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Itinerary help - Tetons, Yellowstone and Glacier

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Feb 25th, 2014, 05:29 PM
  #1
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Itinerary help - Tetons, Yellowstone and Glacier

I realize this itinerary is rushed but this is the only way we will be able to see the Tetons, Yellowstone and Glacier and would like to ask opinions on a few things, all reservations have been secured except Jackson. We are not hikers, but can walk a few miles if the terrain is fairly flat. I appreciate any help anyone can give, I wasn't expecting to even go to Jackson, but booked a cheap flight and one way car rental from Jackson to Kalispell. So this has thrown us for a loop on adding in Jackson, looks like we will only be able to enjoy the Tetons by driving by them on the way to Yellowstone. But even just being able to see them will be great. I really wish I would have added an extra day to the front of our trip but it is too late now as I have already booked our flight and the change fee is $200.

Wed, July 9th - Fly into Jackson Hole, 7:00 pm, dinner downtown Jackson, possibly the million dollar cowboy bar that evening for dinner if there is time? (overnight at the Pony Express or Elk Country Inn)

Thursday - Early morning spent downtown Jackson, lunch downtown or at Signal Mountain Lodge, Drive to yellowstone, along the way visit main scenic sports for the Tetons. Arrive through the south entrance to yellowstone, stop at any spots on the way to OFI, overnight at Old faithful inn east wing that night, tour visitor center that evening before 8 pm if time.

Friday - Tour the lower loop (or do you suggest doing one of the tours that are offered so that we can get a broad overview? Looking at the geysers and thermal spots are probably our interests the most so the 3 hr tour of the Firehole Basin Tour might be of interest to us, or should we just do the twilight evening tour?, stay overnight at the OFI, east wing

Saturday - Tour the upper loop, lamar valley, mammoth hot springs, should we do a stagecoach ride or would you suggest an evening yellow bus tour for wildlife leaving from Mammoth? Overnight in Gardiner, MT at Best Western - OR should we try and leave the park from the NE entrance and drive the Beartooth to Red Lodge and forget Gardiner?

Sunday - Drive to Bozeman, go to the Museum of the Rockies, drive through Butte, do the Mineral Museum there then overnight in Helena, MT at Holiday Inn

Monday - Take the "Last Chance Tour" of downtown Helena (11 am), lunch, then drive to Glacier National Park 3.5-4 hr drive, arrive in the Many Glacier area and stay overnight at the Swiftcurrent Motor inn cabins, drive down the road to the Many Glacier hotel to explore that evening

Tuesday - Explore the Many Glacier area, take a boat tour of Swiftcurrent lake in the morning or evening Red Bus Tour, overnight at the Rising Sun Motor Inn

Wednesday - Going to the Sun Rd, Logan Pass area, Lake McDonald, end up in Kalispell/Whitefish area, overnight at the La Quinta inn in Kalispell

Thursday - Fly home from Kalispell, 2:25 pm
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Feb 25th, 2014, 08:21 PM
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> Thursday - Early morning spent downtown Jackson,

One change I would make almost right off the bat -- if you're rushed to see the scenery that led to Jackson being a tourist town (and you are), then don't spend even one minute visiting stuff in the tourist town. Get to the scenery!! Yes, it's nice to mosey around these towns IF YOU HAVE THE TIME TO DO SO. But the simple fact is -- YOU DON'T!
As soon as you can, leave for Grand Teton NP, stopping at as many viewpoints as you have time for. Any time you have left over after doing so, use for visiting Yellowstone. NOTHING in Jackson is worth visiting if it means lost time in either national park.
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Feb 26th, 2014, 04:15 AM
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The airport is between Jackson and The Entrance to The Tetons. The entire area is "Jackson Hole". I wouldn't mess with going to Jackson at all. Spend the night at Jackson Lake Lodge, Colter Village, Signal Mountain, or even Dornan's.

Since you don't want to hike, then you could see a few of the viewpoints and perhaps take a boat tour of Jackson Lake or Jenny Lake. You could even do a float of the Snake River(they do a breakfast or morning tour). Plus, you will be about 30 minutes closer to Yellowstone. I agree with PaulRabe, skip Jackson.
I wouldn't stop to many places before Old Faithful(not that interesting).

I would NOT do one of the tours, go on you own.
The best geysers are around Old Faithful. Hopefully you will have caught it going the day before already. First thing check at visitor center for "predicted eruption times". They are able to predict Old Faithful within about 5 minutes, Daisy Geyser within abou 2+/- hours, Castle 4+/- hours, Riverside 2 +/-hour. Of course see OF, but I really like Castle and Riverside. You may get lucky and see a couple of the ones they don't predict go as well. I would get up early and base my morning on when Castle and Riverside are going to erupt. Castle only goes twice a day(normally). If they are going to go that afternoon, then go see some other thermal features(mudpots, pools, other geysers). Otherwise, do that in the morning. You may even have an idea the night before because Castle goes every 13 hours--ish.

The other "main" things I would see in Yellowstone would be Canyon Area, Hayden and Lamar Valleys. If I skipped anything it would be Mammoth(lots of elk there though). Have a meal in Lake Hotel.
Wildlife is best seen dusk and dawn. Forget sleep-get up early and stay up late.

Glacier sounds fine. There is a little lake by where you are staying that you are likely to see Moose. I wouldn't walk the half mile unless I had bear spray. We stopped counting the number of bears we had seen.

Not exactly super flat but Hidden Lake at Logan Pass on the Going to the Sun Road is a great easy short hike. Lots of people, wouldn't have to have bear spray there. Would take you probably 3 hours at the most.
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Feb 26th, 2014, 11:03 AM
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Agree with the others I don't find Jackson to be that interesting - just another tourist town. Get to the park and enjoy the time you have there. The Jenny Lake boat is a good suggestion. The trail around Jenny Lake is pretty easy if you want to try a short hike.
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Feb 26th, 2014, 01:34 PM
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Thanks everyone. I am kicking myself for not adding that extra day. Does anyone suggest taking off one of my days at Glacier to add to yellowstone if I can get lodging?
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Feb 26th, 2014, 02:57 PM
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Not yet been to Glacier but I agree with the crowd about Jackson. Stayed at the Jackson Lake Lodge and went on horseback for an early morning breakfast trail ride arranged at the Lodge. If you can, do. We spent a hot second in the town and that was really enough. I envy you the wonderful experiences you are going to have.
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Feb 27th, 2014, 11:50 AM
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I like Glacier better than the Tetons. Glacier is prettier than Yellowstone and just as pretty as the Tetons.

Tetons= Very Scenic and some wildlife

Glacier=Very Scenic and wildlife that you might not see at Yelowstone

Yellowstone=Somewhat Scenic, Thermal Features, Wildlife Galore.

Each place is special in it's on way.

I say Skip Jackson, Skip Helena. The more time you can spend in each of the 3 parks, the better. I wouldn't take anything from Glacier. We spend 4.5 days there this past July and wish we could have stayed more.

Yellowstone and Tetons might be better off doing some hiking, boat tour, horse riding, etc, to really see it. Of course, that is good in Yellowstone too, but really you can see so much with very little effort in Yellowstone. I've been to nearly all of the National Park in the lower 48. Yellowstone is a "complete park". Love it.
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Feb 27th, 2014, 07:19 PM
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I've been to Yellowstone & Grand Tetons (taking my daughter and granddaughter there this summer) and to Glacier twice.

Yellowstone is an attraction park (geysers, thermal stuff, etc) and really not particularly scenic.

Grand Tetons are very scenic. Mormon Row Barns, Oxbow Bend and this summer Schwabacher Landing will reopen. Everything with the Tetons in the background.

Both have some wildlife but not loads.

Glacier has it all but other than some on Going to the Sun Road you have to do a bit of work for the really great scenery.

The Many Glacier area has grizzlies, moose and deer (also some mountain goats). All quite easy to see. The best scenery is on the Iceberg Lake and Grinnell Glacier hikes.

At Logan Pass on GTTS Rd you have mountain goats, Hidden Lake Overlook and Highline trail hikes. Also, St Mary and Virginia Falls.

Glacier has a fair number of waterfalls but none of those very large falls like Lower Yellowstone Falls.

You can see photos of these trips at:
www.travelwalks.com
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Feb 28th, 2014, 06:33 AM
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"Both have some wildlife but not loads"

I haven't been anywhere with 1/4 the wildlife as Yellowstone. Perhaps Myer was referring to Bears, Moose, and Mountain Goats. We saw several moose in Yellowstone and Tetons. Didn't see any moose in Glacier. Saw more bears in Glacier, but did see plenty in Yellowstone too. Now if you are counting elk, bison, deer,pronhorn, and coyotte as wildlife, then to me Yellowstone has ton's of wildlife.
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Feb 28th, 2014, 07:47 AM
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spiro,
Ok. You win.

I did see a moose, a couple of bears and loads of bison as well as a couple of deer in Yellowstone.

But it just felt like in Glacier they were more predictable.

Bears along Many Glacier Road. Deer and moose the last few hours of the day at Fishercap Lake. Mountain goats behind Logan Pass visitors center.

Other than Hayden and Lamar for bison, are there predictable areas in Yellowstone or Grand Tetons for bears, moose and deer or other larger types?

I'm taking my daughter and granddaughter in late July.
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Feb 28th, 2014, 08:03 AM
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When you guys say we won't see the great vista without hiking in Many Glacier, is it at all possible to see some of this without hiking the entire way, perhaps this is a stupid question but I am terrified of running into a bear and feel like the further out we get the more chances. Also, not sure how much my Mom will be able to go but I know I can convince her to do a relatively flat couple of miles.

Also, the Helen stop is really only to have a way to spend the night somewhere to break up the trip to Glacier from leaving the NE entrance of Yellowstone. But we could certainly leave it out, just think that my dad being a big minerals guy will enjoy the museums.
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Feb 28th, 2014, 08:53 AM
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The mining museum in Butte is a great museum. If you stay in Helena, look at the Holiday Inn downtown and the Silver Star Best Western (also downtown).

Some food and drink suggestions:

Lewis & Clark Brewery and Blackfoot Brewery are good stops for local beer.

Park Avenue Bakery for bread and desserts.

Big Dipper for wonderful homemade ice cream.

Luccas for great Italian.

Toi's Thai for Thai (duh)
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Feb 28th, 2014, 10:48 AM
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Thanks Kureiff, already have reservations for the Holiday Inn in Helena! Do you suggest any good steak places there that aren't outrageously priced?
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Feb 28th, 2014, 11:11 AM
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In Glacier.

On Going to the Sun Road. Directly behind the visitors center is the start of the Hidden Lake Overlook hike. While it's all very scenic, even the first couple of hundred yards looking in all directions is spectacular.

Also, I've seen a group of mountain goats right there putting on a show.

In Many Glacier, the Grinnell Glacier hike starts with two boat rides and is quite steep and tough on the knees.

The Iceberg Lake hike is a little hilly right at the start but then becomes a nice long walk in the park. You can turn around at any point.

St Mary Falls is very nice but just about all of the hike is in the woods.

About bears. It's possible to see bears in Many Glacier along the road. In general, bears are shy and their main interest is eating berries. It's possible to see them on a hike but not too often. Your supposed to go in groups and make noise when you can't see the trail in front of you.

At the end of the parking lot at Swiftcurrent Motor Inn is the start of the Swiftcurrent Pass trail. After the first 10 minutes of this level trail there's a sign to the left for Fishercap Lake. That's the place to go the last couple of hours before sunset. That lake is very shallow and moose are often walking across picking up food from the bottom. Also, I've seen deer along the shore quite a few times.
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Feb 28th, 2014, 12:04 PM
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Buy bear spray, just in case. There are several "Ranger-led" hikes that you will be with several people. These hikes generally go slower too. I'm pretty sure they do one to Hidden Lake. If not, there are so many people on the trail, that you will be safe as possibly can be. As Myer states-This is near Logan Pass. Fairly likely that you will see Mountain Goats and even Bighorn Sheep in this area or even in the parking lot.

Just driving the road in Glacier is super scenic. The boat rides there are very scenic. A couple of them offer very very short hikes(more what I would consider a walk-meaning about 15 minutes and super easy). We did every boat with the exception of Lake McDonald. You might want to take a Red Bus Tour. If you have passport, consider taking the one that goes over the border and does Afternoon Tea on the Canadian side. That is very scenic too.

Glacier, Tetons, and Yellowstone are all totally awesome. Your going to be happy in all 3 places. Each one is different and fantastic in its own way.

Here are some good short hikes in Glacier-
http://www.hikinginglacier.com/glaci...easy-hikes.htm

Trick falls is interesting(read about it to find out why). You can see this from one of the Boat tours. The way we did this was board a Red Bus from Glacier Park Lodge, then board the boat at Two Medicine. Then you take a short walk to the falls before getting back on the boat. I think the whole tour was about 4 hours, but is slow-paced. We enjoyed it. Two Medicine is scenic, but it isn't that scenic around Glacier Park Lodge. The Lodge itself is stunning. Perhaps have breakfast there, then do the tour. The more time you can spend on the GTSR and Many Glacier area, the better as that is where the main areas are.

Fisher Gap Lake that Myer mentioned is guaranteed for a moose sighting, but seems your odds are very high of seeing one. Personally, I would have bear spray, even though it is a very short walk to the lake. We didn't see a bear hiking, but lost count of how many bears we had seen withing a 5 mile radius of this area.

We saw a lot of Bison around Old Faithful area. Elk seem to always be around Mammoth area(right on the lawn near the lodging/dining area).

You can see a bear anywhere in the parks. In Yellowstone more often in June and then by August slimmer chances(they move to higher elevation for food).

I think your plan is pretty good. I would just suggest spending as much time in the parks as you can and skip the city areas. We spent 4.5 days in Glacier, 2 days in Tetons, 3 days in Yellowstone. I could spend weeks in any of them.
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Feb 28th, 2014, 12:34 PM
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I don't like steak very much so I don't have good recommendations. Maybe the Silver Star Steakhouse.

If you want to drive a little out of town, the York Bar has great burgers.
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Feb 28th, 2014, 12:58 PM
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Myer - where did you see the information about Schwabacher Landing reopening this summer? I'll be returning late this summer and will definitly plan to visit. We were there in 2013 and it was still closed.
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Feb 28th, 2014, 01:00 PM
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Myer -- I've just now seen your other post about Schwabacher's Landing!!! I'm sooo excited!!
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Feb 28th, 2014, 03:03 PM
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Wow, I am so impressed with all of your travel knowledge and willingness to help! Thanks everyone
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Feb 28th, 2014, 03:19 PM
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jill-h,
I called about another topic and then asked why Schwabacher Landing wasn't open.

They said it will be open this summer.
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