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Old 08-18-2014, 12:45 PM   #1
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Yellowstone and Glacier National Park - July 2015

I know that the info I need is out there somewhere, but I am sort of in panic mode and hope that someone can point me in the right direction.

Just this morning, we decided that we might want to visit Yellowstone and Glacier next July. I know that's 11 months away, but everything I have heard suggests that we might already be behind the curve in reserving camping sites. That's not a good feeling. For a trip this big we would normally be on the reservation system the minute it opened for the date we wanted to arrive, and it looks like that at least some sites are already reservable (and taken) next summer.

So if you can suggest any travel guides -- web, print, etc -- that I should read ASAP, please let me know. Or if you can recommend specific campgrounds / sites, that would be even better.

If it helps inform any recommendations you might make, we have a 20' Flying Cloud + Toyota Tundra, so we are about 43' overall. We have a generator and the little holding tanks that come with the 20', so hookups are not an absolute necessity. But honestly we would prefer to stay somewhere with full hookups. After boondocking at North Rim, Rocky Mountain, and a few other places this summer, we found the limit of how long we can happily camp without at least water + sewer, and it's roughly 2 nights.

Thanks in advance for any tips you can provide. And also for not yelling at me for asking about stuff that has probably been covered on the forums a million times.
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Old 08-18-2014, 12:50 PM   #2
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The KOA, West Glacier is maybe the nicest KOA ever. It is close to the West park entrance.
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Old 08-18-2014, 01:08 PM   #3
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if you are a good sam member use the trip planner on their website, it will list campgrounds along the route. RV Park Reviews' website is a good place to read reviews on parks that you may consider. Be sure to check cancellation policies before booking any campgrounds. While near Yellowstone dont miss the Tetons and Jackson Hole, WY. Mt Rushmore and the Badlands of S. Dakota are another good area to consider depending your route. Also consider going west one route and returning home another.
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Old 08-18-2014, 02:21 PM   #4
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We travelled to these two NP's last summer. I agree with Interstateflyer, the West Glacier KOA is the best we've ever stayed in. Now the West Yellowstone KOA ... is another story. We ended up not being able to negotiate the less than level site(s) - we tried three with our long rig and Hensley hitch. They were very understanding however and refunded in our deposit. They sent us up the road to another cg which was very nice. But, cannot remember the name.
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Old 08-18-2014, 02:56 PM   #5
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We took that trip this year in June. We made our reservations in January with no problems. But it will be a lot busier in July. We spent 5 nights in Grand Teton NP just south of Yellowstone. We stayed in Colter Bay Campground. They have some sites with electric only but they don’t take reservations. We didn’t have any trouble getting a site. We drove up to Yellowstone from our base camp in the Tetons. We then drove up to the east side of Glacier NP at St Mary. We stayed 2 nights at the KOA at ST Mary and 2 nights in St Mary Campground in Glacier. The KOA was very nice with great scenery but they were doing some expansion work so there was a little noise during the day but should be complete by next July. St Mary Campground was nice with great scenery but no hook up. We then drove around the south side of Glacier NP to West Glacier and stayed 5 nights at Fish Creek Campground. This is a nice campground with lot of trees and shade but no hookup. I hope this helps. Like I said earlier July is there busy time so I would make reservations ASAP. We usually stay in campgrounds with no hookups. I have a water tank in the bed of by truck that I can refill my water tank with and I have a portable grey tank that I can wheel down to the dump station. This allows us to stay for several days without having to move our trailer. Have a good trip. You will have great scenery and lots of animals to see. But you will also have crowds of people to deal with.
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Old 08-19-2014, 02:50 PM   #6
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Good resources here:

U.S. National Park Service- Find A Park

Each park has its own web site with lots of information that will be useful in your planning.
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Old 10-29-2014, 08:32 AM   #7
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End of season in Yellowstone.....



The park closes for the season this weekend so my wife and I took one last drive to visit this beautiful place. It's so amazing to visit this time of year (without the A/S) very few people and lots of wildlife. We spotted a huge grizzly bear and loads of elk laying low within the park (hunting season ) just started last weekend. Fresh snowfall made it feel like Christmas time.....
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Old 10-29-2014, 08:37 AM   #8
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Such a beautiful place!

Our first National Parks post-retirement.


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Old 10-29-2014, 09:32 AM   #9
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Just north of the town of West Yellowstone on hwy 287 there are several Nat. Forest campgrounds. The other year we arrived in July and, of course, found the CG's in Yellowstone filled. The NF sites were plentiful and had electric onsite with water and dump nearby AND they are very reasonable in cost. Close to and easy access to get into Yellowstone.
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Old 10-29-2014, 10:07 AM   #10
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You can only boondock for two nights? Wow, you guys must make a lot of trips to the john. We can do 5 nights. We did the Yellowstone trip in July. Never made a reservation and never had trouble finding a campground. We make sure we hit the CG before 10:00AM. We don't need hook ups. Stayed at Lewis lake for 3 nights, dumped at Grant village, then stayed at Tower Fall two nights. Water is available everywhere.
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Old 10-29-2014, 10:23 AM   #11
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Two things to keep in mind. There is only ONE campground in Yellowstone with full hookups. It is basically a mosquito infested parking lot. However there are some spectacular campgrounds without hookups. My favorite being Slough Creek.

In regards to glacier, the "Going to the Sun" road can open pretty late in the season depending on snowfall. For example this year (2014) the road opened for the season on July 11th. It then closed for a few more days a couple of weeks later because of snowfall.

So plan accordingly.

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Old 10-29-2014, 12:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpons View Post

In regards to glacier, the "Going to the Sun" road can open pretty late in the season depending on snowfall. For example this year (2014) the road opened for the season on July 11th. It then closed for a few more days a couple of weeks later because of snowfall.

So plan accordingly.

-J
Just a reminder that you will not be able to pull most AS (depending on OAL of TV+AS / determined by the folks at the entrance station ...and enforced by road patrol rangers) over Going to the Sun Road ... nor would you want to !
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Old 10-29-2014, 03:03 PM   #13
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Did that trip last summer. Camp grounds in yellowstone are not rv friendly. We stayed in west Yellowstone Montana at Grizzly rv park.the park is just outside the west entrance to Yellowstone and is a first class facility. The ride from there to Glacier is beautiful. We stayed in Hungry Horse Montana at Mountain Meadow rv park
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Old 10-29-2014, 03:23 PM   #14
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Just finished my sixth summer working in Yellowstone. As noted, thre is but one full hook up facility in the park, Fishing Bridge RV Park, but it essentially a Walmart parking lot with trees.

Grant, Madison, Canyon, Bridge Bay and Mammoth Hot Springs campgrounds all have sites that would handle any RV but they are all dry camping and only the first four accept reservations. If you need hook-ups then there are numerous commercial parks in both Gardner and West Yellowstone. As noted, Grizzly RV park in West is very nice but is pricey. Reserve early!

I wish you would come earlier or later. June has 18 hour days, all the critters are out and about and there are no crowds. The second half of August is also really nice -- far fewer bear/ wolf sightings but the bison are "in the mood" so that can be fun and there are no crowds (well, not compared to July)

July? Well, sometimes it is a bit like Disney -- lines everywhere and a mite toasty. Afternoon thunderstorms a regular occurrence. Nothing like 5000 people crowded around Old Faithful...

Enjoy the trip whatever you decide,

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Old 10-29-2014, 07:32 PM   #15
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The KOA near the West entrance is pretty nice, especially premiere/deluxe sites with BBQ and patio. Great if you want a break from dry camping and want to do laundry.
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Old 10-29-2014, 08:29 PM   #16
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Don't miss Colter Bay in Grand Teton NP! Full hookups spacious sites. I would stay a couple of nights in Yellowstone at one of the campgrounds without services, spend 1 night at Fishing Bridge to dump tanks and get water and charge batteries, and move on somewhere else.
Glacier is one of our favorites. We stayed at Apgar this year and loved it. There is another campground nearby that you can reserve. We met some other Airsteamers on the Red Bus Tour (don't miss that!) and they were staying at the KOA and said it was great. If you have the time you may want to consider going into Canada and visiting Waterton NP. Awesome campground in the park with full hookups.
You are planning what was one our favorite trips in the Stream. Eleven months is not too early to plan such an awesome trip! PM me if you have any questions.
Cheers,
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Old 10-30-2014, 05:58 AM   #17
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You can only boondock for two nights? Wow, you guys must make a lot of trips to the john. We can do 5 nights. We did the Yellowstone trip in July. Never made a reservation and never had trouble finding a campground. We make sure we hit the CG before 10:00AM. We don't need hook ups. Stayed at Lewis lake for 3 nights, dumped at Grant village, then stayed at Tower Fall two nights. Water is available everywhere.
The problem for us always seems to be fresh / grey water. A couple of nights are no problem. But much past that, rationing / managing those tanks starts to take the fun out of it. Our 7 gallon fresh water tote does help somewhat. We also have one of those portable grey tanks, but I do not enjoy working with that in the least. It's not coming with us if I can avoid it.

I think we are going to build a plan around spending a couple of nights each at a some of the Yellowstone campgrounds (Canyon, Madison, Grant, Bridge), plus several more nights at Coulter Bay.

Glacier looks like it will have to wait for another year. We will not be able to take nearly as much time as we first though.

Thanks to everyone who's responded to this thread. I really appreciate your advice.
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Old 10-30-2014, 06:28 AM   #18
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I don't know the size of your grey tank, but ours is about 10 gallons, and so boondocking is a challenge. We could go 4-5 days, being very careful.

If you must go without reservations, go anyway, stay in National Forest sites, and think of it as a challenge.

We spent about 3 weeks in 2013 roaming the Rocky Mountains, staying mostly in National Forest sites, and found a couple of things which stretched our holding tank capacity a bit. It was a wonderful time, in beautiful, forested sites.

I found a collapsible bin online, 5 gallons, I think, which I believe Camping World may now sell, that we stood in to take navy showers. Most of the water ended up in the bin, which we then dumped a ways away from our campsite.

You can take a decent shower in a couple of gallons of water. Sponge baths are also better than nothing, but a person like me who sweats needs a proper shower every other day or so, even a spartan one. The cooler temps at elevations helped me stretch out time between shampoos, too.

We also bought a couple of 2 1/2 gallon solar showers, which worked very well, and which we used ouside to wash our hair. These take up very little space when empty. When you are filling your fresh water tank, these can be filled as well and stored in your shower. I don't recall the brand, but if you google "best solar shower", they will come up. You can shampoo outside, into the collapsible bin.

That said, some high-bear-traffic areas in the National Forest sites specifically prohibit any grey water on the ground. Some of these have dump sites for dishwater/bath water.

Lots of paper plates and french fry bins for simple meals cuts down on dishes, too.

It could be a great adventure!


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Old 10-30-2014, 07:17 AM   #19
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Did this trip this past summer. DID make reservations in January. Per other posts West Glacier KOA is tops. West Yellowstone KOA is nice, get a patio site and it's only five miles from West Gate. We stayed here for a week in September. People who work camp and own the place are great, one camper had an old Motorhome and one slide would not go in, we worked on it for a while with no luck. Then three maintenance people came over, spent and hour on the thing, took part of the slide floor up, beat it back in shape with a hammer and bingo the slide worked. Owners told the MH owner not to worry about staying late or overnight if it could not get fixed. It was fixed and off they went. KOA should be pleased with the way this park responded and it did not appear to be the first time.

We generally stay with hookups. We have been tenting in our past lives both car and canoe, up to the Artic Circle and have decided that "glamping" is now much more to our style.

Enjoy, both parks are amazing. Our fist visit. Also, if you have time jump down to Arches in Moab, UT. Turned out to be my favorite place.

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