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Old 12-20-11, 06:27 PM   #1
spinnaker
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RV supported tour of Yellowstone (and Salt Lake residents)?

I am considering doing tour of Yellowstone this summer. I don't mind camping but because I will have a mixed bag of participants I thought a RV might be on order.
Plus the RV would be kind of a nice safety valve in case the weather turns sour. Though I sort of figured if I ever did Yellowstone I would camp and take advantage of the hiker biker policy and not have to worry about reservations.

I was thinking of flying into Salt Lake, renting an RV and driving up to Yellowstone.
Has anyone done this? Or anyone out there from Salt Lake that could recommend a good RV rental company?
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Old 01-11-12, 05:03 PM   #2
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I am going to bump this. Hope no one minds.
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Old 01-11-12, 05:12 PM   #3
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I've driven from SLC to Jackson. It's an easy, one-day drive. It's also scenic. Most of the two routes (one through Idaho, another through Wyoming) is undeveloped with limited availability of hotels & services.
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Old 01-11-12, 06:49 PM   #4
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Sorry I'm no real help but this reminds me of a story. We rode through Yellowstone this summer and were spending the night in Madison Campground. A group of folks had managed to get a rental RV hopelessly jammed between some trees. 6 hrs and 2 tow trucks later, all was well . FWIW, all the campgrounds were completely full in mid July. The hiker/biker "no turn away" policy was much appreciated.
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Old 01-11-12, 07:11 PM   #5
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I don't think Yell is such a great place to spend time bicycling. The roads are narrow, high traffic count, and all the motorists are highly distracted.

I spent a week there with a rented SUV, staying in cheap lodging in West Yell. Made it everywhere except up to Beartooth Pass, which was closed. I was one of the first backpackers that spring out at Shoshone Lake. This was first week of June, IIRC. Traffic was already bad during "rush" hours.

I've made the drive from Yell to SLC too, by the Jackson/Pinedale/Rock Springs route. It was like a moonscape back then, relatively little development. I understand they've added thousands of gas wells (fracing) since my visit.

OP. you should investigate flying in to Jackson or Bozeman, maybe picking up an RV there or perhaps West Yell. The extra airplane hop from SLC might be cheaper than gasing an RV from SLC.

You don't really need an RV to camp for a week in Yell. There's quite a bit of camping, food, dining, supplies, showers and entertainment.

You should try to spend a day down at Tetons. There's facilities around Jackson and Jenny lakes. Teton Village has some cheap (that is, cheap for Jackson) lodging. Jackson is good place to spend a last night dining, have a beer at million $ saloon, etc.

PM Jamawani for more info re routes/camping, this is practically his backyard.

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Old 01-11-12, 08:04 PM   #6
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We spent three days cycling the park on our cross country ride. We found biking to be a lot easier than what the cars and RV's seemd to be dealing with. We could stop anywhere we wanted, move at a speed that let us enjoy the parks attractions and the camping was not expensive. The only "near miss" was when a bison, which was spooked when the driver of a big diesel pickup gunned the engine after stopping to take a picture, charged between my wife and me. We were using the pickup as a buffer between us and the bison which was between the road and a cliff. It only had one way to go! We went through the park toward the end of July. We plan to go back and bike it again when we can spend a little more time.
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Old 01-12-12, 06:45 AM   #7
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Be sure to have reservations.

Be sure that the RV thing is what you really want to do. It really changes the trip in very fundamental ways.

Personally If going the RV route, I'd skip the tour and do a bunch of day rides and hikes. I don't think of that as a bike tour, but some call it a hub and spoke tour. If going with the day ride and hike thing, I'd probably emphasize the hikes.

That is just me though.

Whatever you do I hope you have a great time.

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Old 01-12-12, 11:08 AM   #8
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I don't think Yell is such a great place to spend time bicycling. The roads are narrow, high traffic count, and all the motorists are highly distracted.
That was my experience as well, and that was back in '00. I nearly got doored by a couple who sped past me, pulled over and jumped out of the car because they saw a bunch of other motorists who had pulled over and were staring up at a hillside. They were trying to catch a glimpse of a moose that was allegedly up on a hill. At the time they called thoe sorts of things "animal jams." In general there was a lot of speeding traffic between Old Faithful and Colter Bay.

And the no tyrn away policy doesn't necessarily man you will have a nice camping experience. At Madison, there was a small area for hiker-bikers. Ahd one more shown up it would have been extremely cramped. At Coulter Bay, I was given a small stie. When I returned from a nature presentation I found that the campground operator (a private company hired by the NPS) had stuck some obnoxious teenagers in my site. They were employees from the businesses there and not really hikers or bikers. Not a pleasant situation. At least I got a refund the next morning.
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Old 01-12-12, 01:13 PM   #9
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They were trying to catch a glimpse of a moose that was allegedly up on a hill. At the time they called thoe sorts of things "animal jams."
I witnessed these events at least 3X a day when I was in Yell. Folks would abandon their car to gawk at a bison. Once I was stopped for a bison jam, waited 5 min, went down the road for 5 min and got stopped again for another bison jam. It's actually hard to get anywhere because of this crap. After a couple days I was leaving West Yell at 6am to avoid these jams, and sometimes intentionally returning late for the same reason.

OP, I bet you can rent an SUV and pay for a room (or two) at Best Western, West Yell for less than the cost of a RV, extra fuel cost and campsite fee. You could do day rides all over the park and use the SUV with a rack to shuttle from motel.
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Old 01-12-12, 07:28 PM   #10
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Ok. I live in Salt Lake City and I have been to Yellowstone a bunch of times.
If you go in the off season you should be fine. I've been there at times when there aren't many people and it's spectacular. The park gets snowed in a lot of the times, but at least here in SLC we've had like no snow, so it should be ok. I've never ridden up there from here, but always want to. There is a route in a book I have called "Touring Utah" and they detail a route up there. Touring should be great. Don't know when you're going, but as long as it isn't during summer or spring break, I think you should be fine. Like I said, I've been there a bunch and what I would recommend is not renting an RV. Like other posters have said, the roads are really narrow and even if you have experience with an RV and are capable at handling it through tight busy roads, I still wouldn't do it because you're pissing off other park visitors. If you must get an RV make sure it's a small one. But seriously, what's wrong with camping? Mixed participants is a BS answer. We're bikers and as you know getting passed by an RV sucks, especially when you're trying to enjoy the scenery. Do everyone a favor and don't rent an RV. Definitely do the ride though and report back on your adventure.

oh yeah, and the drive is really easy and fun
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Old 01-12-12, 08:11 PM   #11
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Ok. I live in Salt Lake City and I have been to Yellowstone a bunch of times.
If you go in the off season you should be fine. I've been there at times when there aren't many people and it's spectacular. The park gets snowed in a lot of the times, but at least here in SLC we've had like no snow, so it should be ok. I've never ridden up there from here, but always want to. There is a route in a book I have called "Touring Utah" and they detail a route up there. Touring should be great. Don't know when you're going, but as long as it isn't during summer or spring break, I think you should be fine. Like I said, I've been there a bunch and what I would recommend is not renting an RV. Like other posters have said, the roads are really narrow and even if you have experience with an RV and are capable at handling it through tight busy roads, I still wouldn't do it because you're pissing off other park visitors. If you must get an RV make sure it's a small one. But seriously, what's wrong with camping? Mixed participants is a BS answer. We're bikers and as you know getting passed by an RV sucks, especially when you're trying to enjoy the scenery. Do everyone a favor and don't rent an RV. Definitely do the ride though and report back on your adventure.

oh yeah, and the drive is really easy and fun
Most of our participants. Aren't campers. Frankly I would rather just camp. With their hiker biker policy, it would be a lot easier.

Thanks for the advice on the narrow roads. I also like the advice on West Yellowstone and this all gave me an idea. We have two that would camp.

Three that won't. I'm thinking that two that would camp would do just that. The others could take a room in West Yellowstone or whatever and meet us for day rides. We would then still have an out should the weather turn sour. Crowds after Labor Day?


What is the weather like in September? I'd rather it not be too cold. If we went with that plan then we might just fly into Jackson.

Or maybe fly into SLC and rent a van? It would be nice to be able to rent a bike rack too.

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Old 01-13-12, 12:07 AM   #12
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... What is the weather like in September?...
i backpacked through that area and Tetons and rest of Wyoming in sept/oct. in yellowstone (where some say there are only three seasons, fall, winter and spring) i encountered eight inch snowfalls and sub 30 degree temps. but not for long. the rest of Wy., once i got over Togwotee Pass was great. of course a much more reliable source of average temps can be found elsewhere on the internet.
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Old 01-14-12, 11:11 AM   #13
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What is the weather like in September? I'd rather it not be too cold.

It won't be as long as you don't consider 30 at night cold. At least the highs are pretty nice.

http://www.intellicast.com/Local/His...ation=USMT0353

I remember waking up to frost in Coulter Bay--in late June.
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Old 01-14-12, 05:28 PM   #14
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Yell is one of the coldest places in the US. You shouldn't visit too late or you'll be cold and wet.

West Yell businesses rent out 100s of snowmobiles every day in fall-winter-spring, for touring in the Park.

http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick...2=-111.103&e=0

Most services/concessions usually close in the northern/high elevation NPs by early to mid-Sept. So there's none of the usual amenities, but there's fewer people, too.
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Old 01-15-12, 02:32 PM   #15
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FYI, just discovered Delta/Skywest flies to Yellowstone airport WYS (located 1 mi. west of West Yell, MT) after transfer in SLC. Others may serve WYS too, but I only checked Delta.

This wasn't an option last time I visited the area. Also, I think it is seasonal operation only with commercial flights, J-J-A-S.
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Old 01-15-12, 04:56 PM   #16
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From what I remember Delta has some of the most expensive fees to transport a bicycle.
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Old 01-16-12, 08:12 AM   #17
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From what I remember Delta has some of the most expensive fees to transport a bicycle.
It does. $150 in the U.S. By way of comparison, Continental charges $100. But not to be outdone by either, U.S. Airways charges a whopping $200--the same as for a set of antlers.
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Old 01-16-12, 10:09 AM   #18
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It does. $150 in the U.S. By way of comparison, Continental charges $100. But not to be outdone by either, U.S. Airways charges a whopping $200--the same as for a set of antlers.
Wow I thought you were wrong on USAirways so I had to check and sadly you are right. They used to charge $100 and international was free.

$200 each way is obscene. No way can that be their cost. I'd like to see them start charging for all of those overweight passengers they carry.
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Old 01-17-12, 05:23 PM   #19
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Dear Spinnaker:

I camped and biked in Yellowstone a few years ago. I carried by bike on the back of my car and it was nice to have an auto at times. I went in mid September and the park was not overcrowded, but hotel lodging was tight. It got cold at night, on my last night there I woke up to 2" of snow on the tent. You will need a wide tire becuase some of the roads are in poor condition. However the scenery was spectacular. I stayed in West Thumb which is in the middle of the park; my site had a view of Yellowstone lake. All of the campers I met were wonderful. I heard tales that hotel accomodations were not that nice and that some of the other guests were unpleasant.

One word of caution, grocery prices were very high and there was not much variety. Do most of your food shoping outside of the park.

John
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