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  1. #1

    Default Trip from Chicago to Yellowstone in July

    I'm planning on 19 days for this trip. I'll be taking I-80 west, stopping in Iowa to do some genealogy research (3 or 4 days), then to Minden Nebraska Pioneer Village (1 day) west to US-385 north to the Badlands area & Deadwood (3 or 4 days) picking up I-90 through SD, WY and MT (Cody,WY?) connecting with US-89 at Livingston, MT down to Gardiner, MT and the North entrance to Yellowstone.

    I'm a 60 year old woman doing this solo. This isn't my first long trek as I did all the major paved roads in Alaska in 2011.

    1) I love to have your input on CHEAP places to camp, eat and sights that shouldn't be missed. I'll be on an extremely limited budget so an emphasis on FREE is appreciated.

    2) If I go to Cody, WY is it better to get off I-90 at Sullivan and go west or is it better to go all the way to Billings, MT on I-90 and approach from the south?

    3) What is US-89 like from Livingston, MT to Gardiner? Lots of switchbacks or relatively straight?

    4)Do you think I've planned enough time at 19 days?

    5) Do truck stops along the way offer public showers to tourists or are the reserved for the truckers?

    Thanks to all of you in advance for taking the time to answer my questions. Robin

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

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    Hello and welcome.

    If I was heading to Cody I would take US14 to from I70 although I not sure why you would then go all the way to Livingston and through Gardiner to enter Yellowstone, you could just stay on US14/16/20 to Yellowstone lake. If you don't mind some 'twisties' you might consider entering Yellowstone through Silver Gate and drive the famous Beartooth Highway from Red Lodge on 212, a majestic drive. US89 is pretty straightforward to answer your question.

    I think 19 days is enough time for a relaxed trip and you should have a little time to visit the Tetons just to the south of Yellowstone.

    Eating out of the cooler always helps with budget but I can't help with free camping spots. They are probably few and far between around Yellowstone and you need to work out how much time and fuel a 'free' spot could cost. I think showers are available for a small fee, but I will leave that to someone else for comment.

  3. #3

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    Thanks Southwest Dave, I am starting work at Yellowstone at the end of my trip and need to report for work in Gardiner. I'll admit I'm a little afraid of Beartooth Highway, being a solo traveler, and I figured it was something I could do on one of my days off. I'll be working somewhere in Yellowstone (undetermined at this moment) for the next 11 weeks or so.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

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    Wow ! How exciting. The Beartooth isn't so bad, unless you have a phobia of course. Even with the circumstance, if you are in Cody you can still enter via Lake Yellowstone which wouldn't take any longer than going all the way north to Livingston and would save you 100 miles of driving.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

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    Truck stop showers are open to the public, and cost in the $10 to $15 range. Expect to wait, I think truckers have priority.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

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    1) I love to have your input on CHEAP places to camp, eat and sights that shouldn't be missed. I'll be on an extremely limited budget so an emphasis on FREE is appreciated.
    Even in the US, "free" is hard to find. If you are traveling in a vehicle where you have a way to stretch out to sleep, then truck stops are fine. But since you should give them some business, such as purchasing your gas or meal there, they aren't totally free. BLM sites may be available to you, depending on where they are at in relation to where you are traveling. Most of them are not close to the interstate highways. One way to find relatively inexpensive, maybe even free, campgrounds is to find a national forest office or even the local police station. National forests are about the least expensive non-free campsites, ranging $15-20.

    5) Do truck stops along the way offer public showers to tourists or are the reserved for the truckers?
    My hubby is a former trucker. He states that truckers definitely have priority. Some of the truck stop chains used to have point systems -- the more fuel you bought, the more points you'd get, and the more points you had meant your showers were higher priority and cheaper. GLC's probably in the right range for shower price. Bring a pair of flip-flops for shower use. Towels were usually included unless you require more than they want to give you for the price.

    I'll admit I'm a little afraid of Beartooth Highway, being a solo traveler, and I figured it was something I could do on one of my days off. I'll be working somewhere in Yellowstone (undetermined at this moment) for the next 11 weeks or so.
    Beartooth Highway is absolutely gorgeous. There were plenty of guardrails and as long as you drive safely and pull over in some of the many, many turnouts, it would be an enjoyable and safe trip.

    Working in Yellowstone? How beautiful! So many things to do there on your days off, whether you work for NPS or for Xanterra.


    Donna

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