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Baton Rouge to Yellowstone


mark1958
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I am going to be traveling from Baton Rouge to Yellowstone, leaving the 1st week of May pulling my 5th wheel. I can get to Amarillo ok and then going to Denver taking 1-25 to Cheyenne taking 1-80 to Rawlins and then 286 to Moran. I have pulled in the Gatlinburg area but never out west. Looking for suggestions on this route or another possible route that would be better? My buddy is driving his 36 Foot motor home also. We are also going from Cody to Buffalo and checking on the route to get to buffalo. I have watched many you tube videos on these Routes and Google maps but it would be nice to hear from someone who has taken them. This is my 1st post in a while so have patience with me if I do something wrong. Thanks

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Really depends on weather Cody west is problematic since that is the high road into YNP. We came out that way in early October and snow was following us out and closing that road. All the cg in Cody shut down Sep 30, not sure when they re-open

May is early for YNP, I90 to Livingston MT then south may work better but weather will control. We have often gone I80 to Rock Springs then north on 191 to Jackson. But once again watch the snowfall.

Edited by agesilaus
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Welcome to the forum.  Where is your final destination for Yellowstone?  That makes a difference.  Are you staying in the park itself or an outlying town?  We always seek out secondary highways to avoid big cities and to see more of this country.  If you want to take interstates here is a possible route that I would do:  I-49 north to Texarkana then 82 west to 287 near Wichita Falls.  This avoids Dallas.  Then 385/87 to I-25 north through Denver (again, good secondary hwys  to avoid I-25). Pick up 287 at Ft. Collins, CO to Riverton, WY then 26/20/14 to Cody.    If taking I-25 to Buffalo then 16 to Worland and on to Cody you'll have a steep pass on 16 which is very doable but with 5-7% grades downhill for approx 18 miles.  It Powder River Pass.  We've done it a few times but then we love driving mountains.

We've been to Yellowstone many, many times and have used all roads leading into it.  We like them all!

Each national park has a great website and here is Yellowstone's.  Check back to it when it gets closer to your trip for any updated information on roads, special alerts, etc.

https://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm

Here are the planned opening dates for campgrounds in Yellowstone.  Note that Fishing Bridge is the only one with hookups and they plan to open in May.

https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Also, here is a good description for all roads leading into Yellowstone:

http://www.rvtechmag.com/travel/4_yellowstonebyrv.php

Edited by 2gypsies
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1 hour ago, 2gypsies said:

Welcome to the forum.  Where is your final destination for Yellowstone?  That makes a difference.  Are you staying in the park itself or an outlying town?  We always seek out secondary highways to avoid big cities and to see more of this country.  If you want to take interstates here is a possible route that I would do:  I-49 north to Texarkana then 82 west to 287 near Wichita Falls.  This avoids Dallas.  Then 385/87 to I-25 north through Denver (again, good secondary hwys  to avoid I-25). Pick up 287 at Ft. Collins, CO to Riverton, WY then 26/20/14 to Cody.    If taking I-25 to Buffalo then 16 to Worland and on to Cody you'll have a steep pass on 16 which is very doable but with 5-7% grades downhill for approx 18 miles.  It Powder River Pass.  We've done it a few times but then we love driving mountains.

We've been to Yellowstone many, many times and have used all roads leading into it.  We like them all!

Each national park has a great website and here is Yellowstone's.  Check back to it when it gets closer to your trip for any updated information on roads, special alerts, etc.

https://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm

Here are the planned opening dates for campgrounds in Yellowstone.  Note that Fishing Bridge is the only one with hookups and they plan to open in May.

https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Also, here is a good description for all roads leading into Yellowstone:

http://www.rvtechmag.com/travel/4_yellowstonebyrv.php

we are staying at headwaters rv park and thanks for the info

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We have traveled all of those roads more than once and several times in a Ford powered motorhome. You don't say just when you expect to arrive so I'm inclined to guess that you plan to travel fairly directly there. I suggest that since you have been there you should take your time and see a few things along the way. May is still very early in that part of the country and it is not uncommon for Yellowstone park to not have all of the roads open from winter snows until later in May. Only the north entrance is kept open all winter and when the others open depends on the amount of snow received and when. When we lived in Cheyenne, WY I traveled the state and a few times I say I80 closed for a day or 2 due to snow as late as early June. Last year the south entrance to Yellowstone was opened to the public on May 14. 

Looking at your proposed route, you should have dry roads most of the way but you will need to keep a close eye on the weather forecast from Denver on. If the weather is good I suggest that you may want to leave I25 at Fort Collins and then follow US287 from there to Laramie, which will save some distance and be more scenic as well as avoiding crossing Sherman Hill (mountain pass between Cheyenne & Laramie(8000'). Of course that is not a good choice if roads should be snow packed, but I25 could be just as bad or worse. From Laramie to Rawlins is very likely to have high wind conditions as it frequently does in the spring so check road conditions before you leave Laramie. Once you reach Rawlins I'm thinking that you mean to take US287?(not 286) That is an area with little services so get fuel in Rawlins as Lander is usually higher priced. From Dubois to Moran is a very scenic road but it is also mountainous and not fun if the weather should turn bad and snow is not rare there in May. At Dubois you will be at 7,000' of elevation and Togwotee Pass is at 9,669' just 30 miles to the west.

May can be a very attractive time of year in Yellowstone but you need to be prepared for cold and snow. The average daily high temperatures is 53° and the average low is 28°. 

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1 hour ago, Kirk W said:

We have traveled all of those roads more than once and several times in a Ford powered motorhome. You don't say just when you expect to arrive so I'm inclined to guess that you plan to travel fairly directly there. I suggest that since you have been there you should take your time and see a few things along the way. May is still very early in that part of the country and it is not uncommon for Yellowstone park to not have all of the roads open from winter snows until later in May. Only the north entrance is kept open all winter and when the others open depends on the amount of snow received and when. When we lived in Cheyenne, WY I traveled the state and a few times I say I80 closed for a day or 2 due to snow as late as early June. Last year the south entrance to Yellowstone was opened to the public on May 14. 

Looking at your proposed route, you should have dry roads most of the way but you will need to keep a close eye on the weather forecast from Denver on. If the weather is good I suggest that you may want to leave I25 at Fort Collins and then follow US287 from there to Laramie, which will save some distance and be more scenic as well as avoiding crossing Sherman Hill (mountain pass between Cheyenne & Laramie(8000'). Of course that is not a good choice if roads should be snow packed, but I25 could be just as bad or worse. From Laramie to Rawlins is very likely to have high wind conditions as it frequently does in the spring so check road conditions before you leave Laramie. Once you reach Rawlins I'm thinking that you mean to take US287?(not 286) That is an area with little services so get fuel in Rawlins as Lander is usually higher priced. From Dubois to Moran is a very scenic road but it is also mountainous and not fun if the weather should turn bad and snow is not rare there in May. At Dubois you will be at 7,000' of elevation and Togwotee Pass is at 9,669' just 30 miles to the west.

May can be a very attractive time of year in Yellowstone but you need to be prepared for cold and snow. The average daily high temperatures is 53° and the average low is 28°. 

would anyone consider it too dangerous at this time of year.

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17 minutes ago, mark1958 said:

would anyone consider it too dangerous at this time of year.

No just take precautions, keep up with the weather. If snow blocks the road plan to stop for a few days until the roads are cleared. If you stick to major highways you aren't going to be lost in a snowfall. Those states are prepared to deal with snow unlike Virginia.

The suggestion that you delay on the way and visit some spots on the way out is good. Late May is better than early May. Check out Arches or Zion

Edited by agesilaus
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3 minutes ago, agesilaus said:

No just take precautions, keep up with the weather. If snow blocks the road plan to stop for a few days until the roads are cleared. If you stick to major highways you aren't going to be lost in a snowfall. Those states are prepared to deal with snow unlike Virginia.

The suggestion that you delay on the way and visit some spots on the way out is good. Late May is better than early May. Check out Arches or Zion

I am from the south and really have a concern about pulling a 5th wheel in snow in the mountains. I know you can't stay on all major roads. we already have reservations for 19 nights at different places so if I get stuck for snow with nowhere to go, I could be in a bind. I am going to try to move them to later in the month. I sure appreciate the info and if something else comes to mind, let me know.

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You should be able to stay on major roads, not interstates but well trafficked highways until you get to the parks. And the parks are ready for snow, they had snowplow equipped trucks ready to go as we left in October. And they had already cleared the road we were on.

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You just never know about Wyoming. We were traveling from Rocky Mnt. Nat. Park to Cheyenne and then on to Salt Lake City in late June of 1976 (?) We were pulling our pop-up camper and I80 was shut down due to heavy snowfall. It was completely unexpected but certainly memorable. Jay

Edited by Jaydrvr
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Not just Wyoming it's the whole mountain west. We got heavy snow on July 2rd in Idaho at Craters, snow in YNP on the 4th, different year and again snow in july in another year. I think i80 has been closed every month by snow except one. Summer snow doesn't usually last.

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3 hours ago, mark1958 said:

would anyone consider it too dangerous at this time of year.

If you mean your planned early May visit, no I'd not consider it to be dangerous so long as you pay close attention to the weather & road reports and allow time to be able to sit for a couple o days for the roads to clear. It would be a very unusual month of May if there was no snowfall at all along your planned route. Part of the question is, do you think that you will enjoy your time there if temperatures are in the normal range with very cool days and cold nights? Also you need to know that most ranger programs do not start in the park until late in May and you would find many facilities still not open. My point was not to frighten you but only to educate you. We lived in Cheyenne, WY for 18 years and the only months that we never experienced snow at all were July & August. The average elevation of Yellowstone NP is 8000' and there is never a time that you can't have cold weather, only times that is is uncommon. Later in May or into June would be much warmer and far less likely to experience snow. I don't remember ever going to YNP in May that there was not still snow where it had been piled up and sometimes in heavy shade.

20 minutes ago, agesilaus said:

I think i80 has been closed every month by snow except one.

For short periods you are correct and the only month that to the best of my knowledge has not has a snow closure on I80 in WY is August. Only once did I see it closed for snow in July and that was only for a few hours between Laramie and Rawlins. Even in June it would be unlikely to take more than 12 hours to be open again. I once was unable to go from Cheyenne to Laramie due to snow closure in mid June but the following day made the trip on mostly dry roads with no snow remaining on the road but wet in places from snowmelt where it had been plowed. 

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25 minutes ago, agesilaus said:

Not just Wyoming it's the whole mountain west. We got heavy snow on July 2rd in Idaho at Craters, snow in YNP on the 4th, different year and again snow in july in another year. I think i80 has been closed every month by snow except one. Summer snow doesn't usually last.

we are looking at I-80 from Cheyene to Rock Springs. you are saying they have closed the interstate there

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4 minutes ago, Kirk W said:

If you mean your planned early May visit, no I'd not consider it to be dangerous so long as you pay close attention to the weather & road reports and allow time to be able to sit for a couple o days for the roads to clear. It would be a very unusual month of May if there was no snowfall at all along your planned route. Part of the question is, do you think that you will enjoy your time there if temperatures are in the normal range with very cool days and cold nights? Also you need to know that most ranger programs do not start in the park until late in May and you would find many facilities still not open. My point was not to frighten you but only to educate you. We lived in Cheyenne, WY for 18 years and the only months that we never experienced snow at all were July & August. The average elevation of Yellowstone NP is 8000' and there is never a time that you can't have cold weather, only times that is is uncommon. Later in May or into June would be much warmer and far less likely to experience snow. I don't remember ever going to YNP in May that there was not still snow where it had been piled up and sometimes in heavy shade.

For short periods you are correct and the only month that to the best of my knowledge has not has a snow closure on I80 in WY is August. Only once did I see it closed for snow in July and that was only for a few hours between Laramie and Rawlins. Even in June it would be unlikely to take more than 12 hours to be open again. I once was unable to go from Cheyenne to Laramie due to snow closure in mid June but the following day made the trip on mostly dry roads with no snow remaining on the road but wet in places from snowmelt where it had been plowed. 

i sure appreciate the info. my buddy still wants to go at that time but i told him i might try to move mine back

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Just now, mark1958 said:

i told him i might try to move mine back

I really think that you would enjoy the visit much more if you were to plan for no earlier than June There is a good reason that YNP is most busy in July & August. The main reason is warm weather. In May there is a lot of wildlife around, mostly because there are so few people. 

Quote

2022 Spring Road Opening Dates

  • April 15: West Entrance to Madison Junction, Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful, Norris to Canyon Village
  • May 6: East Entrance to Lake Village (Sylvan Pass), Canyon Village to Lake Village
  • May 11: Cooke City to Chief Joseph Scenic Byway
  • May 13: South Entrance to West Thumb, Lake Village to West Thumb, West Thumb to Old Faithful (Craig Pass), Tower Junction to Tower Fall
  • May 27: Tower Fall to Canyon Junction (Dunraven Pass), Beartooth Highway

 

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19 minutes ago, mark1958 said:

we are looking at I-80 from Cheyene to Rock Springs. you are saying they have closed the interstate there

I don't know just what sections were closed in any year but between Laramie and Rock Springs is a fairly high pass which would be a good candidate, Lincoln might get buried

 

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5 minutes ago, agesilaus said:

I don't know just what sections were closed in any year but between Laramie and Rock Springs is a fairly high pass which would be a good candidate, Lincoln might get buried

 

i can't find Lincoln on google maps. where is it close to?

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14 minutes ago, mark1958 said:

Might have to stop and see it.

It is right at the summit of the pass between Cheyenne & Laramie, at exit 232 of I80. If you choose to take I25 to Cheyenne then west you will see it well before time to exit. There is a small visitor center there too.  Just 10 miles east, which you will pass first is an interesting "tree in the rock" historic site in the median of the highway. 

WYBUFtreeinrock_billings2.jpg

Edited by Kirk W
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We followed 20/26 from Nebraska to Boise last year late may and it was a great drive. If you go that way just before you go into debois Wyoming there is a great military vehicle museum. 15 dollars for a 2 day pass, free for veterans and can stay over night in the large lot. Maybe 30 miles to Moran to ynp. No snow last year but some side roads were still closed. Very nice drive with hdt and 43 ft fifth wheel

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10 hours ago, Danfreda1 said:

We followed 20/26 from Nebraska to Boise last year late may and it was a great drive. If you go that way just before you go into debois Wyoming there is a great military vehicle museum. 15 dollars for a 2 day pass, free for veterans and can stay over night in the large lot. Maybe 30 miles to Moran to ynp. No snow last year but some side roads were still closed. Very nice drive with hdt and 43 ft fifth wheel

How was the drive up to Moran pulling a 43 foot 5th wheel? do you have a 3/4, 1, 1.5 ton truck? is that lot just for veterans or anyone? thanks for the info. i have a 3/4 ton pulling about 11000 lbs. you think i will be good because i saw elevation rise from 6500-9500 feet thru there.

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2 minutes ago, mark1958 said:

think i will be good because i saw elevation rise from 6500-9500 feet thru there.

You may be a bit slow, but nobody drives fast over those roads because it isn't possible. But it can be done safely, even by beginners and it is done safely hundreds, even thousands of times every year. You could avoid that stretch if you are concerned by staying on I80 to Rock Springs and then go north on US191 which is also a good road with much less mountain driving. That would add about 60 miles to the distance from Rawlins, and about an hour to the travel time but if you are a novice to mountain driving it would be easier. And you can always take the lesser trip one direction and return home via the other. 

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4 minutes ago, Kirk W said:

You may be a bit slow, but nobody drives fast over those roads because it isn't possible. But it can be done safely, even by beginners and it is done safely hundreds, even thousands of times every year. You could avoid that stretch if you are concerned by staying on I80 to Rock Springs and then go north on US191 which is also a good road with much less mountain driving. That would add about 60 miles to the distance from Rawlins, and about an hour to the travel time but if you are a novice to mountain driving it would be easier. And you can always take the lesser trip one direction and return home via the other. 

appreciate that

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21 minutes ago, mark1958 said:

How was the drive up to Moran pulling a 43 foot 5th wheel? do you have a 3/4, 1, 1.5 ton truck? is that lot just for veterans or anyone? thanks for the info. i have a 3/4 ton pulling about 11000 lbs. you think i will be good because i saw elevation rise from 6500-9500 feet thru there

If you mean the route thru Cody to the east gate then it has a steady climb up. You can do it just take your time. That goes past Fishing Bridge. Very scenic drive. That's assuming the snow is cleared. Stock up in Cody when you go thru.

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