Help With Trip Out West

Discussion in 'General Community Discussions' started by Bud in Florida, Jul 16, 2008.

  1. Bud in Florida

    Bud in Florida
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    Hi Guys and Gals-- My wife and I are starting to plan a trip out west in 2009 (gas prices be damned!) Any way we are starting in Lady lake Fl and heading west. Plan to go through Vicksburg, Branson and then head out to Estes Park. After spending a few days there we are heading to Yellowstone and then up to Glacier and then to Jasper. The only place penciled in on the trip home is Mt Rushmore. Would love any suggestion and/or warnings people may have. We are traveling in a 36 foot motorhome w/o a toad. Look forward to hearing from all of you
     
  2. John Blue

    John Blue
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    Bud,

    How much time do you have to spent, three months or so? It would take a lot of time to cover all the places we have been to date. Pick out states and time tablet you have in mind and I think a lot of people here can help you.
     
  3. Florida Native

    Florida Native
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    We just returned from a trip out West from Tavares, Florida about 20 miles from you. (We are too young to live in Lady Lake.) We went out the southern route. Went all the way to Washington state and then back the central route. You can view pictures of the trip at our website http://www.linandnancy.com What I would do different is go slower and stay several days at each stop. Helps on fuel also. Join Passport America and maybe another half price camping membership. I would get definite get a mountain book. Those areas can be pretty hairy. Don’t know what kind of rig you have, but I would be very careful taking my rig into the mountains and some of the mountain roads. Get good a boondocking. Stop at state welcome stations and get free information. Get state tourism offices to send you free info before you go. Learn to find the local, cheap, but delicious small type restaurants. Food is usually great and it gives you a great flavor for each area. Get a website or at least a free picture posting site. Might consider a WiFi antenna also. Have a debit card from a big bank like BOA even if you don’t use them at home. Switch all of your bills to online. Keep a journal as it all gets fuzzy later. Talk with your spouse and decide that you are both going to have a great time and arguing is not allowed.
     
  4. Lee and Fran

    Lee and Fran
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    Are you planning on driving your motor home thru all of these sites for site seeing? If so plan an entire day just to drive thru Branson with that rig. Traffic can be ugly and with a car its bad with an rv for getting in and out of places and driving the roads can be nasty. And the same for Yellowstone park. Great for seeing further with a rig but bad for stopping to see things. Estes Park can be fun with an rv too. Many many cars on narrow roads much like yellowstone. Glacier has areas you cannot take an rv like road to the sun. Good luck to you.
     
  5. Bud in Florida

    Bud in Florida
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    Thanks guys -- here is some information. We plan to take about a month to get the Jasper. Plan to rent a car in Estates park and Yellowstone and probably Glacier. At present we are planning 3 nights in Branson, about a week in Estates park and 8 or 9 days in and around Yellowstone. Might also look into tours at Glacier. Great suggestion Lindsey, but my wife and I don't fuss too much, but you are correct that arguing just spoils the fun. Will look at your picture. We have both done the Southwest, so we are staying North this time. Keep the suggestions coming
     
  6. britboy

    britboy
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    Good morning - We came back from a trip around WY, SD & MT last month. A couple of places I would recommend are Custer State Park (Custer, SD). Lots of wildlife (huge herd of Buffalo) and it's right in the middle of the Black Hills, which I fell in love with. We also stopped over at Little Big Horn - being a bit of a history nut I found it fascinating.
     
  7. John Blue

    John Blue
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    Bud,

    With no tow think about "Branson Lakeside RV Park" this park is run by city, cost is low, on river full of ducks, next door to old Branson, train ride next door, and cabs to all the shows. In Branson travel over to College of the Ozarks and spent the day on tour. Very low cost museum with three large floors to look at and rest is all free, food was very good, and hold place is run by college kids. Check out town of Hollister on way over. Branson has a great wine shop with 16 wines to check out also free. :D

    Do you plan on a stop off at St. Louis?
     
  8. Texasrvers

    Texasrvers
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    I agree with John. Branson Lakeside RV Park would be convenient if you don't have a car. It is located on the east end of the strip, and I think there is a trolley (at least when we were there) that runs up and down the strip which will get you to most of the theaters. We stayed at the opposite end of the strip at the KOA. There are theaters on this end too, but for us it was a little too far to walk. Fortunately the KOA has a shuttle that will take you to any theater. If you buy your tickets from them, the shuttle is free. Otherwise there is a charge ($5/person when we were there.) They dropped us off and picked us up right at the door so it was certainly worth the money. We only saw two other parks near the strip--Branson Shenanigans and Musicland Kampground--both looked ok.

    Shows to see: Sohji Tabuchi (sp?) is fabulous. Be sure to go into the restrooms at his theater. They are like no others. I'm assuming you are a little older, and not a young couple with kids. If so there is a '50's music review, and we also enjoyed Andy Williams. Other popular shows are Dolly Parton's Stampede, The Baldknobbers, and Yakov Shmirnov. (I didn't take time to look up the exact names or spellings. I think I got close enough.)

    We also liked the Titanic Museum/Exhibit. It was a bit pricy, but very well done.

    Finally take a full day and go to Silver Dollar City. That is a fun place. It has rides, arts and crafts, and music--something for everyone. It is a few miles outside of downtown Branson, but they do have their own campground. You can't walk to the park, but I would expect them to have a shuttle.

    We were there in October, and the traffic was not bad except during the evening show times. We actually drove our MH right down the strip with no trouble, but there would be times when that would be a nightmare.

    We had a great time there. Hope you do, too.

    (I'll try to give you info on some of your other stops later.)
     
  9. kcmoedoe

    kcmoedoe
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    Couple of other tips. Interstate 90 thru South Dakota is a throwback to another era. There are some great 1/2 day stops. The Car museum in Mudrow, the Corn Palace, the 1890s town, and of Course, the imfamous Wall Drug. Don't miss Crazy Horse when you visit Mt. Rushmore. (we find it much better than Mt. Rushmore.) Be sure to check your calendar to make sure you avoid the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in early August. (unless you are a bike fan, then be sure to attend. It is a party like no other in the world.) All routes to Yellowstone are very mountainous with the exception of interstate 90 to highway 89 to the North entrance. DO NOT TAKE HIGHWAY 212 FROM RED LODGE TO THE NORTHEAST ENTRANCE WITH YOUR RV. This is the Beartooth Highway and it is the most scenic drive in America, but it is a nightmare with any kind of rig other than a passenger vehicle. Yellowstone takes a minimum of a week to explore properly. The best time to be at Yellowstone is early June and early to mid September. The middle of the summer is very crowded and the animals have moved to the high country and are harder to see. Advanced reservations are a must around Yellowstone and Grand Teton I strongly suggest setting up a base camp and touring via a passenger vehicle. I personally prefer staying outside the parks in private campgrounds. (I am soft and prefer creature comforts like electricity, water, WiFi, cell service and TVas well as the ability to get supplies from a grocery store.) I like either the North entrance (Gardiner Montana) or the West Entrance (West Yellowstone) as these are directly adjacent to Yellowstone. The west side is more forested, the North side has bigger mountain views. Cody, Wyoming is 50 miles or so from the east entrance and it is another 25 or so miles to most of the points of interest. I find the RV situation in the South terrible. The parks are either very old (Flagg ranch, 20 amp service) or in transition to other uses (Jackson Hole area, parks are closing daily, the land is just too valuable for an RV park to exist.) Grand Teton is spectacular, but there are limited things to do compared to Yellowstone. I would suggest splitting your time in the area about 25% Teton and 75% Yellowstone, unless you are into hiking and Mountain climbing. Jackson, Wyoming is great for people watching and shopping, but be sure to bring your Banker. Cody, Wyoming has a great nightly rodeo, and over the 4th of July hosts Frontier Days which is a spectacular professional rodeo. Cody also has the Buffalo Bill Historical center which is the premier western art and artifact museum in the world. Glacier Park is spectacular, but, like Grand Teton, is confined primarily to viewing mountains. Going to the Sun road is not open to RV travel. The Glaciers are a sight to see, and you should take a guided trip onto one of them. Flathead lake is a wonderful area to visit and a boat tour is a great adventure. Again, reservations are needed in this area. Hope this helps

    Sorry, just re-read your post. I see you are traveling w/o a toad. You should rent a car for a couple of weeks when your are in the Yellowstone/Grand Teton area. You will be SEVERELY restricted in touring with a 36 ft MH as your only transportation.
     
  10. Texasrvers

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    Wow, kcmoedoe, that's great information. I'm not even the one who asked for it, but I'm printing it out for my file.

    Back to Bud's request. I'll comment about Vicksburg. Course the major attraction there is the National Military Park (battleground), and it is well worth seeing. There is a self guided driving tour (which we did). I think you can purchase a CD/cassette that narrates the tour as you drive (now we wish we had done that). I'm not positive, but I think they may have had people who would go in your vehicle with you and give a live narration (but I'm not sure about that.) If they do have this program I'm sure it would be fairly expensive, but if you are really into history it might be something you would enjoy. I don't remember seeing many RVs on the tour roads. They are a bit narrow, but I think they would accommodate an RV. If I remember correctly the roads are one way but two lanes so that cars can pass each other. You can see most of the monuments and points of interest from the road, but there is also a place or two where you would need to park and go in. One is the museum which is on the driving tour (not at the entrance gate). It has the remains of a gun ship that was sunk and other artifacts from the war. If you park here the national cemetary is close enough to walk to. You can drive in, but I think those roads are really narrow and have tight turns so I'm not sure about taking an RV in there. One thing to note, the tour goes through the Union side first and then ends with the Confederate side. By the time we finished the Union side we were tired and so we rushed through the Confederate side. Just keep this in mind if you want to give equal time to the South. We love history, and read every word on every plaque, so we spent about 3-4 hours there. Just driving through does not take that long.

    I think there may be a historical driving/walking tour of the city of Vicksburg, but we've never taken it. The only other game in town is casinos, and there are about 4 of them. They are OK, but they ain't Vegas!

    As for RV parks, the pickings are slim. We have been through Vicksburg several times and have always stayed at the RV park that is owned by one of the casinos. It has changed names several times recently, but I think it is currently Ameristar. It is not great, but it is fine for a short visit. We have not been there for a while and the more recent reviews have given it 9's so maybe it has improved. It is convenient to I-20, and you get a discount if you have their player's card. It is not right adjacent to the casino, but they have a shuttle. There are some other area RV parks reviewed on this site, but we've never seen them.

    Here are two websites that may be helpful.

    http://www.vicksburgcvb.org/
    http://www.nps.gov/vick

    Hope this is useful.
     
  11. John Blue

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    Vicksburg also had a downtown to tour as well. Old court house is now a museum, old ship is the USS Cairo, we eat in a 1850 home for lunch that out of this world. Number of Annabelle homes to tour. Life on the river is fun.
     
  12. Bud in Florida

    Bud in Florida
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    Boy thanks guys. That was a great post kcmoedoe and thanks too to John and Texas. We do plan on staying at Yellowstone a little over a week. Like 4 days in Coulter Bay and 4 in West Yellowstone and I do plan on renting a car. Funny thing is you can't rent a car in Jackson and return it West Yellowstone- so you can't get the weekly rate! Great info on Vicksburg. I have been told that you can't use the RV to tour the downtown area. You all are putting out some great information-- keep it coming
     
  13. kcmoedoe

    kcmoedoe
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    Bud, I suggest you take a day off your Colter Bay stay and add a day in West Yellowstone. The Northern Half of Yellowstone is more interesting than the South. I think you might find the South side a long way from the Major sites. KCMOEDOE
     
  14. Bud in Florida

    Bud in Florida
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    Will consider that. Also, anyone have any advice for the best route from Estes Park, Co to Jackson Hole? Thanks
     
  15. John Blue

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    Bud,

    Couple ways to go. One is north I-25 to I-80 west to Hwy 191 north into Jackson.

    Slower way but more scenic Hwy 34 to Hwy 40 west to Hwy 191 them north into Jackson.

    Also note Jackson Hole is about 20 miles north of Jackson. You have a small air port and that is about it. Jackson will have everything you need. I also think West Yellowstone is the best way to see the park. South side is very bare.
     
  16. mastercraft

    mastercraft
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    To comment on another post, we enjoyed The Grand Tetons more than Yellowstone. Unless you are staying at a central location in Yellowstone around Old Faithful, you will have a lot of driving to get to the sites. You can do the Grand Tetons and southern Yellowstond from Colter Bay with a day trip in Jackson and do the Nothern Yellowstone from West yellowstone, but plan on doing a lot of driving from either to see the sites. Bud, how long you planning on staying at Glacier and Mt Rushmore? We liked Glacier more than Yellowstone. Lots to do in a shorter distance. We stayed on the West side and were entertained for 5 days and wished we had stayed longer. As far at Mt Rushmore is concerned, I agree with the poster that replied that there is a lot to do in that area of South Dakota, but it would probably be easier with a car. Lots of neat little towns. Make sure you see the Crazy Horse monument also. We just did that trip last summer. Probably planned too much in the 30 days we were out there. Just gives us a reason to go back in a couple of years.
    have a great trip.
     
  17. Texasrvers

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    If you take the I-25 to I-80 route there is a spectacular scenic drive out of Laramie. It is the Snowy Range Road (Hwy 130) which joins back up with I-80 around Walcott. When we drove it we were in a car and had not yet started RVing so I didn't think about whether or not an RV could make it. The road was all paved and wide enough, but I'm sure there were some hairpin turns. Maybe someone else can tell you about taking an RV this way, and if you can the view is unbelievable.

    Whether to spend more time in Yellowstone or the Grand Tetons is a tough call. It does take more time to see all of Yellowstone because it is so spread out. You can see all of the Teton area in a shorter time period, but you can't beat just sitting by Jenny Lake and staring at those mountains for hours. Something that hasn't been mentioned is that the Snake River which runs through there is great for rafting. I think you can go on either gentle float trips or whitewater rapids--something for everyone.

    We stayed in West Yellowstone (hotel) and even though it was way on the west side it was fairly easy to get to the different areas of the park, and because it is a town there were more amenities. It is also close to most of the thermal activity. Be sure to pick up a geyser schedule at a ranger station. It will give you all times that geysers are expected to blow. While Old Faithful is a must see, there are many others that are just as spectacular. If I remember correctly the northeast corner of the park is more hills and fields and forests, but very beautiful and less crowded. Just know that you will not be able to see it all.

    Finally your history lesson for the day. Hole was the word early fur trappers used to refer to a valley. Jackson Hole was named after one of these trappers and refers to the whole valley. Jackson (without the Hole) is the town that eventually grew there. We heard this from my brother-in-law who was there last summer. I called the town Jackson Hole, and he corrected me. He said the locals will quickly set you straight also. So now you know.
     
  18. Florida Native

    Florida Native
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    We ate lunch at a small, black cafe in downtown Vicksburg that was just a super meal and cheap too. Had fried green tomatoes, all the old Southern vegetables, several meats and great desert also. Was about 6$ each I think for all you could eat. The name was Poor Willie's or something like that. Right down town. Give it a try. We love to eat little out of the way places in each are we stay. Lunch is usually the best and cheapest. One trick we do is go to town a little before noon and just watch to see where the business people (lawyers will be the ones in suspenders.) go and then go there. We have gotten some wonderful meals that way. Our coach’s oven is broken and will not work for lunch. Strange, our last coach had a similar oven problem.
     
  19. Texasrvers

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    Gosh Lindsey, this must be an epidemic. Out cooktop hasn't worked for years and the microwave/convection oven only works occasionally. What's with this???!!! :lol:
     
  20. Bud in Florida

    Bud in Florida
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    My wife cleans the RV oven and the one at home with a swifter!
     

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