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PBARNISH

Towing in Western National Parks

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We are planning a trip from the east coast to western national parks, including a week in Yellowstone. Most of our stays however will be one or two nights. My question is should we tow a car?

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If you are traveling in a Class B or small Class C coach, you may not need a toad. If you are traveling in a Class A coach I would recommend a toad. National Park roads tend to be pretty narrow and have few spots to pull over. Those spots for pulling over are usually small and crowded with cars making a Class A coach a problem to park. If you want to see as much as possible of the parks, you will want a toad or a small motor home (under 30').

Some parks such as Glacier National Park have restrictions on size of vehicle on the roads. Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier has a 21 foot length limit and a width limit of 8 feet. There is a commercial car service that you can take for that trip.

One entrance to Yosemite National Park has a natural rock bridge that has less than 10' clearance.

These are just a couple of examples that we have encountered.

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Been to Yellowstone over 20 times and there is little room for a motorhome over 20' long (parking) and if you are wanting to stop and see the wildlife in Hayden Valley you will have to walk miles to get back there after you park the motorhome. During the evening when wolves, bears, elk and other wildlife is common to view in Hayden Valley there are cars everywhere, including stopped right in the road, trying to park. Most all roads have edge drop offs.

Roads in Yellowstone are adequate for most length motorhomes to travel thru the park on but narrow as in most national parks and this but leaves you with few options that you may want to explore when there for a week as parking is a Premium. A tow vehicle or rental would be much more desirable.

The comment about Glacier is right on, you are not going over the pass if you are too large, long and over 8' wide including mirrors. In Glacier you are either right on the edge or right up against a granite wall and the guy on the edge has no room to get over for you. Road built by CCC and you will be amazed that there are only granite blocks about 8" high along the edge of a very very long drop off. Last time we went thru in late July they closed the road due to avalanches and we could not get back over the next day. It is a long way around.

In Yellowstone most wildlife is seen at Hayden Valley, between Fishing Bridge and Canyon Village from 6pm til dark. North of Canyon up to Tower Junction is where most bears are now seen. At Mammoth the Elk are usually in the front yards of the Hotel and other buildings trying to stay cool on the watered lawns during the summer heat. There is also wildlife seen in the Valley between Tower and the eastgate. There is a lot of wildlife in all other parts of the park but being more heavily forested it is a chance encounter.

Last summer in Hayden Valley we spent from 7pm til 9:30 pm watching a pack of 5 wolves cross the entire length of the 7 mile valley as they worked their way to the south end where several elk herds were. It was amazing to see how the wolves hunted and the Elk reacted to their presence.

We will be back there this summer again but staying in Cody and taking day trips into the park. Cody night rodeo is always at 8pm every night and is excellent. Your ticket is either for the grandstands or the "Buzzards Roost" (right across the arena from the main grandstands. Watch where the people go and just follow) which is right above the bull and bronc chutes. It is a grand place to see all the action and watch the cowboys. Gates open at 7pm so get there early and get a good seat. Your walk over will take you above all the stock pens so you get to see all the 4 legged participants.

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In the Blackhills same as in Yellowstone but you have got to take a good look at the roads as there are tunnels and bridges that are not passable with a certain size motorhome.

If you tow you always have an out if their is a problem with the motorhome. Trust me, what runs well on the flat land at lower elevations does different things in higher elevations and on steep grades, up and down.

The National Park service seems to have done the same as in the box store parking lots - make more spaces for cars within the same sized paved parking area. It does not bode well for RV's over 30' and at times you are gonna have to wait til someone comes and moves.

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