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Old 01-07-2021, 11:02 AM   #1
RandyH
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Yellowstone

My wife and I are planning a 3 week trip this summer to Mt Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park. We will be leaving from central Arkansas and this is the longest trip we have ever planned. Our current route will take us through Kansas City Mo, Sioux Falls SD, Rapid City SD, Cody WY, Jackson WY, Salt Lake City UT, Grand Junction CO, Colorado Springs CO, Dodge City KS, Powhuska OK then home. We are looking for advise on the trip and suggestions on RV parks/campgrounds and must see sites along the way.
 
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Old 01-07-2021, 12:15 PM   #2
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We've stayed a couple of times at Big Pine RV Park in Custer. It's on the west end of town, but not far from anything you want to see in the area. (Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Deadwood, Sturgis, Custer Nat Park, Wind Cave, Jewel Cave, Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, 1880's train Hill City, Mammoth Site at Hot Springs) The closer you get to Rushmore, the pricier the RV parks are. All of this can easily be seen on day trips based out of Custer. You might consider taking 16 out of Custer ( a bit twisty at first, but gets better fast) on up to 90. Devils Tower and Custer Battlefield are up that way with a goodly number of RV Parks to stay at in the area. Just touching on Yellowstone ... coming in on 14 from Cody is not a pull I would recommend for a larger fiver, but can be done. [B]Plus, driving thru Yellowstone can be painfully slow depending on traffic, buffalo, elk, any critter that crawls let alone pulling your fiver. It sometimes took us 2 hrs to go 10 - 12 miles last September. I believe Fishing Bridge is the only RV park inside Yellowstone that a good sized fiver will fit in and it is currently closed due to renovation till sometime later this year. We stayed on the west side of Yellowstone in Idaho due to the high volume of RVer's last September.
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Old 01-07-2021, 01:17 PM   #3
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You will definitely wont to se the Cody Museum it is a must see. It’s five museums in one. Plan on 2 day it’s that good. Plan on seeing the Rocky Mt Park. It is the place to see wild life, deer and elk. The last time I was in Yellowstone there were very few elk but the wolves were fat and slick.
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Old 01-07-2021, 01:19 PM   #4
RandyH
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Thanks Dieselguy!! This is what I need. We have had a travel trailer for over 20 years but are new to a 5th wheel. I am concerned about roadways in the area. I mapped the trip with RV parky but I just don't know how reliable it is and I also know not all rv parks are listed.
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Old 01-07-2021, 01:24 PM   #5
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I wouldn’t have any problem pulling a camper from Cody to Yellowstone and back. I’ve done it a couple times.
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Old 01-07-2021, 02:07 PM   #6
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Like I mentioned ... Cody to the east entrance is doable, but you're looking at a pretty steep pull, some switchbacks that are a pretty tight turn, and lotsa straight down the hill next to the road with no guard rail. The closer you get to the east entrance the more old fire burn you see, no acres and acres of tall pine. Granted my only experience was this past September, but for those of you that have been there say 3-8 years ago ... with everybody and their brother pulling some fashion of an RV ... today is a bit different. Once inside Yellowstone pulling something ... you need to realize there are bunches of people that have seldom seen any kind of wildlife ... they stop to take pictures of everything that moves and before you know it ... you're in a line of cars and trucks that seemingly has no end. Maybe we were just there at a wrong time ... just reporting a 2020 trip.
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Old 01-07-2021, 02:07 PM   #7
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You could spend 3 weeks in Rapid City or Yellowstone just by themselves.
Check temperatures depending on when you go.
Going early start South and go north as the temperatures warm. If later in the summer go north and work south as temperatures fall.
So much to see out there.
Have fun
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Old 01-07-2021, 02:22 PM   #8
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First, I completely disagree about the Cody to Park being a steep pull. If you compare it to driving across Nebraska, maybe. Comparing to most Rocky Mtn highways, just average.

I don't know when they will open Fishing Bridge CG. I have been tracking it for almost 2 years. It was supposed to be done Sept. 1 last year (or was it the year before???). I liked staying there when my 33 ft Montana was able to squeeze in. Supposedly they have longer sites now (when done).



And the other poster was right when talking about the traffic and slow speeds. I was there last year, and it wasn't bad because of COVID reducing the tourists. However, I just drive thru to W. Yellowstone and park the trailer and drive back in a couple of days to see stuff. Oh, by the way. Better hope the volcano doesn't blow! It is 40,000 years past due. LOL


So I have stayed many times in West Yellowstone at the Grizzly Bear RV Park - I think it is something like 8 or 9 out of 10 stars. BUT EXPENSIVE.


I use campgroundreviews.com to check on campgrounds along the way. It is VERY useful to help stay away from crappy places and to make sure you get the facilities you want - like 50 amp, full hook ups, etc.
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Old 01-07-2021, 03:28 PM   #9
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As an earlier poster said, the difficult part of the route isn't from Cody to Yellowstone, it is east of Cody that will make you pucker up. All 3 routes, US ALT 14, US14, and US 16 are steep descents with switchbacks headed west. If you don't have a fair amount of experience with mountain driving I wouldn't recommend any of them with a 5vr. Of the 3,US 16 from Buffalo to Worland would be my choice. Another option is I 90 through Billings Mt. and then south to Cody. If you took I 90 you could stop and see Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument at Crow Agency MT, well worth the stop.
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Old 01-07-2021, 03:50 PM   #10
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Made this trip the past three years from SW Missouri. I prefer staying in Gardiner, but I like staying close to Lamar Valley for wildlife viewing. I’ve stayed in Cody, West Yellowstone, Gardiner. In Cody the Trout Farm RV Park just north of town is a nice, clean little RV Park. Gardiner, Yellowstone RV right on the river is nice, elk walk through the RV Park everyday. No issues pulling over any passes, pulled over Chief Joseph going from Cody into Cooke City, Teton Pass at Jackson. Don’t miss the Teton’s. I usually spend a week in GTNP and 2 weeks in YNP. Cabelas at Sidney has a nice RV Park I usually stop at first night.
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Old 01-07-2021, 04:11 PM   #11
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From the Wyoming Highway Patrol:


US 14 between Dayton and Shell
This road is a long, steep and winding climb up the face of the mountain to Burgess Junction. There are several hairpin turns and blind corners on this two-lane highway.

From Burgess Junction down the other side of the mountain, the road is steep and has an 8-percent grade. Again there are several hairpin turns and blind corners. Through Shell Canyon, the road is extremely narrow.

This road is not a good route for oversize or over-length loads. Unless you are experienced in mountain road driving, it is not advisable for 18-wheelers.

For tourists, this is a wonderful drive with beautiful views, trees, and wildlife. If you are driving a motor home, please pay attention to the above information. Use lower gears and save the dangerous possibility of burning out your brakes.

US 14A between Dayton and Lovell
Highway 14A is extremely steep, a 10-percent grade and more is winding, has several hairpin turns, and many blind corners. This is a challenging road during the summer season and closed during the winter.

This road is not recommended for oversize or over-length loads. Unless you are experienced in extreme mountain road driving, it is not advisable for 18-wheelers.

For tourists, it is a beautiful drive with wildlife, wonderful scenery and over 200-mile views in some areas. However, if you are driving a motor home, please pay attention to the information in the above paragraphs. Use lower gears and save the dangerous possibility of burning out your brakes.

US 16 between Buffalo and Tensleep
There are sharp hairpin turns, long up-hill climbs, steep downhill runs, and blind corners on this two-lane highway.

While beautiful and probably the easiest mountain drive in the northern part of Wyoming, it is not a good route for oversize and over-length loads. Unless you are experienced in mountain road driving, it is not advisable for 18-wheelers. Use lower gears and save the dangerous possibility of burning out your brakes.

For tourists, this is a beautiful route with gorgeous views and wildlife. If, however, you are driving a motor home, please pay attention to the information in the above paragraphs. Use lower gears and save the dangerous possibility of burning out your brakes.
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Old 01-07-2021, 05:41 PM   #12
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A picture says a thousand words...
Not mine BTW.
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Old 01-07-2021, 05:52 PM   #13
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14 A is my favorite route out of Cody. You don’t expect interstate speeds. Go slow enjoy the drive.
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Old 01-07-2021, 06:57 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by dieselguy View Post
We've stayed a couple of times at Big Pine RV Park in Custer. It's on the west end of town, but not far from anything you want to see in the area. (Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Deadwood, Sturgis, Custer Nat Park, Wind Cave, Jewel Cave, Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, 1880's train Hill City, Mammoth Site at Hot Springs) The closer you get to Rushmore, the pricier the RV parks are. All of this can easily be seen on day trips based out of Custer. You might consider taking 16 out of Custer ( a bit twisty at first, but gets better fast) on up to 90. Devils Tower and Custer Battlefield are up that way with a goodly number of RV Parks to stay at in the area. Just touching on Yellowstone ... coming in on 14 from Cody is not a pull I would recommend for a larger fiver, but can be done. [B]Plus, driving thru Yellowstone can be painfully slow depending on traffic, buffalo, elk, any critter that crawls let alone pulling your fiver. It sometimes took us 2 hrs to go 10 - 12 miles last September. I believe Fishing Bridge is the only RV park inside Yellowstone that a good sized fiver will fit in and it is currently closed due to renovation till sometime later this year. We stayed on the west side of Yellowstone in Idaho due to the high volume of RVer's last September.
I second Big Pine CG. Itís like camping in a national Forrest but with full hook ups!!

Bill and his wife are absolute great hosts.
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Old 01-07-2021, 07:08 PM   #15
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Regarding Fishing Bridge Campground in Yellowstone. We were in YS last summer. A LOT of road work going on along in front of FB. We stopped and had a peek at the CG. They have a lot more to do. Hopefully it will be open in 2021.
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Old 01-07-2021, 08:19 PM   #16
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There is a campground between Yellowstone NP south entrance and Teton NP north entrance (2 miles south YNP and 5 miles north of GTNP as I remember). We stayed in one of their motel rooms as we were not towing. And it has been 20 years. So I can’t tell you anything about the campground. But it is convenient to both YNP and GTNP. At the time it was Flagg Ranch. Now called Headwaters Campground and Lodge I think.
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Old 01-07-2021, 11:27 PM   #17
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I sort of disagree with MT167. I don't remember any hairpin curves, by my definition. I consider a hairpin as a 180 degree turn in about 100 feet. Most of these are maybe a couple of hundred.

Also I would be careful if you don't have exhaust brake and if you do - use it. Alt 14 is very steep and on a 10 percent grade, you probably have to stay in first or second gear to avoid using brakes. The other routes are not quite so steep, but I guess if you haven't driven in the mountains before it would be quite a white knuckle thing.

Good luck!
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Old 01-08-2021, 09:02 AM   #18
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Re: Yellowstone campgrounds. Most are tight, and were designed in the ‘30s. They may have improved since we were there, but given the choice I’d stay at Grizzly campground in West Yellowstone. Right outside the park entrance, and a beautiful well run place to stay. Don’t miss the museum in Cody. As suggested above, plan a couple of days there. In the park, , slow down and enjoy the trip. Plan on several days to see everything, the park is HUGE.

Don’t miss Bear Country in Rapid City, either. Sounds like a tourist trap, but it isn’t, and you will enjoy it.
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Old 01-08-2021, 09:38 AM   #19
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I have another suggestion. If you are in Dubois. Go up on Union Pass. It’s my favorite place to Boondock. If you don’t wish to pull your camper up there go in your truck. I think it’s the prettiest place in Wyoming. There are all the big game species in Wyoming up there and all the creeks are full of brook trout except for Fish Creek which is stocked so don’t bother with it.
The road to Union Pass is about 10 miles north of Dubois by a cement plant. It doesn’t look like much until about 2 miles up Union Pass road.
Oh, stop and read the bronze plaque. You can find them at a cattle crossing. I think it’s the second one after you get to the top of the mountain. There will be a small hill just to the right. They are on top of the hill and take your binoculars. There is a colony of marmonts all around the rocks there.
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Old 01-08-2021, 10:06 AM   #20
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My advice is don't try to see too much on one trip. You end up only seeing things through the windshield of your truck. To really enjoy nature, you must be out of the truck and in it.

If you guys are in good health and able to hike a few miles each day, Yellowstone can be the most wonderful place in the US. A hike of a mile or two can get you well away from the crowds and open up a different world.
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