Tetons/ Yellowstone for non-hikers

Old Oct 22nd, 2006, 05:12 AM
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Tetons/ Yellowstone for non-hikers

This is the first time I've posted here, although I've found past information invaluable when I've planned our trips. I'm planning a 2 week trip next July. We're flying into SLC and I have reservations at a timeshare resort for a week in Park City. We can do some day trips in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming or wherever. Then the following week are reservations at Big Sky, Mt. for a week, then back to SLC to fly back to Albany, NY. Many of the posts here are about hiking 5 or 6 miles here and there in Yellowstone. Hey, I'm pushing the big 60 in a few years, and there's no way I could do that!!! Is there a lot we can see without hiking all the time...or at least not miles? YOu talk about all the sights in Yellowstone and I"m overwhemed. I'll need to get a tour book for sure.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2006, 05:24 AM
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Get a tour book and enjoy the sights by driving to the parking lots.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2006, 06:10 AM
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There is so much you can see in Yellowstone by just parking the car and talking a short walk. Don't worry about long hikes. It's a huge park and you'll have more than enough to see without hiking.

Have a great trip!
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Old Oct 22nd, 2006, 06:19 AM
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I strongly recommend you buy a copy of Frommer's "Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks." It'll be $11 well spent, as it will help you enormously in planning your trip to these great parks.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2006, 06:40 AM
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There many many things to see in YS without taking long hikes. Most of the things are only a few hundred yards or feet from a parking lot with board walks for you to stay on.... In some places the hardest thing to do is to find a place to park. There are also some scenic drives in the Park. Spend an evening or early morning in the Lamar Valley looking for wolves. You will park along the road to do this. Staying in Big Sky you will be doing a lot of driving. YS is a big place.

While in Park City take a day trip (drive) up into the High Uintas Wilderness Area. This can be reached by taking SR-150. Well worth the drive.

One more drive to take while in the Greater Yellowstone area is to the Quake Lake Area just west of West Yellowstone on US-287.

For a road less traveled (SR-509) thru the Red Rock Lake area also to the west of Yellowstone is something few visit. On this road you will see little traffic, its an all weather road but an easy drive. The worst thing is you may get your car dirty. ps: you are younger than we are so get up and go.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2006, 06:40 AM
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Do NOT worry about not being able to hike. Major attractions in YNP in particular are easily seen by stopping in the parking lots and taking walks around the features. Some involve a little uphill-downhill, but you see 3 yr olds and 80+ yr olds doing it, so just join in!
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Old Oct 22nd, 2006, 08:34 AM
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Hi Scraper,

I live in Park City and agree with the recommendation to drive up to the High Uinta wilderness. Beautiful, and some short hikes (by your definition) to enjoy with a picnic.

Also, I did a summer vacation this Aug that included Big Sky. If you are not an outdoors/sports type person, I think you are going to be BORED there, although there is a golf course.

Yes, seeing Yellowstone from Big Sky is not a good idea. Way too much driving!
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Old Oct 22nd, 2006, 12:21 PM
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Maybe while we're driving north from Utah, we should spend a few days in the parks before driving to Big Sky. Seems that would be a better idea!!! I love taking photos of the natural beauty of a state....mountains, animals in their natural habitat, etc. Also ghost towns and old cow-towns. Are there any interesting places, museums and whatever to do for day trips while we're at Big Sky? (love horseback riding too) Also, for the first week, while we're in Utah, if there's any suggestions, I'd appreciate it. We've been to southern Utah, Bryce, Arches and Canyonlands. (incredible) One day trip will be the Beartooth Hwy.....looks like a very beautiful drive.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2006, 03:57 PM
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We had my mom at the Teton's and Yellowstone, when she was 77. We went on short walks (1/2 mile or less) and she did great. Oh, and I was having foot issues (I ended up with foot surgery a few weeks later). So you all will do fine with short yet scenic walks. We also flew into SLC and rented a car.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2006, 04:21 PM
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our family enjoyed yellowstone and Teton without doinng much walking. I wouldn't try to see yellowstone on any type of day trip. It is a big park. Even staying in one place (old faithful) like we did, made for some long days driving. and that was in early June when it was not crowded at all.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2006, 04:55 PM
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So, Scraper,

Do I understand correctly that you have 2 timeshare weeks booked back-to-back? Are you willing to give up 3 - 4 days at Big Sky to make better use of your time? If so, here's my recommendation:

1 week in Park City
things to do:
golf, fly fish, hike (wildflowers at Alta), mountain bike, all water sports on the lakes, shop, gourmet restaurants, shops, art galleries, plays at the Egyptian Theater, horseback ride, last but certainly not least, Utah Olympic Park - don't miss it!

then: drive up WY hwy 89 to Jackson or one of the Teton Natl Park Lodges
only have time for 1 night

2 nights Yellowstone

drive Beartooth hwy, spend night in Red Lodge, MT - great little town

drive around through Boseman to Big Sky
3 nights

MT is a great place for horseback riding and fly fishing!

Hope this gives you some ideas. The time in Yellowstone is not NEARLY enough. You could easily skip Big Sky and spend your entire 2nd week in Yellowstone and Tetons.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2006, 07:43 PM
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Thanks, Dayle and everybody. The recommendations are certainly appreciated.
I will change that week at Big Sky and spend more time in Yellowstone and the Tetons. Any recommendations for a reasonably priced, clean motel or lodge. I really don't like to share bathrooms (I read someone's post regarding that) At least I have enough time to rethink my trip and change reservations. Thanks again for everyone's help.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2006, 07:55 PM
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We stayed at the following with my mom:
http://www.hatchetresort.com/
It was reasonable in Sept. a few years back (under $100.- a night, although July can be pricey. Also check the lodges in the parks: http://www.gtlc.com/lodging.shtml
http://www.nationalparkreservations.com/yellowstone.htm
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Old Oct 22nd, 2006, 07:57 PM
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And if you end up in south Montana, near the Mamoth Hot Springs entrance of Yellowstone, we really liked this place:
http://www.chicohotsprings.com/
They have a wide variety of reservations price wise, and a great dining room (moderate prices).
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Old Oct 22nd, 2006, 09:22 PM
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When we are not camping we always try to stay in Cooke City MT http://www.colorado-west.com/cooke/ ..We have found it less of a tourist town than the other gateways of West Yellowstone and Gardiner. There are several clean inexpensive motels in town. Then again its all in what you are looking for. If you plan on the Beartooth as a drive on the way out then Cooke City is on the way out of the Yellowstone Plateau.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 08:34 AM
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We did excellent national park tours in both parks. The tours in Tetons leave from Jackson Lake Lodge. South Loop Yellowstone tours leave from Old Faithful Inn and other lodges, we took the North loop tour from the Lake Hotel. They stop at other spots, we picked up the tours at these locations. INexpensive, great overviews. Then you will want to just drive around to see the wildlife and beauty. Check out the National park web site for tour information
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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 02:53 PM
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Thanks for the links to websites and all your suggestions. I've learned a lot. Now I need to rethink my plans and send for that Frommer's book on Yellowstone and Tetons. I'll post my "report" when I get back next July.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 06:35 PM
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If you are a member of AAA get their Travel Books for the area. They also have a good Speciality Map of Yellowstone.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 07:17 PM
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Hi - just a few comments that might be helpful to you - (I lived in Big Sky, Bozeman, and Billings growing up). Big Sky is about a 45-60 minute drive from West Yellowstone depending on where you are staying in Big Sky (if up by Lone MT, a bit longer). I took many day trips into YNP from our house in Big Sky with visitors and although easy, clearly Big Sky is not ideal if you are going back into YNP day after day. I found I could take visitors on a nice main "loop" of the highlights of Yellowstone with short walks to the waterfalls, paintpots, etc in one day if you get going by 8-9am. I'd suggest that as you finalize your planning, perhaps you try to do some of the Yellowstone/Teton sightseeing to/from Big Sky area to avoid so much back and forth driving.

Another easy day trip from Big Sky would be to the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman (Bozeman is approx. 45 minutes from Big Sky again depending on where in Big Sky). It is a good museum.

For a longer day trip since you mentioned "cowtowns", you can take a day trip past Bozeman towards Virginia City which is an old west historic town (see virginiacitymt.com or also check out www.bozemancvb.com for various day trip details).

Finally, you mentioned driving the Beartooth highway (as did another poster). Not sure if you were planning to go through Cody WY or through YNP (Highway 212 through Tower Junction) to get there? If you go through YNP on Highway 212 it is gorgeous and you might have the best chance to see a grizzly. If you are into museums/western stuff, consider a route on Highway 14 (i think) through
Cody WY, where there is a popular western museum. But, be warned that either way, it is a long drive, depending where you are staying. The Beartooth pass is one of my favorite drives and one that never fails to amaze but just carefully plan your days/driving as it may take longer than you think due to winding roads and LOTs of stopping for photos!

In Big Sky, there is terrific horsback riding back in the Gallatin range and along the river - the Gallatin canyon is gorgeous and probably one of my favorites places and you will have lots of great photo ops. We always liked "Jake's Horses" (jakeshorses.com) as an outfitter for trail rides - I think they did one that went into a really pretty valley behind "Lemon Knob" (a small peak that I used to run and down in my younger days).

In West Yellowstone, there are a few museums and a place called Grizzly and Wolf Discovery center (grizzlydiscoveryctr.com) that I really like. It is small wild life preserve and educational facility and they do a really nice job - they have "problem bears" that had to be removed from the wild.

Hope these suggestions help - you will have a great time no matter where you go but do get out a good map and spend some time estimating drive times (or post your questions) as you'll be covering a lot of ground!
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Old Oct 25th, 2006, 03:25 PM
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Thanks for the info, NorCal Jo. At least I won't be too bored at Big Sky. I was getting worried. Hubby still wanted to stay there, but we've agreed on spending some days in Yellowstone. I love the mountain drives, so am excited about Beartooth Hwy. In August we spent a week in southern Colorado and did the San Juan Hwy loop up to Ouray and the Million Dollar Hwy. That was incredible. My newly renovated TV room have poster-size framed pictures of Colorado. My hallway has 8x10's of the Grand Canyon, Bryce, Canyonlands and Arches. Now to find space for next summer's photos!!!!
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