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Yellowstone: Driving from Gardiner (Chico HS) to GTNP

Yellowstone: Driving from Gardiner (Chico HS) to GTNP

Mar 5th, 2009, 04:03 PM
  #1  
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Yellowstone: Driving from Gardiner (Chico HS) to GTNP

We are planning a 9 day stay in the Yellowstone area August 22-30 this year. Flying into Billings, out of Jackson. Nights 1-4 will be spent in Red Lodge, OF Snow Lodge, and Canyon Lodge. We would like to do a horseback riding overnight Night 5 (Flying Pig Adventures in Gardiner), which ends up the next day around noon. Night 6 possibly at Chico Hot Springs. (Anybody done the horseback overnight? If yes, how rustic is the ranch?)

We want to do a half day (or less) of rafting; maybe Yellowstone, or maybe the Snake River. A float seems like a nice way to see the Tetons. Any opinions?

My question: How long will it take to drive from Gardiner/Chico to GTNP on a Friday morning? What's the best route to take? Going through the park would be nice, but will probably take a while, right?

Also, we are not big hikers but could do short hikes. We'll have two nights and a day in Jackson before flying back on Sunday. Any suggestions for how to maximize our time? Thanks for your advice!
susielf is offline  
Mar 5th, 2009, 05:35 PM
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There is not a practical way from Gardiner to GTNP other than thru the Park as other routes are very long. It is always very difficult to predict times when driving thru Yellowstone because animal jams could slow the trip - or even traffic.

It is about 4 hours from Gardiner to Jackson, so in theory you could make your trip in a little over 3 hours - but I certainly would not count on it. We allowed 6 hours - but we had a flight to catch.
gail is offline  
Mar 5th, 2009, 05:35 PM
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Hi susielf,

My first thought in looking at your planned itinerary is that you are doing A LOT of backtracking! Also, if you are definitely staying in the Paradise Valley at Chico Hot Springs and flying out of Jackson, really the best route is through the park. There is no quick option.

You should take a look at a detailed map and then check mileage. Then add a few hours each day for photo ops, stopping at sights along the way and wildlife jams - big time.

Could you possibly do:

Red Lodge
Canyon
Gardiner
Chico (if you must)
Old Faithful
Jackson

Driving south towards Jackson will give you incredible views of the Tetons. A float trip is a different activity and a different point of view, but not really a better view. There are no rafting trip in Yellowstone. There are boat trips and kayaking trips on Yellowstone lake.

I had 3 nights planned at Chico Hot Springs 2 summers ago. I left after the first night, preferring to seek a B&B or continue camping.

I know some people like the place, but I really hated it. Plus, you need to know that they do not have ANY air conditioning. If you have hot weather, like when I was there at 96 degrees during the day, you have to sleep with all the windows open. Not so great if you are on a first floor room and people are walking by your room all night. Plus, for some reason, the place was full of smokers. I felt like I was the only one NOT smoking. So then all the smoke comes in your open windows. Ugh.

Just my opinion in blunt terms!
You might like to look into one of these places I stayed. Both were excellent, quiet, peaceful, clean, paradise.

Yellowstone River Cabins, at the north end of the valley (probably too far to drive for your plans).

Paradise Valley B&B - very near Chico, but right on the Yellowstone River and with fabulous views. CHP is down in a gulley and doesn't have views.

Hope this gives you some ideas!
Dayle is offline  
Mar 5th, 2009, 06:47 PM
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Go through the Park. No alternative is quiker, even with an animal jam or 2.
boom_boom is offline  
Mar 5th, 2009, 08:03 PM
  #5  
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Dayle:

I am not committed to Chico; just thought it might be a nice place to hang out after the horseback riding. I do agree that we are doing some backtracking. If I can change the OF reservation, maybe I'll take you up on your itinerary suggestions. Not having been at Yellowstone since I was a kid, I don't really know how far it is in realistic terms to get from point to point. Maybe I'll try to get a room for another night in the Park on our way back from Gardiner and not worry about the distance, and set out for GTNP early on Friday morning.

I appreciate your suggestions!
susielf is offline  
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