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Old 01-15-2017, 07:25 PM   #1
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May Trip to Yellowstone from Virginia

Does anyone have advise on Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore.
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Old 01-15-2017, 07:31 PM   #2
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Kamper Dave would be the person to talk with. He has spent the last few summers out there working in the park.
If he doesn't respond to this, send him a PM.
We have been there several times but it has been a few years back. Things might have changed since then.
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Old 01-15-2017, 10:46 PM   #3
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Last May we were at both. We stayed at the KOA six miles from Mt Rushmore. It's the second largest KOA in existence. Great amenities, from restaurant, bar, coffee and ice cream shop, ATV rentals with trails beginning at KOA, and nice good size lots. Lots for kids to do in park. Also a fishing pond on site, but you still need a fishing license. Close to Mt Rushmore and Custers National Park. If you drive past the Badlands, I recommend you drive through them. It's about a 45 minute loop, and you can drive any RV, lots of places to park for pictures.

As far as Yellowstone, I would either stay at the KOA just outside the park on the west end, or in the park. We made a mistake of staying near the Tetons outside the south end. It was beautiful, but took us around 40 minutes to get into park, and then another 40 to get to west end. You will spend 6-10 hours driving in park and that extra time each way was a killer. I do recommend visiting the Tetons though. Carry bear spray that time of year if you are going to hike much. Lots of black bears around.
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Old 01-16-2017, 04:49 AM   #4
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We spent a week in Yellowstone in 2012. We camped inside the park in our then 30' Jayco. It was very crowded in the campground (Fishing Bridge). The campground was obviously designed for smaller units. We could not put our awning out because the unit next to us was so close.

We saw pretty much everything there was to see in the park and one day we took a day trip to Beartooth pass and Red Lodge, Montana. That day was memorable! The scenery was beautiful and Red Lodge was the cutest little place! The downtown was a collection of nice shops and restaurants.
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Old 01-16-2017, 09:37 AM   #5
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The last time we were at Yellowstone we stayed at Grizzly RV Park in West Yellowstone. It's a really nice campground just outside the park entrance but a little pricey. As for the Black Hills area we stayed at the Rafter J Ranch. This again is a really nice campground that was pretty locally centered to a lot of things we wanted to see.
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Old 01-17-2017, 08:46 AM   #6
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Our kids went to the University of Wyoming and we've spent a lot of time up there visiting. Wyoming is a mixed bag. The corners are pretty cool, but the rest is...not quite as cool.

Yellowstone is as amazing as you would expect. You could spend forever there and never run out of things to see and do. Just respect the place for what it is: danger, danger, and more danger cloaked in beauty, beauty, and more beauty. We bought a book at one of the gift shops called "Death in Yellowstone" and read the chapters aloud as we drove through the parks. Interesting stuff.

Going south from there down the western border of the state are the Tetons and Jackson Hole. The Tetons are gorgeous and Jackson Hole is fun, but pricey.

Over on the east you have the Devil's Tower way up in the northern corner. This is the iconic formation where the aliens came to visit Richard Dreyfus in Close Encounters. However much you think you're going to like this, double it and you'll still be wrong. It's amazing.

The drive south-east from there into the Black Hills of South Dakota is a must-see, especially if you're going to Mt. Rushmore. My kids (17-22 at the time) were kind of disappointed by Mt. Rushmore though. Because of the popularity of the location, the facilities are overbuilt and it feels like you're visiting a shopping mall. It's not the National Parks folks fault, but because of the rugged terrain and the volume of visitors there's no other way to support the traffic besides building parking structures and large concrete formations. It's such a stark contrast to the quiet beauty of the area.

There's a lot to see in that area of South Dakota before you pop back into Wyoming. There are interesting mining areas like Deadwood. If you're there anytime around Bike Week, the people watching is fantastic with all the bikers on their day trips from Sturgis.

Towards the south-east corner of the state is the capital of Cheyenne. It's a beautiful western city with some fun places to hang out. I wouldn't make it a destination though.

The east/west corridor along the southern border is highway 80. It's the fastest way to traverse the state, but it's a whole lot of nothing. Stop in Laramie for supplies and a quick visit of the University. Note that it's THE university. When we've told people in the past that our kids went to University in Wyoming, they would often ask us "which one?". There's only one. Everyone from the state converges to the one University of Wyoming. It's a great college and very well endowed by the state and by Lynne & Dick Cheney.

Other than that though, that drive across the 80 gives you a lot of time to think about how it is that you ended up in Wyoming for R&R. The only things the 80 has to boast about are wind, abundant fireworks stores, and meth.

The interior of the state can be interesting and there are fun things to see in the summer if you know where to look, but the real POIs are definitely in corners of the state.

One other novelty was the inexplicably amazing cellular coverage on some of the two lane highways in the middle of nowhere. There's a ton of technology dotting the countryside in the oil rigs and solar & wind farms. All that stuff has to phone back to headquarters and you'll benefit from the good strong cell & data signals if you want to check Facebook while you ride shotgun.
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Old 01-17-2017, 09:51 PM   #7
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I forgot to add on my earlier post, if you can get to Cody Wyoming, the Buffalo Bill Museum is nothing short of spectacular. It has about five wings, each that can take 2-4 hours or more to see; local art, Buffalo Bill, Native Indian, and Guns,Guns and Guns. Thousands of guns, rifles, etc from centuries past to present. Unbelievable. We stayed an extra day to go back to the museum. There is also the first or one of the first hydro electric dams just west? Of there. About a 30 min drive. It's free and very cool.
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Old 01-18-2017, 04:28 PM   #8
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DW, dogs and myself spent 10 days in Custer State Park with time split between the Blue Bell campground and another campground whose name escapes me right now. Blue Bell was wonderful and very quiet and came with tall ponderosa pines. The shower house was immaculate and there was water on sight. It did have electric. Camp hosts were very accommodating. The other campgrounds on the eastern side of the park were closer to Rushmore.

Be sure and spend a day or two at the Bad Lands. Showers, electric and fantastic night skies. Ranger programs most every night.
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Old 01-21-2017, 07:53 PM   #9
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Who else has recommendations? I am starting the search for our trip to Yellowstone. We are going straight there from Colorado and back. We may be a little later, like June.
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Old 01-22-2017, 04:50 AM   #10
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If you plan to get a campsite inside Yellowstone Park, you need to reserve a.s.a.p. We reserved in November for a June site.
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