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  1. Default Roadtrip from Chicago to Yellowstone

    Hey everyone,

    My friends and I (4-6) are planning on taking a trip from Chicago to Yellowstone. We're most likely going to take a northern route so we can hit South Dakota and see Mount Rushmore. Some of the things we want to do on the road trip aside from Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore:
    1. Checkout the Grand Tetons.
    2. Camp out the entire trip (real camping, not parking lot camping), no motels/hotels if possible.
    3. We would love to do some great hiking/mountain biking, maybe even some rafting if possible (non of us have experience rafting)
    4. Stop at some side trip places along the way.
    5. Checkout some old towns and what not’s.

    What would you guys recommend seeing/doing at Yellowstone? There’s so much there to see and unfortunately it can get packed, so we would love to find some places that aren’t commonly visited.

    We don't have a set amount of time to do this in, I assume it will be anywhere from 7-10 days. Also we don't have a concrete budget but it would be nice to keep the trip under $500 a person (possible with camping, in my opinion).

    We don't want to take more then we need, especially food wise (having food spoil is such a downer) and we have a married couple so at minimum were going to have 2 tents. Any suggestions on a packing checklist would be great.

    I'm excited to make this trip happen, and look forward to hearing your suggestions!
    Last edited by UKCraig; 05-29-2007 at 01:43 PM. Reason: removed email address

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,552

    Default Wow! This sounds like fun

    Quote Originally Posted by nuchto View Post
    My friends and I (4-6) are planning on taking a trip from Chicago to Yellowstone. We're most likely going to take a northern route so we can hit South Dakota and see Mount Rushmore.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! Here is a great field report from a south Dakota field report.
    We don't have a set amount of time to do this in, I assume it will be anywhere from 7-10 days. Also we don't have a concrete budget but it would be nice to keep the trip under $500 a person (possible with camping, in my opinion).
    Ummm, I think that both the time and cost budgets are too low. Driving time alone, without white water rafting, hiking, etc. would require seven full days (and 3400 miles) and I don't think you can go that far and do as much as you are expecting for less than $750 per person.

    Here are some budgeting tips and here are some road trip gear suggestions.
    What would you guys recommend seeing/doing at Yellowstone? There’s so much there to see and unfortunately it can get packed, so we would love to find some places that aren’t commonly visited.
    It has been a while since I have been in Yellowstone -- so there are some locals who are active on this forum -- in the meantime, I can recommend this audio book by Tim Cahill, another local, who shares some of his favorite and little-known sections of the park.

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    378

    Default Yellowstone

    Ditto what Mark said about time and money (you can never budget too much of either).

    White water rafting in Yellowstone is great fun. We took two teenagers and everyone got wet! It has been some years now, but we went on the Yellowstone river out of Gardiner, MT just outside the north gate to the park (don't remember the raft company name but they are easy to find).

    There are raft trips past (not through) the Tetons, but they look more like float trips. I doubt that anyone gets wet. Just for your info, the Tetons are an impenetrable north-south range, which means you drive parallel to the mountains on their east side. There are two main roads (one close and one far) and they are both worth the time. A side trip down to Schwabachers Landing (you'll see it on the park map) is great because of the large beaver dam and lodge with the view of the mountains behind. Also, the hike around Jenny Lake, or a canoe ride on the lake are both good. Word of warning - always bring rain gear in Yellowstone or the Tetons. It can rain, or even snow, with very little warning.

    Besides the geyser basins, we love the wildlife in Yellowstone, but you have to keep your distance. When we were there last an elderly woman was "boosted" about 20 feet in the air by a bison in the parking lot of the Old Faithful Lodge - in amongst the cars and traffic. No one could figure out why he did it, and fortunately, she wasn't seriously hurt. They are stealthy critters when they want to be.

    Norris Geyser basin is wonderful in early morning or late afternoon. The light coming through the steam (more steam on cool mornings) is magical.

    There are lots of hikes, but ask around for recommendations...not my specialty, though I did take the hike to Heart Lake with my uncle (he was a ranger there) when I was about 15. I remember a very interesting hike through the forest, through a swamp, by some hot springs, and lots and lots of mosquitoes. We stayed overnight at a ranger cabin and fished from canoes on the lake. I assume that all of that (including the mosquitoes, but not the use of the canoe) would still be available. As I recall it was about 8 miles one way.

    For sheer uniqueness, one of our favorite places on I-80 is Harold Warp Pioneer Village in Minden, NE. The village is actually a small part of it; the collections of everything imaginable displayed in something like 20 warehouses are the real reason for stopping. If you have anyone in your group that likes collecting or likes old things, they will love seeing the most amazing assemblage of everything from cars to cameras to musical instruments to household appliances dating back 100 years or more. Don't be fooled by the humble exterior, this place is a marvel.

    The museum in Cody, WY is famous for western art and for artifacts from Wild Bill's wild west shows. A must see, for sure.

    A little research will turn up lots more, but your time is very tight so I'd recommend focusing on Yellowstone since you're driving a long way to get there.

    Craig

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    378

    Default Dornan's

    Almost forgot. A great place to have lunch or dinner is Dornan's Pizza, Pasta Company. You'll find it just east of the Visitor's Center, and east of the river, at the south end of the park on a side road that runs north. Good food and bar with a great view of the mountains from the deck or the dining room.

    There is also a liquor store, general store, outfitter and "chuckwagon" restaurant, which used to be good for breakfast, but I haven't checked that recently.

    Finally, if you are interested in seeing a moose, just west of the visitor center, opposite the Headquarters Road, is Moose-Wilson Road. Follow it around to the right, then up a glacial moraine. A little further along you'll see a gravel parking lot on the left. Moose are often seen in the marshy area below the parking lot. You have about a 10-20% chance of seeing one (a higher percentage than any other place I know of) just about any time.)

    Craig

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    The Great Midwest, Illinois to be precise
    Posts
    520

    Default US Highway 14

    I see that US Highway 14 goes from Chicago to Yellowstone. A thought might be for you to get off the interstate sometimes and get a taste of small-town America. You never know what is around that next bend of the road.

  6. Default

    Hey everyone,

    Thanks for all the great replies. I'm really excited for the trip, and all your suggestions are definitly helping out with our plans. Keep them coming!

    -Eugene

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