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Teton & Yellowstone: Scratching the Surface

Old Mar 1st, 2014, 06:22 AM
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Teton & Yellowstone: Scratching the Surface

Hi All,

New to the forums, but looks like it's a great place to get info from fellow travellers willing to help share their experiences. My Wife and I are heading out west in late May/early June and after making our way as far as Zion/Bryce and up thru SLC, we are heading into Wyoming to experience this beautiful part of the country. Based on our schedule, we're gonna arrive in the Jackson area on a Sat in early June and leave to start heading back east on a Wed. Can anyone recommend a good split between the Jackson Hole/GTNP area and Yellowstone? Originally we were thinking to stay 2 nights in each place, but now I'm wondering if it would work to stay the full 4 nights in the Jackson area and go back and forth to Yellowstone from there. We're not really campers but don't have an unlimited budget for the high end resorts either, so any suggestions of good places to stay in each area would be great too! We're planning on doing mainly shorter day hikes, def driving the loop, and for sure gonna book a float down the snake river in Teton. Just not sure what's the best way to get the most out of 4 days in this part of the world. Obviously would love to spend a full week in each place, but there's just too much to see across the country in both directions and we have limited time...hence "scratching the surface!" Many thanks in advance to anyone who can help!
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Old Mar 1st, 2014, 06:29 AM
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Welcome. I would stay flexible as there may still be snow in both the Tetons and Yellowstone in early June. In any case, I would try to split the time, Yellowstone is so big that seeing the main sights from within the park can easily take all day.

If you put Yellowstone into the search box at the top of the page you will find lots of threads that address your questions. Look for trip reports where people tell where they stayed for lodging ideas if you can't stay in the parks.
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Old Mar 1st, 2014, 07:25 AM
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The possibility of snow aside, I wouldn't stay in Jackson other than for airport convenience.

It's a good two hour drive from Jackson to Old Faithful which is among the closest parts of Yellowstone to Jackson.

Wildlife is most active early and late. So if you want to see wildlife you'll either be leaving Jackson very early or getting there very late.

Get inpark lodging and don't take the chance of hitting animals on the road.

Spend you time seeing the sights and not driving to and from the parks.
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Old Mar 1st, 2014, 10:40 AM
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Thank you both very much for your responses and recommendations! I've noticed a number of folks talking about the Xanterra website so I went on there to search places to stay in YS. To my surprise, every possible place is completely sold out from early June thru the summer. Being such a newbie to this part of the US I had no idea how far in advance one must book to be able to stay in the park. Any recommendations for a gateway place to stay that would not be long drives just to get to and from YS? Many thanks again!
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Old Mar 1st, 2014, 11:29 AM
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Keep checking back by phone for in-Park reservations. Cancellations are common.

We stayed outside both Parks and I do not think lost anything since there are so many hotels so close (as opposed to someplace like Grand Canyon where it is a greater distance).

Teton Village is a development of apartment/condos that are rented out by the night - less than a mile from south entrance to GTNP. Highlight of our stay there was that after spending all day in GTNP looking to see a moose - and were unsuccessful - we returned to condo to find a huge one eating the landscaping, within 10 feet of us.

Yellowstone is best done by splitting where you stay. We stayed at West Yellowstone (which is Montana). There are any number of chain hotels from cheap to moderate within a mile or 2 of west entrance to YNP - I think we stayed at a Comfort Inn, but it was a while ago.

Then we headed up to Gardiner (north entrance) and stayed at a motel whose name escapes me - but advantage to being up in that part was that we went white water rafting on the Gardner River (yes - they are spelled differently for some unknown reason)
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Old Mar 1st, 2014, 12:37 PM
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Thanks Gail, that's a big help, and makes me feel so much better that there are so many more options than just staying in the park. I've already been looking into Gardiner and it looks like there's a B&B that has gotten great reviews there, so that just might work perfectly for us. Thanks so much!!
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Old Mar 2nd, 2014, 09:34 AM
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We stayed at the Alpine Inn in West Yellowstone. It was reasonable priced. We enjoyed our stay there, but it is a bit of a drive to get to park attractions. If you can get the reservations try to stay at least one night in the Old Faithful area. We also stayed a night in Mammoth Springs just inside the park. This area seems to have more cancellations. It is a less popular area of the park, but we liked it. We ate in Gardiner. We also bought quite a few souvenirs there since no sales tax is charged in Montana. Here is the website for Alpine Inn. http://www.alpinemotelwestyellowstone.com/
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Old Mar 3rd, 2014, 01:07 PM
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I agree with Gail. Split your time between two places (and the east entrance should not be one of those choices because the drive is longer and it's a high pass). So a couple of nights in two of these... either West, Jackson or Paradise Valley. Lots of hotels in West it is a good place to be based to see Old Faithful, Canyon & southern loop. Jackson is good for a night but they are a little farther from Yellowstone itself. Paradise valley is very close to Lamar valley where you might see wolves (just stop anytime you see anyone with a large professional camera). Base all of this on where you are going next because there is a logical loop and then if you are heading east again you can go though South Dakota and the bad land, Mt Rushmore and very interesting country.

May/June are great months for baby animals and you should see the large buffalo herds between the west entrance and old faithful... in fact most of the animals are in that area. Lots of babies that time of year and the traffic is not as heavy. There may be snow between Jackson and West Thumb but just a little on the side of the road. The east entrance will have more snow but the roads should be open. Bear tooth highway may not be open by then. So far it has been a very light snow year in that part of the world.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2014, 02:04 PM
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Try this--
Not knowing which Saturday your talking about I just looked at GTLC website and Yellowstonenationalparklodges website. Came up with a little something(not perfect, but ok)
Stay Saturday June 14 at Colter Village in Tetons(either a Cabin or Tent Cabin). The 15 and 16 there is availability for those days only at Grant Village. Then stay again on 17th at Colter Village.

Tent Cabin is $59 per night and would be considered luxury camping, but still very primitive/rustic. The regular cabins and Grant Village are about $160 per night. I've stayed at Colter Cabins and enjoyed it. I haven't stayed at Grants, but it would give you easy access to a lot in Yellowstone.

I wouldn't suggest skipping Mammoth area in Yellowstone, but with your limited time I think I would. It would probably be best to spend 3 of your days in Yellowstone and 1 in the Tetons-meaning just use one of the nights at Colter as just a place to stay.

We were there June 15-19 about 6 years ago and the part of the roads opened on the 15th. There was a couple of roads that still weren't open and the Beartooth wasn't open.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2014, 02:05 PM
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The reason I went to that much trouble, is that I really really like staying "in park". I know a lot will disagree with me, but I'm not going if I can't. Feel the same about the Utah parks too. Even camping would be great!!
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Old Mar 14th, 2014, 05:21 PM
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We went to GT/Yellowstone on June 6 last year, and the weather was perfect! Cool at night and 60-75 degrees during the day! Lots of animals everywhere...I hope your weather and luck is as good as ours was! We loved that trip so much...
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