We will be heading to the Black Hills then on to Yellowstone just before Memorial Day, and are not sure of some of the Hwys. Basically we will head North (we live in Northern Oklahoma)on our way to Rapid City. Is anyone familiar with S Dakota, Wyoming, & related Hwys, and could advise which routes are more difficult in a 40 ft motorhome? Last year we found quite a few 'interesting and somewhat hazardous experiences while on our trip to California and in between and back thru Colorado, but we lived thru it. This year we would like to avoid some of the excitement if at all possible. Also we would appreciate some input into where to stay for a few nights around Rapid City, and then in Yellowstone area. We realize that it may be a bit too late to get accomodations in some, but we will have to try. We've had the motorhome a year now, and with all of our trips, we have experienced way more than we could have imagined, both good and bad. Retirement is full of surprises! Thanks for any help.
from north oklahoma, go north to I-70 and then west to 385 and take that up to the Black Hills. It's a good road.
At Sidney NE, there is a Cabela's if you like shopping with them. and they have a nice rv park, or you can park free in the truck lot.
At Chadron, NE, 7 miles south of the town, is Chadron State Park, a very nice surprise in the prairies of NE, shady, scenic and hookups. Also, there is a walmart in chadron, last chance to stock up on stuff before going into tourist country.
Going into the Black Hills, stop in or around Custer. There are numerous rv parks in the town area and there is Custer State Park a couple miles east of town. A very nice park, comparable to the national parks, with some very scenic drives, etc.
When you leave, go west on 16 up to Moorcroft and I 90. Continue west on 16 across the Bighorn Mts. Several campgrounds along there but no hookups.
At Ten Sleep, on the west side of the mts, there is a little rv park on the west side of town. Nice owners, well shaded. Bathrooms aren't the best, but you've got your own.
From there, go on to Cody and into Yellowstone from there.
If you can't get reservations in Yellowstone, you have some options, none of them perfect.
Cody is too far away to use as base camp, but is worth a couple days of your time as there is a terrific western museum in town, Irma's Cafe downtown and the Chief Joseph scenic byway for a day trip up to Beartooth Pass.... all very scenic.
You can cross the park to West Yellowstone and there are several rv parks there in or close to town. Just search this forum for yellowstone campgrounds, and you'll find plenty of reviews and info.
We like staying at Henrys Lake State Park, about 15 miles south of West Yellowstone.
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As far as your routes to R/C and Yellowstone from your launch point, can't help. As far as a few GREAT camping areas around R/C, Sturgis, Dogwood, Mt Rushmore etc, there's a couple of very, very nice spots. The one closest to Rushmore and Dogwood would be, to us, is Rafter J Bar campground. Take a look at their site on the net. It's very spacious, very scenic, very nicely laid out, and nice folks to deal with. We'll go back there in a heart beat.
As far as a little farther north, real close to the town of Spearfish SD, is one called Elkhorn Ridge RV Park. Outstanding, clean, incredibly spacious, park with around 100 or so, 75' concrete pull throughs with grass on each side and what was smaller trees, although it was a couple of years ago that we were there and the trees might be a bit taller now and more shade etc. A great place and jumping off point for;
1. A quick run to Sturgis to see where they have the largest motorcycle gathering annually
2. About a 100+ mile round trip to Devils tower and a great place to see and visit.
3. A very short run to "Spearfish Canyon". An outstanding scenic drive in the middle of the town of Spearfish. You won't forget that one.
The run from Spearfish due west is long and semi flat. But, as you get closer to Cody WY, there's some serious grades if you take the wrong route. They're really scenic but, climb extensively. I think one is 14 and the other is 14A, not sure which one is the one that has the super grades on it. We took it from Cody to the east and man, first gear for about 9 miles or so.
From Cody to the east gate of Yellowstone, not bad at all. But, from the gate to the upper end, serious climb. Doable but, long and windy. Depending on how you like to camp. There's great dry camping in Yellowstone. You get way more room and more room to breath with all those. Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone is one that I can think of that has full hook ups but, you are very close to bumper to bumper and corner to corner in that one. We're not much for listening to neighbors from 5' away.
We love many of the dry camping areas in Yellowstone. Grant Village is one of them. Outstanding place. And, a tad bit of advice here. Please do not try and conquer Yellowstone in one or even two days. There's entirely too much to see and do and you'll miss much of the grandeur of it by whisking on through. It all depends on how much you time you have and want to spend.
Now, a smart move might be to stay in one of the campgrounds on the southern end and tour all of what the south end of Yellowstone and, the neighboring Grand Tetons have to offer then, move your rig to Grizzly RV park, just outside of the West entrance to Yellowstone and use that as base point. Grizzly RV park is incredibly clean and very well kept. Close quarter spots but, still a very nice place and, it's in the middle of the town of West Yellowstone so, you'll have plenty to do around there and there's lots of eateries all around.
Well, hope this helps some. Take care and have a nice trip.
Scott and Karla SDFD RETIRED
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We will be heading to the Black Hills then on to Yellowstone just before Memorial Day, and are not sure of some of the Hwys. Basically we will head North (we live in Northern Oklahoma)on our way to Rapid City. Is anyone familiar with S Dakota, Wyoming, & related Hwys, and could advise which routes are more difficult in a 40 ft motorhome?
You need to check out Microsoft Streets and Trips. It is a inexpensive computer program which you can use to plan your trips on. You can even transfer your trips to a Garmin GPS, or use you computer as a GPS provided you buy the optional GPS antenna for your computer. Makes traveling so much easier. You can usually find the latest versions with GPS antenna for about $50 or $60 on the web or even at your local Staples office supply store. If you get the Streets and trips you can download the map overlay files from Discovery RV Owners Group and then you can even find those hard to find places and know the other places, like low clearances, that you need to avoid.
And if you don't want the expense of Streets and Trips, you can use Google Maps and print out the instructions.
* This post was
edited 05/05/12 01:26pm by wny_pat *
A word of caution.... Unless you like 100,000's of thousands of motorcycles around you, don't go during Bike week or whatever they call it in or near Sturgis. Every small town within 100 miles will be full of bikes going to and from that area.
It happened to us in August of 2010. We booked at KOA somewhat near Mt. Rushmore/Crazy Horse and only stayed one night instead of our 3 night stay. It was over-run with bikers. I'm not against bikers at all, my brother's have had Harley's and one still has his. Anyway, there were SO many bikes that it limited us maneuvering the motorhome and/or parking at some touristy areas. We could not stop in Deadwood at all.... just had to drive through. So, just keep that in mind when going near Mt. Rushmore.
We were able to see Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore on the day that we arrived at the KOA and didn't see any need to stay longer as the noise and major congestion of the bikers was just too much.
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Landman, As far as mountain passes and switch backs go, I would say don't be nervous, be respectful. Get yourself a copy of Mountain Directory Guides. It's available as a paper back book and an e-book. I prefer the paper copy because it's more handy going down the road. The Mountain Directory (hard copy and ebooks) tell you where the steep grades are, how long they are, how steep they are, whether the road is two lane, three lane, or four lane, if there are escape ramps, switchbacks, sharp curves, speed limits, etc. With this information, one can know ahead of time what a pass is like and make an informed decision about whether to go over or around.
Be careful on the long down grades. A good rule of thumb is, don't go any faster going down than you would going up. Don't ride your brakes. Use the brakes in firm, short, frequent applications so you won't over heat them.
Enjoy your trip. Check back when you need more info. There are many friendly people on here to help.
Tom & Jan
Full timers since April '06 - 2 fur kids (George - mini Aussie, Archie - mini Poodle.)
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By all means, get a copy of the above-mentioned, MOUNTAIN DIRECTORY - WESTERN EDITION. It will give you mile by mile on what to expect on the highways in the west. We use it all the time.
For Yellowstone: First, if you're 62 of age, get your Senior Pass at the first national park you stop at for 1/2 camping in all national parks, national forests and Corp of Engineer parks - but not at Fishing Bridge campground.
We would also recommend that you stay IN Yellowstone if you can. The park is huge and you'll save a lot of driving miles. Plus, the scenery is terrific! Some campgrounds don't accept reservations. For those I would suggest you stay just outside the park the previous night and then move into one of those campgrounds before 10am. Folks move in and out early in the day. If you want to try to make reservations, explore this following national park website for more information. We have a 40' motorhome and we have stayed in Mammoth, Grant and Madison campgrounds. Sometimes it's even best to call for reservations rather than do it online. If you want hookups in Yellowstone, try for the only campground with hookups - Fishing Bridge. Since you will be there early in season, a spot might be available. Yes, the sites are close to each other at Fishing Bridge but you will be out touring all day anyway. It will be more expensive than the other non-hookup campgrounds in the park.
Also, as long as you're exploring Yellowstone, definitely head south and right next door is Grand Teton National Park. Both parks are quite different. Grand Teton is like a miniature Alps and in May/June would be absolutely gorgeous with snow on the mountain tops - not on the roads, so don't get worried! There we have stayed at Colter Bay campground (325 non-hookup sites) and also at Gros Ventre campground which is a little closer to the town of Jackson. It is equally large. Both are beautiful with huge sites. Neither one takes reservations. There is also Colter Bay RV park, right next door to the campground of the same name. You'll pay a lot more at the RV park but they do take reservations.
Have a great trip! We've been there often and it's one of our favorite places - especially early season, the time you'll be there. You have a good chance of seeing lots of baby critters. Enjoy!
Extremely Happy Full-Timers for 16 years
.... now trying to adjust to 3-season traveling - and it isn't easy!
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Instead of taking 385 north through Nebraska, which only touches on the prettiest part of the panhandle, try going up 2/71 through Kimball off I-80 north through Scottsbluff then on north to Crawford and Fort Robinson.
Instead of taking 385/79 north to the Black Hills/Rapid City we go north on 2 into Hot Springs, a more scenic ride and quiet road. From Hot Springs you can head on to other Black Hills sites.
2/71 is not a 4 lane all the way, is from Kimball to Scottsbluff but is generally in good shape and has a lot less traffic than 385 unless it is wheat harvest season (late July into August). When we head south to Scottsbluff from the Crawford area there are times we don't see more than 6 cars in 75 miles of driving.
RV parks are available in Scottsbluff, Fort Robinson, Chadron, and of course all over the Black Hills.
You will miss Bike Week in Sturgis if you avoid going there from mid July into to mid August. Some bikers go early and some stay late so the area is full of bikers for almost a month.
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edited 05/06/12 09:18pm by sowego *