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Help needed to plan Yellowstone and Mt. Rushmore family trip

Help needed to plan Yellowstone and Mt. Rushmore family trip

Jan 2nd, 2012, 11:40 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 364
Help needed to plan Yellowstone and Mt. Rushmore family trip

Hello All,

We are organizing a huge family trip (adults and kids) for July this year. Would like to hear opinions as we are in our planning stage. We would like to cover Yellowstone main areas and Mt Rushmore/Crazy Horse in about a week. We are all flying in from different cities and also trying to minimize driving time but at the same time, keeping the flight cost low. Please advise. Thanks for your help.
P67742 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2012, 12:16 PM
Join Date: Jan 2009
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Not knowing where you are starting from, it is difficult to advise how to keep costs low, other than to fly into a city other than Jackson Hole, as it's an expensive airport to fly into. It's an 8 hour drive from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone.

You really need to start planning accomodations in the National Parks right now. Yellowstone, especially. If you can't get accomdations you want, you will likely be looking at the town of West Yellowstone which has lots of motels.
Placename is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2012, 12:16 PM
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And how many are in your party? You may need to plan on several vehicles.
Placename is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2012, 12:45 PM
Original Poster
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Posts: 364
Thanks. We are out of Newark and some are out of LAX. Looking at the fares, we are thinking of skipping Mt Rushmore now and just going in and out of SLC. Would this work better? Approx 20 people.
P67742 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2012, 12:59 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I thought Mt. Rushmore was incredibly moving and there is a great deal to do in the Rapid City area. So, not sure I would skip it. However, there is a ton to do in Yellowstone as well and if you only have a week....I guess you all have to decide what you want to do.

The big thing is that you need to book your accomodations in the Park right now. Today. This very moment. Call Xanterra. Don't rely on the web site. Pick two, possibly three places and book that. Then, figure everything else out.

There is a ton of driving within Yellowstone so you are going to need a couple cars.

Have fun planning.
taitai is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2012, 01:48 PM
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For twenty people, trying to do the logistics of even one day of driving would, for me, be exhausting. To attempt even more than that in driving from Yellowstone to the Black Hills (and back!) would result in a reality show with more drama than the Kardashians could handle. Fly into either SLC and drive to Grand Teton OR fly in closer to that NP, and begin your trip there. And note that not everyone has to fly into the same airport -- if someone hates riding in a car for half a day, let them fly into Jackson Hole. It's about five hours driving from SLC to the Grand Teton, so you can save a little sanity by beginning your trip there.
PaulRabe is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2012, 02:24 PM
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Get your lodging ASAP-whatever you decide to do. I would stick with just one location(Rushmore or Yellowstone). Custer State Park would be great for Mt. Rushmore.

Many options for Yellowstone lodging. Personally, I like staying at more than one place in Yellowstone. Yellowstone is big. People will need to be flexible as some will want to do more than other will.

I think flying into Billings or Jackson would be the best bet. Flying into Billings you could drive the Beartooth HWY.
spirobulldog is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2012, 03:06 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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As others have said call yesterday and start lining up lodging.

You definitely want to be inpark and save yourselves a lot of daily driving.

Yellowstone doesn't play fair. It's not really one park. There's the Old Faithful / geyser area, the Canyon / waterfalls area and a few wildlife areas.

The best time for viewing wilidlife is early morning and early evening. So if you're staying outside the park you'll have a problem.

Also, once you've been there you realize how beautiful Grand Tetons NP really is.

I would almost describe Yellowstone as an attraction (and some attraction) and GTNP and a beautiful sight.

I could easily go back for another visit.

As spiro has indicated, because of the size of the place count on 3 places for lodging: GTNP (maybe Signal Mtn), Old Faithful area and maybe Canyon or further north.

Call Xanterra and don't bother with the web site.

If you have trouble getting lodging keep calling as people book a year ahead with no plan to really go. Then there are cancellations.
Myer is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2012, 06:39 PM
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I believe a trip that includes Jackson WY, Grand Teton NP, and Yellowstone NP is much more suitable for a one-week family gathering than the one you have suggested.

happytrailstoyou is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2012, 03:06 AM
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Totally agree with maximizing your time in and around Yellowstone. Just posted on another post where they were trying to decide between to Chief Joseph hiway drive to Cody I(Buffalo Bill Museum) or the Beartooth hiway drive (highly recommended by the likes of Charles Geraut). You will have time to do both, see wildlife, rent a boat for the lake, go fishing, picnic, whatever. Hey - the whole group doesn't have to be together the whole time and breaking them up sometimes I have found is the best and you have tons of choices in the area.
Tomsd is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2012, 03:10 AM
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Typo. Charles Kural or close. And I had a NY friend recommend that drive/quote - and they had just bought a place outside of Billings.
Tomsd is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2012, 03:57 AM
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I'm going to hop on the bandwagon also, I think you should rename your trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Teton trip. My wife and I were there last year for 7 days and barely scratched the surface of Yellowstone.
I also think Rushmore and the black hills are a trip destination unto itself. There is enough to see there to take up 7 days in itself.
ziggypop is online now  
Jan 3rd, 2012, 04:43 AM
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With a group of 20, be aware that some folks will want to do more hiking, others more sedentary activities, like just watching Old Faithful, so don't even try for lock step. This is especially true since you are from different time zones. Consider the sizes of cars/vans you will be renting when you figure costs.

I've never stayed outside of Yellowstone, but if lodging in park is difficult, lots of folks here like West Yellowstone as it is close to the entrance on the SLC side with lots of motels and places to eat and internet/phone service. This might work for some of the time. In any case, try for some time in the park and as has been mentioned, call and keep calling as people make reservations way in advance and then cancel as time gets closer.

Hope all works out well for a fantastic trip.
emalloy is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2012, 05:12 AM
Join Date: May 2003
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We spent two weeks in GTNP and Yellowstone and could have spent more time easily! We stayed at one hotel in GTNP for three nights and three different hotels in Yellowstone for the remaining time (note: we flew into Jackson and out of Billings-- got a very good fare and didn't have to waste time in backtracking). As someone mentioned, Yellowstone is huge and if you don't want to spend all of your time driving, I would advise staying at multiple hotels. As a side note, we only made a reservation for our hotel in GTNP and our first hotel in Yellowstone ahead of time (and this was probably only a month ahead of time-- however, we were just a family of five)-- once we were in Yellowstone, we easily secured the two other hotels within the park.

In terms of which hotels to stay at within the park, this will depend upon the level of "luxury" that you want and location. Location was most important to us so we stayed at the nicest of hotels there as well as the most basic one-- very happy with all three of them.

Enjoy your trip!
jeanned is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2012, 07:58 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
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wow lots to think of to plan this trip. Thanks for all your replies.
P67742 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 01:00 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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If you only have a week, then I'd recommend skipping Mt. Rushmore. The drive is just to long for such a short trip. Enjoy your time in Yellowstone and consider adding the Grand Tetons.

utahtea is offline  
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