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Old 05-30-2023, 06:17 PM   #1
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Northern VA , Virginia
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Weather Travel Advice for West Trip (late summer/fall)

Looking at doing a long NP trip out west: route from Virginia to Badlands to Yellowstone to Grand Teton to Yosemite to Sequoia to Joshua Tree to Arches to Rocky Mountain. We plan to be starting in the Badlands early September and then move on from there figuring that we would wrap up in Rocky Mountain NP at the end of October.

We are not sure that this is even feasible due to weather conditions. Our initial gut feeling is that September through October may be safe from any extreme weather conditions (fingers crossed) but would like to hear from those with experiences around those parks and during the above months to include early November when we are to head back to Virginia. Of course, one major concern is the possibility of potential "wintry mix" in the higher elevations.

Thanks in advance for any observations or recommendations.
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Old 05-30-2023, 06:32 PM   #2
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Our experience is that mid- October on gets iffy for weather. Also if you're looking for campgrounds, many close after the first week or so.
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Old 05-30-2023, 06:45 PM   #3
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The itinerary is wonderful, and I understand your desire to avoid July and August, but don’t trust your gut on Rocky Mountain weather in September and October. September has many of the finest days of the year, but it also can throw some nasty surprises. October weather in those parks is tough. Remember, these mountain parks are at about 8,000 feet elevation and the roads and trails go up from there. Some snow, maybe a lot, is a certainty.

Invest some time on the weather websites and study the monthly temperature averages and ranges. Be prepared for it all, keep a close eye on current conditions, and be prepared to make a run for lower ground on short notice. We’ve been caught by surprise and we live here!

By the way, park visitation drops significantly after mid-August so getting on the road a little earlier will make a big difference.
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Old 05-31-2023, 04:06 AM   #4
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Thanks all... good to know this information!
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Old 05-31-2023, 09:27 AM   #5
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Always have a pack of "patience" for these long trips. Don't forget to enjoy the journey.
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Old 05-31-2023, 01:16 PM   #6
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Weather References

Below are some WX-related web sites that would be useful to review. Fortunately I was a Weather (WX) forecaster and these are easy for me to interpret. National Weather Service map products are typically issued in "Zulu" time and need to be converted to local - see link for a conversion chart that has Standard/Daylight Savings conversions. Suggest you have a NOAA Weather radio capability as broadcasts will be made within affected forecast areas when severe weather alerts are issued.

Check out long-range predictions here: https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/
RV-focused Weather Predictions: https://rvweather.com/
Time Conversion Chart: https://www.qsl.net/n6mmm/images/rj-utc.jpg

On a prior trip in late Sep 2020, we crossed the Big Horn Mtns in WY from Buffalo to Ten Sleep (Rte 16). A frontal system was coming through the area and we had 2" snow at the highest elevations, roads were passable. It's all about timing when you cross these kind of areas and definitely keep an eye on the forecasts, as they're usually spot-on. Snow turned to rain as we got to lower elevation. We left Cody and entered Yellowstone (East Gate) very early and spent a full day and a half in beautifully clear WX. Morning temps were 28 degrees and warmed to the low 60s. Light jackets and wasn't crowded. Grand Tetons NP was the same.

Happy Travels!
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Old 05-31-2023, 05:38 PM   #7
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Rocky Mountain National Park will certainly have snow by the end of October. Trail Ridge Road through the park goes over 12,000 feet and is normally closed for the season by the end of October. Denver will have snow before the end of October in most years. It is usually only a day or two and then warms back up. Most of the Colorado mountain national forest campgrounds close at the end of September. Schools reopen here in the middle of August so there are a lot less tourists after that. Happy travels.
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Old 05-31-2023, 10:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W0X0F View Post
Below are some WX-related web sites that would be useful to review. Fortunately I was a Weather (WX) forecaster and these are easy for me to interpret. National Weather Service map products are typically issued in "Zulu" time and need to be converted to local - see link for a conversion chart that has Standard/Daylight Savings conversions. Suggest you have a NOAA Weather radio capability as broadcasts will be made within affected forecast areas when severe weather alerts are issued.

Check out long-range predictions here: https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/
RV-focused Weather Predictions: https://rvweather.com/
Time Conversion Chart: https://www.qsl.net/n6mmm/images/rj-utc.jpg

On a prior trip in late Sep 2020, we crossed the Big Horn Mtns in WY from Buffalo to Ten Sleep (Rte 16). A frontal system was coming through the area and we had 2" snow at the highest elevations, roads were passable. It's all about timing when you cross these kind of areas and definitely keep an eye on the forecasts, as they're usually spot-on. Snow turned to rain as we got to lower elevation. We left Cody and entered Yellowstone (East Gate) very early and spent a full day and a half in beautifully clear WX. Morning temps were 28 degrees and warmed to the low 60s. Light jackets and wasn't crowded. Grand Tetons NP was the same.

Happy Travels!
Nice sites. Thank you for posting. I also use Windy.com to determine winds across Wyoming. Primarily a boating and surfing resource but still lets me plan for winds....seen too many rv's and Fedex tandems on their sides in western Wyoming over the years.
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Old 06-01-2023, 12:25 PM   #9
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Thanks for the additional information! All of the above is very helpful to know.
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Old 06-01-2023, 02:55 PM   #10
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My thoughts /2 cents when I read your post.

1-if you mean 2023, well good luck. Reservations are probably impossible. But you may be lucky if you are flexible. Would insist on reservations -- things are always full.
2-you will have lots of potential for cold weather and winter weather that time of year in those locations. Why are you ending back in the mountains? Consider ending in California and then taking a more southerly route back home.
3-National park campgrounds mostly do not have any hookups at all, so you will need a generator and lots of propane. If you are camping instead in commercial campgrounds adjacent to the parks then not to worry about a generator and battery life.
4-Even with hookups you will need to run your furnace at night to be comfortable once it is below about 50 degrees. And you will use up propane for this. Don't think that the HP will be sufficient. The furnace warms the floor area and underneath, greatly adding to comfort and keeps the plumbing happy from freezing.

All in all, Virgina is about the same latitude as Kansas City. Here in Kansas City we always winterize Halloween weekend. If you are north of there you will possibly have issues.

If you could do this 6 weeks earlier it would be far less worrisome.
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Old 06-04-2023, 09:40 AM   #11
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Weather or not

There is no such thing as normal anymore, so be prepared. Always check forecasts ahead. When crossing the Mojave Desert you should be prepared for possible hot weather, even that late in the season. If you see hot weather ahead start at first light and stop before noon, look for campgrounds at higher elevation. Going through the Rockies in late October you may encounter snow in the passes. When planning your route identify the high passes and keep an eye on their weather. Be flexible, donít push on into dangerous conditions just because you have reservations or a schedule to keep.
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Old 06-04-2023, 09:46 AM   #12
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Many campgrounds close for the year in Sept. Not sure about RMNP. Tetons and Yellowstone do.
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Old 06-04-2023, 09:54 AM   #13
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Some APPS and websites to help you plan. I look average temperatures and precipitation for a specific area. Drive Weather APP and RV Weather website.
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Old 06-04-2023, 10:20 AM   #14
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RV Weather, I alsouse the NOAA app on my phone, which will give you current place and destination place data simultaneously. NOAA long range forecasts are also helpful.
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Old 06-05-2023, 02:22 PM   #15
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Just a couple of comments. Every state seems to have a road condition site, but bouncing from one to the other is a pain. When I lived in Eugene travel anywhere meant some sort of pass. Can't remember where I stumbled on this but since winter travel likely meant watching the weather at Siskyou pass and the formidable Black Butte which seems to make it's own weather in the winter



https://oss.weathershare.org/?clat=3...1.07408&zoom=4

As I understand this, it's dialed into all the state highway departments west of and inc the Rocky's. While the focus is on camera's, plows etc can be layered in. Playng with will generally give you the laying you require.


AS for the drive, there are a lot of great points above. From OR after Thanksgiving, pour routes generally headed south and we'd head E at Bakersfield. I-80 was a crap shoot the later in the year it is.


I'm from the SF Bay area and have backpacked most everywhere between the Yosemite back country up thru Graeagle and have camped the rest. So ignore my current address.




Just a few comments; Yosemite access is generally from the West via Merced or N via Big Oak Flat road. Both are year round Access is also from 395 over Tioga but closes in the winter, often early October. After Labor Day, the high country of Toulumne Meadow rolls up the streets. all services have hibernated. The valley is year round.


Sequoia: approach from the West via Visalia or Fresno. No access from 395 on the eastern side. Sounds like a great trip but one to watch your latitudes.


Happy Trails
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Old 06-09-2023, 03:27 PM   #16
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Considering a similar trip in late August, hoping to cover Cody, Wy, Little Bighorn battlefield, Yellowstone, Grand Teton and north to Banff and Jasper. Plan to return by late Sept. might do a reverse trip hitting Canadian sites first and hit Washington and the back through Yellowstone.
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Old 06-09-2023, 06:30 PM   #17
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Unfortunately, fires and smoke have become significant adverse possibilities. We have had friends visit Glacier NP and be unable to see the mountains; we left Grand Teton early one year because the smoke was so bad the Tetons were barely visible across the lake and we were feeling awful.

Here’s a good resource: https://fire.airnow.gov/
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