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  1. Default Phoenix, AZ-->Mt. Rushmore-->Yellowstone-->Phoenix, AZ

    We are taking a road trip from Phoenix, AZ up to Mt. Rushmore, over to Yellowstone Nat'l Park and back down to Phoenix at the end of this month. While we usually just up and go without planning any particular route, we are concerned about some of the remote locations and weather we may expect on this trip. Looking at the map, we were thinking maybe head up towards Flagstaff, AZ and on over to Durango, CO. We've been through the million dollar loop already and really love it, but not sure about the weather this time of year. If we drive up to Montrose and then over to Colorado Springs, we think the route would be much prettier. From there, we can head straight up through Denver and on into Wyoming and S. Dakota to Mt. Rushmore. After heading West over to Yellowstone, we are thinking of taking the I-15 down to the Provo, Utah area and then fork over to the US-89 for a more scenic route. This should get us back down to the Utah/AZ border near Kanab, UT/Fredonia, AZ.

    We have 9 days to cover this and probably will be in a rental (Economy/Standard). We are hoping for the Subaru again since we fell in love with it on the last trip we took (to Oregon and back down the West coast). If the weather is a big concern, we can fall back on another route which would be through Albq, NM then North and the I-15 all the way South on the way back into AZ instead of the US-89.

    Also, we usually do a lot of hammock camping, but we think this will be too cold this time around. Afterall, we are from Arizona! :) Maybe tent camping will work, we are not sure. Suggestions/thoughts/inputs...on this trip is greatly appreciated!

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default A lot to cover with the shorter days.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    With the weather so unpredictable you might be better off just to wait and see and plan your trip on the go with up to date conditions info available as this is what you are used to. The trip you have outlined is pretty much 5 full days worth of driving, so you won't have too much time to play with. Yellowstone facilities are pretty much closed down by the end of the month and into November you could well see snow and almost certainly night time temps well below freezing, with day time temps possibly only just above. You won't be wanting your hammock here then !! You would need some fairly serious winter grade camping equipment to even consider camping up there. It could be that with the time you have available and the time of year you are travelling, Yellowstone might be better off left on the 'to do' list. If the weather is not too bad, perhaps consider not going so far east and take a more direct route to Yellowstone. Maybe up through Vernal and past Flaming Gorge Res. on 191 ?

    Yellowstone NPS page with useful info.
    You will find Lot's of info throughout the forums and road trip planning pages above so have a good look around and if you have any other questions, just ask.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    From the Yellowstone NPS site:

    Fall Road Closures:
    October 11—Roads close to the public at Tower Fall to Canyon Jct. and Long Lake via Beartooth Pass to the Montana Stateline. (GATES CLOSE AT 8 A.M.).
    November 7—all park roads closed to the public at 8 a.m. except from the North Entrance to Upper Mammoth Terrace, and Mammoth via Tower Junction to Northeast Entrance. Cooke City via Colter Pass to the Long Lake gate is not maintained for wheeled vehicle travel.

    Fall weather is unpredictable; roads may be closed temporarily by snow or other weather conditions. Snow tires or chains may be required.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Considering the weather and the potential for early season snow, I'd really look at going to Yellowstone first, before heading over to SD. The other advantage is that with the fairly limited time you have, you might even discover that between the Tetons and Yellowstone that your trip you might have already filled up your time and may need to think about returning home before even getting to SD.

    Certainly you'd need heavy duty winter gear to do any camping, in Yellowstone or the Black Hills. Temperatures below freezing at night should be expected.

    Also keep in mind that in both areas that most tourist services will be shut down. The links above detail Yellowstone pretty good, but its also true in the black hills where towns like Keystone (the closest town to Rushmore) will be practically empty, as the vast majority of hotels, restaurants, and stores shut down for the year by mid-october.

  5. Default

    Good advice all, maybe we should reconsider this trip for next Spring. We love seeing snow, but the underlying beauty of the area means more to us. Off to plan B...wait, we don't have one. Hmm....where to go...:/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Spring won't be much better, Yellowstone isn't really fully functional till Memorial Day:

    Roads will open, weather permitting, to motorized, wheeled vehicles as follows:
    April 20, 2012—Weather permitting, west-side roads open to motor vehicles. Visitors will be able to travel by car through the park's North & West Entrances to Norris, Madison, Canyon, & Old Faithful beginning at 8:00 a.m.
    May 4, 2012—Weather permitting, the road linking Canyon, Fishing Bridge, & the East Entrance opens to wheeled vehicles.
    May 11, 2012—Travel from the South Entrance to Grant, West Thumb, Fishing Bridge, & Lake over Craig Pass to Old Faithful open to wheeled vehicles. Also, Tower Junction to Tower Fall opens to wheeled vehicles. The road from Cooke City over Colter Pass to the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway intersection to the Long Lake gate shall open as soon thereafter as possible. For information on roads outside of the park from Cooke City via the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, travelers in Wyoming may dial 511; those outside of Wyoming may call 1-888-996-7623, or visit the Wyoming Department of Transportation website at http://www.wyoroad.info/ .
    May 25— (weather permitting) Dunraven Pass (Tower to Canyon).
    May 25—(weather permitting)—Long Lake Gate over the Beartooth Highway to Red Lodge, Montana. For information on the Beartooth Highway to Red Lodge, Montana, travelers in Montana may dial 511; those outside Montana may call 1-800-226-7623, or visit the Montana Department of Transportation website at http://mdt511.com/ .

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default

    Late May into June could be a good time to travel to Yellowstone, or perhaps September if you can wait that long ! ;-)

  8. Default

    Now we're eyeing Ozarks region. Next summer's plan is drive to Maine, down the East coast and back to AZ on the southern route.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    From a weather standpoint, I think the Ozarks would be an excellent choice around the end of this month, it can get into the 70's during the day and it seldom gets down to freezing at night. The only downside is the possibility of rain. However, you would be looking at 2.5 days of dedicated driving each way to get there.

    Historical climate data here in Joplin, which is in the Ozark foothills, shows an average of 4 inches of rain per month in the fall, and on October 31 the average high is 66, average low 44, and records are 83/18.

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