Help needed on Wyoming Hwys - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-20-2009, 06:28 PM   #1
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Hi all.

Can I prod your great rv minds and ask.

What is the route to take from east entrance Yellowstone to Devils Tower? Can I make it there in one day of driving through the mountains? What is the avg speed through the mtn passes? 30-40mph? Driving in MN is not the same as WY.

I have some options.
1) East out of Yellowstone to Cody, WY, north on 14A the scenic route to pass Medicine Wheel, then hook up with I-90 to Devils Tower. I understand more scenic option, but some mountain passes, so possibly slower. Would I make it to Devils Tower in 6-8 hours?
2) East out of Yellowstone to Cody, WY, but continue east on hwy 14 through Greybull, WY? Still scenic but faster then option 1?
3) Or entirely different, exit east out of Grand Tetons on hwy 26 through Riverton, then I-90 north to Devils Tower. I understand, lower elevations, minimal mountain passes, so possibly the fastest, albeit longer in miles route? Is that correct?

I am mainly concerned about making it to Devils Tower area in one days travel. If not possible, then where to stop and camp along the way from Yellowstone? After Devils Tower, then Custer State Park, Badlands, then home to MN. Thanks all.
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Old 02-20-2009, 11:02 PM   #2
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Dan, east gate through Cody, Powell, Lovell, Burgess Junction, Ranchester down to I90 then east is the most direct. From the causeway at Yellowtail up into the Big Horns is the steepest pull on the west side. But very scenic. National Forest campgrounds or you can just find a fla spot in the trees off a side road and camp. Medicine Wheel is interesting.

Another is Cody, Greybull, Shell, (shell falls) Burgess Junction. Not as steep as Lovell route.

Another is Cody, Greybull, Worland, then Tensleep, switch backs at Tensleep canyon then smooth sailing to Buffalo, newer highway to. Not as scenic. Plenty of National Forest campgrounds.

Slow going on any of the three until you get on top of the Big Horns.

Don't do the Riverton trip, way out of the way and a long day. YOu would have to actually go out the south gate then to Moran Junction and east, or were you thinking East gate Cody down to Meeteetse, THermopolis (neat park and hot springs) then to Shoshone, then east to Casper and north on 90? Long long trip! I don't think you could make this one in 10 hours. Plus Togwatee pass east is tore up for construction. Possible 1 hour waits.

Either route Cody to Lovell or to Worland you will find camp grounds, but might want to make reservations at a National Forest one, Sheridan and Buffalo both have commercial camp grounds to. I think all routes will take you more than 6 hours, you should take your time and spend one night in between, if you were not towing you could make it. But you will want to stop and look araound.
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Old 02-20-2009, 11:54 PM   #3
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Thanks Randy

Your input helps alot. I know MN driving ain't WY driving. I still can't fathom what 10% grade is like, but I know enough to downshift while going down. I hope there are plenty of gas stations around, cuz my FJ Cruiser has a range of 300 miles here in MN, and that is without towing. With towing I expect a drop from 21 mpg, to 16 mpg, with a 19 gal tank.

I also read on the Bighorn NF site, that the Medicine wheel way is not recommended for rv's and trailers due to the steep grade. But I take it is plenty doable? Right now I am leaning towards doing hwy 14, Cody to Greybull then Sheridan. I'll look into possibly camping in the Bighorn Mtn range then. (The wife wasn't thrilled of the prospect of Walmart camping in Gillette)
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Old 02-21-2009, 10:35 AM   #4
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Thanks Randy

Your input helps a lot. I know MN driving ain't WY driving. I still can't fathom what 10% grade is like, but I know enough to downshift while going down. I hope there are plenty of gas stations around, 'cuz my FJ Cruiser has a range of 300 miles here in MN, and that is without towing. With towing I expect a drop from 21 mpg, to 16 mpg, with a 19 gal tank.

I also read on the Bighorn NF site, that the Medicine wheel way is not recommended for rv's and trailers due to the steep grade. But I take it is plenty doable? Right now I am leaning towards doing hwy 14, Cody to Greybull then Sheridan. I'll look into possibly camping in the Bighorn Mtn range then. (The wife wasn't thrilled of the prospect of Walmart camping in Gillette)
Yeah I should have said the Lovell, to medicine wheel route is steep, steep, STEEP! LOL! It is do able in your rig, but the Greybull route would be better, there are a few switch backs in Shell Canyon, but you can stop at Shell falls and cool off the rig. It is worth seeing any way. Gas up in Greybull, only 50 some miles from Cody, Maverik is cheapest, and first station in town coming from Cody. Then when you get to Sheridan you can top off again. There is a gas station at Burgess Jnct too. But expensive gas. Gas in the park is pricey to, but there are several gas stations. Cody is cheaper so plan your trip accordingly and you might save a few bucks. I always carry a 2 or 3 gallons in a 5 gallon jug when I travel Wy. But there are stations all over. You will have a great trip. Think "green" while in the park, the federal employees are sticklers on "green" manners!

When you get to the Big Horn NF, and look for a place to camp, there are many, weekends can be crowded, we are going through a huge influx of nonresidents moving to Gillette and Sheridan, and they fill the Big Horns on weekends, some can be quite rude, I avoid the Big Horns on busy holiday weekends, but don't judge Wyoming by these peoples' actions.

When you go through Shell be on the look out for Wilford Brimley, (oatmeal man) he lives there and fits right in as a local. Great guy!

If you make the trip, and have any problems, contact me if you need any help.
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Old 02-21-2009, 01:18 PM   #5
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One important thing I missed, or you omitted, is are you looking to travel in the winter or the summer? Riverton is an absolute no-no, unless you want to drive thru wind river canyon and see some beautiful scenary but make no time at all. 14/16 and i-90 are both good routes, i-90 is better in the winter, usually, more gas stations and rest stops. And, no, there are not lots of gas stations...either way. Don't let yourself drop below a half a tank, or a 1/4 if you are very secure on your mileage info. Know where you are, and anticipate only larger areas to have gas stations. There are lots of off ramps, but many have no services.

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Old 02-21-2009, 01:39 PM   #6
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The East gate is closed in the winter.
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Old 02-21-2009, 04:51 PM   #7
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Yes, we are heading in mid-Aug for two weeks to Yellowstone and Custer State Park area, so weather shouldn't be too much of a problem. I figure on gassing up whenever I get the chance should I get to about half a tank yes.
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Old 02-22-2009, 10:31 PM   #8
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Cody, Greybull, Shell, Ranchester, I90 to WY16 to Custer, SD. Drove it last year with Casita. No problems. Made it a 2 day trip. A good spot to spend the night is Peter D's in Sheridan. The cleanest facilities we have seen anywhere. The host/owner is also great. Shuttle will pick you up and take you around town. Neat old western town with a real oldtime downtown area. Pic near 14-14A junction...
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Old 02-23-2009, 10:19 PM   #9
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We did the US 14A from the East going down toward the West: US 14A after the split off of US 14 from Ranchchester heading down hill to Lovell, pulling a 1983 20' Komfort Lite Travel Trailer with a '83 Ford F250 4 speed manuel with granny gear. I had to hold granny in gear and ask my wife to manually apply the trailer brakes now and then. They had a sign warning of the steep down grade, I should have taken the fork to Shell/Greybull. Most of the route was neat, all very pretty execpt for the 14 miles with 10% grade and sharp curves which I am sure was also pretty but I was to occupied to really notice the scenery.
http://www.rockymountainroads.com/us-014alt_wy.html
http://video.aol.com/video-detail/3-...hill/783264578

However, going West from Powell should not be so bad at all. It would just be climbing which does not wear the breaks or the nerves. I believe I would take this route going over to the interstate. According to my DeLorme Street Atlas it would be just a few miles shorter at 311 miles to the Tower at 5 hours 38 min using 14A compared to 314 miles & 6 hrs 15 min by Worland. Or by Greybull/Shell on US 14: 312 miles & 5 hrs 45 min would be by passing the steep 14A. This would be the BEST route if not wanting to see the
Medicine Wheel: http://www.uwsp.edu/geo/projects/geoweb/pa...ps/medwheel.htm
http://solar-center.stanford.edu/AO/bighorn.html
http://www.sacred-destinations.com/usa/big...icine-wheel.htm
Not sure where or how to park a travel trailer: The road that leads up to the Medicine Wheel itself, from the interepretive site, no longer permits motorized vehicles, except for handicap accessibility. You will have to walk the last 1.5 miles, so bring a lot of water. Forest Road 12 is often closed due to snow until mid-late June. The Medicine Wheel is closed for short periods for Native American ceremonies. A fence surrounds the Wheel and Native Americans have placed prayer cloths along with other sacred symbolic items on the fence. It is expected that visiting tourists respect these items and not disturb them.

As for being able to get from Cody to the Tower in one day, I do not see why you could not do so. We spent a night at the Tower's campground during a heat way up there a few years ago with temps over 100 as we drove to it. It was warm for a little while at night but cooled off nicely to sleep. On another trip many years ago we stayed at a State Park off the interstate (Keyhole, I believe) and just drove over to see the Tower. Being at the Tower was better. There is a private campgound near it as well if you are into those places.

In Cody try to see the Buffalo Bill Historical Center with Five Museums Under One Roof. http://www.bbhc.org/museums/index.cfm
These 3 were really great:
Buffalo Bill Museum
Whitney Gallery of Western Art
Plains Indian Museum
Cody Firearms Museum

North of Cody is the town of Powell which has a free campground at Homesteaders Park. The park was clean, safe and friendly. Dump services are free. Watch out for the lawn sprinklers, they will also water the parking area (soaking your unit).
http://www.freecampgrounds.com/detail.aspx?id=822

Here is a link to some info on Custer State Park: http://www.casitaclub.com/forums/index.php...4&hl=custer

Black Hills Nat'l Forest Campgrounds, all will do Reservations and have Drinking Water
Bismarck Lake- $19 23 camp sites 5300 Elevation
http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/blackhills/l...cg_bismark.gif

Comanche Park- $15 Close to Jewel Cave & Custer 34 camp sites 5100 Elevation
http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/blackhills/l...g_comanche.gif

Horsethief Lake- $23 Closest to Mt. Rushmore 36 camp sites
5000 Elevation
http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/blackhills/l...horsethief.gif

Oreville- $19 Near Mickelson Trail, but off a major hwy 26 camp sites
5300 Elevation
http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/blackhills/l...g_oreville.gif

Pactola- $21 near Pactola Resevoir 80 camp sites
4700 Elevation
http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/blackhills/l...cg_pactola.gif

Reuter- $11 Near Warren Peak Lookout Tower in Wyoming, near Sundance 24 camp sites
4900 Elevation
http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/blackhills/l.../cg_reuter.gif

Custer State Park
Stockade South Campground Open May 16 through September 4
Full facilities - $18.00 No longer first come first serve with 20 RV sites

We stayed at Stockade South 2 years ago (the photo under my name is at Stockade South Campground), we got there a few days before the Fourth. (They have the Firework desplays off Mt Rushmore on the 3th of July, we got to see that, but were on the road on the 4th, my son had to be back to work on the 5th) We did not have reservations and we did find two spots at the reservation Stockade North for the first night there. We meet our son & his family there, they are from Minot, ND.

Most of the Custer State Park campgrounds take reservations, most DO have water and electric now, they are adding more each year. They have showers and flush toilets as well.

This past year 2008, we stayed at Bismarck Lake CG a Black Hills Nat'l Forest CG (first photo is of the Bismarck Lake Campground) just across the road (kind of) from the Stockade North & South, just a few miles (maybe 3 or 4) from the town of Custer. We enjoyed it, very nice area, very quite, nice camp host. More like camping. The sites are more private than the Stockage South or North for that matter. But no showers or flush toilets (pit toilets were new & clean). Almost the same cost as Stockade North but less for me due to Senior Card. http://www.casitaforum.com/invboard/...showtopic=3837

Horse Thief Lake CG is also a Black Hills Nat'l Forest CG, very close to Mt Rushmore. It would be a nice one as well. My son had stayed at it before. A little more costly but in a nice setting.

For CG in the Bismarck, ND area (in case you are there & need to stay):
http://www.casitaforum.com/invboard/...showtopic=4042

Our trip to Black Hills and more last summer:
http://www.casitaforum.com/invboard/...showtopic=3722

Most of the Custer State Park CGs would be nice.
http://www.sdgfp.info/parks/Regions/Custer/custersp.htm

http://www.sdgfp.info/Parks/Regions/Custer...oundInformation

Bluebell Campground (Reserved Campground) This one appeared to be a nice place to stay from what I could see passing by it.
Stockade South Campground - CAMPGROUND UNDER CONSTRUCTION (Reserved Campground 2009) Appears not be a first come campground anymore.
This one would also be neat and will be first come. Center Lake Lower Loop Campground (All First Come/First Served for 2009).
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Old 02-24-2009, 02:05 AM   #10
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Another photo of the Bismarck Lake Campground out from Custer the town. And another one of the Stockade South Campground.
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Old 02-24-2009, 07:33 AM   #11
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we made the trip 2 yrs ago going thru Sheriden. Stayed at Peter D's. Nice facility and very nice people. one thing we noticed on the trip, thee were no fire rings for camp fires. Being from Iowa we were not used to this.
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Old 02-24-2009, 09:00 PM   #12
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we made the trip 2 yrs ago going thru Sheriden. Stayed at Peter D's. Nice facility and very nice people. one thing we noticed on the trip, thee were no fire rings for camp fires. Being from Iowa we were not used to this.
Was that just at Peter D's or throughout your trip? Firerings are common through MN as well.

Thanks everyone for the great info. Wow, did not expect such great help. I think we will go from east Yellowstone, through Cody. Camp in Bighorn NF, unless we're making good time, then on to Custer. I was a bit worried what 14A would be like, having not had to drive mtn roads in the upper midwest.
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Old 02-27-2009, 12:34 AM   #13
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From the photo at http://www.wyomingrvpark.com/ I would think, there really isn't room between units for a firering. I would not want to have to eat someone elses smoke next door anyway.

Not only that it looks pretty close if not in the town as well. Can you imagine the smokey mess a bunch of fires would create in such as nice area.

I would think firerings in RV Parks such at this one would seldom be found.

I would hope not at any rate. Just to much of a parking lot for them.
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Old 02-27-2009, 07:34 AM   #14
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From the photo at http://www.wyomingrvpark.com/ I would think, there really isn't room between units for a firering. I would not want to have to eat someone elses smoke next door anyway.

Not only that it looks pretty close if not in the town as well. Can you imagine the smokey mess a bunch of fires would create in such as nice area.

I would think firerings in RV Parks such at this one would seldom be found.

I would hope not at any rate. Just to much of a parking lot for them.
to me, outdoor cooking is part of campiong, hence the need for fire rings. in the midwest almost all of the campgounds have fire rings at every site. if I go to a campgound to get awa from people why would I want to go to one that had you packed in so tight you could not move? those are the facilities I do not go to.
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