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  1. Default Notre Dame to Yellowstone

    Hi all! My husband and I decided that we are going to take a roadtrip to Yellowstone for fall break. We are both graduate students, and this is going to be our last fall break where we are both still in school and can take the time off. I have been reading up on a lot on this site, and you have answered most of our questions! Thank you to all the contributors, since you made this much easier!

    Here's our rough plan...
    October 18 - drive and overnight in Badlands
    October 19 - Morning: Badlands, Afternoon: Mt. Rushmore & Devil's Tower, Overnight: Devil's Tower
    October 20 - drive to Yellowstone, explore Yellowstone in the afternoon, overnight in W. Yellowstone
    October 21, 22, 23 - Yellowstone
    October 23 afternoon/morning 24 - Grand Teton
    October 24/25 - Drive back to IN

    Here is our map....

    We would like to do this as cheaply as possible, so our plan is to sleep in our car at truck stops or hotels on some nights, and some nights at cheap places. We will be bringing sleeping bags and extra blankets, because it will definitely get cold. We don't mind hostels or camping if anyone has suggestions along the way!

    We are planning on driving straight through to the Badlands. I read on this site that 500/per day is suggested, and this is about 971 miles/15 hours, do you think this is possible if we split the drive? And, of course, we are flexible, and any suggestions on places to visit on the way would be great. Our plan is to leave early in the morning in order to get to the Badlands in the middle of the night. The hubs is an fantastic photographer and would like to get some sunrise shots. Does anyone know any good points to catch the sunrise? How much time should we allocate to spend at the Badlands, I'm guessing the morning there, then seeing Mt. Rushmore and Devil's Tower in the afternoon, but would like your opinions!

    We would then spend the night around Devil's Tower and head to Yellowstone in the morning which is about an 8 hour drive. We plan on staying in West Yellowstone. Any suggestions on an (inexpensive) place to stay?

    The trip from Yellowstone to Grand Teton is about 2 and a half hours, and it looks like lodging is quite expensive there, so we were thinking of visiting Grand Teton in an afternoon, sleeping in the car, and seeing it in the morning before we take our drive home.

    I read on here we should take a different route home, but I don't know of any good places to stop! What do you guys think of our plan? Should we make reservations or let the road guide us? Where are the 'must see' or must photograph stops along our route?

    Thank you!

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

    Default restarting

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You won't find anyone here who thinks that driving nearly 1,000 miles in a day is a good way to start your trip, no matter how many drivers you have. You'll also find no human being alive, without a police escort, that can cover this kind of distance in 15 hours by car. Only a computer, with no need to stop for food or fuel, and that never sees traffic delays could you make the distance in that time.

    The reality is that trying to do that kind of drive over one day is often times more than what can safely be done, and even if you did ignore that aspect, it sets you up to spend the rest of your trip overtired and in a hangover state for the rest of your trip. Add on top that you want to basically be up for 24 hours, so you can also get pictures of the sunrise after your marathon drive. You then plan to on that same (now second) day, you want to see Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, and Devils Tower? Correct me if I'm wrong, but basically, you're going to be up for 2 straight days with no significant sleep before you actually get some sleep?

    Your plan to drive back 1500 miles in 2 days is also beyond the scope of what we'd recommend. While I too would look at going back a different direction, but trying to drive more than 700 miles a day means you'll have zero time to do anything but put the pedal to the floor - for about 14 hours for each of those days.

    I would also consider your sleeping in the car plan to be penny-wise and pound-foolish. There just aren't many cars where 2 people can actually sleep comfortably inside. Camping would be a much better idea, and all of the places you are talking about going have campgrounds.

    You can make this trip work, but you're going to have to spend a little less time at your "destination" of Yellowstone/Tetons. If you spend about 3 days there total, you could make this work, but right now you've just got too much for this to be safe or fun.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 09-28-2009 at 01:16 PM.

  3. Default Thanks!

    You're right, it does seem like quite a rough start and end to a fun trip. Maybe we'll work in an overnight stay in Minnesota somewhere, and another stop on the way home.

    Thanks for your input! I think we can get enough Yellowstone in 3 days!

  4. Default Just some advice for South Dakota

    I agree, two days for the drive out would be good.

    But also, take some time to really see stuff. I've worked at Badlands for the past two years, and it's hard to 'get it' in two hours, but that is the average stay for visitors and they don't make it 200 yards from their car.

    It really does depend on what you want to see though. If scenery is enough, then two hours will do, you can just drive through. For me, I'd rather hike and get my boots dirty. I could spend a day in the Badlands and 20 minutes at Mt Rushmore. But if you like history, Rushmore would be the place.

    That said, the Notch Trail is a great trail to hike in the Badlands. Also, the Deer Haven hike if you have the time.

    I've been planning out a Yellowstone trip and I've heard a lot of people say three days really isn't enough. That's a bummer, but ensures future trips.

    I guess it boils down to do you want your vacation to be a checklist of cool, famous places or do you want to steep in nature?

  5. Default Thanks for the advice!

    Thanks to both of you for your advice. We decided to extend our trip in order to get everything in safely. Here's what I found from my research, so hopefully this can help out others!

    Day 1: Leave South Bend, stay overnight in Minneapolis
    Day 2: Minneapolis to Badlands (9 hrs), overnight in Badlands at Sage Creek
    Day 3:

    Lodging in Oct
    Many places in W. Yellowstone and the Badlands close, but these do not...

    Cedar Pass Campground $10/night
    Sage Creek - free!
    *both are primitive, no showers, operated by NPS

    -Sheridan, WY (halfway between Devil's Tower and Yellowstone)-
    KOA campgrounds - 63 Decker Rd, Sheridan - (307) 674-8766
    $20/night w/ electric (at site) and showers

    -West Yellowstone-
    Many places close or offer limited rooms. We saw the Alpine Motel, Lazy G, and Evergreen get great reviews, but Lazy G and Evergreen are both closed in October. Alpine Motel has their larger rooms available, but we did not need that. So, the cheapest place we could find was the Days Inn at about 60 a night.

    Lewis Lake Camp - open year round, primitive, $12
    * 8 miles south of W. Thumb, for great sunrise shots

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default a significant detour

    If you are just trying to get out to the Badlands ASAP, then it really doesn't make any sense at all to go to Minneapolis. The twin cities are at least a 2 hour (round trip) detour from the direct route via I-90.

    There are plenty of towns in southern Minnesota with motel or camping options that would make much more sense.

    You should know that one little oddity about Badlands camping is that no fires are allowed. I don't know if that's important to you, but it is something you should think about especially since you are traveling late in the year.

  7. Default

    Yep! No fires [probably due to all that darn dry prairie grass ;) ]! But Sage Creek has no water, though the bison can roam freely through the campground. Cedar Pass has no bison, but it does have running water.

    Also, I don't know why this deters so many people, but Sage Creek is down a gravel road. Just FYI.

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