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Yellowstone, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado

Worcester, England...
Level Contributor
15 posts
9 reviews
Yellowstone, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado

Hi all

1st thanks to everyone who takes the time to reply to posts as I have learnt loads. I had originally planned to travel in 2013 but had to change plans but have picked up lots of hints and tips such as which book to buy (Yellowstone treasures) and when there was a sale on lodging at Grand Tetons (saved money) to name but a few.

I would appreciate any help in my planning. I will be flying into Jackson on the 8th June 2014 with my daughter. She is only staying for the 1st 4 nights ( we will have been to San Francisco and Las Vegas) after that I will be travelling on my own. I will be 44 years old and wish to see wildlife, museums and places of natural beauty.

I pick up my hire car at Jackson and and return it at Denver on the 20th August 2014 and fly back to UK on 21st August 2014.

I have the following already booked:

4 nights ranch inn

3 nights Jackson Lake Lodge Grand Tetons

3 nights old faithful

3 nights canyon

3 nights Roosevelt

I would like to visit the following places:

Bozeman, Butte, Missoula ,Columbia falls, Glacier national park, Great falls, Billings, Cody, Thermopolis, Sheridan, Gillette, devils tower, Mount Rushmore, Douglas, Casper, Rawlings, Saratoga, Cheyenne, Estes park, Boulder, Denver.

Can anyone suggest the best route? Starting from Roosevelt and ending in Denver.

Are some of the locations close enough that I don't need to spend the night there? I have 58 nights in total so could I spend a week or so in some places and make day trips to the others.

I would like to go to a rodeo as I have never been. Is the Cody stampede the same as the Cody nite rodeo or should I plan to stay in Cody 1-4th July?

Are there any places in Wyoming not on the list that you would recommend?

I would like to go to the cookout at Roosevelt but have never been on a horse is it suitable for complete beginners?

Do I need to pre-book all my accommodations or will I be able to get some where to stay on an adhoc basis?

As I am visiting Yellowstone in June should I go back in August? Would I notice much difference?

Would you recommend going to Cheyenne Frontier Days?

Thanks in advance

Marina, California
Destination Expert
for Tucson
Level Contributor
6,059 posts
98 reviews
1. Re: Yellowstone, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado

With such a long trip, I would personally book a cabin or other vacation rental, maybe in Jackson, for a base and then do side trips from there. You're talking about almost three months of living out of a rental car. That wears on you. You mention 58 days, but June 8th to August 20th would be 73 days. Maybe I'm missing something though.

Early June is early for Yellowstone. Going back in August would not be a bad idea at all.

Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
20,103 posts
38 reviews
2. Re: Yellowstone, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado

Hi

I was looking at your dates and counting it up and also wondering how you were going to do the trip, and also failed on the maths. I'd agree with Colin's comment that, with so long a trip, and so long on your own, to break up the trip, I'd find several suitable places where there's more happening and cheaper accommodation available (ie. not within the wonderful national parks) to stay in some self catering accommodation and using it as a base to avoid cabin fever. If yo need suggestions of the type of places where this is more likely to work, let us know, too.

When you come back with your number of days, then perhaps we can make some serious suggestions. Also, my screen is showing a whole load of weird symbols where I'm guessing words should be, so your itinerary as it stands is confusingly unreadable to me.

Regarding your specific questions regarding certain activities in destinations, such as the horse riding question. It would be better if you asked that type of question on the destination forum, in that case, the Yellowstone park forum. However, perhaps Pam will pop into this post and reply from her great experience.

SWT

Edited: 31 October 2013, 17:35
N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
20,149 posts
109 reviews
3. Re: Yellowstone, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado

OP did start with a post in the Wyoming forum but as her plans are so extensive, PB referred her here. There is an answer on there which I believe refers to the horseback riding at Roosevelt with the option of the covered wagon to the cookout.

I will ask this of the OP. Of the cities you have listed, were there particular things you wanted to see in each? It does rather sound like you followed a highway on a map and picked cities along the way. So if you had plans for each it would help to figure out a route and time frame for you.

-Bozeman has the very nice Museum of the Rockies which has a stellar dinosaur exhibit.

-Butte does have a mineral museum and a Museum of Mining at the Montana Tech University.

-Gillette has an open pit coal mine.

-Billings has some interesting sights nearby including Petroglyph State Park and Pompey's Pillar but I am not sure you would actually go to Billings or Gillette for the ambiance. (a thousand pardons to Billings and/or Gillette residents!)

-Great Falls has a wonderful Charles Russell museum if you are interested in his art.

-Badlands National Park which is just east of Rapid City SD is interesting as well.

So give us more information about actual # of days requested by colinaz and SWT, plus more input on what you might want to do in each of these cities.

BTW, I travel solo and would have no problems going along any of your route.

Pam

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
28,538 posts
419 reviews
4. Re: Yellowstone, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado

I will try and answer some of your Yellowstone questions. Roosevelt has a nice cookout and the horseback riding there is very gentle. You should have no problems but once you have your trip plan then go ahead and book this.

Cody is excellent for the Buffalo Bill Museums and the rodeo. The very best time to visit if you want to see a world class rodeo is the one during July 1-4.

Lodging in and around the national parks does book up and also if you plan on going to Cody during the first of July then make those reservations also. We've never been to Cheyenne Frontier days but know people who have and they booked hotels months in advance.

Looks like from your plans that you have 4 main areas you want to visit-

Yellowstone- where you have lodging, etc.

Glacier- again book lodging in the park ASAP if not then outside the park- west side has more choices than on east side

Black Hills- plenty of choices but do not go there during the Sturgis Bike Rally- crazy expensive and traffic is horrible- Sturgis is August 10-14. Here is a good website with loads of info-

www.travelsd.com

Denver- you will want to include the Rocky Mt. NP and since it has no lodging in the park then can stay in either Estes Park or Loveland.

I too agree with others that I would be weary after that many days on the road and in a hotel. We are weary after 2-3 weeks. You might think about basing yourself in a cabin in some of the areas and doing day trips.

Good luck and let us know if you have other questions!!

USA
Level Contributor
9,465 posts
44 reviews
5. Re: Yellowstone, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado

Your Yellowstone lodging looks good, as does the Tetons. My only concern there is that your daughter will be in Jackson for her only 4 days, rather than Yellowstone. Jackson, of course, is not a good base for Yellowstone as driving is slow & long with wildlife jams and a park the size of a state!

From your itinerary, it looks like you'll be in Yellowstone around June 15, my favorite time in the park with the grizzly bears still down at lower elevations. However, sometimes we get a bit of late snow that time of year, although it usually melts fairly fast. Just so you are prepared for all possible weather.

Sounds like your lodgings in the parks are already booked & it's a very nice split. The park is huge, so multiple locations is my favorite way to experience each area of the park in depth, especially early morning & twilight for wildlife watching.

The earliest the Going-to-the-Sun Road could be accessible for its entire length is June 20, 2014, to me a must for visiting Glacier National Park. Glacier can be reached after Roosevelt Lodge, but it would be nice to have a stop-over on the way, perhaps a good time to stop in your desired Butte. We love Butte for it's mining history & historic district.

I highly recommend driving the Beartooth Highway, one of the most beautiful anywhere, from Red Lodge Montana over the Beartooth Hwy, to the Chief Joseph Highway, to Cody. Cody deserves several nights for the evening rodeo and the Buffalo Bill Museum.

Tell us about all your towns of choice; for example, how did you chose them? What do you want to do there?

Why Billings? Why Great Falls? Or will other in-route towns do?

You are so lucky to have so much time. Have fun planning.

Edited: 31 October 2013, 20:09
Worcester, England...
Level Contributor
15 posts
9 reviews
6. Re: Yellowstone, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado

Hi

Thanks for the replys. Sorry with the confusion with my maths. I have not included the dates for which I have already booked accommodation with Roosevelt (24th june) being the last place already booked.

With regards to picking some of the places due to the highway on a map - yes I did as I thought it might be best as I am travelling on my own. If there are any better suggestions I would welcome them.

Yes I am interested in art and visiting museums.

Sorry about the weird symbols on my post don't know how that has happened.

I did look into booking a holiday rental in Cody for 28 days but was not sure if that would be a good place as a base, it was the price that kept me thinking about it. I would welcome any suggestions of places to stay along route as a base.

Thanks

Emma

USA
Level Contributor
9,465 posts
44 reviews
7. Re: Yellowstone, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado

Pam, Peach, & I were all answering at the same time; thus all the repetition!

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
20,149 posts
109 reviews
8. Re: Yellowstone, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado

We are part of the group shared brain from the Wyoming forum, lol!

I personally would not stay 28 days in Cody. But I would probably also not stay 28 days in West Yellowstone or Gardiner MT which are the other Yellowstone gateway cities. Altho Gardiner does have the advantage of being fairly close to the Interstate. If you are going for a cabin rental, I would not go for more than 1 or 2 weeks at the most in one area.

Museum-wise you will have some nice choices. Off the top of my head, here are some:

Bozeman: Museum of the Rockies http://www.museumoftherockies.org/

Cody: Buffalo Bill Historical Center (a 5 museum complex) http://centerofthewest.org/#

Great Falls: CM Russell Museum https://www.cmrussell.org/

Jackson: National Museum of Wildlife Art http://www.wildlifeart.org/

Butte: These 2 museums are interesting, but not in the same class as the above museums, IMO.

http://www.miningmuseum.org/ and http://www.mbmg.mtech.edu/museum/museum.asp

Pam

Worcester, England...
Level Contributor
15 posts
9 reviews
9. Re: Yellowstone, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado

Thank you for your suggestions.

I am now looking into places where I can stay longer and taking day trips.

Wow the links are great.

Thanks

Emma

USA
Level Contributor
9,465 posts
44 reviews
10. Re: Yellowstone, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado

Estes Park, Colorado would be a wonderful place to get a vacation rental for an extended period of time. Great access into Rocky Mt National Park, one of my favorite places anywhere.

Edited: 01 November 2013, 13:33