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  1. Default Tent vs. popup for cold nights Tetons-Yellowstone-Glacier trip with young kids


    From Aug. 17 to 30th this year, we are planning to fly to Jackson from Pennsylvania with our 5 kids, ages 18 months to 15 years old. We've never used a popup and I'm a bit daunted by all the work involved in setup, according to a setup video I've seen. My husband feels it would be warmer than tent camping, but I'd plan to use the Columbia Cougar Flats II family tent, with Alps Mountaineering airpads and 20-30 deg. Wenger bags.

    How cold can it get at night that time of year? As greenhorns, would we be spending way too much time setting up and taking down the popup? We plan to cover Tetons first, then Yellowstone, then Glacier, then back to Jackson to fly home. Plan to change campgrounds every 1-2 days.

    Would we be warmer in the popup, especially for the 18-month old? Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    BTW, I plan to reserve spots in Yellowtone & Glacier as I'm concerned it will still be busy in the campgrounds.

    Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default How is Not Your Big Worry

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    While it can, on rare occasions, get below freezing in Glacier National Park even in August, you're more likely to experience cool and comfortable nights during your travels. You would in any case be relying on your sleeping bags for insulation, not the tent or camper. In fact you don't want a pop-up camper that is too air tight or you will wake up in the morning drenched in your own exhaled moisture. You should, therefore, make this decision on the basis of ease of set-up. I will say that my daughter has a pop-up trailer and she and her family including two young boys use it to great effect and the learning curve on it was neither steep nor long. The thing I'd be much more concerned about is getting your campsites reserved for Yellowstone and Glacier. Both have very short and packed seasons, and I would actually be somewhat surprised if there were still campsites available for this August.


  3. Default

    Check with the place you are renting the pop-up tent trailer and see if the one you are renting has a furnace. Most now a days have the furnace, which will make it comfortable for everyone before going to bed and then having your husband get up and turn it on before everyone has to get out of their sleeping bags. The furnace runs on the propane tanks, but you need the batteries to run the fan. The furnace can drain the batteries when you aren't hooked up to electrical, so use it sparingly till you see how much battery it uses. As you drive between campgrounds you will charge the batteries so that's a plus.

    We had an old Starcraft Tent trailer for 5 years and LOVED it! The canvas sides are heavy duty and if you close up the plastic windows, it can get down right toasty in one with a lot of bodies in it. Ours did not have a furnace so on really cold evenings or mornings we had the stove and I'd heat water for tea which would help heat up the tent trailer but when using the stove you need to have some window open for ventilation.

    I found it to be easier to camp in our tent trailer than a tent because there was a place in the tent-trailer for everything and everything didn't need to be dragged from the car to the tent and back again each time you made and broke camp. You might have to move things around to put the tent trailer down but that's still a lot easier especially if it's raining outside! You won't have to walk on the beds because they are out of the way. When it rains you have a table and seats to sit in, relax, eat or play games. You can cook in the tent trailer and most now have a little refrigerator. Check to make sure your model does.

    Once you put up and take down the pop up a couple of times, I'm sure you will find it easy to do.

    I agree with AZBuck that you should make reservations for Yellowstone and Glacier. You will need to know the lengths of your pop up and towing vehicle. Even if you can't get reservations right away, keep checking for cancellations. Yellowstone doesn't charge a cancellation fee so I'm sure if you keep at it, you can get in on the dates you need. I like Madison Campground for it's location to everything else in the park, but there are no services or showers at this campground. If you want showers you will be best to stay at Canyon or Lake area.

    In Yellowstone, you will be required to move all food and items that have an odor (like tooth paste, deodorant, etch) out of the pop up at night and put it in the trunk of your vehicle or in one of the bear containers at the campground.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    If you are planning to fly to Jackson, what would you be using to pull the pop-up? I don't know of any major rental agency that will allow you to tow anything, and anyway between renting both a car and a trailer, it would likely be cheaper just to rent a full RV anyway.

    But as long as you have good sleeping bags and a sleeping pad or air mattress you shouldn't need an RV to be comfortable at night.

    I was just at Yellowstone last week in a tent and I was plenty comfortable, although overnight lows did get down to about 40. And I would agree with Utahtea about reservations. I only made my reservations a week in advance, and when I originally booked I took what was available, which involved moving midway through, but the very next day I checked again, and found 3 consecutive days available at Canyon - which I thought was a very nice campground.

  5. Default

    If you are planning to fly to Jackson, what would you be using to pull the pop-up? I don't know of any major rental agency that will allow you to tow anything, and anyway between renting both a car and a trailer, it would likely be cheaper just to rent a full RV anyway.
    Midwest Michael,

    I wondered the same thing but then I went looking around the internet and found that at least one of the places that rents pop-ups in the area also rents the vehicle to tow them! I guess they are catering to the fly in crowd. The rates for both looked pretty reasonable too.

    To sleep two adults and 5 children they would have to rent a pretty big motor home and that can get costly. Motor homes are fun and I love ours, but the larger ones really limit where you can park in Yellowstone, or if you can a place to park at all in some of the smaller parking areas. We had to pass Tower Jct because we couldn't find a spot we could fit in. Same with some of the smaller geyser areas. There will be a couple side roads they couldn't drive on too. A motor home would also prevent them from driving the Going to Sun Road in Glacier because of the length.


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