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  1. #1

    Default Yellowstone... and then where?

    In September my husband and I spent 12 days travelling from Yellowstone NP down South via Tetons, SLC & Monument Valley ending up in Vegas. We covered 1,700 miles. We raved so much about Yellowstone when we came back that now my parents want to go, with us as well so we can do the driving. We donít want to do the same itinerary, and the pace would be too fast for my parents anyway (we pretty much had 1 night per hotel so were always on the move). I was wondering about an itinerary around the North West corner, but really need some help.

    On our previous trip, we flew to Bozeman Airport from Chicago. With no major towns near Yellowstone I realise we may have to do a similar internal flight (ultimately flying in from UK). But where to go from Yellowstone? We have 2 weeks, would like to spend approx. 4 days in Yellowstone. Can we make a circular trip from here? Or a one-way trip somewhere? Would Seattle or Portland offer a viable route? Are they nice cities to head towards? Totally open to ideas. National Parks, beautiful scenery, ghost towns, history, etc all of interest. Also scenic drives rather than Interstate driving. Is there much to see on Buffalo Bill/ Native Indians around the Yellowstone Area? Or is that more towards Colorado? Again, open to ideas for the best possible itinerary, with Yellowstone as the focus.

    Any pointers to help me narrow down a direction at least greatly appreciated!! We will probably be looking to travel end Aug/Sept 2014.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,064

    Default

    Yellowstone is a very addictive place, so it isn't at all surprising to me that you'd want to go back.

    A couple other areas that might fit well into your next trip that could provide something quite different than heading down into Utah.

    I think a loop that takes you east to South Dakota would be one good option. You could check out Badlands National Park, as well as the Black Hills - with places like Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Jewel and Wind Caves, and Custer State Park. In between, you'd also have Devils Tower in Wyoming, and Little Bighorn Battlefield in Montana. You could also take two different routes into and out of Yellowstone - Going over Beartooth Pass one way, and perhaps through Cody the other. Billings or Rapid City could be good cities for flights. This would certainly play well with your interest in Native American culture.

    You could also look at going north from Yellowstone. Glacier National Park would be a good option, and from there, you might look at continuing across the border, towards some of their great parks of the Canadian Rockies, like Banff and Jasper. These are all very scenic areas that would make for a very nice couple weeks.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    South of England.
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    10,749

    Default Denver loop ?

    Rather than getting an internal flight to near Yellowstone, you could just create a loop trip that puts Yellowstone in the middle of it. Denver can be a good value destination city with an International flight but Salt Lake City or Seattle could work. With Denver you could drive through Rocky mountain NP up towards Yellowstone and down through Jackson and perhaps into southern Utah [Arches and Canyonland NP's] and back to Denver. This would be similar miles to your previous trip but you would have those extra few days.

    You could get an International flight into SLC and out of Seattle if you would prefer less miles and could add Glacier NP into the mix as mentioned by Michael. There are no bad choices, just lots of great options.

  4. #4

    Default

    Thanks Guys this is great! We're really interested in heading east to South Dakota to Badlands NP.

    My question is - are there enough sights to make a loop out to Badlands from Yellowstone, seeing different things there and back, OR, should we look to continue on to Minneapolis, where we can pick up a direct flight back to the UK (as opposed to indirect from Yellowstone area). I've read a few conflicting views on whether the drive is worth it past Badlands?

  5. #5
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    May 2003
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    Continuing onto Minneapolis would certainly be an option.

    Heading east from the Badlands, you certainly move into Prairie Farmland, and it isn't nearly as exciting on its surface as the mountains you'll be leaving, but there is still plenty to make for an interesting trip.

    The Corn Palace in Mitchell would be worth a stop, as would the Falls in Sioux Falls, and there is also Pipestone National Monument as you get into Minnesota. If you are familiar with the "Little House on the Prairie" books/tv series, there are also several attractions north of I-90 on US-14. Even if you aren't familiar with the books and author Laura Ingalls Wilder, it could be a fun introduction into a piece of Americana and culture of the heartland.

    On the other hand, if you did a loop from Rapid City or Billings you could check out things like the Beartooth Highway, Little Bighorn Battlefield, and perhaps Bighorn Canyon one direction, and head through Cody the other way. There would be some backtracking, but still lots of different things to see.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Tucson, AZ
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    Default Making Sense(?) of It All

    Sorting through the advice you've gotten so far, there are still a few points that you might want to consider as well. First off is your choice of gateway city. Chicago could work either with a two-and-a-half day drive to Yellowstone or with a (relatively expensive) internal flight to a small northern plains airport. Personally, I'd probably choose Denver for a couple of reasons: First - there are direct, non-stop flights available from London via British Airways; and Second - it would allow for a great internal loop trip that took in Rocky Mountain National Park, the Badlands and Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, and the spectacular Bitterroot Mountains and Great Divide Basin on the return to Denver. That would allow you to spend 4-5 days in each of three great locations and have a doable day's drive between each of those stops.

    I will also note that Buffalo Bill's grave is in Golden CO just outside Denver, and the home of 'Unsinkable' Molly Brown (of Titanic fame) is in Denver proper. Both are open to the public and there is a small museum associated with Buffalo Bill's grave and guided tours of Molly Brown's home are available. Also, if it's of interest to you, the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park CO at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park was the inspiration for Steven King's The Shining.

    Then besides Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Park, other attractions in the Rapid City SD area include Wind and Jewel Caves, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and Devils Tower. A word of caution though, there is an annual motorcycle rally in nearby Sturgis SD every August and the roads and accommodations in the area can get a bit overwhelmed for a week or so before it starts until a week or so after it ends. So you may want to time your travels to avoid that period. Remember that one of the beauties of a loop trip is that you can do it in either direction.

    Native American Reservations will be scattered throughout your travel area but a few that are worth looking into would include the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota which has been the scene of some unfortunate history but welcomes visitors to its interpretive center in Kyle SD just south of Badlands National Park, the Wind River Reservation between the Grand Tetons and Denver which does not have a visitor center per se but encompasses some of the most scenic country in Wyoming, and the Crow Indian Reservation in south-central Montana which contains the Little Bighorn Battlefield, site of Custer's Last Stand.

    AZBuck

  7. #7

    Default

    Hi Everyone, thanks so much for all your help. We’ve settled on a road trip of 2 halves, the 1st half taking in South Dakota & Yellowstone early Sept 2014, and this is where I have a couple more questions.

    We are flying into Rapid City late at night and staying overnight here. Then we have 2 full days and 2 nights to spend in the area and would like to see: Mount Rushmore, Wind & Jewel Caves, Crazy Horse, Custer State Park, Black Hills (is this a scenic drive-through rather than somewhere specific to stop?), Spearfish Canyon, Deadwood, Devil’s Tower. Anything else here a must-see?

    My main question is, where would it make sense to overnight on our 2 nights? I’m not sure how long we need to see these places? We also would have like to see Badlands, but I assume this is too far to do in one day, and would then make seeing all of the above impossible on the other day?

    On the 3rd day we will be driving to Cody which I think will be a pretty full day of driving? (And then we have 3 days in Yellowstone before part 2 of the trip!)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Joplin MO
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    Default

    The easiest thing to do would be to base yourselves out of Rapid City. It's pretty centrally located to all those attractions and you won't be paying the resort rates for hotels up in the hills. You also wouldn't have to keep unpacking and packing. You may or may not have time to see everything on your list in 2 days, I'd prioritize the list and see how it goes.

    Rapid City to Cody is about a 7 hour drive.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifircone View Post
    Black Hills (is this a scenic drive-through rather than somewhere specific to stop?)
    Despite the somewhat deceiving name, The Black Hills arent a specific attraction, it is the name of the mountain range, and thus the region, where all of the attractions you have listed are located.

    Rapid City is a pretty central location so thats not a bad place to set up shop. You might also look at the city of Custer. Or splitting your time, with one night in Rapid/Custer and then a second in the Western Black Hills around Deadwood/Spearfish.

    The Badlands is really one of my favorite places and I would recommend you try to find another day so you can work it into your plans. It is a couple hours from Rapid, so it is more of a daytrip and would make it pretty rushed to fit in all the other things youve got listed with just two days. Of course, there is always limited time, and I dont know what part two of your trip looks like, but I doubt you would be disappointed by taking an extra day for the Badlands.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    Default

    Be careful on your scheduling, though -- the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is Aug 4-10 in 2014, so that area of the country will be busy for a several weeks. Yellowstone, Idaho, and points east of Rapid City will also be affected.


    Donna

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