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Only 1 day in Yellowstone, how can we make the most of it?

Only 1 day in Yellowstone, how can we make the most of it?

Aug 10th, 2009, 12:09 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 862
Only 1 day in Yellowstone, how can we make the most of it?

As part of a very quick road trip in a few weeks (click on my name if you want to see the full itinerary in another post), we will be leaving Buffalo Wyoming in the morning and entering the northeast entrance of Yellowstone via the Beartooth Highway. I assume this will take us most of the day. We're staying at Old Faithful Snow Lodge. We'll have the next day to explore Yellowstone. We're staying a 2nd night at Old Faithful Snow Lodge and then the next morning we're leaving early for Salt Lake City.

I have looked at numerous books but there is so much to see that I'm struggling to narrow it down for the limited time we have. Can anyone help?

BTW, we'll be traveling the first week of September so the road between Madison and Norris will be closed.

Pat_in_Mich is online now  
Aug 10th, 2009, 01:54 PM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 6
Hi Pat_in_Mich,

I just returned from a week trip in Yellowstone, and you are in for a treat! It was soooo relaxing and so beautiful, too. The Northeast Entrance route through the Lamar Valley and then down the Upper Loop's eastern side to Canyon is the prettiest route in the park, so that will be a wonderful introduction to the park. As you drive it, look for wildlife in the Lamar Valley, including bear, deer, and antelope.

When you come in at the entrance, be sure to pick up a copy of the Yellowstone Today newspaper (the person at the entrance should give it to you with a copy of the park map); there's an insert that has information on park ranger talks and walks. Since the Norris-Madison route will be closed, it will definitely take you all day to get over to the Old Faithful area. Is there any way you can change your reservation so that you're staying the first night in Canyon instead (but then keep your second night at Old Faithful)? I think this would be much better for you, as Canyon and Old Faithful are the top attractions in the park and also then you wouldn't have so much driving (also, there can be buffalo traffic jams in the park right now between Canyon and the Lake area as the buffalo are all out across the Hayden Valley during mating season, making loud grunting sounds I might add, and I wouldn't want to drive there at night after a full day of driving).

If you're able to switch your first night's stay, then on your second day you can either hike from the Canyon cabins or drive down to the Canyon overlooks and get a view of the Canyon, especially the Lower Falls. Then continue driving south down through the Hayden Valley, keeping an eye out for buffalo, and have an early lunch (or late breakfast, depending on how early you've risen and gotten going) at the Lake Yellowstone area at the Lake Hotel (the big yellow hotel), where you can dine inside overlooking the water.

From here, you will drive down to the West Thumb/Grant Village area and continue onto Old Faithful. If you have time you can stop and do the short walk around the hot spots at West Thumb/Grant Village. At Old Faithful, stop in at the visitor center and find out what time the next eruption is predicted for Old Faithful (it happens about every 90 minutes) and then also spend some time walking around the Geyser Hill boardwalk (just follow it past Old Faithful to the right). The ranger talks start to wind down by early September, but if you're there on or before Monday, September 7, there is a Geyser Hill Walk at 8:30 a.m. that I really enjoyed. It's 90 minutes long, so you could do that the next morning before checking out if you want to. (If you do that, then do the Mystic Falls hike in the afternoon before rather than walking around the Geyser Hill).

Please let me know if you have any other questions. Our Fodor's Compass Yellowstone book, just released this spring, is a great book for you to get. The pictures alone will inspire you and get you excited about your trip! But it's packed with a lot of good info, too.

Debbie_H is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 01:56 PM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 6
P.S. It's starting to get cooler there, so definitely pack a sweatshirt and jacket, and bring a poncho, too, in case it rains. It hailed on us one day last week for about 15 minutes.
Debbie_H is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 02:22 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,139
When exactly are you going? I agree with Debbie that it would be better to stay at Canyon the first night (or at Lake) unless they are not open at the time of your trip. Also,I like her itinerary since the only main area you won't be able to see is Mammoth. One caution -- either both or one of the roads you are planning to take (Beartooth Hwy and Dunraven Pass) have the possibility of being closed. We were there mid September one year and in short sleeves at Tower one day and two days later Dunraven Pass (between Tower and Canyon was closed because of snow). I'd definitely have a back up plan. It does make it harder with the Madison-Norris road being closed, but in your case it actually makes your choices easier since you only have a limited time to be there. There is lots to see between Old Faithful and Madison. I can't see where you are going from Yellowstone, but would definitely try to drive by the Tetons on your way to Salt Lake if that isn't in your plans.
maj is offline  
Aug 11th, 2009, 03:41 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 862
Thanks so much, this is exactly what I was looking for! I was able to change my reservation to stay the first night at Canyon so now we're all set.

Thanks again!
Pat_in_Mich is online now  
Aug 11th, 2009, 08:04 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 271
Hi Pat. I live in Bozeman and go to YNP a lot.

Be sure to go inside the historic Yellowstone Inn at Old Faithful. It's a must see. Also, guided ranger walks are available at Artist's Paint Pot as well. All four thermal features are there.

I believe that, right now, the best Visitor Center is at Canyon as it is much larger and has more varied stuff than the OF one right now (a new OF one is under construction and not due to be completed until 1010.) I'd also recommend the gift shops (for souvenirs, etc.) there right now over the ones at Old Faithful. The one's at OF surprisingly are much more limited at the present time. And the one in the Inn is downright cramped.

A unique experience for breakfast at OF is the soda fountain near the OF Inn. Get there at least 15 minutes before it opens because the line forms early. Breakfasts are good and hearty and served with much more character than the Snow Lodge. Good choice btw on the Snow Lodge and changing your first night to Canyon. That drive from Buffalo to Canyon will be a long but delightful one ;-)

Have fun!
doohickey is offline  
Aug 12th, 2009, 03:50 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 862
Thanks doohickey! That's very helpful information about the gift shop. We'll need to pick up something for DH and DS who don't get to join us on the trip.
Pat_in_Mich is online now  

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