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Two Aussie Ladies Need help planning trip to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons

Two Aussie Ladies Need help planning trip to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons

Old Jul 31st, 2010, 08:32 PM
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Two Aussie Ladies Need help planning trip to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons

Hi, my sister and I (in our mid/late 40s) are planning to go to YNP and GTNP in early May 2011. We are flying in from Australia and I know this isn't the best time of the year to go but it fits in with our travel plans as the holiday is based around the Paducah Quilt Show at the end of April. After the quilt show, I am meeting my sister in Chicago (she is not a quilter!) and we are travelling with another friend to her home in Eatonville, Washington State. So I've been reading up on the two parks and trying to make informed decisions about the weather at that time of the year, the road / business closures and other such stuff. So anything more experienced travellers can pass on to me would be very much appreciated.

I'm thinking we will fly from Seattle to Bozeman, Mt on Friday 6 May. We would arrive around lunch-time, pick up a hire car and drive to YNP, down to the Old Faithful Inn where we would stay for three nights (not a lot of choice at this time of the year, but there seems to be general consensus that OFI is good value). We'd spend Saturday and Sunday, driving around looking out for animals, taking in the views and doing little hikes.

While I would have liked to have then driven down to GTNP, I understand the road is closed until mid May, as are a few other roads in YNP, the plan is to drive back to Bozeman on Monday and fly to Jackson Hole, WY. Hire a car and stay one night there. The next morning head off into GTNP, and stay the night at Jackson Lake Lodge (haven't checked yet if it is open then) , spend the next day driving around and heading back to Jackson to fly out late that afternoon to Las Vegas for a couple of days and then LA and home.

Bearing in mind the road closures in effect in YNP until mid/late May, and the fact that many activities/businesses are not yet open at that time of the year, do you think two full days in YNP is enough to get a good idea of the park or should we stay another night?

The same goes for GTNP - we'd have about one and a half days there.

I'd appreciate your thoughts and suggestions. Thanks so much

SilkStrawberry
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Old Aug 1st, 2010, 01:24 PM
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A lot depend on weather conditions next May in the area. If is a mild winter, more roads might be open sooner.
Another option, but a lot of driving is from West Yellowstone south to Idaho Falls and then to GTNP. For that time of year, presuming a normal winter, I think 2 days each is enough time to get a taste of the parks.
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Old Aug 1st, 2010, 02:14 PM
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Frankly, chances are very good that a lot of Yellowstone roads will still be closed. We were there June 15 a couple of years ago and areas were still closed that late. 2 days isn't nearly long enough in Yellowstone if the roads are open. I would go somewhere else to make sure that I would be able to do a few things. For that time of year, I would suggest Zion/Bryce/Arches in Utah. Yosemite would be very risky as well. I think Olympic near Seattle would be risky too.
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Old Aug 1st, 2010, 02:37 PM
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We just visited both parks in early June, and things had just opened up for the season in the Canyon area. Parts of the northeast section of Yellowstone were still closed.

As much as I loved it there, you might want to consider spirobulldog's suggestion of Zion/Bryce/Arches.

Lee Ann
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Old Aug 1st, 2010, 06:15 PM
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We stayed at Old Faithful Inn on May 9 and 10, 2010. It was cold, really cold, with snow flurries and strong wind. However, we enjoyed our stay as the park was delightfully crowd free. We had parking lots and visitors' centers to ourselves; the only traffic backups were due to construction. Boardwalks were not crowded; animals and their young were plentiful. At Mammoth, only the Terrace Cafe was open. With our limited time in the park, even though areas were closed, we still had plenty to see & do.

We visited Jackson and Grand Teton before traveling to Yellowstone via West Yellowstone. Jackson was quite empty - many galleries and restaurants were closed. At Grand Teton, it was definitely too early for much hiking. Jenny Lake was frozen!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2010, 04:33 AM
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Many thanks everyone for your replies, I really appreciate the comments especially from MsSteinrunner which were very encouraging.

I acknowledge that May isn't the best time of the year to go to YNP or GTNP but for us Aussies, those snow covered mountain ranges are hard to resist. I've got heat and the dry outback all around me, but no Old Faithful Geyser. I've always wanted to see Old Faithful, and I am just enchanted by the scenery. As long as we can see some animals and walk some of the boardwalks, we'll be very happy.

The Old Faithful Inn doesn't open until after our planned arrival date so we will stay at the OF Snow Lodge. The Jackson Lake Lodge won't be open when we get to GTNP so I think we'll just stay at the Ranch Inn in Jackson for two nights and drive around from there.

Fingers crossed for a mild winter next year! Thank you all again!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2010, 07:51 AM
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Just make sure you rent something with four wheel drive. Snow covered peaks are gorgeous to look at. However, are you experienced in driving in snow and ice? Be prepared in case that occurs. Hopefully, you will have wonderful weather and clear roads but I have heard of snow much later in the season than May so just be prepared.

Have a wonderful trip.
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Old Aug 4th, 2010, 05:10 AM
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Thanks taitai,I have no experience in driving in snow and ice - only as a passenger which is not quite the same. I need to check with my sister, I'm certain she does as she live on the east coast where we actually get snow.

Cheers, Silkstrawberry
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