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Yellowstone recommentations


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We are doing a late Spring trip (May 27-June 10) from NashvilleTn to Joseph, Ore.   we’re thinking of making a couple of stops along the way for an extra day at each (The BadLands, (SD) and something in Yellowstone (Wy or Mt).  Yellowstone RVing seems to have a lot of opinions but at different park entry points. We’ll be traveling from the East and North.  If you were there for 2 nights in late May, where would you enter the park and what campgrounds would you prioritize. We are two, plus two 65lbs golden doodles. We need to be efficient with our time so not getting bogged down in traffic jams is important, but we also want to see the canyons and rivers and mountains and tigers and elephants.

any suggestions??

thanks, Maridus and Connie Kinder (#264 LEii)

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Do you specifically need to be in Joseph? The reason I ask is that it is one of those “You can’t get there from here” towns. It is quite cool but also quite isolated and there is no easy way in from the east. There is a pesky great Canyon in the way.....I have done it with “Mouse” from that direction and from the north, but would not choose to repeat the eastern experience. You don’t have very long for a trip this length - at least 4400 miles in two weeks - so if you don’t positively have to be in Joseph you could linger longer en route and spend more time in much more scenic country. Honestly, after the Yellowstone Country and Tetons, Joseph and Hells Canyon will be a real letdown, scenery wise.

https://olivertraveltrailers.com/forums/topic/3451-5-peaks-rv-park-joseph-oregon-near-hells-canyon/?tab=comments#comment-33990

As far as MT/ WY goes, what sorts of touristy things do you enjoy? What amenities do you desire when camping? Do you like ghost towns? Guns? Ziplines? Isolated  dirt roads? 12,000 ft passes? I assume the “elephants” thing was figurative, or do you in fact want to view exotic animals?

Most Yellowstone campgrounds are not reservable, only these four - https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm - and without a reservation during the high season you may find yourself wandering disconsolately through heavily congested roads with your Ollie, with nowhere to camp. If you can’t get into one of those CGs, reserving a spot for two nights outside the park at a commercial CG or State Park might make more sense. It would remove a LOT of worry. YNP roads are very tight and you simply can’t see the sights while dragging a trailer. Going in solo will be a better tactic.

As Far as Badlands goes .....IMHO just skip the experience entirely because compared to further west they just aren’t worth the time. My main impression of BL was of a great big gravel pit.

For this long of a trip three weeks would make more sense if you can find the extra time. You don’t want to arrive back home feeling beat up. Just saying....

John Davies

Spokane WA

 

Edited by John E Davies

"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/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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31 minutes ago, John E Davies said:

As Far as Badlands goes .....IMHO just skip the experience entirely because compared to further west they just aren’t worth the time. My main impression of BL was of a great big gravel pit.

John, I gotta disagree. We went to Badlands NP last year and it was gorgeous. In western SD, I also recommend the Black Hills, especially Custer State Park. 

Pictures from Badlands:

 2019-08-30-122642Canon-Edit.thumb.jpg.922d17816d5bae29eaf70a2119b60299.jpg

2019-08-30-111518Canon-Edit.thumb.jpg.1f89037e9ee0eb89532bec8a12f28833.jpg

2019-08-30-125119Canon-Edit.thumb.jpg.eba835ad72e600b2ec1df699015b91c8.jpg

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David Stillman, Salt Lake City, Utah

2016 Oliver Elite II  Hull 164    |    2017 Audi Q7 tow vehicle. 

Travel and Photography Blog: http://davidstravels.net

 

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I also disagree. Custer is beautiful.  The sundown drive, vry slowly, through the adjoining preserve is awesome, for wildlife view.  Be prepared to stop. A lot.

Dave's photos are beautiful.  And real.

. I really enjoyed Teddy Roosevelt  NP in North Dakota,  if you have time.

The Dakotas have their own special and unique beauty. Not a flyover, or run-through,  imo.

Sherry 

 

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2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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We were at Yellowstone in the fall and couldn’t get a site in the park so we stayed at Henry’s Lake State Park in Idaho, just a 20 minute drive from Yellowstone. Take the time to see Grand Teton National Park too, just next door. We stayed at Gros Ventre Campground. Get there early in the day and you should get a site. We enjoyed the Dakotas and plan on returning.  Mike

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

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11 hours ago, SeaDawg said:

I also disagree. Custer is beautiful.  The sundown drive, vry slowly, through the adjoining preserve is awesome, for wildlife view.  Be prepared to stop. A lot.

Dave's photos are beautiful.  And real.

. I really enjoyed Teddy Roosevelt  NP in North Dakota,  if you have time.

The Dakotas have their own special and unique beauty. Not a flyover, or run-through,  imo.

Sherry 

 

I also endorse seeing the Bad Lands.  Having had one son attend the South Dakota State Univ. and the other attend the Univ of Wyoming; we traveled extensively through that region and found the Bad Lands very memorable.  Gotta remember, we in the eastern part of the US don't have those types of  openness so it's all new to us.  We even enjoyed the endless miles of corn driving through Iowa and the flatness of Kansas.  It makes us appreciate the vastness of this great country and how varied the topography is within it.  It's all beautiful in it's own unique ways.  Experience and enjoy it ALL.

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I'll also jump on the "stop at the Badlands" wagon - every time I'm there I can see the pioneers coming across this for the first time.  As David's pictures show - simply stunning.

Yellowstone NP is wonderful - but - a camping and traffic problem.  My favorite campground in YNP is Peeble Creek in the extreme northwest corner.  All sites are first come first served, there is central water and pit toilets - no electric or sewer.  The Lamar Valley sits right at the campground's western door with wolves, elk, bison, deer, antelope, coyotes and bear (both black and griz).  Early in the morning the traffic is lighter because most people will be coming from the WEST into the valley and/or stopping at the other attractions which are mainly on the western side of the park.  Unfortunately, as with all of the campgrounds in the park (see Mike's comments above) camping sites are hard to come by - the last time I was there I arrived at 5:15am to get in line for a site and I was THIRD in line!

Another way to attack YNP is to head on over to the town of West Yellowstone.  The Grizzly campground in town is very nice with full hookups and the Baker's Hole Campground just north of town is also good (central water and pit toilets - no electric or sewer) (site 53 is the best).  All sites here are first come first served and to insure you get a site you should be there no later than 9:30 - 10:00 am.  Be aware though that getting into YNP can have very long lines - up to a 90 minute wait if you arrive at the gate after 8am.  Or, you could try to get a reservation at the Madison Campground inside YNP.  Again, central water and no electric but the toilets are flush and there is a central sewer dump.  From here you can avoid the entrance gate lines and be closer to the sites that are on the West side of YNP.  Another "benefit" of the town of West Yellowstone is that there are restaurants, laundries, grocery stores, etc. if you need these types of things to re-provision or as a break.  As I think John said - with the time you have, you simply can not "do" YNP - there are too many people/traffic and there is too much to see.

Bill

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Yeah, the lines around the West Yellowstone/Geyser area were pretty bad when we went through a few years ago in mid to late may.  The north entrance was bad as well.  I wondered at the time if the best way to tackle the park would be to stay at Teton and drive up each morning.  

Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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I would echo the previous comments about western South Dakota.  The Black Hills/Custer St. Park/Mt. Rushmore region is not to be missed if you haven't been there before.  As for Yellowstone, try to avoid the Memorial Day weekend holiday (from Friday through Sunday).  The park fills up with local and regional visitors.  Memorial Day itself is not a bad day to check into Yellowstone, since most of the "locals" who occupy the park that weekend head back to their homes to go to work on Tuesday.  Actually, anytime that week is not a bad time to be there with regard to crowds.  However, be aware that you'll be in high elevations, and any type of weather can occur there that time of year (cold front with blizzards, or sunny and 70's in the daytime---it all can happen).

It looks like you'll be heading west on I-90 from South Dakota, then south at Livingston, MT, on HWY 89.  If that's the case, you'll be entering the park at the north gate at Gardiner, MT.  If you truly are looking at just two days in late May for Yellowstone, camping is typically better on the north or west side of the park, as those areas receive less winter snowfalls and have typically melted out to a greater degree than the east and south regions of the park.  If it were me, and I wanted to stay "in the park" as opposed to one of the gateways, with my entry point at Mammoth, I'd shoot to reserve two nights at the Madison Campground (14 miles east of the park's west entrance at West Yellowstone, MT).  This is a concessioner-operated campground (Xanterra) and is reserve-able.   If I actually had only one day to see the park, I would drive the "Lower Loop" of the park clockwise, from Madison, to Norris, to Lake, to Old Faithful, then back to Madison.  That will afford you the opportunity to see most of the major sites in the park, and then you'll be positioned to exit the west gate on your way to Oregon.  That loop drive will take you all day to complete (if you take time to make stops/take short hikes, and see much of major features).  The reason I suggest the "clockwise" route is that you should reach the Canyon area mid morning when the lighting on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone/Lower Falls is the best--truly spectacular.  Likewise, you most likely won't reach the Old Faithful area until late afternoon, but that's good because most of the "midday" visitors to that area will be heading back to their various villages/gateway communities for the night.  Thus, you'll miss the most crowded part of the day, and again, the late afternoon lighting is best in the geyser basins and through the Fountain Flats area.

In case you haven't looked these up at, the NPS campground schedule can be found HERE

 And, here is a schedule for the Xanterra campgrounds:

     
     
     
     

2020 Campground Dates

Campgrounds

Opening 8am

Closing 11am

Bridge Bay Campground

May 15

September 7

Canyon Campground

May 22

September 20

Fishing Bridge RV Park

Closed

Closed

Grant Village Campground

June 5

September 13

Madison Campground

April 24

October 18

   


 

 

Sorry for the lengthy comments, but hope they help.  Have a great trip!!!

 

 

 

 

 

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Jim & Mary

Bozeman, Montana

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Since the Fishing Bridge Campground inside Yellowstone NP is closed in 2020; we made reservations for a trip there this year at the Grizzly campground in West Yellowstone.  According to the person I spoke with at Grizzly campground they are filling up fast.

Horace & Dianne

Chesapeake, Virginia

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Maverick -

You'll like that Grizzly campground - clean, nice showers, nice people.  Hopefully you will get a spot over in the southeast corner in that it backs up to NFS land and you can take a hike, walk the dog, and its a bit quieter over there.  However, there really isn't a bad spot in the entire place.  If you get bored with YNP or are looking for something a bit different then take a look at driving north/northwest to the Hebgen/Quake lake area.  Last year in taking a short hike out of the Cabin Creek campground there was a mother griz and her two very cute cubs climbing the west side of the canyon not 50 yards up the trail from the campground.

There is a decent laundry in town with free WiFi and the coffee shop right across from the larger of the two grocery stores has good pastries and coffee.

Bill

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

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I would like to second the comment about being prepared for nasty winter weather, even in the summer. Always have emergency gear along, including abundant water, some food and a sleeping bag for each person. The Beartooth Highway out of the NE entrance is a truly amazing place to visit.  But it may not be open by the time of your visit. This is from last summer....

https://www.powelltribune.com/stories/stranded-motorist-rescued-from-beartooth-mountains,19307?

Folks from less severe climates just can’t believe that they might face four foot drifts in June.....

Go prepared.

John Davies

Spokane WA

Edited by John E Davies

"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/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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Wowza!  Thanks to all who replied to my question. The specifics are very helpful, and much appreciated.  We want to see exceptional sights, while also being super efficient with our me time.  We hate sitting in traffic so anything that “feels slow and congested’ is not our cup of joe. 

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We were in Yellowstone last year from June 3-8 and although it was busy I wouldn't characterize it as crowded. Coming in from the west we stayed at the Madison campground albeit our reservation was made nine months earlier. It was a good base from which to explore the park. Traffic within the park usually means there is something worth slowing down for. What first reminded me of the conditions in Southern California that we were trying to escape from soon became a harbinger of goods things to come. Crowds make the parking areas for the geysers, trails and picnic areas cumbersome. Quite by accident we discovered a sightseeing rhythm that worked well for us. Because there are so many visitors coming in and out of the park each day we would start lengthy trips (Lamar Valley) later in the day around 2:00. Many of the day visitors and tour companies seemed to be heading out by 4:00 and our access was improved. June is a good month to employ this approach as the days are long and we saw everything but wolves. Prepare for everything weather wise. Six inches of snow fell the evening of the seventh and it continue as we passed the Divide on our way to Grand Teton. We were among the last to get to the south entrance towards before they closed the road.

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16 hours ago, johnwen said:

DavidS, your pictures are stunning!  What type camera are you using?

TIA,

John

John, I appreciate the kind words. I use two cameras, a big Canon digital SLR and a compact Sony RX-100. 

These Badlands NP pictures look good because of the light. It was the middle the day, and the pictures would have been washed out if it had been blue skies and bright sun. The clouds softened the light and give good visual interest. When camping, I really enjoy sleeping in, snug in my warm bed. However, I sometimes force myself to get up right after dawn to go out and take pictures. The best light is at the beginning and the end of the day. 

The other thing I do is to shot my pictures in the RAW format instead of the camera's default JPG setting, and then "post-process" the pictures on the computer. More info on RAW in an earlier post HERE

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David Stillman, Salt Lake City, Utah

2016 Oliver Elite II  Hull 164    |    2017 Audi Q7 tow vehicle. 

Travel and Photography Blog: http://davidstravels.net

 

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My wife and I have spent 18 summers on the Yellowstone River, midway between Livingston and Gardiner, and the north entrance to the Park., so we’re in and through the Park multiple times over the course of every summer, and going in and out of every entrance.

There have already been lots of good suggestions given here already which I won’t duplicate, but I’d like to offer a couple more points to keep in mind.

One is that if you go into the Park early, say between 5:00 am and 7:00 am, you’ll beat most of the slow traffic, plus have a better chance of seeing wildlife.  And, May is a good time to see wildlife in the Park.  (While I don’t disagree with the recommendations regarding Grizzly RV Park, West Yellowstone, and areas surrounding the West entrance, it is often really backed up traffic wise there, both getting into the Park, and often all the way to Madison Junction and beyond, unless you plan on getting into the Park at the crack of dawn.)

The other point I’d like to make is to look up ahead of time what the planned road construction is for the summer in the Park, and if your time is limited, make your plans to minimize delays that you might incur in these construction zones, which can be done to some extent by taking a different route in the Park, and/or driving through construction zones at off hours.  You may also wish to avoid towing your trailer through construction zones in any case - another reason you might wish to stay outside the Park.

John

 

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22 hours ago, Flyfisher said:

My wife and I have spent 18 summers on the Yellowstone River, midway between Livingston and Gardiner, and the north entrance to the Park., so we’re in and through the Park multiple times over the course of every summer, and going in and out of every entrance.

.................

You may also wish to avoid towing your trailer through construction zones in any case - another reason you might wish to stay outside the Park.

John

 

Have you stayed in your travel trailer every summer all 18 summers?

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