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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Central Wisconsin
    Posts
    6

    Default Central WI to YNP and back in 9-10 days.

    I am trying to throw together a last minute plan to road trip from Wausau, WI to YNP and back in 9-10 days in the middle of August (Only have a week or so to plan this). So far all of the details I have are: one car, one young adult couple, tent, air mattress and sleeping bags, and other necessities. I'm thinking about booking 3-4 nights at a campsite in YNP for the middle of the week and then winging it the travel to and from days. I figure if we find a motel a few traveling nights we will do that instead of camp. Worst case scenario, we end up sleeping in the car once or twice... I guess my main question is what would be a good route and itinerary for this road trip. We want to see as much as possible without being rushed. Neither of us have been out west before. Your help is appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default First: Why 'Y'

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Sorry, but before we can answer any of your questions we need to know what 'YNP' is. Yellowstone? Yosemite? Other?

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Central Wisconsin
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Thanks for the welcome. Sorry, I meant Yellowstone. We basically want to see as many of the sights out that way as possible. Really into scenery and wildlife. I just found out from reading other posts that Sturgis will be ending the weekend I want to leave. Is this a bad idea? I wonder if there is a route better for the way out there that stays away from the Sturgis crowd?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Booking for Yellowstone.

    I'm thinking about booking 3-4 nights at a campsite in YNP ...
    If you want to camp in Yellowstone NP you better get onto the park site and check for vacancies. Sites typically need to be booked many months ahead. There are first come camp sites, but you'd need to be there early. They too are popular. Keep monitoring the site as often as you can, cancellations are not uncommon.

    Yellowstone has a very short season, limited accommodation and millions who want to visit this natural wonder.

    I would recommend you not attempt to sleep in your car. Firstly, where are you going to park? You can't just pull over. Rest areas are extremely risky. Besides, you will never be far away from a State Park or Forest where camping is very inexpensive, if not free.

    Lifey

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Adjusting Your Plans to Fit Reality

    Yeah, the Sturgis Rally puts a crimp in quite a few plans for the Black Hills and environs in August. I would remind you that many of the participants in that motorcycle rally will be touring the sites in and around Rapid City for a few days after the event as well. So I would suggest that you take your time headed west or find an alternate route that gave southwestern South Dakota a wide berth. What would probably work best for you is to just take I-94 through North Dakota on the westbound leg. That's actually about an hour shorter, but you still need to budget at least two and a half days for the drive. On the way you can check out the Mall of America and Theodore Roosevelt National Park, then enter Yellowstone via one of the world's great scenic highways, US-212 the Beartooth Highway. You would then return by way of I-90, taking perhaps a bit more time than on your way out, so that you can see Devils Tower, Mount Rushmore, Wind and Jewel Caves, and Badlands National Park.

    At this point, you should see what's available for camping in Yellowstone. My guess is that most reservable campsites are fully booked. There are a few first-come, first-served sites in the park, but that is taking a chance. Your next best option is to get a site at one of the many surrounding national forests which will probably be cheaper and quieter in any event, if not in the park per se. As far as sleeping in the car en route, you simply won't get a good night's sleep and besides - it's not necessary. There are plenty of state parks along both I-94 and I-90 that offer plentiful and low-cost campsites. Start looking and planning now so that you know where they are and don't push past a good one late in the afternoon.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 07-28-2014 at 04:03 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Central Wisconsin
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Thank you for the great advice and route info. I just checked and the 4 campgrounds inside Yellowstone are booked except for one day during the week. I'll keep checking to see if any days open up. I probably won't reserve any unless I can get at least two nights in a row in the middle of the week. I will begin looking into camping outside of the park now. Will it be a real pain trying to get in and out of Yellowstone if I camp outside of it?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Keep trying.

    Heck, that depends so much on so many things... wildlife, weather, time of day... and a dozen other factors.

    I have driven almost straight through and other times it has taken more than an hour. It also depends greatly on how far outside the park you will be camping. Once the park fills up, surrounding areas start to fill up. Simple fact is, it is a very popular park and typically needs advance planning.

    When I was up that way some months ago, I noticed there was lots of camping available north of West Yellowstone, mostly along US-191. But that is a fair drive into and out of the park each day.

    Best thing to do is to book whatever you can get inside the park, as they have a free cancellation policy. Hence the chance of more nights becoming available.

    Lifey

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Define 'Real'

    Yes, it will be more difficult to get into/out of the park every day than it would be to camp inside its boundaries. But the roads inside Yellowstone are notoriously packed in August which is the height of its short summer tourist season. That is simply the reality of trying to take a last minute trip to one of the would's great scenic wonders just when everyone else (many of whom have planned ahead) is trying to do the same. That shouldn't deter you from going if now is the time you have available. You just need to be prepared for what you will find, which will not be empty spaces. Yellowstone has few roads and all it takes is a single bison calf to bring all traffic on any of them to a complete halt. Similarly, sites like Old Faithful will be packed pretty much all day. You will need to get up at or before the crack of dawn, see the most popular sites early, plan on doing any hiking during the bulk of the day, and leave the park during the evening dinner period when traffic briefly abates. But all of that is probably preferable to not going at all. And remember to make the most of the drives there and back. They're an even bigger part of your trip than Yellowstone itself.

    AZBuck

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    I was just up there a couple of weeks ago. These are things that I noted:

    * If you can find a site OUTSIDE of the park for one night, then drive in and be at a given campground with a vacancy by 7 am, you MIGHT get a site at that campground. Bear in mind you need driving time from one campground to the one with an opening.

    * Get to Old Faithful before 7 am. That will give you an easy way to find parking and then the Boardwalk around OF will be relatively uncrowded. We watched OF go off about 7:10 am and there were probably 4-5 dozen people around the Boardwalk, watching it. An hour and 20 minutes later, that number had quadrupled.

    * Do not expect to make any speed on YNP roads. You'll be lucky to do speed limit, and (as pointed out above) all it takes is one animal jam, or even someone just searching for an animal or three, to slow everything down. If you do 30mph, you're doing great.

    * It took us almost 2 hours to drive from West Yellowstone, MT (the west entrance) to the South Entrance of YNP, and that was at 6:00 am, about 70 miles. Traffic? A little bit. Windy roads? Yes, a little bit. Looking for animals? We were watching for them, as they can dart onto the road very quickly.

    * I will second the motion that you go into YNP via the Beartooth Hwy. Every turn of the road brings another "ooh" or "ahh!" It's not something that everyone does, and most people with RV's don't try to drive it (and the trucks can't, either). So the traffic is minimal.

    * You WILL reckon with the Sturgis traffic. Anything within 400 miles of Sturgis is fair game after the rally is over. Years ago, we felt it over in Idaho Falls, ID, where we'd stopped in order to see Craters of the Moon NM. We were in YNP a month before this year's rally and heard cyclists discussing their attendance at the rally.

    * I-94 is a good choice to get to I-90 and then US-212. Be aware that accommodations, particularly hotels, in western ND (and to an extent, even central ND like Bismarck), are a bit more expensive. We stayed in Billings overnight, before getting on the Beartooth Hwy, which was a good choice for us. Gear up with a good shower before going into the park, though the park has coin-op showers for campers.


    Donna

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Very cool to get the local information

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    * Do not expect to make any speed on YNP roads.
    Donna, excellent points and wonderful to have current information from the field!

    Mark

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