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  1. #1

    Default Florida to Yellowstone weather avoidance and route advice

    I have been reading posts, and want to thank all of you for your great advice and support you provide to fellow road trippers.
    As I plan my trip I have some questions I have not seen addressed to date.
    Leaving South Florida on Memorial Day weekend for Yellowstone and Grand Teton Parks ( in that order because that is the way the reservations were available for camping in my Motorhome in the Parks) I want to know what might be the best route to avoid tornadoes that time of year. My last two trips out West (the Utah loop and the dinosaur/black hills route) we were worried about tornadoes--having narrowly missed them in Kansas and Missouri, and also one day out from them in South Dakota--what do you recommend as the best route for us to take to Yellowstone to reduce tornado probability?
    Also. we do not have a tow vehicle, so we would like to rent a car to best explore Yellowstone on our terms, any suggestions as to the best way to do this, seeing as we are arriving from the South and East? It will be my husband and myself, plus our three preteen grands, are we better off with the offered tours from Fishing Bridge, or hiring a private guide to give a real experience for the kids for one of our 6 days in the Park.? We plan on also hiking and exploring on our own once we get our bearings..

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Trying to plan a trip around where there will be tornadoes, 4 months from now, is a little like trying to plan your retirement by picking lottery tickets.

    Everywhere in the central part of the country can see Toranadoes. Even when there is severe weather, your odds of being hit by one are extremely small. I'd be willing to bet that what you describe as "narrowly missing" them, means you saw some severe thunderstorms that may have sparked a tornado or two, but nothing ever touched down any place you were stopped.

    I'll put it another way, I know trained meteorologists who go out storm chasing and it's taken them years to see one, and they are trying to find them!

    Trying to plan around any kind of weather 4 months in advance is impossible, be it tornadoes, hurricanes, snowstorms, whatever. When you're talking about tornadoes that when they hit, they typically hit a small path that is a few hundred yards wide and a couple miles long, the impossible odds become even longer.

    As we very typically say in winter, the only way that you'll have any idea of where a storm might hit is to look at the forecasts - which are only accurate a few days in advance.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Known and the Unknown

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Well, some things we can help you with and some are simply beyond our control. Let's start with the things we can tell you. You really only have two viable choices for where to rent a car as you head into the Yellowstone/Tetons area. One is in Cody WY where Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz and Thrifty all have a presence at Cody's airport (Yellowstone Regional - COD). The other is at Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) north of Jackson WY where Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Hertz are your options. Cody is on your way into Yellowstone if you don't go through the Tetons first, but is fairly out of your way for a return of the car after the Tetons. Jackson would mean going through the Tetons on your way to Yellowstone, but is more convenient for the return, saving you around 30 miles of driving overall. However, you should check to see if there is any significant savings to be had by renting in one place or the other.

    My wife and I often travel with our two grandsons, now a little older than your children, and have never seen the need to hire a guide to entertain them or help them get the most out of any place that we visit. The first thing we do when we get to a national park is to check in at the visitors center or ranger station and tap into a little appreciated resource, the rangers and docents. They know their parks as well as anyone and will be more than happy to share that knowledge with you, suggesting age appropriate hikes and activities. There will often be ranger-led talks that are low cost or even free, and the greatest free resource for kids from roughly 5 to 13: the Junior Ranger Program. Sign them up. They'll get activities that will help them learn more about the parks and will earn some nice (free) souvenirs.

    As for what we don't know, that's the weather this far out. The best way to avoid tornadoes is to avoid the fronts along which they occur. I know that's easier said than done but if you keep an eye on the weather as it develops you'll know when it's ok to be on the road and when you should be seeking a good solid motel/hotel building to hole up in for the day or so it takes the front to pass. You might also want to invest in a weather radio capable of receiving one of NOAA's National Weather Radio (NWR) frequencies. Such radios sell in the $40-50 range and coverage is virtually continuous on your route.


  4. #4


    Thanks to both of you for your suggestions. I was hoping that one of my 2 most likely route options would have a lower probability of tornadoes that time of year than another, but from your comments that would not be the case. And yes, when living in St Louis my neighborhood was decimated by a tornado, so I have lived through one--not a killer but a destroyer (and our Florida home has been through 3 eyewalls of hurricanes as well). On our drive we saw storms grow and funnel clouds form, they were visible in the wide open horizon, but not on top of us. The next day we read that funnel clouds did indeed touch down near where we saw them, but it was mostly unpopulated prairie. Unfortunately, newscasters tend to dramatize events, so the grands have a real fear of tornadoes (weather channel take notice) and were so stressed during our drives through tornado country that they could not enjoy the stops we had planned along the route!!! I provide this as the backstory behind my question!
    My grands LOVE the Junior Ranger program, as well as the other specialty Junior programs offered at select Parks. We go on as many ranger walks and talks as we can--though these have been cut back due to funding issues over the past 5 years. They each have between 40 & 50 pins & patches! That said, for the first time last year I did hire a private guide for us in Washington D.C.and WOW it made a huge difference. Still did the Junior Ranger, but added more depth, information, and side stories to the Natonal Park brochures (and there were alot of those too!!!) So wanted to know if a private guide (naturalist) would provide a better experience than the bus tours offered by the National Park as an introduction to the the giant Yellowstone caldera.
    Thanks for the info on the cars. Knowing my options will make it easier.

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