We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Road trip to Yellowstone and beyond.

West Sussex, United...
Level Contributor
179 posts
116 reviews
Save Topic
Road trip to Yellowstone and beyond.

Hi there. After a successful road trip to Canada, I am keen to explore Yellowstone and some of the surrounding areas, I have found the following itinerary with the same company who did our Canada trip for us, they are good as you can flex the trip to suit yourself. Is there anything that I'm going to miss and are there any parts you'd say to leave out?

Many thanks!

Start in Denver day 1 and 2

day 3 - drive to Grand junction and Moab stay 1 night

day 4 -Arches NP

day 5 - 6 - Salt lake city spend 2 nights

day 7 salt lake city to Jackson

day 8 - 10 Jackson to Yellowstone NP stay in Yellowstone

day 11 Billings and sheridan

day 12 sheridan to rapid city

day 13 rapid city

day 14 rapid city to cheyenne

day 15 cheyenne to Denver for flight home.

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
20,620 posts
109 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Road trip to Yellowstone and beyond.

I am not sure why they would suggest you spend so much time in Denver, SLC, Billings/Sheridan and spend so little time in Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. I am never sure what those agencies provide as they are not used in the US. The people on this forum can help you plan a much better trip.

On the Yellowstone forum we usually recommend at least 3 full days (4 nights) for Yellowstone and 2 full days (3 nights) for Grand Tetons. It is a day's drive from Denver to Grand Tetons, a day's drive between Yellowstone and Black Hills and a day's drive more or less back to Denver. If you have extra time I would spend a night in Cody. I am not expert on Black Hills but I think people recommend 3 nights there as well which would give you 2 full days. I don't think Rapid City is the recommended overnight stop in that area either.

Unless you are totally sold on seeing Arches (which is wonderful but pretty distant from Grand Tetons/Yellowstone) I would drop that and use your time as above.

There will be other suggestions as well so you can decide what will work for your.

BTW, I would reverse order and do Black Hills/Mt Rushmore/Badlands first, then Yellowstone and Grand Tetons.

Pam

Edited: 10 July 2014, 23:36
Vestal, New York
Destination Expert
for Auburn, Finger Lakes
Level Contributor
7,485 posts
185 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Road trip to Yellowstone and beyond.

I was wondering about the two nights in SLC and the night in Cheyenne as well. The SLC time is better spent elsewhere and Cheyenne is reasonably close to Denver so you could really press on to there; you should add time to YNP and GTNP as Pam suggests. I assume the night in Sheridan is to break up the drive thru Wyoming on the way to the Black Hills?

Rapid City is a reasonable base for the Black Hills; others like Hill City, Custer or Keystone.

Tacoma, Washington
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
8,834 posts
1 review
Save Reply
3. Re: Road trip to Yellowstone and beyond.

This intinerary is a tad "off".

A better 15 day itinerary would be....

1 fly into Denver

2 drive 6 hrs to Moab, evening arches/Canyonlands

3 arches/Canyonlands

4 arches AM then drive p to pak city

5 park city to Jackson, pm grand Teton

6 grand Teton

7-9 Yellowstone

10 exit Yellowstone via bear tooth highway to red lodge night here

11 red lodge to rapid city with stops at little bighorn and devils tower

12-14 black hills of SD.

15 return o Denver

Alternate

11 red lodge to Cody for night

12 Cody to Estes park

13-14 rocky mountain national park

15 Denver

Aubrey, Texas
Level Contributor
10,527 posts
169 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Road trip to Yellowstone and beyond.

I would also leave Utah for another trip perhaps one that includes Grand Canyon, Monument Valley. Add time to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons NPs. Also include Rocky Mountains NP at end of trip.

Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
20,441 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Road trip to Yellowstone and beyond.

OK, I'm going to be rather brutal here, everybody else has been rather polite. I personally think this is a terrible itinerary for a 15 night trip.

I have 2 basic reasons for my comments. Firstly, you seem to be spending far too much time in towns and cities (some of which are really so-whatish or not as convenient as other destinations for the major sights) and far too little time seems to have been allowed to enjoy the great outdoors, especially the wonderful national parks, most of which really do need much longer if you wish to explore in any details. The other potential problem is that you have some rather long driving days.

However, without a bit more info from you on what your are comfortable with in terms of hours of driving, and whether you just want a drive past kind of trip, admiring the scenery as you go, perhaps there are reasons that you've not said for why the travel company has suggested this itinerary. I do have another theory, too, on where the travel company are coming from, if they are also going to be doing all the hotel reservations - many foreign travel companies don't know the smaller towns as they have no personal experience of the area, and anyway prefer to stick to certain hotel brands, but I may be barking up the wrong tree here.

I do have another really important question for you: What time of year are you visiting? Some of these areas have a really long winter, so you need to plan carefully. I'd also agree with Pam to reverse the trip.

Oh and, by all means use your travel company, if that's how you like to operate, but do know that you can get enough advice and help from this and other forums to do a totally DIY trip - and most travellers find that that's the way to really get what they want.

SWT

Eastbourne, United...
Level Contributor
1,070 posts
350 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Road trip to Yellowstone and beyond.

Hi Jeannette,

I'm also from UK and always sorted out a DiY road trip without any hassle (I find the planning almost as much fun as the trip itself). The DE's on this forum give great advice, but you need to decide what you want out of the trip. If like me it is scenery, scenery and more scenery I certainly would not be using up a precious day of my trip exploring SLC, but others with different interests would disagree.

What time of year are you planning to make the trip as the weather / road conditions vary a great deal with the seasons? Getting accommodation inside Yellowstone can be tricky so book as far in advance as you can and plan the trip around these dates.

Yellowstone with its Geysers, Wildlife and Waterfalls certainly IMHO deserves at least three full days (four nights).

As well as Arches NP you could also see the "Islands in the sky" part of Canyonlands NP on the same day. When we drove from Denver to Moab we saw signs to Colorado National Monument which gave us an extra drive through some wonderful scenery (until then I had thought "National Monument" was something like a battlefield, but no this was like a Mini National Park so if you see one on your route it is worth finding out more about it.

Finally once you have settled on which parks you are going to visit check out the America The Beautiful pass which gives access to all National Parks and more (but not state parks) as it can be cheaper than buying entries to parks individually.

Have a great trip and let us know how it went!

West Sussex, United...
Level Contributor
179 posts
116 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Road trip to Yellowstone and beyond.

Please DO be brutal people! I need all the info I can get.!

My worries about DIY'ing the trip is if the flight schedules change I will have to shift dates around myself - the agents took care of this last time. The itinerary was picked out of a brochure TBH....I'm sure it can't be that hard to DIY though....Also this is a bit of a personal question but what sort of budget can you work to - I am aware we did pay rather more through the agents but for my first trip abroad I did enjoy the peace of mind it gave me.

I am comfortable with a few long driving days, I used to drive for a living so 6 - 8 hours was normal for me, In canada we had 3 6 hour plus days of driving and as long as there is scenery and more scenery I'm happy!

I am leaning towards staying in yellowstone for 4 nights, then onto the Tetons, and would like to give SLC a miss TBH. The company we go with are flexible as we choose our own itinerary in Canada and they just did all the arrangements including flights and car hire for us.

I am planning on June, would this be a good time to go?? Not bothered if it's a bit chilly or there is still a little snow around. or would september be better? Leaning towards June as long summer evenings ideal for photography!!

Edited: 11 July 2014, 22:12
N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
20,620 posts
109 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Road trip to Yellowstone and beyond.

June is a good time, later June would be a better chance at good weather in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons. You still might see some snow in the latter part of June, but will have an abundance of baby animals (bear cubs, bison and elk calves) to see. The weather might also be very nice! For a 2 week trip, I would probably choose either the 2nd and 3rd weeks of June or 3rd and 4th weeks.

You might want to look at the Trip Reports posted on the Wyoming Forum for some insight in to what others experienced last month in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons. Here is a link to the Trip Reports for 2014.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28973-i480-k70924…

Once you start exploring more, I invite you to the TA Wyoming forum to ask questions about lodging, sights, etc. I would say that for hotels in and around Yellowstone and Grand Tetons you are looking at $100 for a cabin with a shared bath in Yellowstone up to $200-$300/night for something better but still not as luxurious as you might expect for that price point. (Comparison, I just paid less at Crowne Plaza Amsterdam in the City Center than I sometimes pay in West Yellowstone MT. Yikes.) Look at some of the hotels on TA for ideas about rates.

Figure your mileage on googlemaps, pick 20-25 mpg depending on car hire, and I would budget $4.00/gal for gas/petrol. (Might be more in the Parks, less on the open road)

Take notes, and bookmark like crazy, you'll never remember it all.

Pam

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
20,620 posts
109 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Road trip to Yellowstone and beyond.

Oops, waited too long to edit. OK, I did some snooping on your thread on the Colorado forum. Definitely don't go for an RV if you decide on Yellowstone. They are unwieldy, the roads are narrow, the laybys are small in some areas and you will be more nimble in a car.

Pam

Herts England
Level Contributor
186 posts
34 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Road trip to Yellowstone and beyond.

You could do a mix of DIY and using an agent. We use Trailfinders for flights/car hire and some accommodation. But I plan the route, then discuss with them to fine tune. There is some accoodation they can't book so I do that myself, eg some B&B's.

I was looking at a route from Denver to RMNP then The Black Hills then Yellowsone and GTNP this year but was outvoted....Instead we are flying to Phoenix then going to GCSE North Rim, Bryce Cznyon, Death Valley and Yosemite. You need to decide what you want to see, the set itineraries can help, but a tailor made option can often be better!

Have fun planning!