glacier, yellowstone, rockies

Old Nov 9th, 2004, 11:18 PM
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glacier, yellowstone, rockies

We are planning a family vacation for the next summer. Since flights are a major expense (we're coming from Israel), we would like to do the Canadian Rockies, Glacier, Yellowstone and Tetons in one vacation. Suppose time is not a problem (we have 5-6 weeks), how would you arrange the order of such a vacation ?. We prefer either to stay in couple of bases for at least a week each and then move to the next one, or to rent a motorhome. If we do - how do one arrange the pic-up and drop-off of a motorhome without going all the way back ? And of we rent a motorhome, will we miss a lot of scenic roads that may not be driven in a motorhome ?
I thank you in advance for your kind response ?
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Old Nov 10th, 2004, 07:33 AM
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I would recommend you fly into Salt Lake City, rent your vehicle there, and then drive north to Grand Teton. That park is only a day's drive away, and the drive is a pleasant one. Continue north through the other parks. After finishing with the Banff area, drive back south to Salt Lake; which will be about a two day drive. You'll be more likely to get air fare and car rental bargains by going to a large city like Salt Lake.

Gasoline is less expensive south of the border, and I thus recommend you maximize your gasoline purchases there by renting within the U.S.A.
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Old Nov 10th, 2004, 08:04 AM
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PaulRabe's suggestion is all that you really need.I am not an RV'r but why don't you consider renting a car and then a cabin for a week at each of 3-4 spots.During a recent visit to YNP & GTNP, I drove 640 miles - a hefty expense with an RV.Try a week at Jackson/GTNP, a week on the north side of YNP (Gardiner, MT) and then drive north.
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Old Nov 10th, 2004, 08:10 AM
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Not sure where you departs from, you can try to check Yellow Stone tour from http://www.ivymedia.com/tour/. It was easy to get complete tour package information.
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Old Nov 10th, 2004, 08:44 AM
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We could discuss this at great length because you do have so much time. Before getting into a highly detailed discussion, I would need to know what your flight plans are and how many people are involved.

If you rent a car or an RV at one location and drive to another, the drop charges are expensive.

If I were planning the trip for myself
I would fly into and out of Calgary, Alberta, and then drive to my intended destinations by making a big loop.

I have done essentially what you are describing with a rental car from Calgary. We drove all the way to Yellowstone and the Tetons and back with a long visit to the Canadian Rockies.

It is a lot of driving, but the roads are good and traffic, except in downtown Calgary, is relatively light.

For example, the drive from Calgary to Yellowstone could be made in a long day.
It is about 600 miles total, but that is not a terribly long distance in the west. You would take Interstate highway much of the way where the speed limit is 75 and people drive 80 mph regularly. (I have done it, and made the trip in about 10 hours with a stop or two for other than gas and food.)

Time for the trip is hard to estimate.
Last year I spent quite a few days in the Canadian Rockies but part of that time was at a backcountry lodge.

Yellowstone and the Tetons could easily take a week, particularly if you like geyser gazing. I find myself fascinated by geysers and will go and sit while I wait for one of the big ones to erupt.

One thing you need to factor into your thinking is the cost of accommodations in those areas in the summer. IF you want to stay in Yellowstone Park itself, I would not wait much longer to reserve a place to stay. The best bets are the Western Cabins in various parts of the park or the high end rooms at the Yellowstone Inn or the Lake Hotel.

Using an RV is not something I have ever done, but you might find it interesting. On the down side, one of the big units would be a distinct liability in Glacier where the most scenic road is twisting and narrow. In fact, I am not sure if RV type vehicles are allowed to go all the way over Logan Pass.

IF (big IF) you flew into Calgary, you could take the trip in any order. If you decided on Yellowstone first, there are some places you could stop on the way down -- Museum of the Rockies at Bozeman, Red Lodge and drive over the Beartooth Pass to Yellowstone, come back by way of Glacier to the huge area of the Canadian Rockies.

One final word, in doing your planning factor in all the Canadian parks in the area.

These include Waterton National Park which shares a common border with Glacier, Kooteney NP which borders on Banff Park, Yoho which does the same, and Glacier National Park of Canada which is a few miles west of Golden, British Columbia.

There are also some beautiful provincial parks including Peter Lougheed in Alberta and Mount Robson in British Columbia, west of Jasper.

Also, there is a fascinating museum of natural history in Drumheller Alberta. It is the Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology and there is also Dinosaur Provincial Park. Many of the exposed rock formations in the area are of Cretaceous age and yield a fascinating and extensive collection of fossils.

And the Burgess Shale in Yoho park is of Cambrian age. It has yielded a huge number of rare and exquisite fossils that came along in the first few million years after life with boney parts began to evolve.

So the span of life in Alberta runs from rocks so ancient that fossils with skeletons do not exist all the way up to recent times with some of the formations on either side of the K-T boundary.

And if you like to play golf, Alberta is full of nice courses.
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Old Nov 10th, 2004, 02:50 PM
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You are correct BROOKWOOD! RV's are only allowed up to Avalanche Creek on the west side of Glacier park and only below Glacier overlook on the east side. Both are a LONG way from Logan pass. For more info
www.nps.gov/glac/home.htm
www.nps.gov
www.banff.com
www.canadianrockies.com
www.travel.state.mt.us/
www.discoveringmontana.com
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Old Nov 11th, 2004, 05:35 AM
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I kind of agree about flying into Calgary, using that as a base for the Canadian Rockies, and will the put you right in line to move towards Glacier NP by first visiting Waterton, then GNP and then Yellowstone/Tetons. If you have time, you could return drive back or depending on the airfare/availability, do your return flight out of the U.S. In the Money Section of Wednesday 11/10 USA Today is a large informative article about the mecca Calgary has become.
http://www.usatoday.com/money/world/...-calgary_x.htm
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Old Nov 11th, 2004, 08:59 AM
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P.S. If you go over to the Canada forum, Judy in Calgary posted a magnificent itinerary for the Canadian Rockies using Calgary as a base.
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Old Nov 11th, 2004, 11:53 AM
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Consider renting a station wagon and buying camping equipment at the local K-Mart, Target, or other similar stores. You can equip yourself for about $250. It would be cheaper than renting a motorhome. Every few days you could overnight in a motel for showers, dong the laundry, catching up with the world news. My wife and I have been car camping through the west, including the Canadian Rockies for years, and would not do it otherwise. Of course, if you are not used to tent camping, this might not be the right option.
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Old Nov 11th, 2004, 10:15 PM
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You are getting lots of good advice--there may be a few more specific recommendations we could make if we knew the ages of your family. This might affect some suggestions on daily driving distances and hiking/sight-seeing activities. Also, is this possibly a once in a life-time trip to this part of North America?

In October, we did a mini-tour of the US portion of your proposed trip. I also suggest that if there is little difference in ticket price that you fly to Calgary. Then, Calgary to Bozeman, Montana is a one day trip. I would suggest taking Hgy 89 from Great Falls to Bozeman as it is quite scenic. Yellowstone will take several days with summer crowds and traffic probably increasing your time to get around compared to our October experience.

I am going to bring to your attention another area that you might wish to consider if you have six weeks and if you don't mind the extra travel distances. From Jackson, Wyoming, a one day drive will put you in close proximity to the magnificent red rock canyon areas of Utah--classic cowboy movie scenery stuff. We drove from Jackson to Price, Utah (SE of Provo) in one day and then the next day went on to Capitol Reef National Park (be sure to do the ten mile scenic drive--you normally would have to hike several miles to see comparable sights). From there Hgy 12 through Boulder, Utah (eat at the Hell's Backbone Grill and drive 15 miles of the Burr Trail if you have time) is an incredible drive to get you to Bryce Canyon National Park. We had a bit of a time constraint and consequently spent only a day in Capitol Reef and a day in Bryce but were able to get a flavor of these areas with a few short walks (1-2 miles) and lots of viewpoint stops. (The summer heat in this area might discourage longer hikes.) From there you could spend another day in Zion National Park or cut over to Cedar City on I-15 to start your trip north. If you visit these parks, buy an annual national park pass as separate fees are payable for each of the Utah National Parks.

To get back north, I-15 is a wonderful highway. As someone has already mentioned, 80 mph is a reasonable speed to travel on this highway. Cedar City to Calgary is 17+ hours, Salt Lake City to Calgary is 14 hours (although you will be diverting west near Butte, Montana to get to Glacier National Park for the Rockies portion of your visit). If you don't want to visit the Utah parks, then head west from Jackson, Wy to Idaho Falls, Idaho to pick up the I-15.

This may seem like an overly ambitious suggestion but the Utah parks are quite different from anything you will see in the Rockies (as is Yellowstone). This "detour" could be accomplished in as few as five days between Jackson and Idaho Falls.

I would favor using a car for mobility reasons. Don't miss spending a few days in Jasper. If you are in Calgary between July 8 and 17, get afternoon rodeo tickets and attend the Calgary Stampede (one day is enough). The Post Hotel restaurant (Lake Louise) is excellent--lunch is much cheaper than and just as rewarding as dinner.
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Old Nov 12th, 2004, 11:07 AM
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We've traveled in a motorhome to all these areas several times. You will not be able to drive over the Going-to-the Sun Road in Glacier National Park. There are other options that include the parks shuttle or renting a car for the day. There is one other short road in Glacier that I know of that we couldn't take. We had taken it before in a car and didn't think we missed anything.

In Jasper National Park you might not be able to drive on the Mt. Edith Cavell road, depending on the lenght of the motorhome you rent. Our 23 1/2 foot motorhome was allowed the last time we went. They are forever changing the rules on this road. You only alternative would be to rent a car for the day.

Renting a motorhome can be very expensive and gas mileage will run only about 10 miles per gal. That and there is a little work involved in dumping the gray and black water tanks. I checked at cruiseamerica.com and they don't allow you to pick up a motorhome in the US and return it to Canada...or visa versa. Other companies might.

The benefits of a motorhome are you have the same bed every night. No packing and unpacking! You can save money by cooking your own meals. You have a refrigerator for keeping snacks and drinks. Your schedule might be a little more flexable because we've found campgrounds to be easier to comeby than lodging. You can make reservations ahead of time if you want to stick to a schedule.

Utahtea
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Old Nov 12th, 2004, 07:02 PM
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Your trip will work itself out as it unfolds. I hope you have a really great time!
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