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Thread: Montana/Wyoming road trip

  1. #11
    Senior Member landrover's Avatar
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    And what time of year is best? I imagine Spring for wildlife, but as mentioned, travel could be iffy. I'd still like to go when snow is still on the mountains (year round?)

  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by landrover View Post
    And what time of year is best? I imagine Spring for wildlife, but as mentioned, travel could be iffy. I'd still like to go when snow is still on the mountains (year round?)
    There's a good chance there will be snow in Yellowstone, pretty much year round. Certainly the peaks will always have snow, but there's a good chance you'll be driving through a flurry or two, even in the height of summer.

    If you need to cut a day off of your vacation, you could take a day out from Yellowstone. I think you have Wednesday, Thursday and Friday all day right now. When I was there I think we blew through Yellowstone in 3 days, driving in the first day, driving around the second day and driving out the third day, and that was enough for me (by that time I was extremely annoyed with hauling my manual chair in and out of the car every 20 minutes to stop at the next scenic overlook, waterfall, hot spring, geyser, etc and my shoulders couldn't take much more of that. Without being able to hike out into the back country (which I assume you're not able to do), you will be able to hit all the highlights in two full days there, and it's actually quite convenient to see a lot of the sights on the way in and on the way out. I'd recommend getting to the park as early as possible (like by noon on your first day) and before you get to wherever you're gonna stay you can see a bunch of the sights. Then you've still got two full days to explore, pack up and leave as early as possible on your last day there and take the scenic route on the way out (but TBH there is nothing but scenic routes in Yellowstone, which is kind of the whole point). In my mind that would be enough.

    Maybe others can chime in, but for someone in a chair, I don't think there's much relaxing and hanging out in nature at Yellowstone. I like to go camping and finding a remoteish camping spot or at least one that's not crowded with a ton of people an be a nice place to hang out. Yellowstone has overcrowded campgrounds (with bison and bears roaming through them) or a lodge that is jam packed with people and restaurants, shops, etc. Since we're not able to get off of the beaten path, it's more like driving from spot to spot in a massive (and gorgeous) zoo that you have to drive in bumper to bumper traffic to get to the next buffalo herd or elk herd or geyser or hot spring. It's a beautiful place, don't get me wrong, but it's more crowded than any theme park you've ever been too if you're going during the warm months and you might spend more time hunting for an accessible spot than you will actually getting out of the van and taking in the views (there are reserved disabled spots everywhere, it's just so crowded they'll probably be occupied when you get there and you might have to circle for a few minutes. Certainly the most crowded national park I've ever been to and I think I've been to the majority of national parks in the continental US.

    I'm not sure exactly what I'm trying to convey. It's definitely worth it to go to Yellowstone, it's an amazing place, but after a couple days there in crowds and traffic, I was happy to get away and get back to the peace and quiet of the open road and enjoying nature through the windows without having to worry about a traffic jam around the next corner. When you can't get off the beaten track it's an odd mix of some of the most incredible sites nature has to offer and an absolutely absurd amount of wildlife that feels like a glimpse back thousands of years in to the history of the continent before humans ruined it all, but you have to slog through massive crowds of your fellow nature-destroying humans to get that glimpse.

    I don't know why I'm rambling on so long.

    Summary: It's a cool place, go. You can do Yellowstone in 3 days and not feel cheated on time.

  3. #13
    Senior Member landrover's Avatar
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    Haha, I appreciated your ramble!

  4. #14
    Senior Member landrover's Avatar
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    So based on your feedback: Sunday: Fly into Jackson, rent van. Explore Grand Teton NP, leaving Tuesday afternoon. Drive approximately 3 hours to West Yellowstone.
    Explore YNP through Friday, leaving Friday to drive 4+ hrs to Butte by way of Livingston and Bozeman. Stay overnight. Leave early Saturday drive 4 hrs to GNP, stay until Tuesday (?), drive 2+ hrs GNP to Missoula, stay overnight. Wednesday drive 6+ hours to Jackson. Fly out Thursday. Too ambitious?

    I know I would need to confirm this with the airport, but is it safe to assume that given the small size of Jackson Hole airport, and from what it looks like, no jetways, that they'd have means of getting me off the plane??
    Last edited by landrover; 07-13-2018 at 04:32 PM.

  5. #15
    I have no knowledge of the airport, but my recommendation to you is get things packed up and in the vehicle ASAP on all of your travel days. I didn't go through Grand Teton, but the nature of being in the outdoors and in a wheelchair means most of the sites are seen from the car. A 4 hour drive from GNP to Yellowstone (assuming that's the drive time google maps gives you), could be a miserable 4 hour drive with no stops in traffic, or an enjoyable 8 hour drive with frequent stops to see all the sites.

    There are plenty of pretty places to stop for a while between the two parks, and once you get to the meat of stuff in Yellowstone it would be a shame to drive right past all the sites because you had to get to your room before dark (I agree with KLD), driving after dark is a bad idea (and a waste of all the scenery you don't get to see).

    For example, when me and my father rolled into Yellowstone park the speed limit is somewhat low (I don't remember exactly, let's say 35 mph for arguments sake), but in reality if you're actually going to stop and smell the bison dung and sulfurous springs it can take hours to go just a few miles. And you ARE going to stop. Sometimes you come around a bend in the road and everyone has pulled over because there's a baby Elk being born off the side of the road, or a herd of wild buffalo is ambling down the middle of the road at their own pace with no concern for the traffic laws. These aren't rare or isolated events, there is literally so much wildlife that it stops traffic every mile or two, it's difficult to believe without having been there and probably one of the most unique places in the world where such concentrated populations of large, wild animals mix regularly with such high concentrations of humans and vehicles.

    I mean if you saw a momma Grizzly bear hanging out twenty feet off the side of the road while her cubs are tussling around looking all cute are you just gonna keep driving? Hell no, you're going to pull over (hopefully at a respectable distance) like the other 10,000 tourists and watch until them amble off or get close enough to the van that your own primal survival instinct kicks in and you decide to move on, less the momma bear starts wondering whether or not that big ole van that smells of cheeseburgers and potato chips is some kind of mobile food dispenser that just needs to be peeled open so her kiddos can get inside and get at all that deliciousness hiding inside.

    So basically I would say for every hour that google estimates it will take you to drive add a half hour for traffic and three hours for stops to look at all the incredible stuff you will never see anywhere else in the world. You ARE going to want to stop, frequently.

  6. #16
    Senior Member tarheelandy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by baldfatdad View Post
    Did you do the St George marathon?
    Yes I did and I've signed up again for this year.

  7. #17
    Senior Member landrover's Avatar
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    So I’m thinking early September (not this year) based on what I read, but I am so torn because I’d prefer more snow-capped mountains, so maybe late June? The hotels I’ve noted, can anyone provide feedback if these are in good locations?

    Spring Hill Suites, Jackson Hole (could use Marriott rewards)
    TownePlace Suites, Missoula (same)
    Cedar Creek Lodge, GNP
    Fairfield Inn, Butte (same)
    Last edited by landrover; 07-13-2018 at 08:33 PM.

  8. #18
    If they have a heavy snow year, some roads may not be open even by the end of June. Early September is usually pretty good, but I had friends who went the middle of September last fall, and they had snow in Yellowstone...

    In Glacier, Teton, and parts of Yellowstone, there is snow on the peaks 365 days per year.

    (KLD)
    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

  9. #19
    You can't go before Memorial Day or after Labor day the places are pretty much closed. Its winter. Go the last two weeks in August. Kids are gone back to school with their families and dogs. Go at a slower pace. Look the book "Accesible National parks." There is a trail in Yellowstone built by a gimp ranger, for chairs. Other parks have other stuff. There was an old time bus in Glacier you could tour the park in. Personally Glacier sucks to drive in. All you see is the bumper of the guy in front of you. I could spend 10 months in the Yellowstone area and be happy. Same with most parks. I've sat in the woods 10 feet off a trail and watched 100 hikers go by. They never saw me or the Mama moose and her calf standing right next to me.

  10. #20
    Senior Member landrover's Avatar
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    As I continue to research it further, I'm wondering if it might be best to eliminate GNP this trip, and if fortune should have it, visit another time. I'm concerned I'd spread our time too thin at Grand Teton NP and Yellowstone. I'd still be interested in doing a loop up to Butte by way of Livingston and Bozeman, unless others think that'd be a waste of time?

    Sunday: Fly into Jackson, rent van. Explore Grand Teton NP and Yellowstone (unsure how to divide time) through Sunday, leaving Sunday to drive 4+ hrs to Butte by way of Livingston and Bozeman. Stay overnight. Leave early Monday return to Jackson, stay overnight. Fly out next day.

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