X2 on Belle Fourche River Campground. It's one of our favorite campgrounds. No hookups, but it's shady, quiet, cheap and beautiful. Each site has a picnic table and charcoal/wood grill, and most, if not all, are large enough for your coach. I'm thinking they're all pull-throughs.
...My suggestion would be to reverse the sequence to head west across TX to AZ and UT and work your way north to arrive in Yellowstone at the end of May to early June....
Late May to early June is a great time to be in Yellowstone. It will still be cool and some roads may still be closed, but most will be open. Better weather will be later, but it won't be getting crowded until late June. Early June is really a beautiful time of year in Yellowstone with lots of baby elk, etc. The main roads going into the park don't usually open until mid-April, if even then.
There is one (reasonable) flat route to the east entrance from SD, and that would be to take I-90 to Billings (actually, just past it to Laurel) and take Hwy 212/310 towards Lovell/Powell/Cody, WY. (You won't go all the way to Lovell, but you will go through Powell and on through Cody.) It's a good road and flat as a pancake (almost). You will have a mountain to climb once you enter the east gate, however. Really, it shouldn't be a problem, and it's certainly easier to navigate than the road south of Gardiner.
My personal recommendation would be to exit I-90 at Buffalo, WY and take Hwy 16 over the Bighorns to Ten Sleep, then on to Worland, Greybull and Cody. Yes, Hwy 16 from Buffalo to Ten Sleep is mostly in the mountains, but it's a good, wide road with gentle climbs and descents and mostly gentle curves. There are two "hairpin" curves on the west slope, just as you enter into Ten Sleep Canyon. Recommended speed is 20 or 25 mph around each them. Then it's back to gentle curves until you reach the bottom. Unless you have a severe fear of mountain roads, this would likely be the most pleasant drive for you and one of the prettiest. (And if you DO have a severe fear of mountain roads, you probably shouldn't visit Yellowstone.)
Do not "ride" you brakes going down any long descent. Use a lower gear, and if that's not enough, then apply moderate brake pressure long enough to slow to your target speed and get your foot off the brake until you must repeat. There are ample pull-offs along the descent, and if you're using your brakes much, it would be smart to pull off and check your wheels to see if they're hot. If they are, take a lunch break of 30 minutes or more. Take some photos, get some exercise. It's a pretty place to spend some time anyway. I've driven that road a hundred times and never overheated my brakes, but it can happen to the unwary. (The descent into the canyon begins just after crossing Ten Sleep Creek, which is just past Deer Haven Lodge. The steepest portion is about a mile long, but it's not scary steep.
You won't have any more mountains from the base (a few miles east of Ten Sleep) until you're in Yellowstone.
FYI, Hwy 14 from Ranchester to Greybull has steeper climbs and descents (and 14A from the top to Lovell is very steep). Also, Hwy 212 from Red Lodge to the NE gate is quite steep and curvy, and I would definitely not recommend it to a flatlander towing a heavy trailer.
Actually, none of these roads should give anyone a problem who is careful and doesn't overheat the brakes. The only road I've mentioned that's a bit gnarly would be the one in the park south of Gardiner. It's a bit narrow and curvy for a mile or two, but 100s of thousands of tourists take it every year, many in their big motorhomes or TTs.
Oh, and I agree with Jim Shoe that if you want to avoid all mountain driving while towing, take his suggest route.
I never make it through the first camping trip of the year without bonking my head on something in or on the camper. I'm famous for it. My wife wants me to wear a hard hat when we go camping. Bought a new car this past Thursday. On Friday I skinned my head getting into it. I think I'm just 1/4 inch too tall.
Fly fishing for trout with waders or from a drift boat, although the drift boat gets beached at prime spots and we're back to the waders for awhile. I've developed a weak ankle in the past few years and can't really wade like I used to. Bummer. Fly fishing from the shore ain't the greatest.
Don't ask why......but I put out a rain gauge AND an empty tuna can last night when it started to rain.
Gauge shows 4/10th of one inch. Tuna can showed less, about 2/10 th of one inch.
Should they not be equal? Both were in the same area.
Your cat (or neighbor's cat) found the tuna can and drank half the water from it.
If it was me taking the trip, I certainly wouldn't rule out I-90. My guess is that it has fewer weather problems than I-70 or I-80. I live just off of I-90 in eastern Wyoming, and it's not closed often in Wyoming. My family lives in Iowa, and I drove I-90 to and from there (dropping down on I-29) dozens of times during Dec. and never had a problem. There was ONE January trip that was bad, but that was partly due to car problems. (Roads were closed east of Wall, forcing us to stay there one night, then the car broke down the next day, forcing us to stay in Chamberlain for a few days awaiting a part.)
I'm pretty sure it doesn't close as often as I-80 (winds aren't as bad), and I-70 west of Denver can be a bear even when it's open.
Any of them can close, but I'd look at the weather picture before ruling out any of them.
There is a 36' MS for sale in our area that the couple had purchased to live in while they were house hunting for 3 years. The pics look really good. She said that this unit is NOT for weekend camping, due to its being 12,800 lbs. dry weight.
Is what she said true? We will need to live in ours for a while but will be doing some traveling as well. Is this weight not a good choice for traveling around?
I'd agree that it's not really intended for weekend camping -- more like extended trips, extended stays or full-timing. I think of a "weekend camping unit" as a smaller one like our 27' footer. It was cheap to build and cheap to buy. It wouldn't last a year under heavy use, but when only used a for few weekends and a short vacation each year, it'll last for decades.
We'd have trouble parking a 36-foot 5er in any of our favorite spots for weekends, and since we don't spend much time inside on weekend trips, it would be a bit of a waste to invest in a high-dollar 5th wheel and a dually to haul it with.
That's not to say a Mobile Suites couldn't be used for weekends. It would be fine, just overkill. I'd trade even-up for one in a heartbeat. I'll likely trade for something like it in a few years when we plan to do longer trips or full-time, but for right now we simply don't NEED something of that size and quality.
If it is used and 2x4 vs new 4x4, the difference should be more that 12K. Value at resell will go down much faster for a 2x4. Chris
Right here! ^^^^ Price the 4x4 option on a new 3500. It's right at that $12K mark. Plus, used 4x2s are tough to unload across most of the country. Here in Wyoming, I doubt you could find a new one on a lot statewide. Nobody wants them here. If you're willing to buy a used 4x2, you should be able to find a real bargain, and what you've found doesn't sound like a bargain at all.
I've had a couple 4x2s. The first one was back in '68, and 4x4s weren't that popular then, plus it was a pricy option that often wasn't the most reliable. (I've got 150K+ miles on my 2000 F250 and have never touched the front end.) I also bought a used '88 Chevy 2500 4x2 years ago. I got it because it was so cheap. Both of those did the job. I got stuck a few times, and there were places I couldn't go because I didn't have 4x4, but I got by. You could too.
But I don't think I'd ever buy another pickup that wasn't 4x4. I use it and the low range pretty often, summer and winter -- wet, slippery roads, paths that sometimes become muddy, trails where I'm crawling over boulders and whatnot. I use it as my daily driver for work because it'll most always get me wherever I need to be, for towing, and for firewood hunting, etc. once we make camp.
I certainly wouldn't have it repaired at shop rates to turn around and sell it. If you don't think it would sell (post repairs) for what it would cost to repair it, sell it as a fixer-upper. I'm sure there are plenty of folks with young healthy bodies who would jump at the chance to take it off your hands for a grand, then spend a month or two doing the repairs before they put it back on the road.
OP, did you read this?
Grand Design shows a 13,800# dry and 18,000 GVWR.
Vehicle weight is pin weight plus axle weights. Your hitch should be rated in excess of the actual towed vehicle's weight.
Your 16,000# hitch should work if they have not loaded the trailer past 16,000#. A trip to the scales would be in order. We added around 1,500# to ours so if someone has been living in it, you probably need a larger hitch.
The scale will answer your question.
Where mdamerell states "if someone has been living in it, you probably need a larger hitch," what he should have said (and probably meant) is you'll need a larger hitch OR have them remove their personal items for the trip.
It's just one time but I have already said no.i don't need a bigger hitch.i probably would have no trouble since its only got 16k worth of axles but his wife probably has that much stuff packed into it.those light axles make me think its not as heavy as the mfg says.
I just feal bad not doing it
1. You don't need a bigger hitch. Probably 4K of that 18K is for water, storage bays, clothing, food, etc. If they'll unload it of personal items and drain the tanks, you should be WELL under 16K -- even well under 15K. They don't need to remove the furniture, just everything else.
2. 5ers carry weight on their axels AND on the pin. Two 8K axles are plenty for an 18K 5er. Of that 18K pounds, probably 3.5K is intended for the pin, leaving a little to spare for the axles.
3. The manufacturer is not saying the 5er weighs 18K pounds; it's saying that's the maximum that it CAN weigh all loaded up with batteries, water and personal items. They assume you're going to load it, and big full-time rigs have room for quite a bit -- probably around 4K pounds.
If you want to tow it for them, simply tell them they must remove all the personal items and drain all the tanks first, so that your hitch can handle it. And then make sure they do. And double check by weighting it before leaving town, if you have any doubt.
We found it took 3 days just to figure out the rhythm of the animals and tourists. Animals are out around 6 am. we were driving by 5 am. looking for bears and wolves. tourists arrive from town at lunch time. we were back at camp by then....
DING DING DING
We have a winner!
Most of my trips to Yellowstone, at least the most enjoyable ones, were in search of nature photos. We'd get up early and be on the road well before dawn, set up our gear at a specified spot, then shoot from pre-sunrise until 9-10. Then we'd head back to camp, have brunch, maybe take a nap, then head out in search of the spots where we wanted to take sunset and sunrise photos for the next day. An hour or two before sunset we'd be set up again, waiting for the just-right light. Head back to camp in the dark, take a nap, then start it all over again.
I spent an afternoon photographing a beaver. (We became friends!) Another one photographing a moose; I enjoyed a 3-hour lunch with my camera and a family of trumpeter swans. I also enjoy fly fishing and have spent many a day on some of the park's blue ribbon trout streams -- tying flies that "match the hatch" and pulling in literally hundreds of pounds of wild and beautiful trout.
To enjoy Yellowstone, really enjoy it, you must slow down and let it move around you. Rushing to see this or that? Heck, you may as well be in an amusement park.
As for the crowds, here's a little-known secret. (Don't tell anyone.) There are no crowds in Yellowstone if you do your sightseeing from 6-10 a.m and 6-10 p.m. From 10 a.m - 6 p.m. go back to camp. Make love to your special other. Or just make lunch. Take a nap. Phase II of the daily Yellowstone experience is only hours away.
We had around 8" of the stuff yesterday (9/11) on the prairies of NE Wyoming. None stuck to the roads, and it was mostly all gone this afternoon. That's the earliest snowfall I can recall, and I've lived here 43 years.
What kknowlton said.
However, the Bighorns west of Buffalo are very pretty, and as mountain roads go, Hwy 16 is a piece of cake. My wife doesn't like mountain driving (or riding), but as long as we stay on Hwy 16 over the Bighorns she doesn't mind them a bit. We go there often. Now some of the Jeep trails... that's another story. ;)
Actually, if you don't mind the roads in Yellowstone, and you don't mind the mountains between Dubois and Jackson Hole, you shouldn't mind 16 from Buffalo to Ten Sleep either. It's easier than many of Yellowstone's roads, and I'd encourage you to try it. The highway is wide and well maintained (4-season) all the way across, and you'll only have a handful of curves that you can't safely take at 45 mph or better. Traffic is always fairly light, and there's plenty of places to pull off and enjoy a picnic or camp for the night.
There's a 5 or 10-mile climb coming out of Buffalo, then it's all gentle curves and easy hills across the mountain until you enter Shell Canyon on the other side. That's another 5 or 10-mile descent to the bottom with two 20 mph (iirc) hairpin curves towards the top of it (just after crossing Shell Creek).
As with all mountain driving, use a lower gear when descending rather than depending on your brakes, which can overheat if you "ride" them. If they overheat, you suddenly lose all braking. That's not fun.
90 to 25 to 80 to 15 seems a better choice
I think this ^^ would be the best, with a slight alteration. You're going to have a few spots without cell coverage no matter which way you go, but I'd suggest I-90 to I-25 to Hwy 287 to I-80 to I-15.
That said, with that route there will be a pretty good stretch from Casper to Rawlins that's quite remote. If you're very concerned about that, do this one:
I-90 to Hwy 59 (Gillette) to I-25 to I-80 to I-15. Hwy 59 is a busy road with more traffic than I-90 or I-25 over most of it. Cell coverage isn't bad either.
I don't think I've ever spent more than an hour there. HOWEVER, there are many, many other interesting attractions in the Black Hills. I probably wouldn't recommend any of them OVER the Faces, but several are at least as enjoyable. A few in no particular order:
Crazy Horse Monument
Custer State Park (Wildlife Loop)
Bear Country USA
Devils Tower Nat'l Monument
Badlands Nat'l Monument
Google Black Hills attractions to find others that might interest you. If you've never been there, a couple hours isn't enough time, imho. Take 2-3 days without the dog and enjoy.