First trip to Yellowstone

Old Jan 8th, 2007, 10:28 AM
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First trip to Yellowstone

My husband and I are taking our first trip to the Yellowstone/Grand Teton area this summer. I was wondering if it is best to book a hotel and stay in the same place the entire time or to drive around and stay somewhere different everynight depending on where you are? In other words, already have reservations or book somewhere when I get there? Also, how close together are Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons? What other sites should we see? Any info is helpful. Thanks!
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Old Jan 8th, 2007, 10:42 AM
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Let me be the first to say that you will love Yellowstone and Grand Tetons. I guess that I will also be the first to say that if you are planning on staying anywhere close to the two parks, you MUST make reservations...NOW. In fact, you may be too late for some locations in Yellowstone. Check with for reservations within the park and search Fodors for the many posts from past visitors. Enjoy your trip!
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Old Jan 8th, 2007, 11:32 AM
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Travel times are more than you would think, especially since you will get stuck in "animal jams" where traffic will not move for a while because a herd of bison choose to block the road and no one wants to argue with them - so miles.

Obviously consult a map, but GTNP is a rather thin Park south of YNP, with Jackson being at the southern end of GTNP. This is a good place to fly into and OK place to stay to see GTNP if not staying in the Park.

Continguous to GTNP onthe northern side is Yellowstone. It has roads in a "figure 8" arrangement. There is no real town at southern end (by GTNP), western side has West Yellowstone, and northern side Gardiner (both Montana).

What else to see - depends on time allotted. We spent about 10 days for both Parks and that was fine without other side trips.
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Old Jan 8th, 2007, 12:07 PM
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I agree - make reservations asap. If you wait until you get there, you'll be lucky to find a place in Idaho to stay. As mentioned, the parks are contiguous so a lot of people, including us, elect to stay in one and visit both - I wouldn't want to change lodgings very much. If you stay outside the parks as in Jackson Hole, it can add quite a bit of time in getting to Yellowstone, but you could still do a lot during the day. Inside the parks, your lodging options are somewhat limited. We've stayed at both the Jackson Lake Lodge and Jenny Lake Lodge (both in GTNP) - the latter is a little more expensive, but known for its more peaceful setting and fantastic food. The former has incredible views from rooms on the back side. We've been there for as much as 10 days at a time and had no problems finding new things to do. And yes, the "animal jams" can be extensive, so don't judge travel time by miles.
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Old Jan 8th, 2007, 12:15 PM
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My DH and I stayed at the Old Faithful Lodge Cabins. Super basic...not even a tv. But we like to hike and are very active so we don't care what our room is like. It was very small, but clean. If you stay there, make sure to get a cabin with a bathroom. The best thing was it's convenience. But if your not budget and simple, don't even think about it.
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Old Jan 8th, 2007, 05:38 PM
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ideally you would stay a few days at the old faithful area and explore the bottom loop of yellowstone; then stay at the mammoth area and do the top of the loop. if not grab a room in west yellowstone. we stayed at the days inn and it was fine. and you have more dining options staying outside of the park.
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Old Jan 9th, 2007, 03:40 AM
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While in-Park accomodations will need to be booked ASAP, we did not decide on travel dates and plans for August 2005 until April 2005 and found plenty of lodging options in Jackson, West Yellowstone and Gardiner.
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Old Jan 9th, 2007, 05:51 AM
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Places to stay in the Park may be hard to get this late. For the Grand Teton NP Jackson is your best bet. Its to far away from YS. You can find good places to stay at either of the three Yellowstone gateways, Gardiner, Cooke City or West Yellowstone. If time permits approach or depart the Yellowstone via the Bear Tooth Highway (US-212), well worth the drive over the Top of the World. Drive the Lamar Valley late evening or early morning, great for wildlife, its also the home of several of the YS wolf packs.
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 07:07 PM
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If you will be near Bozeman, Montana, look into "The Howlers Inn" for a unique experience. They have a pack of six WOLVES, right there, in a 13-acre enclosed area right outside the B&B, and you can go to sleep at night with the "cooing" sounds of the pack! (We found they did not howl so much as perhaps gently start to coo a few times during the night, and all join in for a few minutes, as if one perhaps had had a bad dream and the rest told him/her "Go back to sleep. It's okay.")

Something to look into.
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Old Feb 10th, 2007, 09:08 AM
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The Bear Tooth Highway (US-212)is an awesome drive. Make sure that you don't get a late start, though, as you do not want to be descending after dark.
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Old Feb 10th, 2007, 10:10 AM
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I agree with those who say it's too far to base yourself in Jackson or even in GTNP for visiting Yellowstone. You'll spend too much of each day driving back and forth. And for best wildlife viewing and fewest people, you want to be out very early and also be able to hang around until dusk.

So much depends on how many days you have and what you want to see/do. We love day hiking and viewing wildlife. We spent a couple of nights at Flagg Ranch just outside the northern end of GTNP. Used that as our base for seeing the Tetons.

For Yellowstone we spent 3 nights in the cabins in Mammouth and 3 in the lodge at Roosevelt. This made it easy for us to travel whichever part of the figure 8 we wanted to.

Have a great trip. You're going to 2 beautiful parks and Yellowstone is truly awesome.. Of all the Parks we've been to I think it's my favorite just for the variety of scenery and abundance of wildlfe.
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