Yellowstone - best places of what is left??

Jan 15th, 2008, 01:07 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 38
Yellowstone - best places of what is left??

Okay, I know a discussion about Yellowstone is from the Department of Redundancy Department but a few of you ended up making some wonderful suggestions about our first trip to Yosemite and Lake Tahoe and it went very well. I am back again after we may have just discounted a Grand Canyon trip for various reasons. So here goes.

Wife and I planning first time trip to Yellowstone in July, 08(what?, you mean other people may be there??!!). From Los Angeles, idea is to fly into Salt Lake City on a Saturday, get to the parks on Sunday. Plan on three nights in YNP, 2 nights in Tetons(Jackson Hole). I see most places in YNP are booked so suggestions wanted:
1) The Mammoth Lodge, Lake Yellowstone hotel, Canyon Lodge, Grant Village still available. Which is the "best?" Meaning which has a full bath and the cleanest rooms and will rip me off the least?

2) Other idea if not staying in park was to stay in West Yellowstone for the first 3-4 days and then stay in Jackson Hole for 2 and back to SLC on Saturday. Or is it better to hit Tetons first, stay there a night or two and head up past Old Faithful to West Yellowstone?

3) What are some realistic drive times thru the parks? I am looking at a map. It seems like if we stay in West Yellowstone first, seems best to cover Madison-Norris-Mammoth Hot springs-Canyon Village loops the first two days and head out to Tetons via Old Faithful West Thumb and out to Jackson Hole. How much time are we talking about? If we go from Jackson Hole first, then North to West Yellowstone, how much drive time should we allow to make it relaxing and slow?

Thanks again.

jjgittes is offline  
Jan 15th, 2008, 02:27 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 576
I would go to Jackson first. Up 15 to 26, then Victor, and finally the Teton Pass. The only reason for this is that coming over the pass is quite spectacular.

Jackson has many many hotels/motels to choose from.

I know that Lake Lodge was renovated recently (have not been to the others in years). It is possible to stay in West Yellowstone and go in each day to cover the loops. Depending what your interest are you can spend a couple of days or a couple of weeks.

Because it is a busy time of year I would count on 35 per hour traffic. (Car speed may be more than that but there will be many stop & starts depending on the animals/buses/people.

If you are staying in West Yellowstone after Jackson I would take almost all of the day and the route I would take is up to West Thumb then Old Faithful then West Yellowstone. Then whatever time you decide do the upper loop then lower loop. Depending what your interests are, 2-3 days or 1-2 weeks.

West Yellowstone hotels: Stagecoach (historic and cool) or Three Bears or many more.
jnjfraz is offline  
Jan 15th, 2008, 02:38 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I think you have it about right. The question I am struggling with is drive times. Distances are not that great, there will be animal jams. But the real "delays" are for stopping at various places and walking around. For instance, you can stop at Old Faithful, time it right, see the steam, and head out. Or you can go to the visitors center, do the longer walk with the smaller geysers, take more photos. And no need to pre-plan in great detail where you will spend how long as long as you have a guide book that describes things in linear arrangement as you drive.

We stayed in West Yellowstone. Likely there are some hotels with some charm, but we found it was mainly a sea of chain hotels - and that was fine for us for a few nights. We caught a local rodeo while there. And entire town is only a mile or 2 from Park entrance. (When doing hotel search, don't be as dumb as I was and try to find West Yellowstone WY - it is Montana)
gail is offline  
Jan 16th, 2008, 03:50 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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I'd suggest adding a few days to Yellowstone. We spent 6 nights in YNP - 2 each in OFI, Mammoth and Canyon. It was our 1st time there and we were blown away by the amazing thermal features and incredible wildlife. Staying in the park was key to having easy access to sitings like a grizzly feeding on an elk carcass (just amazing!) or a pre-dawn walk through the geysers at OFI.

None of the park's entrances super close so you'll spend more time driving than necessary. We enjoyed the Snow Lodge at OFI and loved the cabins at Mammoth. A little outdated but listening to the bugling elk and watching them stroll around outside our cabin was priceless.

Of your lodging choices, Mammoth Lodge looked nice (we had a cabin) and the food was some of the best that we had in the park. Yellowstone Lake area had nice lodging options (although we did not stay there). We had lunch at the Hotel and it was delicious. The Hotel is very nice although a bit too "fancy" for our taste. We prefer the cabins, in general. As long as your expectations aren't too lofty, you'll be fine with the lodging choices. I would not choose Grant Village. Canyon area is very centrally located mid-park but is also the most congested and least interesting (IMO). If you keep calling for cancellations, you'll find the choices that you really want. In the Tetons, we stayed at Signal Mtn Lodge and loved it. Good luck and enjoy!
sharondi is offline  
Jan 16th, 2008, 04:41 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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I'm pretty sure all the accommodations in Yellowstone are run by Xanterra. I really don't feel they "rip you off" -- it costs more to stay in any National Park. I, also, would not stay in Grant Village -- because of location. We liked Canyon (lodge -- mixed reviews on the cabins). We have also stayed in both Jackson and West Yellowstone.

It is nicer staying in the Park, but the rooms do not have TV and limited choices of dining places if that is important to you (then I would stay in Jackson or West Yellowstone). We actually liked the drive in from West Yellowstone (and Jackson is right next to the Tetons). Always saw animals on the way. Also, cell phone usage is spotty at best in Yellowstone -- internet virtually non existant.

We went from Tetons to West Yellowstone on our first trip -- seeing the sights on the east side of the lower loop on the way (West Thumb, Lake Yellowstone, etc. -- you could even the Canyon area depending on the time). You probably should figure out where you are staying first and then you can decide on your route -- there really isn't one "right" way to do it. I would definitely make reservations soon especially for the parks. We made them in early February last year for the end of August (not a really prime time like July) and they only had Cascade Lodge available (Dunraven is newer and has elevators, but Cascade was comfortable and clean and we were happy with it). And those were gone also gone soon after.
maj is offline  
Jan 16th, 2008, 06:25 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,456
If you cannot get a place to stay inside YS there are three other choices. West Yellowstone, Gardiner and Cooke City. Its unfortunate you can only visit for such a short period of time. We have been to the Park 20+ times over the years and have never lacked for interesting things to do and see. July is one of the busiest months, there will be other people there. .... If possible try to find time to drive the Beartooth Highway.
RedRock is offline  
Jan 16th, 2008, 02:15 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 38
Wow, thanks to you all. Seems like the idea of hitting Jackson first(hopefully the Signal Mtn Lodge is still available; haven't seen a negative word about it on these boards) for two days and then three nights at West Yellowstone could work. Only thing we are wondering about is instead of three nights in West Yellowstone, booking a night at the Yellowstone Lake hotel(Grant lodge is awfully unpopular on this site and others) which would mean doubling back a bit after Old Faithful on the day we leave Jackson. Then use the next day to circle up to Canyon Village and out to West Yellowstone and use our last day+ to focus on the north loop. No matter, looks like we need to decide soon! Again, thanks for helping this thing take shape!!
jjgittes is offline  
Jan 16th, 2008, 02:38 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
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I wouldn't worry about doubling back.
jnjfraz is offline  
Jan 16th, 2008, 03:39 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,139
Sounds like a plan. Assuming you are going from the Tetons to Old Faithful area and then back to Yellowstone Lake. I would definitely hit West Thumb on the way back from Old Faithful. Backtracking from Old Faithful to West Thumb won't be bad, but once you get to Yellowstone Lake Hotel I wouldn't go back down to the West Thumb area (with your limited time) so try to hit anything on that half loop that you can on the way up.

If you get to the Lake Hotel and still have time for more that day, you can drive a short way to Mud Vulcano area and/or drive through Hayden Valley. You can even do the Artist Point part of the Canyon area if you have enough time. It isn't far from Lake to Canyon, but it could take a while due to buffalo road jams which are frequent in that area. Just see what time you have and feel like doing when you get there.

There is a lot to see between Old Faithful and Madison, but it is close to West Yellowstone so you can include anything you want to see there easily at some point from your West Yellowstone base. Also, there really isn't anything at Madison -- it is really just a junction.
maj is offline  

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