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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    London, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Posts
    2

    Default Yellowstone and Monument Valley

    In the early stages of planning a road trip that would take in - as a minimum - Yellowstone and Monument Valley. Advice please on the best time of the year - we thought September (2016) - and other places to visit. We have been to Death Valley, Zion, Grand Canyon, Sequoia,and Yosemite on a previous trip. Also which is the best US airport to fly into - we will fly from London, UK. We would probably stay at least a month. Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    September would be a good month for this trip, I'd just start planning to go to Yellowstone near the start of your trip. Services in the park start shutting down in early September, and they're moving into full Winter mode by October. But, while cool, September should still see good weather, and smaller crowds than during the peak season.

    Salt Lake City would be the most central airport to fly into, although Denver could be another option, and even Las Vegas wouldn't be too far out of the way.

    With a month plus, there's a lot you could add in between those two places. I might look at a loop from Grand Teton/Yellowstone over to South Dakota for the Black Hills and Badlands, then down to Colorado to the many parks there (Rocky Mountain and Mesa Verde to name a couple), over to Monument Valley, and then back up through Canyonlands and Arches.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Time and Money

    You have a few, but only a few choices for flight destinations that would serve a loop trip connecting Yellowstone and Monument Valley. As Michael has pointed out, they are basically Denver (DEN) and Salt Lake City (SLC). Start with the understanding that if you were to book now, any return ticket would run you about $1000 ± $100 (£670 ± £67). So what are your options within that price range? At the cheap end are weekend flights on American Airlines out of Heathrow (LHR) through Los Angeles (LAX) with a change of planes and on to Salt Lake City. At the more convenient end (and highest cost) are non-stop weekend flights from Heathrow to Denver and back on British Airways. Roughly in the middle of the price range are tickets mid-week between Denver and Heathrow on British Airways. There are, of course, many other options but those seem the best to me and give you a bit of a choice depending on which you value more, your time or your money.

    And one final routing that you might want to look at would be weekend (Monday departure), non-stop flights between Gatwick (LGW) and Las Vegas (LAS) on Virgin Atlantic, that may be a bit out of the way but it is cost competitive and you might want to include Las Vegas in your travel plans anyway.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 03-14-2015 at 10:55 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    London, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Posts
    2

    Default

    Thank you both (sorry for the delay in acknowledging, no internet access for a while). Lots to think about. One other option is to forget Monument Valley for this trip and fly into Seattle or Vancouver, include both cities as well as Yellowstone. On the map it just looks like vast emptiness between Seattle and Yellowstone so a little concerned about where we would break the journey for overnight stays. As Londoners we are not used to the big open spaces!
    Sue

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    In the US, what looks like a vast open space is often filled with little towns here and there. Almost all of them near major highways and interstates will have services available: fuel, food, and lodging.

    Flying into Vancouver may cause a little issue that you would have to resolve: taking a rental car from Canada into the US and then back again. I think if it were me, flying into Seattle, Salt Lake City or Denver would be an easier "loop trip" when it comes to that rental car.

    Have you got a good atlas? I like the Rand McNally Road Atlas, available through the store on this site, or many other mail outlets. When you're here, if you stop at every state's welcome/visitor center as you enter that state, they'll give you a good state road map. I'm a AAA member and get both the AAA state maps *and* the maps from the state visitor centers, because they often show different things on them.

    Off-hand, between Seattle and Yellowstone is Craters of the Moon National Monument, the Coeur d'Alene area, the Sawtooth Recreation Area, Grand Coulee Dam, the Columbia River Gorge, Mt Rainier National Park, Mt St Helens National Monument, Olympic National Park, and so much more. Definitely, it's not vast emptiness!


    Donna

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Both Could Work

    Using either Vancouver or Seattle could work for a loop trip to Yellowstone as long as you understand a few things. Obviously, Monument Valley would have to be dropped from your plans, but there are plenty of sights between the Pacific Northwest and Yellowstone to make up for that. Using Vancouver as your entry/departure point would add about 300-350 miles and maybe a day to your overall driving, so you'd have to budget for that both in terms of time and extra petrol.

    It is perfectly possible to take cars rented in one country to the other as long as you return them to their country of origin and have the proper paper work. That consists largely of having the correct insurance coverage in both countries and permission from the car hire firm for you to take the car across the border. You'd arrange that at the time of booking and it should all be ready to go when you pick up the car.

    From either Seattle or Vancouver, some of the places (Donna has listed others) you might want to stop and see on your way to Yellowstone (and back) would include the town of Coeur d'Alene and surrounding scenic byways, the National Bison Range in Dixon MT, Grand Tetons National Park, Craters of the Moon National Monument, Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, the Thousand Springs of the Snake River, Bruneau Dunes and Bruneau Canyon, the upper reaches of the Columbia Gorge, and perhaps some of the coast.

    As always, when deciding what city to use for your arrival, consider the total cost. Not just the airfare, but the airfare, car hire rate, extra distances involved, ease of use. Remember that using Vancouver for what is essentially a US RoadTrip will add probably a couple of hours of time sitting in lines to cross the border each way, but it also opens up the possibility of adding the Canadian Rockies to your drive and those are a destination in and of themselves.

    Decisions, Decisions, Decisions.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 03-21-2015 at 04:51 PM.

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

    Default That vast emptiness.

    Above you already have a long list of places to visit in that vast emptiness. Add to that Glacier NP, on the Canadian border, and near Yellowstone is a very interesting self drive tour through the 1959 Earthquake area. Near Twin Falls ID there is Shoshone Falls, the Niagara of the West and Snake River Canyon which Evil Knievel failed to jump.

    If you were to rent a car in Vancouver, you could, as Buck mentioned, head for the spectacular Canadian Rockie Mountains, around Banff and Lake Louis. The drive there also takes one through spectacular country, off the highways, over some incredibly scenic routes. Then cross into the the US at Waterton Glacier NP and see all the US sites on the way back west, after a visit to Yellowstone.

    But a September start may be a little late for that.

    So much to see, so many options.

    Lifey

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default It's all possible.

    With a month at your disposal I don't think seeing Yellowstone and Monument Valley is a problem at all, if thats what you want to do. I would also say that Denver, SLC and Las Vegas would all make good locations in which to start and finish from as a 'loop' trip. Our last trip involved going from Las Vegas up through the Great Basin and up to Twin Falls and Craters of the moon from where you could head to Yellowstone, or as we did, continue to Glacier NP before turning and heading south to Yellowstone. From Yellowstone visit the Tetons and then head south to Flaming Gorge and then you could head to Capitol Reef and Bryce canyon, or head to Moab for Arches and Canyonlands NP's and then to Monument Valley. Have you been to both the North and south rim of the Grand canyon ? If not, it's worth visiting the one you haven't. Starting from Denver you could visit Arches and Canyonlands and Monument valley and then head North towards the Tetons and Yellowstone and then perhaps over to Mt Rushmore etc and back towards Denver via Rocky mountain NP. If you decide to start in Seattle you will have no shortage of things to do and enjoy, in what you say "looks like vast areas of emptiness".

    It's all possible, so it's a case of researching and studying a good map and see what holds the most appeal for you. [You can search the forums for ideas, especially in the Field reports where you can read about others experiences, including ours from Vegas to Yellowstone] Which city offers the best flight and car rental deals is also something to consider. Once you have got the basics down we can then help you to get the best from your trip.

    I would recommend you look to arrive in Yellowstone during the first half of September. Enjoy the planning !

  9. Default

    Gosh you ask some questions there.
    Best time for Yellowstone is probably June - when the spring flowers are out and animals doing their thing, the rivers are fuller, although it may still be snowy. If planning to visit Glacier Park the Going To The Sun Road may be closed well into June (you can still see much of it, but it does create a disappointment)
    You don't mention kids, so assume none. USA tourism dies after Labor Day, that may include shuttle buses, but the sights are still there to see, but often quieter.
    Flying: If you are your young/enjoy flying then look for the cheapest, which will inevitably involve a stop over somewhere like Philly, Atlanta, LAS. Direct flights for the Northwest will take you into Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, Possibly Salt Lake City. Not keen on Denver, as it is a long way to anywhere except Denver and the Eastern Rockies.
    Watch out for unhelpful timings for cheaper flights - arriving late at night, or with long stopovers, but also watchout for too short a layover, as you need plenty of time to get through security at the port of entry into USA, or you may miss your onward flight.

    Renting a car - Make sure you rent it in the UK, as not only is it cheaper but also includes insurances and excess cover. Look for vouchers, but check against the online price, cos they cheat!. Think about using Quidco to squeeze another 10% discount.

    What you do there rather does depend on what you enjoy doing. I am mentioning a few things, just feed them into Google to find out more about them

    Seattle, apart from itself, gives you The Olympic Mounts, Mt St Helen's (possibly the most interesting mountain in North America) Mt Rainier, The Cascades, Columbia Gorge, with its amazing waterfalls and Mt Hood, all of which are best seen in the spring, (late May/June) when water is flowing etc.
    You would have trouble seeing the best of the Seattle area in less than a week.
    Driving East once you are over the Cascades amazingly there is desert, for several hundred miles, but it is a fascinating area. If you are planning September - Try Pendleton for the Round-up (controversial statement - the biggest rodeo in USA). A drive through The Wallawa Mountains, Yes, Coeur d'elene, rafting on the Snake River (From Lewiston). Follow the Clearwater R then over the Bitterroot Mountains to Ennis and detour to Virginia City, really authentic cowboy town, which neatly takes you East to Yellowstone or North to Kalispell and Glacier NP.
    If you have an cultural leanings that way east is full of landmarks of some of Americas most famous people, Lewis and Clark, The Oregon Trail, The Nez Perce Indian trail, there are many Indian and pioneer cultural centers to visit.
    It is quite straight forward from Grand Tetons to Salt Lake City, as others have said Craters of the Moon, Twin Falls and Bear Lake. Can't say that SLT was very interesting compared to Seattle, but the fossil beds and Dinosaur National Park are fascinating. Antelope Island and The Temple are OK, The Copper mine is closed to visitors, The Wasatch Mts are great if you are a skier (at the right time of course). To me its really a place that is good to do if you are going through it, not a place that has to be on the list.
    You can drive SLT to Moab in a day, You need three days to do Moab, Arches and Canyonlands, more if you are a walker. It is a day from Moab to Monument Valley. Stop off at The Valley of The Gods Loop, The Moki Dugway and Gooseneck State Park (just look them up on the web). A day to Chinle and Canyon De Chelly, a days dirve to Painted Desert and Petrified Forest NPs, then follows Winslow (Route 66) and Meteorite Crater, Sedona, Flagstaff, Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, in that order

    Whenever you plan to visit Yellowstone make sure you book way, way, way in advance - like now! using the Xantera website - even if you don't book I would practice a couple of times because it is a pig to understand. Don't be afraid to phone and ask for the accom. you would like, or be guided by them, they are very nice people. You can also cancel at any time without financial penalty, so you could book for a couple of different times and then cut it down to one. Consider staying in several places in Yellowstone - Mammoth and Old Faithful will enable you to see everything fairly easily. Think about 5 days minimum to see everything comfortably. Another couple of days to do Cody and Chief Joseph/Beartooth Pass (well worth the ride), which takes you out of the East side of Yellowstone, but you can then drive back in and South to Grand Tetons (Couple of Days does that), Jackson is trippy.

    You do not have to leave the same way you came in, open jaw flights are no more expensive, some times cheaper than return flights. Come in Seattle and go out Las Vegas (watch for car rental penalties for leaving at a different place). Or book a return but hop a commuter plane to your exit airport. South West, Spirit and Allegiant are cheap (Spirit and Allegiant are a bit like Ryan, so watch out for those extras you will have to pay for, like a seat), but you won't find them on the big travel sites.

    hope that's not too confusing.

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

    Default Welcome.

    Hi 'Brits' and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Thanks for jumping in and offering good and detailed advice on your first ever post, it's much appreciated ! Hope you enjoy the RTA site and we see you more often on the forums.

    Dave.

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