Salt Lake to Yellowstone to Chicago

Jan 19th, 2018, 08:27 PM
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Salt Lake to Yellowstone to Chicago

Hi, we are trying to plan Salt lake City to Yellowstone / grand teton ( 3-4 days there) and than way back to Chicago ( we have about 7-10 days to get back ) so we can spend some extra days in Yellowstone or just see more things along the way back. two adults and 3 kids (14,11,6) .thanks in advance !!!
pawelczauderna is offline  
Jan 19th, 2018, 11:42 PM
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Unless you've already been there, I would go via Vernal (Dinosaur National Monument) and then through Rocky Mountain National Park to Loveland and from there to Chicago. I am assuming that this is a summer trip. If you intend to do it in this season, the national parks you mention and the one I suggest will be close to car traffic.
Michael is online now  
Jan 20th, 2018, 03:05 AM
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Colorado is a great suggestion. An alternate would be to go via Mt. Rushmore and the Badlands in South Dakota.
CounterClifton is offline  
Jan 20th, 2018, 05:13 AM
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Thanks for your reply, yes we are planing this over the summer (July).
pawelczauderna is offline  
Jan 20th, 2018, 07:14 AM
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Describe the logistics of your plan. Home is Chicago? It is not wise to rent a car in SLC and return it in Chicago IMO.
If this is the case, fly to SLC and rent the car and then return the car in SLC and fly or take the train after seeing Yellowstone.
tomfuller is online now  
Jan 20th, 2018, 02:18 PM
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Hi, Pawel,

We are also a family of 5 and we have done some similar trips. Embarrassed to say that I haven't written our TR from summer 2015 to Yellowstone but I will say you do need to get on those lodgings soon. Finding a room that's comfortable for 5 (a sofa pullout plus 2 beds) is always more limited. Posters on this board will always encourage you to stay in the parks if you can. So price those but if lodgings in the parks don't work for your budget or they're gone, you need to decide which entrance of Yellowstone you want to stay at. We stayed at West Yellowstone (which is a town outside one of the gates), but we were coming from Idaho, so it made the most sense. We found our hotel on Travelocity and it was cancellable until a certain date with no fees. We did not do the Grand Tetons, so I can't help there.

I like Michael's idea of driving through Colorado more than South Dakota, unless you have plans for a separate trip to Colorado in future years. We did a trip there in 2008. In addition to the spots Michael mentioned, we really liked Breckenridge for a long day trip. We went horseback riding and to the Country Boy Mine. The horse ride was up among where the ski lifts were in the snow season, with steep hillsides and beautiful forests. The ride itself was not particularly steep though.

I rather strongly disagree with the idea of taking the train with kids AFTER a driving trip. I would avoid it for sanity alone. But truly--I don't think it pencils out for either time or money. Yes, the car rental agency will charge you a drop fee if you return the car somewhere different from where you rented it. I highly doubt drop fees will cost more than the train tickets for 5 people. You can easily go online and doublecheck this on Budget, Hertz, etc. Sometimes AAA, frequent flyer memberships or other affiliations will help with car rental prices.
5alive is offline  
Jan 20th, 2018, 05:00 PM
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Things that I am unsure about: Do you live in or around Chicago? Car of your own in good shape? If those are correct your cheapest would be to drive I-90 with the first stop in eastern SD either Sioux Falls or Mitchell.
Mitchell has the Corn palace which the kids would like. Second night near Rapid City. See the Badlands and Mount Rushmore. In good weather there is a good light show at Mount Rushmore.
Leaving Rapid City, take the time to see Devil's Tower on the way to Cody via US 14. If you can get lodging inside the park do it. Otherwise stay the night in Cody.
Spend as much time as you can in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons before heading for home. Go south on US 191 to Rock Springs and come home to Chicago on I-80 via Cheyenne WY.
I don't know how much it costs to fly 5 people to SLC but it can't be cheap. 5 people (3 adult 13-64 and 2 kids 2-12) in coach from SLC to Chicago are about $600. It could be under $500 if you get the "Saver Fare" before they are gone.
Are the kids anxious to see SLC or is it just a jumping off point to go see Yellowstone?
It has been my observation that kids like the train rather than being cooped up in the car between scenery stops. The California Zephyr takes about 35-36 hours from SLC to Chicago and goes through some beautiful scenery in the Ruby Canyon and the Glenwood Canyon (east of Glenwood Springs). It also has a 15 to 25 minute stop in Denver before heading east through the night to Omaha.
tomfuller is online now  
Jan 21st, 2018, 08:28 PM
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Chicago is our final destination and our home, we are flying out to LA, driving along hwy 1 to San Fran and then taking it on our own thru mountains.
pawelczauderna is offline  
Jan 27th, 2018, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by pawelczauderna View Post
Chicago is our final destination and our home, we are flying out to LA, driving along hwy 1 to San Fran and then taking it on our own thru mountains.
Curious to know how this goes, please report back!
stephensp is offline  
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