Yellowstone experts.....

Discussion in 'California & the West' started by funhouse8, Feb 28, 2010.

  1. funhouse8

    funhouse8 <font color=teal>How can you invest so much money

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    OK, Here is what I have so far. not sure how long in each location. I was hoping you experts can help me out there.

    Fly into Bozeman
    - Drive into Yellowstone

    Day 1 -Mammoth springs Hotel -

    Day 2,3 - Canyon Lodge

    day 4,5- Old Faithful lodge

    Drive to Teton Stay at
    Day 6,7 - Jackson Lake Lodge

    Day 8 - Fly out of Jackson

    What should not be missed!
    We are planning on a 8 day trip in the summer of 2011. :thumbsup2 Thanks

    Any Advice welcome.
     
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  3. ScooterL

    ScooterL DIS Veteran

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    Hey, that sounds a bit like our trip back in 2008! At least the Yellowstone part - we didn't go to the Tetons. We flew into Bozeman, spent two nights at Mammoth, then two nights at the Yellowstone Lake Hotel, then three nights at Old Faithful Inn, then drove back to Bozeman.

    From Mammoth Hot Springs - you definitely want to wander around the terraces that are there, and also go to the Visitor Center.

    You might also want to drive to the Norris Geyser Basin (an hour or so away) - we enjoyed wandering around and seeing the colorful pools. Artist Paint Pots is not far from there but I was disappointed in that, and didn't find it to be very colorful.

    From Canyon (or on the way to Canyon) you might want to go further east and visit the Lamar Valley. Especially if you go early you might see lots of wildlife - big herds of buffalo, maybe some antelope, and maybe even some wolves. Back on the road towards Canyon, be sure to visit Tower Falls. Unless they've managed to fix the trail the best views are pretty much near the top, so there's no need to hike down if you don't want to.

    In the Canyon area are also upper and lower Yellowstone Falls, as well as two spectacular viewing points: Artist Point and Inspiration Point. You can drive to all of those, park, and then take a short walk to the actual viewing areas. If you're feeling ambitious and strong, you can take Uncle Tom's Trail down, down, and down to a place where you get a great view of the lower fall. It's a LOT of steps, and descends about 500 feet - and then of course you get to climb back UP that 500'.

    Between Canyon and the Yellowstone Lake area are the Haydn Valley (another wildlife spotting area) and the Mud Volcano area, where there is a short trail with big mud pots and some pretty hot spring pools. In the Lake area we enjoyed hiking the Storm Point trail, Elephant Back Mountain, and the trail to the Natural Bridge.

    I recommend the West Thumb Geyser Basin - there aren't really any geysers there, but it had some of the most beautiful pools that we saw anywhere in the park.

    There's tons to do in the Old Faithful area. Make sure you do the Upper Geyser Basin all the way out to Morning Glory Pool. If you have a chance to see Castle Geyser erupt, then do so (it's generally twice a day, and it goes off for 45-60 minutes!) - it's much more impressive than Old Faithful. Daisy Geyser is also very good. We also walked around Biscuit Basin and Black Sand Basin and hiked to Lone Star Geyser.

    If you drive west from Old Faithful there's the Midway Geyser Basin,the Lower Geyser Basin, the Grand Prismatic Spring (VERY colorful!), and the Fountain Paint Pots. We hiked to Fairy Falls. If you scramble up the hill that's near the beginning of the trail to Fairy Falls (maybe 1/4 mile in) you get a great overhead view of Grand Prismatic Spring, but be aware that it's very steep and there's no real trail (though lots of use trails from other people have done it), so you have to be careful.

    I haven't been to the Tetons in years, so I don't really remember what there is to do there, sorry.

    Hope that helps!
     
  4. funhouse8

    funhouse8 <font color=teal>How can you invest so much money

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    Wow, your trip looks amazing. I hope we can do all those things too. Every time I try to plan a trip to Yellowstone, we wind up going someplace else. (WDW) LOL Not this time, youhave me excited. Thanks.
     
  5. PlutoPony

    PlutoPony DIS Veteran

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    Your schedule looks good. The PP had good suggestions for Yellowstone. There are one or two Yellowstone boards that talk a lot about the animals and where they're being spotted, spend some time reading there a couple months before you go (sorry I can't remember the addresses but you can find them with google). You can also check out the official Yellowstone/National Park Service website before you go. That will give you the schedule of ranger programs at the different visitor centers so you can plan accordingly. We found most of the programs to be excellent and a good way to fill some time in the evening.

    Grand Teton NP is one of our favorite places. The mountains are so majestic, .

    * Splurge on mountain view at Jackson Lake Lodge. You're paying for the view not the room, but you can't beat it. Last thing you see at night and first thing you see when you wake up are those mountains. It's amazing! We also had good wildlife viewing right from our balcony.

    * Animal watching is best early in the morning, especially moose. And early means like 6am unfortunately. When we were there, the best moose watching was in front of the main lodge at Jackson Lake Lodge. The willow flats between the Lodge and Jackson Lake are perfect moose habitat and each morning you'd find a bunch of them munching out on the willow. TAKE GOOD BINOCULARS if you're serious about watching animals! It's not like you'll be walking up to wildlife and snapping a picture, so the best/only way to view is from a distance. But it quickly became an obsession to stand someplace with binoculars scanning the landscape, trying to pick out wildlife.!

    * Oxbow Bend was another good wildlife viewing spot - elk, beaver, some moose occasionally. Ask around and get info on current sightings.

    * Hike to Inspiration Point (and beyond). The trailhead is on the other size of Jenny Lake and is probably the most popular hike in the park. You can take the ferry boat (there's a fee for it) across unless you want to spent a lot of time hiking there. Because it's so popular, I'd get there by mid morning to get a parking place (it fills up daily) and avoid some of the traffic on the trail.

    *Teton is a good place for rafting - either a float trip (flat water with emphasis on viewing wildlife and scenery) or white water.

    * Food in the park was better than Yellowstone. We had good meals at Signal Mountain Lodge and the pizza place at Leeds Marina, which is on Jackson Lake just north of Colter Bay. The Mural Room at Lake Jackson Lodge is excellent, fine dining with a spectacular view.

    *Jackson Hole is a fun town. Lots of food, shopping, stuff like that. If the kids are ready for something different than hiking and looking for wildlife, try the Alpine Slide at Snow King Resort which is right there in Jackson.

    HTH and have a great trip!
     
  6. ScooterL

    ScooterL DIS Veteran

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    I'm a Yosemite girl at heart, but Yellowstone is just amazing, and I'm really looking forward to going back there some day. There is so much to do - we just touched on a small piece of it. One other thing...if you're an early riser, take advantage of being at the Old Faithful Lodge and get up and going walking around the geyser basin in the morning. You'll be surprised to have it almost all to yourself! I watched Old Faithful one morning about 7:30, and there were all of maybe 10 people there. And there was almost no one when I was walking around most of the rest of the boardwalks in the Upper Geyser basin. The crowds (especially tour buses) don't really start to arrive until 10:00 or so, so take advantage of that more uncrowded time to enjoy the geysers.
     
  7. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    We have our Yellowstone trip planned for June of this year. These are great tips!

    We are staying 2 nights at Canyon, 2 nights at Old Faithful and 2 nights in the Tetons.

    We can't wait!
     
  8. CPT Tripss

    CPT Tripss DIS Veteran

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    Excellent move to stay at several places . . . the park is huge! It is also very high and breathing can be an issue for some of us sea level dwellers . . . if you are not in shape now, get in shape before the trip. Go to bed early and wake up early - just stay on EDT ;) You'll make the most of the park before all the buses show up. PPs gave you lots of great tips.

    When you are at Old Faithful, keep your eyes and ears open for people with radios and notebooks sitting around on the boardwalks - the Geyser Gazers. They are great sources of information on what will/might erupt when. As a PP noted, get there early.

    Get out of the car and go off the pavement. If possible, hike at least at least a couple of trails. The are some good hikes, not too strenuous, that will get you up to the rim of the caldera.

    Do ranger talks/hikes and check the major Yellowstone sites and boards for info. Several years ago, we did a 1/2 day hike (3 or 4 miles total) with a ranger that had a modest fee. I don't know if they still run these, but it is worth checking out . . . I think we heard about it from one of the Yellowstone Assoc bookstores.

    Definately do a float trip in Teton . . . one that is inside the park will have good guides as the park service limits who can do them.
     
  9. StormalongKay

    StormalongKay Mouseketeer

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    Here's a Yellowstone tip not yet posted.....don't know if you have kids, or what their ages are, but mine enjoyed using laser thermometers around the geysers. Go to the ranger station at Old Faithful early in the day and ask for the junior ranger backpack. The laser thermometers are included in the pack, you pay a small deposit. When you walk the geyser basins, you can measure the temperatures of the thermal features. Sneaks in a little science education too!!
    My kids were 12, 10 & 9 when we went last summer and really enjoyed this.

    We also went horseback riding. To see the vast interior of the park, this is the way to go. I got my kids 3-4 lessons before the vacation so they were comfortable on horses. There are stables right on the outskirts of Yellowstone that organize group trail rides. A bit pricey but a true western experience.
     
  10. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    What a great tip. My dd is 9 and should really enjoy this. I'm definitely looking into getting one of those backpacks to use. :thumbsup2
     
  11. Simba's Mom

    Simba's Mom <font color=green>everything went to "H*** in a ha

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    That looks similar to what we've done-we've gone to Yellowstone for the last 3 Junes. However, we preferred Lake Yellowstone Cabins to staying in Canyon. ANd right down the street, at the Lake Lodge, was a great, fairly inexpensive (by Yellowstone standards) cafeteria. We weren't enthralled with the Old Faithful area, too "urban" for us compared to the rest of the park. And we only spent one night in Mammoth, but wish we'd stayed more. Lastly, we LOVED the views from Jackson Lake Lodge-except for a couple trips over to Oxbow area, we could have stayed right on the back deck of the Lodge with our binocculars the whole time. Be sure to go out there between 8:00am-10:00am to talk to the ranger and look through his/her scope. Fascinating!
     
  12. HelloChum

    HelloChum Mouseketeer

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    We are heading to Grand Canyon this summer for about 2 weeks. Although I began my planning late, I was able to get somewhat decent ressies--though not always our first choice hotel.

    We seem to have caught the adventure bug :goodvibes and are now thinking of Yellowstone and Grand Teton for Summer 2011--want to get these trips in before kiddos are off to college!!

    I noticed on the Xanterra Yellowstone page that calendars are up for summer 2011. So, I thought--hmm...maybe we should plan this now and hopefully get our first choice in lodging. Any pitfalls with reserving national park trip lodging a year in advance?

    For those who have been--since I am starting from scratch, what is the optimal amount of time to spend out there to make sure we see all of the "must sees"--is 9-10 days enough? Which month is best to visit--my choices are end of June, July (anytime), or early August? I read in tripadvisor that some change "base camps" in Yellowstone--staying 2 nights in each of 2 or 3 places--I see that is what the OP is planning and other recommend.

    Any info is appreciated--thanks!! :flower3:
     
  13. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    I'm not an expert as we are embarking on our first Yellowstone/Teton trip in about 3 weeks. However, I have been spending the last year planning it.

    We booked our stay at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Canyon Cabins a year in advance. You will be required to pay one night up front for each location, so you need to consider if that's an issue.

    Also, you want to spend 4-6 days in Yellowstone intself and at least a couple of days in the Tetons. Ideally, you want to split your time in Yellowstone between at least 2 different locations, specifcally two opposite ends of the park. It is a lot of driving to get from The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone to Mammoth, for example.

    It starts gettting crowded late June through August. The babies are abundant in early June. However, weather is ifier the earlier in June you go.

    Have a great time planning!
     
  14. HelloChum

    HelloChum Mouseketeer

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    DisneyFaninAZ...thanks for replying! Have a wonderful trip!

    We were thinking of extending the trip by heading through/staying in Cody and then onto Mt Rushmore/Crazy Horse. Anyone done that? How much time would you recommend staying in SD? How easy/tough was the driving?

    Thanks :flower3:
     
  15. skiingfast

    skiingfast <font color=teal>Has had no bacon<br><font color=b

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    Day 1, I like to eat lunch on the lawns and watch the elk chase tourists who get too close. You should also search for "the boiling river" It's a swimming hole. Go later in the day because it gets crowded, and closes at sunset. I like the museum there in fort yellowstone because it talks about the history of the park. When you leave drive east, the long way, it's where grizzilies are most common. See the petrified trees if you haven't seen one before. Tower falls is a nice short hike but a lot of vertical.

    Day 2,3 go to the brink of each falls. The visitor center there is new and really good. If you are up for it take the "Uncle Tom's Trail', from the South rim it has a lot of stairs so be ready for that. While there drive down to the lake area. There are some nice beaches along the north shore. The Lake Hotel is nice for lunch. Also from here you can drive and then hike Mt. Washburn, it's a long slow climb take water. When you leave drive west from Canyon, and see the Norris Geyser basin this will take a couple hours to visit, I like the South loop best.

    Day 4,5
    I like to walk to lonestar geyser check at the old faithful visitor center for the eruption time. It's a nice hike wether you see it erupt or not. I also highly reccomend Midway and lower geyser basins. Walk the old road from the Inn, which you should also see, down to riverside geyser, again check the time in the visitor center for geysers along the way. Take and evening drive north to look for animals. Drive, Firehole lake drive during sunset.

    Day 6,7
    See string lake for a picnic or swimming. Take the Antelope Flats and Kelly loop road, these are outside the park gates. Visit the Jenny lake area, take the boat one way walk over if it's the monring, back if it's the afternoon. you can do a scenic raft trip with the Lodge Comany. If you want to do white water go down to Jackson. There are several rafting companies there. visit Jackson the town. Lots of resturuants and shopping.
     
  16. ScooterL

    ScooterL DIS Veteran

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    The only "pitfall" I can see is that they will charge your credit card for one night's lodging (and if you stay at multiple places it will be one night at each) at the time of booking, so you end up paying for that right up front. But it's fully refundable up to a week (or maybe it's 2 weeks) before the trip if you cancel.

    I would recommend booking ASAP because the hotels DO fill up quickly, and it may already be too late to get everything that you want. I booked ours over a year in advance and still was not able to get the type of room I really wanted at Old Faithful Inn - but I WAS able to get a room there, which would not have been possible if I'd booked a few months later.
     
  17. skiingfast

    skiingfast <font color=teal>Has had no bacon<br><font color=b

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    It is true that the number of visitors does far outnumber the number of lodging rooms. So it is wise to book early, it's not something you can easily do a week or month out. Also some places that are not Xanterra may not have anyone to book with from November through April when they are closed for winter.

    In Old Faithful there are three choices, the Snow Lodge the Inn and the cabins. Mammoth is really close to the small town of Gardiner, MT which has several hotels. Jackson Lake Lodge is about 45 minutes from the town of Jackson which has tons of hotels.

    Canyon is very far from any alternative. The closest would be 40 minutes away at The Lake Hotel.
     
  18. Simba's Mom

    Simba's Mom <font color=green>everything went to "H*** in a ha

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    Last year we want to stay at Lake Lodge Cabins, and we booked a year ahead. As time got closer, we realized the following week would be MUCH more convenient, and luckily we were able to change our reservations to that week without any penalty. So that's another reason why there's nothing to lose.
     
  19. jodi90

    jodi90 Mouseketeer

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    While your in West Yellowstone make sure to plan some time to explore the shops in town. I would also plan to catch a show at The Playmill. They do musicals and plays all summer. It's a small place but it's always tons of fun. Make sure to try their homemade fudge. It's wonderful!! We live a few hours from West so we try to make it up their every year to catch a play. Here is the Playmill's website if you want to check it out.

    http://www.playmill.com/home.htm
     
  20. skiingfast

    skiingfast <font color=teal>Has had no bacon<br><font color=b

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    If you go to into the town of West Yellowstone, referred to as only West by locals. Off the top of my head it's about 30 minutes each way off the grand loop. T

    In West there is an awesome ice cream place with Arrow in it's name. Maybe Arrowhead. They mix toppings in like Cold Stone. I think they might use frozen custard, it's really good.
     
  21. Hidden_Mickey

    Hidden_Mickey DIS Veteran

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    I have questions!!!!!!!

    We will be there in a few weeks. We would like to do the photo safari out of Mammoth or Old Faithful, and I see that you can go to the ranger station to reserve a spot, but can I do it now by phone?

    Also, we have one full day in the Tetons before we drive up to Yellowstone. I wanted to do a float trip but they are sold out. We will be staying at Signal Mountain Lodge. What should we do, and where? Hike, swim? Is the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram on top of Rendezvous Mountain close by? How about the Alpine Slide? I don't mind driving 30-45 minutes one way to something if it is worth it.

    Thanks!
     

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