Replies: 32 - Last Post: Jan 22, 2013 8:55 PM Last Post By: Kym_n_James
Jan 20, 2013 11:21 AM
Yosemite/Yellowstone/Mt RushmoorHi all,
I recently posted a thread here outlining an itinerary for a trip I am planning in the summer.
After taking on board some of the feedback and doing some more research, I'm looking to skip Seattle and the Northwest to visit a couple of national parks between stops in San Francisco and Chicago. I will have up to 8/9 days to play with. I was thinking something along the lines of the following:
- Possibly visit vineyard in Napa Valley en route from San Francisco to Yosemite. (1 day)
- Yosemite National Park (2 days)
- Travel to Yellowstone National Park (not sure best route)
- Yellowstone National Park (2 days)
- Travel onto Chicago (if possible via Beartooth Highway (US 212), Devils Tower National Monument, Mount Rushmoor and Crazy Horse Memorial).
I have a few questions:
- Is it realistic to fit this all in to 8-9 days?
- What is the best way to travel?
It's a long way to drive so we could fly to Salt Lake City, Denver or Billings. What are the pros and cons of each of those options?
We could then drive onto Mount Rushmoor but then how do we get to Chicago? Can we fly from somewhere like Rapid City?
- I understand accommodation (hotels/lodges) are scarce in and around the national parks. Any tips here? Camping is an option but we're not camping anywhere else on the trip so it either means bringing camping stuff just for this or buying stuff once there (we're coming from the UK and this is part of a 6 week trip).
Many thanks in advance for your help.
Jan 20, 2013 12:12 PM
Jan 20, 2013 12:54 PM
2Flying from Yosemite to Yellowstone is complicated. You could do for example Fresno to Bozeman for ~$260, but it's a long drive to/from airports, long flight (with connection), and you'll have to pay a lot of extra money for one-way rental drop-offs. Meanwhile, it's a ~13h drive from eastern Yosemite to southern Yellowstone/Grand Teton. I'd just drive it.
You can fly from several minor airports around Rapid City to Chicago for ~$170, or drive another ~13h. That might be worth it if you won't need a car again in Chicago. See how much one-way fees are to those airports and compare with Chicago.
Use http://matrix.itasoftware.com/ to search for flights.
To me, it sounds realistic in 8-9 days, as long as you realize and are comfortable with the fact that it will be a lot of driving, a few long and intense days and not a lot of idle time.
Jan 20, 2013 4:44 PM
3Another option you might like to consider, if you feel that it's worth the time spent, is to take the California Zephyr (train) from San Fran (or Reno?) to Salt Lake or Denver. www.amtrak.com
It's an overnight trip, so not THE fastest transport around, but the scenery is supposed to be lovely. We are looking at doing this very train trip ourselves as part of our US trip.
Jan 20, 2013 5:08 PM
4Better idea if you want to fly to Yellowstone: Drive through Yosemite to Las Vegas, then hop on Allegiant Air and fly non-stop to Bozeman for $59.99! (Note that you will need to pay a little bit extra for luggage; Allegiant Air even charges for a carry-on bag unless it fits under the seat in front of you.)
Jan 20, 2013 6:08 PM
5I think with your time, you can achieve no more than the following, and it would be a much better trip:
Night 1 — San Francisco
Night 2 — Yosemite NP
Night 3 — Yosemite NP
Night 4 — Las Vegas
Night 5 — Zion NP
Night 6 — Bryce Canyon NP
Night 7 — Page or Kanab
Night 8 — Grand Canyon North Rim
Night 9 — Las Vegas (for flight home)
You don't have time to visit Yellowstone NP (even setting aside the transport issues), nor can you visit the parks and attractions in South Dakota or elsewhere. Even the trip I have outlined is quite rushed, and it is only a small subset of your plan. The distances are large, and the drives are long ... plus the scenery is very good and warrants some time.
Jan 20, 2013 7:19 PM
Jan 20, 2013 8:39 PM
8Distances in the US are long... But Yosemite and Yellow Stone are worth seeing... The entire America Intermountain West is very scenic and worth driving though...anything West of Denver...
Napa wine tour is basically one highway with dozens vineyards on both sides of the road for many miles...if you do a lot of "tasting" have a designated driver...!
Most long distance travel in the US is on the Interstate Highways...you can make good time traveling at night...and sleep in Interstate rest areas with the truckers after midnight...if time is a factor...which with 8 or 9 days it will be...
Just connect up your Interstate Highways to plan your route... Going off the Interstates in these remote areas can be an "adventure"...if you have the time....these roads are often in poor condition...
Denver might be a good fly-in spot to start your car rental for Yellowstone... Rushmore is not that impressive to me...I'd skip it if time is a factor... There is an Amtrak train from SF to Denver via Salt Lake...
Getting from Denver to Chicago is strictly through what is called "fly over country"...with good reason...there is not much to see there but the mind numbing white lines of the Interstate Highway...that area is missable.
Jan 20, 2013 9:28 PM
9Going off the Interstates in these remote areas can be an "adventure"...if you have the time....these roads are often in poor condition...
I'm sure that all the various state Department of Transport officials would be delighted to hear that! From our experience (having driven in every state and around vast swathes of the US west of Denver and I-25), the national and state route system is excellent almost everywhere.
In fact, we try and stay off the Interstates as much as we can - that is where the really horrific driving can be found - have you driven north-south through the Salt Lake City corridor recently vasenka, or around Denver or Las Vegas at rush hour?
Anyway - the point is almost certainly moot - the OP (if genuine) isn't going to get anywhere near covering their aspirations in 8-9 days.
Jan 21, 2013 7:52 AM
10This plan is still way too much, you will not have to do much in any one place, and a lot of time in a car.
Yellowstone is HUGE, the speed limit is 35 in the park, there is no passing and cars often stopped to view wildlife, it takes 4 days to see YSNP for areas and key highlights, 3 nights, and that would be a rush, as YSNP is best to get out of car, and hike the trails.
Jan 21, 2013 8:37 AM
11California, in addition to the best known Napa Valley. They produce equally first-class wine. See map
If you really want to visit some wineries en route, you could go through the Livermore Valley, just east of San Francisco. Or you could visit some wineries in the Sierra Foothills.
Jan 21, 2013 9:28 AM
That is a flat out LIE. The speed limit is generally 45 mph. I covered all the highlights of Yellowstone in 1 long and intense day. I think 2 days should be enough for anyone, unless you want to do any lengthy hikes or prolonged sessions of sitting around waiting for geysers or wildlife. Also I don't see the need to stop and look at every single geyser, hot spring, caldron, etc. That sounds like obsessive check-box traveling to me.
Jan 21, 2013 12:41 PM
Some years ago at around 3:00 AM I blasted my roadster through Zion National Park from the Springdale entrance all the way to Mt Carmel Jct. just to see how fast I could do it. There was zero traffic and the rangers were all in bed. Zion Park Blvd. up the switchbacks and through the tunnel is a hell of a "natural" road course. I will bet that I still saw more of Zion on that particular drive at 3:00 AM than you saw of Yellowstone in a day in daylight. You can't see all of the "highlights of Yellowstone" in two weeks.
Jan 21, 2013 12:46 PM
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