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Old 01-19-2016, 06:50 PM   #15
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All of those places you mentioned are wonderful but very crowded at the time you are going. Be sure and make reservations where you can much earlier than your trip.


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Old 01-19-2016, 07:30 PM   #16
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We live in Texas We left here and went to Mount Rushmore,the Badlands then on to Glacier National park.We did a day trip to Waterton National Park in Alberta Canada.
from there we headed to Yellowstone for three days. We left there and went to the Grand Tetons (most beautiful place we went). From there we went to Brice Canyon and Zion National Park.We were gone for 23 days and drove 5500 miles.We had a wonderful time wished it had been longer. We went to Grand Canyon North and South Rims two years ago. Have Fun
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Old 01-19-2016, 07:42 PM   #17
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Also agree that right now is not too soon to get reservations. I have had our reservations for Yellowstone campground (in the park) for several months now.

The national park service has a lot of good info.

Also do remember if you have not had much time driving in the mountains, that the speed limit is much lower due to all of the turns and hills, and that you may encounter stoppages due to single lane roads where traffic, Literally, stops to look at wildlife.

Maximum speed (i.e. top speed) is 45 MPH, so this can make you average speed about half as high as highway speed.

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Old 01-19-2016, 08:14 PM   #18
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Too much in too short of time, and during the hottest time of the year also the busiest, with heavy traffic, we do our traveling during early spring and during the fall, it is cooler and very little traffic and every one is in school and working therefore no problem finding camp sites,which in July and August is a big it after Labor Day ..especially in Yellowstone,.ask me how I know..
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Old 01-19-2016, 08:20 PM   #19
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I like the west.
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Old 01-19-2016, 08:22 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by BoldAdventure View Post
I like the west.

Me too.

Work is never done, so take time to play!
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Old 01-19-2016, 09:31 PM   #21
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The West is HUGE and you'll want to take multiple trips to see everything! But everyone else has passed this on already.

We drove a similar route in May 2015. We live in St Louis and made our way up to I-90 near Sioux Falls, then headed west. On this route, Badlands and Mt Rushmore are on the way to Yellowstone and worth stopping. Near Rushmore is also Crazy Horse and the Mickelson Trail (a rails to trails project and scenic bike trail).

Yellowstone itself is HUGE. We spent 5 nights in the campground near Fishing Bridge, about in the middle of the park. This was enough but we definitely could have spent more. They have full hookups. Book very early (NOW) and stay in the park - anything outside the park will lead to a lot of driving every day to see the park.

From Yellowstone we dropped down to Grand Teton, which is very close. It was gorgeous as well and there are RV parks nearby.

From there we were going to drop down to Dinosaur NP on the border of Utah and CO, and then head home through Denver. We got sidetracked (by work) and went a different way (to Seattle), but that's a whole 'nother story!

Zion, Bryce, Canyonlands and Arches (all in S Utah) are fabulous and a must see - these are a trip by themselves. You'll have a fantastic time, see some beautiful scenery, and want to go back!

Have fun!
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Old 01-20-2016, 12:19 AM   #22
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Just to underline what some of the others have said.

Less is more, in terms of not trying to pile too many destinations into one trip. Unless your idea of a good trip is road-driving most of the time, and not getting a chance to see much of the parks. The one exception would be for people who can't or don't like to walk very far, because it's really best to leave the vehicles behind for a while you saunter around on foot.

Yellowstone is huge, and the speed limit is generally 40 mph, or less when a dozen cars in front of you have spotted a Large Animal and at least one of them brakes in the middle of the road to photograph it. You would need 2-3 days minimum to tour the park, assuming you get out at various places to walk around. Reservations during the high season are strongly recommended, whether in the park or at a gateway community like West Yellowstone. Campers start prowling the "first come first serve" park campgrounds for vacancies early in the morning.

Yellowstone is close to the Tetons, which are breathtakingly beautiful.

Glacier NP is really cool, but about a day's drive from Yellowstone. It has a Park Service free shuttle bus service which is highly recommended, as we've been up to the visitor center on Going-to-the-Sun highway at Logan Pass when there was absolutely no parking anywhere. If you have a high-clearance vehicle and don't mind a rough road, we really like the northwestern area around Bowman and Kintla Lakes. The scenery is spectacular, without all the crowds. We wouldn't take our trailer up there, but go as a day trip.

Note that most National Park campgrounds do not have hook-ups. There is one at Yellowstone that does, but the RVs are really packed in like sardines. There are water taps, but not at each site. Each CG generally has a sani-dump. We'd take a generator & gas can for occasional power, plus a jerry can & funnel for water.

It is a loooong drive from Wyoming and Montana to southern Utah. You might save Zion, Bryce and some of the other desert parks for a separate trip. The Black Hills and Teddy Roosevelt NP might be more on a direct route from Pennsylvania to Yellowstone.
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Old 01-20-2016, 06:47 AM   #23
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I can't thank you all enough for your comments! I'm so glad I posted here! I think originally I was very focused on seeing as much as we could possibly see but I wasn't realizing how we'd be too busy rushing around to enjoy what we'll be seeing. That was not a good plan.

I would love to take this trip at a different time of year, but between work and my son's school, there really isn't a choice.

I am going to re-read everyone's individual comments and check out all of the places you mentioned. I will also take the advice of making reservations asap.

My hope is that along the way, we'll also find a few cool places to camp overnight and maybe sightsee a bit (if we don't have to stray far from the highway!). If anyone has a few more suggestions for that, it would also be greatly appreciated!

Once again, I'm a newbie to a forum, but I thank each one of you so much for your advice & time!
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Old 01-20-2016, 08:09 AM   #24
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It can get really hot in the Southwest in August. You might want to limit this to a northern, high elevation road trip.

Another option is to unhook the trailer, take a mini road trip and stay in a motel.

Mount Rushmore is low on my list of favorite spots amongst the multitude of incredible natural wonders in that vicinity. I'm glad I went, and many really enjoy it.

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Old 01-20-2016, 08:59 AM   #25
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We left RI and it took about five days to get to the badlands. We spent one night and then headed to the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore. We stayed at Rafter J Bar Ranch in Hill city just down the road from Rushmore. We then headed to cody , Yellowstone , and the Tetons

You may have a hard time doing more than that in three weeks and be able to make it back home. Just those stops is a great trip.
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Old 01-20-2016, 09:06 AM   #26
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The fastest route from Jackson to Yellowstone, Bryce, and then home is 5,358 miles. Over 21 days that's an average of 255 miles per day. You literally won't have time to do anything but drive, sleep, and eat.

Even if you cut out Bryce and only do Yellowstone, you are looking at 4,465 miles, or 212 miles per day on average.

In my estimation that is still way too much.

I am in nearly the same position as you as I'm not far and I have a 5 year old. While I would love to go out west, there just isn't time over a three week span.

I would highly suggest reconsidering the west for when (if) you have more time. There are a lot of amazing places in the east that you can really enjoy over three weeks without driving every day.

Two summers ago we went to Little Rock, AR to visit family over two weeks. That was a 2,500 trip, so about 180 miles per day. I would not prefer to do that again.

Last summer over 2.5 weeks we went to Niagara via Jackson Center, OH and came home through upstate NY. It was a really enjoyable trip at around 1,500 miles, maybe 80 per day average. In fact we are going back to some of the same spots in upstate NY this summer and aren't planning on nearly as much driving even as last year.

My suggestion for August and 3 weeks time would be to head north; upstate NY, New England, Canada, etc. Slow down and enjoy.

You will be happier and so will your 5 year old!
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Old 01-20-2016, 01:13 PM   #27
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We did Yellowstone last summer. Five weeks round trip (from Florida) seemed like we were rushing it. I'm with other folks who've suggested a more leisurely pace, but that's a personal choice and you may prefer moving faster than we do.

With each long trip we are attempting to drive fewer hours on driving days and spend more days without driving. Our current planning guideline is 3 driving hours per day and two days a week without driving at all. Our next trip is the Grand Canyon plus major national parks of Utah. That is going to take 8 weeks at that pace.

That said, here are some thoughts:

- If possible, have one of you drive the AS out and the others fly to maximize the sightseeing time. For whatever reason, I find long days of driving are easier when it's just me.

- Focus on just one destination. In my opinion, Yellowstone is a minimum 5 day stay if you want to have a sense that you took in the sights. Most of the campgrounds there do not have electricity or water at each site. The exception is Fishing Bridge which is also centrally located.

- A Yellowstone alternative is Custer State Park, SD. It lacks the thermal features of Yellowstone but has lots of the same wildlife and some amazing roads, tunnels, rock formations, and other sites. It's very near Mt. Rushmore.
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Old 01-20-2016, 03:07 PM   #28
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My wife and I drove 32 hrs straight from Saint Petersburg, FL to Estes Park, CO for a similar trip in 2012. I don't recommend it. Once was enough.

In the span of a week we did Rocky Mt NP, Colorado National Monument > Canyonlands > Capitol Reef > Bryce > Zion > Grand Canyon.

As others have stated, zipping around trying to see everything ruins the experience. You will spend more time in the seat driving than enjoying.

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