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anderna5 Jan 18th, 2010 10:19 AM

Appropriate amount of time to spend in Yellowstone / Grand Teton?
My wife and I are going to Yellowstone and Grand Teton in August, potentially flying in and out of Jackson, WY. We'd go to Yellowstone first. I'm thinking that we'd spend 2 nights in Canyon Village (Dunraven), 2 nights at Old Faithful Lodge Cabins, and then 3 nights at Lake Yellowstone Hotel. Then we'd be off to Grand Teton for 3 nights, probably staying at Signal Mountain Lodge.

I've been doing a lot of reading but nothing that I have found really says what the optimal time in the park is. We like to hike and obviously want to see as much of the 'highlights' and as many animals as possible.

I'd appreciate any thoughts on that itinerary. Thanks in advance!

taitai Jan 18th, 2010 10:49 AM

I don't know that there is an answer to your question. We are planning a family trip to Yellowstone this August as well. I have read a great deal and there are those who spend two full weeks and say it isn't enough and those who do it all in 2 or 3 days. I really think it depends on how much time you have and how much you want to do. If you are just going to stay in the car, that is going to get old quickly and you will be bored soon. If you are doing lots of long hikes (overnight) and other activities, you could easily fill a week or more.

What I think will really help guide your decision is the availability of lodging. If you have not already, I would book that. See what you get and then go from there. EVERYONE says that lodging fills up very, very quickly and I believe that. However, I booked our lodging over Christmas and got all my first choices (Canyon, OFI) on the days I wanted.

Have fun planning!

spirobulldog Jan 18th, 2010 11:05 AM

I would stay a couple of 2 nights each at OFI, Lake Hotel, and Roosevelt Lodge. If you want to do a lot of hiking, then longer. We stayed there 4 days and 1 day in tetons. We planned on doing some hiking, and didn't do any. There is just that much there to see and do. We saw a ton of animals(mid-june). We stayed in cabin at Colter Village in tetons and enjoyed it. Do have a meal at OF Inn,even though you are staying at the OF Lodge. Roosevelt/Tower/Canyon area has a lot to do. I would spend an entire day just watching Geysers near OF. Don't miss Riverside and Castle Geysers. My wife could have spent 3 days just waiting on geysers to go, she loved it. We saw OF go 4 times and 4 or 5 others go. OF was our least favorite. I saw OF once about 6:30 in the morning. It was just me, one other person, and some buffalo. In the afternoon expect 1000 people. Most of the other geysers will have just a handful of people. OF goes for about 2 minutes, while some of the others go for 30 minutes. You can expect to wait on them from 1-4 hours, however. You will be amazed at how often you stop in the road and watch wildlife for an hour or so.

gail Jan 18th, 2010 11:09 AM

Sounds about right. If you can't find in-Park lodging, call often - there are usually vacancies closer to date as people cancel. If you can't, out of Park lodging is really OK - since there are small towns with hotels within sight of various entrances to Yellowstone. Not the same atmosphere, but often less expensive, more amenities - worked better for us travelling with teens who wanted evening TV, internet, more food options.

I disagree that driving in a car gets old fast - unless you really do not get out of the car (difficult to imagine). YNP road system is a large figure-8, and there is something different to get out and see every mile or so, even if you are not a hiker (we are not). Often things are a short walk (1/4-1/2 mile) down a nice path. We spent 8 days combining the 2 Parks and no one was bored.

spirobulldog Jan 18th, 2010 12:00 PM

Normally, I would agree that driving gets old, but this is not the case in Yellowstone. As I stated, we had planned several hikes, and never did any of them. just to much see.

Myer Jan 18th, 2010 02:44 PM

taitai did say that driving gets old if you stay in the car. I can see that.

After being in Utah twice and constantly being on the go, it's hard to imagine spending a lot of time getting nowhere.

However, it appears Yellowstone is different. I'm going early in August and it will be interesting to compare the trips.

spirobulldog Jan 18th, 2010 04:26 PM

If you see wildlife, as we did, you can stop every 15 minutes and get "caught up" in whatever the wildlife is doing. Of course, we got out of the car and watched(twice- hurried back to the car as bear was that close). The only real hiking we did was around the geysers(more like a walk)and a little around the Canyon area. I had a 3-6 mile hike planned for several days, but just never got to any of them. This is not the way I do National Park trips at all. I plan hikes and do them, normally.

Certainly, do get out of the car. And by all means, do some hiking, if you like to hike. I certainly wish I would have done the hikes that I intended. Mabye next time, this is one park that I certainly plan on going back to.

Myer and Anderna,
I do think going in August your experience might be different than mine. One thing I didn't do, that looked interesting, was taking a dip in Firehole River(there is another place up near Gardiner also). The flow of the river was to great and the park service had up "no swimming" signs. Don't know if that interests either of you, but not many places you get to take a dip in Hot Springs.

marymarra Jan 18th, 2010 05:21 PM

I will add to what others have said, I based our Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary on what I could get for lodging--I found them great on the phone--better than the web and very willing to play with dates and location; they will also reserve your dinner reservations and float trips, etc. right then.

Mary in D.C.

AlJ Jan 19th, 2010 04:28 AM

I think you have the days worked out. I agree with a previous poster that Roosevelt is worth a couple of nights. I'd consider moving the Lake Lodge nights up there. As far as driving time, Lake doesn't offer much over Canyon.

Roosevelt, on the other hand, is right at the start of Lamar Valley or at least the entrance. They have my favorite restaurant and a great front porch with rockers. What they don't have is bathrooms in the cabins. We treated it like camping with hard walls.

spirobulldog Jan 19th, 2010 10:16 AM

A lot of the cabins do have bathrooms @ Roosevelt. Ours did. I don't mind roughing, but my wife does. I would still spend one night @ Lake Hotel. But I do think Roosevelt location is better. Food is good at both.

beckydoodle Jan 23rd, 2010 07:27 AM

We have been on 6 trips to Yellowstone and GTNP at various times of the year. Over the years, we tend to spend more time in the Tetons and less in Yellowstone. But we always have at least 4-5 days in Yellowstone and maybe a week to 10 days in GTNP. We enjoy photography, so we can spend an entire day moving around different locations within the parks and taking pictures.

One of my favorite things about the parks is that you don't need to PLAN anything if you don't want to. Just get in the car, go into the park and see how your day fills up. It is always eventful and everytime we go we find new and different locations to enjoy.

tgjordan Feb 4th, 2010 12:06 PM

We are also planning a trip from California to Yellowstons and GTNP the first of July. These are very helpful comments. Trying to keep to a budget, any suggestions of where to stay in GTNP?
Thanks in advance.

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