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  1. #1

    Default Santa Rosa (San Fran) to YellowStone (Drive, fly to Salt lake city or fly to Denver)

    So I've played around with 3 options for a trip we are going to take in April.

    Santa Rosa to Yellowstone .. planning 5/6 days, combinations of driving and flying
    Option 1 is detailed at the bottom of the thread, if the site allows word docs to be uploaded I'll upload the full itinerary for all 3 options.

    Here are the options:
    Option 1 : Drive
    Days : 6
    Miles : 2033
    Fuel : $418
    Car : $232
    Hotel : $150 p/n : $750
    Food : $100 p/d : $600
    Total : $2,000

    Option 2 : Fly to salt Lake, Drive to Yellowstone and back to S.Rosa
    Days : 5
    Flight : $1000 (direct) or $260 (via LA)
    Miles : 1330
    Fuel : $267
    Car : $697
    Hotel : $150 p/n : $600
    Food : $100 p/d : $500
    Total : $2,324 or $3,074 (pending flight)

    Option 3 : Fly to Denver Colorado, Drive to Yellowstone and back to S.Rosa
    Days : 6
    Flight : $305
    Miles : 1,900
    Fuel : $382
    Car : $844
    Hotel : $150 p/n : $750
    Food : $100 p/d : $600
    Total : $2,882

    Option 1: Drive:
    Day 1:
    1. S.Rosa - Truckee - 3hrs - 200 miles
    2. Truckee - Tahoe (whale beach) - 30mins - 22miles
    Day 2:
    1. Tahoe - Lovers Lock - 2hrs - 128miles
    2. Loverslock – Salt Planes drag racing - 4hrs30 - 314miles
    3. Salt Planes – Salt Lake City - 2hrs30 - 166miles
    Day 3&4:
    1. Salt Lake – Yellow Stone - 4hrs40 - 320miles
    Day 5:
    1. Yellow stone – Balanced rock & Shoshone falls - 4hrs30 - 290miles
    2. Balanced rock – Tahoe (sand harbor) - 7hrs30 - 500miles
    Day 6:
    Tahoe – Sacramento - 2hrs20 - 124miles
    Sacramento – S.Rosa - 1hr40 - 97miles

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default April in Yellowstone.

    With just 6 days in total I would look at an option 4 and fly to and from SLC and enjoy 4 full days in Yellowstone. If not I would drive but get out and back in the shortest possible time which would involve one stop around Wells NV. You won't be able to drive over 600 miles and sight see at Bonneville and the Salt flats. Having said that April means that a lot of the park roads and facilities will still be closed and still very much like winter. The park really doesn't fully open until late May/June and still see's temps drop well below freezing and a risk of significant snow, so if you can't take this trip later and you only have 6 days you might want to consider an alternative trip.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default A Fourth Option

    It's not often that I recommend against a RoadTrip (This is RoadTrip America after all, and I've got more than a million miles under my tires.) but this is one case where something else might make more sense. Yes, you can drive from Santa Rosa to Yellowstone in two days, but with only six days to work with, that means you'd be spending four days on the road for only two days at Yellowstone. And that doesn't allow for any but the briefest of stops on the way up and back.

    Similarly if you're going to fly somewhere, rent a car, and drive back, you'll still have to spend two plus days on the road and spend several hundred extra dollars for the 'privilege' of returning it to Santa Rosa. Still not the best of worlds.

    The option I'd suggest is flying round trip from Oakland to Idaho Falls (~$265), rent a car locally and return it to Idaho Falls (~$250/week), and explore Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Craters of the Moon, and the Snake River Valley. To me that makes a bit better use of your time and money. Just a thought.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I think you may be disappointed with trying to drive to Yellowstone in April. Hardly ANY roads are open to wheeled vehicles.

    2014 Spring Road Vehicle Opening
    Please note that the road between the North and Northeast entrances is open to wheeled vehicles year-round.
    April 18: Mammoth to Old Faithful; Madison to West Entrance; Norris to Canyon.
    May 2: Canyon to Lake; Lake to East Entrance (Lake is one mile south of Fishing Bridge).
    May 9: Lake to South Entrance; West Thumb to Old Faithful.
    May 23: Tower Falls to Canyon (Dunraven Pass); Beartooth Highway.

    General Road and Entrance Information
    Most park roads are CLOSED to auto travel between early November and late April.
    The road from the North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana, through the park to Cooke City, Montana, via Tower Junction is open all year to auto travel.
    U.S. Highway 212 is closed to auto travel just east of Cooke City from late fall to late spring.

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


    I have to say, I think your best option would be to find another destination.

    As others have mentioned, Yellowstone is largely closed yet in April so it would be difficult to impossible to see all the things you want to see.

    Even if you pushed this trip back to Summer, I also think you might be underestimating the size and speed of which you can tour Yellowstone. It is a huge park, with low speed limits and frequent slowdowns for traffic and more importantly animals. Seeing all the things you've listed in what works out to about a day and a half would be quite a challenge.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    We, too, are planning a stop in Yellowstone for our next vacation (which we hope will be this coming summer). I've been there twice in my lifetime, my parents have been 3 times, but my husband has never had the privilege. According to my mom's trip journal from the first trip there, we spent three FULL days there and then did some sightseeing as we left. Here are some quotes from that journal -- and bear in mind, this was 46+ years ago so things are a probably worse now:

    "We left the Colter Bay Campground (Grand Teton) at 7:50 am. By the time we reached the Fishing Bridge Trailer Village in Yellowstone National Park, it was 9:45 am -- almost 2 hours to go 65.3miles."

    "On the way back to the trailer, we got into a regular traffic jam because a brown mother bear was n the road and thenb went over to a nearby tree and climbed to the top. To the amazement of ALL (and by now at least 50 cars were stopped), there were two cubs up in the top that the mother bear was climbing to. (Only the move camera has a telephoto lens - darn). All in all we have 25 feet of movies of elk and a bear."

    Mom spoke of a storm that kept us from sightseeing for an hour here and there -- this was mid-July.

    "We went straight to a section where there was Castle, Giant, and Grand Geyser. I insisted upon walking the entire distance and back to the car, and wasn't the most popular person around. 'I like to walk' became quite a joke." (Mom was referring to a magpie bird that friends had, that loved to say "I like to talk." That summer, we would mimic the bird and change the word to "walk" because if there was a 1-2 mile nature trail or vista trail, my mom wanted to take it.)

    (On the day we left) "On the way out we saw a moose at Squaw Lake and a bear looking for an early morning handout. The road out to the east entrance is really in sad condition. Aside from the mountains, the road itself is the real concern."

    Evidently we left via Worland and Powder River Pass, and stayed in Gillette overnight.

    Hopefully that will help you and supplement what Michael said above.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Takes time.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    ... -- almost 2 hours to go 65.3miles."
    That is not an isolated incident. Often it can take much, much longer. It took me four hours from the north east entrance to the western entrance, with one brief stop at Mammoth Hot Springs. Yellowstone demands time. Planning to visit before the crowds arrive is just not an option. The season is short, and many want to experience this magnificent place.


  8. #8


    Thanks Donna for all your effort ... indeed i have driven allot around Europe and the States however i had not factored in the delays in Yellow Stone ... Also in the past 24 hours i have 6 people signed up for the trip ;-) so I think the option of flying to SLC and renting a car from there may be the best option!

  9. #9


    Thanks AZBuck!
    between your input and Donna's mail I think I will revise the plan to the option 4 .. .fly in/out SLC! ... also in the past 24 hours i now have 6 people signed up to the trip so it looks like this summers plans are;

    Weekend trip : Tahoe (Feb - ski & July - kayak)
    Trip 1: Yellowstone June 6th
    Trip 2: Drive from Chicago to S.Rosa (planning now but targeting September)

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