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A few questions about going to Yellowstone

Old Apr 1st, 2015, 06:54 PM
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A few questions about going to Yellowstone

Hello,

My girlfriend and I are planning to go to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and had a few questions if anyone can help us!

1) What's the best place to fly into (if we want to minimize both flight price and driving distance to Yellowstone) ? Here's a quick breakdown of a few options we're considering, all based on the same travel dates and from the airport to the center of Yellowstone:

Salt Lake City: ~$500, 5 hour drive, ~$300 car rental
Billings: ~$500, 3 hour drive, ~$200 car rental
Cody: ~$600, 2 hour drive, ~$600 car rental
Bozeman: ~$500, 2 hour drive, ~$650 car rental

...so it really seems like Billings is the obvious choice. Am I missing something here?

2) When's the best time to go? We want to go when it has as few people as possible, but also not freezing. Right now we're thinking early or mid June, is that a good idea? We will be camping, but we have warm sleeping bags.

3) Is the weather in the Tetons significantly different than in Yellowstone?

4) What do you suggest is a good way to divide up our time (~8 days) between Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons? We'd like to do backcountry camping for about 2 days, but also try and get around and see all the main things, and do a couple day hikes.

And, as usual, what are the "must see" things? Honestly, at this point, we've compounded a pretty hefty list of things to do/see, so it's really more of what we need to choose not to do. But what are the ones we can't miss? (Old faithful, YS Grand Canyon, etc?)

Thanks!
Yellastooooone is offline  
Old Apr 1st, 2015, 07:14 PM
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> early or mid June
> We'd like to do backcountry camping

Spring comes VERY late to this area, so you will find most back country trails still have a lot of snow. The main roads will all be open (unless there's a REALLY unusual snowfall) and (pretty much) all facilities will be open
http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/ocd_locale.htm
but this will be WELL before major crowds are there.

Your best bet (as always) is to check with the rangers when you get there; they'll let you know which trails and back country sites are the best for your equipment and experience.

> not freezing
> we have warm sleeping bags
You'll need them. I can pretty much guarantee that at least some nights will be below freezing.

> Is the weather in the Tetons significantly different than in Yellowstone?
Not significantly.

> What do you suggest is a good way to divide up our time (~8 days)
> between Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons?

MOST people (myself included) view Yellowstone as the place to spend more time, simply because the concentration of geothermal features there are (literally) unique. There are some who view the alpine beauty of the Tetons to be more attractive, however. Since you'll be there when alpine hiking will be almost impossible, this advantage for the Tetons will be almost negated. I thus strongly suggest at least a split of six vs two days.

> what are the "must see" things?
> what are the ones we can't miss?

I don't know -- the entire park? :^)
Seriously, drive both the upper and lower loop roads, stopping at all the major sites as you have time. Don't try to keep a schedule, because a "bear jam" may delay you for an hour or so.


BTW, during my 53 years of travels, I've gone to 58 national parks (yes, PARKS -- I've also been to over 200 areas administered by the NPS). I have a top three all-time favorites, but if you put a gun to my head and demand I name ONLY ONE, I'll go with Yellowstone.
PaulRabe is offline  
Old Apr 1st, 2015, 07:31 PM
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Thank you so much for your incredibly helpful reply!
Yellastooooone is offline  
Old Apr 1st, 2015, 09:06 PM
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We went to Grand Teton and Yellowstone in June 2010. There was still snow on the ground in several places, and it was definitely cold at night. Lodging in parts of the park was still closed, too. But there weren't tons of people, and we had a great time. Here's a link to my trip report, if you're interested.
http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...d-gorgeous.cfm

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Old Apr 2nd, 2015, 06:18 AM
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I was in fact in Yellowstone at the very beginning of August some years ago, and we woke up with a couple of inches of snow on the tent!
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Old Apr 2nd, 2015, 10:16 AM
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September and October are good months to go, when the parks are beautiful with fall colors but blissfully uncrowded. The only problem is that some park lodges start to close in late Sept/early Oct. If you want to stay inside the parks, which I would recommend, you should check the NP website to see the calendar of closings.

Snow is possible - I had a couple of days of snow in early Oct. a few years ago, then it warmed up to 70 the day I left. I wouldn't let the possibility of snow deter you from going at that time, b/c you'll get to see fall and winter all at once and both seasons are beautiful.

I'd split it up 5 Yellowstone/3 GTNP, b/c Yellowstone is larger. That way you can appreciate both. IMO, GTNP is worth more time, but if you have only 8 days, that's how I'd do it.
panecott is offline  
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