Yellowstone February 2009

Apr 20th, 2008, 12:21 PM
  #1  
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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.

Fran
Floridafran is offline  
Apr 20th, 2008, 01:19 PM
  #2  
mms
 
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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.
mms is offline  
Apr 21st, 2008, 11:30 AM
  #3  
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mms,

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.

Fran
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Apr 21st, 2008, 02:35 PM
  #4  
 
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Floridafran,

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!

-doo
doohickey is offline  
Apr 21st, 2008, 03:15 PM
  #5  
 
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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.
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Apr 22nd, 2008, 07:37 AM
  #6  
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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.

Fran
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Apr 22nd, 2008, 08:10 AM
  #7  
 
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There is a steak house called Bullwinkles that is quite good.
Running Bear Pancake House is a good breakfast spot.
jnjfraz is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2008, 09:03 AM
  #8  
 
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Sorry,

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

Have fun!

-doo
doohickey is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2008, 06:09 PM
  #9  
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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.

Fran
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Aug 21st, 2008, 08:16 AM
  #10  
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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.

Fran
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Aug 21st, 2008, 01:00 PM
  #11  
 
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Fran,

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

Enjoy!

-doo
doohickey is offline  
Aug 21st, 2008, 02:34 PM
  #12  
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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.

Fran
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Aug 21st, 2008, 06:01 PM
  #13  
 
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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.
Bobmrg is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2008, 04:47 AM
  #14  
 
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Fran,

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].

Cheers!

-doo
doohickey is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2008, 06:01 AM
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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.
Photodog is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2008, 05:04 PM
  #16  
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doo and photodog, thanks for the great info.

doo,
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.

photodog,
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.

Fran
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Nov 9th, 2008, 12:56 PM
  #17  
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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.

doo,

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.
Floridafran is offline  
Dec 1st, 2008, 02:54 PM
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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 http://www.cmoninn.com.
Beaucoup is offline  
Dec 1st, 2008, 07:06 PM
  #19  
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Beaucoup,

Thanks for the suggestion. Just 2 months to go now and so much to do yet.
Floridafran is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2008, 08:51 AM
  #20  
 
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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.
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