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  1. Default Yellowstone to Kentucky?


    Myself and my partner were hoping to take our first self-drive road trip in America next year. Ideally, we will fly into an airport near Yellowstone before picking up a car and ending up (and flying out of) in Kentucky in time for the Kentucky Derby! I would love to visit the Grand Canyon, Vegas and Nashville en route - ideally spending a day or two at a working ranch in Texas.

    Has anyone done a trip similar to this, is it feasible in 2 weeks and can anyone recommend good car companies and places to visit on the trip? We are both 25 and do not mind driving, as long as we also get a bit of R&R time!

    Any help much appreciated!


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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    There are a few issues with your plan.

    First, much of Yellowstone isn't open to cars until May, and with the Kentucky Derby not until the first weekend of May, that would put your arrival at Yellowstone around mid-April. It would probably make more sense to reverse your trip, so you'd start with the Derby, and then head west.

    However, also note that your plan would also be very expensive. One way car rentals are typically quite expensive, and that cost tends to increase when you're flying in and out of relatively small airports - Louisville would count as pretty small, although you could compare with some larger airports, perhaps Cincinnati or even possibly Chicago. There are no major airports near Yellowstone, with Salt Lake City being the closest large airport, and that's about a half day drive away.

    Then finally, 2 weeks would really be the bare minimum time you'd need, and that would be pretty rushed. You'd be looking at at least 3,000 miles, perhaps even more depending upon where in Texas you're thinking of going. Right there, before you do anything else is a minimum of 6 full days of driving. That only leaves you 8 days left for exploring and R&R. Factoring that you'll want at least 3 days for Yellowstone (It's a huge park), at least a day at the Derby, that only leaves you 4 days left to explore Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Nashville, and spend a day or two at a Texas Ranch. Not to mention, you'll probably need a day or two just to factor in air travel.

    So, yes, while this could be done, I think you'd be better off scaling thing back (unless you can add more time). Yellowstone is an amazing place, but it's very large, and it's a full day of driving from anything else you want to do. It might make more sense to start or end your trip in Vegas, and save Yellowstone for another trip.

    There are no huge differences between any of the major car rental companies, so I'd make my decision based on price. You may find better rates, and lower one-way fees if you look at some of the European Based consolidators, which can sometimes offer better rates for foreign tourists.

  3. Default

    Hi Michael

    Thank you for such an informative reply. I am glad I posted on here before planning our trip any further. Based on your advice and looking at the original itinerary in more detail, we have decided to save Yellowstone for another time!

    Kentucky Derby is an absolute must but whether that is the start or end of the trip is not really an issue. What are your thoughts on beginning in Kentucky and ending in Vegas? Sadly we can only afford the two weeks due to work commitements but we want to pack in as much as possible without overdoing it so we cannot enjoy the areas we visit! We are keen to plan this trip ourselves and avoid using an agency, hence the post to the forums.

    Our thoughts now are exploring the areas around Kentucky and Nashville much more, hopefully exploring some of the parks before driving to Vegas and looking around the Grand Canyon.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    You could drive from Louisville to Vegas in 4 days vis Nashville and Memphis so you have a bit of time to wander and make a relaxed trip. There is nothing wrong with starting in Kentucky and ending in Vegas, you will just have to research costs and find the best way to go about it in a way that can tie in the places that interest you. Atlanta could be another possible arrival place, perhaps driving through the Smokey mountains for a day or 2 prior to the race, but again it's about your interests. On the way to Vegas you could head through Santa Fe and head towards Durango and Cortez [Great train ride from Durango to Silverton and Mesa Verde NP near Cortez] and on through the iconic Monument valley to the south rim of the Grand canyon.

    There are literally thousands of possibilities, so do a little research and get some dots on the map, work out where to start and finish and then as you have more questions, just keep asking.

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