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Cody, WY to Gardiner, MT


Dennis M
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Baring any construction, the roads in the park are usually not bad. Have driven and towed the trailer over them many times. There are of course animal jams to deal with from time to time. The steepest grades and sharpest switch backs are on the segment between Canyon and Tower Junction. I would avoid this section towing even though many RVs travel it. The route from Canyon to Norris to Mammoth is not as steep and I believe is actually shorter. Check the park's road map for construction projects and weather closures.

 

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2019 Construction

Canyon Village Area

Fishing Bridge to Indian Pond (East Entrance Road)

  • 2019 season: expect 30-minute delays along the East Entrance Road between Fishing Bridge and Indian Pond (excluding holidays*).

Norris to Mammoth

  • 2019 season: expect 30-minute delays between Roaring Mountain and Apollinaris Spring (excluding holidays*).

 

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Edited by trailertraveler
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I have traveled this route countless times in our HDT.  Biggest issues are going to be construction and possibly some road closures.  Yes even in early June Sylvan Pass (East Gate to Fishing Bridge) can still be closed from a late season snow fall.  Rare, but it has happened to us before.

Sylvan Pass (8500ft) is a nice road.  For the park it is actually wide with some shoulders.  The climb from the East Gate to top of the pass has claimed more than a few motors from carless drivers unaware of the strain the climb has on vehicles.  Of those that fail most make it to the pull out at top of the pass but have encountered a few dead in the middle of the road.  Something to think about as a few of the switchbacks offer limited visibility down the road.  Your HDT will do great and basically chase/push almost all other RVs up the pass.

There is construction in the Fishing Bridge area and possible delays.  Fishing Bridge itself is a narrow bridge with lots of people on it.  2 RVs can pass each other on the bridge but if the other RV driver is inexperienced they may be taking up more the their fair share of the road.

At Canyon Village you may have the option of going directly north (via Tower).  Again depending on weather this route could still be closed in early June.  The road climbing up over Dunraven Pass (8900ft) is again wide with some shoulders.  The issue is the downhill side.  This section of road is older/narrower and mostly without shoulders.  Not a recommended drive for drivers afraid of heights as the edge is close to the road and steep.  This route is not my first choice in the RV but I have done it and tour buses do as well.

The preferred route from Canyon to Mammoth is via Norris.  The current issue with this route is the road construction between Norris & Mammoth.  Possible delays of 30 minutes waiting on the pilot car to take you thru the construction zone.  The last 2 years the zone has been very rough and your rig will get filthy. Especially if it has recently rained.

From Mammoth to the North Gate (Gardiner) is only 5 miles but the road thru the cannon is busy and narrow with many tight switchbacks.  Large vehicles are common and typically not an issue.  Again you just have to be aware as some inexperienced drivers of larger vehicles have a tendency to try and use more than their fair share of the road.

Over all not a bad drive in the RV.  Lots of great scenery.  Don't be in a hurry as the max speed you will see once you hit the park is 45mph.  Just keep an eye on the weather leading up to your visit so that you know for sure when the various roads are actually open.

Another option from Cody is Chief Joseph Highway (WY120 to WY296 to US212).  This will take you thru Cooke City/Silver Gate MT, the NorthEast Gate.  Pretty drive but not as nice as via the East Gate in my opinion.  From the NE Gate, you will not have the climbs of the East Gate but the road is older and lacks shoulders.  This can be an issue going thru Lamar Valley as the wildlife is abundant.  So people getting photographs will not always completely pull off the road making it difficult to get by.  They will even stop in the middle of the road and sometimes abandon their vehicle in that quest for the selfie with bison or other wild aminals.

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From Cody, a loop of the Beartooth Highway and the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway with stops for a break in Red Lodge and Cooke City makes a nice day trip. This would also give you an idea of whether you would want to take the Chief Joseph to the NE entrance towing the RV. Photos of the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway from Google.

Edited by trailertraveler
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Beartooth Highway (WY296/US212 Jct to RedLodge, MT) is a breath taking driving.  Personally never done it with the RV and not a first choice with the RV.  Highly recommend this ride as a side trip.  This drive will give your engine/exhaust brake a real good workout and defiantly not one I would want to embark if brake is broken.  The Beartooth highway/pass is typically almost always the last of the passes to open each season.  It is not uncommon for its opening to happen in June.  The pass is a hotspot for snowmobilers this time of year that are trying to get one more ride in before all the snow is gone.

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