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Yellowstone Summer Road Trip Itinerary
Last year when we upgraded our pop-up camper to a bigger travel trailer, we vowed to do some epic road trips in the new RV. We knew that it would get a lot of use at various semi-local campgrounds in the mountains or at the beach, but we also had high hopes of some longer journeys across this magnificent country of ours.
We logged 5 or 6 weekend camping trips in the new rig last year and earlier this year including – Hershey, Poconos, Jersey Shore, Knoebels. We set our sights on Disney for the fall of this year and then started to think about a possible road trip destination for the summer. We probably tossed at least a dozen ideas into the hat for consideration, but in the end we chose Yellowstone National Park.
When you tell people that you’re heading to Yellowstone, a typical response is, “Oh!” Then you say that you’re driving to AND camping in Yellowstone and their eyes widen and you get an emphatic, “OHHHHH!” It has been just over a year of these responses since we booked our campground in Yellowstone in late Spring 2016 for Summer 2017. That is because apparently Yellowstone campgrounds book out WELL in advance and if you want your first choice, you have to book early.
Yellowstone National Park has 12 campgrounds inside the park itself. Of those 12 campgrounds, only 5 take advance reservations. Of those 5 campgrounds that take reservations, only 1 of them offers full hook-ups for campers (water/electric/sewer). Well, you know this girl is a GLAMPER, so of course I’d prefer a campsite with full hook-ups. We booked our stay at Fishing Bridge RV Park and started to plan out the rest of our very epic road trip over the months that followed.
Yellowstone Video Highlights:
Yellowstone is a long long ways from the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA where we live. We knew that we were signing ourselves up for some seriously long amounts of time in the car. We estimated driving about 5000 miles round trip and when all was said and done, we logged just over 5300 miles in 2 weeks.
Once we had our final destination set and booked, it was time to look at the actual route to see how we might be able to break up the drive (or at least the drive out West, since on the way home we tend to drive straight home). I noticed that we would be near several places that Laura Ingalls Wilder lived. Those towns (and the annual summer celebrations that take place in them) helped to shape much of our drive to Yellowstone.
We gave ourselves 2 weeks for our journey and that allowed for plenty of time (4 nights) in Yellowstone.
I will be writing up lots of travel related posts zeroing in on specific places we visited and things we saw in the days/weeks/months to come! Here is just a quick overview of our entire itinerary, with some pictures. I have also chronicled the entire trip on our Facebook page, so be sure to pop over for a look.
Day 1 – Home (Bucks County, PA) to Sunny’s Campground (Wauseon, OH) 552 miles
Day 2 – Wauseon, OH to Autumn Woods RV Park (Rochester, MN) 570 miles
* Slight detour to see Lake Michigan for all of 10 minutes
Day 3 – Rochester, MN to Laura Ingalls Wilder Birthplace and Museum (Pepin, WI) 64 miles
Pepin, WI to Walnut Grove, MN 201 miles
Day 4 – Stayed in Walnut Grove (Plum Creek Park Campground)
* Visited Ingalls Dugout Home Site on the banks of Plum Creek, visited Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, Attended the Wilder Pageant
Day 5 – Went to Family Festival in Walnut Grove City Park where Lily entered the Laura look-alike contest.
Walnut Grove, MN to Ingalls Homestead (De Smet, SD) 111 miles
Day 6 – Stayed in De Smet
* Visited Ingalls Homestead (also where we were camping), took historic walking tour of De Smet to see various buildings of importance to LIW and her books
Day 7 – De Smet, SD to Elkhorn Ridge RV Resort (Spearfish, SD) with slight detour to Wall Drug, random roadside attraction 368 miles
* Unhitched camper at campground, spent a couple of hours doing some laundry while the kids swam in the pool. Then took a night drive down to see Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument. 134 miles
Day 8 – Spearfish, SD to Fishing Bridge RV Park (Yellowstone National Park) 451 miles
* Slight detour to see Devil’s Tower National Monument
Day 9 – Yellowstone National Park (Old Faithful, Biscuit Basin, Grand Prismatic Overlook Trail in the Midway Geyser Basin, main viewing spot for Grand Prismatic Springs, Hayden Valley) 100 miles
Day 10 – Yellowstone National Park (Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Junction, Mud Volcano Loop) 102 miles
Day 11 – Yellowstone National Park (Fishing Bridge Visitor Center, Lower Falls, Fountain Paint Pot Nature Trail, Firehole Canyon Loop, Firehole Lake Loop, Old Faithful, Lake Butte Overlook) 100 miles
Day 12 – Yellowstone to Elkhorn Ridge RV Resort (Spearfish, SD) 463 miles
* Slight detour to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
Day 13 – Spearfish, SD to Autumn Woods RV Park (Rochester, MN) 608 miles
* Slight detour to see the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD
Day 15 – Wauseon, OH to HOME!!! (Bucks County, PA) 552 miles
Stay tuned for all sorts of tips, reviews and other trip related posts! This was truly a trip for the books. The kids were incredibly well behaved for 98% of the journey and kept themselves occupied with lots of road trip boredom busters that I brought along. Bob and I always travel ridiculously well together and had a blast singing to more music genres than I can even list (yes, if you’re wondering, Amazon Music Unlimited totally ROCKS and we jammed to everything from The Beatles to 90s grunge to country and EVERYTHING in between. Even some Seal. HA!!)
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