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Go West (for a spell) Yellowstone? Grand Canyon? What?

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Go West (for a spell) Yellowstone? Grand Canyon? What?

Old 06-17-18, 08:07 PM
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Juan Foote
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Go West (for a spell) Yellowstone? Grand Canyon? What?

The S.O. has not travelled in the West. We have traveled fairly extensively up and down the East coast, been to Vegas once, and of course to Florida. We have been talking for years about a "big" vacation and have put Going West on our itinerary for a possible destination next year. I have been lucky enough to have been out on a car driving trip as well as work travel (by semi) all around the US. In my own opinion I was most impressed by the Rockies, and the Pacific Northwest. I thought Yellowstone was absolutely amazing, but at the same time was humbled by the GC. Arches NP was darned impressive as well.

Our initial idea without any serious logistics on how to make it happen is to fly in to a location in the mid or west coast. We prefer it be marijuana friendly for recreational. Get our chill on for a day or two, and then drive out to see one or two of the parks. In pre-planning we have discussed something like Denver, Four Corners, GC, Vegas, home....Other idea might involve something like Washington (somewhere), Yellowstone, "somewhere", home....

Without having been to either of the major parks in decades, I have been doing some reading about the parks and favorite destinations within. In my own experience, I feel like Yellowstone would be the one major park I was all around the most impressed by, for a variety of reasons. I understand that travel within the park, particularly in the summer, has gotten about like going to rush hour gridlock for your vacation. I read similar reports about the GC. If anyone is experienced enough with traffic in the area or been lately, would you agree with that assessment?

The last thing I want to do is sit on a park road not seeing anything for inordinate amounts of time allotted for this trip.
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Old 06-17-18, 08:23 PM
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Yellowstone and the Tetons are awesome. When I visited (some years ago) it was early in the season. There was traffic but not gridlock. Later in the season it probably is worse.

I stayed in Jackson and spent most of my 2 weeks exploring the Tetons but Yellowstone with the bison, elk and geysers was special.
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Old 06-17-18, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
Yellowstone and the Tetons are awesome. When I visited (some years ago) it was early in the season. There was traffic but not gridlock. Later in the season it probably is worse.

I stayed in Jackson and spent most of my 2 weeks exploring the Tetons but Yellowstone with the bison, elk and geysers was special.
Geysers, mud holes, wolves... just amazing.

Watch your time of year, and weather... we were there about 10 years ago, in August, and were frozen. Yeah, sounds crazy, but it happened. Prepare for it. Ya never know.
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Old 06-18-18, 06:23 AM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post

Watch your time of year, and weather... we were there about 10 years ago, in August, and were frozen. Yeah, sounds crazy, but it happened. Prepare for it. Ya never know.
Our daughter was lucky enough to work there for (part of) a season a few years ago. The list she was given to bring included things like downy jackets, quilted pants, and winter/hiking boots. They even included a few survival items. The reasoning was exactly that. It snows in summer sometimes.
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Old 06-18-18, 11:10 AM
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Yellowstone was awesome when I was there in the last century, but I'd recommend going up the Pacific Coast Highway. That should fit the marijuana friendly aspect, and allow for both sightseeing and hiking.

Another trip we did and loved was to combine the Grand Canyon with a houseboat trip on Lake Powell. That was years ago too and the lake level has dropped since then, but it's still one of my most memorable vacations.
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Old 06-18-18, 11:20 AM
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Yellowstone can be cold just about any time of year. I bike toured through there 18 years go One morning there was frost on the ground in late June. Many people don't realize that Old Faithful is at about 6,000' above sea level. Personally, I don't think I would go back before Labor Day. Don't want to deal with the crowds. The exception would be for backcountry backpacking. I read somewhere that the overwhelming majority of visitors to the park never venture far from a manmade surface. Securing accommodations can also be a pain. IIRC, you cannot make camping reservations inside the park. I am sure finding indoor lodging is also difficult, at least during busy times.
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Old 06-18-18, 11:45 AM
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What month? GC north can be nice in summer, but avoid the SR.

If Winslow AZ makes for a good overnight spot there is a fantastic historic hotel there. Otherwise not a destination.
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Old 06-18-18, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Juan Foote View Post
I thought Yellowstone was absolutely amazing, but at the same time was humbled by the GC. Arches NP was darned impressive as well.
I haven't been to any of those (shameful, really, as a southwesterner), but I've been to Yosemite I think 4 times, and I bet you would find that amazing. It's also not too far from SF if you wanted to rope in a fancy city.

Joshua Tree NP is a really cool place if it's on your way, but it's not mind-blowingly Grand like GC, Yosemite and I expect Yellowstone and Arches.

Actually all the NP in Utah are supposed to be amazing, you could toss a bunch of them onto your list and see a bunch with out too much driving in between.

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Old 06-18-18, 01:46 PM
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I had forgotten about that with Yellowstone. We were told that reservations can be a couple of years back. Given how far N it is of some other things we have considered, that may scratch that idea. I wouldn't mind doing a "drive by" visit but think traffic will inhibit.
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Old 06-18-18, 02:18 PM
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We went to both shortly after Labor Day (but during different years). Places were open but the summer crowds were gone and the weather was still good. You could tell they had built things to handle larger crowds, and the small crowds there made things much more enjoyable.

We used to go on vacation then where I was married, and enjoyed things then due to the smaller crowds. It seemed like we'd end up seeing oldsters, lesbians and other childless couples like ourselves and we all had waited for the kids to go back to school. It was kind of an odd mix, but it worked for all.
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Old 06-18-18, 02:34 PM
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We did a "Great Divide" trip a couple of years ago...Just the national park system can keep you busy....Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Craters of the Moon, Dinosaur, Pikes Peak, Four Corners, Mesa Verde (we stayed at a park lodge here)...all terrific in their own right. If you do Grand Canyon, the Petrified (can't remember the name) is nearby. There's a ton of stuff to see in South Dakota as well, but sounds like you may not go that much east.

If going to Yellowstone, the tip for wildlife (think grizzlies) appears to be the road off the circuit to the northeast entrance, although we saw both grizzly and black bear on or near the circuit.

Enjoy.
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Old 06-18-18, 03:51 PM
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This book,
National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways, has a lot of scenic drives in the West (and the whole USA). If you are driving, you might as well take the scenic route! It's quite inspiring, and I found areas I didn't know much about.

My older copy has a very interesting list of routes in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, for example. These look great!

For example:
Centennial Scenic Byway, 162 miles, 1 day.
From the writeup (and there are photos):
"The Byway charts a long, doglegging course through the mountains and river valleys of NW Wyoming. Along the way, it passes nearly every major sight in the region -- the Wind River Range, the Tetons, the Snake River, and the Green River Valley."

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Old 06-19-18, 07:55 AM
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If you are not willing to camp you are likely going to have to work for room reservations in popular areas at popular times.
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