Yellowstone in Summer?

Discussion in 'California & the West' started by Shanti, Sep 3, 2018.

  1. Shanti

    Shanti Momketeer

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    Who here has been and can give me some advice? I'm considering late June/early July, as that's when we'd be able to go. I've heard it's crowded, but hey- if I can handle Disney World...

    There is still in-park lodging available. Any recommendations?

    How many days do you recommend for seeing Yellowstone? We'll be there to look at it, hike a bit, but not to fish or camp.
     
  2. StageTek

    StageTek It's kind of fun to do the impossible.

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    You heard right; it's crowded. Especially early July.

    No recommendations for in-park lodging. We've only stayed at the Roosevelt Lodge Cabins. But having visited several others I can't imagine any of them are less that terrific.

    Two overnights is fine if you just want to see the highlights. If you want to really relax I'd suggest at least four nights. That way you can see the important things and take a day to get off the beaten path and explore.
     
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  4. PHXscuba

    PHXscuba Mouseketeer since birth!

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    We were just there a couple months ago ON and around July 4th. I was super-worried about the crowds but like you figured on the Disney mindset. With that expectation I really didn't think it was too bad. Parking was usually the hardest thing, and we had to be patient in a couple areas. Worst was circling the Old Faithful parking lot for 25 minutes before finding a spot! And a couple of long waits for food. We found picnicking for lunch a real timesaver and quite pleasant. Once out of the car the trails and boardwalks never got too bad.

    I think staying inside the park can save you a lot of time and get you to some popular locations before or after the day-trippers are there. The days are really long that time of year and we were hiking Lower Yellowstone Falls at 9:00 twilight! The in-park lodges are not cheap but the advantage is that it's the same price pretty much all summer, so no peak pricing like WDW. Book NOW as the reservations gets hard to get. I booked in January and was grateful to find something for 2 nights in a row. We stayed in Canyon Lodge and it was nicer than I expected.

    People on travel boards will say you need a week to experience it. I think you could do 2-3 days and see most everything with some minor hiking. We were there one evening and 2 full days and fit in quite a bit. We only had one morning in Teton and I could have done more there.

    PHXscuba
     
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  5. Shanti

    Shanti Momketeer

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    Good to know. I fortunately was able to reserve two rooms for us in the old house section of Old Faithful Inn for 4 nights. No private bathroom, but I don't care. Hopefully parking will be less of an issue as we're staying there. This is the only time of year in 2019 that works for us to go, so we'll go with the flow. We'll have 3 full days & 4 nights onsite.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018
  6. PHXscuba

    PHXscuba Mouseketeer since birth!

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    You should have plenty of time to see most everything you want. Some people recommend staying in a couple areas of the park to be closer to different parts of the park because driving times take so long. But then you have to change hotels! With 3 full days you can hit different parts of the 2 loops each day at more of a leisure. Our road trip was 10 days, 9 nights and we stayed in 7 different places, so we got very good at living out of suitcases. Not the way I'd prefer, but we covered a lot of ground (2600 miles) between outdoor sights and family (3 of our siblings, 2 college kids, all in different cities).

    PHXscuba
     
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  7. bcla

    bcla DIS Veteran

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    It's not bad. Have you at least seen a photo? At least when we went over a decade ago, the shared bathrooms were newly remodeled, although they were in old buildings. One of the places where we stayed is apparently gone now. If it's Old Faithful without your own bathroom then it's going to be an extremely basic building with no amenities other than a sink.
     
  8. Shanti

    Shanti Momketeer

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    I've seen lots of pics. It looks beautiful as it's an original part of the historic 1904 Inn. The building is big and gorgeously designed. Our room will have log walls, wood floors, bed, window & sink- everything we need with a nice bathroom down the hall. The newer rooms in the annex wing look kind of cheap by comparison, more like motel rooms.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018
  9. bcla

    bcla DIS Veteran

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    Sorry. I was thinking of Old Faithful Lodge. That’s a basic lodging experience where all the lodging is freestanding cabins. However, the lodge building is an incredible building itself.
     
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  10. RAD

    RAD DIS Veteran

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    We were there early June this year and stayed at Canyon Village. These were fairly new buildings, only a few years old. It just similar to a mid end hotel, but if you would like to have a TV or A/C it’s not there and no WiFi to speak of. Of course the park is the main attraction and we really didn’t miss not having them. I will say book as early as you can and read the fine print since there is a non-refundable booking fee on the reservation.
     
  11. bcla

    bcla DIS Veteran

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    We stayed at Canyon Village over a decade ago, but it was in one of their economy ("Pioneer cabins") quad cabins. And it was cheap too. I usually keep copies of my reservations, and the base rate (before taxes) was $74/night. A couple of years ago I was thinking of going and looked up the options, and it looks like they were demolished. And when I mean economy, they weren't necessarily rustic. Each unit had its own toilet and shower, but overall it had a late 50s/early 60s feel although it was generally clean and well maintained even if it wasn't remodeled.
     
  12. Nornster

    Nornster Mouseketeer

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    We stayed in the historic section of Old Faithful Inn last August for the eclipse - we loved it! We used the sink in our room every morning and night, and actually quite liked the classic bathroom/showers down the hall. Bring a robe so you don't have to walk down the hall at night in your skivvies. And pack heavier/more layers than you might think - we woke up several mornings to frost on the roof. Warmed up pretty good during the day, though.

    We loved the ambiance of the lobby and mezzanine - there are musicians playing in the evening, you can get huckleberry ice cream and watch Old Faithful erupt, we brought cards and board games to play at the tables on the mezzanine level at night.
     
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  13. Shanti

    Shanti Momketeer

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    Really? I did see the fine print and it didn't indicate any fee unless you cancelled within 30 days of the trip. This was for Old Faithful Inn, though.
     
  14. bcla

    bcla DIS Veteran

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    Xanterra doesn't charge a booking fee. I don't believe any NPS authorized concessionaire is allowed to charge a booking fee. However, third party booking websites might. They really don't offer anything that the authorized concessionaire won't have, might charge service fees or additional commissions, and basically provide no added value. They also tend to have more restrictive cancellation policies. Xanterra recommends looking for them specifically.

    https://www.xanterra.com/explore/parks/dos-and-donts-of-reserving-a-national-park-lodge/
    Don’t pay unnecessary fees. When you book lodging and activities directly with Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the largest operator of park-based hotels, restaurants and stores, you avoid paying third-party booking fees. Furthermore, you’ll be dealing with company representatives who know the properties, and in some cases, are based there. For reservations, call 888-297-2757.​
     
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  15. RAD

    RAD DIS Veteran

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    OK, thanks. My wife did the booking for this trip, guess she just did a Google search and I ended up paying for it.
     
  16. bcla

    bcla DIS Veteran

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    Here's the Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews for the biggest of these companies.

    https://www.yelp.com/biz/national-parks-reservations-whitefish
    https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTop...ons_dot_com-Big_Bend_National_Park_Texas.html

    I won't directly link to their site, but this is what they say right upfront on their website:

    National Park Reservations is a reservation service providing lodging and activity reservations. National Park Reservations is not an authorized concessionaire of any National Park nor are we in any way affiliated with the National Park Service of the Federal Government. For this service, National Park Reservations charges a ten percent non-refundable reservation fee based on the total dollar amount of reservations made.

    It's not like Hotels.com or Expedia where the hotel pays them a commission. The NPS concessionaire is getting the entire amount that they would get if you booked directly, and then this third party charges a 10% fee on top of that, which is where they get paid.

    The big NPS concessionaires are Xanterra, Delaware North, Aramark, and Forever Resorts. The thing to look for is something at the bottom of every website page, such as this:


    It may be a little bit hard to read, but it says "Authorized Concessionaire" in white. This image was designed to be placed against a dark background.
     
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  17. lynzi2004

    lynzi2004 Mouseketeer

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    We were there this 4th of July. We tent camped at Canyon Village and checked on Saturday, June 30. We stayed till Tuesday. We had reservations thru July 4th but had pretty well did everything we wanted and headed to the Tetons and spent 2 nights with family. We watched the fireworks in Jackson Hole on the 4th.

    Crowds-Not a problem early in the day. We got started by about 8am every morning and could feel the crowds by mid-day but really only in trying to park at some of the spots. We were traveling with a 6 and 5 year old as well as a 6 month old.

    On arrival day we stopped and did the Canyon area before setting up camp. 2nd day we went north thru Tower Falls and up to Mammoth and then down to the Norris geysers. Mammoth was crowded that day but we were there at lunch time. The 3rd day we did the grand prasmatic, hiked Fairy Falls and watched Old Faithful erupt. After breaking camp the 4th day, we stopped at Yellowstone Lake and West Thumb on our way out. It was one of our favorites of the whole trip! Not very crowded and absolutely gorgeous pools of water!!

    If you have time and have never experienced the Tetons, take the extra day or two! The ferry across Jenny Lake and hiking to Inspiration Point doesn’t take very long but it’s just gorgeous!

    We would have no problem visiting this time of year again. Yes it was crowded but if we can do Disney during Spring Break, you can do Yellowstone in summer! Lol
     
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  18. bcla

    bcla DIS Veteran

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    I don't understand complaining about crowds. These places are popular for a reason.
     
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  19. QueenElinor

    QueenElinor It's not my fault they're all redheads.

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    Hi Shanti, I live right next to Yellowstone. You will love staying in the old part of the Old Faithful in, just know that it's historic (hence no private bathroom). You can take tours of the Inn, which might be a good option in the middle of the day when things might be crowded.

    YNP is very similar to WDW in a lot of ways-
    • Get up and be out by "rope drop"- that would be sunup :goodvibes. The "attractions" are open 24/7! Early is also when the animals are out.
    • You can grab a cup of coffee & a snack in the little shop downstairs, the one right across from the gift store, don't waste early morning eating breakfast.
    • Plan for a nice lunch during the "hot" (haha not like WDW) & crowded times of the day.-
    • You will need reservations, especially for dinner. Get them now if you can. Eat early, then go back out and tour until nightfall.
    • Visit other resorts- Dinner at the Lake Lodge is also awesome- you should go just to visit that hotel. For less expensive eats, the view of the lake at the Grant cafeteria can't be beat! No ressies needed.
    • I strongly recommend the Chuckwagon ride out of Roosevelt. Our family has done that many times! Or you can ride horses to the site. Pro tip: They don't advertise, but it's BYOB. Advance reservations required.
    • Ask the rangers about day hikes- just a few hundred yards off the beaten path and you will be in wilderness.
    • Take all the side drives like Firehole Canyon, Blacktail Plateau, etc. These are great in the evening but also a respite from crowded roads.
    • Have the kids do the Junior Ranger program- serves the same purpose as Agent P!
    • Don't miss the water parks :-) Go swimming in the Boiling River! I personally think the Firehole swim spot is too dangerous unless you're a good swimmer. And the parking is bad.
    • Take rain gear and keep going if it rains.
    But Not in Others!
    • Do take bear spray if you hike away from the popular trails, you can rent it at Canyon
    • Be very careful driving after dark because of the animals. There is no outdoor lighting, not even reflectors. Fortunately the sun sets late.
    • Be prepared for cold weather, esp. early morning. Mittens & caps are a good idea. Take a warm jacket and long pants.
    • No flip-flops or sandals, except for the shower! Keens would be okay, they have toe protection.
    Have a great time!
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2018 at 6:12 PM

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