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Jackson, Grand Tetons and Yellowstone in Oct. Itinerary Help

Jackson, Grand Tetons and Yellowstone in Oct. Itinerary Help

Old Jul 28th, 2011, 05:54 AM
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Jackson, Grand Tetons and Yellowstone in Oct. Itinerary Help

I had this as part of another thread, but decided since we've decided on WY, I'd post this request separately. My husband and I are going to the Jackson Hole area the first week of October. I believe we are going to fly in and out of Idaho Falls, Oct. 1-8, so we will essentially have 6 days to fill. We are thinking of spending all our time in Jackson/GT or 4 days in Jackson/GT (1 day in town/3 in GT, with flex in the evenings) and 2 days in Yellowstone? Perhaps the lower 8 as I believe they call it? We enjoy hiking (casual hikers who do so frequently, but by no means expert!), biking, and if available still at that time of year, we would definitely consider a rafting trip - though I am guessing our options are seriously limited at this time of year. Also, the last day of the aerial tram is Oct. 2. Is it worth trying to do this? I haven't looked into the rafting or tram much at this point. I recognize we will only begin to make a dent in the spectacular offerings of the area, but one thing I've learned in my travels is that sometimes by doing everything, you see and enjoy nothing. Thanks in advance for any advice!
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Old Jul 28th, 2011, 11:27 AM
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One way to break up your six days would be 3 days in Yellowstone (2 seeing different geysers, 1 at the canyon), 2 days at Grand Teton (1 day each at Colter Bay and Jenny Lake), and one day in Jackson.
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Old Jul 28th, 2011, 11:58 AM
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The problem with Yellowstone is what what lodging will be open for your dates in October and can you get reservation! http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisi...CP_JUMP_138397

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Old Jul 28th, 2011, 12:24 PM
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Thanks, Utahtea, we are looking at three that remain open to my knowledge, including Old Faithful Inn and Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth (if we go there). We are also considering staying in West Yellowstone, MT is an option too, perhaps? We will have to make sure we can get a reservation! Any other ideas?
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Old Jul 28th, 2011, 12:29 PM
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If you can't get lodging at Old Faithful area then West Yellowstone is a great location for seeing all the different areas of the park.

We've never been so late in the year so don't know what the weather conditions would be like. We've been in early September and had very mild weather. It did snow up on the higher elevations one night but then the rest of the trip was pretty nice.

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Old Jul 29th, 2011, 07:38 AM
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Availability exists at Old Faithful Inn, I'm happy to report, so I think we will stay there. Still trying to plan the details. Thanks ahead of time for further "food for thought" on how to split the trip!
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Old Jul 29th, 2011, 07:39 AM
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Hi again -
If you haven't been to Yellowstone in the past, I definitely agree you should allocate a few days to it. Depending on your priorities, you could do something like this:
Oct 1 - fly to Idaho Falls - drive to Jackson
Oct 2- 4 full days/nights in GT/Jackson
Oct 5 - get up and head up to Yellowstone, spending most of the day in Yellowstone and hotel either in YNP or in West Yellowtone.
Oct 6-7 2 more full days in Yellowstone
Oct 8 - drive from West Yellowstone to Idaho Falls and fly home (it is just over 2 hours from West yellowstone to Idaho Falls).

Both parks offer incredible hiking or biking. GT is a park with a jaw dropping postcard views from the parameter and many people visit the Lodges or marina villages at Colter Bay/Jenny lake they are tiny so don't expect much) and perhaps take a boat ride or short hike which can be done in one day. IMO,to really get into the park, you have to get on foot and hike which it sounds like you want to do.

I highly recommend hiking Cascade Canyon. A lot of people hike the first mile to Inspiration Point and turn back but if you keep going, it levels out in the lower canyon and is a beautiful hike and you can go as far or not as you want. You can find tons of hiking maps/books once you get there or in my case, I prefer to plan ahead as day hikes are usually our favorite thing and I tend to obsess over which hikes to do on limited time!

IME, you don't need a full day in Jackson. It is cute but small and you can walk around at night if you stay there. You could combine a day exploring Jackson with going up the tram in Teton village for example. The tram is nice (only 15 min or less I recall) - we rode it up and then did a short hike from the top and looked out across the range and dreamed about future back-backing trips we could do! Can be a bit windy/dry up top as you are primarily above the tree line and I wouldn't lose sleep if you didn't do it (the views are great though).

Yellowstone, on the other hand, is a park that is more easily digestible/seen without having to get all that far from the car. It is set up so you can toodle around in the car, pull over at trail heads or short walks to vistas/sights, and walk around, then back in the car to the next waterfall, bison traffic jam, geyser, etc. Of course, getting off the beaten path on day hikes is even better but I've spent countless days leisurely driving through Yellowstone, doing a hike if we feel like, or just doing the easy walk to a beautiful view of the Upper/Lower falls or lakes, etc. In Oct you won't have any crowds but you will have glorious golden aspens and meadows, crystal rivers, and if you are lucky, lots of animal sightings... Oh, I miss it so much!

West Yellowstone is a fine place to stay if you can't get in park lodging, especially if you need to drive to Idaho falls for your flights. It is a typical "border" tourist town with lots of trinkets and basic motels/pizza parlors/etc. There is a bear "discovery center" that I actually really enjoy as they take "problem" brown bears (aka grizzlies) and keep them there along with some wolves in a very humane and natural environment with a really well done exhibits, etc. Well worth seeing IMO if you enjoy wildlife.

Finally, your point on the "lower figure 8" is well taken. If you have time, the upper figure 8 loop is very nice but whenever I took new visitors, I always focused on the lower loop as it has the most sights (paintpots/geysers, Yellowstone Lake, Upper/Lower Falls, etc etc) and also the drive between that loop and West Yellowstone as it follows the river and is beautiful.
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Old Jul 29th, 2011, 08:13 AM
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Nor_Cal Jo - This is GREAT! Looks like we will be able to stay in Yellowstone, so I'm glad. Your day splits sound much like what we were thinking and thanks for the recs! Here's the deal - if we fly into Idaho Falls we would get in around 130-2 pm. The issue is the return flight is that all the flights leave early, i.e. 730, perhaps because we are making our way back to Upstate NY. So - we were considering whether we might do the trip in reverse of our original plan and go ahead and drive to Yellowstone Day 1 and doing that piece first, then making our way back down to JacksonGT. Then, we could either get up really early to get to ID Falls in time for a 730 return flight or simply spend the last night in ID Falls (enjoying a full day in Jackson/GT). I THINK it is a little bit further from Yellowstone to ID Falls then Jackson to ID Falls, which based on early return flight times is why we were considering the reverse trip. I hope this is not too confusing and I don't mean to over think it - I am just trying to avoid issues of catching flights on the return!
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Old Aug 1st, 2011, 05:30 AM
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We are now flying in and out of Jackson directly so this makes things much easier. We will have more flexibility with our departure, avoiding the mess discussed above. Thanks for the suggestions so far and any further itinerary thoughts are welcome. Are there other specific hikes to suggest in GTNP? I, too, would like to have a little planning under my belt in this regard.
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Old Aug 1st, 2011, 06:02 AM
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Whether one spends a full day in Jackson WY or not in my experience depends on how far one wants to delve into the attractions here. The National Museum of Wildlife Art is excellent and well worth a couple hours visit. In season, the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum has a decent collection of artifacts and such, plus they give walking tours of the town. Both could take an hour each. Then, there are lots of galleries, shops, and eateries to explore on one's own which could take up a few more hours.
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Old Aug 4th, 2011, 07:08 AM
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I'm sure we will time in Jackson. I've been reviewing other threads where people discuss places to eat etc. I'm pleased many of the same places show up again and again - makes it a bit easier to choose!
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Old Aug 7th, 2011, 05:29 PM
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Would love to hear any suggestions on favorite day hikes in GTNP or the lower 8 at Yellowstone if anyone's willing to share. Love hearing things like the suggestion above that one might be tempted to stop at Inspiration Point at Cascade Canyon, but it's worth a little further hike...things one might not immediately realize from a trail map. Thanks!
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Old Aug 7th, 2011, 05:48 PM
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A car service will be very expensive- probaly twice as much asrenting a car. For reliable services in Phill check the airport website. They might even have a group shuttle to NYC.
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Old Aug 7th, 2011, 05:52 PM
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I think you might have posted one the wrong thread!
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Old Aug 8th, 2011, 04:09 PM
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Hiking all the geyser areas in the lower "8" can take quite a while, if you find you still have time you might want to see if you can time an eruption and hike the 5 miles round trip to Lone Star Geyser. This is pretty awesome and usually there are only a dozen or so people there so you pretty much have it to yourselves.

If you feel like doing something different in Yellowstone then Mystic Falls Trail was a nice forest hike to a beautiful waterfall.

In the Grand Tetons we took the Jenny Lake boat shuttle to hike Cascade Canyon and hiked to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. Inspiration Point is a hard climb for an old person...LOL! You don't have to take the shuttle boat, there is a path to walk around the lake to these spots, but we didn't have the time or energy to do both and the boat ride was pretty cool!

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Old Aug 9th, 2011, 05:09 AM
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Will definitely second the Jenny Lake hike heading up into Cascade Canyon via Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. If I had time for only one hike in GTNP, that would be it.

There are some pleasant and fairly easy trails in the Colter Bay part of GTNP park: the Lakeshore Trail, which has nice viewspots of the mountains across the lake; and the Swan Lake/Heron Pond loop section of the larger Hermitage Point Trail, which goes past these two bodies of water. While here, I also visited the Native American artifacts museum and took a lake cruise.
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Old Aug 9th, 2011, 08:36 AM
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On a related note, we are renting a car. Wise to rent a car with 4WD or is a standard or full size option enough for the driving one typically does between Jackson, GTNP and Yellowstone?
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Old Aug 9th, 2011, 10:28 AM
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The only benefit would be if there is snow but 4WD doesn't guarantee safety especially if you hit a patch of ice. You don't need 4WD for any of the roads in the Yellowstone or GTNP area. Everything is paved for the major portions of the parks and the roads between. Most rental cars don't allow you do go off road in their 4 wheel drive anyways!

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Old Aug 9th, 2011, 11:47 AM
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Thanks! I actually thought that would be the answer, but thought I'd make sure. Appreciate your help!
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Old Aug 9th, 2011, 12:10 PM
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One of our favorite YNP hikes starts at Artist's Point at Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Hike along the south rim to Uncle Tom's Trail. Beautiful views of the canyon and waterfall all along the way. Then take the Clear Lake Trail to the Lily Pond Trail and back to Artist's Point. On the Clear Lake Trail, you can walk right up to bubbling and steaming pots, and if lucky you could see moose at the lily pond. The hike is 4 miles roundtrip and is level.
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