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Gary Sep 14, 01 5:28 am

[Park partly closed due to floods] "Visiting/traveling to Yellowstone Park" thread
I'm planning a vacation next March and will be flying into Denver and hiring a car for four days. I've always wanted to visit Mt Rushmore and have been told it's approx. 8 hours drive from Denver.

Would it be too much to try to plan a driving trip from Denver to Mt Rushmore then to Yellowstone National Park and back to Denver in four days?

Is there much to see in Yellowstone?

Are there any other worthwhile tourist sites to see around the Wyoming/Rocky Mountains area?

Any suggestions would be appeciated.

- Gary -

j379pa Sep 14, 01 10:54 pm

<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Is there much to see in Yellowstone?

Ummmm, 70+ miles of very cool (hot!) geothermal stuff?

I believe you could spend a month in Yellowstone and not see it all. I regret only having two or three days the one time I was there. The most wildlife I've seen in any of the parks, bubbling mud, hot springs geysers and steam everywhere, nice lake, cool geological formations, and the biggest log cabin structure in the world.

Mt Rushmore was a bit of a disapointment. Definitely worth seeing if you're close, but the view from the visitor center makes it seem much smaller than pictures that you see. It's a bit like Niagara Falls. Spend five or ten minutes looking at it and you're done. Then, you realize you're in South Dakota, which is full of wonderful people, but offers only Wall Drug and the Corn Palace as other options for sight seeing (not meant as a slam, just trying to point out how wonderful Yellowstone is compared to Rushmore).

For my money, I'd spend the time in Yellowstone. I wonder if Denver is your best place to fly into, but then again, you should have a beautiful drive up!


ldsant Sep 15, 01 1:48 am

Why not fly into Jackson WY instead? Yes, Yellowstone is absolutely amazing! BUT. . .you will only find it amazing if you love the outdoors, camping, hiking, looking at untouched beauty, etc.

I've always wanted to see Mt. Rushmore too, but like the other poster mentioned, outside of Mt. Rushmore, there isn't a whole lot to do in South Dakota. Also, mileage out here in the west may take longer in certain places. e.g., driving from DEN to Beaver Creek last summer took longer because the roads were so narrow and curved.

My vote is for your 4 days to be spent in Yellowstone.

Gary Sep 16, 01 9:15 pm

My partner and I are flying from LAX on UA. To fly into Jackson WY or Rapid City SD we would need to transfer in Denver and burn a total of four more return flight coupons @ $80 each. Doing this will add $320 extra to our ticket costs.

My preference is to fly into JAC or RAP, however to cut costs I thought driving from DEN upto Mt Rushmore and Yellowstone would be a cheaper option and will allow us to see some sights along the way.

Thanks for your advice about Mt Rushmore. Although it's in the middle of nowhere, I can appreciate that once you arrive there, spend an hour there to see it, then there's not a lot else to do in SD. What about the Black Hills region of SD? Is there much to see and do there?

I would still like to keep it on my itinerary. It's one of the places I've wanted to visit for a long time.

- Gary -

[This message has been edited by Gary (edited 09-16-2001).]

eschwarz Dec 27, 01 10:36 am


I just came across this thread. Although it's a few months old, I notice that you're not traveling until March, so I thought I'd add my two cents.

I did a cross-country trip a few years ago and went to Mount Rushmore. Although, it definitely is off the beaten track, it's definitely worth seeing. In fact, I think the fact that it's somewhat remote is part of its allure. And, of course, the monument itself is awe-inspiring. Although I was there during the day, I've been told that the evening ceremony where they light up the faces on the mountain is absolutely spectacular. Just something to consider.

As far as other things to see in the area, Badlands National Park is a little east of Mount Rushmore, with a couple of entrances off of Interstate 90. Wall Drug is also kind of a nifty place to stop, have dinner, and pick up a couple of souvenirs. The towns of Deadwood and Lead are also very close to Mount Rushmore and are interesting to visit, if a bit touristy. The cemetery where Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane are buried is probably the highlight - it's a short hike up a small mountain next to the town and offers a nice view of "downtown" Deadwood. I'd also highly recommend seeing Devils Tower, which is in Crook County, Wyoming (the northeastern-most county in Wyoming). It's a couple of hours west of Mount Rushmore and is on the way to Cody/Yellowstone National Park. It's easily accessible from I-90 west (I forget the number of the highway you take north from the interstate) and you get an absolutely spectacular view of the monument, which sort of looms in the distance all by itself and gets larger and larger as you get closer. I thought it was one of the coolest things we saw on our entire trip (we drove from Boston to Los Angeles and back, stopping in most of the major cities and national parks in between).

Anyway, just some thoughts! Enjoy your trip!


RAD Dec 30, 01 2:11 pm

I'd like to add a few more good things for South Dakota in the Black Hills area.

See the things mentioned by eschwarz above, all east of Mt Rushmore. Then exit Rushmore to the south and take the Iron Mountain Highway to the west. The pigtail bridges are cool, and the views from along that road are spectacular. This will take you out near the Crazy Horse monument. Rushmore pales in comparison. I highly it.

Head further west and tour the Cave of the Winds. Amazing stuff!

The only bad part about doing this is having to drive across Wyoming -- And I don't mean to slight our least-populated state! It's just a really boring, flat drive until you get to the western portion, around Jackson and Yellowstone.

If you pick up a AAA map of South Dakota it has the most scenic drives laid out for you.


gleff Aug 4, 03 5:09 pm

Suggestions for Yellowstone National Park Trip
Basic stuff....

* Where to fly into?
* Where to stay?
* Uniquely good deals?
* Things not to be missed?
* Great tips/suggestions?

Thoughts appreciated!


debo_nair Aug 4, 03 5:20 pm

<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by gleff:
Basic stuff....

* Where to fly into?
* Where to stay?
* Uniquely good deals?
* Things not to be missed?
* Great tips/suggestions?

Thoughts appreciated!

I stayed with family at West Yellowstone MT at Good FREE continental breakfast. Hardly 2-3 blocks from YNP western entrance.

We flew SLC from LAX as we couldnt get flights to closer / smaller airports. Its about 5 hrs drive from SLC.

Dont miss any of the geothermal pools.

fargo Aug 4, 03 6:06 pm

You can either fly into Bozeman, MT. [bzn] or Jackson Hole, WY. [jac] on Northwest. Jackson Hole is south of Grand Tetons which is south of Yellowstone. Accomadations are hard to come by this time of year, usually have to make well in advance or hope for last minute cancelations. This is one of my favorite areas make it there at least once a year. Fargo

j379pa Aug 4, 03 6:13 pm

The park is very large, with a number of significant places to visit. Don't shortchange the number of days you spend here.

the Old Faithful Inn is the largest log cabin structure in the world. If you decide to stay there, get to work on reservations fast, probably through the park concessionaire. At the very least, plan to eat dinner there one night.


starrunner Aug 4, 03 6:26 pm

Most everyone stays in West Yellowstone. However I vote for the Old Faithful Inn.
It sits right beside the old faithful geyser. This is the lodge that Disney used as the model when it designed the Wilderness lodge. Nothing beats the real thing.
At least stay at one of the places inside the park if you can get a reservation.
I have never flown in. Always drove. You need a car to really enjoy the park. One good strategy if you have a few days is to spend a night or 2 in the Roosevelt Lodge or cabins. Not glamorous but lots to do on that side of the park. I had the most wonderful fresh trout in the Roosevelt dining Room for lunch last time I was in the park. Most visitors donít have any concept of how huge Yellowstone Park is. You can circle it in a day. You need a week to experience it fully. Be sure to get off the main road and wade in the river. Sulfur smells like rotten eggs. Ask the kids if they can guess the smell. If you pay attention you will see lots of animals. Please believe the rangers. Donít try to feed or pet them. They really will attack. Have fun. It is one of my favorite places in America.

LastClass Aug 4, 03 9:20 pm

While we're on the subject, does anyone have any suggestions for an 8-12 mile hike in the park, or along the Beartooth Highway corridor?

DK_1KGal Aug 4, 03 10:15 pm

Delta flies into West Yellowstone in the summer only. Several airlines fly into Bozeman, Billings, Cody, Jackson.

If you are thinking of staying in Jackson, try for a condo rather than hotel -- I was just in Jackson for a week and rented a one bedroom condo for about $120 a night -- another individual from work just found a rental 2 weeks before visiting -- Teton Pines or Aspens -- we love Jackson, Yellowstone and the Tetons.

LH738 Aug 11, 03 12:42 am

I'm planning to fly into Rapid City, rent a car, visit Mt. Rushmore + Badlands NP + Mt. Devil and continue along I-90 to the Yellowstone NP. This thread already gives lots of information about the area around Rapid City. I'm planning to go there in November so it may be already quite cold and snowing as my travel book educated me.

1.) Is there anything worth while to see along the I-90 (or better drive straight into the Yellowstone NP without loosing time)?

2.) Do you have any ideas if Marriott, Starwood, Hilton, (or other points earning properties are in the area)

3.) Where do you recommend (see also 2.) - if possible and not far away) to stay for easy access into Yellowstone NP? (preferred: rather new rooms; accomodation with own shower/tube; no shared rest rooms)

Any comments/ideas appreciated.

Pictures from hotel stays
Basic Hotel stays/nights/points calculator
Short overview: KLM FD, LH M&M

[This message has been edited by LH738 (edited 08-11-2003).]

pauly_long Aug 12, 03 11:15 am

I live in DEN and can recommend TONS of things to do here. But like the others, I can't really recommend going to Mt. Rushmore from here, since you're signing up for 16 hours of driving for a one hour stop.

Driving to Yellowstone from here is nearly 10 hours one way, and as one of the other folks mentioned, not real scenic until you near the Tetons.

You might consider flying to SLC instead of DEN. That cuts your one-way drive time to about six hours instead of 10, and it's usually cheaper to fly to SLC from LAX than to DEN or Jackson Hole.

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