Starkville, MS to Yellowstone.
March 17, 2007 6:18 PM   Subscribe

I'm planning a road trip to Yellowstone NP from Starkville, MS. Tips, suggestions of roads to take and places to stop, stay, eat, and see (we're tent camping, and we're talking spring break one year from now), we'll be in my 2006 Sentra.

I've checked the archives, and read the Must See at Yellowstone NP and Tent camping for newbies. I'm just sure there are things I haven't thought of yet. We'll have four college seniors going one year from now, with tents, money, and an atlas. Only two of us have experience tent camping, and for my part that's always been with more experienced family.
posted by nile_red to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I hate to break this to you, but you're making a classic tourist mistake: until about May, YNP is closed due to snow. Unless you want to snowmobile, snowshoe, or ski in, Yellowstone is pretty much off-limits at that time of year. And from the sounds of it, you aren't experienced enough to backpack into the wilderness during winter.

While there is lots to see and do in Wyoming near YNP, March (I'm assuming that's when your spring break will be) is fiesty there in terms of weather. Why not try other areas like Zion in Utah or Gila in New Mexico? They're beautiful this time of year and you don't have to deal with crowds.

Good luck!
posted by barchan at 7:23 PM on March 17, 2007

I've found Road Trip USA very helpful in finding fun places to see on a road trip. Roadside America too.

Route 7 (or is it highway 7) out of Hot Springs AR is a lovely road through the Ozarks. There's a great little cave you can visit where people used to have Prohibition era drinking parties back in the day. Day time driving suggested for this mountain side route.

Where ever you decide to go, give yourself time to stop and enjoy the things that strike your interests along the way. Have fun!
posted by dog food sugar at 8:30 PM on March 17, 2007

Response by poster: oh no! ok. new addition to the question, when is the best time to plan a trip to yellowstone?
posted by nile_red at 8:41 PM on March 17, 2007

Yellowstone is mostly snowless sometime after July. Actually, after school's back in session, better yet the last third of September, the colors are changing and the place is not a compleat zoo. For spring break, you want to go to southern Utah. Trust me on this, it's freakin' amazing. Just don't plan to stay in Bryce overnight in March. To great of elevation so it's fuckin' cold!

I used to mak a pilgrimage to Utah and such every March, and this is the first year in five, that I've not made some sort of road trip this time of year. (needless to say, I'm fiending windsheild time like a junkie 'bout now.) If you'd like more help pickign routes, email me. Addy in the profile.
posted by notsnot at 8:59 PM on March 17, 2007

I'm not really an expert on Yellowstone (only been twice), but I just had to drop in and say that if you're in Gardiner, MT (just outside the north gate), go to the Yellowstone Mine Restaurant and have the prime rib. It is the greatest thing I have ever eaten.

Also, thirding Utah if you do have to go in March. And, again, I don't have enough experience to say when the best time for Yellowstone is, but August seemed pretty good to me. There's no snow and everything's open, at least.
posted by equalpants at 6:59 AM on March 18, 2007

Yellowstone is 3 hours from my door, and I have been there several times before they officially open. It's actually my favorite time to go. BUT... it's practically next door, so no big loss to me if the roads aren't clear yet. PLUS, even if you get in, there are no services within the park.

I really do wish everyone could see it during spring; the steam rising from the thermal areas is amazing. So, I recommend going as early in the season as you can, weather permitting. The wildlife, especially the bison, are not yet scared off into the woods, so opportunities for (careful) viewing are more plentiful.

AVOID early July, especially around the 4th. Unless you want to feel like New York City has moved into Wyoming.

Obviously, you will see the main attractions: Old Faithful, etc. But some things to not miss, that in my opinion are more impressive than the main attractions, are: Morning Glory Pool and the other thermal features on the way there from Old Faithful. It's a 1.5 mile walk from Old Faithful, but it's a level, paved walkway. (You can bike it as well.)

Be sure to see The Upper and Lower Falls. And don't scrimp on time. There are several vantage points which require a good pair of walking shoes, but they are clearly marked and well worth the trip. You will find yourself in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, a gorgeous view.

Also, a boat tour on Lake Yellowstone is a good bet.

Once you have come as far as Yellowstone, DO NOT MISS driving the Beartooth Highway, out the Northeast entrance of the park. Do it during the day, and be sure to stop at the scenic lookout. It is breathtaking. You will end up in Red Lodge, Montana, a quaint little ski town with shops, good food, and an old fashioned candy store with every kind of candy you can imagine.

If you still have time, you can go back through the park and exit through the east entrance to Cody. This route goes through the beautiful Shoshone National Forest. Cody is home to the Buffalo Bill Museums, a destination in itself.

OK, so that will get you started. :) Have fun!
posted by The Deej at 11:54 AM on March 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

We saw Old Faithful erupt at night with a full moon. It was very beautiful.
posted by theora55 at 5:28 PM on March 19, 2007

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