This board has been so helpful with tips and suggestions. I'm going to post my current itinerary up for everyone to dissect and make recommendations. We are a family of 5, kids will be 12, 11, and 11 next summer. This will be our first National Parks trip. We're fairly experienced road trippers.
The kids love animals and hotel pools
Day 1: Drive from Chicago to Sioux Falls, SD (9 hours/565 miles)
Day 2: Drive from Sioux Falls to Wall, SD (4 hours/292 miles).
Badlands NP - Buy Passport, get stamped
Spend night in Badlands NP? Or Wall?
Day 3 and 4:
Custer State Park - Check in to Legion Lodge - 2 nights?
Head to Wind Cave NP
Mammoth Dig Site
Drive to Cody, WY (7 hours/400 miles)
Day 6: Yellowstone NP Canyon Lodge
Day 7: Yellowstone NP Mammoth (Wild West Dinner, Roosevelt?)
Day 8: Yellowstone NP Mammoth
Day 9: Yellowstone NP Old Faithful
Day 10: Yellowstone NP Old Faithful
Day 11: Grand Tetons NP - Jackson Lodge
Day 12: Jackson (Snake River Raft?)
Day 13-14-15: Drive home
I'd especially love thoughts on the Yellowstone portion. We'll drive from Cody into Yellowstone on Day 6 (early). Then we'll stay in Yellowstone for five nights. How do you like my loop? I am not sure what we want to see in Yellowstone - all the "must dos" - but I'm not sure how they are laid out. I know it's a big park - so I want to divide up the sleeping so we don't have as much driving - and we have more time for hiking/observing.
I'd also love any input on the Wild West dinner and a snake river raft experience?
These are all firsts for us - so I'm having a hard time putting the planning together.
Thank you so much!
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Yellowstone/Badlands trip, family of five, revised itinerary, June 2015