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.

Preliminary planning for National Parks trip

Kansas City
Level Contributor
28 posts
2 reviews
Save Topic
Preliminary planning for National Parks trip

All,

I would appreciate any help you can provide. At this time, I have a rough sketch of our plan for July vacation and need some assistance.

We are doing a road trip traveling from Kansas City. We hope to see Yellowstone/Grand Tetons and then move south to see Zion National Park/Bryce Canyon/Grand Canyon and Arches NP. We will be camping w/a pull behind RV.

We are staying at Grant Village campground in Yellowstone. We need ideas for places to camp w/RV around Zion/Bryce and Arches NP.

Here are some of my initial thoughts on the outline. I need help in knowing if # days per location, travel route, and plans seem appropriate. Is it realistic to accomplish all of these or should something be scaled back? We added Arches so that we could loop back to I-70 for the drive home.

I could defiinitely use more specific itenerary suggestions or alternate suggestions if I've missed something. We haven't been to any of these locations before. We can handle easy hikes as we will have our 2 year old in a backpack carrier. My parents will also be w/us.

Day 1 (7/3) Travel from KC to Yellowstone (17 hour drive) through South Entrance.

Day 2 (7/4) Yellowstone (Old Faithful/Upper Geyser basin/Craig Pass/Kepler Cascades)

Day 3 (7/5) Yellowstone (Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone Lake, Abyss Pool, Hayden Valley)

Day 4 (7/6) Yellowstone (Grand Canyon Yellowstone, Upper/Lower Falls)

Day 5 (7/7) Grand Teton NP (not sure what to see/do here other than Jenny Lake scenic drive) and drive to Zion National Park (9 hours)

Day 6 (7/8) Zion NP

Day 7 (7/9) Bryce NP

Day 8 (7/10) Grand Canyon

Day 9 (7/11) Grand Canyon (mule trip)

Day 10 (7/12) Drive to Arches National Park (6 hours)

Day 11 (7/13) Arches NP (1/2 day) and leave for KC

Day 12 (7/14) Finish drive to KC

Thanks in advance for any and all help!

Sincerely,

Karen

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
21,025 posts
109 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Preliminary planning for National Parks trip

Your Yellowstone days look fine to me, altho Grant Village is not my favorite location as it is too far south and adds too much driving time to areas like Mammoth, Tower Fall and Lamar Valley.

Pam

Kansas City
Level Contributor
28 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Preliminary planning for National Parks trip

D0bby,

I was hoping you'd see my post. I love your trip planners and have been trying to read through your past posts. Any chance you can help give me more specific ideas of things to do each day/on the drive/etc.?

We are a little limited in that our truck/RV combo is 50 ft and were told by Xanterra that we could only go to Grant Village, Bay Bridge or Madison. Is there a different one of those that would be better? I think we disqualified the others because of lack of showers but I don't have my notes w/me today.

Also, do you have recommendations on what to do in Grand Tetons? We like to see & do kind of people.

Honestly, my dad wants to do both Yellowstone and Grand Canyon but I think it may be overly ambitious given that we have a two year old and it's a lot of driving, pulling the camper, etc.

I'm wondering if it is better to really just focus on Yellowstone & Grand Tetons (maybe Glacier NP, not sure how far it is from the others) so that we don't feel so rushed.

Would it be best for me to post in multiple forums for feedback on the 2nd leg of the journey? I'm newer to the forum and haven't posted.

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
21,025 posts
109 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Preliminary planning for National Parks trip

Karen, I would be happy to help you with a detailed itinerary once you've decided where to stay. Again, I'm not an RVer or Camper, but location-wise both Madison and Bridge Bay are more centrally located.

If you want advice on the whole trip, I suggest posting on the Road Trips forum.

tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g1-i12567-Road_Tri…

Make sure you give them the particulars on who is in your party...age of child, your Dad, etc. as above.

For my money, your first day needs to be broken into 2 days. 17hours towing an RV seems like an inordinate amount of time. Everyone is going to be beat by the time they get there!

Glacier would be a day away from Yellowstone.

Have you all done the Black Hills area? You might think of a loop thru the Black hills, to Yellowstone, then the Tetons, then back toward KC. You have a huge amount of driving in your current plan for 2 weeks and looks more like 2 road trips to me!

OR if you don't want the Black Hills, drop down from Grand Tetons to Vernal Utah and then on to Arches and loop back from there. Arches will be hot as heck during July.

Pam

Edited: 17 January 2013, 20:21
Pittsburgh...
Level Contributor
847 posts
52 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Preliminary planning for National Parks trip

Having been to Zion, Bryce, and arches I think these days involve WAY to much driving compared to time you will have for siteseeing. I wouldn't mind the first days long drive- provided you have multiple drivers to take shifts - but I personally would leave the Utah Parks for a seperate trip. I would use your 12 days to enjoy Yellowstone and the Tetons and perhaps the black hills as Pam suggested.

USA
Level Contributor
9,465 posts
44 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Preliminary planning for National Parks trip

Neither Bridge Bay Campground nor Madison Campground have showers.

Near Bridge Bay Campground, you could get showers at Canyon Campground. Near Madison Campground you could get showers in Old Faithful area.

So Xanterra did not say you could fit at Canyon Campground? Canyon would be perfect, centrally located and with showers.

Kansas City
Level Contributor
28 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Preliminary planning for National Parks trip

@Pam - Thank you. We have done the Black Hills area.

I'll take a look at Madison or Bridge Bay again. I'm hoping to finalize campgrounds this week and then could use your help w/detailed information, especially if we'll be in Yellowstone/Grand Tetons longer.

@DH6040 - I really appreciate your feedback. I think I just got too excited at the prospect of doing it all but think it might be better left as a separate trip. I'd rather spend more time seeing nature than being in the truck.

@denalicat - Thanks for info! Do you have any personal preference w/Bridge Bay vs. Madison? How far is Canyon from Bridge Bay? We heard great things about Canyon but Xanterra said we couldn't disconnect the RV from the truck and park next to it (it has to parked end to end and therefore at abt 50 feet ours is too long).

Green Valley...
Level Contributor
18,004 posts
62 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Preliminary planning for National Parks trip

How far between points in YNP? See “View Map” on home page for interactive map. http://www.nps.gov/yell/

Yellowstone Nat...
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
2,353 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Preliminary planning for National Parks trip

<< Do you have any personal preference w/Bridge Bay vs. Madison? >>

Madison would be a good spot for viewing geyser basins all up and down the west side of YNP -- OF, Norris and Mammoth. Bridge Bay would be better for accessing the east side of the park -- Lake, Canyon and Lamar Valley. So, both have some merit.

ENJOY!

USA
Level Contributor
9,465 posts
44 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Preliminary planning for National Parks trip

I like splitting my time between campgrounds, since driving takes so long & I'd rather be hiking.

Madison is on the river, lots of elk, treed sites & easy access to Old Faithful & the geyser areas of the west side of the park.

Bridge Bay is on the lake with a marina, on the east side of the park with access to Pelican, Hayden & even Lamar valleys for wildlife viewing and the Canyon area. Loops A-D are wide out in the open, so I always request upper loops for more privacy.

.

Edited: 18 January 2013, 21:01
Kansas City
Level Contributor
28 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Preliminary planning for National Parks trip

All,

You guys are wonderful and so helpful! We have revised our trip to really focus on Yellowstone & Grand Tetons.

Based on your suggestions, we booked at Madison campground. I booked it for 7 nights to reserve some lodging as it was only campground for our dates that takes reservations and had a site to fit 27 ft camper & 20 ft truck.

We are hoping to actually split the time between Madison and Bridge Bay (assuming a cancellation happens). Xanterra recommended checking back in April/May to see about cancellations/openings. If we are able to book both, I'm thinking we'd stay at Madison for 2 nights and Bridge Bay for 5 nights. Does that sound like a good split?

We are traveling w/my parents who can do easy hikes. My husband & I can handle easy-moderate hikes. We'll have our two year old and a backpack carrier for hiking purposes. We want to spend as much time as possible being out enjoying the nature and scenery that this area has to offer.

So, here is our new version:

July 2nd: Leave Kansas City mid-day and go as far as we can

July 3rd: Finish drive to Yellowstone & check in at Madison Campground

July 4th: Yellowstone (Old Faithful/Upper Geyser basin/Craig Pass/Kepler Cascades) & perhaps West Yellowstone for fireworks display

July 5th: Yellowstone

July 6th: Yellowstone

July 7th: Yellowstone

July 8th: Yellowstone

July 9th: Yellowstone

July 10th: Move to Grand Tetons - Colter Bay RV Park

July 11th: Grand Tetons

July 12th: Grand Tetons

July 13th: Drive home to Kansas City

July 14th: Drive home to Kansas City

Is it a good time to get detailed info/suggestions on what to do each day?

We want to see the major highlights of the parks. It is our 1st trip to either park.

Yellowstone - geysers, Grand Canyon Yellowstone, Upper & Lower Falls, Lamar Valley, Hayden Valley, Grand Prismatic Spring, Artist Point, Yellowstone Lake, Mammoth Hot Springs, and anything else you guys recommend.

Grand Tetons - Jenny Lake boat to Inspiration Point/Hidden Falls (continue past on Cascade Canyon Trail) and wide open to other suggestions. Is the Elk Refuge worth going to?

I truly appreciate everyone's input. Thanks!