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Road Trip from LA to Yellowstone, but through where?

Los Angeles...
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Road Trip from LA to Yellowstone, but through where?

We're taking a family road trip this June for 2 - 3 weeks that will take us from Los Angeles up to Zion/Bryce, then through Park City and up to Grand Teton NP and Yellowstone. We're traveling with our two daughters, ages 11 & 7, and we're fairly outdoorsy. The plan is to do a mix of some tent camping and some not too luxurious lodges. If you see my profile we've done yosemite, Grand Canyon, Kauai, Costa Rica - so we definitely want to stay places that can allow some hiking but also some relaxing time, access to lots of activities in the natural environment is a must. The plan is to leave home around June 16th and then be back by July 4th to miss the bad holiday crowds.

Now the question - suggestions for the road trip back. I'm reading lots of reviews about driving up into Montana through Missoula and then over to Stanley, ID, but we've never been to this area, so suggestions? Which is a better place to visit Stanley or Sun Valley?. And then where to go? Drive into eastern and central Oregon, or??? I don't think we want to drive to far north up into Washington, but is there much in eastern Oregon? Is Klamath falls worth it, then driving down to Shasta (never been to either place)? I know there's some very knowledgable people out there, any suggestions for how you'd do the drive - we're hoping to not need to drive more than 6 hours in any given day, but will if necessary, and would like to find 2 - 3 spots we can spend a couple days before we drive south back through California, either via 395 or 5.

Thank you for the help and suggestions!

N. Idaho
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1. Re: Road Trip from LA to Yellowstone, but through where?

You may get better answers for your route back home from the Road Trip forum.

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

You can post on the Idaho forum about the differences between Stanley and Sun Valley as Charley who is a regular poster lives in Sun Valley and can give you good information.

tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g28933-i214-Idaho.…

I will add another suggestion and that is if you are headed to Missoula, that you go south on US 12 and come over Lolo Pass and down the Lochsa, Selway and Clearwater Rivers. It's a beautiful route. That would put you on to I84 to head back thru the Columbia Gorge, or you could do the road thru Eastern OR.

If you do decide to go to Stanley from Yellowstone, you would not need to go to Missoula, you can go to Idaho Falls and cut over to 93 from there. You are really adding some miles if you do include Missoula unless you wanted to go there for other reasons.

Pam

Green Valley...
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2. Re: Road Trip from LA to Yellowstone, but through where?

I plotted your days/miles, driving time and required visit times, in the places you've mentioned. You have a fair amount of time left and could drive through several routes and pick up the Columbia R. Gorge, Seaside, OR (the kids will probably love this arcade/honky tonk, town) then south along the OR coast (specatcular scenery, interesting towns/villages), through the incredible Redwoods, and home.

We can provide much more detail re: this generalized route once you've considered it. Or, ask questions and I'll be glad to clarify my comments, above.

I do hope you'll spend at least two full days in Jackson Hole (Jackson/Grand Teton NP) and at lest 3 - 4 full days in YNP.

You'll want to make reservations for YNP as soon as possible. Here's how:

LODGING FOR YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK This article tells what you need to know about lodging locations inside and outside the park, how to get lodging, and how to choose from among the various locations.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28973-c189012/Wyomin… html

PS Save Seattle Region for another trip, too much, needs focus at at least a couple of weeks.

Edited: 26 February 2013, 14:47
West Yellowstone...
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3. Re: Road Trip from LA to Yellowstone, but through where?

Just to address your question specifically about Klamath Falls, OR. We visited briefly during a Pacific Northwest train trip many years ago for an opportunity to see Crater Lake National Park. I still remember it and want to go back for a more leisurely visit. Absolutely stunning! Way better, IMO, than Lake Tahoe, which gets all the attention.

Edited: 26 February 2013, 14:58
Los Angeles...
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4. Re: Road Trip from LA to Yellowstone, but through where?

As always the Trip Advisor community is AMAZING!

d0bby & voyaging: Thank you for the suggestion about not needing to go up into Missoula, honestly after Yellowstone there is nothing that is a must, but none of us have ever been to Idaho or through eastern Washington or Oregon. I as a kid did camp throughout wyoming, utah and montana, but we always went east instead of west. We did actually make our camping reservations for YNP already, we got three nights beginning June 23rd, and we've got a couple nights beginning the 17th at ZionNP, so we have 3 or 4 nights open between Zion and YNP, we're thinking of a mix of Grand Teton's and somewhere around Salt Lake (maybe Park City, maybe not). I have seen Charley's comments in other forums, I'll definitely follow-up there for best recommendations in the Idaho area.

Adventuritis: Thank you for the comments on Klamath Falls. We've done Lake Tahoe a few times, as well as the entire 395 corridor for Yosemite and Mammoth, so we're really familiar with it. That's a great reference point for us, and based on what you are saying it definitely sounds like something we should head for. Based on your experiences, would you say Klamath or Crater is a better place to stop for 3 days, or are they both 2 days type of places?

N. Idaho
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5. Re: Road Trip from LA to Yellowstone, but through where?

Definitely do add in the Grand Tetons. There is rafting there you all might enjoy as a family.

If you are set for 3 nights in Yellowstone, you might add another night. 3 nights = 2 full days and really, the park is huge and needs more than 2 full days!

If you have 3 days to *play* with, then 2 for Grand Tetons, and add one to Yellowstone.

Pam

Los Angeles...
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6. Re: Road Trip from LA to Yellowstone, but through where?

Sounds like a great idea, we'll definitely do the 2 days for Grand Tetons. It looks like there is still availability for the lodges - do you have a particular lodge or location you suggest in the park? Its been so long since I went there, and I think when we went we staying in Jackson Hole, not the park.

West Yellowstone...
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7. Re: Road Trip from LA to Yellowstone, but through where?

OK, bearing in mind that it's been some 15 years since we were at Crater Lake (as a point of reference for change in Klamath, not the lake or park)...

Klamath Falls was a two-night stay for us. It was a small town and our daughter was young. It was a place for us to deboard the Amtrak, obtain a rental car and drive up to Crater Lake for the day, then second night in Klamath before boarding the train again to head up to Portland.

What I really remember is that the lake is beautiful - bluer than anything you've ever seen. There was still snow on the ground, even though it was (I think) July. There are boat excursions out onto the lake, which I would have enjoyed, but I seem to recall it was cancelled due to wind the day we were there.

If you're planning to camp, I'd check the nps website - http://www.nps.gov/crla/ - for weather in the park for the dates you intend to travel and see if that is doable for you. If you love hiking and beautiful views, I think you'd be happier in the park than in the town, which is a good hour and a half from the park entrance. I don't remember Klamath Falls being particularly charming, but again, that was a lot of years ago. Everyone was nice. No complaints, just not, in my memory, a destination per se.

N. Idaho
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8. Re: Road Trip from LA to Yellowstone, but through where?

We usually recommend staying in 2 different places in Yellowstone to cut down on the drive time. We definitely don't recommend trying to day trip to Yellowstone from Jackson, it is just too far. Barring sequester concerns, I think all of the lodging in the park is open during your stay. Think of perhaps 2 nights in the Canyon or Lake area and 2 in the Old Faithful area.

Within the park, book only thru Xanterra.com, the park concessionaire for lodging. Take a look at Voyaging's link first for basic info.

Pam

Green Valley...
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9. Re: Road Trip from LA to Yellowstone, but through where?

Given your extra days before GTNP and YNP, I'd drive from Zion to Bryce NPs, then on to SLC.

Adding to my earlier comments, if you do visit the Redwoods, take 101, not 1, home. 1 has nice sights, but is torturous in places.

I can suggest, if you wish, especially nice places to see on the OR coast.

When I parked the car in a part of the Redwoods, my son awoke, his eyes went "round", and all he could say was "Oh, Wow!". Of course, that'll happen at many places on this terrific trip.

Redwoods National Park

http://www.nps.gov/redw/

shannontech.com/ParkVision/…Redwood.html

Avenue of the Giants between Eureka and SF

www.avenueofthegiants.net

Los Angeles...
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10. Re: Road Trip from LA to Yellowstone, but through where?

Voyaging: I'm open to your suggestions about the Oregon Coast. And have you done the drive from Yellowstone across to the coast, particularly through the Stanley area in Boise? We're trying to figure out the best route across and the best place to stay, we've got some great recommendations about the Stanley/Sun Valley area in Idaho, but from there to the Oregon coast is a mystery. Is it best to just follow 84 all the way up along Hood River and then through Portland, or do you cut through the middle of the state on smaller highways?