenic Byway) will make even the most resistant feel a little uneasy. And don't underestimate the elevation or lack of humidity. We got dehydrated SUPER easy. Between that, the elevation, and the twisty roads, even I was feeling a little "green", and I NEVER get that kind of feeling.

Plenty of pretty serious grade changes too; my Grand Cherokee (Toad) transmission definitely got a workout driving around.
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Old 12-20-2019, 01:03 PM   #11
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Thanks guys. Great info and ideas. The National Park pass is definitely on the list between the badlands, Tetons, and Yellowstone it would be money well spent. Really wish I could stretch it out for a 3rd week but I have to try to get as much in as I can in a 2 week trip. I definitely dont want to just do a drive-by to say I've been there.
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