Trip to Yellowstone - Help is required :-)

Oct 21st, 2019, 05:52 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 17
Trip to Yellowstone - Help is required :-)

Hi all,

After our great trip in the west coast with our kids, my wife and I decided that in June/July 2020 we will travel, the two of us only, to Yellowstone for ~2 weeks (we are flexible with how long). As we fly from Vienna we can land in NYC or Chicago and continue from there. We will appreciate any recommendation as for where to get to after we land in the US (closest airport), which areas we shouldn't miss, which tracks we should hike and tips around hotels and restaurants.

We are looking forward to hear from you.


ec1970 is offline  
Oct 21st, 2019, 06:42 AM
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Well, don't miss spending some time in the Grand Tetons also.
Gretchen is offline  
Oct 21st, 2019, 08:15 AM
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The closest airports to Yellowstone/Jackson Hole (for Grand Teton NP) are Bozeman, Montana and Jackson, Wyoming. Looking for next June, the easiest/cheapest route would be to fly from Vienna to Chicago (on Austrian Airlines) connecting on their partner, United, to Bozeman. (For some reason, flights into Jackson in the summer tend to be quite a lot more expensive - no idea why.) From Bozeman it's around a two-hour drive to the north side of Yellowstone. Map -

As for what trails or activities to recommend, this is a big subject; I'd start with a few guide books or online resources and see what appeals. You might find that 2 weeks is a bit long for Yellowstone and Grand Teton; you could also explore other parts of the region while you're at it, depending on how much you want to drive. Here's an imaginary big loop that would include some VERY scenic stops along the way - google the places on the map: . You'd probably want closer to three weeks to do this region justice, as it includes the stunning Wallowa mountains (amazing in the late spring and early summer) as well as the Columbia River gorge, and all the vineyard country between Hood River, Oregon and Walla Walla, Washington. You could also include Hell's Canyon (near Lewiston Idaho) and a couple of volcanoes (Mts. Hood and Adams) looming on the skyline. This would make for a terrific "old west" loop.

Joseph, Oregon

Hell's Canyon mail boat

Columbia River Gorge

Gardyloo is offline  
Oct 21st, 2019, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
The closest airports to Yellowstone/Jackson Hole (for Grand Teton NP) are Bozeman, Montana and Jackson, Wyoming.
Flying into Billings, Montana could also work, depending on variables when booking, not much farther than Bozeman and a very nice drive. Stop in Red Lodge, MT for lunch or dinner or a leg stretch.

MmePerdu is offline  
Oct 27th, 2019, 07:28 AM
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Hi all, thanks a lot for the replies and help. It took me some time to get back to you as we took your comments and looked at some others in order to come up with the following trip. It will be great if you could share your thoughts if this makes sense, recommend on anything from attractions, trails, hotels, restaurants and so on.

We look to arrive to the US towards end of June.

3 nights in Jackson Hole to cover Grand Teton
Driving to Yellowstone
3 nights in Yellowstone National park (we are thinking on a day trip to Cody, what do you think?)
Driving to Glacier national park (as it is ~9 hours drive we will do a night stop in Missoula or any other place you would recommend).
3 nights in Glacier national park

Looking forward to receive some of your recommendations.

thanks a lot.

ec1970 is offline  
Oct 27th, 2019, 09:12 AM
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With your limited time in Yellowstone, I wouldn't spend one of those days going to Cody unless you really want to see the museum there. As a matter of fact with the amount of time you have, I might just concentrate on Tetons/Yellowstone. I just returned home from spending a combination of 8 nights and could've stayed longer. Have you figured out where you're flying into and out of?

Look at staying inside Grand Teton rather than driving back and forth from Jackson though Jackson does have good restaurants. Signal Mountain Lodge is in a very nice setting on Jackson Lake and has good food for in park lodging. For Yellowstone look at staying inside the park or in the gateway towns of Gardiner or West Yellowstone (I prefer Gardiner). You could look into staying at more than one location as the park is large and it takes a while to get from one part to another especially with summer traffic. Note that the road between Tower and Canyon (Dunraven Pass) will be closed all of 2020 and 2021 for construction One concessionaire (Xanterra) runs all of the lodging inside Yellowstone and the quality of the lodging and food is OK. In Gardiner Yellowstone Gateway is nice but hard to book. I've also stayed at Riverside Cottages which overlooks the Gardner River. Some of their units are older while others are remodeled/new. Wonderland Cafe in Gardiner has good food. If you end up staying longer than 3 nights in Yellowstone and are interested in a scenic drive outside of the park, take the Beartooth Highway out of the northeast entrance. If you decide to include Glacier, look at staying on the east side of the Going to the Sun Rd or Many Glacier. Outside of the park the communities of St Mary and Babb also have accommodations on the east side and are convenient to both the GTTS Rd as well as Many Glacier if you can't find accommodations inside the park.

For trails, how long and how much elevation gain? Carry bear spray in all 3 parks.

Last edited by Patty; Oct 27th, 2019 at 09:15 AM.
Patty is offline  
Oct 28th, 2019, 10:33 AM
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Hi Patty, thank you so much for taking the time to write all those valuable comments.

Few points:

- We will be flying to Jackson Hole and out from Kalispell airport.
- We are very flexible with time so can extend/shorten anything/anywhere. Happy to get your recommendation for the best options.
- We are at our 50th and hiking a lot in Austria where are from so used to hike although we are not professional so you know, we like a good challenge but not to the extreme. From distance perspective we cover normally anything between 12-20km tracks...
- Reason for Jackson Hole, my wife found a nice range with horses where we plan to also take a day at the range to cover all activities (so probably can extend a day there).
I hope this helps.
thanks again for your efforts.
ec1970 is offline  
Oct 28th, 2019, 01:41 PM
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If you're planning activities near Jackson then it makes sense to base there. You may also be interested in a float trip on the Snake River and the ferry across Jenny Lake for hiking. We typically do shorter day hikes (more in the 5-10km range) so hopefully someone else can advise on longer hikes. I've found the following very helpful as you can sort by area and length:

Trails can occasionally be closed due to wildlife activity or simply blocked by wildlife so I usually have an alternate in mind.

Restaurants we like in Jackson are Bin22, Gather and Persephone Bakery. The restaurant at Amangani is open to the public and has a nice view. When in the park, I like eating at Signal Mountain Lodge. I've had good breakfasts at the Pioneer Grill at Jackson Lake Lodge. I would avoid eating at Jenny Lake Lodge. Schwabacher Landing and Oxbow Bend are beautiful locations for sunrise. Good areas to look for wildlife are Moose-Wilson Road, the Snake River near Moose Junction and Gros Ventre River for moose, Pilgrim Creek Road, Pacific Creek Road and Signal Mountain Road (you can also hike up) are also good spots to look. The Jenny Lake and Phelps Lake areas are nice for hiking.

I would add at least one more, maybe two more, nights to both Yellowstone and Glacier. I would split your stay in Yellowstone to two locations, one on the southern side and one on the northern side, maybe between the Old Faithful area and Mammoth Hot Springs or Gardiner. Roosevelt and Canyon are also good locations but keep in mind the road closure next year. Most of the food inside Yellowstone is of similar quality so I would eat wherever it's convenient. As the park is larger and busier than Grand Teton, we prefer to pack a picnic so as to not to have to look for some place to eat and wait. Some of the highlights of Yellowstone are the geyser basins between Old Faithful and Madison, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Hayden and Lamar Valleys for wildlife and the Mammoth Terraces. It's a short hike up to Observation Point behind Old Faithful for an elevated view of the Upper Geyser Basin. Look for wolf watchers with spotting scopes in both Hayden and particularly Lamar Valley. Wolves may still be denning in June.

Going to Glacier last makes sense as it will give you the best chance of the Going to the Sun Road being fully open. In some years this can happen as late as July. Since you're flying out of Kalispell, you can start on the east side of Glacier and end on the west side. The east side has more alpine scenery and the west side more temperate rain forest. I haven't combined Yellowstone and Glacier on the same trip but Mammoth/Gardiner to the east side of Glacier is about 6 hours so could be done without an overnight. If you're interested in a scenic detour, you could exit Yellowstone via the northeast entrance and spend the night in Red Lodge (eat at Ox Pasture). I've had more luck with spotting wildlife on the east side of the park. Mountain goats can often be seen on the Hidden Lake hike. That was my favorite hike but get to Logan Pass early as parking fills quickly. On the west side you can stay at Lake McDonald or Apgar inside the park or West Glacier just outside. A little bit farther out is also OK as the road on this side isn't as steep and winding. Highway 2 is the alternate route between the two sides if for some reason the GTTS Rd is closed. It goes through a lower elevation valley. There's an overlook along this route where you may be able to spot goats at a distance at a mineral lick.
Patty is offline  
Oct 28th, 2019, 03:43 PM
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A hike I would recommend in Grand Teton is Lake Solitude. Itís definitely a long day hike, but only has a few strenuous points, at the beginning for about a mile or so, and then again at the end for maybe half a mile if I remember right. Otherwise itís more of a gentler incline. Youíd have to check closer to time on the snow levels I would think. We went mid July, and it was fine but it was sleeting a little up at the lake and there was ice still in some places on the lake. But, we did get to watch two otters playing and fishing and the scenery is gorgeous, and we went on an overcast day. Iíve also seen moose up through Cascade Canyon, which you have to hike through to get to the lake, and you will have a nice view across Jenny Lake at the beginning of the hike. Definitely recommend getting the boat ride across Jenny Lake if you decide to hike all the way to Lake Solitude because I think that hike alone is 14-16ish miles round trip.
Virginia1990 is offline  
Oct 29th, 2019, 08:06 AM
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This is great, thanks so much. We will now look at all the comments/recommendations again and put together our final thoughts as for where to be and how long .I will share more later.

One question, we were told that it is required to rent a 4X4 car as it will be easier for this area? Any thoughts around that?

thanks again for all the info.
ec1970 is offline  
Oct 29th, 2019, 08:49 AM
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No, a 4x4 car is not required at all. We do like to rent a small to mid size SUV just because it sits a bit higher and is good for views, but that is just a matter of personal preference.
sludick is offline  
Oct 29th, 2019, 09:36 AM
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No 4X4 needed unless you're going off season when there's a higher chance of snow/ice or you're planning to go off of the beaten path. Some of the unpaved side roads in Grand Teton require higher clearance vehicles but you're unlikely to take these. The unpaved roads you're likely to take, Moose-Wilson, Schwabacher, Pilgrim Creek, are graded and OK for a lower clearance vehicle. There aren't many unpaved side roads in Yellowstone and the ones I've taken have been fine. I haven't been to the North Fork area of Glacier which has unpaved roads but you probably won't have time for that and I'm not sure I'd take a rental up there even if it's a 4X4.
Patty is offline  
Nov 1st, 2019, 01:06 AM
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thank you for the great feedbacks. We now have everything we need in order to have a good plan and start book everything. I really appreciate all the help here.
ec1970 is offline  
Nov 6th, 2019, 04:25 AM
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Late June is a great time for your visit as the baby animals will be everywhere. Do try to be early enough to avoid the Fourth of July holiday crowds when families typically visit. Be prepared for some cool/cold weather.
emalloy is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 11:44 PM
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You've gotten a lot of good advice here. I would just add that one of the best Fodor's Guidebooks is:

Fodor's The Complete Guide to the National Parks of the West (Full-color Travel Guide)

It has a nice solid chapter on each park with some mini-maps to give you an overview.

General cautions: I wouldn't pack food while on a hike at Yellowstone--too many bears. Observe all posted rules as to keeping your distance from wildlife. A woman went a mere 10 feet behind a bison. She startled him and he turned around and sent her over his head. We saw the life flight helicopter leave and talked to a witness. Unforgettable.

As to sites, I was surprised by the beauty of Yellowstone Lake. I would have liked more time in the Lamar Valley.


5alive is offline  
Nov 12th, 2019, 01:46 PM
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Jackson hole is definitely the closest airport since it's wedged right between the Tetons parks and Yellowstone. It literally only a few miles from Yellowstone.

Also while your hiking keep clear of the local wildlife (especially the bears and buffalo), they're far more dangerous than they look and don't like being disturbed. I was there a few months ago when one man tried to pet one of the Buffalo and got sent flying. Fortunately he was alright but others haven't been so lucky. I also found out from the locals they're having similar problems with the bears cause tourists keep trying to feed them and are causing the bears to come into town looking for handouts. This has resulted in several people getting attacked and several bears shot by park officials. So for everyone's sake keep them at a safe distance.
Connie59 is offline  
Nov 12th, 2019, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Connie59 View Post
tried to pet one of the Buffalo and got sent flying. Fortunately he was alright
Good advice from Connie but I'm not sure "fortunately" was the right word.
Nelson is offline  
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