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Yellow Stone NP Itinerary help..

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Sep 26th, 2013, 12:29 AM
  #1
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Yellow Stone NP Itinerary help..

Hi all

I have finally booked flights to LA and need some help planning my itinerary in the Yellowstone part of our trip. By far the hardest to research for some reason! My head is spinning with too many decisions to make.

We will be arriving in Bozeman late Saturday night 21st of June 2014 and departing out of Salt Lake City on Saturday 28th of June. So the first night will be in Bozeman. Then the next two nights I am wanting to stay at a ranch near Big Sky. So if I could get some help with an itinerary for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights that includes Yellowstone and Grand Tetons?

I know this may seem rushed but we don't have much choice being that's it's part of our 3 weeks trip to the USA and I have other plans for before and after. Hiking is also out for us (unfortunately!) as we have young kids, so it's more or less just sight seeing and chance to take some pics.

I look forward to hearing some suggestions!

Kelly

I look forward to your suggestions.
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Sep 26th, 2013, 02:18 AM
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We visited the park twice and stayed in Gardiner(north entrance of the park) and West Yellowstone (west side). The park is a figure 8 (about 240 km.)You will need more time for Yellowstone than for G.Tetons.Paul
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Sep 26th, 2013, 10:07 AM
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If you can get lucky and find lodging in Yellowstone, try that first. West Yellowstone would be a backup. The kids will likely want to see Old Faithful, but it's likely to be crowded, so be prepared. IMO. the Lamar Valley is worth a drive through and really like the Canyon area and Yellowstone Falls. The Norris Geyser Basin also ranks high with me.

In GTNP, see if you can stay at either Signal Mountain or Jackson Lake lodges. Even with small kids you might enjoy the easy walk around Jenny Lake. For touristy experiences look at a "chuckwagon dinner" near Moose and rafting on the Snake River.
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Sep 26th, 2013, 02:29 PM
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Thank you I will look into your suggestions!
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Sep 27th, 2013, 07:58 AM
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So, the natural routing since you are going to Big Sky is to continue down Highway 191 and enter Yellowstone through West Yellowstone. As mentioned above, staying in the park is nice but West Yellowstone is a good alternative.

Not sure what ranch you might say at in Big Sky or ages of kids. But just in case you haven't researched, some good ones are Nine Quarter Circle Ranch (tucked away on Taylor Fork which feeds into the Gallatin River). It is a more traditional and friendly ranch with riding, kid friendly fly fishing on Taylor Fork (started fishing there when I was 5 yrs old). 320 Ranch is also traditional and right on Gallatin River and off the H191. Up into Big Sky is Lone Mountain Ranch which is very nice and a bit more "polished". If you are just looking for a nice place to stay, Rainbow Ranch is also right on the Gallatin River but isn't really a "ranch" per se, more like an upscale lodge with cabins. I like it because with young kids you can walk to the River and drop in a "worm line" right at the bridge and also there is a nice little mountain creek that I spent hordes of time in as a kid that drops into the Gallatin with a trail nearby for a very short kid friendly walk. But it all depends what type of experience you are looking for!

Given your tight schedule and assuming you are on the road Tuesday am leaving the Big Sk area it is just under an hour to get to West Yellowstone park entance. I would suggest 2 nights Yellowstone and 2 nights GTNP and you spend part of the swing day in either location depending on kids ages/interests.

Tuesday -
Once you continue on to Yellowstone, it's about 45 min drive from Big Sky area to West Yellowstone and nice scenary and you'll drive by Hebgen lake. West Yellowstone is a typical border town with lots of little souvenir shops and kid friendly restaurants if you don't find lodging in the park. I like to visit the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center which has great educational exhibits and close up view of bears and wolves that unfortunately were "problem children" and could not be safely put back into the wild.

If you left Big Sky in the am and even with a stop in West Yellowstone, you will still have a half day to drive around. That would allow for visits to Old Faithful area, Paintpots/Geysers, etc which is good for kids.

Wednesday - another day to explore Yellowstone. kids always like the Canyon Area and Yellowstone Waterfalls (pretty easy walks to get to viewing platforms) and maybe Yellowstone lake

Thursday - catch any other quick Yellowstone sights and then head south with maybe a quick stop at Lewis falls for a leg stretch (very pretty). Then you can be gawking at Grand Tetons at Jackson Lake under an hour or so after that. Signal mountain, Jackson lake Lodge or Jenny lake Lodge are great (jenny lake lodge really hard to get reservations but I love it).

Friday - Tetons are gorgeous but with young kids, you can't really dig into the hiking. However, you can do a boat ride on Jenny Lake combined with a nice walk on one of the flat trails around the lake. There are other kid friendly activities as well so easy to have a great day. Jackson Hole is further south and more about shopping and restaurants so not so much for young kids IMO and parking can be a pain.

Saturday - I assume your flight must be afternoon in order for you to stay Friday night in Tetons? I recall it is at least 5 hours or so to SLC and there are a couple of routes to consider. Otherwise, you might need to consider staying Friday night closer to SLC.

Happy planning and get trying on park reservations!
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Sep 27th, 2013, 02:25 PM
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http://www.nps.gov/index.htm

You can use the website above to get information about Yellowstone or any other U.S. national park and to be connected with lodging for all of them. Just enter the park name in the search and then look at the "Plan Your Visit" option, then select "eating and sleeping." That will give you a link to all 9 lodges in Yellowstone, for example.

It's preferable to stay in the park because you will waste a lot of time driving in and out if you don't. And being able to walk through the geyser basin or see wildlife early in the morning or after dinner makes staying in the park special.

I would book something near Old Faithful, either the Old Faithful Inn, the Old Faithful Lodge or The Snow Lodge. There are many dining options in this area, plus kids love to be near Old Faithful and many of the other geysers in this basin. Canyon Village is also centrally located; I don't usually recommend Mammoth for a place to stay because it is at the north end of park and a long drive to many of the other sites. Stay at least 2 nights in the park, because there is a lot to see. Three nights is better.

Another caveat about the park: the restaurants aren't great, just adequate. If you want fine dining, try Jackson, Wyoming, near Grand Teton National Park, or Bozeman, MT. Use Trip Advisor or Yelp to help you choose restaurants outside the park and you will probably be glad you did.

For a ranch near Big Sky, if you can afford it, look at Lone Mountain Ranch.

If you need more help, feel free to keep asking questions. It can be a confusing area to book vacations, even for people living in the U.S. Have a great trip.
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Sep 28th, 2013, 02:40 AM
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Thanks very much to the last 2 posters as well. I am really looking into everyone's suggestions as well. I am looking at 320 ranch at this stage purely because it has the nightly rate for a ranch. Another option I am looking at this stage it driving to Yellowstone from Hutchinson in Kansas. It would mean an overnight stop in Denver and in Steamboat Springs (or two night). It would also mean dropping out the San Francisco part of our trip. Not sure how I feel about this but one thing I do know is that visiting Steamboat and Yellowstone have always been on my 'to do' list. (San Francisco never seemed that important) but would love differing opinions?!
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Sep 28th, 2013, 07:23 AM
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Hi Kelly - 320 Ranch is nice and also is convenient on your original routing plan from as is further towards Yellowstone right on Highway 191.

How the heck are you in Hutchinson on a 3 week visit to the US? Nothing wrong with Kansas but IMO the drive from there to Denver is boring and flat for 7 hours - I'm sure you have seen on the map that is will be over 1000 miles from there to Yellowstone. What is the reason for wanting to see Steamboat (especially in the summer)? It is a nice little town to be sure but is mostly a winter ski town and is very small. If you were planning to be in Bozeman, Big Sky, Jackson, West Yellowstone, etc you would get the feel of a Rocky mountain town in the summer with all the same activities of white water rafting, views, etc.

I don't know where you are coming from and whether the appeal of the US prairie is important but I would be hard pressed to pass up San Francisco in exchange for a long drive and a few nights in Denver/Steamboat. (but if you are coming from say, Sydney Australia, I might feel differently as you would have seen a Bay city)!

I think SF is a beautiful city and I worked there for several years after growing up in MT so I have to admit bias for both of those locations although I love Colorado as well!
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Sep 28th, 2013, 08:40 AM
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I am assuming that you are in Hutchinson, Kansas, to visit family or close friends and leaving that out is not an option? Kansas doesn't typically get international visitors, so I'm pretty sure you have chosen it for some other reason. Anyway, you could get to Yellowstone from that direction, of course, and many people do. With three weeks, you can fit in Kansas, Yellowstone and California, but you probably need to do a fly/drive combo from one destination to another in the U.S. (and it seems you already have tickets to Bozeman and out of Salt Lake City?) San Francisco and Napa Valley are excellent destinations (and a nice contrast to both Kansas and Yellowstone), so if you have the budget, I would do all three.

I have no idea when you need to be in Hutchinson, Kansas, or if anything else on the itinerary can't be moved, but here is one scenario:

Los Angeles, 1 or 2 nights (jet lag), drive to
San Francisco (Napa Valley), 4 or 5 nights, fly to
Kansas City (Hutchinson), ? nights, drive to
Yellowstone/Big Sky (1 night en route,1 week there), fly to (from Bozeman or Salt Lake City)
Los Angeles, 1 night, fly home
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Sep 28th, 2013, 08:48 AM
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Just re-read your original post...since you have young children (I'm not sure how young), Napa Valley might not make the most sense. Disneyland in the L.A area would, however! San Francisco area also has plenty of activities for children, so when/if you need suggestions for that, re-post under California with questions.
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Sep 28th, 2013, 02:46 PM
  #11
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Yes we are visiting friends in Kansas and it will be around wheat harvest time (we are farmers). My kids will be 3 and 7 by then. We are going to Disneyland first up. Thanks for the advice, I have scrapped the idea of driving from Kansas to Yellowstone. I have done the drive from Hutchinson to Denver before and I do remember it was boring! But I love the roads over there and the fact that you can get places in little time really. I hate flying and the thought of changing planes with kids etc turns me off! That was why I was thinking of driving.

I am now trying to decide on spending more time in Yellowstone and dropping off San Francisco. We will definitely spend the last few days in San Diego as the kids want to go to LEGOLAND and I want to go to the Safari Park. And I think it will be nice to be on the beach for a few days before going home.
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Sep 28th, 2013, 02:52 PM
  #12
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Actually just looking at trying to reshuffle everything and fit in San Francisco. Probably won't fly out of Salt Lake City now as it's a big drive and doesn't save much money as if I was to fly out of Bozeman or Cody. I will reshuffle my dates and post back here with my itinerary for advice on the Yellowstone part!
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Sep 28th, 2013, 04:11 PM
  #13
 
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I agree with other posters that you should stay in the park to save some time and be able to check out the sights before breakfast. On our recent trip to Yellowstone and Tetons we ran into two different couples that booked inside Yellowstone within a week of their trip (taking advantage of others cancellations). Keep trying.
Tetons will take half the time or less of Yellowstone. Without hiking we saw Tetons in two days which included dinner in Jackson Hole on the way in and a three hour float trip on the Snake River (family friendly) the next day. Good luck and HAVE FUN!
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Sep 30th, 2013, 08:08 AM
  #14
 
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If you're going to visit Yellowstone, staying in the Park is a big advantage because the place is so big that getting into and out of it can be a big drain on your time. My favorite spot is Old Faithful and the new Snow Lodge is the most updated lodging. The biggest bargain used to be the cabins at Old Faithful Lodge (not the hotel). My second favorite location is the Hotel at Yellowstone Lake. If you have to be on the north end of Yellowstone (the Mammoth area) and can't get into Mammoth Hotel, Gardner is fairly convenient.

If you're thinking of staying a day at GT, there are tons of hotels in Jackson or Teton Village. These are nowhere near as difficult to book as Yellowstone. You should have no trouble getting the rooms you need in Yellowstone if you book now or as early as January for a June trip, but they bill you when you make the reservations in the Park.
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Sep 30th, 2013, 12:54 PM
  #15
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Thanks. I have looked at lodging in Yellowstone and there is only a few rooms left for my dates. No rooms at Old Faithful Inn though! I am going to get what I can and work my dates around it.
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Sep 30th, 2013, 12:59 PM
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Get the closest lodging you can get that can be cancelled.

Then in the last couple of months start calling a couple of times a day for cancellation.

People book a year ahead not knowing if they can take the trip. Then in the last month or two reality sets in and they cancel. There will be cancellations. Just make sure you get them for the days you want.

One of my granddaughters asked my daughter if she's going on another one of grandpa's trips. My daughter told me about it and I immediately book lodging. Will the trip take place? I have no idea. We'll talk about it in a couple of months.
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