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Advice Request for Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore

Worcestershire...
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Advice Request for Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore

Hi

All advice would be gratefully received and appreciated. Sorry for so many questions, I've usually researched more before posting questions but this Road Trip is a very recent change of plan and we hope to book soon in order to capitalise on early booking flight costs.

I'm currently researching an approx 14 night stay early Sept 2013 (after Labor Day) that takes in Grand Teton NP, Yellowstone NP, Mt Rushmore & Estes/Rocky Mountain NPs. As we'd be flying from the UK, I believe that Salt Lake City and Denver would be the airports to use. With the research I've already done, I can see that there are some long drives in between places and would take advice of suitable night stopovers if you thought they were necessary.

Other advice needed:

1) Which way round should we do the trip - begin with SLC or Denver? Should we allow weather averages in Nat Parks to influence this? Should we allocate time to stay in the cities?

2) I'm thinking maybe 4 nights in each of Grand Teton and Yellowstone but not sure how much to allow other places. Opinions welcomed.

Thank you to all who can help.

Worcestershire...
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1. Re: Advice Request for Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore

Thought I ought to add to the above - we enjoy moderate hiking in parks as opposed to strenuous) in case this influences replies re lengths of stays in parks.

Marina, California
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2. Re: Advice Request for Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore

Who is on this trip (kids?) and what do you like to do? Hike? Hit the bars? Look at buffalo? Sit at the visitors center and talk to people?

> Which way round should we do the trip - begin with SLC or Denver?

Look at the car rental prices first. The drop-off charge may be quite a bit, but it will probably be cheaper to start in Salt Lake because of the fees they add on at Denver airport (unless you're interested in going off-airport, which can get complex). However, Denver has a non-stop on BA from (I think) Heathrow and SLC may be a little more expensive. Domestic flights are typically pretty cheap out of Denver because there's a lot of competition, while Delta (not a BA friend like American) has a bit of a monopoly over SLC.

> Should we allow weather averages in Nat Parks to influence this?

Probably not. Two weeks at the beginning of September has the possibility of being on the cusp of changing weather, but it's unlikely. It depends on the year and specific weather patterns though, as opposed to the averages. For instance, this year, the leaves are already changing at RMNP, but that's rare (because of the excessively dry summer they had). You could see a significant temperature drop, but there's no way to predict it. If there is one though, it would be at Yellowstone.

> Should we allocate time to stay in the cities?

For Denver, I would say no. I like Denver, but I think there are other towns around there (Boulder, Fort Collins, Golden) that are more interesting, and other sites that are much more worth your time. For Salt Lake, yes. At least one night. Go see the temple, go see the lake, maybe check out the nightlife. For Billings though, absolutely not. Rapid City? I would also say no. The only towns I would look at, if you end up with time, would be the ones west of Denver and the ones I've mentioned above. If it's cheaper, you could even, make it a full circle and visit some of those towns, like Glenwood Springs and Aspen.

Don't minimize the appeal of the non-national park areas. For instance, the Uintah Mountains, northeast of Salt Lake, are amazing. If you're interested in hiking, that area and RMNP would be my focus areas.

If you can avoid Labor Day weekend, then you'll be better off. It's just SO crowded in these areas. Weekends will also be more crowded in campgrounds and trailheads, if that's what you're planning on doing.

Others can probably outline an itinerary for you.

N. Idaho
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3. Re: Advice Request for Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore

I would recommend you do the Mt Rushmore/Black Hills area before you do Yellowstone/Grand Tetons. Some are disappointed in the Black Hills if they do that after Yellowstone/Grand Tetons.

If you are going to be able to spend 8 nights in the Yellowstone/GTNP area I would go for 4 (or 5!! lol) in Yellowstone, 1 in Cody and 3 in GTNP. There is also Beartooth Pass which is jaw-dropping.

www.beartoothhighway.com/roadMaps/index.html

Early Sept is a good time to go, altho this year there is some fire around which is causing intermittent smoke in the area. What many don't understand until they get there is that Yellowstone is so big what is influencing one area of the park may not necessarily be a problem in other parts of the park! Hard to predict if next year will be wet or dry.

Come to the Wyoming forum once you get your route mapped out and we can advise you on lodging and itinerary for that portion of the trip.

tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g28973-i480-Wyomin…

Pam

Worcestershire...
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4. Re: Advice Request for Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore

Wow - thanks you both to D0bby and colinaz so much for the really quick responses and advice/links.

We are a couple in our early 50s and will be travelling without our offspring. We enjoy moderate hiking and beautiful scenery - we really enjoy taking our time to appreciate where we are, and using our camera. We're not ones for dashing through places trying to squeeze too much in, but still like to make the most of where we go. The National Parks would be our primary reason for going but we're not averse to sightseeing interesting towns/cities too.

Thanks once again.

Worcestershire...
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5. Re: Advice Request for Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore

Forgot to mention that the travel company we'd use to book trip states a free drop off between SLC & Denver in it's brochure

Netherlands
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6. Re: Advice Request for Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore

We did a road trip last summer that incorporated most of the places you want to go to next year. Our TR is at http://charley.vhouten.net/#post1 You might want to get some ideas from there..

Looking at your interests, I would suggest:

- Flying into Denver, take a hotel to sleep over the jet-lag.

- Drive to Estes Park, 2 or 3 nights, enjoy RMNP

- Drive to Mt Rushmore (can't comment on that)

- Drive to Yellowstone. Stay at least 3 nights.

- Drive to Grand Teton. Stay at least 1 night.

- Drive to Moab (maybe extra night in Vernal as we did)

- See Arches / Canyonlands (at least 3 nights)

- Back to Denver

Happy planning,

Charley.

Worcestershire...
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7. Re: Advice Request for Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore

Thank you CharleyNetherlands, your itinerary from last year will be very helpful, I've had a look at your trip report and that will help too. Your photos are superb.

It's unlikely that we'll include Moab/Arches & Canyonlands this time though but they are certainly places we'd look at as another trip in the future. (we visited Zion, Bryce, Lake Powell, Monument Valley and Grand Canyon last year).

Worcestershire...
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8. Re: Advice Request for Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore

We usually fly with BA and prefer to do non-stop, as colinaz mentions there's non-stop to Denver from Heathrow - so I thought I'd better check SLC with BA, but on checking (if I've done it properly) I don't think BA goes to SLC direct. It maybe that we do look at a 'round trip' because of this.

Marina, California
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9. Re: Advice Request for Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore

I would stay three nights in both Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain if you enjoy hiking. Both offer some excellent hiking of varying degrees. I was at RMNP last week and did the Colorado River Trail, which was pretty easy, but it led to some rough stuff further along. Depends on what you can do.

Mount Rushmore, IMHO, is one of those "Okay, there it is" sort of places. Overnight around there because it's at the top end of the drive, but don't plan several hours there or anything. You can do a ranger walk or maybe the night program, but it's not a full day thing by any means.

If you shoot south from Yellowstone (or north up to), you'll also be able to check out Dinosaur National Monument. The northern part has the Gates of Ladore, which is mostly a portal for rafting (you won't have time) but has some walking. Flaming Gorge is also very pretty.

If you're doing a one-way rental via Yellowstone then, yes, Arches is out of your way. Too bad though. I would definitely take advantage of the no fee rental though, because that's a very good deal. It's normally at least $200.

Coming out of RMNP, spend a couple of days traversing that part of the Rockies, because there's some excellent hiking, particularly off of CO 14 just north of the park. There's actually a back entrance to the park from there (mostly via hiking), but the road in was closed this summer and no one seems to know if it will be open next summer. A little out of your way, but I think it's very worth it.

Try to avoid the interstates on your trip. You'll have a better time.

And something that hasn't been broached: the parks pass. Admission at RMNP is $20 and it's $25 at Yellowstone/Grand Teton (you pay once for both). That's covered by the park pass, but the $11 parking fee at Mount Rushmore is not, and the pass gets you a slight discount on the tour at Wind Cave, if you're interested in that (do it if you have time). So you have to weigh what else you're going to do to see if you can justify the $85. But I would say don't do it based on your current, basic itinerary.

Wednesbury, UK
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10. Re: Advice Request for Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore

Hi.

You have had s one good info and suggestions so far, and as you have work ed out BA do not fly to SLC. Also, regarding the one-way, I know some uk travel companies hide the one ways in the high rates, s o always w Roth doing a cost comparison if they say it's included.

You will need at least three nights for the Black Hills area, so I'd suggest.

1. Denver.

2. Drive to Black Hills, stay Custer, Keystone or Hill City.

3. SD.

4. SD.(Mt, Rushmore, Badlands, Wall, Custer State Park).

5. Drive to Cody, visit Devils Tower on route, this is a long day!

6. To Yellowstone.

7. YNP.

8. YNP.

9. YNP.

10. To Jackson for GTNP.

11. GTNP.

12. To Steamboat Springs or southernWyoming location.

13. To RMNP via Trail Ridge Road.

14 .RMNP and to Denver.

15. Home.

You could do Jackson to RMNP in a long day drive, you could also drive RMNP to Denver airport on day 15, if you have a late flight.

We did some of this (again) last year, Trip Blog and photos etc. here, day 5 onwards.

www.westmidstraveller.com/USA_2011_TR.html

Edited: 11 September 2012, 17:49