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Planning July trip to Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon--seeking input on this itinerary

Planning July trip to Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon--seeking input on this itinerary

Dec 24th, 2008, 08:17 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,981
We stayed in the State Game Lodge while in Custer State Park. That was a few years ago and it might have changed by now but the room, although darling, did not have AC and it was Aug and hot. It will also be hot in July so if I were you, I would call and ask if your reservation is in an AC room. Adjoining the Lodge are motel type rooms. not quaint like the Main Lodge, but we begged to be changed and thank heaven they had a vacancy!
We had breakfast on the patio one morning at Sylvan Lodge and thought if we ever came back we would stay there they have beautiful grounds.

Also, Needles Hwy in the park was mentioned above, I also recommend driving that. Iron Mountain Road in the park is also a good drive. http://www.custerresorts.com/apg_1206023049.php
cd is offline  
Dec 25th, 2008, 02:52 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,073
Don't want to suggest you change your plans but I'll give you a short minimum for Bryce Canyon.

Stay in park or at Ruby's (yes for location). Get up very early to see the sunrise at Bryce Point.

Drive over to see Natural Bridge.

Hike down Navajo Loop and either back up Navajo Loop or Queen's Garden.

If you don't hike down with this as a minimum you're doing yourself a disservice and should skip the park entirely.

You could very easily be finished the above by noon.

- - - - -
On the way from the North Rim to the South Rim you will drive right beside Page, AZ.

I would definitely spend 2-3 hours around noon (high sun) seeing Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.

For the amount of time required these two sights offer the most spectacular sights for the time spent.

You can see my photos at:


Select the 2007 trip to Bryce, Zion, GC & Sedona.

Have a great trip.
Myer is online now  
Dec 25th, 2008, 07:56 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 620
I'm going to diverge from the advise of others, and tell you that I think your itinerary is in large part, doable just as you originally intended.
In your original post you stated very clearly what your intentions, abilities and desires were, and I think your original itinerary meshes well with those intentions.
I agree that it is a lot of driving, but hey... you stated that you understood that from the beginning. Some families enjoy that aspect as part of the trip, and you will have 3 drivers to split up the time... so I consider this a non-factor.
As far as your decisions regarding what to see and do and how long to stay in each area, I can see there has been lots of input encouraging you change some aspects - seeing more of the Tetons for instance. I don't necessarily agree with all of it - like spending more time in the Tetons for instance. Again, from your original post, I got the impression that you knew that you wanted to see alot over two weeks, and were willing to compromise. And it looks like that's exactly what you've done.
Your itinerary reminds me of a 14 day cruise - a chance to explore a little bit of each place, at the expense of not being able to completely immerse yourself in each one. Again...that's the impression I got of what you wanted to do. If so....then I say go for it.

And instead of trying to change your mind about your itinerary, we should instead be giving you advise about how to maximize your experience at each venue, and along the way.

For instance: I suggest taking the hike from Old Faithful to the top of the hill overlooking the Old Faithful geyser basin. It's short, relatively non-strenuous, and affords a wonderful view of the basin below.
furledleader is offline  
Dec 25th, 2008, 09:34 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 143
Agree with the earlier poster... Skip Mt. Rushmore (not that its bad) and spend 1 or 2 days in Grand Teton National Park. I spent a summer living and working there in the park and a drive-though would be a shame. One summer was not enough ;-)

Depending upon what you are looking for, IMHO, I'd rather spend time there than Yellowstone and Yellowstone is awesome.
jumbonav is offline  
Dec 25th, 2008, 12:32 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,853
Ah a poster after my own heart--who read clearly what I tried to communicate. I DO appreciate the input about the itinerary and we are looking at my plan carefully
BUT as furledleader said, in the meantime I really hoped for input about what is best to see in the limited time we may have at the places I listed--like best hikes, best drives, best photo ops, etc.

DH got home from the deer lease so I ran some of the concerns by him, and I spoke with DD briefly--they are both still most desirous of seeing Mt. Rushmore, we all 3 want to see Yellowstone, sounds like DH would rather have some time in Bryce/Zion than the Grand Tetons because of some unfulfilled childhood interests, and we all 3 see the Grand Canyon as a must and on the way back to Texas. So looks like the itinerary stands, as far as where we spend each night, but the days are way open to suggestions and planning.
texasbookworm is offline  
Dec 25th, 2008, 02:19 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,469
Yeah, Mount Rushmore is worth seeing... I mean, we all "know" what's there and all... but y'never know, maybe you can find a guy for "DD" in nearby Sturgis.

Hopefully she'll meet him early in the trip, because she might not be making the best impression on anybody after such a demanding itinerary!

Good luck!

NorthwestMale is offline  
Dec 25th, 2008, 04:14 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,443
OK, maybe lets start with Rushmore.

Is there anything other than the Monument you wanted to do in that area? Custer State Park offers several opportunities, Crazy Horse, Wind Cave or Jewel Cave, and Badlands are close by. You could allow for a short trip to Devils Tower in route to Yellowstone.

Now Yellowstone,
1st day, see Canyon area, I would plan on seeing Tower Falls as well.
Several good hikes along the rim and some that lead down to the falls. We did two or three of them around Canyon area, and they all offer great views. You might get a picnic lunch at canyon deli and take with you and eat along the way. they offer sandwiches to go. maybe have dinner in Roosevelt Lodge near Tower Falls/Jnuction

2nd Day Drive Loop route, seeing Mammoth, paint pots and any wildlife along the road you happen upon maybe wind the night up with dinner @ Old Faithful INN

3rd day stop at Visitor Center and checkout Geyser prediction times. If you have the time at all WE LOVED CASTLE and RIVERSIDE GEYSERS.
yes, you do have to wait at them 1-4 hours. they are each very different than Old Faithful. If you can get up early check out Old Faithful like at 6:00AM, not many people there then. of course, if only goes every 90 minutes or, so you can't really plan on anything the night before as far as the time it might go, you just have to be lucky with the timing.

Tetons, If you are so inclined, the Snake River Float is nice, and boat and hike across Jenny Lake is nice.

I still would reccomend loding in Bryce and Zion. Hikes I mentioned before are the best the National Park has to offer.

I still would try for a stay in Roosevelt Lodge over Canyon if it is availablle. These are cabins.

I am jealous of your North Rim excursion. I want to visit that myself someday. On the south rim, a helicopter is a good way to see it. I think a hike down into the canyon would be fantastic on either side. I would be more inclined to hike the north with less people.
spirobulldog is offline  
Dec 25th, 2008, 09:09 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 99
Be mindful that the maximum speed limit is 45 mph throughout both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks as well as the Rockefeller Memorial Parkway that connects the two. Speed limits are even lower around the major attractions such as the Canyon area and Old Faithful area.

Do you know anything about the Boiling River, or swimming in the Firehole River in Yellowstone?
the_scarecrow_in_oz is offline  
Dec 26th, 2008, 03:39 AM
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Posts: 1,853
scarecrow--Thanks for that important info; that may help us make some decisions about the Tetons; enlighten me about the River things (I could google them but would rather hear first hand)
texasbookworm is offline  
Dec 26th, 2008, 10:42 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 98
I am from the DFW area and did a similar long trip .. here are my thoughts for what its worth...first you can do it...period .. next use a good computer trip planner program to see milage and time .. preorder or at first NP you get to get a NP Pass for $80, ..the amount of parks your visiting will pay for itself ...plan on using interstate or multilane state roads where speeds of 70 mpr can make up time in long distance travel... buy or borrow a GPS unit, it is usefull in many ways..we found driving 2 lane state roads in the dark, the GPS maps out every turn or curve before you reach it....your digital camera will need chargeing, for $17 at Walmart get a power inverter to plug in your camera charger and computer, trust me, you'l love it ... plan down time, driving can get you wracked out .. last of all, have fun and watch out for the other guy, espeically in those rented big RV's that havent a clue what they are driveing !!
2dogs is offline  
Dec 26th, 2008, 04:39 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 99
The Boiling River is one of the thermal features of Yellowstone that you can actually physically enjoy. It's a huge hot spring that flows directly out of the earth and spills into the nearby Gardner River about halfway between Mammoth Hot Springs and Gardiner, Montana. Grab your swim suit, towel, and water sandels and take a dip in the rock lined pools where the Gardner River and Boiling River meet.

About 2 miles north of the Mammoth Hot Springs, the road to Gardiner (U.S. Hwy 89) crosses the 45th parallel, which also happens to be the boundary between Wyoming and Montana. A sign along the road here proclaims both. At this spot the road also crosses over the Gardner River and there are two parking areas - a small one to the east, and a larger one to the west. At the east parking area are some toilets, and from the south end of this lot a footpath follows the Gardner River upstream. There are no changing facilities here, so wear your suit when you go. Taking this easy path and following the river upstream for about a half mile brings you to the Boiling River. You can't miss it - a actual river just flowing out of the earth. Park Service personnel have taken river rock and created pools up to about about 3 feet deep where the hot water from the Boiling River can mingle in a protected area with the cold water of the Gardner for about 100 yards. The amount of water flowing from the Boiling River is quite impressive, and depending where you situate yourself in the pools, you can have a soak ranging from very hot, to bathtub warm, to cool, to cold. There are steps leading down to the river entry area, but once in the water, the smooth river rocks can be slippery, so wear your Teva's, or be very careful. Again, there are no changing facilities here, but after you're done soaking, the hike back to your car through the arid landscape will dry you off pretty well.

Driving between the Old Faithful area and the Madison area in Yellowstone you'll be following the Firehole River. Just south of Madison the river diverges away from the highway in order to pass through Firehole Canyon. On a nice summer day you can swim the warm waters of the river through the canyon.
Access the canyon by turning west onto Firehole Canyon Road just south of Madison. This one-way loop road heading south will take you to some picturesque spots to park and take short hikes down to the waters edge. Again, wear your swimsuit (there are no changing facilities) and bring sandels or shoes capable of some very minor scrambling over rock.

the_scarecrow_in_oz is offline  
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