Okay, this is what we did last September & loved every minute of it. Arrived in SD on the 4th day. (Pack some nabs & drinks, cause we didn’t see many mom & pop places or fast food either). Toured Badlands with our Golden Eagle Pass. Stayed at Custer State Park in the cabins. Enjoyed our meals at the State Park. Do get up early, before sunrise, & tour the wildlife loop. This was a highlight of our trip. Saw far more creatures there than in Yellowstone. Then we headed up Hwy 212 to Little Big Horn. Hubby enjoyed this more than me, since he’s the history "nut". Stayed in Harding MT at Kendrick House Inn. This B&B severed a wonderful breakfast to us & sent us on our way. We took HWY 212 (The Beartooth Parkway) into Yellowstone. This was one of the most scenic rides I’ve ever taken. Breathtaking!
We ate at the Beartooth Cafe in Cooke City, MT – a spot that we had read about on this site. Burger & fries served on the front porch. Stayed inside the park for several days. Ate meals at the Mammoth Springs area & Lake Yellowstone. Ventured to West Yellowstone, MT to the Montana Outpost. Enjoyed a very tasty meal with a bountiful salad bar there. The weather became cloudy & cold with snow forecast while we were in the Tetons, so we didn’t see much there. We do plan to return in the future. Hubby ordered chili & I got an appetizer of beef nachos for lunch at the Silver Dollar Grill at the Wort Hotel in Jackson Hole. Plenty to eat & very reasonable bill. Snow began to fall on us as we crossed the continental divide on Hwy 287.
Your method of seeing the West seems to match our tactics. See the most in a few days, and then make return trips to see the rest.
Our plans this year are to fly into Portland, tour Hood River area, Mt. Rainer, head to north Idaho & do Glacier in MT. Turn south, doing the Salmon area in Idaho & fly out of Boise. Your travel plans for the future include the Nevada, Lake Tahoe, wine country circle with air travel. Then another roadtrip to WI, MN, ND into Canada, back down into MT & back to the Tetons hoping for a clear day.
I bought numerous travel books at bargain prices to research before selecting my routes. I also searched a couple of travel websites for suggestions & comments on food, highway conditions, accommodations, etc.
My co-workers say I am way too organized. But I want to do my homework before I ever leave the driveway.
Have a great trip!!