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  1. Default Ideas would be appreciated!

    My wife and were thinking about an epic road trip from our starting point, south MS, to some of the iconic attractions and national parks out west, Yellowstone, etc. We had planned to leave as early as July 17, and not return for three weeks or so. I'm now thinking the national parks and popular destinations are going to be very crowded this time of the year, and we would probably waste a lot of time, and not get to see nearly as much as we would if we possibly did this trip in the late Spring.

    Two questions: Am I correct in thinking late Spring would be the best time to see the most in the least amount of time out west?
    We've driven to Key West, FL before, and we go to the Smoky Mountains very frequently. Does anyone have some suggestions for an extended summer road trip with things to see, that wouldn't involve a lot of waiting in long lines of traffic?

    Thanks a bunch,
    Jack

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    Yellowstone is likely to be pretty much in winter mode until mid-to-late May, since much of it is at higher elevations. So keep that in mind as you plan.


    Donna

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

    Default Timing Is Critical

    No one can predict with any precision exactly when all the roads in and around Yellowstone will be open for the season next spring, but the NPS is predicting late May. So, I'd give them another week or two just to be on the better (but not necessarily 'safe' side) and aim for early to mid June for my arrival at Yellowstone. It's a tight fit between the last road being open and the arrival of the hoards of tourists, so if I were to lean one way or the other from that time slot, I'd lean towards earlier and just accept that the road over Dunraven Pass may not be open and that the days and nights may be chilly. When I went in early October one year, I essentially had the park to myself, or at least it seemed that way, and that was worth a bit of chill.

    As for routes there and back, I'd be looking for two completely different ones. With three full weeks, the two that seem obvious are a more direct route by way of the panhandle of Texas, Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park, etc., and a slightly longer route through northern New Mexico and Arizona, the Grand Canyon, some of Utah's Red Rock National Parks and Salt lake. So, it looks like your main task now is to figure out timing and basic routes at which point we'll be able to help you out with some specifics.

    AZBuck

  4. Default

    Thanks to Donna & Buck. I'm now thinking about saving the trip out west until late May/early June. We might head north in search of some cooler temps - maybe the New England area. Any "must see" suggestions up that way would be nice.

    Jack

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

    Default New England

    I compiled a number of the best discussions of New England RoadTrips a while back. You can find them here and they're still relevant (even if some of the links aren't).

    AZBuck

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

    Default The last week of May.

    A number of years ago I visited Yellowstone NP in the last week of May. It was already relatively busy, but the magic was all the baby wildlife. It was a most enjoyable visit, even though it was only a 'drive-through' to another destination.

    Lifey

  7. Default

    Thanks to all.

    Jack

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

    Default Fall ?

    Another wonderful time to travel would be September when the crowds are gone. The weather is unpredictable but in my opinion you have less chance of an early closing than you do a late opening.

  9. #9

    Default

    Many of the national parks are only open for limited seasons. Shoulder seasons are preferred for less crowded parks and less crowded highways. It is worthwhile to et aside some time visiting the national parks of interest to plot out their "open seasons" and go from there. If you are planning to camp then check on the campground schedules as well. Generally, the more southern states and lower elevations will open sooner/stay open later (or all year round), but there are some surprising variability, e.g., the Grand Canyon North Rim is at an elevation of around 9,000 ft., so it has a shorter season than the South Rim which is 2,000 ft. lower.

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