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Old 05-10-2015, 08:30 AM   #1
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Camping Trip Advice or Suggestions

I am planning a 2 week trip for next summer and I am looking for any advice or suggestions from experienced campers who have made these journeys. Places to stay, places to avoid, places along the way to see. Look forward to your information. Thanks

Leaving Greenwood Indiana (Home)
Head to Mount Rushmore
Head to Yellowstone
Head to Utah National Park(s) not sure which one
Head to Colorado
Then head home to Indiana

I think I can do this in 2 weeks. I want to explore the stops.
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Old 05-10-2015, 08:55 AM   #2
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If you are coming east from Utah through Colorado on interstate 70, head south to Gunnison Colorado and to Black Canyon NP.
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Old 05-10-2015, 08:57 AM   #3
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How long, do I need to spend in Yellowstone to get the most out of it?
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Old 05-10-2015, 09:18 AM   #4
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We went to Yellowstone about 10 years ago, and in mid May. The heards were migrating back into the park.. I was amazing to see. ( stopped on the road for 10 minutes while 300 bison crossed the road in front of you )

I think we spent 3 full days there and did most of the major attractions. You could spend weeks there if you wanted to hike and see the off-road attractions.

We also spent a few days down the road at grand Tetons as well.
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Old 05-11-2015, 01:19 PM   #5
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In my opinion, Rushmore is over-rated you drive forever to get there, look at it 15 min and "ok, done" where as the other spots are much cooler with lots to see for days. x2 on Tetons if you like getting out on foot and rugged views, etc. Lots of UT is very scenic - Canyonlands, arches, etc. Colorado is great too and if you are up for it opportunity for boondocking off some of the numerous forest service dirt roads. If you are into hiking some there are many day hike options.
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Old 05-11-2015, 03:04 PM   #6
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How long, do I need to spend in Yellowstone to get the most out of it?
It depends...
DW and I took our 2 young boys there and spent, as I recall 4 days. The kids were bored from day 1 because there was no swimming pool at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel. We didn't see all we wanted to see, in part because it rained one of the days.

Before kids, DW and I spent 2 weeks there (the maximum allowed) and wanted to spend more.

As a youngster, I went camping there with my parents. Don't know how long we were there, but for me it wasn't long enough.
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Old 05-11-2015, 04:05 PM   #7
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Your trip is too aggressive if you plan on doing much or seeing places. You will be just slowing down as you pass through with all you have on your agenda. We will be going to Utah for 2 1/2 weeks. Our rule of thumb is to stay in a place for 3 to 4 nights beforemoving and use it as a base camp. Otherwise all you do is drive and set up camp. Last year we hit Wyoming and a piece of Colorado in 2.5 weeks. Just an opinion, just being in the west is fun.
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Old 05-11-2015, 04:28 PM   #8
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That's a pretty ambitious trip. We did something similar 10 years ago. We took our old hybrid trailer from Milwaukee to Vegas, to Monterey, to Yellowstone. Nearly 6000 miles in 2 weeks. In hind sight I wish we had scaled it back a bit, but it was also one of the most fun trips we ever took. So we don't regret doing it for a minute.

You can do Mt. Rushmore in a half a day. There is a beautiful trail around the mountain. Well worth doing. The rest of the Black Hills is very commercialized, it reminded us of the Wisconsin Dells, which we tend to avoid.

Learn what's at your destinations in advance, especially with the parks. Lots of online resources to research all the places you want to go. Have a list of "wants and needs". Needs are the highlights you are not willing to miss, wants are the things you'd like to see if you can. Then when you get to each place, "play it by ear" so to speak. See the "needs", and fit in the "wants" where it makes sense. No matter what you do you not be able to see it all.

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Originally Posted by rtiedeken View Post
How long, do I need to spend in Yellowstone to get the most out of it?
A year. Seriously. It's huge, the best stuff is on back country trails most of which can be done on day hikes. We've been there twice, the first time for 2 days on the 2 week trip mentioned above, the second time for 5 days just to see Yellowstone because we missed so much the first time. 60% of our second trip was spent on back country trails.

If you are going to do any walking/hiking on trails for any length of time, that is more than 30 minutes in any of those parks, get real hiking shoes. Brands like Merrells or Salomans, not sneakers like Nike. Your feet will thank you for it. Been there, done that.
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Old 05-11-2015, 07:24 PM   #9
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Learn what's at your destinations in advance, especially with the parks. Lots of online resources to research all the places you want to go. Have a list of "wants and needs". Needs are the highlights you are not willing to miss, wants are the things you'd like to see if you can. Then when you get to each place, "play it by ear" so to speak. See the "needs", and fit in the "wants" where it makes sense. No matter what you do you not be able to see it all.
I can't recommend enough Ken Burns: The National Parks - America's Best Idea videos. We purchased this to keep in our rig as a reminder of where we aspire to go and how we'll visit it.
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Old 05-13-2015, 12:19 PM   #10
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We did a similar trip last year starting a bit closer (Twin Cities), spending 3.5 weeks and only hitting one of the Utah parks, and it was barely enough time. Note: we did almost 200 miles of hiking which is time that could be saved if you're a "see it from the road" type of person.

If you're splitting driving duty and are okay with crazy long driving days you can make the first/last legs in a single calendar day each, leaving 12 days between western SD and Colorado, though many people may choose to break them into more manageable chunks.

Once you're to Rapid City, the shortest version of the generally 'C' shaped route through Yellowstone, into Utah and back near Denver is like 1100 miles and 20+ hours of driving, head down to Zion and it's more like 1700 miles. You're looking at 8-12 hour days of driving between locations eating up the better part of 3 more days.

I would cut your scope and extend your time in key locations by 1-2 days. You won't be able to check off as many boxes but you'll have more time to explore and enjoy each location.


In South Dakota you may as well see Mount Rushmore while you're there but there are a number of other interesting attractions - Badlands NP and Minuteman Missile silo, Custer State Park (Iron Mountain road, Needles Highway, Wildlife loop), Jewel Cave NM, Wind Cave NP. There are also lots of tourist trap type attractions if that's more your style.

Personally, Yellowstone and the Tetons are worth at least a week if you have any interest at all in hiking or attending ranger programs (and some of the best are ranger led hikes).

In Utah all of the parks are worth seeing, but on that type of timeline I think I would stick with Dinosaur NM (under rated IMO) or maybe Arches NP which are the two most northern/eastern parks. In Dinosaur the quarry and nearby fossil trail are interesting. There are a ton of petroglyphs just a minute's stroll from the road. If the weather is good, the dirt road (don't try it if there's rain) down to Steamboat rock is fun and the nearby Harper's Corner trail is a pretty easy 3 mile round trip hike with excellent views of the Green and Yampa river canyons a couple thousand feet below.

If you're planning to stop at Rocky Mountain US40 runs from Dinosaur through Steamboat Springs and near the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. Otherwise if you go to Arches or points South you can come back across on I70 (one of my two favorite stretches of interstate)
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