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ATL - St. Louis - Badlands - Glacier - Yellowstone - Grand Tetons - ATL

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May 18th, 2012, 07:50 PM
  #1
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ATL - St. Louis - Badlands - Glacier - Yellowstone - Grand Tetons - ATL

The family is taking a LONG RV trip from Atlanta to multiple NPS park locations. We are two 40's, a 12, 9, and 5. Along the route to Glacier from Atlanta, we are looking for tour type things to do. In the past, we've done Ben and Jerry's, Cabot Creamery, Maple Syrup Farm, etc... in our trip to the Northeast.

We like to use these opportunities to break up the monotony of just driving to our destination. I'm looking for suggestions along the way of factory tours or other cool things for us to do.

We're going Atlanta, St. Louis, Sioux City, Badlands/Rushmore, Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and then trying to decide if we're going to go through Denver, OK City, Memphis OR Denver, OK City, Dallas, Jackson, MS.

Also considering Salt Lake City and a quick jaunt to Idaho if anyone has a suggestion of something worth seeing.

How much time should we spend in each park or National Park site?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Zac
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May 18th, 2012, 08:00 PM
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> How much time should we spend in each park

Bare minimums:
Badlands: 1 day
Glacier: 2 days
Yellowstone: 3-4 days
Grand Tetons: 1-2 days

If you are into hiking, double each of the above.
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May 19th, 2012, 05:23 AM
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St Louis--Of course, take a ride to the top of the Arch.

Rushmore-see Crazy Horse as well, Wind Cave and JewelCave. Consider a wild cave trip, maybe the junior wild cave trip for one or two or the boys. Stay at Custer State Park.

Stop at Devils Tower.

In Yellowstone, I would stay one night each at Old Faithful Inn, Roosevelt Cabins, Lake Hotel. And then a night or two in the Tetons.

Many option for Glacier. 2 Days wouldn't be enought for me.

If you have never been to Utah, I would stop at Arches National Park and Goblin Valley State Park. It would be far different from Glacier, Yellowstone, Rushmore. Salt Lake is worth 1/2 a day stop or so.

If you come back thru Colorado. I would consider stopping at Mesa Verde and The Great Sand Dunes. I think I would skip Rocky Mountain National Park as Glacier and Yellowstone are somewhat similar.

I live in OK. Frankly, nothing much worth doing here. Maybe the OKC Memorial. There are some good spots to eat, but that's about it. Arkansas has some nice stops.

In Memphis see Elvis, eat at Blues City Cafe or Rendevouz. See the Peabody Ducks. Good Sunday Brunch at the Peabody.

Nashville. Eat at The Loveless Cafe. See The Hermitage, Country Music Hall of Fame. Have popsicles at Las Paletas. The popsicles are the best ever and worth the stop.

I hope this is for next summer and not this summer as it is going to be super difficult to get reservations for most of these places.

Buy a National Park Pass.
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May 19th, 2012, 09:42 AM
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You say a LONG RV trip. How long? My husband and I made a 5 week RV trip from the Florida Panhandle to Badlands/Black Hills, Glacier, Yellowstone, Tetons, Colorado National Monument, and Ourey, CO (for some Jeep fun). This was the end of August and most of September 2011. We could have easily filled more days and we've been to the Tetons and Yellowstone before.

We put in some long driving days both going and coming, as well as between Parks in order to maximize our fun time. With 3 children, you may or may not be able to do long driving days. Also, we both drive the motor home.

Another question: Will you have another vehicle you can drive when at your destinations? I wouldn't want to have to maneuver a good size RV around in most of the places you mentioned. In Glacier, you can't take anything over 21 feet all the way across from one side to the other. Parking can be a problem in any of the Parks depending on the time of year and the time of day. Some of the Parks have buses, shuttles, etc. (some free, some not) but others don't.

If you're not already familiar with them, the following RV specific websites/forums are excellent. We've found them very helpful in the year and a half we've owned an RV.

www.irv2.com
www.RV.net
www.rvforum.net

I totally agree with buying a National Park Pass if you don't already have one. The best bargain around for people who love our Parks.

Hope this helps a bit. As you can see, a bit more info on what you like do once in the Parks and also about your past RVing experience will help us be more specific in our advice.

You're going to a fabulous part of our country. We plan to go back to the west and southwest over and over.
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May 19th, 2012, 03:23 PM
  #5
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We have a tow vehicle (4WD JEEP) that we will be using once we set up base at RV sites. I appreciate the advice so far about places to stay but we're going to be RV based so no need to worry about reservations for lodges... that's for the rich people
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May 19th, 2012, 06:25 PM
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Zac,

The news flash is you need reservations for your RV! The western natl parks are very popular the campsites always fill up. Depending on how big your motorhome is, your choice of spots will be more limited.

If you choose to go without advance reservations for camping, you must arrive at the campground no later than 9am to have any hope at all of snagging a "first come first served" spot.

If you are willing to stay outside the parks at commercial campgrounds, you might have a better chance, but will pay much more. Personally, I hate staying at the commercial campgrounds because it's just not the same experience and adds to the driving distances.

Hope this helps!
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May 19th, 2012, 07:04 PM
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Don't plan on being successful at finding those "first come first served" spots. Odds are with all the places you have listed, you won't find them at every spot.

For most people, RVing is not a way to save money.

I would far prefer staying "in park" campsite than out. Keep in mind that a lot of National Parks, don't have hookups, showers, etc. Generators are limited hours.
Sounds like a great trip though.
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May 19th, 2012, 07:05 PM
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Sorry, I didn't see RV in the first few words or your post.
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May 20th, 2012, 07:36 AM
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Not a problem. We are finding RV locations with hookups because sleeping in the big tin box with few windows for ventilation may make for a very warm day or very cold night depending on where we are on any given day. Most if not all of the NPS sites do not have hookups and generators are sparse.

As for the first come, first serve spots, those are the chances we all take when camping at those locations. Some nights you get them, some nights you are sleeping in the convenience store parking lot.

I already have the majority of my reservations in place for the Big 3 so that has already been taken care of.

Now, back to "things to do along the way"...
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May 20th, 2012, 11:11 AM
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Zac,

By the Big 3, I assume you mean Glacier, Yellowstone and Tetons, so that's good! If you tell us what campgrounds you are using, we can give details for those areas.

I personally really like Coulter Bay in GTNP. There is some really great hiking and kayaking around there.

There is much to see and do in/around SLC (I live in Park City). If you use the search box for Salt Lake City and Park City you will see other posts with tons of suggestions. Timpanogas Cave is very worthwhile, but it's a popular hike/tour and you need res in advance during the summer months. It's a Ut state monument if you want to look on line.

Check the other posts for all the other suggestions.

Again, you don't tell use how long your long trip is in days. That would help us provide realistic suggestions for you.
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May 20th, 2012, 01:50 PM
  #11
 
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Our children are long ago out of the nest and the grands aren't yet old enough to go with us, so I can't help much on things to do. One thing we did, where we saw many children of various ages, was go to the Mammoth site south of Custer, SD (Black Hills area). It's an indoor, on-going dig, with real bones still in place. Educational and fun, and the youngsters we saw all seemed to be enjoying it.

Sorry I can't help more with the "things to do along the way" portion.

Fabulous places. Enjoy and safe trip.
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May 21st, 2012, 06:04 AM
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I realize you may only think Badlands National Park is only a "day trip" but this year the Park is excavating a sabre tooth tiger! It's not every year this sort of thing happens anywhere, much less in a very accessible location to most visitors to the Park...next to the Visitor's Center. In August the Park has an Astronomy Fest planned for viewing the spectacular night skies in this unusual National Park. Stop in at historic Cedar Pass Lodge and enjoy a Sioux Indian taco or locally raised buffalo burger. This Park is not just a scenic drive through, but worth the stop to overnight!
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