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Yellowstone and Grand Tetons Sept - Itinerary/Lodging Decisions


Apr 4th, 2014, 11:31 AM
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Yellowstone and Grand Tetons Sept - Itinerary/Lodging Decisions

We are tentatively planning to go to Yellowstone and GT 3rd week in Sept. The more I research Yellowstone, the more I see it is huge.

So, How is this? ---- Stay in GT for 2-3 days and Yellowstone for 6-7.

We will be flying into Jackson Hole and would probably like to stay in GT park. Then go to Yellowstone from there.
Questions: (1) Should we stay in one place only in Yellowstone for the duration or stay in more than one place in order to get closer to some of the different areas we want to explore? Seems like a lot of driving every day if we don't do it that way.
(2) Should we stay in GT Park or is staying in Jackson Hole or some town outside of GT OK (i.e., less than 15 or so minutes to get to GT).

Then back to Jackson Hole overnight to catch our flight home.
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Apr 4th, 2014, 11:41 AM
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Sounds like a great trip. My $0.02:

1) I'd stay in at least two different places, given you have a week in Yellowstone. I'm sure the Yellowstone experts here will chime in.

2) I like staying in the Park.

BUT, for September you need to be making reservation in the Parks several months ago, so it may boil down to what you can get now, or what opens up before then.

Good luck and have a great trip.
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Apr 4th, 2014, 11:49 AM
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My family went to Yellowstone in August 2012 and we stayed at the Roosevelt Lodge and the Old Faithful Inn. Both were excellent for vastly different reasons and I am grateful we were able to stay at both. I do not have experience with the other hotels in Yellowstone so can not compare. I posted a trip report on here about it. As for advance planning I hacked my was through a few months prior to our trip just keep calling people cancel. Book whatever you can inside the park and keep trying worked for us.

Good luck it is an awesome trip. I highly recommend "Yellowstone Treasures" by Janet Chapple....invaluable source of information takes things down to the mile marker level
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Apr 4th, 2014, 12:20 PM
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I went a few years ago and stayed in O.F. Lodge, Canyon and Signal Mountain in GTNP.

I'm taking my daughter and granddaughter in late July of this years and staying in the same areas: O.F. Snow Lodge, Canyon and Signal Mtn.

Excellent locations.
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Apr 4th, 2014, 12:35 PM
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Your planned length of stay looks good; nice to see somebody actually allow time to really appreciate this huge park. Also, September is a beautiful time to go, and the crowds will have largely diminished.

However, that also means that you are coming at a time when facilities start to close up for the season. Take a look at the schedules found at the link below and make sure you are coordinating with that:


For Grand Teton, if you don't elect to stay in park, take a look at Teton Village. We've stayed at the Alpenhof, but there are others there as well. You can take Moose Wilson Road into the park as a sort of back door, and not have to go into Jackson and then up.
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Apr 4th, 2014, 01:51 PM
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For Grand Teton Lodging, we also suggest checking out Teton Village. From there, there's a convenient gravel road up to the park. The "Mangy Moose" in Teton Village is a fun place to have dinner. Depending on your taste in lodging, we enjoyed "Hotel Terra" in the village.
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Apr 4th, 2014, 01:56 PM
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Myer - How long are you saying in each place in Yellowstone?

I did look at Signal Mountain in GT and it has availability for our dates - or rather for around the time we think we will be there, as we're not sure the exact dates yet! Sludick - I will look at Teton Village as well, so thanks.

I know some lodging in Yellowstone itself will be closed by the time we get there. Any suggestions on lodging that may not be a National Park lodging but will afford us easy access to one part of Yellowstone or another?
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Apr 4th, 2014, 02:52 PM
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If Mammoth (northern Yellowstone) is not available, Gardiner MT is not too far away. I did find a place in Gardiner to get a good breakfast at 6:30AM last August.
The stone entrance arch in the south end of Gardiner is impressive.
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Apr 4th, 2014, 03:03 PM
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We liked Signal Mountain, too. Keep checking back and you will find space there on the dates you want--there are many cancellations. The rooms are simple, but the view is great and the dining room serves good food at sensible prices.

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Apr 4th, 2014, 06:38 PM
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Three years ago I took my daughter and granddaughter (this summer she'll be almost 8 years old) to Yosemite. Last summer granddaughter ask my daughter if we'll go on another one of grandpa's trips (hiking, photography, etc). As soon as my daughter told me about that I booked lodging at the three places I mentioned above. I somehow managed to end up with an extra overlapped night which I still have to decide.

Because of the flights I decided we'd take a flight a day early that arrives at 8PM. We'll pick up the car and supplies (Albertsons) and sleep over in Jackson.

Hopefully we'll leave Jackson by 9:30AM and with about 1 1/2 hours of stops along the way (Mormon Row, Schwabacher Landing, Oxbow Bend and Willow Flats Overlook) and arrive at OF around 1 - 1:30.

We'll have the rest of the day and most of the next day in the OF area (OF, OF Overlook hike, Geyser Loop, Upper Basin (Grand, Riverside Geysers, Morning Glory, Grand Prismatic Spring, etc).

We'll spend 2 days in the Canyon area. My granddaughter has specifically requested that she try the Mount Washburn hike (3 1/2 miles up to a ranger station - starts at 8,800 ft and ends at 10,350). We'll tour the various Lower Yellowstone Falls views some of which require effort (Redrock Point & Uncle Tom's Trail). Time in Hayden and Lamar Valleys. If she can't complete Mt Washburn but wants another we may do part of Yellowstone Picnic hike for the views.

In Grand Tetons we'll do the Jenny Lake hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Pt. I'm not sure what else. Maybe String or Leigh Lake.

Clearly she looks at this as a hiking trip. But I have to be ready to shift if she's had enough at some point.

The lodging will be 1 night in Jackson to start, one night at OF Snow Lodge (I still haven't completely decided on one or two nights here probably one), three nights at Canyon Lodge and two nights at Signal Mountain.

Our flight leaves at 3:15PM so leaving from Signal Mtn and returning the car will be no problem. Depending upon what granddaughter wants to do the last day we may spend a few hours in Jackson.

= = = = =
About lodging. If anything is not available note that most people make reservations a year ahead. They make reservation and have no idea if the trip will take place. A lot of trips don't take place and dates are released. Start calling every day or twice a day until you start getting your dates.

In Grand Tetons Signal Mountain is an excellent location. In general you are always better off in the park. Wildlife is most active early and late. You want to keep your nighttime driving to a minimum and try to avoid hitting animals on the road.

Signal Mtn is obviously close to Signal Mountain. We saw black bears there. Canyon is good for Hayden Valley.
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Apr 5th, 2014, 07:24 AM
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Wow Myer - you really have this thing figured out!

We will probably be flying in and arriving in Jackson at about 12:30 (from Grand Junction CO, from touring Moab). Guessing we can just go straight to GT - checking in at Signal Mountain. Spend 2-3 days there and then onto Yellowstone.

Anyone know how long it will take to get to Mammoth from Old Faithful (if we get to stay at the Old Faithful Lodge)? If we want to stay in some area North of OF for a few days, we may have to stay in Mammoth or some place outside the Park because we can't get into whatever lodging is available at that time of year within the Park itself. Don't want to spend our whole vacation just driving long distances.

All this is up in the air (ha!) right now. But looking at flights - NYC to Grand Junction - Grand Junction to Jackson Hole- Jackson Hole to NYC. United seems have the best connections. About $700. We usually goto Europe, but it's time to see some of my own country. (I have seen parts before this, just not these parts.) Airfares definitely better than those going to Europe! Although here they will be charging baggage fees.
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Apr 5th, 2014, 05:41 PM
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I've been there before.

I check planes and for second half of Sept I see NYC to JAC at just over $500. Many flights with United & AA.
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Apr 5th, 2014, 06:12 PM
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Yes, if we were just going to JAC, perhaps the NYC to JAC R/T would be about $500. Unfortunately we are going NYC to Grand Junction, CO (for a few days to see Moab), then Grand Junction to JAC and finally JAC to NYC (home). So I guess the extra stop in Grand Junction, making it 3 flights, pushes the price up.
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Apr 6th, 2014, 08:04 AM
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Of interest.
Salt Lake is a real airport as opposed to Grand Junction with limited flights.

It is a longer drive from SLC but not really long. Grand Junction is about 2 hours and SLC about 4.

I assume once in Moab you'll spend time at Arches. The Moab area is good for at least 4 days. And I don't sit around.

Arches NP (Fiery Furnace ranger led hike, Delicate Arch, Double Arch and much more)

Canyonlands NP (not one of my favorites compared to Arches)
Dead Horse Point State Park (only if you go to Canyonlands - I liked it better)

Fisher Towers area (of Citigroup tv commercial fame)

You can see my photos of all these trips at:
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Apr 6th, 2014, 01:22 PM
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Your pix are beautiful. Didn't think about spending 4 days at Moab, but maybe we will. Think we will still fly into Grand Junction vs. SLC as the less driving the better as only my husband will be driving. I don't know how to drive. (A real NYC girl!)

Have a great time in July. Hope to hear some Fodor trip news from you when you get back.
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Apr 10th, 2014, 05:24 AM
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I thought I'd weigh in on the Tetons. I think September is the best time to visit. My husband tries to get out there every Sept for some fishing. We take the kids every few years in the summer. We prefer staying in the park at either Colter Bay cabins or Jackson Lake Lodge. Last summer we compromised and did a few nights at Colter Bay cabins because my husband likes those best. We then did a few nights at Jackson Lake Lodge because those are a little more upscale. If you want to splurge, Jenny Lake Lodge is beautiful. We do day trips to Yellowstone so have never stayed overnight there. We've stayed in Teton Village before which is the ski area, but prefer the park in the summer/fall. The town of Jackson is great to visit with the shops and restaurants. We usually just drive in during the day and have not stayed overnight there. If we have the time, we've flown into SLC and driven up, about 6 hours I think. Have a wonderful trip.
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Apr 10th, 2014, 11:46 AM
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My DH and I visited GT and Yellowstone last year, Sept. 19-29. We were there at the tail end of the season and several hotels were shutting down the week that we left. Our first night and last night we stayed in a B&B in Teton Ski area, we arrived at night and it was much easier to drive into GT in early morning. In GT we stayed at the Colter Bay cabins; we drove from there up to Mammoth and stayed several nights, and then stayed in the Old Faithful Inn.

We flew into Jackson Hole from EWR, changing in Dallas I think. We went first to the grocery store in Jackson Hole and stocked up so we didn't have to stop and find places to eat lunch. It was a great way to save a couple bucks; some of the park dining venues are expensive.

I have to say that GT was extraordinarily beautiful. Some of my photos with the changing leaves, and the snow on the peaks are incredible. We had great hiking weather for the 2 1/2 days we were in the park. However, if you're going at the end of September, be ready for possible snow, which is what we had starting the 26th, when the temps went down into the 30s. I was wearing many layers and at points I was a bit uncomfortable actually -- cold and damp. I was super happy to have had a fleece cap. Also, when we were at OFI, the rangers were continuously updating a map showing which roadways were closed due to weather. The morning of the 27th the road going down out of Yellowstone from OFI was closed for several hours. I think I would've been warmer/happier going the previous week but you never can tell how the weather will be.

Two of the evenings that we stayed in Mammoth we had dinner in Gardiner, MT. It was a lot cheaper than the park venue, plus we enjoyed being in a real little town (we're from just outside NYC). Also, there's a very nice Laundromat there where we spent 2 hours or so washing the dust out of our clothes ... ;-)

We left Old Faithful early on Saturday Sept. 28 and stopped again in GT (after snow/cold weather in OF area, GT was dry and gorgeous) and managed to get into Jackson Hole in late afternoon, just in time for a couple beers and dinner at the brewery restaurant there. We didn't go in any shops but enjoyed walking around, and took some photos of the elk antler arches at the park.

Oh -- you asked how long it took from Mammoth to Old Faithful. We had snow that day, and the roadways while plowed, do not get any treatments, to protect the wildlife and the environment. So we were driving slowly when we were at the highest altitude. We also stopped to see some of the geo-thermal features. I would say it took several hours.

hope this is helpful.
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Apr 13th, 2014, 10:59 AM
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I would personally stay in only one place in Yellowstone. Six days is a long visit for Yellowstone, but maybe you plan to hike and fish. The entire park can easily be seen in 3-4 days. I would stay at the iconic Old Faithful Lodge- easy to get around from there and part of the thrilling scenery is in the drive around the park. I personally would not stay at the Roosevelt lodge unless I was 30 years old and liked to rough it. The last time I was there the cabins were very rustic and there was a community bath and shower. Heat consisted of a wood burning stove. You will be there in Sept and it will be cold in the mornings- freezing will be likely. I was there Labor Day one year and ice on my windshield . Remember to get up early to drive and see abundant wildlife- the critters are out by 6 AM.

In GT I like the Teton Village and Jenny Lake Lodge. Please be advised that accommodations in Jenny Lake and anywhere in Jackson Hole are expensive as is dining and food.
You will have a grand time, but it will be late in the season and some things and accommodations close after Labor Day. Also expect cold nights and mornings and 60-70 degree afternoons. Take knit hats, coats, and gloves.Book those reservations right now.
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Apr 13th, 2014, 12:16 PM
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If you stay at OF for the whole trip, getting to Hayden or Lamar is really impossible as you'll have to drive either way in the dark.

From Canyon, Hayden is no problem
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Apr 13th, 2014, 12:49 PM
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I can't imagine easily seeing the entire park in 3-4 days. We are not strenuous hikers - prefer to take shorter hikes under 2 hours each (and maybe 2 a day) - but unless you get out and do some walking, you will miss so much. We've made 3 visits, twice at 5 days in Yellowstone + 2 days in GT, and once for 8 days at Yellowstone. I still don't feel like we've seen more than some of the park.

Myer's comment is spot on. Even in September, with less people, it's a very long day trying to drive that figure 8 of the park road. If you can split it up into two places, that would be ideal. We have stayed at our timeshare in West Yellowstone for the entire time on 2 occasions and done that long drive. Tends to be harder to catch that early morning/dusk animal time, too.

P.S. We are planning another visit perhaps next year, to see more of what we've missed so far. ;-)
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