Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page > Yellowstone & GTNP itinerary help needed

Yellowstone & GTNP itinerary help needed


Dec 27th, 2011, 06:45 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 40
Yellowstone & GTNP itinerary help needed

We're planning a trip Aug. 31-Sept 9 to GTNP & Yellowstone -- or vice versa... We fly into SLC at 7:30PM on the 31st and plan to drive for a couple hours, spend the night on the road somewher cheap (advice?), and then make the rest of the trip in the morning. I'm debating whether to begin in the Tetons or in Yellowstone. Current thought is:
Sept 1 - arrive in GTNP. Spend time in Jackson? Stay at Signal Mtn Lodge? Coulter Bay? 3 nights. Leave for Yellowstone Sept 4
Sept 4 - 5 stay at Canyon Lodge cabins in Yellowstone
Sept 6 - 7 stay at Old Faithful Lodge cabins
Sept 8 overnight at SLC airport and leave early Sept 9

Budget cabins with no private bath are just fine with us. I'm traveling with my adult daughter, and we both enjoy hiking and lots of gorgeous nature.A friend who loves the outdoors says to spend more time in GTNP... We've never seen either park. I've read all the forum posts, and have used them to plan the above itinerary, but I'd really appreciate your thoughts.
brosis is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 27th, 2011, 07:09 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 10,963
We've stayed at various places in GTNP and we especially liked Signal Mountain--it's right on the lake and the sensibly priced restaurant is good.

It is fun to spend a night or two in lodging near the town square in Jackson.

happytrailstoyou is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 27th, 2011, 08:06 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 40
Thanks for your speedy reply
brosis is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 28th, 2011, 01:27 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 700
If you can switch the park in date, it will be fine...
I explain : we find the hikes in GTNP more "physic" than in Yellowstone and so you will have better time by prepare in Yellowstone and be ready for GTNP.
In Yellowstone, near Canyon, the South Rim with trail to Ribbon lake and back by Clear lake is nice and allow times if you are good hikers to the north rim and the trail to the "brick falls"...
Another nice hike is Pelican valley and on the back way Storm point(near Lake Lodge).
The chain of Lakes(Cascade,Grebe, Wolf lake) is nice but you have to organise with the car...
In the Old faithfull area, Fairy falls and Imperial geyser is a nice "2/3 day" hike, as is Mystic falls even with the entire loop . You can combine with Lone Star Geyser...
The Upper geyser basin can be done at the end of the afternoon or early evening and the best is to combine with the "eruption's" schedule(generaly schedule obtained at visitor center...).
Some other hikes : Bunsen Peak/Osprey falls or Snow pass/The hoodoos(mammoth hot springs area) and one or the other can be combined with a visit to the terraces in time...
Heart lake, on the south part is one of our favorite...
No one of those hikes is really difficult. Some can be strenous because denivellation is high in a short distance(monument geyser basin ie) but a good hiker has no difficulties to hike them(I'm 53 and with some "extrapounds" and I do them without being alone...while hiking with my wife and my daughter, both without extrapounds and very good hikers...).
Another option to sleep ,is Lake Lodge cabins(some are basic and cheap..) : the site is nicer than canyon lodge...The small trail at sunrise from the road to the lakeshore is a must...

In GTNP, Signal mountain lodge is a nice spot to stay...
The hikes are longer and more strenous : we have hiked Holy lake and Solitude lake . They worth the hikes but it's long and denivelation is higher...Amphitheater lake is shorter but strenous...
Other hikes are possible(taggart Lk, two ocean,..) but Holy and solitude are our favorites...
And while in bear country be cautious...Bear spray, talking and respect of tteh "rules"...First on eis to go to the ranger station to know which hikes are closed...And if they are close, respect it...
PS : I'ev write some report review on this forum with more precisions/lodge, restaurant and hikes...
monpetit is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 28th, 2011, 03:11 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269
When I did this carrentals.com out of SLC up to Wasatch then on to Jackson Tetons Yellowstone.com used gorp.com to plan some hikes. Did cheap hotels bidding priceline and some koa.com cabins and a bit of tenting in good areas.Went all the way through to Cody then hung a right to Thermopolis Wind river canyon Cheyenne then back. Took a couple of weeks had a grand time.September when I did this for less crowds at yellowtone.com Have fun!
qwovadis is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 28th, 2011, 04:12 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,443
Personally, I would rather spend one more day in Yellowstone and one less in GTNP. We normally do a lot of hiking when visiting national parks. However, in Yellowstone, there was so much to see we never really did any hiking at all during our 4 days there. I would spend your 2 nights at Old Faithful in the Old Faithful Inn. Stay in the original part-shared bathrooms for a reasonable price. This is one of my favorite NP historic lodges. I would spend your other two days at Roosevelt Cabins. Colter Cabins aren't bad at GTNP. They also have tent cabins for inexpensive option.
spirobulldog is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 28th, 2011, 12:51 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 40
Spirobulldog- appreciate your advice. Why Roosevelt over Canyon? Which is better location?
brosis is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 28th, 2011, 12:58 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,443
We really enjoyed our stay at Roosevelt, even though we were there only one night.
spirobulldog is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 28th, 2011, 12:59 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,443
We spent 1 night at Roosevelt, OFI, and Lake Hotel. 2 nights at each would have been much better.
spirobulldog is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 28th, 2011, 01:08 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,443
link to our photos. This was Mid- June
spirobulldog is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 28th, 2011, 01:25 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,443
You will want to spend a full day just Geyser Gazing at the other gesyers near Old Faithful. I saw OF go 4 times. One time at 6:00AM with just myself and 1 other person there. Expect a couple of thousand in the afternoon at each OF eruption. We really liked Riverside Geyser and Castle Geyser. OF goes about every 90 minutes. They can predict it to within a +/- 5 minute window. Check at the Visitor Center and they can tell you about 6 other geysers predicted eruption times. Some of these geysers require a 1-3 hour wait. For example- Castle only goes off about twice per day. OF only last about 2 minutes, but Castle goes for 20 minutes or so and then a steam phase for another 20 minutes. At the end it can be kindof loud. Riverside Geyser goes about every 4-6 hours and it archs over the river-very pretty. It is loud and it lasted 10 or 15 minutes. Daisy Geyser goes every 5 hours or so and you can tell when it is about to erupt because the pool next to it drains. There is one geyser there that erupts all the time, but for some reason it stops a couple of times each day and that is what makes it unique(I am blank on its name) it only shoots up a few feet in the air. I think it might be names Constant Geyser. My parents saw Beehive go and they said it was pretty cool.

The hundreds of other geysers are unpredictable.

We did enjoy the falls at Canyon and Tower areas. There is a lot of wildlife near Roosevelt. Certainly you want to see Mammoth area, but it was our least favorite. There was a ton of elk there though.
spirobulldog is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 28th, 2011, 01:30 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,443
We have been to 29 National Parks, rafted the Grand Canyon, did some wild caving in Carlsbad and Mammoth cave, rappelled over waterfalls a couple of times, swam in Crater Lake, etc.
Yosemite is my favorite and Yellowstone is my 2nd favorite. My wife and daughter both put Yellowstone at the top.

It is a complete park with everything. Hiking, wildlife, waterfalls, geysers, etc. We hope to return again in the winter sometime and in the fall during elk rut season.

We spent 2 days at GTNP in Colter Village Cabin. We did do some hiking there, but would have liked to have done more. If you do much hiking at all, I would buy bear spray.
spirobulldog is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 28th, 2011, 03:26 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,398
The cabins at Canyon have private bathrooms; the ones at Old Faithful don't, but we were pleased with both choices.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 28th, 2011, 04:52 PM
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 438
There are a couple places just off the road heading north from SLC airport that would be fairly inexpensive. About an hour north in Layton at the Antelope Island off ramp you'll find a cluster of hotels around the Davis convention center. A little further north is Ogden or Brigham City. If you could get to Brigham City then the rest of the drive will not be as crowded.

I'd go to the Tetons first. That first view of them is just breathtaking and really gets you excited for the rest. Two days there for a first time would be okay. If you don't stay in Jackson be sure to at least spend half a day wandering through the old town area and see the elk arches etc. lots of fun.

The Canyon area is very central to the falls, Hayden Valley and the wildlife there and even into Norris. But it is also more crowded. Roosevelt is less crowded and allows speedier access to Lamar Valley but is a little more remote for most of the rest of the park. It depends on what you want. But for sure stay in Old Faithful anywhere you can get rooms.
InSandy is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 28th, 2011, 05:48 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 40
InSandy, SpiroBulldog, and Elendipickle... you've been so helpful! Thanks so much.
InSandy... we'll definitely head first to Tetons. Maybe we'll split between OF, Canyon and Roosevelt for variety. I'll check out lodging in Ogden and Brigham. Probably want to make it as far as we can so I'll opt for Brigham City. This is just the advice I needed.

SpiroBulldog, thanks for the tips on hikes and geysers. I do have bearspray from my hikes in Glacier a few years back. I'll be sure to bring it with.

I love this Forum.
brosis is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 30th, 2011, 02:51 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,764
I was in YNP & GTNP a couple of years ago.

If I remember correctly the cabins with bathrooms aren't much more expensive than those without. Old Faithful Lodge has both.

The only real hiking mistake we made was Jenny Lake on a Sunday. Shoulder-to-shoulder was a bit too tight.

As spiro wrote allow wandering time in the Geyser Basin in the OF area. OF is far from the only attraction although it is among the most impressive.

Try to walk the Geyser Loop at least twice: Once early and once late in the day to capture the different lighting effects.

There are 5 predicted geysers. You should always try to schedule viewing by those with the longest interval as they errupt the least often.

OF is about 90 minutes so very easy to see. Go there early in the morning when the sun is behind you and there's less of a breeze (hopefully). Late in the day you can view it from the other side near Plume Geyser and you'll be among the few there.

Grand Prismatic Spring is one of the "stars". There's an unofficial trail that gives you an elevated view.

Also, in Canyon the Lower Falls has many views. In my opinion the two best are Artist Point (crowds due to proximity to parking lot) for the view up the Canyon and Red Rock Point for the great distance and viewing angle of the Falls. Very few people will be here as it requires a 20 minute hike down (and then back up). We saw a rainbow about 9:30AM.

Don't miss the Yellowstone signature Mt Washburn hike. It's about 3.5 miles each way and the trail is very easy as it's a smooth dirt road that's used to transport supplies to the ranger station.

The problem with this hike is that it starts at 8,800 ft and ends at about 10,400 ft. I was sucking for oxygen from the start.

Look for my report (Aug-Sept 2010) for instructions on how to find the Grand Prismatice Spring trail.

You can see my photos at:
Myer is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 31st, 2011, 06:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 4,044
Thanks, will look for it.
Placename is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 31st, 2011, 10:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 2,637
I'd say you've got time with this itinerary to spend a day in Jackson. The town is fun to explore (lots of shops and galleries and restaurants), the National Museum of Wildlife Art there is excellent, and if you're around in summer on a Wednesday or Saturday evening, the local rodeo is fun.

Two days for GTNP and the rest of time for Yellowstone seems about right to me.
bachslunch is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jan 4th, 2012, 10:42 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,096
You can search my user name for my trip report for Yellowstone and GTNP which we did this past summer (2011). We didn't do as much hiking because we have young kids, but there is info there on lodging etc.

You can't bring bear spray on the plane. You have to buy it when you get here. You can also take a chance and go to the back country office at either park and ask the ranger if anybody has left theirs. That's what I do and I leave it back there when I am done.

Search the national park websites for both parks for hikes to do. There are also some good hiking guide books. Look at the associations of each park to search their online bookstores--or search REI. You can get good Trails Illustrated maps as well.

the most amazing hike to do in GTNP is to take the trail to Middle Teton at Lupine Meadows trail head. Instead of going to Middle Teton when you get to the turn off is to go right up into a high mountain lake area. Just breathtaking. This is all well marked/maintained trails etc. All of the trails are.
StantonHyde is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 5th, 2012, 01:34 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 1,855
We spent about 11 days last summer in both Yellowstone and GTNP, and loved both for different reasons.
We stayed at Signal Mountain, and it was a great choice: nice room, amazing view, good food, and decent prices.

You don’t mention wildlife – in Yellowstone, it was one of the highlights of our trip. So depending on your interests, you might want to add the Jackson night to Yellowstone or not. Keep in mind, wildlife is…well, wild. You cannot count on it to be there when you are looking for it, so multiple trips to the same place might be needed (if that’s one of your interests). Bears and wolves are elusive. Elk and deer (and oh yes, bison) not so much.

We spent 3 nights at Canyon, 2 at Lake and 3 at Old Faithfull – but we like to take our time, enjoy each area and we wanted time for photography and wildlife. Also, in the OF area, you need to arrange your schedule based on the geysers eruption time, and sometimes it means you need to wait (again, if that’s one of your interests). Except for OF, the eruption time is listed as +/- 2 hours (or in some cases, 3 or 4 hours).

We also stayed 3 days in GTNP, and were glad we did. Besides the beauty of the park, we “needed” to see a moose, and it took some time and lots of random driving to find them. The float on the Snake River was very nice, too.
xyz99 is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:03 AM.