Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
imyeti2
Posts: 115
Joined: Fri May 31, 2013 3:45 pm

Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by imyeti2 »

Hello All,
With the current situation, family is thinking about a road trip instead of flying anywhere in summer. We're planning a road trip with two kids (10-13) driving from MA to Glacier NP & Yellowstone NP. For 2 weeks.
Are we crazy to do this? With stopping on the way, it'd easily be 3 days to reach and 3 days back.
Any tips/suggestions to pull this off?
Thanks.
Yeti.
Flyer24
Moderator
Posts: 2111
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2018 4:21 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by Flyer24 »

Topic moved to Personal Consumer Issues (travel).
tibbitts
Posts: 11935
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:50 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by tibbitts »

imyeti2 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 8:26 am Hello All,
With the current situation, family is thinking about a road trip instead of flying anywhere in summer. We're planning a road trip with two kids (10-13) driving from MA to Glacier NP & Yellowstone NP. For 2 weeks.
Are we crazy to do this? With stopping on the way, it'd easily be 3 days to reach and 3 days back.
Any tips/suggestions to pull this off?
Thanks.
Yeti.
I have mixed feelings. Maybe it will be less crowded this year, I don't know. It will be a constant battle against Covid-19 every inch of the way and that will dominate every activity you do. On the other hand, maybe there will never be a vaccine, or there will be a new virus next year, and every year from now on will be worse. I think the 3 days is not realistic in any case - you should stop to see things along the way, whenever you do go.

Without Covid-19, this would be a great idea.
Jack FFR1846
Posts: 12664
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am
Location: 26 miles, 385 yards west of Copley Square

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

I'd choose places of interest along the way that you can see regardless of the covid situation. Having gone to Niagara Falls last year for the first time, I'd say that it's an easy first stop. Get there early and park on the US side in the parking lot right next to the bridge for $10. Walk to see the US side, then assuming you all have passports, walk over the bridge and get the better view from the [OT comment removed by admin LadyGeek] side. We really liked the Buffalo Zoo as well. As you head west, I'm sure there are places where you can do relatively quick stops.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid
lstone19
Posts: 876
Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:33 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by lstone19 »

I'd say three days from Chicago to/from Glacier or Yellowstone is aggressive. Four to five days is probably more reasonable. By the time you add-in meal stops, gas stops, restroom breaks, and any other stops (leg-stretching), you'd be pushing over 12 hours per day on the road. And that allows nothing to see anything along the way.

I would suggest you plan your days for seven to eight hours of driving. That's still going to push you to ten+ door-to-door meaning if you hit the road at 9am after breakfast, you're not getting to the next city until 7pm (before accounting for time changes - watch that on the EB trip).

My wife and I did a cross-country trip two years ago (Chicago to Vancouver and back). We allowed four days Chicago to Banff (first destination), a day from there to Whistler, and then on the return (3.5 weeks later), two days Blaine, WA to Rapid City, SD which were very long days - I wish we had allowed three days for this (but we were locked to our dates both at Blaine and Rapid City). After a full-day at Mt. Rushmore, it was two more days home but again aggressive days because of sightseeing stops.

Another factor to consider as you get west is the distance between suitable overnight locations. I'm somewhat picky about where we stay preferring moderate/value chain hotels (e.g. Hampton Inn or Fairfield Inn) and as you go west, finding such a place can move the stopping point an hour or more from where you'd prefer if you divided the trip into equal days. On that two-day Blaine to Rapid City I mentioned, we spent the night in Missoula. The previous city of comparable size was Coeur D'Alene, ID two hours behind it and the next Butte, MT, two hours further down the road.
User avatar
Kenkat
Posts: 6670
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:18 am
Location: Cincinnati, OH

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by Kenkat »

This just seems too far to me. You are probably looking at 3 days of 12-14 hours of driving. I can’t imagine doing that three days straight.

If you could make it 3 weeks and spend a day between drives at a target destination, maybe it would be more realistic. For example, Day 1 drive to Chicago, Day 2 spend seeing Chicago. Day 3 drive to interim destination (Mt. Rushmore? Black Hills?). Day 4 explore that destination. Day 5 drive to Glacier, etc.
User avatar
climber2020
Posts: 1505
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 8:06 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by climber2020 »

Every single person I know who likes to travel and still has a job is doing some variation of what you're describing, so don't be surprised if the national parks are crowded this summer.
User avatar
nisiprius
Advisory Board
Posts: 41996
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:33 am
Location: The terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, flattened at the poles, is my abode.--O. Henry

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by nisiprius »

I won't venture any guesses about conditions during the pandemic, and everything is personal, but in fact my wife and I made a six-week road trip from the New England area to Yellowstone in 2016, and here are my random thoughts.

0) That seems like an insanely short period of time for that kind of trip. And TWO national parks?

1) Just a break-the-trip little stop, but we like waterfalls, and I said to my wife, "hmm, do you suppose there are waterfalls in Sioux Falls," and found a lovely city park.

2) The parts that of the trip that really linger in my mind as wonderful were Badlands (three full days) and Devils Tower (one full day). More so than Yellowstone (five full days), because Yellowstone, though wonderful, was crowded, stressful, and involved so much driving around within the park. My memories of Yellowstone have a "stress overlay" on them. More than once we had to go past an attraction and come back to it because the parking lot was full. A lot of the geothermal stuff involves boardwalks, and in 2016 it was so crowded that it seemed rude to stop and take pictures. I don't know how social distancing is playing out there this year.

For me, the single most impressive moment was the Grand Prismatic Spring, because it was hidden from view by warm mist, and as we approach the first signs we saw were hints of pastel color in the mist.

3) We actually spent more than a week at Custer State Park because we'd made better time than expected and needed to add some slack. We loved it, and other people have said the same thing, it's lovely.

4) I am very glad we took the time to go to Heart Mountain Interpretive Center in Powell, Wyoming. I have no idea if it's open this year. (OK, the website says "by appointment.") I had had mental reservations--was it right to be, as it were, entertained by a sad story of injustice? What I will say is that we found it to be superbly well-done, interesting, and moving.

5) As you'll gather, we approached from the east, and the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway is always called "the most scenic 52 miles in America." With that kind of billing, we were braced for disappointment, and I wouldn't know about superlatives, but it is one heck of a nice drive and I would allow time to do it in a leisurely way.

6) On our way back we spent part of a day in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and if we were planning it again we would make more time for it. We saw feral horses there and it was magical.
Last edited by nisiprius on Tue May 26, 2020 10:37 am, edited 7 times in total.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.
jbmitt
Posts: 537
Joined: Mon Jul 14, 2008 1:00 am

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by jbmitt »

We live in Billings. I don’t believe the Northern entrances to YNP are open. There are a lot of things that won’t open all season.

https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/hours.htm
lstone19
Posts: 876
Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:33 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by lstone19 »

nisiprius wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:15 am 2) Yellowstone (five full days), because Yellowstone, though wonderful, was crowded, stressful, and involved so much driving around within the park. More than once we had to go past an attraction and come back to it because the parking lot was full. A lot of the geothermal stuff involves boardwalks, so busy in 2016 that it sometimes seemed rude to stop and take pictures. I don't know how social distancing is playing out there this year. For me, the single most impressive moment was the Grand Prismatic Spring, because it was hidden from view by warm mist, and as we approach the first signs we saw were hints of pastel color in the mist.
Definitely lots of time at Yellowstone. We went there six or seven years ago planning two days there, a day of travel, and then a day at Mt. Rushmore. By dinner the first day, we were cancelling Mt. Rushmore and looking for a place to stay for two more nights. Fortunately, we had done the south part of the park first as we ended up moving from West Yellowstone up to Bozeman for the extra nights.
TravelGeek
Posts: 3781
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 3:23 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by TravelGeek »

imyeti2 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 8:26 am Hello All,
With the current situation, family is thinking about a road trip instead of flying anywhere in summer. We're planning a road trip with two kids (10-13) driving from MA to Glacier NP & Yellowstone NP. For 2 weeks.
Are we crazy to do this? With stopping on the way, it'd easily be 3 days to reach and 3 days back.
Any tips/suggestions to pull this off?
Thanks.
Yeti.
You’ll probably be competing with lots of other “grounded” travelers for hotel rooms close to or in the parks. Might want to book something cancelable now while you are in the planning stages.
khram
Posts: 103
Joined: Sat Dec 16, 2017 1:36 am

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by khram »

As far as distance, the longest I've ever gone in 1 day was 1000-1050 miles. My back definitely needed a break the next day. 600-800 miles per day for 3-5 days is definitely doable, but I didn't have kids with me, which I imagine would slow you down. I also didn't have another driver, which could help go a little farther per day.
tibbitts
Posts: 11935
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:50 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by tibbitts »

khram wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:46 am As far as distance, the longest I've ever gone in 1 day was 1000-1050 miles. My back definitely needed a break the next day. 600-800 miles per day for 3-5 days is definitely doable, but I didn't have kids with me, which I imagine would slow you down. I also didn't have another driver, which could help go a little farther per day.
That's not the point. It's a vacation not a race. The entire trip is as valuable an experience as the destination. If you just want to be miserable take a plane and be miserable for much less time.
khram
Posts: 103
Joined: Sat Dec 16, 2017 1:36 am

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by khram »

It's not miserable. Driving across scenic parts of the country is very enjoyable. For obvious reasons, flights are not an option right now, not that flying was ever an enjoyable experience.

Taking 2 weeks off and going across the country, it is also important to appropriately weight travel time vs. there-time.
mlipps
Posts: 1012
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2012 9:35 am

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by mlipps »

In addition to all the timing concerns raised above, I am personally really concerned about bathrooms when making road trips right now. They're a great transmission means for the virus, and I suspect people from all over the country will be thinking exactly you are. I'm not sure it's wise to put yourself in the position of being exposed to public bathrooms every day for two weeks straight.
RudyS
Posts: 1980
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:11 am

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by RudyS »

Way too long a trip for so few days at the destination.
tibbitts
Posts: 11935
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:50 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by tibbitts »

khram wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 10:03 am It's not miserable. Driving across scenic parts of the country is very enjoyable. For obvious reasons, flights are not an option right now, not that flying was ever an enjoyable experience.

Taking 2 weeks off and going across the country, it is also important to appropriately weight travel time vs. there-time.
Driving between 800 and 900 miles per day every day for six days is miserable. Why are flights not an option?
Generator515
Posts: 125
Joined: Sun Mar 08, 2015 5:33 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by Generator515 »

mlipps wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 11:23 am In addition to all the timing concerns raised above, I am personally really concerned about bathrooms when making road trips right now. They're a great transmission means for the virus, and I suspect people from all over the country will be thinking exactly you are. I'm not sure it's wise to put yourself in the position of being exposed to public bathrooms every day for two weeks straight.
This is honestly one of my concerns as well. We are contemplating a shorter trip from NJ to Shenandoah with two younger kids (5 & 1). While in theory sounds great (what's the difference between staying in my house and hiking versus an Airbnb and hiking) it makes it too simplistic.

Where would we stop along way for bathroom? We would be going to a grocery store down there versus delivery here. Eating out or takeout each day versus cooking here. More crowded national park versus hikes in less crowded county parks.

I think next couple weeks will be telling if there is a spike after memorial day weekend

Edited to add: this doesn't even count on the hotels the OP would need to stop at (6 or so) there and back and the amount of people passing in and out and pressing items like elevator buttons.
Last edited by Generator515 on Tue May 26, 2020 12:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Watty
Posts: 20703
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by Watty »

You would be rushing past the Black Hills and the Badlands and lots of other worthwhile places. There are other threads you can look up about what to see.

In a normal year this would be WAY too late to get reservations at Yellowstone or Glacier unless you got real lucky. Both of those parks are very busy. You need to figure out the first day that you can make reservations and make them then. I don't know what it is like this year though.

Many of those areas are pretty isolated so they need to bring in seasonal workers for hotels and restaurants so even if places can open they may not have the workers so they may not open.
imyeti2 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 8:26 am Are we crazy to do this? With stopping on the way, it'd easily be 3 days to reach and 3 days back.
Yep.

Even in a normal year you would be very rushed to do that in a three week trip.

You would also have a risk that you could get sick with COVID-19 when you are on the road.

From Massachusetts this would be a good year to see places nearby like New England if they are open.
adamthesmythe
Posts: 3771
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:47 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by adamthesmythe »

Yeah, you're crazy to think about this.

You could make it work with 2 adults if you organized it with stops along the way and a few days at parks at the end. I can't imagine doing it with kids unless they can be thoroughly tranquilized with media.

Given the additional overhead associated with hotels (if you don't want to fly, you're probably thinking about sanitizers, bringing your own stuff, etc.?) one night stays are not very practical.

Consider finding someplace closer where you can stay a week or two in the same unit.

And as far as enjoying the scenery is concerned...there's a reason they call it flyover country...there's not a lot to look at until you get pretty far west.
phxjcc
Posts: 535
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2018 3:47 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by phxjcc »

Check accommodations at YNP and Glacier NP NOW, as is RIGHT NOW.

Most of the in park places are still closed, and therefore outside of the park places will be full.
Check Cody for YNP for half the stay then move to WEST Yellowstone for the other half.
Do the Chief Joseph hiway, not as white knuckle as the hype would let you think it is.
If you then want to loop back through Rawlings on the way home, you can see part of the Oregon Trail with the original wagon ruts on a short side trip.
Extra credit for kids in school.

It is hard for some to believe how big YNP is, especially if you are coming from the northeast.
Look for the YNP & GTNP Facebook pages for up to date info on openings.

GLACIER is stunning, do the going to the sun road and the hike at the top to see the goats.
flyingaway
Posts: 2973
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:19 am

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by flyingaway »

Only if you don't mind answering: How old are you? What is your chances of fighting over a virus infection, compared to the general population?

We are considering to drive to the Arches National Park and other national parks from east in June or July. I am assessing our chances of getting infected in hotels and restaurants on the road.
sailaway
Posts: 2223
Joined: Fri May 12, 2017 1:11 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by sailaway »

flyingaway wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 12:59 pm Only if you don't mind answering: How old are you? What is your chances of fighting over a virus infection, compared to the general population?

We are considering to drive to the Arches National Park and other national parks from east in June or July. I am assessing our chances of getting infected in hotels and restaurants on the road.
Better question: how likely are you to become an asymptomatic transmitter?
flyingaway
Posts: 2973
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:19 am

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by flyingaway »

lstone19 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:28 am
nisiprius wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:15 am 2) Yellowstone (five full days), because Yellowstone, though wonderful, was crowded, stressful, and involved so much driving around within the park. More than once we had to go past an attraction and come back to it because the parking lot was full. A lot of the geothermal stuff involves boardwalks, so busy in 2016 that it sometimes seemed rude to stop and take pictures. I don't know how social distancing is playing out there this year. For me, the single most impressive moment was the Grand Prismatic Spring, because it was hidden from view by warm mist, and as we approach the first signs we saw were hints of pastel color in the mist.
Definitely lots of time at Yellowstone. We went there six or seven years ago planning two days there, a day of travel, and then a day at Mt. Rushmore. By dinner the first day, we were cancelling Mt. Rushmore and looking for a place to stay for two more nights. Fortunately, we had done the south part of the park first as we ended up moving from West Yellowstone up to Bozeman for the extra nights.
I visited Yellowstone National Park twice with different people, each time for two days, and covered all must-seen places.
Afty
Posts: 1411
Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:31 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by Afty »

We had a reservation for Canyon Lodge at Yellowstone in July. It has been canceled by the park. Would you even be able to take this trip if you wanted to?
quantAndHold
Posts: 5028
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by quantAndHold »

Most of the services and accommodations in both parks will either be closed or at very reduced capacity, because they can’t get enough workers (the seasonal workers usually live in dorms, but this year they have to be in private rooms). Glacier hasn’t opened yet at all, and it seems doubtful that much of it will be opened at all except for Going to the Sun Hwy.

Yellowstone opened a week or so ago, and was instantly mobbed. People everywhere, mostly not wearing masks. Usually, it’s pretty slow at this time of year, because the weather is pretty iffy. But not this year.

If I lived in New England, I’d take this as an opportunity to take a vacation to someplace within a day’s drive of home. There’s lots of really lovely places in New England. Personally, I’d find a cabin somewhere near Acadia, and enjoy the Maine coast.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
researcher
Posts: 1294
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:05 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by researcher »

imyeti2 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 8:26 am We're planning a road trip with two kids (10-13) driving from MA to Glacier NP & Yellowstone NP. For 2 weeks.
Are we crazy to do this? With stopping on the way, it'd easily be 3 days to reach and 3 days back.
Any tips/suggestions to pull this off?
I would take this trip.
However, I would do so in a rented RV.

And I would not cram Glacier and Yellowstone into two short weeks. Pick one and make it a true road trip.
Stop frequently along the way at various state/national parks or other places of interest.

The kids would have a blast. It will be a trip they will remember for the rest of their lives. I did similar trips with my dad at that age and they are some of the best times I've ever had.

The great thing about an RV is that you won't be cooped up on a car.
You can move around, spread out, take naps, go to the bathroom, eat/drink whatever and whenever.
You don't have to worry about social distancing, finding open restaurants, using public bathrooms, checking in/out of different hotels every night.
Plus, it gives the kids more time to play outside, tell stories around the camp fire, make smores, ect.
clip651
Posts: 746
Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:02 am

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by clip651 »

The RV idea sounds good in theory, but tons of people are thinking this way. It's even on the news regularly, how convenient it will be to travel by RV during a pandemic since people don't want to fly or go to Europe, etc.

I'm no expert, but this makes me predict that it will be difficult to get RV camping spots in some areas. So, if you do this, plan your route carefully and make RV camping reservations in advance at a minimum. And think about what you'll do if you've driven across the country in your rented RV, and the campground you reserved gets closed down due to a local outbreak.

RV camping areas will be filled (to whatever capacity local regulations allow) with inexperienced RVers who are renting one for the first time, and don't know how to park it, etc.

If you plan on seeing any major sites (Yellowstone, etc), if they are open, they're likely to be jammed with people - they are in normal summers anyway, and everyone seems to think parks are a great destination this year. So if you are hoping to avoid being close to people and avoid risking getting and spreading the virus, going to major sites is likely to be a poor choice.

Yellowstone in particular is one lane each way, and not the easiest to navigate and park in the various lots near the different sites (grand primsatic, old faithful, etc, etc) for novice RV drivers. It's not like you can park the RV and just walk the park. If you don't have a separate car to drive around the park it can be a pain to get anywhere within the park with the RV, and it's a big place with slow traffic (tourists, wildlife jams, one lane each way ...)

I love Yellowstone and National Parks ... but no way this year!

And some of the areas you might be driving through to get where you're going may still be hotspots for the virus. It varies a lot by city/state/region, and it's going to continue to vary as people gradually get back to work and traveling more.
TravelGeek
Posts: 3781
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 3:23 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by TravelGeek »

researcher wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 2:15 pm I would take this trip.
However, I would do so in a rented RV.
Last time I looked into renting an RV I was surprised by the limited number of miles per day before surcharges kicked in. I didn’t pursue this any further for other reasons, but I wondered what it would cost to drive a rental RV from Boston to YNP/GNP and back. So I checked CruiseAmerica and they seem to want around $2100 for 6000 miles. Plus the actual rental.
researcher
Posts: 1294
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:05 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by researcher »

TravelGeek wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 2:42 pm I looked into renting an RV I was surprised by the limited number of miles per day before surcharges kicked in. I didn’t pursue this any further for other reasons, but I wondered what it would cost to drive a rental RV from Boston to YNP/GNP and back. So I checked CruiseAmerica and they seem to want around $2100 for 6000 miles. Plus the actual rental.
First off, I wouldn't rent from CruiseAmerica.
I would pick a smaller chain with RV's that aren't covered in a rolling billboard.

Second, how much was the actual rental?
$2100 doesn't sound all that bad. Especially when you consider all of the benefits the RV provides, and not having to check in/out of 10+ different dirty hotel rooms, using 50+ different dirty bathrooms, eating out 3 meals/day, and being confined to a small car for two straight weeks.
TravelGeek
Posts: 3781
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 3:23 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by TravelGeek »

researcher wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 2:55 pm First off, I wouldn't rent from CruiseAmerica.
I would pick a smaller chain with RV's that aren't covered in a rolling billboard.

Second, how much was the actual rental?
$2100 doesn't sound all that bad. Especially when you consider all of the benefits the RV provides, and not having to check in/out of 10+ different dirty hotel rooms, using 50+ different dirty bathrooms, eating out 3 meals/day, and being confined to a small car for two straight weeks.
I wouldn’t rent from them either, but for the purpose of this thread the amount of time I was interested in investing in research was limited to about two minutes ;)

I think the rental cost was $1600 for seven days for a “standard” RV up to 5 people. I would personally not want to spend two weeks in such an RV with four people.

I also wouldn’t want to drive around YNP in an RV larger than a Sprinter van.
Last edited by TravelGeek on Tue May 26, 2020 3:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
BrooklynInvest
Posts: 276
Joined: Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:23 am

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by BrooklynInvest »

LOOOOVE the idea of a road trip. Have gone cross country by motorcycle a few times now and they've been some of the best times of my life. Couple of suggestions -

Don't overdo it. I've scheduled long ride days and regretted it. The problem is that there's always things to look at/photograph and with a long day ahead there's incentive to skip 'em and keep moving. On a bike I now do max of 500 miles and at least once on the trip a day of 250 or so.

Be careful. Sure you can do it without seeing a lot of people but I'd be concerned about restrooms, gas stations and places to stay. Although the RV approach sounds kinda neat.

Good luck!
researcher
Posts: 1294
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:05 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by researcher »

TravelGeek wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 3:11 pm I would personally not want to spend two weeks in such an RV with four people.
But you would be OK spending 6000 miles with four people in a small vehicle and in the same hotel room?
TravelGeek
Posts: 3781
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 3:23 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by TravelGeek »

researcher wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 3:59 pm
TravelGeek wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 3:11 pm I would personally not want to spend two weeks in such an RV with four people.
But you would be OK spending 6000 miles with four people in a small vehicle and in the same hotel room?
Nope, I would not (I would want two hotel rooms, for starters). It’s way too much driving for not enough reward (*). The parks will still be there when covering most of the distance by airplane will be possible again.

Staycations were popular during the last big recession for financial reasons. I would think this is the perfect time for one for health reasons even if you have the money to burn on travel.

(*) and I say that as someone who really likes road trips
Last edited by TravelGeek on Tue May 26, 2020 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ferdinand2014
Posts: 1694
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2018 6:49 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by Ferdinand2014 »

Route 20 for part of the trip. Route 20 goes from Boston to Newport OR. Goes through upstate NY, Berkshire’s, etc. Take more time. Way more time. Not sure if I could do it with my children though.

http://www.historicus20.com/mt.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Route_20
“You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.“ — Warren Buffett
khram
Posts: 103
Joined: Sat Dec 16, 2017 1:36 am

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by khram »

tibbitts wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 12:19 pm
khram wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 10:03 am It's not miserable. Driving across scenic parts of the country is very enjoyable. For obvious reasons, flights are not an option right now, not that flying was ever an enjoyable experience.

Taking 2 weeks off and going across the country, it is also important to appropriately weight travel time vs. there-time.
Driving between 800 and 900 miles per day every day for six days is miserable. Why are flights not an option?
Bogleheads really like to argue. I didn't drive 800-900 miles per day, I drove 600-800. And yes, it was enjoyable. I would not drive that much with kids in the car.

Why are flights not an option? Oh boy.
OnTrack2020
Posts: 652
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:24 am

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by OnTrack2020 »

imyeti2 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 8:26 am Hello All,
With the current situation, family is thinking about a road trip instead of flying anywhere in summer. We're planning a road trip with two kids (10-13) driving from MA to Glacier NP & Yellowstone NP. For 2 weeks.
Are we crazy to do this? With stopping on the way, it'd easily be 3 days to reach and 3 days back.
Any tips/suggestions to pull this off?
Thanks.
Yeti.
I don't want to be Debbie Downer, but we live much, much, much, much closer than you to Yellowstone, and it is a 2-day drive just to reach the southern entrance of the park. Do you want to wear a mask while you are on vacation in the park? Are you okay with grab-and-go-food on vacation? Have you made a reservation yet? I'm sure they've had cancellations, but typically if you stay within the park in the summer, they are booked up quite far in advance.

Yellowstone is opening up in phases. The northern roads of the park are not open at this point. And there has to be coordination with other states/counties that might border the national parks to reopen them. I cannot imagine how they are going to manage people who are there to see Old Faithful geyser in physically distancing them.

As to those who are saying to rent an RV, I can't even imagine driving at some of those altitudes in Yellowstone in an RV. I'd assume you'd be going up over passes at 5 mph.?? :D Don't know.

Needless to say, we cancelled our vacation. We would have been staying in the park tonight. :(
researcher
Posts: 1294
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:05 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by researcher »

OnTrack2020 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 5:35 pm As to those who are saying to rent an RV, I can't even imagine driving at some of those altitudes in Yellowstone in an RV. I'd assume you'd be going up over passes at 5 mph.?? :D Don't know.
As smart as the people are on this forum, the naivete about very basic things amazes me.

Do you realize there are a dozen campgrounds, with literally THOUSANDS of campsites, within Yellowstone?
And THOUSANDS more campsites outside the park?

They are not all occupied by just tent campers.
Tens of thousands of people, from all over the country, that take RVs to Yellowstone every year.
User avatar
samsoes
Posts: 1488
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:12 am

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by samsoes »

Not considering the COVID-19 situation, this seems like an incredibly stressful trip.
I suggest you watch or re-watch the 1983 classic "National Lampoon's Vacation" with Chevy Chase.
"Happiness Is Not My Companion" - Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren. | (Avatar is the statue of Gen. Warren atop Little Round Top @ Gettysburg National Military Park.)
1130Super
Posts: 523
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:59 am
Location: Minnesota

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by 1130Super »

Are you guys capable of driving through the night? I Live in MN and have taken a road trip to Miami, And to San Diego. We stopped somewhere during the day and drove at night we had multiple drivers though.
iamlucky13
Posts: 2085
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:28 pm
Location: Western Washington

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by iamlucky13 »

Google Maps says Boston to Yellowstone to Glacier and back to Boston is 81 hours of driving time.

For 6 days of total travel, that is 13.5 hours of drive time each day, not including meals, bathroom/stretching stops, and sites you might want to check out along the way.

The only long-distance vacations I had growing up were road trips, with my parents trading off driving duties, and my dad in particular was a glutton for putting as many miles behind us each day as possible. It was not pleasant, but we survived even though cars were less comfortable at the time than they are now, and enjoyed the trips for the most part.

So it does not seem crazy to me, but I know that none of my friends growing up ever took trips the same way my family did, and I'm very hesitant to repeat similar length of road trips now that I have a family of my own. The longest road trip I've done as an adult was in college. We planned 10 hours of driving per day for 3 days, and even without kids it was challenging and the days were longer than anticipated.

Be realistic about what it is like to spend 13+ hours a day driving for multiple days in a row, eating at restaurants or fast food along the way, and stopping at a hotel or campground for not much longer than the time it takes to get almost a full night's sleep. I disagree that it would be easy to make it in 3 days each way, and commercial drivers aren't even permitted to do that out of safety considerations, but I do think it is doable.

My main concern, however, would be the potential over-crowding at the park and inability to get accommodations. It could be that not many people will feel like visiting these relatively remote parks this year, but I've got a strong suspicion that with fewer people likely to be flying to many of the most popular vacation spots, a lot more people are likely to take driving vacations. Plus, the travel season will be shortened, so whatever number of people visit will be spread out over fewer months.

Both parks already have a reputation for being crowded most of the summer.
quantAndHold
Posts: 5028
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by quantAndHold »

Of course you can drive an RV in Yellowstone. We did last fall. Whether you would want to or not is a different question. My understanding is that much of the infrastructure, which is usually fully booked months in advance, will be closed this summer.

The second thing is the per mile charge for renting an RV is exhorbitant. Most people fly to where they’re going, then rent the RV at their destination.

RVing in Glacier...probably not. The main reason to go to Glacier is going to the sun highway, which RV’s aren’t allowed on. In normal years, there are shuttle buses up and down the road, but this year, I would be very surprised if the buses are running.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
oscar1
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue May 26, 2020 7:48 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by oscar1 »

Absolutely go for it! This app may help. Good or bad, your family will remember this trip and tell stories about it the rest of your life! https://roadtrippers.com/o-3/

[ link formatted by admin LadyGeek]
keith6014
Posts: 367
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2014 11:58 pm

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by keith6014 »

nisiprius wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:15 am I won't venture any guesses about conditions during the pandemic, and everything is personal, but in fact my wife and I made a six-week road trip from the New England area to Yellowstone in 2016, and here are my random thoughts.

0) That seems like an insanely short period of time for that kind of trip. And TWO national parks?

1) Just a break-the-trip little stop, but we like waterfalls, and I said to my wife, "hmm, do you suppose there are waterfalls in Sioux Falls," and found a lovely city park.

2) The parts that of the trip that really linger in my mind as wonderful were Badlands (three full days) and Devils Tower (one full day). More so than Yellowstone (five full days), because Yellowstone, though wonderful, was crowded, stressful, and involved so much driving around within the park. My memories of Yellowstone have a "stress overlay" on them. More than once we had to go past an attraction and come back to it because the parking lot was full. A lot of the geothermal stuff involves boardwalks, and in 2016 it was so crowded that it seemed rude to stop and take pictures. I don't know how social distancing is playing out there this year.

For me, the single most impressive moment was the Grand Prismatic Spring, because it was hidden from view by warm mist, and as we approach the first signs we saw were hints of pastel color in the mist.

3) We actually spent more than a week at Custer State Park because we'd made better time than expected and needed to add some slack. We loved it, and other people have said the same thing, it's lovely.

4) I am very glad we took the time to go to Heart Mountain Interpretive Center in Powell, Wyoming. I have no idea if it's open this year. (OK, the website says "by appointment.") I had had mental reservations--was it right to be, as it were, entertained by a sad story of injustice? What I will say is that we found it to be superbly well-done, interesting, and moving.

5) As you'll gather, we approached from the east, and the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway is always called "the most scenic 52 miles in America." With that kind of billing, we were braced for disappointment, and I wouldn't know about superlatives, but it is one heck of a nice drive and I would allow time to do it in a leisurely way.

6) On our way back we spent part of a day in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and if we were planning it again we would make more time for it. We saw feral horses there and it was magical.
Another vote for Custer State park in SD. Its a must. We did a similar trip from NYC to Yellowstone. Started around 3:00PM on Labour day weekend. We stopped in Ohio Turnpike rest area and slept. The next morning we started around 4:00ish. We stopped in Wisconsin to get a sleeping bag. Then we drove all the way to Rapid City. We did it non-stop. I don't recommend it. We stayed in Custer for 2 nights. Then drove to Yellowstone and camped at Grant Village campground. The drive from Rapid City to Yellowstone is beautiful. I recall the smell of sage brush. Its a great smell, almost like good quality vanilla ice cream. The Costco kind. We stayed at Yellowstone for 5 days and drove back. We stayed at Badlands National Park in SD coming back. Then we drove from there to NYC non-stop. I also don't recommend that. But overall it was a great trip and I highly recommend it. I think you need 2 weeks for kids.
User avatar
Random Musings
Posts: 5799
Joined: Thu Feb 22, 2007 4:24 pm
Location: Pennsylvania

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by Random Musings »

Two years ago, did two weeks (13 days actually) from western PA by car to Badlands/Black Hills area and Yellowstone. Weekend in Chicago on way back. It's 19 hours for us to drive to the Badlands. Spent three full days at Yellowstone and four full days in the Black Hills area, including Wind Cave and Jewel Cave. Custer State Park is a must, two of our days were there and one full day in the Badlands. I think east entrance to Yellowstone may be open. If I had two more days, I would have visited the Tetons. There were a few long driving days, Glacier NP, my favorite NP, wasn't in the cards due to time constraints. Went on late June, crowds at Yellowstone were rather subdued, parking was always available and hit the most popular spots earlier or later in the day and hiked more in the middle.

We have planned to visit a NP in July, will be keeping an eye on the data. Right now, the trend is down and I have decided to be hopeful.

RM
Last edited by Random Musings on Tue May 26, 2020 10:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I figure the odds be fifty-fifty I just might have something to say. FZ
User avatar
jabberwockOG
Posts: 2297
Joined: Thu May 28, 2015 7:23 am

Re: Cross country road trip from MA to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP

Post by jabberwockOG »

Everyone pretending that we are not in the middle of this pandemic, that the pandemic is magically over, will be out doing a family style road trip this summer. Where I live near the gulf the beaches and condos are already packed. If you want to avoid the thundering herd, and also stay safe it's prime time for a staycation.
Post Reply