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ImDownWithDisney

Planning for 2019 Yellowstone/UT/AZ/CO roadtrip

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I am in the early stages of planning for a Western roadtrip. I've been out to Yellowstone and several other national parks, but it has been 15 years ago and my memory needs a refresh. We (family of 5) will be travelling in a (hopefully soon to be bought) new F450 pulling our 40' toyhauler.

Our basic plan is going to be lay a stripe to Flagstaff, then go north to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for a few days, then shoot up to Zion/Bryce, then Moab for Arches and Capitol reef plus some dirtbiking at Cainville and BLM land, then up toward Ogden, UT, past Bear Lake then enter Jackson, WY from the south, 2 nights or so in Jackson, then on to Yellowstone. Up until Yellowstone I'm pretty good on campground options and BLM boondocking, but I can't decide where to stay in or around Yellowstone. 

I am afraid the 40' camper will keep us out of Grant Village, Madison, and Bay Bridge CG's. They list 40' max for truck and trailer. Fishing bridge CG looks like a parking lot. That's not my idea of NP camping. Videos of Bay Bridge and Grant show big campers, but I would hate to get turned away. Some other options would be Colter Bay RV outside of Jackson and several CG's in West Yellowstone. I don't care much about hookups. We have an onboard genny and 100 gallons of fresh water. Dry camping or boondocking is fine. 

Anyone have big camper experience in or around Yellowstone?

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Consider adding a visit to Monument Valley on your trip.  It sits on Navajo land on the AZ and UT border, not too far from the north rim of the Grand Canyon.  This is where many John Wayne films were shot, and the views of the monoliths are spectacular.  Also nearby is the four corners monument on tribal land as well (if you been there once, it's enough).

Agree with your concern about the 40' rig.  We have stayed at the Grizzly Camp Ground in West Yellowstone, which can handle big rigs, at least three times and like it fine.  Can walk to shops/restaurants in town.  Can be pricey.

Remember to take some cold weather gear for Yellowstone.  It can snow any month, and we have experienced enough snow in June to shut down roads, and also in June have experienced below freezing temps early morning.

Love the trip you have planned, some of my favorite places!  Have fun.

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13 hours ago, ImDownWithDisney said:

Thanks, Dave. Hopefully it will. The kids really want to go out west. I'm thinking we will not buy Disney AP's in 2019....that should just about pay for the trip lol

And deluxe souvenirs and numerous Starbucks overpriced drinks, and still have $$$ left over.

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2 hours ago, PghBob said:

Consider adding a visit to Monument Valley on your trip.  It sits on Navajo land on the AZ and UT border, not too far from the north rim of the Grand Canyon.  This is where many John Wayne films were shot, and the views of the monoliths are spectacular.  Also nearby is the four corners monument on tribal land as well (if you been there once, it's enough).

Agree with your concern about the 40' rig.  We have stayed at the Grizzly Camp Ground in West Yellowstone, which can handle big rigs, at least three times and like it fine.  Can walk to shops/restaurants in town.  Can be pricey.

Remember to take some cold weather gear for Yellowstone.  It can snow any month, and we have experienced enough snow in June to shut down roads, and also in June have experienced below freezing temps early morning.

Love the trip you have planned, some of my favorite places!  Have fun.

My in-laws were out there tent camping the end of this past June, and there was snow on the ground in quite a few places and near freezing temps overnight.

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We were in Yellowstone this past May. We have a small trailer. Since we were there for a week and being our first time we stayed at Fishing Bridge RV park. It is more or less a parking lot with hookups, no campfires and all cooking equipment has to be stowed in the trailer or your vehicle when not in use. Makes it kind of a pain having to hookup the grill every time we wanted to use it. They claim they can handle RV's up to 40 ft but it would be a very tight fit from the sites I saw. If there is still snow when you go the sites will even be smaller. We still had 5-6 ft of snow around our site which forced me to park across the entrance as there was no room to park side by side. If I owned a crew cab I would not have fit. All in all I would not recommend Fishing Bridge to anyone.  

The other campgrounds we went by were still closed due to snow so I can't say what they are like. We have decided on our next trip we will either dry camp in one of these or stay at a private campground in West Yellowstone. We needed some groceries during our trip so took the drive down to West Yellowstone and found it wasn't that long as to be inconvenient. Most likely the decision will be made on the length of our stay. If we stay a week like this last trip we would be more likely to stay in someplace with hookups rather than have to hookup the trailer midway to dump the tanks. If its a few days the stay in the park.

As was mentioned be prepared for cold temperatures no matter what time of year you go. My sister lives in Bozeman and on more than one occasion she's seen a foot of snow on her birthday in mid-August. It can be more unpredictable at the higher elevations. If you are going during the prime season you also need to be prepared for traffic jams. Even when we went we would run into Bison herds using the roads and backing up traffic. Worse were the tourists who mistaking a coyote for a grey wolf stopped to take pictures and set up their camera equipment on the road leaving room for only one car to get through at a time. There must have been 40-50 cars. This behavior is typical and while the rangers do break them up it takes them a while to get to the blockage. 

One last thing is if you aren't used to high altitudes don't overdo the strenuous activities. Altitude sickness can be dangerous even for people in good physical shape.

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13 hours ago, ImDownWithDisney said:

several CG's in West Yellowstone. I don't care much about hookups. We have an onboard genny and 100 gallons of fresh water. Dry camping or boondocking is fine. 

Anyone have big camper experience in or around Yellowstone?

Grizzly RV Park in West Yellowstone is outstanding and less than a mile from the park entrance. I highly recommend using the tour services they find the wildlife know when to hit Ole Faithful and you don't have to fight traffic.

Buffalo Bus Touring Co.

 

https://www.yellowstonevacations.com/tours-activities?utm_source=googlemaps&utm_campaign=buffalobus&utm_medium=local

 

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9 hours ago, PghBob said:

Consider adding a visit to Monument Valley on your trip.  It sits on Navajo land on the AZ and UT border, not too far from the north rim of the Grand Canyon.  This is where many John Wayne films were shot, and the views of the monoliths are spectacular.  Also nearby is the four corners monument on tribal land as well (if you been there once, it's enough).

Agree with your concern about the 40' rig.  We have stayed at the Grizzly Camp Ground in West Yellowstone, which can handle big rigs, at least three times and like it fine.  Can walk to shops/restaurants in town.  Can be pricey.

Remember to take some cold weather gear for Yellowstone.  It can snow any month, and we have experienced enough snow in June to shut down roads, and also in June have experienced below freezing temps early morning.

Love the trip you have planned, some of my favorite places!  Have fun.

I didn't realize Monument Valley was so close. I believe it will get added to the list. Looks like there is a nice CG there too. 

Grizzly looks like a nice park, but shade looks scarce. I've also looked at Bakers Hole CG just a few miles north of West Yellowstone.  It's in the national forest and some sites have electric. 

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6 hours ago, keith_h said:

We were in Yellowstone this past May. We have a small trailer. Since we were there for a week and being our first time we stayed at Fishing Bridge RV park. It is more or less a parking lot with hookups, no campfires and all cooking equipment has to be stowed in the trailer or your vehicle when not in use. Makes it kind of a pain having to hookup the grill every time we wanted to use it. They claim they can handle RV's up to 40 ft but it would be a very tight fit from the sites I saw. If there is still snow when you go the sites will even be smaller. We still had 5-6 ft of snow around our site which forced me to park across the entrance as there was no room to park side by side. If I owned a crew cab I would not have fit. All in all I would not recommend Fishing Bridge to anyone.  

The other campgrounds we went by were still closed due to snow so I can't say what they are like. We have decided on our next trip we will either dry camp in one of these or stay at a private campground in West Yellowstone. We needed some groceries during our trip so took the drive down to West Yellowstone and found it wasn't that long as to be inconvenient. Most likely the decision will be made on the length of our stay. If we stay a week like this last trip we would be more likely to stay in someplace with hookups rather than have to hookup the trailer midway to dump the tanks. If its a few days the stay in the park.

As was mentioned be prepared for cold temperatures no matter what time of year you go. My sister lives in Bozeman and on more than one occasion she's seen a foot of snow on her birthday in mid-August. It can be more unpredictable at the higher elevations. If you are going during the prime season you also need to be prepared for traffic jams. Even when we went we would run into Bison herds using the roads and backing up traffic. Worse were the tourists who mistaking a coyote for a grey wolf stopped to take pictures and set up their camera equipment on the road leaving room for only one car to get through at a time. There must have been 40-50 cars. This behavior is typical and while the rangers do break them up it takes them a while to get to the blockage. 

One last thing is if you aren't used to high altitudes don't overdo the strenuous activities. Altitude sickness can be dangerous even for people in good physical shape.

I'm with you on Fishing Bridge.  That doesn't look fun at all. I really think we can fit in Grant, Madison, or Bay Bridge from the YouTube videos I've watched. But there's always that chance of being turned away for over length. 

The last time we were out there traffic was bad in spots. Bear jams were crazy crowded with inconsiderate people. 

My wife and I are good with the cold weather and altitude,  although the kids have never been to anything more than 5k or so in the Smokies.

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6 hours ago, Grumpy and Grandma said:

Grizzly RV Park in West Yellowstone is outstanding and less than a mile from the park entrance. I highly recommend using the tour services they find the wildlife know when to hit Ole Faithful and you don't have to fight traffic.

Buffalo Bus Touring Co.

 

https://www.yellowstonevacations.com/tours-activities?utm_source=googlemaps&utm_campaign=buffalobus&utm_medium=local

 

Cool thanks for the link

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15 hours ago, ImDownWithDisney said:

I didn't realize Monument Valley was so close. I believe it will get added to the list. Looks like there is a nice CG there too. 

Grizzly looks like a nice park, but shade looks scarce. I've also looked at Bakers Hole CG just a few miles north of West Yellowstone.  It's in the national forest and some sites have electric. 

If you choose to go to Monument Valley, consider visiting a motel there called "The View".  It is perched so that it blends in with the landscape with great views.  It is owned and operated by Native Americans.  We felt the restaurant was very good and if you like Native American goods, the gift shop has very nice items.  Further, tours of the Valley by Native Americans in their vehicles can be arranged from the motel (not recommended to take your own vehicle).  We tried taking our own car and realized that it was not the best idea I ever had when we saw other cars stuck.

Have a great trip.

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I have a class a MH and tow a car so I could not stay in the smaller camping areas of Yellowstone.  We stayed at 4 places in the area.  Colter Bay RV in the Tetons was great.  There are two areas with and without full hookups.  Fishing Bridge was a muddy parking lot and the Sewer Connections were tricky in that they were elevated off the ground and you had to figure out how to get water to flow up.  But it was in the park and everything was as convenient as possible from there.  I had to take a side trip to Cody Wy to get my Refer fixed and the Ponderosa Campground was great with lots to do in the beautiful town of Cody.  The drive from Yellowstone to Cody was very scenic.  We also stayed in emigrant Montana at a place called Yellowstone Edge.  It is 45 minutes outside of the north entrance of the park.  You can find a live video cam to see the park on their web site.  Lots of big rigs there.  I have heard nothing but good things about the Grizzly Campround on the west entrance so that my be your best bet for what you have planned.  Reservations are a must.  

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I just thought of another thing to consider.  Timing.  We went in the early part of June.  Still lots of snow and ice on the ground but the roads were clear.  The waterfalls were roaring and the rivers were fast.  The bears and other wild life were just coming out of hibernation and came down into the lower areas so we saw bears of all kinds, every day.  I would imagine that the closer you go to summer school vacation times the more crowded everything will be

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On 7/22/2017 at 2:39 PM, DinDavie said:

I have a class a MH and tow a car so I could not stay in the smaller camping areas of Yellowstone.  We stayed at 4 places in the area.  Colter Bay RV in the Tetons was great.  There are two areas with and without full hookups.  Fishing Bridge was a muddy parking lot and the Sewer Connections were tricky in that they were elevated off the ground and you had to figure out how to get water to flow up.  But it was in the park and everything was as convenient as possible from there.  I had to take a side trip to Cody Wy to get my Refer fixed and the Ponderosa Campground was great with lots to do in the beautiful town of Cody.  The drive from Yellowstone to Cody was very scenic.  We also stayed in emigrant Montana at a place called Yellowstone Edge.  It is 45 minutes outside of the north entrance of the park.  You can find a live video cam to see the park on their web site.  Lots of big rigs there.  I have heard nothing but good things about the Grizzly Campround on the west entrance so that my be your best bet for what you have planned.  Reservations are a must.  

Thanks for the info. I think Colter Bay will be a stop for a day or two.

We will exit through Cody. I've been there a few times. I like the Buffalo Bill museum there, and we may take the kids to the rodeo too...plus a trip to The Irma for some grub. 

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I loved Cody.  Like I said, timing is everything.  If it is possible to check with the chamber of commerce find out when the Plains Indian Pow Wow is being held on the Museum grounds.  You will not see anything else like it.  Take lots of Pictures.  The wild west show outside of the Irma is a little cheesy but maybe the kids will like it.  I wish I was going back.     

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If you go to Monument Valley there is the Goulding Lodge and Campground that has a great John Wayne / John Ford Museum and still has some sets standing from "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" that was filmed there.

Also look up Goosenecks State Park if you don't mind boondocking next to incredible views.

And don't pass up a visit to Lake Powell if you have the time. Taking a day trip out to Rainbow Bridge is amazing. Even better is renting a houseboat for a few days.

 

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