SLC to Yellowstone itinerary questions..

Old Jan 4th, 2009, 08:08 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 326
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
SLC to Yellowstone itinerary questions..

I'm planning a quick trip at the end of June. The trip was initially to meet friends in Jackson Hole, but now that I'm planning on going, the itinerary is becoming real.

So, the initial plan is:

Day 1 - evening arrival in SLC.
Day 2 - drive SLC to Yellowstone.
Day 3 - Yellowstone
Day 4 - Yellowstone and Jackson Hole
Day 5 - Return to SLC for evening flight out.

I know that this is just a taster portion of Yellowstone and I'm hoping that in 2010 I can return with my family for a 10 day to 2 week trip.... But with time constraints this year, it's just a long weekend.

I'm planning to fly into SLC instead of a closer airport because of the cost differential; and my 10 year old (who will be with me) has a strong desire to see Craters of the Moon "on the way" to Yellowstone.

I'm planning on spending night 1 at a SLC airport hotel. Any suggestions? And I'll need a rental car... given I'm driving to Yellowstone, can I get an economy car or do I need something more powerful/bigger?

So, I've map-quested the trip from SLC to the Canyon Lodge in Yellowstone, making a side trip to Craters of the Moon. It makes for a really long day of driving, but it looks do-able. For folks who've actually driven on these roads, does it seem possible? Mapquest says a total drive of approximately 8 1/2 hours.... (4 hours, 8 minutes to Craters of the Moon, 4 hours 19 minutes from there to Canyon Lodge) does that seem right?

My reservation for the second night is at Canyon Lodge, as I was hoping to somewhat follow a one day itinerary from fellow Fodorite AIJ at his website.... with a little adaptation as I'll have a 10 year old who will be wanting to get out and move around at this point.

The third night the reservation is at Old Faithful Inn.
Day 4 would be visiting the Old Faithful geyser area and then driving to Jackson...

Any thoughts on a Jackson hotel? They seem fairly expensive and I'm wondering if I should wait to book or if I should book now...

The last day is a morning in Jackson then driving back to SLC for a night flight home.

Any suggestions about the lodging? Reliability of the mapquest time estimates? Activities with a 10 year old?

thank you!

dreaming is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2009, 09:50 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,695
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi dreaming,

Honestly and frankly, I think this is not a good idea. You are spending 3 days traveling in order to spend only 2 days in Yellowstone and Jackson.

If you must do this, spend the money to fly into Jackson. You are already spending a lot of money on airfare, car rental, gas, park entrance fees.....add it all up.

You should book a motel in Jackson now. Summer is peak season and the last rooms available go for much more.

No, you don't need anything more than a standard car to drive to Yellowstone.

There are easier places to go for long weekends.....
Dayle is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2009, 10:06 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,695
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
SP - you might tempt your son into giving up Craters of the Moon (LONG detour) in order to see the "Mud Volcano" and the "Dragon's Mouth" in Yellowstone. They are very cool and might appeal!
Dayle is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2009, 10:21 AM
  #4  
maj
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,139
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I totally agree with Dayle. I know many people who have flown into SLC to save money -- once. After that, they flew into Jackson or Billings.

The Buckrail Lodge in Jackson is a great place to stay and usually reasonable -- but small and may be hard to get a room. With AAA we paid around $80.
maj is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2009, 02:27 PM
  #5  
maj
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,139
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Did you look into flying into Idaho Falls?
maj is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2009, 03:11 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 326
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks Dayle & maj for your feedback and advice.

I've taken Craters of the Moon out of the itinerary (thank you for the ideas in Yellowstone - he liked the sound of Dragon's mouth).

I've checked Idaho Falls, Billings, Jackson and every other airport I can find within 150 miles of the Jackson airport. Jackson turns out to be the cheapest of the better located airports, but it still $500 more expensive (for both of us) than flying into Salt Lake. And the connections aren't great, so most of the flight options lose a lot of the time advantage of flying rather than driving.... I'm still looking for a deal though!

The Buckrail Lodge looks great. I can't find availability on line, so I'm going to give them a call.

Thank you for the help!

Maura
dreaming is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2009, 03:17 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,443
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would skip Jackson and just concentrate on Yellowstone for such a short visit. By the way, if you are staying in the park make reservations ASAP
spirobulldog is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2009, 04:01 PM
  #8  
maj
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,139
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It can really be a challenge dealing with the airlines now.

I might not suggest this for a short trip, but you will be driving quite a bit in Yellowstone and your son may enjoy the Roosevelt Cookout as something different to do. It is very popular and if you think you may want to do it -- I'd book that ASAP also. Boiling River (by Mammoth) and the Firehole Canyon drive both have places you can take a dip which are very popular.

When you see people looking through scopes be sure and stop. Most of them are more than willing to let others look through them (at wolves or whatever). We love letting kids look through ours.
maj is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2009, 05:59 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 143
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would skip Yellowstone and spend your short time all in Grand Teton National Park. It is the more scenic of the two parks...
jumbonav is offline  
Old Jan 5th, 2009, 04:08 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,443
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
sorry, I totally disagree with Jumbo. Both parks are super. We liked Yellowstone the best. As far as beauty, yeah the tetons are hard to beat. But, Yellowstone is the most "complete park". It has a little bit of everything.
spirobulldog is offline  
Old Jan 5th, 2009, 05:49 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 576
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It is a 3 hour drive from SLC to Idaho Falls. If you could get into SLC in time to drive up to IF that would help.

The next morning, drive to Jackson, which is a 2 hour drive and will take you over the pass and is beautiful.

Spend most of the day in Jackson (wild west shoot out, wildlife museum, elk horn arches) but stay up at colter bay.

You then will have a couple of days in Yellowstone. It is very easy to stay on one place in the park and then do the loops.

There is also a small rodeo in West Yellowstone that runs every night.
jnjfraz is offline  
Old Jan 5th, 2009, 09:37 AM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 326
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks everyone for all of the ideas...

Spirobulldog: I've got my reservations for the two Yellowstone nights. I'm keeping an eye on the booking site to see if I can get a frontside room at the Old Faithful Inn.

maj - Boiling River, Firehole Canyon and the Roosevelt Cookout sound right up his alley. (And out of the car as well!) I'm going to get out a map and see if I can figure out what we can make it to.

jnjfraz - we're meeting people in Jackson on our last night, so that's why I've got it at the end. I looked up the shootout and that looks fun... I still need to look up the elk horn arches - that sounds intriguing.

dreaming is offline  
Old Jan 5th, 2009, 02:59 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 576
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
When you leave Jackson and come over the pass make sure you stop at the summit and take a few pictures.
jnjfraz is offline  
Old Jan 5th, 2009, 05:16 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,695
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
dreaming,

The elk horn arches are in the Jackson town park, in the center of town. One arch at each corner.
Dayle is offline  
Old Jan 6th, 2009, 04:26 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,275
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm with the poster who would skip Yellowstone and just do the Tetons. This is a pretty impossible trip--seems like a lot of money and "doing" for very little return to me. I see from reading on, that my opinion doesn't fit, but it is what it is.
Gretchen is offline  
Old Jan 6th, 2009, 10:20 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,443
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I do agree with Gretchen. Since you have a plan to see it in 2010, why not just wait and do it right. Save your money now, get you lodging all lined up for 2010. You can begin making reservations May 1, 2009 for 2010. I believe that is the right date, you should double check that. This way you get to stay where and when you want to.

But I still say spend your time in Yellowstone. I think your 10 year old will like it best. The geysers, the animals are all just right there. Maybe just concentrate on one or two areas. I would suggest right around old Faithful and Canyon area, driving thru Lamar or Hayden Valley for wildlife. Then again, maybe do this trip with just Tetons, and then 2010 do Yellowstone. They are both nice, but as others have indicated seems like a lot of money and driving for not much return. If there is anyway you can fly out of Jackon, West Yellowstone, Billings, or somewhere closer than slc, try to do it.
spirobulldog is offline  
Old Jan 6th, 2009, 02:50 PM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 326
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Well, yea! I found a way to swing the airfare to Jackson - I was able to book one of the tickets with miles.

And, I'm seeing if it's possible to meet my friends in Yellowstone rather than in Jackson.... So we'd spend three nights in Yellowstone and then fly home on a 3pm flight out. Still a short trip, but not quite as go-go-go as the inital plans.

I'm afraid I do have my heart set on Yellowstone. Maybe this is my heart saying one thing and my head saying something else?!

Based on this plan, I've switched the hotel reservations around.... Old Faithful Inn for the first night and Canyon Lodge for the second and third night.
dreaming is offline  
Old Jan 6th, 2009, 05:03 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,695
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
dreaming,

Just be aware that it will take quite a while to drive from Canyon to the Jackson airport. Better get a VERY early start.
Dayle is offline  
Old Jan 6th, 2009, 05:17 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,443
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
That sounds like a short but good trip now. Doable anyway. You will enjoy both areas. I agree with Dayle about getting an early start. Maybe, catch lunch somewhere along the way and enjoy the view of the Tetons on the way to the airport. Maybe Dornan's, its right off the highway and then not far from the airport. Old Faithful Inn is great. you might want to eat a meal to check out Lake Hotel as well.

I would be tempted to do a day viewing the Geysers around old Faithful. Day 2 Driving the loop into canyon, Stop at Dragon's Mouth, Mudpots, boiling river, maybe Roosevelt Cookout. See Hayden and/or Lamar Valley as you drive. You will stop many times to check out various wildlife. Day 3 hike around canyon area. Day 4 back to Jackson, perhaps stopping @ Lake Hotel.

Have a Great Trip!!
spirobulldog is offline  
Old Jan 7th, 2009, 02:36 PM
  #20  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 326
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Many, many thanks for all of the help....

I do have another question. Since I'm planning so late in the game I am able to get accomodations in Yellowstone, but I'm finding a night here and a night there.... for example, I could spend nights 1 and 2 at the Old Faithful Inn, but with a change of room type, so I would have to check out and check back in. And I'm a little picky --since I'm traveling with a 10 year old --that I want a bathroom in the room.

Right now I have it so that I have The Old Faithful Inn on night 1. Canyon Lodge for nights 2 and 3. (Canyon wasn't a problem getting the same room for multiple nights.) I had been thinking about Canyon since it's near the Canyon and Lamar and also so it would be closer to the Cowboy Cookout.

Since it's a long drive from Canyon to Jackson for the last day, would I be better off to stay a little closer on night 3? I could get a room and the Lake Hotel, at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge or a Grant Village.

spirobulldog- thanks for the suggested itinerary... it's really helpful to have an idea of where to start planning.
dreaming is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information