Yellowstone/Grand Tetons Advice - Updated with Photos - Post 63

Discussion in 'California & the West' started by Donald is #1, Mar 25, 2007.

  1. Donald is #1

    Donald is #1 DIS Veteran

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    Hi everyone! I am thinking about taking my first trip to the Yellowstone/Grand Teton area this September and I am trying to figure out which week to go. I am currently debating between the first & second week of September. Obviously, my first thought was to start my vacation (7-8 days) over Labor Day weekend, but I am concerned about the crowds. Has anyone been there during Labor Day weekend? Is it really crowded?

    Also, any recommendations on where to stay?
     
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  3. casaazul

    casaazul DIS Veteran

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    Labor Day weekend will be busy, but most people have their kids back in school and are not headed to Yellowstone. Mostly you will have RV'ers. Sept. is great weather in the west, it can be hot, cold, warm or chilly. Just depends on old Mother Nature. I love travelling in September, but can't now that I am a teacher.

    I love Yellowstone! Are you camping or staying in hotels? Make sure you check on reservations just to make sure you can get a place.

    Have a great trip! Ask more questions, I check these boards often.
     
  4. Donald is #1

    Donald is #1 DIS Veteran

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    I will be staying in a Hotel. I haven't really checked out any hotels yet. But I will probably be picking a hotel in the next couple of weeks.

    My main plan will be to just enjoy the scenery & take lots of pictures. Do you have any recommendations on how many days? I won't be doing any real hiking, but I don't mind doing some short walks. I will be traveling solo and I get nervous hiking too far when I am by myself.
     
  5. casaazul

    casaazul DIS Veteran

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    Check on hotel ressies soon. If you want to stay at one of the Park hotels, they book up a long time in advance. I would recommend Jackson Hole for your Teton Visit and maybe West Yellowstone for your Yellowstone visit if you can't get in the park. I think there are also some places south of Yellowstone that may be nice to stay. We always camp, so I can't help much.

    There are many short hikes in both parks. Any short park trail will be monitored by park rangers and you should be safe. We also make sure we make some "noise" while hiking so animals hear us. I attach a jingle bell to my daypack.

    I'm sure you will be able to hook up with other single hikers during the day.

    Have fun and ask more, I'm online most evenings.
     
  6. ScooterL

    ScooterL DIS Veteran

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    Yellowstone is quite large, and the roads are generally two-lane with a max speed of 40mph, so you won't make very good time in getting between places. West Yellowstone is a ways outside the park, so just getting to anyplace interesting in the park will take 45-60 minutes as I recall. So you'll likely spend a lot of time driving into the park and back to your hotel if you stay in West Yellowstone. If it were me I'd try to move around inside the park - stay one night in Mammoth Springs, another night at Old Faithful, and maybe 2-3 nights somewhere around Lake Yellowstone someplace.

    The geyser basins (Old Faithful being of course the most famous, but Norris Geyser Basin is nice as well) will require a bit of walking, but you'll certainly have lots of company, so I wouldn't worry about being by yourself. The Yellowstone Falls and Mammoth Hot Springs areas are also worth seeing. I would recommend at least three days to see Yellowstone, and five is probably better.

    Grand Teton National Park is harder to see without hiking - I don't remember there being very many short walk/hikes that went someplace interesting - most hikes were quite a bit longer. The mountains are beautiful, though.
     
  7. casaazul

    casaazul DIS Veteran

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    Visit nps dot gov to get information on the parks.

    Lodging in the parks is at travelyellowstone dot com. Tjhere were a number of spots available online that first week in September in Yellowstone. I'm sure Teton will have some as well.

    Have fun planning and be prepared for any kind of weather, but that time of year is usually very nice.

    Hope this helps.
     
  8. Donald is #1

    Donald is #1 DIS Veteran

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    Everyone, thanks for the excellent advice! Since I have never been to Yellowstone before, your advice is invaluable. I will check out the available lodgings this week.

    Which airport shoudl I fly into/out of? Cody, Jackson, or another?
     
  9. Donald is #1

    Donald is #1 DIS Veteran

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    I was just checking out the websites that had been mentioned. There is definitely still availability within the parks. So how does this sound:

    Day 1: Fly in from east coast - stay = ? depending upon flight arrival time & airport

    Day 2: Stay in Old Faithful area

    Day 3: Stay in Mammouth Spring area

    Days 4 & 5: Stay in Lake Yellowstone area

    Days 6 & 7: stay somewhere in or near Grand Tetons

    Day 8: fly Home

    Does the above itinery look do able? Also, should I add another day to the end so that I can stay near the airport?
     
  10. casaazul

    casaazul DIS Veteran

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    Jackson is the center for Teton too. It is a fun western town.

    I think you will have fun planning. Ask more when you need to. I will be gone Mar 31-April 5, headed to WDW, but will try to get back online when we return!

    Have fun!
     
  11. Donald is #1

    Donald is #1 DIS Veteran

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    Thanks! Have a great time visiting Mickey!
     
  12. Donald is #1

    Donald is #1 DIS Veteran

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    I just make the mistake of checking out the airfare prices.:scared1:
    Maybe it is time for me to try to turn in some of my United miles!
     
  13. ScooterL

    ScooterL DIS Veteran

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    I bet you get sticker shock when you check out the price of rental cars, too!!! :-) But they gotcha as a captive audience...

    Your itinerary looks great...I wish I were going!! We've talked about getting there several times over the last 5 years and still haven't managed to do it...maybe NEXT fall. So I'll be curious as to how you find the weather and crowds for your trip - please let us know how it is!
     
  14. casaazul

    casaazul DIS Veteran

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    Or SLC or places in Montana or Idaho. Then fly into Jackson. I know Southwest does fly from many east coast cities into Denver. Then maybe get flight to Jackson. Yes it will not be cheap, but.... so worth it when you see Teton and Yellowstone.

    Keep planning, something will come up that will work for you.:banana:
     
  15. RMH

    RMH <font color=darkorchid>I know EXACTLY how he felt.

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    Unless prices to Denver are outrageously cheaper, I would fly into SLC. The drive time to Jackson Hole is approx. 4 hours from SLC and approx. 12 hours from Denver. That is a lot of driving with not a whole lot of scenery.
     
  16. ScooterL

    ScooterL DIS Veteran

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    I don't know about it being only 4 hours from Salt Lake City to Jackson Hole - Mapquest shows it as being a little over 300 miles, and although I haven't done it for a while, I remember it taking more like 6 hours. But either way it's still closer than Denver!
     
  17. Donald is #1

    Donald is #1 DIS Veteran

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    Actually, the Hertz rate wasn't any worse than I am paying in Orlando in May. Of course, that rate is more than I have paid in a long time.:sad1:

    I've been talking about it for years also and I finally decided that it was time to go for it. :thumbsup2

    One of my friends also suggested SLC and then driving. But when I asked him how long the drive was he thought about 6-8 hours. I actually enjoy driving but I am not sure that I want to drive that far.

    Positive note on the flight: I have about 100K miles on United that I have never used. So I went on-line last night and guess what??? I can actually book the flights with my miles -- Total cost $10. :woohoo: So, since I have always talked about using my miles but never actually used them, I think that I will book the trip using my miles. The other thing that I noticed is that I am better off flying out of Boston because I may be able to get a flight with only 2 legs instead of 3.
     
  18. Donald is #1

    Donald is #1 DIS Veteran

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    Well, it looks like I have an extra day! :banana:

    When a booked my airfare using the miles, there was only 1 flight available on my return day and it only had a 1/2 hour layover. So, I decided to come home 1 day later and spend another day in Yellowstone. So my new itinerary is:

    Day 1: Fly in from east coast - stay = most likely in Jackson but maybe in Yellowstone

    Day 2: Stay in Old Faithful area

    Day 3: Stay in Mammouth Spring area

    Days 4, 5 & 6: Stay in Lake Yellowstone area

    Days 7 & 8: stay somewhere in or near Grand Tetons

    Day 9: fly Home

    By the way for anyone thinking about a trip to Yellowstone, I also looked at flying into Idaho Falls. The rates were actually a little better than Jackson. I decided to use my built up miles & fly into Jackson anyways, but you may want to check it out.
     
  19. Donald is #1

    Donald is #1 DIS Veteran

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    Does anyone know how long it takes to drive from the airport in Jackson Hole to Yellowstone? I am trying to decide whether I should stay in Jackson Hole my first night or drive up to Yellowstone and extend my stay in the Old Faithful area by 1 night.
     
  20. emerymt

    emerymt Mouseketeer

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    SLC is at least a 5 1/2 hour drive from Jackson. Half the time, the road you're on is a two-laner. I used to live at the halfway mark.

    The airfare up to this neck of the woods is horrible- it's the same going out from here to anywhere, too :mad: . I say, pay the money to fly into Bozeman and take the Gallatin Canyon to West Yellowstone or fly into Billings and take the Beartooth Highway out of Red Lodge to Cooke City. Spend your first night in one of these three towns. The second route has been voted one of the most scenic highways in the US. It has to be seen to be believed. You could make a loop out of this drive as you go through the Park.

    I think what you have planned is pretty good, although I wouldn't spend as much time at Lake, I don't know why. I'm not a fisherman, and it seems like the good wildlife watching, sights and hiking are not at Lake. Wildlife is great in the Lamar Valley and up over the pass on Mt. Washburn. Like Disney World, you have to get up early to beat the crowds and see the "shows"! Head for the hikes in the p.m. to avoid the crowds, but always take a rain jacket. Rain at this altitude is dangerous.

    If you want to try "roughing" it I would highly recommend the Roosevelt Lodge, or the cabins at Mammoth or Lake. I always feel more out in nature in those cabins. It's a short walk to the bathrooms, but not being in a hotel is kind of neat. My favorite is Roosevelt. There are NO crowds there. Ever. These cabins are cheap and will make up for your high airfare.

    Also, I went the first week of Sept. last year and was stunned by the amount of people. The rangers at Norris Ranger Station said that young retirees keep them hopping all through the autumn. It wasn't like July, by any means, but it was busy. You will not have the place to yourself, sadly.

    Finally, if Xanterra's website doesn't show any vacancies for your stay- call them! They do not update that website very often and cancellations may not show up at all. I think Xanterra runs the lodging facilities extremely well, but their website- not.

    Have a great time! Other folks have Disney- but I have Yellowstone :love: !
     
  21. emerymt

    emerymt Mouseketeer

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    What time are you arriving? It's a long time from Jackson to Old Faithful because of the aforementioned speed limits. Also, it's a really beautiful drive and you don't want to rush, since you're driving through Grand Teton National Park. Maybe you'd like to get a room in Jackson as far north as you can, see the town and the southern aspects of Grand Teton, then go on up the next day. After a stop at the Bunnery (if it's still there) for a great breakfast, of course! We like to take a boat on Jenny Lake right at the foot of Grand Teton on the way up.

    Driving at night in Yellowstone isn't fun, either. There are no lights along the intersections or anywhere else, no reflectors, and you can't see the scenery. If you do drive up, try to get there by nightfall. And, if there's room, try to stay in the old part of the Old Faithful Inn. That's one historic hotel, and they just finished renovations last year. It is outstanding. If you don't have a chance to stay there, take a walk or tour through it if you can.
     

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