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Floridafran Apr 20th, 2008 12:21 PM

Yellowstone February 2009
Hi all,

I've just put on hold 2 Skysaver tickets to Bozeman for a week in Yellowstone in early February 2009. I have all my in-Park stuff lined up but have a couple of questions.

The only transport I've been able to find from the airport to West Yellowstone is with Karstage. Anyone know of anything else?

Also, right now I could get Skysavers into Idaho Falls and out of Bozeman for the dates I want but have no idea if there's a shuttle or other transport of any kind from the Idaho Falls airport to West Yellowstone. Or even if flying into Idaho Falls to go the Yellowstone is a good idea at that time of year. I only consider it because we've never been to Idaho Falls and I'd like to get at least a glimpse of Idaho - even if it's only from the air.

I've tried googling and searching but haven't had any luck.

Last, we'll overnight in West Yellowstone that first night then head into the Park. The Park snowcoach picks up at the Stage Coach Inn. Anyone know anything about it or have a suggestion for a better spot (if this isn't what we might want) close by?

Thanks so much for any help you can offer. I've read everything I can find here from people who've done Yellowstone in Winter and am so excited.


mms Apr 20th, 2008 01:19 PM

Years ago we lived in Idaho Falls and it was an easy trip to Yellowstone, even in winter. We took a snocoach into the park, but I do not remember where we met it or anything, except that it was a great way to see the scenery and our guide was fantastic.

Floridafran Apr 21st, 2008 11:30 AM


Thanks for the reply. Since I haven't had any luck finding transport from Idaho Falls to West Yellowstone I've decided to go ahead and fly both into, and out of, Bozeman. Just gives me another reason to head back out that way and check out Idaho someday. I've heard it's a beautiful place.


doohickey Apr 21st, 2008 02:35 PM


I live in Bozeman.

Karst is the way to go to West (as we call it.) They have a full service desk right there at baggage claim and are really great to work with if you have flight or weather delays. They WILL get you to your destination.

Also, if you had flown into Idaho Falls you would have had to travel through Island Park to get to West. The road through Island Park is often closed due to storms in the winter - way more than the road from Bozeman to West.

Have a great time!


jnjfraz Apr 21st, 2008 03:15 PM

I live in Idaho Falls and have had a cabin on Hebgen Lake for 57 years(10 miles from West). I agree with doohicky, Henrys flats can be a big problem in February.... lot of wind and roads closed a lot. But Idaho Falls is a wonderful community so when you come to Idaho stop in our town.

The Stagecoach is a wonderful historic hotel and a great place to stay... they just refurbished it a few years ago. West is a total of about 7 square blocks so everything is close. Bullwinkles is a good steak place and there is a good chinese place just up the street from the Stagecoach. There are many many more hotels but I'd pick the Stagecoach.

Floridafran Apr 22nd, 2008 07:37 AM

doo and jnjfraz,

Thanks for the info. I'm glad I finalized the original route. Sounds like I made the right choice.

You both live in a such a beautiful area. So different from the beaches of the Florida Panhandle where I am.

My husband and I are anxious for next February to get here. This will be our second trip to Yellowstone. Our first was in August 2002 and we fell in love with the place. Hurricanes and other things have kept us from making a repeat trip until now. We hope to visit several more times during a variety of seasons. Once he retires next January we've talked about volunteering there and at other Parks.

Thanks also for the info about Stagecoach and Karst. Do either of you have a suggestion for where to eat dinner in West Yellowstone that first night and breakfast the next morning? We catch the snowcoach at 9:00 am and have to be there 30 minutes early so we wouldn't want to wander too far. But we hope to get to see at least a bit of the town on the evening we arrive so any advice would be greatly appreciated.


jnjfraz Apr 22nd, 2008 08:10 AM

There is a steak house called Bullwinkles that is quite good.
Running Bear Pancake House is a good breakfast spot.

doohickey Apr 22nd, 2008 09:03 AM


I'd give the recommendations for Bullwinkle's and Running Bear a shot.

Have fun!


Floridafran Apr 22nd, 2008 06:09 PM

Thanks for the additional info. I'm filing this away for February. I have to keep reminding myself that I have work to do and a May trip on Florida's back roads to plan. But I'm so excited about Yellowstone I'm having a hard time thinking about anything else.


Floridafran Aug 21st, 2008 08:16 AM

Hi all,

Delta has thrown a monkey wrench into our plans by eliminating our flight from Salt Lake City. This means we have to take an earlier flight from Bozeman in order to make our connecting flight from Atlanta home. (Love where I live but getting in and out of here can be a hassle.)

Anyway, the earlier flight time means we don't have enough time to get from Mammouth to Bozeman with KarstStage (who appears to be the only shuttle service around). Since we don't want to give up a whole day in Yellowstone we're thinking of renting a car and driving to Mammouth. We'd spend the night there, next morning take sno-coach to Old Faithful for 3 nights, then sno-coach back to Mammouth for 3 more nights.

My questions are:
1. Having read everything I can find here and on other forums am I correct in thinking we're not crazy to plan to drive from Bozeman to Mammouth? Plan to get a 4WD, SUV and DH has some experience driving in snowy and/or icy conditions.

2. If we leave our vehicle at Mammouth for 3 nights how likely is it that it won't start when we get back? We'd have 3 days to get it going, but if you know ahead of time that something is likely to happen it seems to make it easier to accept and deal with.

Thanks for all you past help and insight. If you have anything to add that I haven't thought about, please feel free to tell me.


doohickey Aug 21st, 2008 01:00 PM


1. You are so not crazy. No problems whatsoever.

2. Again, no problems. It's got to be a serious cold snap to have difficulty starting up a big SUV. I rented a Yukon during one record cold spell in Bozeman Feb. 2003. The car started right up. It was -40 for a couple of nights in a row. Folks who had small, older cars had problems but just got their batteries jumped. Mammoth & nearby Gardiner have plenty of tow rigs available for you should you find this necessary.

You'll still be in civilization ;)



Floridafran Aug 21st, 2008 02:34 PM

Thanks, doo, I was hoping you'd see this and reply.

I have another question if you don't mind. Being from Florida we don't have tons of real winter clothes. I'm thinking of getting some "combo" gloves. The type that are mittens, but fold back so you have fingers when you need more dexterity - like taking photos. Any thoughts on them - or on any other clothing for this trip - would be welcome.


Bobmrg Aug 21st, 2008 06:01 PM

We were surprised by the number of West Yellowstone stores that were "closed for the season" in February. Still, there are a sufficient number to get you outfitted and well fed.

doohickey Aug 22nd, 2008 04:47 AM


Regarding gloves and clothing...Hmm, you're flying into Bozeman and renting a car. I don't know what time you arrive but I'd strongly suggest, if you're in town at the right time, to hustle over to Murdoch's Ranch & Home Supply in Bozeman (super easy to get to from the airport) and outfit yourself with some proper gloves, hats and footwear because your are SURE to find the right things there. MRHS is open 7a-7p M-Sa and closes at 6p on Sunday. From the airport turn left on the frontage road (you can only go left or right) and drive all the way until the Frontage Rd. veers right up and over the railroad tracks. Murdoch's will be to your right w/in a 1/4 mile after coming down off the overpass.

Now, barring a trip to Murdoch's (the quinessential Montana store, btw) your glove suggestion is okay but may not suffice for you if it's really cold. I'd suggest getting a pair of Smartwool glove liners and using them under a pair of sure-to-be-toasty gloves or mittens. It's my winter choice and works great.

Get some hiking boots that come up over your ankles and that are waterproof yet still allow your feet to breath. Getting snow down your footwear is not a pleasant experience :) Do NOT get Vibram soles on your hiking boots for winter. Vibram and freezing temps are a disaster waiting to happen but it's great for non-winter stuff.

As with your gloves, get some wicking sock liners and then some thicker socks. Same with a cap. Smartwool is my choice for head, hands and feet. Pricey but worth every penny. Murdoch's has all the Smartwool stuff and so do many other places around the US and abroad.

Any other specific questions you can email me at [email protected].



Photodog Aug 22nd, 2008 06:01 AM

Another good reason to have a car at Mammoth is you can drive it along the road from Mammoth to Cooke City through the Lamar Valley where have good chance of seeing bison and elk herds and is home to a number of wolves. The road is kept open in winter. Helen's in Gardiner is known for its Buffalo Burgers.

Might want to consider getting some Hot Hands or similar (hand warmers) which can be pickup up at K-Mart or Wal-Mart or order through camping stores such Campmor or Cablea's.

When shooting large areas of white be sure to increase your exposure 1-2 stops or the snow will come out gray. Keep your extra batteries in an inside pocket to keep them as warm as possible. Cold will drain them quickly but once warmed up again will continue to work fine.

Be sure not to exhale on your eyepiece or it could frost over.
Condensation may become a problem if you stay out in the extreme cold for several hours and then come inside. Put your equipment inside a sealed large plastic bag and don't open it for several hours after coming inside. The condensation will form on the bag and not on the equipment.

Floridafran Aug 22nd, 2008 05:04 PM

doo and photodog, thanks for the great info.

Our flight is due in a little after noon (if Delta doesn't change that one too, between now and then) so we should have plenty of time to go by Murdoch's. Believe it or not, we do have a great mom & pop sporting goods store here that carries quite a bit of stuff for the avid snow skiers who fly out of here in droves every winter. I'll see what I can get from them, based on your suggestions, and finish up at Murdoch's. I went to their website - sounds like a great store. And I agree with you on the Smartwool. My husband and I bought some of their socks back in 2002 for a family reunion trip to Colorado at Christmas. They may cost a bit more, but they hold up really well and my feet never got cold - even when we woke to -20 temps one morning. And thanks for the email address - I may need it before February gets here.

I really appreciate the photography tips. I've often seen your responses here on Fodor's and they're always helpful and informative. Thanks, also, for the tip about Helen's in Gardiner. I loved the place that just closed (can't think of the name at the moment). And the nice lady at Xanterra (who helped me add an extra night at Mammouth and change our shuttle plans) gave me the names of a couple of other places she likes there.

February can't get here soon enough.

Right now I have to go check what "Fay" is doing so I'll know how unpleasant her visit to us later this weekend is going to be. Hurricane season is never over too soon to suit me.


Floridafran Nov 9th, 2008 12:56 PM

Okay, flights have changed - again. But this time it will probably turn out to be a good thing. Delta changed our outbound Atlanta connection so that we had only 17 minutes. Not nearly enough in ATL.

Got an awesomely helpful supervisor in the Skymiles department who let me switch to arrive in Bozeman around 4:30 on the 2nd - even though there were no 25,000 mile skysaver seats available for that day - without having to pay money or more miles.

This gives us all day Tuesday (our original arrival day) to get our car, shop if we need to, and still get to Mammouth at least as early as we would have, probably earlier.

I should have thought of doing it this way to begin with. But I didn't. Now, even if we have a flight delay somewhere along the way, we should still manage to make it to Yellowstone on the 3rd so we can catch the Old Faithful snocoach on the 4th.


Any suggestions on where to spend that one night? We'll need to get from the airport around 5:00 pm, then back out there the next morning to pick up our rental car. I see no sense in paying for the car so it can sit in the motel/hotel parking lot overnight.

I can hardly believe than in less than 3 months we'll be in Yellowstone.

Beaucoup Dec 1st, 2008 02:54 PM

Hi Fran,

From a fellow Floridian, I suggest that you stay at the C'mon Inn on Valley Center Road in Bozeman, not far from the airport. We stayed there twice this Fall; it was delightful! The Web site is

Floridafran Dec 1st, 2008 07:06 PM


Thanks for the suggestion. Just 2 months to go now and so much to do yet.

kureiff Dec 2nd, 2008 08:51 AM

I also recommend the C'Mon INn or the Hilton Garden Inn as they are both close to the interstate and to the airport. If you want to stay somewhere nicer, but more removed from the airport, check out The Gallatin Gateway. It's an old railroad hotel, and it's beautiful. But you'd have to backtrack to the airport, so it's probably not ideal.

bgsnmky Jan 6th, 2009 07:42 PM

FloridaFran, glad I found this post..we will be there in Feb also.

I am trying to decide on flying into jackson and out of Bozeman....

I am checking other info.

Curious where did you rent your car from..

What dates will you be there.

doohickey Jan 12th, 2009 06:32 AM


Sorry, I haven't checked this board in a while - shame on me!

Did I ever weigh in on what hotel to spend the night at in Bozeman?

I hear great things about the C'mon Inn as others have said. That and the Marriot Residence Inn, the Wingate are all close together. The Hilton Garden Inn is close by. I'd check and see which has a free shuttle before booking. But then, you've probably already done all that! Hah!

Your trip is coming up fast!


Floridafran Jan 12th, 2009 06:48 PM


Actually, since Delta changed our flight and we're getting in around 4:30 on the 2nd (instead of noonish on the 3rd) we decided to go ahead and get the car on the 2nd. It's only about $30.00 more and that way we can get to Murdoch's that day and have more choices for where to eat dinner. Taking a taxi to Murdoch's would probably eat up almost that much.

All our reservations are made and I have been trying to tie up the loose ends on clothes, camera gear, etc. The trip that seemed like it would never get here, is suddenly just weeks away.

One thing I didn't ask about before just occurred to me. Should we think about getting some YakTraxs for our boots? I still have time to order them online.

Also, when we hike in the non-frozen months, we use trekking poles. Would they be of any use to us at all on this trip? We can fit them in, if need be, but I don't want to take up precious luggage space if they'll never see the light of day. It's things like this that run through my mind in the wee hours of the morning and prevent me from falling back to sleep. ;-)

I've been checking out posts over at Yellowstone Net and oh my goodness. If I can get just a few photos half as good as the ones posted there I'll be delighted.

You do live right next door to a gorgeous place.

Thanks for all your help and I may take you up on using that e-mail address if I get panicky as the days count down.


doohickey Jan 31st, 2009 04:03 PM

Hey Fran!

How's your last minute planning and packing going? Are you getting real excited about heading out to Big Sky Country?

Cheers :)

Floridafran Jan 31st, 2009 07:27 PM

Hi doo!

Just finished cramming everything into my 1 piece of checked baggage. Surfertom has his big duffle ready. Carry-ons are semi-packed. Can't do it all until the last minute because he has to have his c-pap to sleep.

I am so excited! I've been checking out the Yellowstone web cams every chance I get. One day I saw bison wandering through the Old Faithful viewing area and Thursday I watched a coyote trot through.

I've been checking the weather forecasts, as well. Looks like it might not be too bad while we're there. We may even get some sunny days.

I called Murdoch's to see if they have a couple of things I didn't want to order online. What nice people. The young woman I talked with was so helpful. I'm looking forward to checking out the store when we go to get the things we need.

So, yes, I'm excited about heading out to Big Sky Country! I know we're going to have to fabulous time. Thanks again for all your help. ((F))


doohickey Mar 17th, 2009 04:46 AM


How was your trip? Inquiring minds want to know :)


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