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Mike and Carol

Glacier, Roosevelt, Yellowstone, Badlands and Wind Cave NP advice

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At the end of August we are heading north. Going straight to Roosevelt NP, then over to Glacier, down to Yellowstone then over to Badlands/Wind Cave. Any thoughts or advice on places to stay, places to visit, things to see, routes to avoid, etc.?  We haven’t camped in the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho or Wyoming. We are planning on being home early to mid October. Weather issues up there in September?  Thanks. Mike

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Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram Rebel 4X4 5.7L Hemi

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September in Yellowstone and Tetons would be good, the crowds are thinning and the trees are turning....  https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/visitationstats.htm

 

Your worry in Fall is smoke, the last few years wildfires have been a huge problem when camping starting around August. Be sure to bring a good HEPA air filter to make your nights less stressful. There is no way to predict where the smoke will be, but you can try to camp up high when it is a problem. Avoid the basins (cities) where it stagnates.

 

If you have any interest in firearms, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody WY is a must see, you will spend at least a  few hours there. RV parking is abundant with shade. The town itself is very touristy but nice. In summer it is a zoo since it is the main route into Yellowstone from the east. For camping, there is Buffalo Bill SP ten minutes west of there, on a reservoir (busy) or an hour south, you will find a superb free boondocking area on Upper Sunshine Reservoir (not the lower one) west of Meeteetse, a quiet little town with gas and a chocolate shop. Wide open dispersed sites, lake access, fishing, views of the craggy Teton mountains and wandering elk herds. The star gazing is great.

 

What do you like to do - touristy stuff, ghost towns, high mountain passes, golf, rail-trails, shopping, remote deserts? Got an offroad capable 4wd TV? If you will elaborate we could give more specific advice. That is a pretty huge area to discuss....

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

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Sully Creek Park has a nicer campground than Cottonwood Campground at Roosevelt NP and it's very close to the NP. You didn't mention Grand Teton NP. Don't miss it. I love a boondocking spot there. Upper Teton View Dispersed. * Campground Address, Directions, and GPS: Forest Rd 30310, south of 191, Moose WY 83013 GPS: 43.762492, -110.553995

* Forest road 30310 is about 12.5 miles north of Moose, WY. It’s about 5.6 miles south of Moran, WY. You take highway 191 from either Moose or Moran to get to the forest road. The road is a bit rough as you drive from the valley up to the ridge, but once you arrive, you have a great view over the valley and of the mountain peaks. Wonderful spot.

 

After visiting the Canadian Rockies, Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP last fall, I've decided to avoid fall trips to these mountains. The fire season usually starts in July and can continue well into October. The fires and smoke make this an unattractive place to visit. Last September is was so smokey in the Canadian Rockies that I only spent one night there. Fires drove me out of Glacier after a couple of days. Grand Teton was ok when I was there, but still smokey. I don't know if fires have been an issue so far this summer, but I'd advise you to keep an eye on fires in British Columbia, Alberta, Montana, etc.

 

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Don

 

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Mike and Carol,

 

I just returned from a week in Custer NP, Black Hills, Wind Cave area of South Dakota. Stayed at Stockade Campground South; highly recommended. Many other, well kept, well maintained campgrounds to choose from; all good. Take your pick.

 

I parked Oliver at the campground and toured with the truck daily.

 

Wind Cave is closed due to the elevator being broken.

 

Iron Mountain Hwy. and Needles Hwy. are a definite must in Custer NP! Leave Oliver behind though! Some of the tunnels, switch backs and pigtails are pretty tight. They warn you before you get started.

 

The "Wildlife Loop" is some beautiful scenery and, yes, saw quite a few buffalo, wild donkeys, etc.

 

Rushmore and Crazy Horse are something to see. Didn't have time to get to the Badlands though.

 

The Black Hills north of Custer are pretty unique.

 

The secondary roads in eastern Wyoming are easily traveled and well maintained. More fun than interstate highways. No issues with getting gas. It's some vast, green, lush countryside up there.

 

This area is a special place. You'll love it.

 

Enjoy.

 

Best, Bob

 

 

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I meant to include Grand Teton NP. We’ll also visit Custer SP and Mt Rushmore while in SD. At National Parks we typically hit the visitor center to pick up a map and talk to a ranger for good hikes and what’s best to see/do.  Right now I’m interested in good campgrounds, both on and off the parks. We don’t eat out much but do like to see the local area.  No bikes, golf, kayaks.

 

I’m hoping fires aren’t too bad.  We don’t have reservations anywhere so we can be flexible to fit in with weather and smoke conditions. Thanks for any recommendations or lessons learned!  Mike


Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram Rebel 4X4 5.7L Hemi

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Mike,

 

We camped at Buffalo Bill State Park North Fork, twice, it's between Cody and Yellowstone. Some of the sites have electricity/water and showers cost about 50 cents, very clean. Cody Laundromat on Beck Ave will wash & fold your clothes by the pound for a reasonable price, we found a nice place to eat while they took care of our clothes :).

 

We like camping at Custer State Park Game Lodge Campground while visiting Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, and Sylvan Lake. Their restrooms are clean and they have a nice laundry, too.

 

Bill

 

 

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Bill

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In Glacier, we've stayed at Apgar, St. Mary, and Bowman Lake.  Avoid Apgar - nothing but loud kids, generators, and mosquitos.  St. Mary was pleasant, and well located for seeing the east side, though I've heard that Two Medicine is better.  There's a scenic road to St. Mary with signs telling you your trailer is too long.  Don't read them.  Though we prefer the east side of the park, Bowman was our favorite campground - almost empty, with a gorgeous view across the lake.  Had a big grizzly come through the campsite one morning.  It's a trek to get to, and the road was awful at the time though they've regraded it since.  If you go there, be sure to stop by the general store at Polebridge for breakfast or lunch. There's also a place just north of Glacier called Canada, which has nice places to camp.

 

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At Yellowstone, we stayed at Fishing Village, which was a parking lot, but it was our only choice and far better to stay at one inside the park than to fight traffic coming and going.  There's a little jewel of a campground in Lamar Valley, called Slough Creek.  It's first come, but worth a shot.  It's quiet, with campsites along the water.  As a bonus, there's usually a resident wolf pack that dens on the hillside across the creek.  Bring a spotting scope.  The little campground at Lewis Lake looks nice, too.

 

Buffalo Bill SP in Cody has nice campsites if you're going through there.

 

At Teton, I like Lizard Creek and Gros Ventre over the busy marina CG's like Signal Mountain and Colter Bay.  We didn't drive through Headwaters when we were there, but from the aerials, it looks nice and would be well located for both Teton and Yellowstone.  If the park sites are full, then there's a free USFS campground here.  The sites on the upper loop road (30340) are better than the lower sites.  Primative, but probably the best views of the Tetons to be had.

 

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Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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Krunch and I visited this area in our pre-RV days on multiple occasions while staying in cabins and lodges.

 

The Custer, SD area is beautiful even if you don’t like motorcycles and there are usually a lot of them in the area.   We really liked Custer SP and if Wind Cave is closed, try Jewel Cave National Monument.  It’s a different type of cave and didn’t have an elevator when we visited.  There is a mammoth dig site it Hot Springs, SD that we thought was pretty cool in 1996 and I hope it still is.  And don’t forget Devils Tower NM.  I think Dave and Cindy recently posted about camping there.

 

We really enjoy the town of St. Mary on the eastern side of Glacier NP for the smaller crowds and be sure to stop at the Park Cafe for a meal or a slice of pie.  The Many Glacier area of GNP has great hiking is just north of St. Mary and is on the way to Waterton Lakes NP in Canada.  Watertown-Glacier International Peace Park was the first of it's kind and any visit to the area should include time for both parks.  We have taken the boat ride on Watertown Lake and there is a drop off for the Cript Lake hike.  It is a pretty strenuous hike, but worth the effort.  Or you can take the boat to the south end of Watertown Lake and exit at the American ranger station and walk back to Watertown Township on the west side of the lake while crossing the International border.

 

There is a loop road through Yellowstone and we like the eastern route and the NE entrance to the park goes through  Lamar valley which is great for wildlife viewing. Look for people set up along side of the road with telescopes, looking for bears, wolves and their prey.

 

The Tetons are special and it sounds like Don has a good camping spot there.

 

Safe travels,

 

Mossey

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Mike and Krunch   Lutz, FL   LEII #193 “the dog house”

 

 

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Bowman was our favorite campground – almost empty, with a gorgeous view across the lake. Had a big grizzly come through the campsite one morning. It’s a trek to get to, and the road was awful at the time though they’ve regraded it since.

From the parks website:

 

"RVs and truck and trailer combinations are not recommended at Bowman Lake due to the nature of the long, narrow, and windy dirt road to the campground. Turning vehicles around (3-point turns) is difficult."  ...  https://www.visitmt.com/listings/general/national-park-campground/bowman-lake-campground.html

 

Is that typical park hysteria or are there any concerns about towing an Ollie behind a Land Cruiser?

 

What are your thoughts on that lake for canoeing? Windy? Wakes?

 

Thanks, BTW that is a very gorgeous picture at Bowman.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA


"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

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Is that typical park hysteria or are there any concerns about towing an Ollie behind a Land Cruiser?

 

What are your thoughts on that lake for canoeing? Windy? Wakes?

No concerns about the road apart from it being super bumpy at the time.  But as I said, apparently they regraded it the moment we left.  We were able to pass a couple other, wider, campers coming the opposite direction with no problem.  At the start of the road, there were a few climbing twists, and maybe if you met someone there it might be tricky, but I really don't remember.  The road was also dry, though I don't remember it being rutted, only bumpy.

 

The lake was about as calm as that photo the whole time we were there.  There were some morning kayakers each day, but no motorized boats.  The only thing we saw fishing were ospreys.

 

No bugs at the campsite, but the two hiking trails we took were pretty buggy.  We were there third week of May, so later in the summer I'm sure it's more crowded and buggy.

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Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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My sister told me about the Enchanted Highway in North Dakota, which extends from the towns of Regent to Gladstone, off of I-94. The road has a series of large sculptures made from scrap metal. I have not been there, but the photos look very interesting.

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David Stillman, Salt Lake City, Utah

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The sculptures are interesting, but the two ends of the hi-way are tough points to work into a trip. There isn’t much of a draw to the area, hence the construction of the sculptures to draw tourists off of the freeway. I was checking out pheasant hunting spots for a fall hunting trip when we drove it last summer. Stopped to look at these birds too. 282514AE-D4A2-4559-B3D7-8023A3F82880.thumb.jpeg.99477154f391ec25818f905a3fe20fe7.jpeg

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Teddy roosevelt cottonwood is one of our favorites, ever. The northern badlands are desolate. And, extremely beautiful. Medora is a tourist town, imo. We had bison next to the rv in cottonwood. Keep the dogs on a leash, keep an eye out, and move them inside ahead of issue.

Ingomar is a great lunch stop. The burger and ice cream stop, plus quirky ambience, is worth the dusty road.

The tetons in May are amazing. Again. we had bison walking through our site. Grizzlys on the road.

We've never been late enough to drive the going to the sun road in full.post photos, please, if you get to the end.

Sherry

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As we’re getting ready to leave next week I’ve been trying to check wildfire status. The Dakotas don’t look too bad but there does appear to be some activity in Montana and Wyoming. Does anyone have a favorite app or web site for checking wildfire status?


Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram Rebel 4X4 5.7L Hemi

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Hey Mike & Carol have a great trip i'll give you a couple places to think about, Roosevelt National Park be sure to drive it and at the very outside on the north west corner is an old Fur trading fort that you can visit and native Indian locations. In Medora they do town fund raiser call a steak Fondue which was pretty good I'll post a pic or two. Also there  is Old Fort Lincoln which you can camp at I think Custer was stationed here at one time reminded me of Fort Davis in Texas. If your hitting Glacier you might as well take your passports to go to Waterton right out side the East entrance north there is a crossing and see the Canadian side of Glacier very pretty nice little town. Carol can have afternoon high tea at the Lodge overlooking the lake. When your heading south from Glacier look for it and I think it is north of Helena it's on the map a crossing at "Three Forks" there is a Pastry/Bread/Deli/Sandwich shop which will have a parking lot full of car's in the middle of nowhere. ( do a quick Goole search you'll find it Wheat Montana Bakery & Deli) The slogan is we grow it, sow it, dough it I think. Great sandwiches or pastries long drive down to Yellowstone so a great short stop on the trip down or up. Just a couple quickies as I sit here if I think of more I'll get back with ya. Be safe and have a great trip

 

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The last photo is of the Old fur trading post north of the North Roosevelt NP section.

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Gary & Jona

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Gary, thanks! I’ll add these to the itinerary, will ask Carol about the tea thing?! Great pictures, by the way. We were planning on taking our passports in case we wanted to venture north, sounds like something we should do. I have an ex-sister-in-law that lives in Whitefish and she is sending us some info on the area. Mike


Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram Rebel 4X4 5.7L Hemi

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If you go to Waterton and if "High Tea" is not your thing and if you are looking for a nice day hike then strongly consider the hike to Crypt Lake.  You take a boat across the lake in Waterton, hike up to Crypt Lake and make sure that you are back to the dock before that last boats leaves to take you back across the lake - it would be one heck of a swim otherwise.

 

Bill

 

p.s.  I just got home from Montana and Yellowstone.  The Park was VERY crowded this year but should be much less so by the time you get there.  If you camp outside the Park, just north of West Yellowstone is a NFS campground called "Baker's Hole".  All sites are first come, first served and site 51 is the best in the entire campground - right on the Madison River with killer views into the Park.  Pit toilets and potable water are available.

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2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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Mike and Carol,

 

I live in Bozeman and know these areas well.

 

Fires: we have had an extremely mild summer this year with virtually no fires at all, lots of rain and what few have existed thus far have not made for bad air quality in fact its been quite good on all but a couple of days. Its my understanding a small fire has broken out in YNP lately though. IOW's this would be an excellent year to travel to this part of the country. Hope you have a great trip.

 

Bowman Lake: Regardless of what Overland has done, do not do this! He is extremely lucky he succeeded. Ask any ranger in this park and they will tell you the same. Normally you only see tent campers, vans, and truck campers up there and there is a good reason for it. I have been to this lake dozens of times and my wife and I have paddled the entire length of it a couple of times. Its gorgeous and one of the nicest parts of this park. Don't go on the weekend it gets very busy with folks who come up from the Flathead Valley and other surrounding areas.

 

Camping: I find it interesting others like St Mary, to me its just too busy cramped with tight spaces et al. A bit further on the same road is a small campground with a couple of spaces just large enough for an Oliver. Most are too small and tight to fit an Oliver but Rising Sun is a sweet little campground. As others have suggested Two Medicine and Many Glacier are also very nice. Most but not all of the hikes from Two Medicine can be quite long so be prepared. At the time of year you will be there most likely Apgar crowds will be long gone and camping should be fine. Mid summer its a zoo. One of our favorite campgrounds is Avalanche and while the area gets lots of crowds due to the hike up to Avalanche Lake the campground itself is quiet and peaceful, but it does close early in the year. BTW the dump station at Apgar is awful for Olivers, not worth going into for now but there are better choices out of the park.

 

You might also consider some of the excellent State Park campgrounds in and around Flathead Lake, Wayfarers is awesome which is in Bigfork, but all are quite nice. I would not advise Whitefish Lake St Park though, well unless you like to be jolted awake in the middle of the night with freight trains that run directly next to the park. Nice park otherwise.

 

YNP: As suggested the crowds should be thinning out quite a bit. Pebble Creek on the far end of Lamar Valley is also nice, as is Slough Creek on the way there. As you head out the park to the east don't miss the chance to travel over the Beartooth Highway. It will be a trip you're not likely to ever forget. This road will take your over two summits that are 11,000 feet in elevation. Views are out of this world and there is some great hikes to be had as well. There are some excellent campgrounds along the way, Beartooth Lake, Island Lake are two. For your first trip I would suggest NOT towing the Oliver over the road. Suffice it to say its steep and winding and gets a fair amount of traffic, yes even at these altitudes. It closes at the first snowfall so pay attention to that. The road drops down into Red Lodge on the far side and if you decide to go up from that direction there are also some great campgrounds up Rock Creek Canyon. They allow for lots of dispersed boon docking (free) as well as pay sites. I was there last weekend and due to reservations most were all booked.

 

If you travel down Paradise Valley on the way to YNP, Pine Creek is an excellent campground with at least one very steep hike but well worth going up to the falls a short way. The Madison River Valley further to the west is well worth the effort with several BLM and Fish and Wildlife campgrounds along the way. The Madison is heavily fished.

 

GTNP: Also not to be missed, Gros Ventre is a huge campground but still nice. I agree with the assessments regarding the other campgrounds here.

 

I could go on, but good luck and have a safe trip.

 

Rob

 

 

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Bowman Lake: Regardless of what Overland has done, do not do this! He is extremely lucky he succeeded.

Hehe.  You realize that's an invitation to many of us, lol.

 

But honestly, I did not find the road challenging, even in its worst state just prior to resurfacing.  Slow and bumpy, not for the unadventurous, and mainly no turn arounds if you do get into trouble, but otherwise didn't require any advanced skillset to navigate.  The camp host at Apgar and the woman at the visitors center there both recommended Bowman to us.

 

In general, however, I would not take an Oliver down a bumpy road without being prepared to make electrical or plumbing repairs.  From the factory, I don't think that those systems are durable enough to withstand heavy hits or prolonged vibration.

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Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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I forgot to post the pic's of the Steak Fondue and should you venture up to Banff, Jasper & Canadian Ice fields there is a great hike up to this Glacier lake on the travels as your driving along we hit it about 2 in the afternoon between the two parks I think before the Ice fields beautiful. Good luck and be safe great open spaces to see. The Blue lake pictured is Peyto Lake about 40 KM north of Banff and Lake Louise nice hike up to the viewing area mostly up hill but if I could do it you'll have no issue. Gary & Jona

 

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Gary & Jona

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Now, that's what I call a fondue fork!


2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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Now, that’s what I call a fondue fork!

 

I’ll have one pitchfork of beef, please.

 

Now I’m hungry! This is on the list!


Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram Rebel 4X4 5.7L Hemi

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