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  • Montana/Wyoming road trip

    Has anyone ever done this? If so, what was your starting point? Do van rental companies allow you to take their vehicles across state boarders, even if returning to the same location? I vaguely remember when using Wheelchair Getaways in California, they said I couldn't.

  • #2
    About 5 years ago me and my father drove my aging Toyota Solara from the East Coast out west, and spent a few days in Yellowstone. If you sign up for the access pass you get free access to all national parks (Yellowstone has like a $40 entrance fee or something ludicrous, I'm not sure how much it is exactly, because I paid zero dollars. I was in my own vehicle, but you should be able to take any rental vehicle across state lines unless they specifically tell you not to... unless by "State" you mean it in the national sense, ie US and Canada... but even then I think the vast majority of rental companies will let you take their vehicles into Canada.

    Some interesting stuff out west, but there are also a lot of long, long drives. If you're driving from PA I wouldn't even think about it if you had less than three weeks. Also it can get chilly up in them there mountains. I think it was June when I was in Yellowstone and we were camping and woke up to snow on the ground.

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    • #3
      If I ever did, I would fly west, and do a road trip starting/ending there.

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      • #4
        If you only want to do Yellowstone and parts of Montana (Glacier National Park?) then you would probably do best to fly into Bozeman, MT (about 90 miles from Yellowstone), but I couldn't find any rental wheelchair vans there on a Google search.

        Found one in Missoula, MT (265 miles to Yellowstone): http://www.am-mobility.com/van-rentals.html , and Billing, MT (130 miles from Yellowstone): http://www.accessiblevans.com/local/...air-van-rental . You would have to look into which of these has the best full-sized jet service, as it is unlikely you could get on a commuter plane. Your next bet would be Salt Lake City (325 miles to Yellowstone): http://www.accessiblevans.com/locati...air-van-dealer or perhaps Casper, Cheyenne, Jackson Hole, and Rock Springs, WY.

        In Glacier NP, the famous and historic Red Bus tours do have some accessible vans; you must book well in advance: http://www.glaciernationalparklodges.com/red-bus-tours.

        Keep in mind that there can be road closures due to weather, and snow can occur any time of year in Glacier, and most of the year in Yellowstone as well. There is information about lodging on both the websites for these national parks, as well as Grand Teton (just south of Yellowstone).

        (KLD)
        The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

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        • #5
          Thank you for that info! I'm almost thinking Salt Lake City might be the best starting/ending point based on airport size, van rental, etc.

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          • #6
            My husband and I drove out to St. George last Oct for a race from Georgia. We had done the same to SLC race the year before. From St. George we drove to Yosemite, Sequoia and other NPs' along the way. Driving out there and coming back was 7K miles but we love road trips. I'm too chicken to fly since my accident so we don't mind driving my Sienna van the whole way(plus I have my h/c on top of van). We have already signed up for the St. George race again this year so we will make the trip again but instead of going to Ca. NP's we are going to head back through parks we haven't seen in UT and CO. We talked about swinging up from St. George to Montana because we too are dying to see Glacier NP, but I'm not ready to make the trek that far north out of the way and then head back south to Georgia. BYW, because we stayed in so many hotels last year, instead of staying in one place several nights, we had the WORSE hotel experiences ever! I guess the more you move, the more chances there are to find lousy hotel rooms.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by tarheelandy View Post
              My husband and I drove out to St. George last Oct for a race from Georgia. We had done the same to SLC race the year before. From St. George we drove to Yosemite, Sequoia and other NPs' along the way. Driving out there and coming back was 7K miles but we love road trips. I'm too chicken to fly since my accident so we don't mind driving my Sienna van the whole way(plus I have my h/c on top of van). We have already signed up for the St. George race again this year so we will make the trip again but instead of going to Ca. NP's we are going to head back through parks we haven't seen in UT and CO. We talked about swinging up from St. George to Montana because we too are dying to see Glacier NP, but I'm not ready to make the trek that far north out of the way and then head back south to Georgia. BYW, because we stayed in so many hotels last year, instead of staying in one place several nights, we had the WORSE hotel experiences ever! I guess the more you move, the more chances there are to find lousy hotel rooms.
              Did you do the St George marathon?

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              • #8
                I curiously looked at Jackson, Wyoming. It would require connecting flights (of course), and there is a rental company out of Jackson Hole. Wondering how feasible this would be to do in 10 days (any more might be tough with work for my travel partner), but I was researching this rough itinerary (w/o looking at accommodations):

                Sunday: Fly into Jackson, rent van. Explore Grand Teton NP, leaving Tuesday evening. Drive approximately 3 hours to West Yellowstone.
                Explore YNP through Saturday, leaving Saturday to drive 4+ hrs to Butte by way of Livingston and Bozeman. Stay overnight. Leave early Sunday drive 4 hrs to GNP, stay until Wednesday (?), drive 8+ hrs GNP to Jackson. Fly out Thursday. Too ambitious?

                Originally posted by SCI-Nurse View Post
                If you only want to do Yellowstone and parts of Montana (Glacier National Park?) then you would probably do best to fly into Bozeman, MT (about 90 miles from Yellowstone), but I couldn't find any rental wheelchair vans there on a Google search.

                Found one in Missoula, MT (265 miles to Yellowstone): http://www.am-mobility.com/van-rentals.html , and Billing, MT (130 miles from Yellowstone): http://www.accessiblevans.com/local/...air-van-rental . You would have to look into which of these has the best full-sized jet service, as it is unlikely you could get on a commuter plane. Your next bet would be Salt Lake City (325 miles to Yellowstone): http://www.accessiblevans.com/locati...air-van-dealer or perhaps Casper, Cheyenne, Jackson Hole, and Rock Springs, WY.

                In Glacier NP, the famous and historic Red Bus tours do have some accessible vans; you must book well in advance: http://www.glaciernationalparklodges.com/red-bus-tours.

                Keep in mind that there can be road closures due to weather, and snow can occur any time of year in Glacier, and most of the year in Yellowstone as well. There is information about lodging on both the websites for these national parks, as well as Grand Teton (just south of Yellowstone).

                (KLD)
                Last edited by landrover; 07-13-2018, 02:55 PM.

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                • #9
                  I think that would be fine, but I would avoid driving inside the parks after dark. Too many wildlife crossing the roads.

                  (KLD)
                  The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think my itinerary above would be 11 days. Don't know where I could/should cut out a day? I already think the 8 hrs+ drive from GNP to Jackson would be tough for my travel partner, and maybe an overnight in Missoula would be better (which of course would add a day).

                    Of course the PIA will be finding hotels (in this case as many as 5) with beds that will accommodate a lift. Edit: I found 4 hotels thus far that had sleeper sofas. Am I safe to assume there'd be clearance under? The question would then be around?

                    Spring Hill Suites, Jackson Hole (could use Marriott rewards)
                    TownePlace Suites, Missoula (same)
                    Cedar Creek Lodge, GNP
                    Fairfield Inn, Butte (same)
                    Last edited by landrover; 07-13-2018, 04:07 PM.

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                    • #11
                      And what time of year is best? I imagine Spring for wildlife, but as mentioned, travel could be iffy. I'd still like to go when snow is still on the mountains (year round?)

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by landrover View Post
                        And what time of year is best? I imagine Spring for wildlife, but as mentioned, travel could be iffy. I'd still like to go when snow is still on the mountains (year round?)
                        There's a good chance there will be snow in Yellowstone, pretty much year round. Certainly the peaks will always have snow, but there's a good chance you'll be driving through a flurry or two, even in the height of summer.

                        If you need to cut a day off of your vacation, you could take a day out from Yellowstone. I think you have Wednesday, Thursday and Friday all day right now. When I was there I think we blew through Yellowstone in 3 days, driving in the first day, driving around the second day and driving out the third day, and that was enough for me (by that time I was extremely annoyed with hauling my manual chair in and out of the car every 20 minutes to stop at the next scenic overlook, waterfall, hot spring, geyser, etc and my shoulders couldn't take much more of that. Without being able to hike out into the back country (which I assume you're not able to do), you will be able to hit all the highlights in two full days there, and it's actually quite convenient to see a lot of the sights on the way in and on the way out. I'd recommend getting to the park as early as possible (like by noon on your first day) and before you get to wherever you're gonna stay you can see a bunch of the sights. Then you've still got two full days to explore, pack up and leave as early as possible on your last day there and take the scenic route on the way out (but TBH there is nothing but scenic routes in Yellowstone, which is kind of the whole point). In my mind that would be enough.

                        Maybe others can chime in, but for someone in a chair, I don't think there's much relaxing and hanging out in nature at Yellowstone. I like to go camping and finding a remoteish camping spot or at least one that's not crowded with a ton of people an be a nice place to hang out. Yellowstone has overcrowded campgrounds (with bison and bears roaming through them) or a lodge that is jam packed with people and restaurants, shops, etc. Since we're not able to get off of the beaten path, it's more like driving from spot to spot in a massive (and gorgeous) zoo that you have to drive in bumper to bumper traffic to get to the next buffalo herd or elk herd or geyser or hot spring. It's a beautiful place, don't get me wrong, but it's more crowded than any theme park you've ever been too if you're going during the warm months and you might spend more time hunting for an accessible spot than you will actually getting out of the van and taking in the views (there are reserved disabled spots everywhere, it's just so crowded they'll probably be occupied when you get there and you might have to circle for a few minutes. Certainly the most crowded national park I've ever been to and I think I've been to the majority of national parks in the continental US.

                        I'm not sure exactly what I'm trying to convey. It's definitely worth it to go to Yellowstone, it's an amazing place, but after a couple days there in crowds and traffic, I was happy to get away and get back to the peace and quiet of the open road and enjoying nature through the windows without having to worry about a traffic jam around the next corner. When you can't get off the beaten track it's an odd mix of some of the most incredible sites nature has to offer and an absolutely absurd amount of wildlife that feels like a glimpse back thousands of years in to the history of the continent before humans ruined it all, but you have to slog through massive crowds of your fellow nature-destroying humans to get that glimpse.

                        I don't know why I'm rambling on so long.

                        Summary: It's a cool place, go. You can do Yellowstone in 3 days and not feel cheated on time.

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                        • #13
                          Haha, I appreciated your ramble!

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                          • #14
                            So based on your feedback: Sunday: Fly into Jackson, rent van. Explore Grand Teton NP, leaving Tuesday afternoon. Drive approximately 3 hours to West Yellowstone.
                            Explore YNP through Friday, leaving Friday to drive 4+ hrs to Butte by way of Livingston and Bozeman. Stay overnight. Leave early Saturday drive 4 hrs to GNP, stay until Tuesday (?), drive 2+ hrs GNP to Missoula, stay overnight. Wednesday drive 6+ hours to Jackson. Fly out Thursday. Too ambitious?

                            I know I would need to confirm this with the airport, but is it safe to assume that given the small size of Jackson Hole airport, and from what it looks like, no jetways, that they'd have means of getting me off the plane??
                            Last edited by landrover; 07-13-2018, 04:32 PM.

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                            • #15
                              I have no knowledge of the airport, but my recommendation to you is get things packed up and in the vehicle ASAP on all of your travel days. I didn't go through Grand Teton, but the nature of being in the outdoors and in a wheelchair means most of the sites are seen from the car. A 4 hour drive from GNP to Yellowstone (assuming that's the drive time google maps gives you), could be a miserable 4 hour drive with no stops in traffic, or an enjoyable 8 hour drive with frequent stops to see all the sites.

                              There are plenty of pretty places to stop for a while between the two parks, and once you get to the meat of stuff in Yellowstone it would be a shame to drive right past all the sites because you had to get to your room before dark (I agree with KLD), driving after dark is a bad idea (and a waste of all the scenery you don't get to see).

                              For example, when me and my father rolled into Yellowstone park the speed limit is somewhat low (I don't remember exactly, let's say 35 mph for arguments sake), but in reality if you're actually going to stop and smell the bison dung and sulfurous springs it can take hours to go just a few miles. And you ARE going to stop. Sometimes you come around a bend in the road and everyone has pulled over because there's a baby Elk being born off the side of the road, or a herd of wild buffalo is ambling down the middle of the road at their own pace with no concern for the traffic laws. These aren't rare or isolated events, there is literally so much wildlife that it stops traffic every mile or two, it's difficult to believe without having been there and probably one of the most unique places in the world where such concentrated populations of large, wild animals mix regularly with such high concentrations of humans and vehicles.

                              I mean if you saw a momma Grizzly bear hanging out twenty feet off the side of the road while her cubs are tussling around looking all cute are you just gonna keep driving? Hell no, you're going to pull over (hopefully at a respectable distance) like the other 10,000 tourists and watch until them amble off or get close enough to the van that your own primal survival instinct kicks in and you decide to move on, less the momma bear starts wondering whether or not that big ole van that smells of cheeseburgers and potato chips is some kind of mobile food dispenser that just needs to be peeled open so her kiddos can get inside and get at all that deliciousness hiding inside.

                              So basically I would say for every hour that google estimates it will take you to drive add a half hour for traffic and three hours for stops to look at all the incredible stuff you will never see anywhere else in the world. You ARE going to want to stop, frequently.

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