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Phoenix to Yellowstone and back


HaoleFolks

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We are off for the summer and fall, May to November, and plan to make our way to Yellowstone from Phoenix and back. We are in a 38' Alfa towing a Honda CRV. This is our first big trip since retiring and have no firm plans as to routes and places to visit and stay. I am looking for recommendations as well as insight into roads or places to avoid. We obviously will not be in a big hurry and are willing to stay for a month or longer in a location if it merits the time. Thanks

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US-89 will take you from Flagstaff all the way to Yellowstone. In the Flagstaff area are:

Sunset Crater National Monument

Wupatki National Monument

Walnut Canyon National Monument.

 

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is not far to the West. South of Flagstaff in the Sedona/Cottonwood/Camp Verde area are:

Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well National Monuments

Tuzigoot National Monument

Palatki and Honaki Ruins

V-Bar-V Heritage Site

Verde Canyon Railroad

Fort Verde State Park

Cathedral Rock

Gold King Mine

Jerome State Historic Park

the town of Jerome

the town of Sedona

Schnebly Hill Road.

 

Going through Utah, there are many great places to see. The closest to US-89 are:

Bryce Canyon National Park

Zion National Park

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Ut-12 Scenic Byway

Burr Trail

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park

Kodachrome Basin State Park

Anasazi State Park

Calf Creek Falls

Hells Backbone

Capitol Reef National Park

Fishlake Scenic Byway

 

North of Alpine, Wy, taking US-26 to US-189 will take you through Grand Teton National Park and into Yellowstone through the South Entrance.

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We are off for the summer and fall, May to November, and plan to make our way to Yellowstone from Phoenix and back. We are in a 38' Alfa towing a Honda CRV. This is our first big trip since retiring and have no firm plans as to routes and places to visit and stay. I am looking for recommendations as well as insight into roads or places to avoid. We obviously will not be in a big hurry and are willing to stay for a month or longer in a location if it merits the time. Thanks

What do you like to do and how do you like to travel/camp?

-- Do you hike?

-- Do you prefer to sight see from the comfort of your Toad? (I'm guessing your Alpha is a MH)

-- Is your Toad a 4 wheel drive?

-- Do you prefer to stay in RV Parks & visit with other RV'ers

-- Do you like to dry camp/boondock, staying in National Forests, National Parks, BLM areas, State Parks, etc

 

TrailerTraveler gave you bunch of great links of places to visit.

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For Yellowstone, I would suggest visiting there either before the 1st few days of June, arriving as early as you can in May, or waiting to visit until 7-10 days after Labor Day to avoid the huge crowds and packed roads in Yellowstone. Yes you may have some frost & could have some snow, but the snow usually doesn't stay on the roads in May and Sept to early mid October.

 

In Yellowstone, if you will dry camp, stay at Madison CG. They have 10-20 sites which will take 40' rig. Madison is centrally located and a beautiful CG. It might be hard to get reservations, this late, for campgrounds in Yellowstone.

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US-89 will take you from Flagstaff all the way to Yellowstone. In the Flagstaff area are:

Sunset Crater National Monument

Wupatki National Monument

Walnut Canyon National Monument.

 

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is not far to the West. South of Flagstaff in the Sedona/Cottonwood/Camp Verde area are:

Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well National Monuments

Tuzigoot National Monument

Palatki and Honaki Ruins

V-Bar-V Heritage Site

Verde Canyon Railroad

Fort Verde State Park

Cathedral Rock

Gold King Mine

Jerome State Historic Park

the town of Jerome

the town of Sedona

Schnebly Hill Road.

 

Going through Utah, there are many great places to see. The closest to US-89 are:

Bryce Canyon National Park

Zion National Park

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Ut-12 Scenic Byway

Burr Trail

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park

Kodachrome Basin State Park

Anasazi State Park

Calf Creek Falls

Hells Backbone

Capitol Reef National Park

Fishlake Scenic Byway

 

North of Alpine, Wy, taking US-26 to US-189 will take you through Grand Teton National Park and into Yellowstone through the South Entrance.

This is great information and we appreciate you spending time to provide so much information. Thank you

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What do you like to do and how do you like to travel/camp?

-- Do you hike?

-- Do you prefer to sight see from the comfort of your Toad? (I'm guessing your Alpha is a MH)

-- Is your Toad a 4 wheel drive?

-- Do you prefer to stay in RV Parks & visit with other RV'ers

-- Do you like to dry camp/boondock, staying in National Forests, National Parks, BLM areas, State Parks, etc

 

TrailerTraveler gave you bunch of great links of places to visit.

We do enjoy hiking and my wife is an accomplished photographer. She really enjoys shooting ruins and ghost towns, basically old stuff. The Alfa is a 38' MH and we tow a Honda CRV AWD so although we can get off the pavement we are not set for rock climbing. Our camping style is a mix of boondocking and RV Parks. We are self contained but do not have solar at this time. We prefer to stay a few days and explore and don't need to move more that 100 miles +/- when we re-position.

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For Yellowstone, I would suggest visiting there either before the 1st few days of June, arriving as early as you can in May, or waiting to visit until 7-10 days after Labor Day to avoid the huge crowds and packed roads in Yellowstone. Yes you may have some frost & could have some snow, but the snow usually doesn't stay on the roads in May and Sept to early mid October.

 

In Yellowstone, if you will dry camp, stay at Madison CG. They have 10-20 sites which will take 40' rig. Madison is centrally located and a beautiful CG. It might be hard to get reservations, this late, for campgrounds in Yellowstone.

Yes, we heard that the crowds become over bearing starting in June. Since we will be taking our time on the trip I doubt we will make Yellowstone before June. Depending on the crowd when we get in the area we can adjust our visit to the park.

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We stayed there in 2005 (yep, 10 years ago so much could have changed) and it was a nice park.

 

As far as visiting Yellowstone NP from there, it is much, much to far away for my liking. Their website says 20 minutes to the west entrance of the NP. I think that is very optimistic. My computer map shows it is 20 miles from US-20 and the local road to the RV Park to the west entrance. Add to that you have to drive through the town of West Yellowstone. Then from the west entrance it is another 12 miles to Madison Junction, that is at least another 15 minute drive, if traffic allows you to drive the speed limit. That 12 miles could be 30 minutes to an hour depending on traffic.

 

In summer time, I would guesstimate a 1.5 to 2 hour drive from the RV Park to Old Faithful each way. Even going from West Yellowstone to Old Faithful can be time consuming.

 

Also it depends on how you want to see and spend time in Yellowstone. Some folks drive through the park stopping at the highlights. Two or three days of spending all day driving and stopping at highlights and you can get a decent view of the park.

 

On the other hand a longer more thorough view of the park would take a week or more.

 

For example, multiple trips to the geysers near Old Faithful is fun and interesting. You can get pretty close (15-40 feet as I remember) to some of the geysers that only go off once or twice a day, or maybe every 30 hours or so. You might have to wait an hour or two for the eruption. Being close enough to feel the ground shaking and the sound of the water and steam coming out is amazing. Old Faithful is nice, but it is like being in a theater watching a movie. Lots of people and you are pretty far away from the geyser.

 

Spending a day in Lamar Valley, on the way to the NE entrance, looking at the wildlife is another great way to spend the day (or two or three). Best to be there early in the morning (6-7am) or late in afternoon. Although there will bigger crowds in afternoon. Here is an entry from a blog about one couples experience in Lamar Valley.

 

If you can get a spot in Madison CG, it is a 3-5 minute walk to the river with wildlife along the river. The CG is also centrally located in the park.

 

Spending 3-5 days at Madison CG and then moving to Mammoth Hot Springs CG, or an RV Park in Gardiner for another 3-5 days would make for a very nice stay at Yellowstone.

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I see you are Escapees, so you can get the Days End directory for $10 and free after that as long as you give feedback on some small number of new or existing low free or low cost parking/camping sites. Days End has great directions and info about a lot of low cost/free sites. Many great boondocking sites.

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On your way back to Phoenix, think about stopping in the Canyonlands area around Moab, UT in the last half of Oct or first part of Nov. Spend a few days in Arches NP. About 9 of the campsites in the NP CG have room for a 40 footer. Link to a CG review for Arches.

 

Also Bryce & Zion are great in the fall.

 

There are lots of boondocking sites listed in Days End for SE Utah as well.

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While I have no experience with the Red Rock RV Park, I would agree with Al Florida that it's probably too far from Yellowstone for easy touring. If you can, stay at several different campgrounds within the park. If you can't make reservations at this late date (although I believe some campgrounds are first-come, first-served), consider an RV park in West Yellowstone or the USFS campground just north of West Yellowstone, Baker's Hole.

 

We stayed at Baker's Hole a few years ago. It was a nice campground which we enjoyed...but it was still a long day to drive inside Yellowstone. There's no way I'd want to stay an additional 20+ miles from the entrance. We took a different loop on three (maybe four...can't recall now) consecutive days. While we did get an overview of the park, it was way too much driving for any one day to see it in detail. If we visit again, we'll do what I first suggested...stay in at least 3 different campgrounds within the park.

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On your way back to Phoenix, think about stopping in the Canyonlands area around Moab, UT in the last half of Oct or first part of Nov. Spend a few days in Arches NP. About 9 of the campsites in the NP CG have room for a 40 footer. Link to a CG review for Arches.

If you were to take US-191 South from Yellowstone, you would travel through Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. Dinosaur National Monument and the Utah Field House State Park are located in Vernal on the way to Moab,

 

There are a number of BLM campgrounds and dispersed camping opportunities in the Moab area. There is more to see in the Moab area than just Arches National Park including Kane Creek Road, Potash Lower Colorado Byway, Upper Colorado River UT-128 Scenic Byway, Sago Canyon, Dead Horse Point State Park, Canyonlands National Park, Needles District, and Newspaper Rock.

 

If you continue South on US-191 and then West on US-163 there is a lot to see including Monument Valley, UT-261 the Moki Dugway and Muley Point, Goosenecks State Park, Hovenweep National Monument, Natural Bridges National Monument, Bluff Fort, South Fork of Mule Canyon and House on Fire, Valley of The Gods, Edge of the Cedars State Park and the Dinosaur Museum.

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You have to allow lots of time to see Yellowstone as the speed limit is slow and everytime an animal is sighted all the tourists stop their cars right on the road to take pictures and such and you will have to wait. Some of them approach the animals very closely ...even bears and Elk and Buffalo....very dangerous animals.

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