Yellowstone 3 day itinerary advice

Jul 21st, 2014, 04:17 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 76
Yellowstone 3 day itinerary advice

Hi all,
We are going with our children to Yellowstone for 3 nights: 2 nights at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and 1 night at the Lake Hotel. How should we organize our trip? So much to see and so little time!
Thanks so much.
ztrip is offline  
Jul 21st, 2014, 06:42 AM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,298
At least drive the figure 8 or use the new Lynx bus on one of your days.
Congrats on getting reservations. Which entrance are you using? Are you flying and renting a car or traveling in your own car from home?
Two weeks from today, I'll be starting my PIT project in Gardiner MT. I'll be driving through Yellowstone to get there.
tomfuller is online now  
Jul 26th, 2014, 07:49 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,091
I took my daughter and granddaughter to Yellowstone (my second trip there) and we just got back late last night.

In order to get good advice on such a very short trip I'd really have to know what the three nights really gives you. How many days and are they complete days.

There are certain parts of the park that don't merit your valuable time and there are road closures due to construction (between Norris and Mammoth.

What are your interests? Photography (my 7 year old granddaughter has her own DSLR camera), wildlife viewing, hiking, feature viewing, etc?

In my opinion Yellowstone is less of a scenery park and more of a feature park.

I'd hate to recommend you try for slightly different lodging unless you could get last minute reservation in Canyon.

Not knowing answers to the above, it's difficult to help but I'll try.

Old Faithful area:
Walk between Old Faithful and the north end of the Upper Geyser Basin to Morning Glory. Old Faithful is the easiest geyser to see as the complex is built beside it and it erupts more or less every 90 minutes. There are 4 other predicted geysers in the basin.

We were there on a very rare day. All 5 predicted geysers were predicted to erupt within a 2 1/2 hour period (we didn't see Daisy).

I would do an early morning walk around Geyser Loop.

Drive up to Grand Prismatic Spring to see its spectacular colors.

Canyon is a very good location if you can get a late cancellation:

Go to several of the Lower Yellowstone Falls viewpoints on the north and south rim. They are all different and require different amounts of effort.

When we went to Yosemite 3 years ago my daughter took an art class one day while I went hiking. On this trip she wanted to paint. My daughter brought supplies and we found an excellent spot at artist point. Amazing how many people stopped to watch them paint.

Take an early morning drive through Hayden Valley. This could take a few hours depending upon what you're lucky enough to see.

I went there each of the 3 mornings I was there. I saw several deer and elk very close to Canyon just off the roads. Bison a little farther south in the Valley. Two Grizzlies off in the distance with a bison carcass and even a wolf off in the distance.

It's quite common to see bison right beside the road or even blocking traffic as they cross. This is an event.

From Canyon it's not a very long drive up to Lamar Valley and it's wildlife.

I might be able to help more with more info.
Myer is offline  
Jul 28th, 2014, 02:42 AM
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Posts: 76
Thanks for your help...
We are all interested in photography, hiking and wildlife. My husband is very interested in the science.

We're flying to Jackson and driving to Yellowstone (South entrance) early the next morning. That should give us almost a full day, which I though we could spend in the Old Faithful area, Madison and Norris. The second day I thought we would go to Mammoth and Tower Falls. Our last day we would spend in the Canyon and Lake. I read this area was particularly good to see wildlife, so we could take the park's tour.

ztrip is offline  
Jul 28th, 2014, 08:54 AM
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I would definitely not go to Mammoth. It's not what it used to be.

Tower Falls is a complete waste. It has a prior reputations and there is a food concession there so the parking lot is full.

The hike to the bottom has been permanently closed for some years. The view of the Fall (yes Fall) is very, very restricted. You only see the water going over the top and nothing down due to tree growth.

There are other waterfalls in addition to the Lower Falls that are much more worth your time. Look for my trip report of YNP from 2010. I did a review of waterfalls.

For the waterfalls go to the Lower falls. On the north rim go to Lookout Point and from there hike down to Redrock Point around 9:30 or so to see a rainbow. On the south rim go to Uncle Tom's Trail (not Point which is a view of the much smaller Upper Falls). Then go to Artist Point for the classic canyon view.

In Canyon (I was just there last week) I drove between Canyon and Hayden 6:30 - 8:30 each morning. Off the main road and partway down the Lower Rim road I saw deer, elk, bison. In Hayden at a distance a couple of grizzlies with a bison carcass. Across the road at the same location a wolf.

What park's tour? Their yellow bus? No!!!! They don't do what you want. And their stops when you see wildlife are minimal as they have to keep a schedule.

If you want a nice hiking challenge try Mt Washburn. It just above Canyon on the way to Tower.

The trail is 3.5 miles (there are two trailheads. the southern one is Dunraven Pass). It's a gentle dirt road up to the ranger station at the top. The issue is the elevation. It starts at 8,800ft and goes up to 10,400. Allow about 2.5 hours up and an hour less going down.

I wouldn't spend valuable time in Madison, Norris or Mammoth. And Lake is really intended for those who like boating and I think fishing (not sure about fishing).

If you want the best combination of attractions it's Old Faithful area (a lot more than just OF), Canyon (above and below). If you have time you can go to Lamar Valley. It's bison as well as Hayden but many more.

Grand Tetons is a scenery park.

If you're into photography, on the way up (AM with the sun to your back) turn only Antelope Flats and go to the two Mormon Barns. Then a mile or so up on the other side, go down the road to Schwabacher Landing. Great reflections of the Tetons in the river.

Near the top where the inside and outside roads meet you have Oxbow Bend. You can stop at a few more turnouts.

On the way back to Jackson take the inside road for some different views along the way.

We went down the Moose-Wilson Road on the way to the airport and at the first wet area saw a female moose who cooperated.
Myer is offline  
Jul 28th, 2014, 09:16 AM
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For someone interested in science (I'm assuming geology and geothermal), Mammoth is a must. Can't imagine why you would be told not to see it. (Nothing is "what it used to be" in Yellowstone, including Old Faithful, which is #1 on my "don't bother" list; different strokes.)
sylvia3 is online now  
Jul 28th, 2014, 09:17 AM
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p.s. Norris Geyser Basin is absolutely stunning!
sylvia3 is online now  
Jul 28th, 2014, 10:00 AM
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So I guess we have different opinions. That's fine.

I guess OF isn't worth seeing.

I was there last week and there was a rare occurrence.

All 5 predicted geysers were predicted to erupt within a 2 1/2 hour period. We didn't see Daisy but saw the rest. A sight to see.

The next day while walking Geyser Loop we saw Beehive Geyser's indicator spouting. That means Beehive is about to erupt. It's eruptions are about twice as high as those of OF.

I guess Mammoth may be of interest to someone with an interest in science. What used to be hot springs have in recent years become white and dry.

I was just trying to filter sights that would allow you to spend your time as efficiently as possible.

Be aware there's road construction between Norris and Mammoth with road closures as well as delays when not closed.
Myer is offline  
Jul 28th, 2014, 06:01 PM
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Posts: 76
Thanks for the input. I'll do some research.
ztrip is offline  
Jul 28th, 2014, 06:11 PM
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By park tour I meant ranger programs, not bus
Are there any that are particularly good? We'll have our kids 8, 10, 12
ztrip is offline  
Jul 29th, 2014, 05:45 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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There are some ranger tours intended for kids. Others for the whole family.

My granddaughter went on three kids ranger hikes (actually short walks with a long stop for discussion and photos, etc) at Yosemite when she was 4.

This time she decided not to take part in the Jr Ranger stuff.

To me the main problem is that you have to get to the right place at the right time from wherever you happened to be.

During our time last week I never saw a ranger with a group of people.

With the internet you could do a search for how geysers work, predicted geysers and others in the basins you plan on visiting. For instance, Beehive geyser is not predicted but it erupts within 10 minutes of it's "indicator" spouting.

We saw a woman who spends her summers at Yellowstone watching geysers. We were right beside Beehive. She told us about the "indicator" so we waited. A crowd was forming in each of three places with a good view. Somehow word got around very quickly. The eruption was gigantic!!!

Would a ranger walk around Geyser Loop be informative? Probably. I'm sure it would be less than an hour if there is one. It depends on your timing of where you are.

Print out The ranger talks for the main areas where you'll be such as Old Faithful, Canyon, etc. If they're convenient pick a couple.

For wildlife I find rangers are more of a hindrance than a help.

You mentioned photography, hiking and wildlife.

I've covered them all. You have to decide if Mammoth is worth the time and effort (road construction).

I can summarize.

OF area.
Hikes - Upper Geyser Basin to Morning Glory (try to time with at least one predicted geyser), Geyser Loop (shorter but only the back of OF for geysers but still colorful and interesting), see Grand Prismatic Spring then go to Fairy Falls and hike first part and go up hill for great view and continue to the falls if you want.

On my first visit I thought OF would be a consumer attraction. I was truly impressed with the eruptions. All eruptions are not the same. Some small and others tall and straight.

Little wildlife near OF in general.

Canyon area
Wildlife - early in the morning and/or quite late in the afternoon between Canyon Village and Hayden Valley and also along South Rim Rd. possible deer, elk, bears and bison.

The Lower Falls. Lookout Point and hike down to Redrock Point (from the same place and 9:30 - 10AM rainbow). On the south side Uncle Tom's Trail many stairs down close to the bottom of the Lower Falls and famous Artist Point.

Mt Washburn hike about 15 minutes above Canyon Village. They can boast about it for the rest of their lives. Allow at least four hours including a rest stop in the ranger station.

With the above you'll have ample use of your cameras.
Myer is offline  
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