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Old 01-11-2010, 07:51 PM   #1
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suggestion for KC to Yellowstone NP and Glacier NP

Well, I think I need to begin planning our big summer vacation. We're planning on about 3 to 4 weeks for a trip to Glacier NP from Kansas City with many stops in between; ie Yellowstone. I've been reading many post on these National Parks. I've never planned such a long trip before. How does one determine how long they should stay at a certain campground. We're planning on hustling to Gillette, WY to see my wife's sister and her family. We then will begin our "vacation" from there. I'd love to hear the recommended routes and campgrounds we should look into. We were planning on hitting the International rally but the cost of the rally has deterred us from attending. We'll be traveling during the last couple weeks of June till the 12th of July or so.

It will be me my wife and our 2 girls; 4 1/2 and 3.


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Old 01-11-2010, 08:12 PM   #2
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Cory, these are my absolute favorite threads. Four weeks on the road is a beautiful thing. Let me tell you something that will probably come as something of a shock: you are trying to do to much in to short a time (esp given the age of the kiddos).

I would think about heading up through South Dakota and doing all that stuff (Badlands NP, Rushmore, Custer SP, Devils tower) then over to Gillette. If at all possible I would spend at least a few days up in the Big Horn Mountains. Then head over and check out Jellystone and the Tetons.

Then, well then you are out of a month.


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Old 01-19-2010, 12:49 PM   #3
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Cory .... My wife and I are planning our first AirStream tour this summer as well. However, we will be hitting Yellowstone and South Dakota on the way back to Omaha.

I too would like to know what people would recommend as to the length of time at each stop. I know it could vary by location. For example, I could easily spend a week in Yellowstone. With all the touring, hiking and site seeing one can do. There is one thing I think you should think of doing on a nice day ... drive (with out the trailer) over Bear Tooth Pass. Wow ... what a ride. You could circle around via Cody and also take in Chief Joseph Highway. This route is beautiful on a motorcycle ... but I'm sure you will enjoy it in a "cage" as well.

In the Black Hills there is a lot to do as well ... GenDisary had great suggestions.
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Old 01-19-2010, 01:06 PM   #4
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That's the nice thing about Airstreaming: You drive until you find a place you like, then you stay there until you get bored.

Some of nicest places we've found were unplanned stops.
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Old 01-19-2010, 01:40 PM   #5
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Cody, WY is a nice stop over place. They have a huge Western museum in town and a seperate lot out back to park RV's and trailers while you visit during the day. Diesel fuel price were pretty good at the stations there too.
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Old 01-20-2010, 11:28 AM   #6
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I would second the Bighorns and the museum in Cody is a must see . When they say it is the Smithsonian of the west , they are not kidding.
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Old 01-20-2010, 12:53 PM   #7
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What a great trip! We are full-timers but spent several weeks in Glacier NP; Bozeman, MT; Yellowstone NP; and Grand Teton NP. All were incredible places...but Glacier NP was my absolute favorite followed by Grand Teton. Don't get me wrong...I loved Yellowstone, too...but something about Glacier just really affected me. Glacier doesn't have a campground with hookups (to my knowledge). We stayed at San-Suz-Ed campground just outside the park entrance...I believe near West Glacier. Nice park and the owner makes a wonderful breakfast in the mornings. Glacier has a nice shuttle system through the park so you can avoid the tricky, curvy roads and enjoy the ride to the trails.

There is a campground with hookups in Yellowstone but it is a parking lot and less of a campground. That being said, it is centrally located. If I had to do it all over again though, I'd stay at one of the other campgrounds in the park and not have hookups.

As for how much time...that always hard to say. We spent 3 full days in Yellowstone and 3 full days in Glacier but we still didn't cover all of the parks. It just depends on the activities you plan to do. No matter how much time you spend will still be an amazing adventure!!!

And...if you don't have a National Parks pass...definitely look into it! We've really enjoyed having our pass.

Have a great time!
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Old 01-20-2010, 02:06 PM   #8
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In Yellowstone, try to get reservations at the Canyon campground or at Madison as they are more or less centrally located. Bridge Bay is also beautiful but it is in the lower half of the park so more driving... Try and do at least three days in the park to even scratch the surface. Load up on groceries in Cody or Jackson as the prices in the park are staggering.

The Fishing Bridge RV campground is scheduled for an utility upgrade this Summer and word is that there will be no hook-ups. As it is essentially a paved parking lot, without hook-ups there is no reason to go there.

As noted, the Buffal Bill Historic Center in Cody is excellent. The town is a trifle touristy but the folks friendly and it is not over done. Nightly Rodeo in Summer.

If you make to YNP, roll into the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center and say "hey"!

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Old 01-20-2010, 02:21 PM   #9
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You've chosen some great sites to see. I envy your choice of vacation plans. Here's what I would do, rest assured, it's not the only way.

On the first day, head up into the Bighorn Mountains and find a place to camp. Spend that afternoon and all of the next day in the Bighorns and watch for moose. That would cover nights 1 and 2.

Then drive a few hours over to Cody, set up camp and spend the afternoon checking out the Buffalo Bill Museum. Stay overnight and head up to Red Lodge, MT (2 hours).

Set up camp and spend the afternoon checking out downtown Red Lodge. Get a buffalo burger at the Red Lodge Cafe. The next morning (day 5) drive up the Beartooth Highway toward the NE entrance of Yellowstone. This is a stunning drive and going up and back will take all day. Spend the night back in Red Lodge.

From Red Lodge, head up to someplace like Missoula, MT. Missoula is 6 hours, Glacier is 10 hours. I-90 near Butte has some long 7% grades and will tax the ole' Buick for sure.

On Day 7 drive from Missoula to Glacier, drop off the camper and check out Lake McDonald Lodge.

Spend day 8 driving the Going-to-the-Sun Highway through Logan Pass and continue at least to St. Mary. I love that route and usually back track up through pass again rather than loop around, but that's just me. That will take all day.

If there were things you felt you needed more time to see, head back into Glacier on day 9, otherwise head back south toward Yellowstone. It's a 9 hour haul through Butte again. If you drive the entire way you'd be checking in late in the day, but hey, the sun sets around 9:00.

Ah Yellowstone. Days 10, 11, 12 & 13 will be in Yellowstone. You'll spend a day traveling up to the Lamar Valley looking for wolves, Mammoth Hot Springs, etc. Another day for Tower Falls, Upper Falls, Lower Falls, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Be sure to drive through Hayden Valley evenings to see all the wildlife. You'll need another day for Old Faithful and the geyser basins to the south.

On day 14 you can pack it up and head down to the Grand Tetons. Camp at Colter Bay Villiage or wherever you'd like in the Tetons. You'll need a day to drive around the park. May want one more if you'd like to check out Jackson Hole.

Your trip home follows the Oregon Trail. On day 16 you can head from the Tetons over to Casper, WY for the night (7 hours). On day 17, check out the wagon ruts at Guernsey State Park and Scottsbluff.

If you like nukes, there's a National Park Service tour of a minuteman missile site near Kimball, NE. That might be a good place to spend the night of day 17.

On day 18 it's 10 hours to Kansas City.

I'm assuming it will take a day or two to get to Gillette making it 20 and one day with the sister. That's a full 3 weeks! Enjoy.
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Old 01-20-2010, 02:56 PM   #10
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Sounds like a great trip! So many options... I would first think about all the things you would like to see... then narrow the list down from that! Make your final "decisions" (knowing you may change your mind while on the road...) based on your needs and wants. Do you need to stay where there are hookups? Do you prefer boondocking? How about the kids? How much can they do at each outing? It has been awhile since we traveled with little ones... but I remember they were generally more flexible than we were! Be sure you plan something and special time for the kids each day ~ kid sized activities and kid fun can make the rest of your time go much more smoothly. When the kids and Mama are happy, everyone is happy!

Let us know your preferences and we can maybe tailor suggestions. For me I love Yellowstone and staying in the park... also Glacier.... wonderful. I would personally choose those and fit in what I could do along the way. You might also want to see what fits into your budget if you are like many of us and need to keep that in mind!

Great time to start planning, you can do oodles of research and make informed choices. Smart move.

Have fun, and get out there camping!
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Old 01-21-2010, 09:02 AM   #11
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WOW guys! Thanks for all of the info. This gives me a lot of good info.

Steve, thanks for the detail.

Caddygrn, I really like a nice campground, that said hookups are not a must. We don't mind boondocking up to 2 days at a time. I think what is most valuable to us is a real nice setting with lots of trees. The kids really enjoy a nice playground in the evening to play on, but we can get by without. With our kids it's best if we do one nice outing after breakfast and try to drive for a while after lunch to allow them to nap in their car seats, (they tend not to nap at the trailer). We can then enjoy another short outing before dinner. If we stick to this everyone seems happy.

Great info ya'll keep it all coming!!

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Old 07-04-2010, 02:29 PM   #12
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OK, we've moved the timeframe of our trip to the Last week in August through most of September. I believe we're going to try to break the trip up in 6 hour driving days for the first 3 days to get out there. I was thinking about hitting Sioux Falls SD the first night. Anyone have a suggestion on a place near Sioux Falls? It will just be for a stopover.

On day 2 I was thinking we'd make it to the Black Hills. Is this somewhere we might want to stay an extra day to check things out? If so, where should we stay and what shall we see?

Day 3/4/5 will be in Gillette with family.

Next we'll head towards the Tetons / Yellowstone. At this point we'll begin enjoying ourself at a leisurely pace.

I'm wanting to start making reservations in the parks what is everyone's recommendation?

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Old 07-23-2010, 06:14 PM   #13
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Been back for a week and I'm ready to go back. Great advice above. Custer State Park looked really nice in the Black Hills. Stayed at Bridge Bay in Yellowstone but no Hookups. Lots of sites there and you can build a fire. Stayed at Pebble Creek CG in the NE corner. Nice view of the mountains, animals, saw a moose near there and Buffalo and Deer roam through the camp. No genies there. Coulter Bay in Tetons nice sites, hookups, showers but no campfires. We went to the picnic area right by the lake 100 yards away and had fire so mores there as the sun went down.
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Old 07-23-2010, 06:28 PM   #14
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Thanks to all. This is a ton of great information. We're headed up that way for the first time later this summer.

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