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Devils Tower to Yellowstone and the days at Yellowstone

Hampshire, UK
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Devils Tower to Yellowstone and the days at Yellowstone

I am planning to visit Devils Tower and Yellowstone next year with my wife as part of our 10 year anniversary trip.

Our current plan is to arrive at Devils Tower on Memorial Day (Monday 6th September) and stay for two nights at the Park and then drive to Yellowstone on Wednesday 8th September. Yellowstone will be three nights meaning just two full days there before moving on. I’m pretty certain that two days will be enough for Yellowstone but we are limited to the time we have available to us.

First off I know this will be a fair drive from Devils Tower to Yellowstone and I would appreciate tips on place to stop for a break/some food/stretch the old legs.

We were planning on having one base for our stay but would we be better staying towards the north of the park for the first night, maybe the second night too and then switch to a place nearer the south of the park? We will be leaving for Salt Lake City so I’d prefer to make that leg of our trip as easy as possible. Advice here much appreciated.

Thanks for reading this and I hope you can help, like I said; we’ll have been married 10 years and I really want to make this an amazing trip.

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1. Re: Devils Tower to Yellowstone and the days at Yellowstone

Are you planning on doing anything else besides Devil's Tower for the 2 days you have planned there? A couple of hours max usually covers Devil's Tower.

It is a full days drive from DT to YNP but doable-have done it twice before. You may want to stop at the site of the Battle of the Little Bighorn (Custer's Last Stand). As far as stops, some of the stretch is fairly desolate but overall, you will find plenty of road side stops, restaurants, gas stations, etc.

What entrance are you using to enter YNP?

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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2. Re: Devils Tower to Yellowstone and the days at Yellowstone

Hello again,

I see you are also on the Yellowstone forum. I have found the answer to my question for you as to where you were going after Devil's Tower. Definitely cut your time down at Devil's Tower. There's no need to overnight here. As Library Chick said, 2 hours is sufficient. Since you are coming from the Black Hills, perhaps you could stop in Cody and overnight there, or you could do one LONG day. According to mapquest, you are talking about a 9 hour drive from Hill City to Canyon Village not including stops.

Stopping in Cody would be about 6.5 hours without stops--long enough, IMO.

Either way, you can gain a day in Yellowstone, which you will need. Two days is really tight to see the park, as Yellowstone is so vast.

You will want to consider if you want to stay inside or outside the park. Since it's a special occasion, you might want to consider a place Old Faithful Inn, but I'd start checking into availabilty immediately. Keep in mind that staying inside the park doesn't offer the amenities that staying outside does. There are no pools, internet, tv's, phones, etc.

Another more central location inside the park is either Canyon Village or Lake Yellowstone Hotel.

Xanterra is the company that does the lodging inside the park. Everyone says to call often to see what is available. Cancellations do happen frequently. Since you aren't going until Sept,you may be ok.

nps.gov will provide information on Yellowstone and other national parks for you.

Are you flying home out of Salt Lake City?

I understand you are trying to get expert advice by posting to the appropriate forum, but it would make it easier for us if you posted your entire trip plan so we know total time you have, etc.

Hope this helps. Your trip is going to be amazing..no doubt about it. You've picked some of the best America has to offer.

Everett, Washington
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3. Re: Devils Tower to Yellowstone and the days at Yellowstone

Yes, it would be good to know the prior location to Devils Tower...such as Black Hills area (typical pre-destination).

As noted above DT does not take all that much time unless you are into walking/hiking and want to circumnavigate it. There are other things to do right arounf there such as, I believe, horseback riding at the KOA Campground. But really it's not what would call a two day destination, especially with so many other things to see.

On the way to DT, if coming from the east on I-90 be sure to check out the Vore Buffalo Jump adjacent to the freeway at Wyoming exit 199 onto WY-111. About a mile or so east on the north side frontage road is a large sink hole with a cliff the Indians drove Buffalo (American Bison) over. The bones are said to be over 20 feet deep at the bottom. There is an ongoing archeological project there with many arrowheads and artifacts found. Some are displayed in the small visitor center. It is very interesting and free (but the request donations). http://www.vorebuffalojump.org/

The suggestion to leave DT a day earlier and visit the Little Bighorn Battlefield is also good. On alternative route from there would be to back track to Sheridan for a night then go to Yelllowstone via US-14 to Greybull via very scenic Shell Canyon then up to Red Lodge MT via US-310, MT 72 south to Belfry then over to Red Lodge on Carbon County 308. This sets you up for the spectacular Beartooth Highway which should still be open around Labor Day (Memorial Day is in May). This would bring you into the NE corner of Yellowstone and the route maximizes the scenery. About 335 miles so 6-7 hours drive time plus stopping time to gape at the views.

Because roads are much slower in the park staying south the night before departure would help a lot. You could (weather willing) get a great look at Grand Tetons in morning light if you left fairly early. Then most scenic route to SLC is Salt River Valley on US-26 to Alpine then south on US-89 to I-15 near Brigham City, UT - just north of SLC. About 350 miles or just under 7 hours plus stop time for photos from West Thumb area.

Athens, AL
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4. Re: Devils Tower to Yellowstone and the days at Yellowstone

Two years ago, we left Yellowstone around 7am and drove to Devils Tower, had time to walk all the way around it, enjoy watching those climbing, watch the prairie dogs and still have a decent supper/bed time. We went out through Cody and it is right at 400 miles from Canyon Village (that's where we stayed) to Devils Tower. We did not rush - there were 3 cars full of family traveling together. We stopped at overlooks and for a picnic lunch.

What time are you arriving at Devils Tower? If it is in the morning, you will have time to spend a couple of hours there and then you could drive part of the way to YNP that afternoon. You could pick up an extra 1/2 day in YNP.

I would not spend extra time there if it meant less time in Yellowstone. Two days is never enough in Yellowstone. If you don't mind moving, I would suggest moving your base each night. The miles between the areas of the park may not seem like much on a map, but you will spend so much time going back and forth. We were there for 6 days and put 1500 miles on our vehicle and never left the park!

My husband and I leave in 4 days for 8 days in Yellowstone for our 25th anniversary. It's one our our favorite national parks along with Yosemite and Glacier.

Appleton, Wisconsin
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5. Re: Devils Tower to Yellowstone and the days at Yellowstone

I would also like to add, that Devil's tower is just a 2 hour stop, unless you are a climber. A day in the Black Hills, seeing Mt Rushmore is worth a stop. Also, I think driving the Bighorn Mtns is a nice trip, through either route. Cody would also be a nice stop, and a good way to enter the park. Cody has a nightly rodeo all summer long, raft trips, horseback riding, and a beautiful drive into YNP. There is a large dam just west of the town that you can walk out on, with a small visitor center.

I would also like to add the Grand Teton National Park is beautiful and worth 1-2 days at least. It is just south of Yellowstone National Park. Between that and Devil's Tower, I would pick a stop in GTNP any day!

Hampshire, UK
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6. Re: Devils Tower to Yellowstone and the days at Yellowstone

Wow, some great information there. Based on what I’ve learnt from everyone's poasts on this forum and a couple of others I’ve done some mods to my original plan. This new plan is below:

Thursday : Arrive in Las Vegas, NV. Overnight stay.

Friday : Early morning flight to Rapid City, SD. Drive to Badlands. Overnight at Cedar Pass.

Saturday : Leave Cedar Pass and drive on 44 toward Rapid City. Visit Mount Rushmore, Iron Mountain Rd, the Wildlife Loop, Needles Hwy and Sylvan Lake. Mount Rushmore at night but staying overnight at Hill City, SD.

Sunday : Crazy Horse, Jewel Cave, Black Hills, Devils Tower via Deadwood and Vore Buffalo Jump.

Monday : Climbing at Devils Tower, WY.

Tuesday : Drive to Yellowstone National Park.

Wednesday : Yellowstone National Park.

Thursday : Yellowstone National Park.

Friday : Yellowstone National Park.

Saturday : Grand Teton National Park.

Sunday : Drive to, and overnight at, Salt Lake City, UT.

Monday : Drive to, and overnight at, Zion National Park, UT.

Tuesday : Hiking at Zion National Park, UT.

Wednesday : Drive via Cedar Breaks National Monument to, and Hiking at, Bryce Canyon National Park.

Thursday : Drive to Monument Valley via Lake Powell.

Friday : Balloon flight over Monument Valley.

Saturday : Drive to Winslow, AZ via Petrified Forrest Nation Park. Meteor Crater in the afternoon/evening.

Sunday : Grand Canyon (South Rim).

Monday : Drive to Las Vegas via the Hoover Dam.

Tuesday : Las Vegas.

Wednesday : Las Vegas.

Thursday : Fly Back.

Suggestions very welcome.

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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7. Re: Devils Tower to Yellowstone and the days at Yellowstone

It's very helpful to see your entire trip itinerary. You really have an amazing vacation planned.

I now understand why you wanted to overnight at Devil's Tower. In case you haven't seen it, here's an informational link regarding climbing the tower:


As you are hopefully aware, it's not the faint of heart. A typical climb takes 4-6 hours, according to the link. We really enjoyed watching climbers, but it's not something I'd want to do. Of course, you do have to register with the park when you climb.

You will probably arrive at the tower fairly late in the day since you are planning on doing Jewel Cave & Crazy Horse before heading out there.

I'm glad you are planning on 3 days in Yellowstone, as you will definitely need them.

I have been to many of the places you mention (Zion, Grand Canyon, Vegas, Hoover Dam). They are all fantastic, but I will let someone more familiar comment on your times there.

Have a great trip.

8. Re: Devils Tower to Yellowstone and the days at Yellowstone

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