Yellowstone & GTNP Lodging/Itinerary

Old May 9th, 2010, 07:02 PM
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Yellowstone & GTNP Lodging/Itinerary

I've started to do some initial planning for next year's NP park trip and Yellowstone seems to be the place to go. I've breezed through ~12 months of posts and am now halfway informed.

Family of 4 (kids will be 9 & 12) who enjoy hiking and viewing wildlife. We prefer to stay in the parks when possible and understand the location/accommodation trade that's involved. Private bath is only real requirement (as far as I know). I'm targeting mid-August as that fits our schedule the best. I think we can do 10 days /9 nights total including travel. For now, we can assume we will fly into Jackson but it's obviously too early to tell.

I was surprised to see that Xanterra is already taking reservations, so I thought I'd ask a few questions. My initial thoughts are 2-3 days in GTNP and 6-7 in YNP.

1) Is it "better" to do GTNP before, after or both (if flying in/out of Jackson)?

2) For 6-7 days in YNP, are 2 base camps (say Canyon and Old Faithful) sufficient or should we add a third (say trade Canyon for Lake Hotel & Roosevelt)? Note, we stayed in 4 different lodges for Glacier and liked moving "camp" rather than spending the extra time in the car backtracking.

3) Given those 2-3 base camps in YNP, is there an optimal/preferred order for viewing the park?

4) Given that our kids will be tweens, should we plan any time in Jackson for non-park activities (e.g. river trips, etc.)??? Maybe plan to stay in Jackson the last day/night?

Thanks for your help, as always.
indy_dad is offline  
Old May 10th, 2010, 04:02 AM
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Your kids my like the alpine slide in Jackson. I think you are planning the perfect amount of time at each place. We stayed at a cabin in Colter Village in GTNP and it was great. Had three beds in the cabin and a bath. We stayed at 3 places in Yellowstone. Roosevelt(cabin with bath), Lake Hotel(room with bath), Old Faithful Inn (room without bath). OFI did have a sink in the room and the bath was down the hall. My daughter and I had no problems, but my wife complained about the lack of a bath. But I really wanted to stay in the original section. I think you are missing something if you don't stay at Roosevelt for a night or two. Mammoth area was our least favorite section. Definately plan an entire day just for geyser gazing around old faithful area. Don't miss Riverside or Castle Geyers(much much better than Old Faithful). Do try to catch OF in the morning, so you can have it to yourself. One morning around 6:00am it was just myself and one other man there to watch it go. In the day expect 2000 people. I think I saw OF go 5 times. One thing we didn't do, as we were there in June and the river was to fast, was to swim in The Boiling River or Firehole River. I would do that if I were there in August. You might want to drive Beartooth HWY one day as well. Sounds like you have plenty of time to do everything, sounds like a great great trip.

I would probably do Yellowstone first and finish with GTNP and a final day in Jackson.

We were there in June and there are trade-offs for different times of the year. The negative aspects of the time you plan for is that Waterfalls won't be at their best, you are less likely to see bears, and it will be crowded. But I would think anytime would be a good time to go.

we had planned on doing some hikes, but never really go to them as there was just that much to be seen from the car. We were there a total of 5 days and your schedule sounds much better.
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Old May 11th, 2010, 09:17 AM
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OFI and Canyon are two excellent choices. Both give a good location for their side of the park. I wouldn't stay more than 2 nights at OFI, though. From Canyon you can easily get to Hayden Valley, Lake and the Upper and Lower Falls. Getting to Tower and Lamar Valley isn't too bad.

I agree that you should consider Roosevelt, with or without a bath in the cabin. They aren't that far away and are modern. You're right at the road to Lamar Valley. You're not far from Mammoth and there's a good chance of seeing black bears between the lodge and Floating Island Lake.

We stay in the Tetons the end of the trip. It only matters to be closer to the airport for the flight home. There's nice places in the Tetons to stay or you could stay in Jackson and make the drive every to the park. We like Jackson Lake Lodge and Signal Mountain Lodge looks good as well. We drove around Colter Bay but can't comment on it.

One thing to consider on the base camps. In August, you need to get up early and get to the wildlife areas to enhance your chances. As the day heats up, the wildlife will look for shade. Staying at Lake offers little over Canyon while Roosevelt gets you close to Lamar Valley. On the other hand, you lose the time getting ready to get out in the morning. You may have had enough practice in Glacier to know how that works.

We put some planning information for Yellowstone on our website. There might be something there to help. There's also pictures from the Tetons (link on left) that might help you organize some of the time down there.

Have fun. You have enough time for a really nice trip.
AlJ is offline  
Old May 11th, 2010, 11:02 AM
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They've pretty much covered everything above. Agree with 3 places in Yellowstone for you, OFI - 2 nights, Roosevelt 2 nights (never stayed there -- other options are Mammoth, Gardiner or Cooke City for the north) and the remainder (in the middle) at Canyon (or Lake). It doesn't matter where you start in Yellowstone. We have gone right to Yellowstone and finished in the Tetons and have also stayed one night in Jackson before going to Yellowstone -- usually depending when our flight gets in. If you have a later flight (which honestly you probably won't know anymore for sure until right before you go -- they've changed ours about 4 times so far), you would want to stay in the Tetons or Jackson the first night. IMO I would plan on the first night in Jackson anyway -- then you won't have to worry about the flight being delayed and trying to drive to Yellowstone in the dark.
You can stop at Albertson's and stock up, visit the southern part of the Tetons and then leave the next AM (again visiting the viewpoints in the Tetons on the way) for Yellowstone. You may want to drive all the way up to your accommodations in the north and start there -- ending your trip in GTNP (which we always do -- closer to the airport). But you can also start at OF and work your way north. We've driven from Gardiner to GTNP easily in a day, stopping many times so it is doable either way. If you fly into another airport you would want to change this itinerary around.
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Old May 18th, 2010, 05:40 AM
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Old May 18th, 2010, 02:15 PM
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I'm going at the start of August (2010). We're staying at OF for two nights (2 days), Canyon for 3 nights (3 days) and Signal Mtn for 3 nights (2 days).

I tend to go farthest and work my way back. I also consider the flight times.

We should have a couple of hours near OF the day we arrive and the morning in GT before the short drive to the airport.

I'll let you know how it all works out in my trip report.
Myer is offline  
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