Author Topic: Yellowstone RV camping Advice  (Read 7127 times)

boarder42

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Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« on: January 31, 2017, 07:59:56 AM »
So we're in the early stages of planning a camping trip to yellowstone in Sept 2018

Current plan

Drive to Bozeman from KC and pick up an RV at cruise america or some other rental place - whatever seems the most reasonable
We arent tent camping b/c we'll have a 1 year old. and an RV seemed more affordable than staying in hotels or lodges - correct me if you know differently completely open to options.

Biggest question I have since we havent really RV camped is are Full hookups necessary?  we have a generator - looks like it costs 3.50 an hour from cruise america to run.  The RV full hookup sites cost 50 bucks a night vs 25 in a standard site.  so just looking for thoughts and feed back on what really is needed and if its worth 2x the price for full hookups.

MayDay

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2017, 11:14:03 AM »
My advice would be to camp in a tent, because all the morons with rental RV's clog up the parking lots.

But that is probably not helpful:)

Seriously though, maybe it won't be a huge problem in September, and maybe you are talking about getting a very little RV, but RV's can't get into all parking lots due to their size.  You will miss some things being in an RV.  You will be driving on windy narrow roads, and if you aren't comfortable driving a vehicle that large, it is not going to be fun.  And also, all the accidents we saw involved rental RV's.  I was so glad we had a normal sized car! 

boarder42

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2017, 11:19:20 AM »
My advice would be to camp in a tent, because all the morons with rental RV's clog up the parking lots.

But that is probably not helpful:)

Seriously though, maybe it won't be a huge problem in September, and maybe you are talking about getting a very little RV, but RV's can't get into all parking lots due to their size.  You will miss some things being in an RV.  You will be driving on windy narrow roads, and if you aren't comfortable driving a vehicle that large, it is not going to be fun.  And also, all the accidents we saw involved rental RV's.  I was so glad we had a normal sized car!

see baby above not tent camping in sept in yellowstone with 1 year old.  We plan to have our car with us and basically use the camper as lodging more or less.

really interested to know if the full service vs regular is necessary.

RV = 100 per day plus camping of 25 or 50 to stay in park. 

well i did just look at lodging it appears lodging in yellowstone maybe cheaper than my assumption that the RV would be.

therethere

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2017, 11:32:43 AM »
When we went to Yellowstone this past year we were rarely at the site itself. Half of Yellowstone is watching animals, and the best time for that is sunrise and sunset. We were leaving at dawn, napping it somewhere in the park, and coming back to the site around 8pm. Yellowstone is huge so getting back to the site can take 30min-1hr. I don't think you'll miss the full hookups for the few hours you are at the site.

boarder42

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2017, 11:34:05 AM »
When we went to Yellowstone this past year we were rarely at the site itself. Half of Yellowstone is watching animals, and the best time for that is sunrise and sunset. We were leaving at dawn, napping it somewhere in the park, and coming back to the site around 8pm. Yellowstone is huge so getting back to the site can take 30min-1hr. I don't think you'll miss the full hookups for the few hours you are at the site.

awesome thanks for the info.  SO how do heating and cooling work in an RV without full hookups?

MayDay

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2017, 11:34:46 AM »
I'm not sure why the 1 year old matters.  But we tent camped with our kids since they were 6 months. 

If you don't want to tent camp with a baby, fine, but I'd skip driving the RV from Bozeman and just stay in a cheaper lodge, personally.   Are you going to tow a car on the back of the rental RV?  I didn't know they let you on the rentals, having never seen anyone do that.  Or drive the car and RV?  Have you added the cost of the gas to drive the RV, or is that included in your 100$/day estimate?   

Kapiira

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2017, 11:36:39 AM »
Just for comparison, the rustic cabins are $91 a night.  It's not cheap, but my recollection is that renting an RV isn't cheap either.

There's no kitchenette in the cabins, but I used a hot plate to make most of our meals and it worked out fine.

boarder42

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2017, 11:45:36 AM »
I'm not sure why the 1 year old matters.  But we tent camped with our kids since they were 6 months. 

If you don't want to tent camp with a baby, fine, but I'd skip driving the RV from Bozeman and just stay in a cheaper lodge, personally.   Are you going to tow a car on the back of the rental RV?  I didn't know they let you on the rentals, having never seen anyone do that.  Or drive the car and RV?  Have you added the cost of the gas to drive the RV, or is that included in your 100$/day estimate?

not tent camping moving on - congrats to you

driving the car and RV with our 30+ mpg car to yellowstone from bozeman would be around 200 miles RT. a cost of around 21 bucks.  but then we get more accessiblity in yellowstone as well as the gas savings there.  100 a day currently includes the cost of gas.  but as i said we're not driving it far.  we're going 200 miles RT in it.  at 10MPG thats 20 gallons or 60 dollars at 3 bucks a gallon gas. 


sailinlight

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2017, 11:59:14 AM »
We thought about doing this last year and decided to drive.  When I ran the numbers, it looked like it would cost more to do the RV plus be a bigger pain in the ass (we were coming from Northern California, so might be different in Bozeman).  There are lots of lodging options around Yellowstone, and September won't be peak, especially later in the month.  You should be able to rent a cabin for about $100/night.  With an RV, you won't need hookups every night (hookups are electricity and dumping), but since running a rented generator costs you money, it's probably a wash anyway. 

If it were me, I'd drive the car and stay in a comfortable cabin.

canyonrider

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2017, 12:10:26 PM »
Agreed that you probably won't need hookups, assuming that the RV you are renting has adequate battery power and tank capacity (fresh water and waste water) for whatever length of time you plan to use it.

Is there a reason you are interested in RV other than cost, i.e., will it allow you to visit a few different parts of the park and stay in some different locations? If you are just going to park it somewhere for a week, I think a cabin or lodge rental is a much better bet from the standpoints of cost, comfort, and convenience.

As for tent vs. RV, I think you're making the right call. I've camped a lot with our kids in both tents and a camper since they were tiny, and IMHO tent camping in Yellowstone that time of year (cold nights and grizzly country) with a one-year old would not be particularly relaxing. 
« Last Edit: January 31, 2017, 12:14:40 PM by canyonrider »

boarder42

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2017, 12:21:17 PM »
Agreed that you probably won't need hookups, assuming that the RV you are renting has adequate battery power and tank capacity (fresh water and waste water) for whatever length of time you plan to use it.

Is there a reason you are interested in RV other than cost, i.e., will it allow you to visit a few different parts of the park and stay in some different locations? If you are just going to park it somewhere for a week, I think a cabin or lodge rental is a much better bet from the standpoints of cost, comfort, and convenience.

As for tent vs. RV, I think you're making the right call. I've camped a lot with our kids in both tents and a camper since they were tiny, and IMHO tent camping in Yellowstone that time of year (cold nights and grizzly country) with a one-year old would not be particularly relaxing.

can you point me to a cabin that costs around 125 a night thats in yellowstone that has basically the conviences of home.  i cant find one.  maybe i'm not looking hard enough.

RV is solely based on cost.  its cheaper IMO basically i'm just driving my condo in and setting it up and then we'll have our car to take us everywhere still.

Bozeman is the closest place to yellowstone basically on the way from kansas city to pick up an RV i looked at drving one from KC but that doesnt make any sesnse at all.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2017, 12:24:13 PM by boarder42 »

canyonrider

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2017, 12:26:35 PM »


can you point me to a cabin that costs around 125 a night thats in yellowstone that has basically the conviences of home.  i cant find one.  maybe i'm not looking hard enough.

RV is solely based on cost.  its cheaper IMO basically i'm just driving my condo in and setting it up and then we'll have our car to take us everywhere still.

I have no idea what cabins cost, I was just thinking of the $91 figure someone referenced above. If that's not accurate, then I suppose RV could be much cheaper. Make sure to factor in all of the possible costs, but it sounds like you've done that. One other consideration for hookup vs. non-hookup sites is that full-hookup sites are often geared towards huge RVs and can more closely resemble parking lots than campsites. If you want a spot that's more like actual camping, a non-hookup site is usually a better call.

sailinlight

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2017, 12:26:40 PM »
Agreed that you probably won't need hookups, assuming that the RV you are renting has adequate battery power and tank capacity (fresh water and waste water) for whatever length of time you plan to use it.

Is there a reason you are interested in RV other than cost, i.e., will it allow you to visit a few different parts of the park and stay in some different locations? If you are just going to park it somewhere for a week, I think a cabin or lodge rental is a much better bet from the standpoints of cost, comfort, and convenience.

As for tent vs. RV, I think you're making the right call. I've camped a lot with our kids in both tents and a camper since they were tiny, and IMHO tent camping in Yellowstone that time of year (cold nights and grizzly country) with a one-year old would not be particularly relaxing.

can you point me to a cabin that costs around 125 a night thats in yellowstone that has basically the conviences of home.  i cant find one.  maybe i'm not looking hard enough.

RV is solely based on cost.  its cheaper IMO basically i'm just driving my condo in and setting it up and then we'll have our car to take us everywhere still.

Bozeman is the closest place to yellowstone basically on the way from kansas city to pick up an RV i looked at drving one from KC but that doesnt make any sesnse at all.


How about
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9238912?checkin=09%2F18%2F2017&checkout=09%2F25%2F2017&guests=2&adults=2&infants=1&s=TDQS8Ysr


boarder42

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2017, 12:31:04 PM »
hadnt hit up AirBnB yet so that will make the list.

the 91 dollar cabin doesnt have a fridge or stove i know they mentioned hot plate but i think we would end up eating out more vs in an RV where we have all the stuff we need. 

Fireball

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2017, 12:31:31 PM »
Regarding hookups - According to the internet, average night time temps in Yellowstone in Sept are 28-35F. Plan on running the propane heater most of the night which will run your battery down. Queue babysitting the generator the next day to recharge the battery which takes a few hours. Don't forget to keep an eye on propane usage also. The heater can use it up pretty quickly. In short, pay for the hookups.

WildHare

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2017, 12:34:20 PM »
Hi. Suggest you consider staying outside the park.  Did a trip  and we stayed outside the northern entrance for two nights, drove in to see the animals, drove across and stayed in Cody for a couple of nights, drove through the park. ,  saw the geysers etc and stayed at the west entrance for a few more nights.It was very easy and economical vs staying in the park. 

Slow&Steady

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2017, 12:42:00 PM »
I worked in Yellowstone during the summers (late May-early Aug) when I was in college.  I completely agree with not tent camping in Sept with a 1 year old, unless your gear is cold weather gear.  The location I worked at was more rustic and almost none of the cabins (guest or employees) were insulated, we had a fire in our wood burning stove almost every night and if it went out during the night it was pretty freaking cold when you got our of bed the next morning.  We provided fire logs and little starter disks to the guess, every night.  My husband and I went tent camping up there 6-7 years ago, in June/July and he did not believe me when I told him how cold it would get at night and was completely unprepared.

I can not answer any RV specific questions because I have never been in one and did not visit any of the RV campgrounds.  I hope you have an amazing trip.

can you point me to a cabin that costs around 125 a night thats in yellowstone that has basically the conviences of home.  i cant find one.  maybe i'm not looking hard enough.

RV is solely based on cost.  its cheaper IMO basically i'm just driving my condo in and setting it up and then we'll have our car to take us everywhere still.

Bozeman is the closest place to yellowstone basically on the way from kansas city to pick up an RV i looked at drving one from KC but that doesnt make any sesnse at all.

The more rustic cabins in YNP are going to cost you at least $90/night.  They will not have kitchenettes and some won't even have an attached bathroom.  I am not aware of any of the cabins in YNP that have kitchenetts, so my thinking is that an RV will save you cost on food if nothing else (assuming you want to stay inside the park).

Coming from KC you are either going to have to drive through or around the park to get to Bozeman, have you looked at Gardiner, MT, Cody or Jackson, WY for RV rental ( not sure if any of these places have RV rental locations).

Last comment, if you are coming from KC make sure you take advantage of some of the other awesome stuff on the way (Mount Rushmore for example).

MayDay

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2017, 12:42:10 PM »
hadnt hit up AirBnB yet so that will make the list.

the 91 dollar cabin doesnt have a fridge or stove i know they mentioned hot plate but i think we would end up eating out more vs in an RV where we have all the stuff we need.

If you are treating it as camping, the lack of kitchen won't matter.  As per your title, you want "RV camping advice".

Instant oatmeal for breakfast (bring a hot plate or electric kettle), sandwiches for lunch, either heat up a can of soup or roast a hotdog for dinner, etc. 

If you want a full kitchen, then yes that kind of cabin will cost more (if it even exists).   

I have stayed in the tent cabins at Yosemite and yes it is chilly overnight in shoulder season.  A 1 year old is actually a great age to not matter if there is an attached bathroom, since they will be in diapers anyway.  But it sounds like you want something fancier than that.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2017, 12:44:17 PM by MayDay »

boarder42

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2017, 12:47:31 PM »
I worked in Yellowstone during the summers (late May-early Aug) when I was in college.  I completely agree with not tent camping in Sept with a 1 year old, unless your gear is cold weather gear.  The location I worked at was more rustic and almost none of the cabins (guest or employees) were insulated, we had a fire in our wood burning stove almost every night and if it went out during the night it was pretty freaking cold when you got our of bed the next morning.  We provided fire logs and little starter disks to the guess, every night.  My husband and I went tent camping up there 6-7 years ago, in June/July and he did not believe me when I told him how cold it would get at night and was completely unprepared.

I can not answer any RV specific questions because I have never been in one and did not visit any of the RV campgrounds.  I hope you have an amazing trip.

can you point me to a cabin that costs around 125 a night thats in yellowstone that has basically the conviences of home.  i cant find one.  maybe i'm not looking hard enough.

RV is solely based on cost.  its cheaper IMO basically i'm just driving my condo in and setting it up and then we'll have our car to take us everywhere still.

Bozeman is the closest place to yellowstone basically on the way from kansas city to pick up an RV i looked at drving one from KC but that doesnt make any sesnse at all.

The more rustic cabins in YNP are going to cost you at least $90/night.  They will not have kitchenettes and some won't even have an attached bathroom.  I am not aware of any of the cabins in YNP that have kitchenetts, so my thinking is that an RV will save you cost on food if nothing else (assuming you want to stay inside the park).

Coming from KC you are either going to have to drive through or around the park to get to Bozeman, have you looked at Gardiner, MT, Cody or Jackson, WY for RV rental ( not sure if any of these places have RV rental locations).

Last comment, if you are coming from KC make sure you take advantage of some of the other awesome stuff on the way (Mount Rushmore for example).

yes we plan to come across and stay at rushmore/ badlands on the way to and from.  the path google takes us on has us go south just east of bozeman.  so its a bit out of the way.  i know billings also has rentals so i'm exploring around the area to find the most cost effective one.  also trying to convince my wife to go earlier rather than later in september. 

do you know when leaves change color there?

boarder42

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2017, 12:50:48 PM »
hadnt hit up AirBnB yet so that will make the list.

the 91 dollar cabin doesnt have a fridge or stove i know they mentioned hot plate but i think we would end up eating out more vs in an RV where we have all the stuff we need.

If you are treating it as camping, the lack of kitchen won't matter.  As per your title, you want "RV camping advice".

Instant oatmeal for breakfast (bring a hot plate or electric kettle), sandwiches for lunch, either heat up a can of soup or roast a hotdog for dinner, etc. 

If you want a full kitchen, then yes that kind of cabin will cost more (if it even exists).   

I have stayed in the tent cabins at Yosemite and yes it is chilly overnight in shoulder season.  A 1 year old is actually a great age to not matter if there is an attached bathroom, since they will be in diapers anyway.  But it sounds like you want something fancier than that.

yes when you throw out camping in a tent.  and then the cost of a room with a bathroom is 91-117 a night.  an RV at 125 a night makes a lot more sense.  I love to cook and eat great food and i dont really care to worry about a cooler with ice and whatever our 1 year old will need at that point in time.  just seems to be easily worth the 8 bucks a night to have the RV which i plan to find cheaper than 125 a night including the campsite.  i'm sure i will be able to dig something up in the next year.

therethere

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #20 on: January 31, 2017, 12:55:17 PM »
I'm sure you've seen this already. But campgrounds have closing dates. The leaves likely will change early/mid September is my guess. But I'm not sure it will depend on the season. If you can travel the week after Labor Day (and  connect with Labor Day) that would be perfect dates.

Campgrounds    Opening 8am    Closing 11am
Fishing Bridge RV Park    May 5    September 17
Canyon Campground    May 26    September 24
Bridge Bay Campground    May 19    September 11
Grant Village Campground    June 9    September 17
Madison Campground    April 28    October 15

boarder42

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #21 on: January 31, 2017, 12:58:59 PM »
I'm sure you've seen this already. But campgrounds have closing dates. The leaves likely will change early/mid September is my guess. But I'm not sure it will depend on the season. If you can travel the week after Labor Day (and  connect with Labor Day) that would be perfect dates.

Campgrounds    Opening 8am    Closing 11am
Fishing Bridge RV Park    May 5    September 17
Canyon Campground    May 26    September 24
Bridge Bay Campground    May 19    September 11
Grant Village Campground    June 9    September 17
Madison Campground    April 28    October 15

yeah i saw all of that.. our plan would be to not connect with labor day the RV is half price the week after labor day week.

Slow&Steady

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #22 on: January 31, 2017, 01:24:44 PM »
yes we plan to come across and stay at rushmore/ badlands on the way to and from.  the path google takes us on has us go south just east of bozeman.  so its a bit out of the way.  i know billings also has rentals so i'm exploring around the area to find the most cost effective one.  also trying to convince my wife to go earlier rather than later in september. 

do you know when leaves change color there?

I do not know when the leaves change as I always had to get back to school by early/mid Aug when classes started but as therethere pointed out mid-Sept sees a lot of the more secluded places close.  By going late Sept you will have less crowds but you will also limit yourself to staying in the more crowded areas.  If you are a hiker make sure to check if to see if any of the trails you are interested in will close. 

Slow&Steady

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #23 on: January 31, 2017, 01:26:45 PM »
I do not know when the leaves change as I always had to get back to school by early/mid Aug when classes started but as therethere pointed out mid-Sept sees a lot of the more secluded places close.  By going late Sept you will have less crowds but you will also limit yourself to staying in the more crowded areas.  If you are a hiker make sure to check if to see if any of the trails you are interested in will close.

Off topic but if you are in the KC area and a hiker you (or your wife) should check out Hike It Baby Kansas City!

Rocketman

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #24 on: January 31, 2017, 01:41:29 PM »
Be sure and get reservations, not all the campgrounds can handle rv's. you will probably want full hookups every other night. Also many campgrounds charge extra for a second vehicle.

Have fun!!! RV camp is a lot of fun

boarder42

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #25 on: January 31, 2017, 02:30:19 PM »
Be sure and get reservations, not all the campgrounds can handle rv's. you will probably want full hookups every other night. Also many campgrounds charge extra for a second vehicle.

Have fun!!! RV camp is a lot of fun

we plan to park it and leave it.  how do RVs heat ... do they use the propane to heat or do they use electric?

yachi

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #26 on: January 31, 2017, 02:39:35 PM »
Be sure and get reservations, not all the campgrounds can handle rv's. you will probably want full hookups every other night. Also many campgrounds charge extra for a second vehicle.

Have fun!!! RV camp is a lot of fun

we plan to park it and leave it.  how do RVs heat ... do they use the propane to heat or do they use electric?

Yes.  If you're not plugged into full hookups, they'll use propane with the battery required to run the control circuit.  If you're plugged in, they'll use electric (make sure to switch it).  Same for the refrigerator usually.

boarder42

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #27 on: January 31, 2017, 02:56:36 PM »
Be sure and get reservations, not all the campgrounds can handle rv's. you will probably want full hookups every other night. Also many campgrounds charge extra for a second vehicle.

Have fun!!! RV camp is a lot of fun

we plan to park it and leave it.  how do RVs heat ... do they use the propane to heat or do they use electric?

Yes.  If you're not plugged into full hookups, they'll use propane with the battery required to run the control circuit.  If you're plugged in, they'll use electric (make sure to switch it).  Same for the refrigerator usually.

how often should we run the engine or generator to recharge.  i assume the engine is cheaper to run than the generator since it appears there is an hourly rate charged on the generator.

even at 3.5 plus gas we could run the generator for 6 hours a day and not meet the cost difference in full hookup vs not

Panfish

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #28 on: January 31, 2017, 05:09:35 PM »
I don't know if I will be much help at all but I live in Wyoming and my wife works in that area a few weeks a year. 

My biggest suggestion would be to look into Grand Teton National Park, it is just 10 miles south of Yellowstone and in my opinion, much prettier of a landscape.  You may be able to get better accommodations in Grand Teton and "commute" up to Yellowstone.  Honestly, with the crowds in that whole region i tend to avoid it but seeing these parks is a must do if you are in the area. 

I pretty much grew up in the Black Hills and there are some really cool must do things there on your way through.  Go to Custer State Park and stay in the game lodge campground at one of the cabins (can't remember how much per night but maybe $25).  Do the wildlife loop (1,500 head of bison and all sorts of other 'prairie' ungulates), Needles highway ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bpqgq3FsPGU ), the quick easy walk around Sylvan Lake at the end of needles highway, it's a relatively short drive from here to get to Mt. Rushmore.  After Rushmore i would head North and check out Deadwood for a bit, pretty cool little historical town.  After deadwood i would probably take the Spearfish Canyon scenic byway north to I-90 then head west. Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935 had a pretty famous quote that called the canyon more miraculous than the Grand Canyon, which is a stretch to say the least, but it is pretty damn cool.

On your way through you should really see Devil's Tower in extreme Northeastern Wyoming, there is nothing like it in the world.

badger1988

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #29 on: January 31, 2017, 05:34:13 PM »
I worked in Yellowstone during the summers (late May-early Aug) when I was in college.  I completely agree with not tent camping in Sept with a 1 year old, unless your gear is cold weather gear.  The location I worked at was more rustic and almost none of the cabins (guest or employees) were insulated, we had a fire in our wood burning stove almost every night and if it went out during the night it was pretty freaking cold when you got our of bed the next morning.  We provided fire logs and little starter disks to the guess, every night.  My husband and I went tent camping up there 6-7 years ago, in June/July and he did not believe me when I told him how cold it would get at night and was completely unprepared.

I can not answer any RV specific questions because I have never been in one and did not visit any of the RV campgrounds.  I hope you have an amazing trip.

can you point me to a cabin that costs around 125 a night thats in yellowstone that has basically the conviences of home.  i cant find one.  maybe i'm not looking hard enough.

RV is solely based on cost.  its cheaper IMO basically i'm just driving my condo in and setting it up and then we'll have our car to take us everywhere still.

Bozeman is the closest place to yellowstone basically on the way from kansas city to pick up an RV i looked at drving one from KC but that doesnt make any sesnse at all.

The more rustic cabins in YNP are going to cost you at least $90/night.  They will not have kitchenettes and some won't even have an attached bathroom.  I am not aware of any of the cabins in YNP that have kitchenetts, so my thinking is that an RV will save you cost on food if nothing else (assuming you want to stay inside the park).

Coming from KC you are either going to have to drive through or around the park to get to Bozeman, have you looked at Gardiner, MT, Cody or Jackson, WY for RV rental ( not sure if any of these places have RV rental locations).

Last comment, if you are coming from KC make sure you take advantage of some of the other awesome stuff on the way (Mount Rushmore for example).

yes we plan to come across and stay at rushmore/ badlands on the way to and from.  the path google takes us on has us go south just east of bozeman.  so its a bit out of the way.  i know billings also has rentals so i'm exploring around the area to find the most cost effective one.  also trying to convince my wife to go earlier rather than later in september. 

do you know when leaves change color there?

I wouldn't worry too much about leaves changing color. From what I remember most of the park is lodgepole pine...not many areas with deciduous trees.

yachi

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #30 on: February 01, 2017, 07:34:43 AM »

we plan to park it and leave it.  how do RVs heat ... do they use the propane to heat or do they use electric?

Yes.  If you're not plugged into full hookups, they'll use propane with the battery required to run the control circuit.  If you're plugged in, they'll use electric (make sure to switch it).  Same for the refrigerator usually.

how often should we run the engine or generator to recharge.  i assume the engine is cheaper to run than the generator since it appears there is an hourly rate charged on the generator.

even at 3.5 plus gas we could run the generator for 6 hours a day and not meet the cost difference in full hookup vs not

I don't think you'll drain your battery from the control circuit for the furnace and refrigerator, but RVs usually have two batteries so if you do drain the one, you can still start the engine with the other.  You might have to refill your propane once per week.

yyc-phil

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #31 on: February 01, 2017, 03:19:39 PM »
If you have a self-contained RV with a generator, why bother spending money in an RV Park or private campground? Near Yellowstone, you can camp in a state park for very cheap, or even for free as "dispersed" camping. In the USA, dispersed camping is free on all public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, such as National Forests, state parks, etc. Also if you get an annual National Park pass ($80 if I remember well), you get free access to inter-agency parks and other natural areas throughout the USA. Not only dispersed camping is free, but it is usually in the most incredibly beautiful spots, and surprisingly with nobody around especially in the fall, winter and spring. Also download the iOverlander app (which works off-line too) on your smartphone or tablet for listings of free campsites and other travel information.

Cassie

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #32 on: February 01, 2017, 03:44:25 PM »
2 years ago we went to Yellowstone with our 27 ft RV. We paid for the full hookups. By about 5pm we were tired and came back to have dinner, rest and relax. Generators are very noisy and you will disturb others if you run it while at night. Many places have rules that you can't run them after 10pm. Pay for the hookups. It is worth it to stay in the park. Once in a NP we stayed outside and wasted much time each day driving in and out of the park. We went in early June and needed our heat on at night. We stayed 5 days and saw something new everyday.  We have a full kitchen so I made meals and then we could eat on them for a few days.  I would not camp with a baby there in the cold either. We had bears walk through our campground even though it was packed with RV's. 

farmecologist

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #33 on: February 01, 2017, 04:11:20 PM »
If you have a self-contained RV with a generator, why bother spending money in an RV Park or private campground? Near Yellowstone, you can camp in a state park for very cheap, or even for free as "dispersed" camping. In the USA, dispersed camping is free on all public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, such as National Forests, state parks, etc. Also if you get an annual National Park pass ($80 if I remember well), you get free access to inter-agency parks and other natural areas throughout the USA. Not only dispersed camping is free, but it is usually in the most incredibly beautiful spots, and surprisingly with nobody around especially in the fall, winter and spring. Also download the iOverlander app (which works off-line too) on your smartphone or tablet for listings of free campsites and other travel information.

This is a decent idea...depending on when you go.  Yellowstone can be notoriously difficult to enter during prime season - especially from the west side.  Another thing to consider is that the park is extremely large.  You will end up spending quite a bit of time just driving in/out.  Many people don't anticipate how long this takes. 

We have considered the RV thing but always end up renting the inpark cabins, etc....It works well for us :

- First of all, driving an RV is not enjoyable at all for me.
- No 'camp' setup/takedown to worry about.
- We move to a cabin in a different area of the park each day.
- We roll up to the cabin at sundown without worrying about 'camp' related stuff.

Of course, some of these issues are far less of an issue with an RV...

And of course the biggest issue with the on-site properties is that they fill up extremely fast.  I had to camp on the booking site for weeks one year to catch cancellations, etc...



Goldielocks

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #34 on: February 01, 2017, 04:15:57 PM »
hadnt hit up AirBnB yet so that will make the list.

the 91 dollar cabin doesnt have a fridge or stove i know they mentioned hot plate but i think we would end up eating out more vs in an RV where we have all the stuff we need.

Did you miss the whole Yeti cooler thread?   LOL.   $800 for a cooler that acts like your fridge for a week, but you lug it around.

You won't need hookups every day, or any day.   Often can get water top off at a gas station or rest stop, or refill the old fashioned way in the campground with the bucket / hose.  Likewise, you can dump the tank every few days if needed, or tell everyone that the toilet is off limits and they just use the campground services like everyone else.

Get a smaller RV for better access and cost control. (no microwave, tv, etc)

You will want to run the vehicle/ generator every other day.  I think yellowstone has hours that allow this for a short time.  But you won't run AC or a microwave when off of the hookups.   So basic RV only - but the sites without hookups are cheaper and right where you may want to be.

Heat is usually a propane tank, as is the stove.  Some fridges are also propane, but most are electricity so that is your biggest electrical draw on power.

Have a terrific time.

farmecologist

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #35 on: February 01, 2017, 04:17:00 PM »
I don't know if I will be much help at all but I live in Wyoming and my wife works in that area a few weeks a year. 

My biggest suggestion would be to look into Grand Teton National Park, it is just 10 miles south of Yellowstone and in my opinion, much prettier of a landscape.  You may be able to get better accommodations in Grand Teton and "commute" up to Yellowstone.  Honestly, with the crowds in that whole region i tend to avoid it but seeing these parks is a must do if you are in the area. 

I pretty much grew up in the Black Hills and there are some really cool must do things there on your way through.  Go to Custer State Park and stay in the game lodge campground at one of the cabins (can't remember how much per night but maybe $25).  Do the wildlife loop (1,500 head of bison and all sorts of other 'prairie' ungulates), Needles highway ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bpqgq3FsPGU ), the quick easy walk around Sylvan Lake at the end of needles highway, it's a relatively short drive from here to get to Mt. Rushmore.  After Rushmore i would head North and check out Deadwood for a bit, pretty cool little historical town.  After deadwood i would probably take the Spearfish Canyon scenic byway north to I-90 then head west. Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935 had a pretty famous quote that called the canyon more miraculous than the Grand Canyon, which is a stretch to say the least, but it is pretty damn cool.

On your way through you should really see Devil's Tower in extreme Northeastern Wyoming, there is nothing like it in the world.

Good points.  Here is my google map I made with our general itinerary.  It hits many of the areas you mention :

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1pNVDWKBw-Uht2Ax0mRasJA4onWI&usp=sharing

May I also suggest the bighorns in north-central Wyoming.  A hidden gem.  The Medicine Wheel was a really neat site that doesn't see too much traffic.

yyc-phil

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #36 on: February 01, 2017, 04:20:55 PM »
If you have a self-contained RV with a generator, why bother spending money in an RV Park or private campground? Near Yellowstone, you can camp in a state park for very cheap, or even for free as "dispersed" camping. In the USA, dispersed camping is free on all public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, such as National Forests, state parks, etc. Also if you get an annual National Park pass ($80 if I remember well), you get free access to inter-agency parks and other natural areas throughout the USA. Not only dispersed camping is free, but it is usually in the most incredibly beautiful spots, and surprisingly with nobody around especially in the fall, winter and spring. Also download the iOverlander app (which works off-line too) on your smartphone or tablet for listings of free campsites and other travel information.

Camping, MMM-style...This is how we've been camping for the past six months on our road trip from Canada to Patagonia, with our cat. No hookups, no problem...Our camping costs so far: $0.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #37 on: February 01, 2017, 05:32:07 PM »
Camping, MMM-style...This is how we've been camping for the past six months on our road trip from Canada to Patagonia, with our cat. No hookups, no problem...Our camping costs so far: $0.

Six months with no hookups and what looks like no large water tanks?

Remind me to stay upwind if we ever camp nearby :-)

bogart

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #38 on: February 01, 2017, 09:40:56 PM »
Others' experiences with running RV off battery power may be different from ours, or RV (with engine in unit) may be different from camping trailer, which is what we own and use.  But our general (admittedly limited -- we almost always go for a site with electricity hookup & running water) experience is that while one can run some lights off the battery for awhile ... not much else.  Certainly not microwave (our fridge runs on propane when we don't have electricity -- no idea how long battery would last operating it, not long, I'd guess).  Also, at least in our trailer, the propane alarm (= propane is loose in trailer, GET OUT) goes off when the battery gets low, and not in a pleasant "beep beep there's a battery problem" way -- rather, in exactly the same way as, "PROPANE IS LOOSE IN TRAILER GET OUT!!!!).  Dealing with this @ 3 in the morning when there's no way to turn off the alarm (disconnect the battery, I suppose, but we weren't at our best) and we didn't (at first) know where the fuse for the darn thing was, was ... not ... fun.

That said, I love the trailer and the convenience it offers.  And no, it's not really camping (hint:  If you have a programmable coffee maker, you are not camping), but it is a very convenient and reasonably comfortable way to stay "out in the woods" (with full hookups!) and enjoy being able to walk out the door into whatever park we're staying in and enjoy the surroundings.

MrsPete

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #39 on: February 02, 2017, 08:03:37 PM »
We did a driving trip among the western national parks some years ago, and we started with the idea of renting an RV -- we mistakenly thought it'd be cheaper and more convenient.  After crunching some numbers, we realized hotels were considerably cheaper. 

I just checked a few numbers to see if that's still true -- I didn't put much effort into it, but here's what I found online with a few minutes of checking -- I assumed September 1-8:

Renting from Cruise America:  Unfortunately, the website won't give me a price for the "standard" RV, but the large RV is $1190 + $245 for an estimated 700 miles (could be more if you exceed the 700 miles).  Renting the RV also requires a $500 deposit, and you'll have to pay for gas, which won't be cheap.  Presumably, a smaller RV would be cheaper.

In contrast, cabins are available inside Yellowstone.  They have lots of options, but I first picked the Lake Lodge Cabins -- no reason; I just liked the name.  They offer three levels of cabin in this area.  Pioneer cabins are very basic with just beds and a private bath, and they're $90/night.  Frontier cabins are larger, and they're $140/night.  Western cabins are recently remodeled, and they're $209/night.  These cabins include no kitchen, but a cafeteria is available in the area.   

Next I looked next at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, and they have rooms varying from about $162 - $711/night.  So some of these rooms are quite expensive! 

What I did not find is a cabin with a kitchenette, but I also didn't look thoroughly.

I've stayed in cabins at Yellowstone, and while they're nothing special, they're clean and comfortable -- and would be much more comfortable than a tent with a small child.  In another spot, these wouldn't be a good value, but in the jewel of America's national parks, you're paying for location. 

The town of West Yellowstone (located, I'm sure you'll guess, outside the western gate) has some chain hotels that might be a good deal too.  We enjoyed the Wolf and Grizzly Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, and I remember they had a really great pancake place with an Indian-type name.  If you were to stay in West Yellowstone you'd have access to non-park prices for food. 

Other thoughts:
- They sell gas inside the park, but you don't want to pay their prices;  be sure your vehicle is full when you enter the park.
- Every area of Yellowstone has its own museum, a restaurant and/or cafeteria and/or a lunch counter.  Sometimes the lunch counters are located at the back of the gift shop, but they were a better bargain than the others.
- The park is bigger than you expect, and traffic can be awful. 
- Note that when you pay for entrance to Yellowstone, your "ticket" is good for a week's entrance to BOTH Yellowstone AND adjacent Grand Tetons National Park.  While Yellowstone has a larger variety of landscapes, I found Grand Tetons to be more beautiful.  The single best hike was at Jenny Lake in Grand Tetons. 


Metric Mouse

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #40 on: February 03, 2017, 01:01:06 AM »

Camping, MMM-style...This is how we've been camping for the past six months on our road trip from Canada to Patagonia, with our cat. No hookups, no problem...Our camping costs so far: $0.

Wow... this is completely bad ass. I've never seen a set-up like this before?

How's the cat enjoying the trip? :D

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #41 on: February 03, 2017, 09:00:37 AM »
We are probably going to Yellowstone this spring in our RV, maybe.  We skipped it last summer while in Wyoming (went boondocking at 8600 feet in the Bighorns instead).  Right now in Arizona just chillin for the cold weather north to go away.

As far as expenses, our costs right now are about $0 to $14 a night depending if we go for hookups or not.   We don't *need* hookups with our 1100 watts of solar and water/holding tanks but sometimes I like to have a hot shower with a lot of water and that usually means a state park or army corp park which does charge something (as cheap as $4 a night for electricity and water in New Mexico!).

Not many hotels can be had for $14 a night, or at least ones you want to sleep in!

Gas is a wash.   We get about 10mpg diesel but we are towing a sailboat.  Any passenger car or truck is only going to get 10 to 15mpg towing the same 3200 pound boat/trailer.  You have to compare apples to apples.


ahawkchick

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Re: Yellowstone RV camping Advice
« Reply #42 on: February 04, 2017, 06:05:57 AM »
Our family went to Yellowstone in 2016.  We are in KC too! We also considered renting an RV.  But what we did instead was buy a used pop up on Craigslist, fixed it up a little, and towed that in our Honda CRV.  The thought was have more comfort than tent camping and then we resale the pop up on craigslist.  So we'd get our "rental" cost back.  We haven't sold it yet though.

The roads are narrow in many areas in Yellowstone.  I was somewhat freaked out by it while towing, but driving just the CRV was fine. 

Just another idea to consider.