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capekidnappers Sep 25th, 2016 01:44 AM

Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks
I posted a brief trip report re my recent stopovers in Seattle and San Francisco, to give feedback on the excellent suggestions for hostels (City Hostel Seattle and Fisherman's Wharf San Francisco) that I'd received from Fodorites. Now people who made great reading suggestions for the three national parks I visited have asked about a trip report on my travels there, so here goes. Four of us (three British chaps plus Kiwi me) traveled by rental car. We'd booked most places back in January, they are so popular.
Major standout was the wildlife, threatening grizzlies and mad moose notwithstanding. This is not something we have to content with in New Zealand.
1. Glacier National Park. Over-night in Sperry Lodge, basic digs (no electricity, no sound proofing) with great hospitality, food, history and landscape - but smelly pit toilets needed some tlc. The walk out over Gunsight Pass a trip highlight; glaciers, mountains, lakes, U-shaped valleys, waterfalls, flowers, AND grizzly bear and mad bull moose encounters. A big learning curve for this Kiwi.
Also spent time in the park at St Mary's Lodge (has several accommodation options, standard restaurant with efficient helpful staff, and pretty well equipped grocery store) and Swiftcurrent Inn (in 'heritage' cabins, 100 yard walk to toilets, good, basic restaurant and small store). Did day walks and one guided ranger walk. Saw bear, moose (no more scary close encounters) bighorn sheep, mountain goats and deer .
2. Yellowstone, stayed at Mammoth Hotel. I was in a hotel room, my friends in a cabin which they said was perfectly adequate. They have the only restaurant so you're a bit captured, but with a car can drive 30 minutes down to Gardiner township for more options. We did day tours by car to see the wildlife and thermal areas. All pretty stunning. Amazed at how silly people were getting so close to wildlife for photos, particularly the elk in Mammoth village, and bears along the road.
3. Grand Tetons - stayed at Colter Bay Village (log cabins, restaurant with staff perhaps getting a bit tired at the end of the season), then Teton Village - bigger snow resort with a choice of restaurants. Stayed at the Teton Hostel, rooms with own bathrooms, though quite noisy. Did some nice day walks. Cascade Canyon by Jenny Lake a highlight. We were at the end of the summer season so services/shuttles winding down but it was great to see the autumn colors (albeit some cold, snowy, rainy days).
Might head further south next time, to drier, desert climes.

emalloy Sep 25th, 2016 12:05 PM

Sounds like a fantastic trip. Glad you survived the grizzly and bull moose encounters.

Look to the parks in southern Utah for another trip. Arches and Canyonlands are my favorites, but Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Escalante, etc are great too. Not to miss Grand Canyon is nearby too.

Thanks for reporting back.

capekidnappers Sep 25th, 2016 12:59 PM

Thanks emalloy. I was looking at exploring around Taos, New Mexico - the Georgia O'Keefe landscapes, as an add on to this trip just done but it was all getting a bit much. Maybe next year, also adding in some of your thoughts above.

LexandNeek Sep 30th, 2016 03:37 PM

We recently took a trip to Yellowstone too. Sounds like our experience was similar to yours - I saw a mama grizzly walking through the woods with two cubs and photographers were following them at a distance of less than 25 yards. If she had really felt threatened, they would have been dead meat.

We also enjoyed dining in Gardiner. Fantastic burgers and beer at the Two Bit Saloon. We even made a video of our experience there:

If you're looking for something further south, I think emalloy has some great suggestions. And, of course, there is also Death Valley National Park.

elbegewa Oct 1st, 2016 02:21 PM

Tell us a bit about your threatening bear and mad moose encounters. They may be instructive to others.

Many people don't realize how deadly - and fast - bears (especially grizzlies), moose, and even elk can be. I've been in the woods for more years than I'd like and have had plenty of encounters with all of them, I *think* I'm aware of their *usual* behaviors, but I'm always cautious around them. A few people do get killed or maimed every year in the Yellowstone, Glacier, Banff regions.

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