Yellowstone National Park Planning

This page is all about my plans for the summer of 2015 exploring Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and Glacier National Park, camping in my motorhome. I’ll be adding to it as I gather info below, so please feel free to chime in with comments and suggestions!

Yellowstone Arch sign

I went through this area briefly when on the way back from my big Alaska trip in 2003 when my mom was with me for the return portion, but didn’t have nearly enough time except for the most basic sights.  I plan the entire summer in this area and still worry it won’t be enough since the season is so short.

Yellowstone - Pool-lake

From Day 1: (Sept. 6, 2003)

All I knew about Yellowstone before I arrived here was that it was the first national park established in our country and that it was the home of Old Faithful and Yogi Bear.  But once we arrived through the north gate, we were both exclaiming, “I didn’t think it would be THIS beautiful!”

Mom-Yellowstone1

Mom and I are absolutely enthralled with the landscape here – it feels like a totally different cosmic environment. To see boiling water bubbling from the earth in pools everywhere – to smell the sulfuric steam as it rises and to stare unbelievably at the vivid, strange colors tinting the surrounding land as if painted by the minerals in the whirling water – these are sights and experiences I would not trade for any other.

This park still has the feel of a primitive land where buffalo, bear, elk and coyote roam about freely among cold flowing streams and clear blue lakes right next to boiling cauldrons and geysers! The steaming earth makes it feel like you would be just as likely to see dinosaurs stomping around, like getting a glimpse back to prehistoric days – what a trip!

Artist's Point

From Day 2 – Artist’s Point: (Sept. 7, 2003)

My favorite spot was a place called Artist’s Point at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. This is an area that rivals the one in Arizona for sure with the beauty and layering of the colors of the massive canyon and the distant waterfall still looming so large you think you can feel the spray. When I got to the top of the lookout, there was a young Eastern Indian couple there and he commented to me in the most sincere awe-filled voice: “Oh, this is too big for my eyes!”

OldFaithful
Day 3 – Old Faithful: (Sept. 8, 2003)

Even with just a few days, of course we didn’t miss Old Faithful and of course it was still faithful for us. Another special treat was when buffalo crossed in front of the motorhome!

Mom - Yellowstone - Copy

And even though my mom won’t be with me in physical form this time around, she will always be with me in spirit and I know she’ll be cheering me on.

I well remember the awe in my soul back then when I wrote:  “All I know is that this is special land – a place where you can hear the voice of the earth and see its breath, sometimes soft and gentle, sometimes hissing violently. And it’s a place with magic pools and fairy waterfalls that completely enchanted me and made me vow to return someday.”

That someday is close and I’m more than excited!

I hope to hear from other traveling souls who have been here and have must-sees and tips to share in Comments below.

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Links – General Info:

Yellowstone (NPS) Yellowstone – Trip Planner 2015 (NPS pdf)
Yellowstone Photo Collection (NPS) Yellowstone (EnjoyYourParks)
Exploring Yellowstone by RV (RV Techmag – 2011) – A nice overview with info about all entrances and travel between them.

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Must-Sees:

Top 10 Attractions (Yellowstone.net) Best Things To Do In Yellowstone (US News)
What to Do at Yellowstone (Nat’l Geographic)  Beartooth Scenic Highway

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Campgrounds:

Campgrounds (NPS) (2015 info) – Link gives info on all campgrounds, but below I only included ones that fit my criteria: suitable for 30′ and longer RVs and that allowed generator use.

Campground Info Notes

Mammoth Hot Springs

Photos

85 sites – $20/night Only campground open year round. No hookups, no dump station. First come, first served. Most sites are pull-through suitable for large RVs.

Madison

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 278 sites – $21.50/night One of most popular – earliest opening and latest closing dates of the seasonal campgrounds. Dump station. Xanterra managed – 307-344-7311 for reservations or online.

Fishing Bridge

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 325 sites – $46.75/night Directly off east entrance. Only campground with full hookups. Xanterra managed – 307-344-7311 for reservations or online.

Bridge Bay

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 432 sites – $21.50/night 30 miles west of the east entrance, located just across the road from Yellowstone Lake. Xanterra managed – 307-344-7311 for reservations or online.

Canyon Village

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273 sites – $26/night Located in one of the most popular sections – south of the Washburn range and near the breathtaking Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. Xanterra managed – 307-344-7311 for reservations or online.

Grant Village

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 430 sites – $26/night South entrance. Located in Grant Village, just off the Grand Loop Road at south end of Yellowstone Lake. No hookups; dump station. Xanterra managed – 307-344-7311 for reservations or online.

Baker’s Hole CG

(USDA – Forest Service)

RVParkReviews

73 sites – $16/night
(+$6 for elec.)Senior Pass = $8 for no hookups$14 for elec.

4 miles north of West Yellowstone. No reservations – all first come, first served.  Website shows that Senior Pass discount is not good for electric sites (all 50 amps). But I stayed there for the full 16 nights allowed in July, 2015, and sign there shows full price for electric sites are $22 for electric sites and $14 for Senior Pass. Sites with no hookups were $16 and half off with Senior Pass.

Open May 1-Sept. 15. No dump station – water spigot at front to fill up fresh water tanks.  Gallatin National Forest. (406) 823-6961  or 406-646-1012 (Renee recommends)

Wyoming

National Forests & Campgrounds

Teton National Forest

 

  • Email with tips from friends, so I can keep all in one place:

    Don’t forget to visit and drive Virginia Cascades in Yellowstone with your toad. Being as close as we are to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, we have visited many, many times and never tire of it. We’ve stayed in Yellowstone at Bridge Bay, at Gros Ventre in Grand Teton, at Colter Bay RV off of Jackson lake (several times), and even at Baker’s Hole, a FS CG in West Yellowstone. Baker’s Hole is a Big Rig friendly FS CG with electricity at most sites and a water fill hose at the entrance. We have even stayed off the Togwotee Pass at a CG called Falls – one loop has electricity and most sites are big rig friendly. Moose visited us daily in this CG. (Renee)

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