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Yellowstone and then some vacation

Galena, Ohio
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482 posts
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Yellowstone and then some vacation

Hello TripAdvisor Experts,

My family would like to visit the Yellowstone NP area. We plan to visit from May 24-June 3. Our group will include four 20 somethings, 2 fifty somethings, and the grandma and grandpa early 70s. We want to SEEEEE Yellowstone, not just drive Yellowstone. However, we would also like to visit Custer State Park, Badlands, and see both Mt. Rushmore and and the Crazy Horse Memorial. It seems that lodging in Yellowstone is already booked for most of the time we can spend there so we are considering a vacation rental that might serve as a central location (is that even possible). We noticed that many people rave about the Beartooth Hwy and also combine the visit of Yellowstone with Grand Teton NP. Some things that would interest us would be wildlife photography tours, fishing tours, and horseback riding. We would also consider a family class I or II white water rafting tour. We have visions of family fireside evenings and smores and since it is a vacation we would love to not have to be up at the break of dawn every day. Definitely want to see and experience wildlife of the parks as well as geysers.

That gives you a little of an idea of the kind of things we like to do. So, in 10 days in May is this even a possibility? Where would you suggest as an airport destination to see the items we have mentioned? Should we skip the vacation idea and just do hotels closer by each park? What kind of car do we need to rent (we already know we will need two)? Does anyone know if Rv companies will set up an RV in the park so we wouldn't have to drive it ourselves? The camping idea sounds fun, but we have never camped so no idea how to do anything related to RVing. What would be your not to be missed experiences in the area? Just any advice would be awesome......since we can't get lodging in the park, should we put it off a year and reserve earlier for next year? and can a May visit be fun or will we just be snowed out of everything? So many questions....thank you for any advice you can offer.

West Grey, Ontario
Destination Expert
for Toronto
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1. Re: Yellowstone and then some vacation

Hi Dandl1986;

This forum, the “TripAdvisor Support” forum, is for general questions and assistance using the TripAdvisor site itself.

For questions about travelling to specific destinations, you can use the destination forums. The Yellowstone National Park forum is here on TA;

tripadvisor.ca/ShowForum-g60999-i481-Yellows…

I would suggest posting your query on that forum.

Best Regards

Massachusetts
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1,954 posts
TripAdvisor Staff  
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2. Re: Yellowstone and then some vacation

Hi Dandl1986

I noticed that you inadvertently posted your question in the TripAdvisor Support Forum, so I have moved the topic on your behalf to the Yellowstone National Park Forum. I hope you find the information you need to plan your upcoming travels.

Kind regards,

TA_Jane

TripAdvisor Support Team

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
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7,683 posts
446 reviews
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3. Re: Yellowstone and then some vacation

Hey DandI. Glad you found your way to the Yellowstone forum.

The experts will correct me on this if I get it wrong, but it seems the late May into early June might be a little early for Yellowstone due to weather. It could be cold and snowy still, I think. Given the weather that we have had in Ohio this year, I'm pretty sure that I want to have great weather when I head out for vacation!

Also, since you want to SEEEE (reading this as experience) Yellowstone, you should figure on at least 4 and probably more like 5 or 6 days in the park, plus 2 or 3 for Grand Teton, that won't leave much time for your other destinations. Our first trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton was 11 days (including a day for travel at either end) and we had plenty to do to keep us busy. We have another 11-day trip planned for this summer to pick up some of the things we did not have time for the last trip. These are BIG parks with lots of opportunities for adventure!

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
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4. Re: Yellowstone and then some vacation

Glad you found the right forum-

To answer some of your questions-

Number of Days- really pushing it to include the Black Hills/Mt. Rushmore area- you would need to fly in and out of Billings to do that or even fly in and out of Denver but you would need more time if you did that because it takes about 6-7 hours to drive to the Black Hills from Denver and it takes about 9-10 hours or more to drive from Yellowstone back to Denver.

Time- Late May/early June you just never know about the weather- could be warm and sunny or cold and snowy with road closures- if cold and snowy then need to be flexible with plans. Lots of wildlife babies at that time of the year.

Airports- Closest- Jackson Hole, West Yellowstone, Bozeman, Billings, Cody and Idaho Falls. SLC is 5 hours away but usually cheaper and more affordable car rental.

Cars- SUV's may work better for your group- better visibility.

Lodging- if you all want to stay together then get something in West Yellowstone for Yellowstone NP and in Jackson Hole for the Grand Tetons. You cannot stay in one place to tour both parks. In park lodging in Yellowstone cuts down on driving times and cancellations do occur- check lodging here for in park-

http://www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/

Beartooth Hwy- it is an awesome drive but may not be open- we came twice in late May and never got to drive it until we came in late August one year- if time is limited spend it in the parks.

Whitewater and scenic float trips- in Grand Tetons and south of Jackson Hole- we like Barker Ewing company.

Horseback riding- in Yellowstone NP and in Jackson Hole.

Many people just do not realize the size of Yellowstone and there is so much to see and do- here is a link to some of the major sights in the park- the park has over 300 miles of paved roads and is the size of the states of Rhode Island and Delaware.

http://yellowstone.net/intro/top-10/

Here is a good example of a trip plan using Denver-

Day 1- fly to Denver/ drive to Black Hills

Day 2-3-4- Black Hills/Badlands

Day 5- long drive to Yellowstone

Day 6-7-8-9- Yellowstone NP

Day 10-11-12- Grand Tetons/Jackson Hole

Day 13- drive back to Denver

Day 14- finish drive to Denver/fly home.

Here is an example using Billings-

Day 1- fly to Billings/drive to Black Hills

Day 2-3- Black Hills

Day 4- drive to Yellowstone

Day 5-6-7-8- Yellowstone NP

Day 9-10- Grand Tetons NP/Jackson Hole

Day 11- drive to Billings on Beartooth if open

Day 12- fly home

(on this plan I cut time in the Black Hills and Grand Tetons)

You can fly into one airport and out of another but than can entail expensive one way car rental fees!!

Hope this info gets you started with your trip planning. If you have other questions please let us know.

Billings, Montana
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
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5. Re: Yellowstone and then some vacation

It definitely will be an interesting spring this year in the Greater Yellowstone Area. Right now, Billings is coming onto 80 inches of snow.......our average at this time is 34 inches of snow. The forecast calls for another 10 inches of snow this Thursday to Saturday. The kicker is that here in Billings we get our most snow in March and April spring snowstorms. I was snowshoeing in Red Lodge this last weekend and they have a ton of snow. I also saw a post in another forum stating that the snowpack is the deepest right now then it has been in 17 years on top of Rendezvous Mountain above Teton Village in the Tetons. In another forum, a guy that lives outside of Glacier Park has 7 feet of snow in his front yard. He says that is the most snow he has ever had at this time of the year in all the years he has lived there.

So I am thinking that this year will be a record year for lots of snow. Who knows what kind of warm up periods we will have. Snow melts fast but boy does it leave a big mess when it does. I'm always amazed to drive through Hayden Valley when there is 10 feet of snow and then a couple of weeks later there is absolutely no snow other than a few snowbanks here and there.

Deb

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
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22,226 posts
110 reviews
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6. Re: Yellowstone and then some vacation

My word Deb! You all have really had it!

Pam

Galena, Ohio
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482 posts
31 reviews
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7. Re: Yellowstone and then some vacation

Oh my goodness that is a lot of snow! I thought we were getting it in Ohio but that is just an amazing amount of snow!

Galena, Ohio
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482 posts
31 reviews
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8. Re: Yellowstone and then some vacation

Oh my goodness that is a lot of snow! I thought we were getting it in Ohio but that is just an amazing amount of snow!

Galena, Ohio
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482 posts
31 reviews
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9. Re: Yellowstone and then some vacation

Looks like the Denver trip is too long. Billings might be doable. I did look at flights into salt lake city and out of denver but those rental car one way fees are rough:( thank you for the advice. I saw a 10 day loop in and out of SLC but am afraid we would spend the whole trip in the car. Did a lot of driving in Olympic last summer and know we did not get nearly enough time on the walking trails. So trying not to make that mistake again.

Edited: 26 February 2014, 17:45
Galena, Ohio
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482 posts
31 reviews
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10. Re: Yellowstone and then some vacation

Thanks for your help!