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  1. Default Best Route from TN to Yellowstone to Grand Canyon

    Hello, my family is taking their first RT from Chattanooga tn to Yellowstone in July 2016.......also wanting to squeeze in Grand Canyon if possible. I'm starting early on planning because I have no idea what route is best or really now to begin. There will be 7 people going on the trip. We have 2 weeks and want to see some things along the way. I have no clue how much time to a lot for the family at each place. I would like to stop by Cody wy for kids (1.5 days)??? Yellowstone....maybe 3 days??? Also everyone has said go to deadwood co and Laura Inglas wilder homestead......but not sure if that's even close enough to worry with. Then when coming home go to grandcanyon......but I feel that isn't an option on a 2 week schedule ( however my hubby feels like it is). I'm really a blank slate needed some advice for peeps that's traveled and knows if what I'm wanting to see is even possible in 2 weeks. Any info, possible schedules, tips, etc is welcomed. Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The Grand Canyon is possible to add to a Yellowstone trip in 2 weeks, but I wouldn't recommend it. You need a minimum of 3 hard days to get from Chattanooga to Yellowstone, but I'd recommend taking 4, especially considering the size of your group - and because doing it in 3 days would allow you no time to do anything other than drive all day.

    Returning via the Grand Canyon would mean a full 5 days for the trip home from Yellowstone, and that means 9 of your 14 days would be taken up driving. Spend 3 days at Yellowstone, which is close to a minimum to see all of the park's main highlights, a day in Cody, and a day at the Grand Canyon, and your time would be completely filled. That's not an impossible schedule, but I think you'd find it pretty stressful, especially with 7 people on board.

    If I were in your shoes, I think I'd do more to enjoy the ride - head out through South Dakota, visit some L.I.Wilder sites, spend a day or two exploring the badlands and blackhills - including Mount Rushmore and Deadwood (I'm not aware of a Deadwood in Colorado, so I'm guessing you're talking about the famous one in SD) - and then head onto Cody and into Yellowstone.

    For your trip home, check out Grand Teton, which is included with your yellowstone admission anyway, and if time, then maybe check out a spot or two in Utah or Colorado - which would give you a different trip back, without adding as many miles as the GC.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Whose idea of best?

    Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    Best is such a subjective term, that we prefer not to focus on best routes. For you the best route is the route which takes you to the places you want to see in the time you have available.

    How to start? By far the best thing is to get a good detailed map of the country and also maps of the individual States through which your journey is likely to take you, or a road atlas.

    All the place you mention and thousands more are marked on the maps along with connecting routes on interstates as well as the old US highways and byways. Sit down together and work out what you all want to do and see.

    Potentially the trip from home to Yellowstone then the Grand Canyon is close to 5000 miles - 10 days of driving all day with only the essential stops. Especially with a larger party when every stop takes just that bit longer. If you want to spend three days in Yellowstone and one day at the Grand Canyon, there would not be any time for the myriad of amazing sights along the way, nor for Cody.

    If this were me, I would focus on just one, and leave the other for another holiday.

    Lifey

  4. Default

    Thx for the advice. You gave some great ideas. I do believe the GC will probably have to wait for another trip after really thinking it over. Another question...... Should one stay inside Yellowstone or outside at a local hotel?? Not sure if it hard to drive in and out each day.
    Also, have you ever been to deadwood (SD my bad above lol).....if so would one need a day to get there and then a day to explore? I've read that Mount Rushmore can be done in half day...... But nothing of deadwood.

  5. Default

    Thx for the info!!

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

    Default Inside would be the best experience.

    It is always preferable to stay within the park, if the budget can cope with it. There's nothing like being right there by the action. Yellowstone being such a huge park takes some getting into and out of each day. West Yellowstone being the closest accommodation outside the park.

    Start checking accommodation as soon as you know your dates.

    Lifey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Also everyone has said go to deadwood co and Laura Inglas wilder homestead......but not sure if that's even close enough to worry with.
    Perhaps the closest Laura Ingalls Wilder site to your trip is in DeSmet, SD. It's not *that* far off of your route -- if you're coming up I-29, get off at US-14 heading west into DeSmet, about 30 miles. Then when you're done, you can either head back down on SD-25 and US81, or continue west on US-14 to US-281 and head south to I-90.

    As for Deadwood SD...how much time you spend there depends on how much interest you have in that sort of thing. You can what you want to of it in a half day, others will be enamored with it and spend a full day.

    Should one stay inside Yellowstone or outside at a local hotel?? Not sure if it hard to drive in and out each day.
    Since you're planning so far in advance, you may be fortunate to get an opening. Or perhaps put together two or three openings to make it work, by taking one hotel for one night and another hotel for the other nights, etc. My husband and I were not so fortunate, as we couldn't even do that. We ended up staying in West Yellowstone, which (as Lifey indicates) is the closest accommodation outside the park. We were at One Horse Motel, good marks from AAA, but very small rooms!


    Donna

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tngal View Post
    Also, have you ever been to deadwood (SD my bad above lol).....if so would one need a day to get there and then a day to explore?
    You wouldn't need a day to get to Deadwood - it's right on the way to Yellowstone, assuming you go via I-90. The amount of time you need depends upon how much you want to see. You could certainly fit Rushmore and Deadwood into one day, if you wanted to. You could also spend several days in the area, checking out those places, along with the area's other great sites, like the Badlands, Custer State Park, and Jewel and Wind Caves, to name a few.

    Yellowstone is a huge park, so if you can stay inside it, it will save you a significant amount of time. Any place outside the park is going to mean extra driving, in a park where it can already take a couple hours to get from one side to the other, any time you can save is valuable.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Move around if you can.

    If you have the option of moving around while at Yellowstone rather than stay in one place I would recommend it. Where these spots are will depend on your routes and timing. For example, I would look to enter Yellowstone along the fabulous Beartooth Highway from Red Lodge through Silver Gate. You could stop at either of these towns if you were arriving later in the day and continue into the park the next day, or you could drive the Beartooth and plan on staying around Tower, Canyon or Mammoth. You then have several locations around the loop such as Old Faithfull Inn, Lake Yellowstone or Grant village and if non are available, or suit your budget, head to W. Yellowstone. Grant Village is in a good location for exiting the park south and visiting the Grand Tetons or, once again, depending on timing spend the last night of your visit in, or near to, the Tetons and explore them the following day.

  10. Default

    Thanks again for all the ideas. I see that this trips is going to take much planing for dates n loading. Almost overwhelming lol. I will map us leaving home driving to Yellowstone and planing to stay within park but at different lodging within park and on way home going to deadwood and by Rushmore. Then Laura inglas homestead.

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