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Old 11-24-2014, 01:23 PM   #1
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Trip planning - IL to Yellowstone

We're hoping to plan a trip next September from Champaign, IL (Central region) to Yellowstone. Mapping sites route us through Iowa/lower Michigan and westward through South Dakota and into Wyoming.

The trip is in the ballpark of 23 hrs. We'd like to travel over 3 days and split the trip into about 7-ish hr increments. My concern is how much traffic/terrain may hold us up in some places and delay travel. Has anyone ever traveled this route and if so do you have any suggestions about good stopping points to overnight?

Thanks!
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Old 11-24-2014, 06:44 PM   #2
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lower Michigan
I think you meant lower Minnesota. If you're going through any part of Michigan, you're going the wrong way. When we went [from central Indiana], we took I-74 west through your home town to I-80, west on I-80 to Omaha, then took I-29 north to I-90, then west to the park. We weren't towing so I can't give you any help on finding spots to camp [overnight] along the way. Plenty of Walmarts on that route. There are some Cabelas [sporting goods stores] also along the route and some even have dump stations. By the way, we went the week after Labor Day and had the park to ourselves.
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Old 11-24-2014, 06:54 PM   #3
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There is a similar thread going in the truck camper area also. I think you mean lower Minnesota, not Michigan. This past summer and in many prior years, it took us 3 days to do it from Minneapolis. It will be a stretch from Champaign! You're looking at almost 24 hrs of driving, plus rest stop/meal time - so some pretty long days. Do not plan sightseeing stops for the Badlands/Wall Drug. Go around the Black Hills, not through. Red Lodge and the Beartooth Hwy. is a bit shorter than the Bighorn Mtns and Cody Wyo.
Do anything you can to add travel days - you'll be missing some fantastic areas in the push to get to Yellowstone.
Generally if you stick to Interstate, traffic will not be any issue. Places to stop for gas are pretty far apart in some areas of the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana - so fill when you can. Goes double if on state hwys rather than Interstate! The Beartooth will be slower, but it is well worth it! Ask for advice if you are pulling anything even moderately sized, though - it is not super trailer/big rig friendly! The alternative is going through the Bighorn Mountains to Cody, Wyoming and on to Yellowstone. They are slower too, but also very scenic.
We liked the Badlands KOA near Wall SD - but it is a ways off the highway, through the Badlands, so will increase travel time. Eastern SD and Minn. camping is not full of numerous options that are right off the highway, so you'll have to plan it out ahead, and they will generally be places to sleep and that's all...You may want to consider leaving in the wee hours of the morning of the first day, and planning a heavy drive for as long as you can - say to Mitchell or Chamberlain or even Wall, SD Then you can ease up some for the last two drive days and actually enjoy the trip.
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Old 11-24-2014, 07:10 PM   #4
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We have traveled the Mn, SD route 3 times to go to Yellowstone. Twice arriving through the east entrance, and one through the north entrance. Hands down the Bighorn Mountains and Cody is a must travel route, either in or out. Also stop at the Buffalo Bill Dam outside Cody on your way in. If you have the time on the way back, consider going further north and see Teddy Roosevelt Park in North Dakota. Besides the normal wildlife of the badlands, herds of wild horses live in the par,.
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Old 11-24-2014, 08:48 PM   #5
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I think you meant lower Minnesota.
Yikes! Yes, you're right! Sorry about the typo.
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Old 11-24-2014, 08:51 PM   #6
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Try to see Custer Battlefield in SE Montana if you can fit it in.
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Old 11-24-2014, 08:52 PM   #7
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Great advice here! Thanks to all....yes I did mean Minnesota, not Michigan. Gah, smack my head....


We're planning on taking two weeks for the trip. We discussed possibly traveling at night for part of the trip...traffic is lighter and we are night shifters, so it's kind of second nature to be wide awake late into the wee hours.
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Old 11-24-2014, 09:09 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Flapper View Post
There is a similar thread going in the truck camper area also. I think you mean lower Minnesota, not Michigan. This past summer and in many prior years, it took us 3 days to do it from Minneapolis. It will be a stretch from Champaign! You're looking at almost 24 hrs of driving, plus rest stop/meal time - so some pretty long days. Do not plan sightseeing stops for the Badlands/Wall Drug. Go around the Black Hills, not through. Red Lodge and the Beartooth Hwy. is a bit shorter than the Bighorn Mtns and Cody Wyo.
Do anything you can to add travel days - you'll be missing some fantastic areas in the push to get to Yellowstone.
Generally if you stick to Interstate, traffic will not be any issue. Places to stop for gas are pretty far apart in some areas of the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana - so fill when you can. Goes double if on state hwys rather than Interstate! The Beartooth will be slower, but it is well worth it! Ask for advice if you are pulling anything even moderately sized, though - it is not super trailer/big rig friendly! The alternative is going through the Bighorn Mountains to Cody, Wyoming and on to Yellowstone. They are slower too, but also very scenic.
We liked the Badlands KOA near Wall SD - but it is a ways off the highway, through the Badlands, so will increase travel time. Eastern SD and Minn. camping is not full of numerous options that are right off the highway, so you'll have to plan it out ahead, and they will generally be places to sleep and that's all...You may want to consider leaving in the wee hours of the morning of the first day, and planning a heavy drive for as long as you can - say to Mitchell or Chamberlain or even Wall, SD Then you can ease up some for the last two drive days and actually enjoy the trip.
Thanks so much! We'll be taking the trip over two weeks, I think. Our TT is pretty big....35 feet. We pull with a 2500 HD Chevy but are thinking of a diesel. Doubt that will happen anytime soon though. I'd be nervous to try Beartooth after reading a little about it.
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Old 11-25-2014, 10:47 AM   #9
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Wife and I did Yellowstone in 2012. If we go again we want to spend a couple days in Cody WY. Looks like a fun place.
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Old 11-25-2014, 12:08 PM   #10
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Fun Fact: Wyoming has a lot of red road surfaces....lots of iron in the roadbed mat'l I guess. This is a pic of an overlook in the Bighorn Mt's.
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