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Old 09-29-2016, 04:36 PM   #1
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Yellowstone National Park

My husband and I recently took a three week trip to Yellowstone, we also visited Mt. Rushmore and Sitting Bull. We drove our 2005 Granite Ridge and towed a 2005 Ford Ranger. We left SC on September 4 and we put 4895 miles on our RV and 800+ on the Ranger doing day trips. We boondocked in Walmart parking lots when we were not in a campground.

I wanted to comment on a couple of things I learned.

The KOA campground at Mt Rushmore Hill City, South Dakota Campground | Mount Rushmore KOA at Palmer Gulch was great. Clean, quite and close to Mt Rushmore. Don't use your GPS or it will take you in on the back access road which is a one lane dirt road.

Visit Mt Rushmore at dusk, the lowering of the flag service was worth the trip. I was very moved and the DH said it gave him a lump in his throat. I believe the fee was $11 a carload.

We visited Sitting Bull the next day leaving the RV at the campground. This is a private attraction/monument and the entrance fee was around $20 a carload. Everything else was donation based. Watch the video and get a free rock from the mountain. We also took the bus the mountain site.

From Mt Rushmore KOA we went to the Cody Wy https://www.google.com/webhp?sourcei...8#q=cody%20koa. We drove in late at night and paid in the morning. Campground was clean and quite, but very plain and not much to look at, we considered this as our back up plan for our Yellowstone stay if we could not find a site at the park (no, we did not make reservations).

We were not able to get a site at the park (September 8) so we drove back to Cody looking for a campground on the way (Cody to east entrance is about 50 miles). We found a WONDERFUL little state run campground on the banks of the Shoshone River. Newton Grove Campground,Shoshone National Forest - Newton Creek Campground 30 primitive sites feet from the river bed. Hard sided campers only. My husband fished from our site and caught cutthroat and rainbow trout with a regular rod and worms. The park hosts were terrific and had stacks of fire wood available for free. While we had not planned to camp primitive on this trip we were pleased that we did. Generators can be run until 10pm and we filled our water tanks before we pulled in. Our camping site was the high-lite of our trip and it was only $15 a night. Yahoo!

We drove the Ranger into park on our daily trips. $30 a carload good for 5 days. All of our trips started at the East entrance and radiated out from there. Old faithful was nice, watch it from the hotel side for the best view. We were in the park the first day by 9am the DH wanted to see elk and moose, so we spent a lot of time in the valleys. The second day we were in the park at 5:30am but it did not improve our wildlife viewing, we didn't see any animals until 10am. Lots of Bison (the DH nicknamed them buffalo chips) and speed goats. We saw rams and some elk, but no moose. We did stop at a road jam to stand with everyone else and didn't see the bear that was on the hill. The park rangers like to keep things moving.

On our third day we left out of the North East Entrance and had lunch at the Beartooth Cafe in Cooke City. We had our dog with us and ate on the patio. Good food and a wonderful view.We took the Beartooth Hwy back to our campsite and it was breathtaking. However, I would NOT have been happy doing it in the camper. This is a car only road for me.

The Mammoth Springs were very interesting, we visited on a Sunday and it was crowded. Lots of buses. We went to the Roosevelt Arch and had ice cream at one of the little shops at the entrance.

We packed a picnic everyday and ate at picnic sites. The restrooms are mostly primitive in the park and they do not have running water, only hand sanitizer. Bring your own toilet paper and a method to wash your hands. The store at the Fishing Bridge has a water dispenser to refill water bottles for free. We found that the alttidude made us especially thirsty and we refilled our water bottles every time we drove by that store.

We found that the rangers and park employees were helpful and informative, almost every employee pulled out a map of the park and offered us one. We also received one every morning when we arrived in the park. (mark telephone reception spots on it when you get service, we spent ten minutes a day sitting in the sweet spot reading emails and sending photos).

We had planned to soak in the Boiling River but I forgot our suits, we walked down to the site and it looked very nice and had lots of folks swimming in it. This is a primitive area and is not accessible to folks who have a hard time getting around. This site is not on a map but the trailhead is marked when you get there.

In early September the weather was wonderful, jacket in the morning and short sleeves in the afternoon. We did not experience crowds or traffic except at Mammoth Springs.

Our plan was to leave through the south entrance and go through the Grand Tetons; however, there was a wild fire and the entrance was closed. We back tracked through Cody on our way to Grand Junction. Along the way we stopped at Thermopolis, WY and soaked in the Hot Springs at Star Plunge. Star Plunge Well worth the $12.00 a person. We stayed Four hours!

Three weeks on the road just me, the DH and the dog. We had planned this trip for 4 months and I glad I did the research. We decided we did not want to make reservations at any of the locations we stayed at and were happy with what we were able to book once we got there.

We are planning a trip to the Grand Canyon next year.
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Old 09-29-2016, 06:16 PM   #2
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Fantastic writeup - great detail. I printed the whole thing out so I can use your hints when we start planning our 2018 trip to Alaska - which will pass through Yellowstone going or coming.
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Old 09-29-2016, 06:29 PM   #3
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We're planning on doing yellowstone after the spring thaw. Thank you for the excellent intel. If my wife could get more than a day or 2 off from work, we were going to try it this fall, but that fell through. Adding this thread to my trip planning folder.
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Old 09-29-2016, 10:37 PM   #4
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What a great write up. Thanks for taking the time.

I've been to Yellowstone dozens of times and there is always something new to see. It is truly a fantastic place.
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Old 11-03-2016, 11:46 AM   #5
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Sounds like it was a great trip! I agree that most people wouldn't want to tow anything of size over the Beartooth, but to get to Yellowstone and miss that beautiful drive would be a crime. I live in Colorado and have been over Trail Ridge Road many times, yet I still found Beartooth awe inspiring. A couple of photos there from August 2015:



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Old 11-03-2016, 05:18 PM   #6
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We were also in the areas you mentioned in September. We stayed in Red Lodge, Montana for a few days when we did the Beartooth (also Chief Joseph Highway). We stayed outside of Cody during our trip, too. We stayed at Buffalo Bill State Park, also on the Shoshone River and also an awesome place. Two things that we also did were, 1) went to Heart Mountain Museum near Powell, WY where the American Japanese were interned during World War II, a heartbreaking place to visit but something everyone should know about; 2) my favorite, all time place is Devil's Tower National Monument (the nation's first national monument). Everytime I see it, I'm awe-inspired. We stayed at Keyhole State Park, about 20 miles away; but we've also stayed at the Devil's Tower KOA, which is literally at the foot of the monument. That campground has a view of Devil's Tower from every site! Wyoming and Montana are beautiful states.
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