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Yellowstone Jackson Hole road trip advice

Brian Chambers , Jun 20, 2010; 01:32 p.m.

Hey All.
Planning an Aug road trip with the family. Looking for recommendations on places to visit and stay. We are traveling in a 19' motor home so no off-roading. Family not too excited about predawn or post sunset travel so would like to stay in campgrounds that have photo opportunities within walking/biking distance. We have around 10-12 days. Leaving from Hood River OR (east of Portland) and heading thru Spokane, Missoula, Yellowstone for a couple days, head south to Jackson Hole back thru Boise and head home. My son is 11 and active so hiking and biking is something we want to do. We are flexible so could change our route if there are any must see spots. One place I was wondering about is craters of the moon is it worth a stop? Thanks in advance for any advice. Brian

Responses


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Walt Flanagan , Jun 20, 2010; 02:02 p.m.

Look at the map of Yellowstone. There are basically two loop roads that make a figure 8 and roads to the N, S, E, W, and NE that enter/exit the park. A lot of the road is very curvy with lots of elevation changes. I wouldn't want to be driving constantly in an RV but some don't care.

Check the park websites for road closures. A year ago part of the loop road was closed which turned a 15 min trip into 3.5 hours.

Here's a picture of Craters of the Moon NM. There are multiple lava fields around that are pretty interesting. You can spend half a day there and go on.

Roberta Davidson , Jun 20, 2010; 04:12 p.m.

Grand Teton National Park is beautiful. Early mornings will give you plenty of opportunity for animal sightings from moose , elk and coyotes. I believe there are camping facilities around Jenny Lake and Coulter Bay in the park. There are plenty of hiking trails. We spent 3 days in the park and it was not nearly long enough.

Tom Mann , Jun 20, 2010; 04:28 p.m.

Craters of the Moon is worth a visit, if only to get the obligatory snapshot of someone lifting a rock that looks like it should weigh a ton. In fact, because many of the rocks there are so porous, many of them are vastly lighter than you would expect.

Tom M

Peter Hamm , Jun 20, 2010; 04:53 p.m.

Take your time in the Tetons. It's twice as beautiful as all the other places you'll go imho. Also, you MUST be prepared at sunset. the Alpenglow there is unbelievably beautiful, but you have to be ready to shoot it.

The next time I go out that way, I'm taking the whole week in the Tetons, forget all the other places.

Not too far away, Cody, Wyoming is really cool and so is Medicine Wheel.

Frank Skomial , Jun 20, 2010; 09:30 p.m.

Carl Becker , Jun 20, 2010; 11:13 p.m.

I have spent time at both Yellowstone and the Tetons. I could easily spent two weeks at each park. I much prefer to spent time in one park to soak it up and really learn a little about it. For me sunrise and sunset times to capturing images.

Denton Phelps , Jun 20, 2010; 11:39 p.m.

I would agree about the Tetons. We lived in Salt Lake City for a while and traveled to Jackson, the Tetons and Yellowstone several times. Yellowstone is of interest geologically but for sheer beauty the Grand Tetons are the most beautiful mountain range I've ever seen. Craters Of The Moon NM is worth seeing given your planned route but I wouldn't plan a trip around it. Once we traveled up through Idaho via Ketchum (Sun Valley) to Missoula. The highway follows the Salmon River and is a great drive if you want an alternate route home.

Douglas Stemke , Jun 21, 2010; 07:25 a.m.

As noted above if you do go to Yellowstone the southern loop, where are the geysers are is very busy, lots of traffic. I wouldn't want to bike that OR ride around in a large RV. The north loop is a valley, lots of wildlife- herds of bison, pronghorn, some wolves, Mountain Goats if you have a spotting scope at Barondette Mt, possibly a bear or two in the valley.And its a lot more quiet.
I would guess the best campground is Pebble Creek, but I don't know if they take RVs there (I'm a tent camper). We were at Norris, lots of Buffalo in the grounds, fox, and ravens. Early morning around there would be fine for biking. If you DO plan to camp book your reservations well in advance. The grounds fill up quickly.
I was at Craters of the Moon myself last year. I was there in early June and there was some very nice and rather unusual wildflowers in the park (low, alpine-like it seemed) As a naturalist I was looking for birds, animals, and especially reptiles, but didn't do all that well (wrong time of day). Regardless it is a small park, there are some short paths and it is geologically interesting. Unless that is your thing or you 'want to check off another national park' I probably wouldn't suggest making a long side trip to see it. If it is on the way though you can probably see what you want in less than a couple of hours.
Maybe because its been a while since I lived out west I have to say a 5 minute stop in Twin Falls, Idaho is worth a look. There is a spectacular bridge that crosses a deep canyon. If you happen to be on I-84 it's well worth a quick stop.

Jackie McCully , Jun 24, 2010; 02:14 p.m.

The Grand Tetons is definitely the place to be! They have a great fairly new bike/hike trail along the road from Jackson Hole into the park and to Jenny Lake. And, if you camp at Coulter Bay you can easily walk to the lake to get some great sunrise/sunset shots. I agree that you could easily spend the whole 10-12 days just between the tetons and Yellowstone. You'll have a great time!!


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