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Question about optimal transportation method and budget

Chesterfield...
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Question about optimal transportation method and budget

Hi All,

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences, advises and questions on this forum. Very helpful.

Even though I am in my mid 30's and been living in US for 8 years, this Spring will be my first trip to any place beyond 300 mile radius. My vacation dates are from May 30 to June 6.

Here is my background. I live in Chesterfield, Missouri about 45 minutes from Saint Louis. I am in rudimentary stage of planning Yellowstone trip. I have 1 week in hand to spare for my vacation and we are a couple in our mid 30's. Keeping this info in mind, I have few questions for you...

1. Is it better budget-wise to do a road trip or fly into one of the closest airports to YNP?

2. How much will a 5-day accomodation cost us? All we need is a cot (with no bed bugs!) and restroom with running water.

3. Will there be any additional costs besides accomodation, rental car (gas) and/or air tickets?

4. As you can see all my questions were about cost. I am looking at around $1000 for this trip. Am I close enough?

Where can I save money?

Thanks for all your pointers and suggestions.

Spery, Iowa
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1. Re: Question about optimal transportation method and budget

We always drive the 18 hours from SE Iowa, so I am going to pass on the fly or drive question. Gas & time vs flight price & time to get there?

Budget wise- go for the cheapest lodging. You always get a bed and bedding, but you may have a shared central bathroom. We are quite happy with the budget cabins at Old Faithful Lodge. The Pioneer Cabins at Lake Lodge are just OK, but work for us as we spend very little time in the room anyway. 2 locations will help with less backtracking on driving, but you will drive a lot in the park if you want to do the entire figure 8.

Take a cooler (or purchase if flying) and stock it outside the park. You can't cook in any of the lodging, but sandwiches, snacks, drinks, etc are best to have with you anyway, so you don't have to find dining when you are doing something cool . Food is expensive in the park, and not great anyway. When eating in the park, we like the General Stores over the dining rooms.

There is entrance to the park- $25 for 7 days I believe, for the car load.

There are free Ranger tours and programs, and free advice here :)

Be sure to book lodging ONLY through Xanterra- the official park lodging people. Anywhere else will charge you additional, and they only do what you can do on your own.

Green Valley...
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2. Re: Question about optimal transportation method and budget

Agree with the above. A bed is only for crashing at the end of the day in YNP.

You *might* find cheaper lodging in West Yellowstone or Gardiner, both decent locations if you must lodge outside the park.

You can go to the Forum pages for those two cities and select "Hotels", left hand column, for reviews and more. Be sure to know cancellation policies at these motels, because if later you find lodging inside the park (yes, book only through Xanterra), you might wish to cancel. Inside the park lodging will save considerable time and mileage.

Expect to put on several hundred miles driving in this huge park.

The Xanterra website is very detailed, see the costs of different lodging. Call them. Tell them what you want, they are very helpful. Given your comments, the only place inside the park I'd not ledge is in Grant; it's distant from major sights.

I'd use Google Maps to calculate driving time (which is potentially lost time in the park), and compare all costs against flying plus car rental. My guess is it's cheaper to drive hard and get there in your own car, but you'd need to do the math.

Edited: 11 February 2013, 17:36
Green Valley...
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3. Re: Question about optimal transportation method and budget

I just used Google Maps; 22 hours between your hometown and Canyon Village

At best, RT, that's four days, two 11 hour days, driving. Leaving 3 days to see the park. So, factor in one night lodging plus food and gas...

The good news, you'll have many daylight hours for the drive and to see the park!!!

st louis
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4. Re: Question about optimal transportation method and budget

Welcome, I live in St Peters Missouri close to you. That will be a very long drive in a short time. Is 1000 dollars your total budget? It is hard to find cheap fight from St Louis sometimes. Southwest flys into St lake City. That is about a 5 hour drive to Yellowstone. We flew into Salt Lake the first time we went. We flew on American Airlines the last time into Jackson Hole. I know a lot of people fly into Bozeman Montana. I have not checked flight from St Louis to Bozeman. If 1000 dollars is your total budget I think you would have to drive. Have fun Yellowstone is a beautiful place.

Chesterfield...
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5. Re: Question about optimal transportation method and budget

Thank you all for your advise.

funmomStLouis - Thanks for your advise. When is a good time to start looking for air tickets if we want to travel in the last week of May? I have started looking last week but nothing is below $350 per person from STL to Jackson hole.

Pittsburgh...
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6. Re: Question about optimal transportation method and budget

To keep costs down, have you considered camping? I am not a camper myself but know that camping costs much less than even the least expensive cabins or lodge rooms.

st louis
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7. Re: Question about optimal transportation method and budget

If you can get a flight for 350.00 that is a very good rate. Be sure and check the rental car prices. That will add a lot to your cost. If you see a good airfare grab it now. You also need to reserve your lodging now.

Atlanta, Georgia
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8. Re: Question about optimal transportation method and budget

If you don't mind driving from Denver then you can get airfare into Denver for sometimes as little as $99 one way on Southwest airlines. It is about an 8-9 hour drive from Jackson to Denver airport. We have flown into Jackson, Billings, SLC and Denver but Denver is always cheapest.

Houston, Texas
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9. Re: Question about optimal transportation method and budget

When you compare the airline ticket prices, consider any luggage fees and schedule. You may gain extra time by flying out the evening before. Southwest has a flight to Salt Lake in the evening. You could start from there first thing in the morning.

$350 seems likea good price.

Iowa
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10. Re: Question about optimal transportation method and budget

I would imagine it would be cheaper to drive, when you take into consideration having to rent a car. Also you can then bring a cooler and food from home instead of having to buy when yoh get there:-) .

Plus a road trip might be fun since you've never seen much of the country.

One way to add time to your trip if you drive is leave as soon as you get off work on May 29. No need to wait until the next day to hit the road. Drive that first day until 10 or 11 at night and you've already made decent time.

To save money on the drive there and back, consider staying in camping cabins.All KOAs have them now. They will cost around $45 per night or so. Probably cheaper than a motel, and you can save more $ by cooking over the campfire.

For Yellowstone lodging, book the cheap non-bathroom cabins. We really liked Roosevelt Lodge rough rider cabins and the Lake Lodge cabins. Both were well under $100 per night.

Edited: 11 February 2013, 19:03