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Help please - Minnesota/Yellowstone/Tetons/Black Hills

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10 posts
223 reviews
Help please - Minnesota/Yellowstone/Tetons/Black Hills

Despite endless research, I'm still stuck on creating an itinerary from St. Paul, MN to Yellowstone/Grand Tetons. We have around 12 days. We'd like to go through North Dakota one way to see Teddy Roosevelt National Park and South Dakota to stop in Black Hills for a night or two to see Custer/Mt. Rushmore etc. So, I'm hoping for help on figuring out how to minimize driving/maximize opportunities to see cool things. We are going in August so finding lodging in the park was difficult. I was able to get three nights at the same lodge, tried unsuccessfully to get one night at a different lodge in the park as others had suggested, but no availability. I had thought:

Day 1 MSP-Dickinson ND (mostly driving)

Day 2 Dickinson (early am at Teddy Roosevelt and then long drive) to Gardiner MT

Day 3 Gardiner spend day rafting/horseback riding

Day 4 Yellowstone Canyon Lodge - what part of the park to see?

Day 5 Yellowstone Canyon Lodge - what part of the park to see?

Day 6 Yellowstone Canyon Lodge - drive southernmost Yellowstone/drive to Tetons

Day 7 Grand Tetons (stay where?)

Day 8 Grand Tetons stay another night?

Day 9 - ?? I had thought Cody, WY would be fun with Wild West activities

Day 10 - South Dakota

Day 11 - South Dakota

Day 12 Badlands - stay over Mitchell/Sioux Falls?

Day 13 Drive home

Not sure how this looks. Ideas? I have it at 13 days at this point, that should be the long end. My biggest confusion is getting to/from Tetons without adding hours of driving. Staying in Cody sounded fun, but it just seems to be the wrong direction. We could also flip the itinerary and go in through SD and leave through ND and just mostly push through long drives. Help please!! THANK YOU!!

3 replies to this topic
Destination Expert
for Atlanta, Savannah
Level Contributor
20,303 posts
95 reviews
1. Re: Help please - Minnesota/Yellowstone/Tetons/Black Hills

Day 4, 5 and 6 - Canyon is a great choice because it's centrally located. Don't worry about getting a 2nd place in YNP.

Day 4 - I'd focus on the upper loop and maybe drive out into the Lamar Valley for a while, wildlife watching.

Day 5 - I'd focus on the lower loop.

Day 6 - return to any sight you missed and/or want to see more of and then head to the Tetons.

Locations to stay in the Tetons -

In the park - GTNP

Jackson Lake Lodge

The historic cabins at Colter Bay

Signal Mountain Lodge

If you can't get lodging there, get a room in the town of Jackson

You'll be doing a lot of driving in Yellowstone but the good news is everything is close together in Jackson Hole so you won't have to do hours of driving every day.

Cody is fine but as a town I like Jackson better. I'd probably add another night to Jackson and spend more time in the Tetons. If you go to Cody, consider stopping at the cute little western town of Meeteetse and visit the cowboy chocolatier's shop.

Spery, Iowa
Level Contributor
11,601 posts
181 reviews
2. Re: Help please - Minnesota/Yellowstone/Tetons/Black Hills

When in August? Sturgis Bike Rally is Aug. 3-12, so lodging anywhere near will be hared to get or terribly expensive. Many prefer to see SD first, as it may seem anti-climactic after YNP and GTNP, but depending on dates you may want it at the end?

Your YNP days, starting from Gardiner it makes sense to see Mammoth, the north road, Lamar Valley, Tower Fall, etc. to Canyon. Evening in Hayden Valley if wildlife is of interest. I prefer to spend time exploring the west side thermals and not try to fit the entire lower loop in a day. I would take the second day for the west side thermals. Then, the final day, Canyon, Hayden Valley, etc to Lake and grab West Thumb on the way out if you have time and interest.

To me, Cody makes a great stop between GTNP and SD, and also works if you are heading back via ND. Many enjoy the nightly rodeo and museum complex. Another option would be to go from GTNP to Thermopolis for the hot springs and, if interested, the dino stuff and going to SD from there.

Tacoma, Washington
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
11,902 posts
1 review
3. Re: Help please - Minnesota/Yellowstone/Tetons/Black Hills

Dickerson to Gardiner is un realistic, instead night in billings.

Day 3 beartooth to Lamar to Gardiner

Dat 4 di the rafting stuff then evening to canyon.

Day 5 nirrus, geyser Basin, old faithful, night canyon

Day 6 am Canyon, pm o,d faithful area; night canyon

Day 7 am kake, early pm south entrance, pm to grand Teton

Dat 8 grand Teton

Day 9 am Tetons, pm drive to South Dakota

Day 10-11black hills

Day 12 badlands then to sx falls

Day 13 return

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