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  1. Default Yellowstone and snow in Mid may

    Im hoping to be in Yellowstone next May (around the 20th) for 3 nights as part of a round trip from Denver via Grand Teton NP heading back via Cody, Sheridan, Rapid City, Wall, Badlands NP. And hopefully taking in most of the sights along the way.

    My question is regarding the Road conditions in Yellowstone at that time of year, If there is heavy snow do the major routes become impassable or are they ploughed regularily? Im from Ireland and we usually dont have very heavy snow such that the roads would be closed. Im worried about getting stuck in Yellowstone and missing out on parts of the rest of the trip.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You do need to keep in mind that May is very much a month of transition for Yellowstone. Most of the park is unreachable by car until the end of April, but by the start of June, the park is pretty much fully open. While you certainly have a chance of seeing snow, and they could even temporarily close the roads if it gets bad, the bigger issue is that several roads will have not opened for the season yet, and several lodges/stores/service area will also likely still be closed during your trip.

    Here's a look at the scheduled opening dates for the park roads, and here's when the parks stores/services/lodging facilities open.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Less likely to be 'stranded'.

    If you are planning on spending more time around Badlands/Rapid City you could visit them on the way and come back via the Tetons. Although unpredictable, generally speaking the nearer to June you arrive in Yellowstone, then more of the park will be open for 'summer activities'.

    The NP Rangers are kept well up to date with forecasts and any risk of a late winter storm, so whereas it is possible you could face some disruption, it is much less likely you would be 'stranded' for days on end in Yellowstone, if at all, as long as you keep updated.

    If you have any other questions about your itinerary etc, just ask.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the welcome!

    I had thought about doing it the other way round.
    ie Denver -> Badlands-> Yellowstone-> Denver. Ive got exactly 7 days to do this. Myself and my daughter are arriving in Denver on 18th May next, and then picking up my wife and older son back in Denver on 26th. After they arrive we are going south but basically will do Gunnison, Durango, Mesa Verde and back through Moab. ( havent planned anything in detail yet but visited Moab 2 years ago and defintely will return this time)

    My current itinerary for the first week is:
    Fri: arrive Denver Airport 5.30pm, get car, drive to hotel in Cheyenne
    Sat: Drive Cheyenne to Dubois
    Sun: -> Grand Teton -> Yellowstone:lodging at Old Faithful
    Mon: Yellowstone: lodging at Old Faithful
    Tue: Yellowstone : Overnight at Cody
    Wed: Cody-> DevilsTower -> Rapid City
    Thur: Mt Rushmore, Jewel Cave,(+-Crazy horse) -> Wall
    Fri: Missile Bunker at Wall, Badlands NP, -> Martin SD
    Sat: Martin -> Denver Airport for pickup 5.30pm

    What does anyone think of that route?

    The problem with doing it in reverse is my time in Yellowstone would only move forward by 3 days since its the same week!

    I am considering moving the whole trip back ( ie arriving 25th May)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default That first step

    Trying to get to Cheyenne on your first night is pretty bad idea. Trying to do a 100+ mile drive immediately after coming after spending hours upon hours on an international flight, not to mention time in an airport on top of that, is generally not a great idea. With a 530 arrival, its going to be dark outside by the time you get through customs and get your car, and its going to be about 9pm by the time you arrive at a hotel. Throw in the 7 hour time difference from Ireland, and you'll be trying to drive when your body thinks it is 2am-4am.

    Is there a chance you could have your family fly into Salt Lake City? If you did that, you could reverse your trip, pick them up, and continue to Moab without nearly the amount of backtracking your current plans will involve.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default On the other hand.

    Whereas there may still be snow on some roads in Yellowstone, and even close some, the great benefit of visiting Yellowstone in May is the wildlife. During the last week in May 2009, my visit highlights were an hours old moose with its mother, bison calf everywhere, and a prolifiration of wildlife with their young all around.

    It's swings and roundabouts. You may miss seeing some areas of the park, but these could well be made-up for by great wildlife experiences.

    The chances of getting stranded would be slim indeed.


  7. Default

    Yes im aware of the tiredness factor! but nearly always end up doing this.
    Itd be very long drive the second day otherwise. ( ie Denver -> Dubois)

    Also Cody or Sheridan for the overnight after Yellowstone?
    We were interested in going to the Rodeo in Cody but now i see that the season doesnt start until June. Hence my question above.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default no brainer

    Denver to Dubois is a fairly long day, but its certainly not unmanageable. It's less than 500 miles. To me, driving 8-9 hours when fully rested is a whole lot easier than trying to drive 2-3 hours, at night, when you've been up and traveling for nearly 24 hours straight and your body will be demanding rest. Honestly, staying in Denver really seems like a no brainer to me.

    Actually, I wouldn't shoot for Dubois either, I'd aim instead for Jackson, which will mean a shorter drive to Tetons with less backtracking - which is important with your limited time.

    I guess saving even more time by picking up the family in SLC isn't an option?

  9. Default

    MidwestMichael thanks!
    Some more questions:
    OK If I was to stay in the Denver area - where? ( would like to clear the urban area at least so somewhere north on I-25) any recommendations?

    Also Denver->Yellowstone via Grand Teton thru either Dubois or Jackson is showing about the same time in Google directions. Which route is more scenic?
    when you say "less backtracking" can you give more detail

  10. Default

    BTW yes the rest of the family flying into SLC is not a runner
    - its 2 stops from Ireland whereas Denver is only 1, change in JFK(delta) or Newark(continental) and they want to keep things as short and as simple as possible!

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