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Need advice -I'm completely lost

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for New Orleans
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Need advice -I'm completely lost

My husband and I will be visiting Rushmore, Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone this fall. We will have a 30 foot camper that we will be towing. Our hopes are to have smaller crowds, nice fall colors, and hear/see some wildlife.

First question: Our original plan was to visit Colorado and then to go Rushmore/GT/Yellowstone, but I am concerned about weather in September. If we go to Colorado first, then we won't get to R/GT/Yell until around the 10th of September. We could switch it around and go to R/GT/Yell first, arriving around the 3rd of September, and go to Colorado at the end of our trip. Will this one week earlier/later arrival make much difference with regards to weather? We would love to see some fall colors, but are concerned about icy roads, etc.

If we do R/GT/Yell first, then our entrance would be the east entrance, correct? And if we went to Colorado first, our entrance would be the south entrance. Any suggestions for commercial campgrounds close to the park entrances? We aren't planning on camping in the park as we need electric/water hookups.

Also, how are the roads? Two lane paved, four lane? We just purchased our camper and aren't used to towing a camper this big. We will camp with it this summer, but the trip west will be our first major trip and we will still be a little nervous pulling something bigger than we are used to.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. We are retired and aren't on a huge time constraint, but we can't leave home (Illinois) prior to September 1st due to an unbreakable commitment. We just don't want to get caught in bad weather conditions if possible.

Thanks - this seems more complicated than when I planned a 3 week trip to Europe, so I appreciate any help!

Fort Worth, Texas
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1. Re: Need advice -I'm completely lost

We are in Texas and did that road trip last year with my parents. We did hotels - no rv :( ... We started in Texas and went North up thru OK, KS,NE nothing to see there. But truly started our vacation in Deadwood, SD fun little gambling town - we saw Rushmore, Custer State Park, Keystone is another little town that had a lot of stuff to do. We spent just a couple of nights but there is so much in this area you could do more. We then headed over to WY - 1st stop at Devil's Tower - fun NP. Then we headed to Cody which was our base for YNP ...since you have the RV this wouldn't be the case for ya'll. But Cody is worth the stop - a lot to see here also. Buffalo Bill Dam and State Park going in the east entrance of the park is quite beautiful. In YNP we only had 3 days as we are working folks but you could easily spend a week or more. After we saw as much of the park as we could about 70% and also did awesome chuck wagon dinner -highly recommend this. After our last day in YNP we went out the south entrance thru the Tetons just did a drive thru for our part but would be a good place to spend a day or two. My older neighbors have and loved Jenny lake area. We headed south to Colorado. We only spent one night this trip and did that in Cripple Creek - we did this as all four of have gone on multi trips to CO. In Colorado I recommend Manitou Springs as a base - they have a really nice campground there. It is at the base of Pike's Peak and there is a ton to do in the area. My hubs and I made this our base a couple years back. Tip don't drive up Pike's Peak take the incline train - much better experience.

On the time of the year we decided once our kiddos grew up and out - yes we are in our early 40's so kids at young age - any way we decided that for us the less crowed time of year is the 9 days before Labor Day - this all we can do because of work. Less kids around and just general less people. I think leaving out on the 1st week of September would be really good timing. All the kiddos will be in school.

On the towing of the rv don't worry you will get totally used to it in no time at all ... My 70 something father in law does it all the time and my 84 year old great aunt does it nearly one trip a month or so - and they both have 5th wheel rigs.

Okay if you need anymore tips I would be glad to help, I really had a good road trip this go round.

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2. Re: Need advice -I'm completely lost

Traci, thanks for the information. My choice would be to head that way the last week in August, but unfortunately we have a Labor Day commitment we can't break. And thanks for the Manitou Springs info, will look into that. After a few trips towing our new camper, I'm.sure we will feel comfortable with it.

Burlington, Iowa...
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3. Re: Need advice -I'm completely lost

I don't travel with a camper but there are others here that do and can help with camping info. I do know that Fishing Bridge inside the park does have full hookups. If you stay outside the park you'll want to stick with Gardiner or West Yellowstone. Cody is too far to use as a base.

I would stick with Yellowstone first, Colorado second to help your chances of weather.

I-90 will be four lane on your way to Mt Rushmore but after that, depending on how you get to the park, it will probably be two lane. If you take 90 to Billings and go over Beartooth Pass you'll have to be prepared for switchbacks up and down the mountains, some are comfortable with that, others not so much :)

Once you're in the park they are two lane and can be curvy with a few dropoff areas so definitely be careful. The speed limit is already 40 mph but use pull offs if traffic starts to get backed up. It will be greatly appreciated.

Edited: 19 April 2014, 15:29
4. Re: Need advice -I'm completely lost

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Santa Fe, New Mexico
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5. Re: Need advice -I'm completely lost

Do your trip based on getting reservations at Fishing Bridge RV Park inside Yellowstone NP, then plan around that. If you can't get lodging there, West YS is another option.

In Mt Rushmore area we were going to camp, but ended up in motel. Researched a bunch of RV parks and there are many in and around the town of Custer. Also found that Custer State park has sites with electric hookups only. We have always relied on KOA Kampgrounds over the years for rv and tent camping as well as scout trips. www.koa.com

Stayed in a camping cabin in Cody WY at Ponderosa RV Park. The rv sites were really close together but the location is great, close to the Buffalo Bill Cody Museums.

Fishing Bridge RV park, with full hookups as mentioned before, is right inside the park and if you are driving in from the east it is easy to access. They close Sept 21. yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/lodging/…

In West Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park is right in town, and the KOA is located a few miles west of town. There are a few other RV parks in West YS as well, I can't remember their names though.

Colter Bay Village RV Park in Teton NP is a very beautiful place, they are open until Sept 28.

Near Rocky Mtn NP are many rv parks in Estes Park, no hookups in the campgrounds inside the park. visitestespark.com/lodging/…

Colorado has a number of beautiful State Parks, many have at least electric hookups. Golden Gate Canyon SP in the mountains west of Denver has electric hookups at Reverends Ridge CG and in Mueller SP west of Colorado Springs there are electric hookups as well. In Colorado Springs a nice place is Garden of the Gods RV park.

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6. Re: Need advice -I'm completely lost

As for fall colors, in Yellowstone, I love the cottonwoods & aspens at the confluence in Lamar valley & the fireweed & such on Blacktail Dr. But on the most part, Yellowstone doesn't have the deciduous trees so isn't know for its fall colors. Plus things start shutting down as September progresses in the park. So I too would go to Yellowstone first.

Colorado is a different story. I've lived in a number of places in Colorado & would go to Colorado last to play the gamble for the magnificent fall aspen colors.

Take a look at the Top Question on RVing in the park.

Great RV/tow vehicle entrance road info:

http://www.rvcruzer.com/ystonervroutes.php

Edited: 19 April 2014, 21:25
Atlanta, Georgia
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7. Re: Need advice -I'm completely lost

We do not camp but were in the parks Sept. 14-22, 2013 and had beautiful weather but it was beginning to be cool in the morning. We even had a dusting of snow near Old Faithful on September 19.

We've also been in CO several times in the third week of Sept.

I would do Yellowstone first then come to CO.

Destination Expert
for New Orleans
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8. Re: Need advice -I'm completely lost

Thanks everyone for your helpful advice! We will definitely revise our plans and go to Yellowstone first, and Colorado at the end of the trip, and hopefully will be able to see some beautiful fall colors in Colorado. I think we will probably stay at Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone. I had hesitated because the reviews mention the crowding, but hopefully September will alleviate some of that concern.

Your advice is appreciated - I will undoubtedly have many more questions before our trip in September!

9. Re: Need advice -I'm completely lost

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