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  #1  
Old 08-29-2009, 05:11 PM
Bluegrass
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Default Yellowstone & Black Hills

We'll be leaving labor day weekend for a three week trip from Utah via I-80 & 25 to the Black Hills, across central Wyoming to Yellowstone, then up to the Bitterroot valley in Western Montana for a little fishing, returning through Idaho to Salt Lake. I'd be interested in suggestions on what to see and even more important, what to pass on in Yellowstone and the Black Hills.

We have 4 nights planned at Rafter J Bar Rv park in the Black Hills. Obviously, Mt. Rushmore is on the agenda. What else should we see or avoid?

Then across Wyoming (a night in Riverton or Lander), through Grand Teton and the south entrance to Yellowstone. We have three nights at Fishing Bridge and then three nights at Madison campground. We understand that the latter is dry camping.

What to see in that time frame? Are the organized tours on the yellow buses worth the money? Anything to avoid? I saw the thread on Fishing Bridge. Anyone have experience at Madison?

We expect mid September to be nice in the Black Hills but cold in Yellowstone.

All advice will be gratefully received!
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  #2  
Old 08-29-2009, 05:52 PM
MudDog MudDog is offline
 
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We just got back from a spur of the minute trip to Yellowstone last weekend. We talked about it on a Wednesday night and left that Friday from Southern Califorinia. We went up thru Salt Lake, into Idaho and entered Yellowstone from the west entrance. On the return trip we came out thru the south entrance thru Grand Tetons/Jackson Hole.

A couple of things to note - Highway 191 between Grand Tetons and South Yellowstone had a section (maybe 10 miles) that was being re-paved. Nothing major, but you do need to slow down and a couple of sections were a bit bumpy. The road was mostly compacted dirt and there were at least two sections where we needed to wait for an escort. 191 was a nice drive with a lot of places to stop and take a short walk/hike (Lewis Falls, etc).

In Yellowstone there is a figure 8 loop called the 'Grand Tour'. The day we arrived in the park, the road between Madison Junction and Norris Junction was closed and will be thru Spring. If you are coming from/going to West Yellowstone, this eliminates the shortcut thru the middle of the park and can make seeing the major attractions take quite a bit longer....though we enjoyed seeing more of the park taking the 'long way'. If you're at fishing bridge it won't impact you as much because you will be in the center of the park.

Road closure info can be found here:

http://www.nps.gov/yell/travelalert.htm

Because it was a spur of the moment trip, we stayed at the West Yellowstone KOA in Montana (about 6 miles from the west entrance). We were very happy with this park as base camp for 3 days - though the price was a bit steep at $71/night.

I think our favorite area of Yellowstone was the Canyon area and the drive up to Mammoth. Saw lots of wildlife and the views are spectacular (the fires in 1988 have really changed the park and areas where all you could see was thick forrest now give way to younger growth and spectacular vistas).

At the Grand Tetons we took the boat shuttle across Jenny Lake and took a hike up to Inspiration Point - whole family enjoyed it and in Montana we took a horse-back ride that was great.

We saw the tour buses, but preferred to take things at out own pace, especially with two boys (8 and 5) and a dog.

Don't think you can go wrong - have a great trip!
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Last edited by MudDog; 08-29-2009 at 06:02 PM.
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Old 08-29-2009, 08:09 PM
Al-n-Sue
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We stayed at Rafter J Bar a few years ago and it was a great location. Mt Rushmore is as you said a must. We skipped Crazy Horse - we had seen it a few years before and weren't impressed. Some time in Custer St Park would be a good use of time. In Sept you might see the buffalo roundup. That is pretty impressive. Rapid City has the normal run of tourist attractions, but there is a chuckwagon dinner there that I've heard is pretty good (chuckwagon food and cowboy music show).

We are planning our Yellowstone trip at this time next year so give us a report of how it goes and what you find out. Especially at Fishing Bridge - we'll be there 5 nights next year.

Enjoy the trip!
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Old 08-29-2009, 08:41 PM
viking
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Fishing in Yellowstone can be humbling especially around Fishing bridge. Those fish see a lot of action. I had my best luck in on the East Entrance road going towards Cody. There are several picnic areas along the side of the road that are next to lakes. I used size 12 green wooly buggers. Falcon Guide has a good book called Fishing Yellowstone National Park that I would recommend. Good Luck!
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Old 08-30-2009, 12:10 PM
RLDeLay RLDeLay is offline
 
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We did the all day tour that included the chuckwagon food and cowboy show in Rapid City. The tour started out in the morning with a cowboy breakfast. We had a great time and would highly recommend it.
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Old 08-30-2009, 03:37 PM
Bluegrass
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Thanks for the insights. We'll look for the Chuckwagon tour in Rapid City and definitely plan on Custer State Park.

Fishing is always humbling for me no matter where I am. Nonetheless, I'll be taking my ultralight with me. I never did learn to fly fish.

Hadn't thought about stopping in Grand Teton. We'll have to think about that. Coming from Riverton to Fishing Bridge, I think we'd have time to stop for an hour or two. Thanks, Mud Dog for the heads up on road work at the South Entrance. We knew about the road closure within the park but not about this work. That sounds like it will add an hour or so to that leg of the trip.

Anyone venture a guess on how long it will take me to drive from Fishing Bridge to Madison? Because of the road closure, we'll be going via Old Faithful.

Has anyone been to Madison campground?
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Old 08-30-2009, 04:09 PM
MudDog MudDog is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluegrass View Post
We knew about the road closure within the park but not about this work. That sounds like it will add an hour or so to that leg of the trip.
Unless you get real unlucky on the escorted sections, it's probably closer to a 30 minute delay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluegrass View Post
Anyone venture a guess on how long it will take me to drive from Fishing Bridge to Madison? Because of the road closure, we'll be going via Old Faithful.

Map with mileage is here:

http://www.nps.gov/PWR/customcf/apps...ational%20Park

Fishing Bridge to West Thumb 21 Miles
West Thumb to Old Faithful 17 miles (you'll be crossing the Continental Divide twice on this leg
Old Faithful to Madison Junction 16 miles

Unless you get behind a herd of Buffalo (which happened to traffic going the other way on our trip), you're probably looking at a little over an hour of driving.

If you have time passing thru the Teton's, the Jenny Lake area was nice and probably a good place to have a bite to eat and take in some of the park. Futher North is the Jackson Lake/Colter Bay area that looked nice as well.
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Old 08-30-2009, 05:21 PM
Bluegrass
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MudDog View Post

West Thumb to Old Faithful 17 miles (you'll be crossing the Continental Divide twice on this leg
What are the grades like on this route?
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  #9  
Old 08-30-2009, 06:40 PM
MudDog MudDog is offline
 
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Quote:
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What are the grades like on this route?
None of the grades we hit in Yellowstone (or on the whole trip) were bad and we were towing with a V6 FWD Sienna.

You are in the Rockies and hit elevations in the 7500-8500 range - though seems like we'd built to that altitude gradually over Idaho/Montana.


The one grade that looked a bit intimidating was 80 East from Park City to Evanston.

We came down the grade and into Salt Lake and were fine, but saw a lot of cars pulled over going up the extended grade in the opposite direction. The temperature was in the high 90's and I suspect many over-heated.
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  #10  
Old 08-31-2009, 07:16 AM
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If you're close, you should stop at Jackson Lake Lodge. The view of the Tetons as you go up the steps into the great room is worth the time!
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