Road to Yellowstone

Road to Yellowstone

have limited time as this is a round trip from east coast to California

so don't know that we can fit in the trip south to Thermopolis ... wonder if it would be better to do that instead of Yellowstone??? bypass Yellowstone completely??

what do you think???
Road to Yellowstone

hmmm, I'm looking at the atlas and see 9,000 - 11,000 ft mountains in that whole area and wondering if we should tackle something like that our first time out with a travel trailer???

hubby is great with semi-trailers - can park them with inches to spare on either side ... but hauling a travel trailer is a little different, right?

how fast can you travel with a small trailer (19-20 feet) along I-90 and these other highways??

how long does it take to get from Yellowstone to Cody? to Thermopolis?? to Sheridan??

thanks for all the advice!
Road to Yellowstone


No, do not bypass Yellowstone. Yellowstone is a truly unique place on the planet. It is a national treasure that you should not miss. I hope that you have planned several days in Yellowstone. Driving through does not do it justice.

If you are traveling from the east entrance of Yellowstone to Rapid City, SD, going through Thermopolis is not out of the way. Travel time via Thermopolis and US16 is about the same as via US14 to Sheridan. Ya gotta spend the night somewhere, it may as well be Thermopolis if you would enjoy the hot springs.

If your hubby can wheel an 18 wheeler, your travel trailer is not going to be much of a challenge. I presume that you have enough tow vehicle that you are not overloaded. If so these roads will not be an issue. If your tow vehicle is well matched to your trailer then traveling at or near the speed limit is possible. Speed limits range from 35 on some of the mountain roads to 75 on I90.

Road to Yellowstone

no, we do not have several days ... just one day/overnight at Yellowstone ... arriving approx 11:00 am

I checked out what you said on my map program and it's amazing how it works out that driving what seems to be a detour to Thermopolis actually saves us a half hour of driving! so, you will be happy to know that I have added that to the itinerary ... leave Yellowstone after overnight stay approx 9:30am (since everyone says the wildlife is up early, we don't figure sleeping in late) and arriving at Thermopolis at approx 1:30pm (does that sound right? four hours of driving???)

so would you please spell out step-by-step and include mileage/speed limit going into Yellowstone from Bozeman/I-90 and leaving out of Yellowstone to Thermopolis.


Road to Yellowstone


You need to make a comprehensive plan about what you intend to do in Yellowstone. Yellowstone is a VERY LARGE park. The time of getting to and from somewhere from Yellowstone depends on where you are going and from where in Yellowstone you are leaving.

The roads from Bozeman to Gardener, MT are very good. You should have no problems on these roads. With the trailer it will take 2-3 hours depending on your speed and the traffic.

You plan on getting to Yellowstone about 11 AM. If that means the North Entrance at Gardener, MT then you should plan 2 hours driving inside the park to get to either Fishing Bridge or Old Faithful. Don't plan on camping in Yellowstone if you are arriving after 9 AM unless you want to stay a Mammoth Hot Springs. The campground there rarely fills up before early afternoon. All other campgrounds will probably be full. You can make reservations at some campgrounds. See

When you leave Yellowstone, if you are leaving from Fishing Bridge, plan on 2.5-3 hours to Cody and another 2 hours to Thermopolis. Speed limits inside the park are 45 MPH. Don't plan on averaging more than 30 MPH. Animals, terrain and people will assure that you don't go very fast. If you camp at Mammoth and leave from there to go to Cody plan on 4.5-5 hours to Cody.

Once you leave Cody, you should be able to drive near the speed limit most of the time. Mapquest has driving time from Thermopolis to Buffalo as 3 hours. This is probably accurate for a car, you might plan on 3.5-4 with the trailer. From Buffalo to Rapid City is all I90. Speed limit is 75 MPH. I drive my RV at 65 on I90, I don't know how fast you will want to go. ALL of Wyoming consists of rolling hills. It is windy a lot once you get east of Buffalo. Your tow vehicle may not be able to maintain your cruise speed on the uphill side of many grades. The wind may make driving slower than the speed limit seem prudent. It is 210 miles so depending on how fast you drive and how steady you stay at it, it will take 3.5-5 hours from Buffalo to Rapid.

As you can tell, Thermopolis to Rapid City is a long ways. You can drive it in a day but it might be a long day. :laugh:

Road to Yellowstone

thanks, Larry - will make adjustments to our itinerary

any other tips that come to mind will be greatly appreciated ... may have to forego some things this trip and plan a one week trip just to Thermopolis/Yellowstone the following summer

want to make the cross-country trip to scout out the areas and see how "sea-worthy" our travel legs are ;)
Road to Yellowstone

We "did" all of the main attractions on the main loops in Yellowstone in two days one time many years ago. I would not recommend this to my worst enemy. There is so much to see and it is spread out all over this huge park. And for many of the features, you've got to spend a fair amount of time on trails and/or boardwalks to see them. In two days we were totally exhausted, and didn't have time to see anything but the highlights. Now, I'm not complaining as I think Yellowstone is a marvelous place, but if you've got less than four days to spend there, I'd suggest going somewhere else and saving Yellowstone for another time when you can do it right.

Other bits of information that may help with planning, in no particular order:

[*]The only campground that has any utility hookups is Fishing Bridge RV camp.

[*]Fishing Bridge and the larger of the other campgrounds do take reservations through Xanterra Corporation that has been contracted to run them. The rest are run by the NPS and are first-come-first-served. They all were built before the era of big rigs, so fitting the larger units in can sometimes be a problem. Be sure to give good information about the combined length of your rig when you make your reservation so you can be pre-assigned to a site that will accomodate your length.

[*]Bridge Bay has no shower or laundry facilities -- you need to go to Fishing Bridge, maybe a 15 minute drive away.

[*]The road north from Canyon Village is scheduled to be closed for much needed construction for the entire 2004 season.[/list]

We spent 7 weeks working at Grant Campground this summer. If you'd like to see our photo journal, go to
Road to Yellowstone

If in the Yellowstone area don't miss the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody. We stayed at the campground in Colter Bay at the base of the mountains. Incredible scenery.

C Nash

Senior Member
Road to Yellowstone

Need road and camping information for Yellowstone. Will be coming from Alabama first of May 2004. 2002 33 ft Holiday rambler vactioner Ford V10 towing 2002 4 door Tracker. Mountain driving no problem if the MH can travel them. Will probably be coming in through SD but also plan on seeing the teton on the south side. Can I come up through the tetons and enter the South entrance or would it be better to enter the East or North and use the toad to see the Tetons. thanks
Road to Yellowstone

Larry,you seem to be a helpful fellow -my name is tom and i plan to travel to yellowstone from baton rouge la .i am pulling a 5th wheel 32 ft.i have a 2003 hd 2500 chev truck with a 411 rear towing package 300 hp 6 liter i traveled in the virginia and tenn arear up to wash dc.. do you think i will have trouble with this route. we plan on going up us25 out of denver and take 90 across the 191 down to west gate yellostone any help be appreciated tom
Road to Yellowstone


I don't think you will have any problems. If you haven't driven mountains before, just follow the suggestions from page one for mountian driving.

I'm just curious, why around the park and then enter from the west side? This is a LONG ways. If is much shorter and takes MUCH less time to enter via the East Gate from Cody, Wy or the South Gate from the Teton Park. Unless you have some specific reason for going to Bozeman, MT. it seems to me that it might be a much better trip to go north to Casper, WY on I25 then take US 20/26 to Shoshone, WY. At Shoshoni you could either go on US26 into the park from the south or take US20 to Thermopolis, WY120 to Cody and then US20 into the park from the east. These routes are much shorter, take less time and are more scenic.

Although, by any route, Yellowstone is a great experience.

Road to Yellowstone

I'm new to using this Forum - so hope I'm doing this in the correct manner. I was reading Larry's response to cajun on May 29, 2004. I also need some route information from Baton Rouge to Yellowstone.

We just recently bought a used '89 Avion and planning to make our first long trip from the flat country of LA to Yellowstone in August and September. We'll be pulling the trailer with a 2004 Dodge 2500 4x4 truck. We were thinking about taking Hwy 287 out of Dallas to Estes Park and then take Hwy 287 all the way out to the Grand Teton and enter Yellowstone from the South, or go up to Cody and enter from the East. Is Hwy 287 a decent road? Or would we be off taking I-25 to Casper - Casper to Shoshoni?

Any advice is welcome!! :cool:

Road to Yellowstone

Can somebody help me. I am Irish. That isn't my main problem do. I am planning a trip to California. Hiring a LA going to San Diego for a wedding in november. Having a reception in Las Vegas and visiting friends in San Francisco. Hoping to take in Grand Cayon. Skiing. and sailing in San Francisco. What kind of prices would I expect to hire a R.V? What other costs are there? camp grounds? hidden costs that I can't forsee due to being inexperienced with the art? ONCE AGAIN, ANYONE PLEASE HELP ME!!!
Road to Yellowstone

Larry You are very good. I think it is so great how you are so helpful. It is to bad they don't have more time as it is like you said Don't miss it. When we used to travel we always kept in mind that we may never come this way again so see what you can. When you were discribing the routes I was sitting here with tears in my eyes remembering it as we were and it semmed like yesterday. I wonder if they are planning on going to the tetons? Taanks for the memory. My heart is full of great travel memories Donna :) :) :)