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Questions and Answers

Planning a trip out west with 14 days to spend?

We are going to Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, The Redwood Forest, a secluded beach spot, The Sierra Mountains, Las Vegas (just driving by), and the Grand Canyon.

Where would you spend more time and less time? What are the best trails to go to, the best attractions to see? If you couldn't make this 6,500 mile trip out west, how would you spend a 3,000 mile 14 day trip in the east?

We are a group of 18-20 year olds. We are going to have a practice backpacking trip first, and we will be on the road with a mechanic.

I've been camping, caving, climbing, hiking, backpacking, and kayaking since I was six. I have been to each of these places except for Glacier National Park. I understand how dangerous this can be for a group of inexperienced kids, but we will be taking 15 mile backpacking trips trails maximum. I think we will be fine.

If any of you guys out there are enthusiastic enough about helping us out, I would love for you to discuss with me the list of items i've made. Until then, I won't paste it because this is already lengthy.
Two nights and a full day at Yellowstone

Trip plans- Camp in a reserved campground when we arrive at 4:00pm, find trails to walk that are popular with Geyser activity, the full day, do a light backpacking trip (5 miles) to escape crowded campgrounds. Pack up early and leave by 10:00am

Three nights and two full days at Glacier Park
5-15 miles of backpacking, then before we leave, spend a few hours driving around the park glaciers and looking for easy to reach scenic views

(we have new campers with us, what would be a recommended backpack length? We will have a small practice trip first.)

A night and a morning in the Redwood forest. Just enjoying the large trees in easy camping, nothing more.

One full day and one half day on the Pacific Coast.
Camping 2.5 miles away from the most remote beach access possible, wake up early on the full day and march out there.

A night and full day i
in the Sierra mountains, doing the Big Pine trail.

Posted by jacob smithsen
Custer SD

You do realize it takes a full day of driving just to get from Yellowstone to Glacier parks at 65MPH with no stops? And another two without stopping anywhere along the way other than gas? I think another poster is correct, your time frame is way out of proportion. You may consider going directly to Glacier park first and then streaking back south or vice versa. You won't have much time at any one location just because of the sheer distance. If you are from the east coast of the U.S or what east coast people know as the "midwest", I can easily see why you have no concept of the distances involved. Time of year is another consideration that most people who live in lower altitudes and different locations over look. The "Going to the sun" road in Glacier park opens in late june and closes again in early september. Yellowstone is much the same way. These are high altitude and high latitude areas. You should make your time frame match those months or else forget any thing in the north west, unless you like hiking in the snow. Most areas in the northwest still have snow on the ground into june above 8,000 ft. Altitude. You can go to yellowstone in june, but most of the passes and all of the mountains will have snow on them. Avalanches close some of these roads at times. I'm not trying to discourage you by any means, but you should be aware of the realities in these areas. Just for an example it would take more than 15 hours of straight driving just to go from Chicago, ill to Cody, Wy. And then once you have gotten to Cody another 60+ miles with no towns just to get to the Yellowstone park entrance. If you don't have a campsite reserved, you may easily wind up sleeping in your car in a parking lot. That's assuming you don't get run out of the parking spot as overninght camping is not permitted. Being a little smart about how you spend your money is a good thing when traveling. You should take coolers with your food and drinks along. This really saves on food costs. Eating out is grossly expensive. Another thing you should consider is that you can camp on any U.S. Forest service or BLM(bureau of land management) land. Each have maps to show where these lands are. With a few simple rules you can camp for free in these places. Don't become your typical tourist and get trapped by high cost of camping when you could camp for free on U.S. Government land not far from where you want to be. It may not have the ammenities that a campground has, but it's free. You are young and on a budget, remember this. Besides it's incredibly fun to have a campout in a remote area. Now that I've made your cheeks red, I'll tell you about what I can. I don't know what direction you are coming from, but there are many places to really get a feel for what these areas are like. You won't have time to see much, but here are some of the Highlights. If you have time and can; See the "eye of the needle" in Custer state park in the southern Black Hills National forest. The Cathedral spires are some good climbing. Climb to either Harney peak or just drive up to Mount Coolidge fire tower. This is if you are coming from the east. Camp just off any forest service road west of Hill City, or Custer SD for free! Drive over to the Big Horn mountains and check out some of the cliimbing opportunities there. From Buffalo, Wy up over, you should check out "crazy woman" canyon or from Dayton, Wy. You should check out Tounge river canyon. Either will blow your mind. Many climb in either Tensleep canyon or Shell canyon cliffs. Go over the "Horns" in any case and not up thoroug Billings, Mt on i90 If you do go through Casper and up to Shoshoni, The "Wind River" canyon offers unreal climbing too. If not up through Dubois up over Towgwatee pass to Jackson is a good way too, but expensive from Dubois on and there will be few camping opportunities. You can check U.S. Forest service campgrounds for the cheapest places, but they won't be close to town and fill up fast in the summer. The Teton range offers world class climbing in Teton National park. Backpacking trails are common in all these that I have listed. Going up through Teton through Yellowstone and up can be done in a day. Be aware that each park charges $45 a car load through each park. That was last years prices and fuel filling stations are almost non existant. The ones in the parks are grossly expensive. Almost three dollars a gallon more than average or more. Just don't get gas there. Get it in Jackson or where ever you come into the park and don't get it again unless you are under a half tank. That's another thing, in the west, Keep your car on the full side of the gas guage. It's a long ways between gas stations and you never want to run out. I know this is only up to yellowstone, but possibly someone that lives close to that area will be able to help you more. If you get to the Black Hills I highly recommend the "Mystic" part of the Michelson trail. Others that come to mind are Medicine lodge state park in Hyatville, Wy. Camping is $5 a night and they have ancient petroglyphs from 13k+ ago and a clear creek running right by any campsite. Hot Springs state park in Thermopolis, Wy has a geothermal pool that you can play in and a dionosaur museum. This is at the north end of the Wind River canyon. Some of these places are out of the way but well worth seeing. Flat Head lake area, Mt and the Moab, Ut area are very beautiful. The valley of the gods in Utah is crazy beautiful. Killer sunsets! Have fun with your trip and don't be afraid to ask for help. Many will if asked. I wish I could tell you more, but this is turning into a book.

Mt Rushmore road trip!!?

I want to drive from Billings Mt to Mt Rushmore and I am wondering what is the best way to get there and are there any good things to see along the way? Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks.

Posted by betty lou2010
Custer SD

If you are into history, you need to stop at the Little Big Horn, off I-90 where Custer's Last Stand took place. Its an interesting experience as when I was there, the hair on the back of my neck stood straight out as if the souls of the troopers lost there are still trying to find their way home.
Also, stop in Deadwood and revisit the old West. There is gambling and a few very good places to eat, including one owned by Kevin Costner. If your into motor cycles, then stop in Sturgis, SD, otherwise known as Hog Heaven during bike week in the summer. Last, in addition to Mt Rushmore and the President's, don't forget to visit the Crazy Horse monument nearby..
Enjoy your trip.

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