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Old 12-29-2014, 03:53 PM   #1
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Planning for The Grand Teton/Yellowstone Trip

I am in the planning stages for a trip west from Northwestern Pennsylvania in the summer of 2015. Route will be out to South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and back. Idea is to see the Badlands in South Dakota, Black Hills, Devil's Tower, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and then return - a little over seven weeks. I have the campground reservations made. I am working my way through many other thoughts now. Some questions for those with more experience than this newby:

(1) I see that there are route "guidebooks": the Next Exit, the Good Sam RV Road Atlas, the Mountain directory, etc. Knowing when the next rest area is (we usually stop and eat lunch at a rest area), where the next station is that one can easily get around in to get fuel, etc., seems invaluable to me. What are others using - what have you found best, what do you recommend?

(2) What are others using for emergency road service - do you use one of the Good Sam offerings, do you use another plan, what have you found is best?

(3) I have blocking, a jack, safety triangles and flares, and 12V air compressor. I have a four foot 3/4" drive breaker bar, extensions, and sockets for lug nuts, as well as a 3/4" drive torque wrench for reinstallation. I have put together a couple of bags of tools should something go wrong with the travel trailer. What other "emergency tools" do you think I should carry?


There will be emergency gear in the travel trailer - hydration packs, water filtration, emergency food, first aid supplies, water, fire starting kit, etc. A emergency satellite beacon will be along (we take it for hiking).

Cell phones will be along. I wonder about a NOAA weather radio.

Would you recommend any other type of emergency gear based on your experience?


Thank you all.
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Old 12-29-2014, 10:17 PM   #2
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Wow! Hope you have a safe trip and terrific time.

With camping reservations already made, it seems you've already done some serious research and route planning. I'm not sure what you are looking for regarding "guidebooks" etc., but here goes...

1) We used the Next Exit to find food and fuel along the interstates on a 'need to go' basis. However, it really wasn't much help regarding which businesses had space for maneuvering while pulling a trailer etc. We always bought fuel at truck stops, usually Flying J (now Pilot Flying J). They are RV friendly with adequate room for a trailer and RV parking without getting tied up in the big truck lanes.

2) Our emergency road service was through our vehicle insurance. Thankfully, we never needed it.

3) I had tools and stuff similar to what you mentioned, plus a gallon of engine antifreeze, a gallon of water to mix with the antifreeze, two quarts of engine oil, a quart of auto transmission fluid, some windshield washer fluid, spare hitch 'small' parts, sockets and wrenches for hitch bolts and nuts. And, other than the sockets and wrenches to be sure the hitch bolts and nuts were tight, I never needed any of it.

Your emergency planning etc. is far and away more than we ever did! We had some food and some liquids that were primarily 'road food' (aka snacks) but no serious survival stuff.

We had a NOAA weather radio, but didn't use it much. Some weather apps on a cell phone would be more valuable, IMO.

I'm not sure if any of that helps, but remember...
Free advice is worth every cent you paid for it.
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Old 12-30-2014, 09:26 AM   #3
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Wow, sounds like you are a "planner"! The trip sounds excellent and I'm sure you are going to have an adventure of epic proportions.
I like the Allstays app on the iPhone/iPad. It not only locates CG's but fuel stops/welcome centers as well. It has a handy filter that lets you search for specific stops you are interested in. It doesn't do distances (like how far to the next flying J).
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Old 12-30-2014, 11:44 AM   #4
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OldManAZ - some of the "emergency" stuff is in the form of things I have always carried in my pack when hiking. I've always hauled it, and other than the water filter pump I have never used any of it. Of course, I hope never to use it. I'll look into the "spares" for the truck. I am downloading the Pilot/Flying J travel guide now.

RedHorse1 - thanks - I'll look into phone apps - had not thought of that.

Thanks!!
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Old 12-30-2014, 12:50 PM   #5
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If you have a smart phone, many of these books can be accessed with apps. Allstays, Interstate exit guides, iExit are much easier than carrying a bunch of paper books.
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Old 12-30-2014, 03:02 PM   #6
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norty1 - have not had a smart phone, but it may be time for me to join modern times and get one.

Thanks!
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Old 12-30-2014, 03:04 PM   #7
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Thanks much to all. I have made reservations for everywhere we are staying. We are staying at Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone and Colter Bay Village in Grand Teton; other than that we are staying at a KOA (usually when travelling) or a park highly rated by Good Sam.

Here is the actual plan. My idea is to pretty much stick to the interstate where possible. If someone has been this way and is aware of a problem towing then please let me know. I know that one wants to avoid the Big Horn mountain range when towing. I think the route below is friendly for towing, but if anyone sees a problem then please let me know.

If someone has experience and can think of something we are clearly missing then please let me know.

The idea here is to allow plenty of time for simply walking and being outside.

Day 1: Leave northwestern Pennsylvania and head west on I-90/I-80 through Ohio and on into Indiana.

Day 2: Continue west across Indiana and Illinois on I-80 into Iowa.

Day 3: Continue west on I-80 across Iowa and then north on I-29 to South Dakota.

Day 4: Continue on west in South Dakota to see the Corn palace and rest for the night.

Day 5 through Day 7: Continue west across South Dakota on I-90 to badlands area, staying for three nights. See Wall Drug, MinuteMan Silo, Badlands National Park, Buffalo Gap National Grassland, and Wounded Knee.

Day 8 through Day 13: Continue west on I-90 and then US 16 south to Black Hills. See Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Custer State Park, Black Hills National Forest, and Wind Cave National Park.

Day 14: Go north on US 16 and then west on I-90 and north on US 14 to Devil’s Tower, Wyoming; see Devil’s Tower and stay the night.

Day 15: Go south on US 14 back to I-90 west out of Wyoming and on in to Montana, staying on I-90 to avoid the Big Horn mountains.

Day 16: Continue west across Montana on I-90 and then south on US 191 to the West entrance to Yellowstone.

Day 17 through Day 22: Western half of Yellowstone from west entrance.

Day 23: Relocate to Fishing Bridge inside of Yellowstone.

Day 24 through Day 30: Eastern half of Yellowstone from Fishing Bridge and Cody, Wyoming.

Day 31: Relocate to Colter Bay Village in Grand Teton.

Day 32 through Day 44: Southern part of Yellowstone from Colter Bay Village, Grand Teton, Jackson, Wyoming, Snake River Canyon.

Day 45: Leave Grand Teton south on US 191 to connect with I-80 going east across Wyoming.

Day 46: Continue east across Wyoming and into Nebraska on I-80.

Day 47: Continue east across Nebraska and into Iowa on I-80.

Day 48: Continue east across Iowa and into Illinois on I-80.

Day 49: Continue east across Illinois and Indiana and into Ohio on I-80/I-90.

Day 50: Continue east across Ohio and return to home in Northwestern Pennsylvania on I-80/I-90.

Thanks!
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Old 12-30-2014, 03:15 PM   #8
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Whew, I'm out of breath just reading it!
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Old 12-30-2014, 08:05 PM   #9
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Sounds great, I have spent a lot of time in Yellowstone, hopefully you will get to see the wide array of wildlife with that amount of time in the park, moose will likely be seen only from the Tetons area.
I wish Yellowstone was on my itinerary this year, but I will likely remain in the south this year.
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Old 12-30-2014, 08:18 PM   #10
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In regard to the Minute Man control center, you need a reservation to get in. I was at the visitor center in September around 10 in the morning and got a reservation for the afternoon. They can only accommodate a few (maybe 6 or 7) on each tour. I would call several days in advance for a summer tour. The control center is not at the visitor center, it is a few miles west just off I90. Parking at the control center is minimal and not RV friendly. Great tour and worth the time and effort in my opinion.
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