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Yellowstone for the slightly handicapped/walking challenged

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Dec 2nd, 2010, 09:10 AM
  #1
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Yellowstone for the slightly handicapped/walking challenged

We would like to plan a Yellowstone visit for June or July 2011 for our group of 2 very active college girls and 2 slightly handicapped/walking challenged Mother & Grandmother. DD1 lives in Denver and we will use that as the starting point for the trip. We can't leave before June 18 and must return by August 6. Would like to plan 4 or 5 days in Yellowstone within a 10 day trip to Colorado/Wyoming. We also are planning to visit Boulder, Colorado Springs, Aspen/Vail and a few days in Denver.

Have never been to Yellowstone, unfamiliar with the area. Are there bus/tram/RV trips available for physically challenged folks? We don't want to be sitting in the lodge or hotel waiting for the kids, we want stuff to do as well. While we don't all need to be together 24X7, we would like to some time together exploring the area and wildlife. Are there any experienced Fodorites out there who can offer assistance in travel planning? Thanks in advance for your help!
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Dec 2nd, 2010, 09:29 AM
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This should give you a start, hopefully others with first hand experience can help.

http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisi...&PageID=496175
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Dec 2nd, 2010, 10:16 AM
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The mother and grandmother will be fine at most of the stops at Yellowstone. Most of the visitors just see the vantage points near parking lots and the trails and/or boardwalks should be accessible to them. The main exception I can think of is at Mammoth, but the hot springs have been virtually dry for a few years (my major disappointment this summer). The younger ones can move faster or further if they want but the walking challenged should be fine. Given that restriction though, I'd probably shorten Yellowstone to about 3 days and add in a couple of days at Grand Teton NP and Jackon WY in Jackson Hole.
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Dec 2nd, 2010, 10:23 AM
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I just mapped it out and if you head to Jackson or Cody WY one route will take you through Cheyenne WY. If you are going to be there in July, you really should consider fitting in the rodeo during Frontier Days. It is truly an Americana event.
http://www.cfdrodeo.com/
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Dec 2nd, 2010, 10:25 AM
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We went to Yellowstone this summer and I just didn't expect to enjoy Cody so much. I'd HEARD about the Buffalo Bill museum but had no idea how large and varied it is. Try to schedule at least a day there if you can. So much to see for so many different interests -
http://www.bbhc.org/home/
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Dec 2nd, 2010, 10:54 AM
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Thanks everyone, we like to plan our next vacation during the current one. We are going on a Caribbean cruise and will be planning this trip in late December. More than likely, it will be the last 2 weeks of June to accommodate DD1 teacher's schedule and DD2's college schedule.

We have a handicapped placard for the car - will this give us any special advantage in parking close to the vistas? Where should we look for overnight reservations, any special recommendations? Thanks Starrs for the advice, we will check out Cody, GTNP and other sites as well. DD1 has a Honda CRV, is that "strong enough" for the drive/climb or should I plan to rent a bigger SUV?
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Dec 2nd, 2010, 11:07 AM
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A handicapped placard will help a lot. My sister refused to get one when we visited the Grand Canyon and other areas (don't ask) and it would have made a big difference. You DD's car should be fine. It's going to be hard to fit all of your stops into a 10 day trip. There are a lot of trip reports from this summer that you may be interested in reading. Yellowstone is easy - there are two loops (upper and lower) that create a figure 8. There are side roads coming in from the entrances but in Yellowstone you drive in circles to see everything. Easy to navigate, big park. Personally, I'd stay at Old Faithful for 2 nights and do the circles. Come into the park via GTNP and Jackson WY and go out of the park via Cody.
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Dec 2nd, 2010, 11:13 AM
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The Old Faithful Inn is booked for the last 2 weeks of June. Is anyone familiar with any of the other properties? We are not princesses and don't need 4*, but comfortable beds, available restaurant, pool is required. Thanks!
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Dec 2nd, 2010, 12:26 PM
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It is my understanding -- not from personal experience -- that many of the boardwalks do not have handrails.

Can others address this?
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Dec 2nd, 2010, 12:59 PM
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If you require a pool, then inside-the-park lodging is not for you and you'll need to look at the gateway towns, deciding on which one is best for you after looking at your travel routes.

If you can skip the pool in favor of staying closer to the sights, you can keep trying for rooms in the park by calling Xanterra often, as they are always getting cancellations. But book a gateway town motel anyway; make it one with a penalty-free cancellation policy in case something opens up inside Yellowstone at the last minute.
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Dec 2nd, 2010, 01:01 PM
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Thanks Kayd for the info. Didn't realize a pool is not provided in the on-site hotels. We can give up a pool for location, it's only for 3 nights. Thanks again!
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Dec 2nd, 2010, 04:03 PM
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I second the keep trying for a Yellowstone hotel room. make a reservation in West Yellowstone and/or Gardener which you can cancel. Try your best to get at least 1 night in the Old Faithful Inn. Keep trying until you leave. I think I was able to get a night about 2 weeks before we left for our August 08 trip. Canyon is the other central location. I thought the hotel on the lake would be another beautiful place to stay.

I also second the recommendation for Cody. I would spend a night there so you can spend a lot of time at the museum. The museum was fantastic. We also went to the rodeo there, which was interesting. (Also a bit of culture shock for my family.)

Another spot we visited from Cody was Heart Mountain. There was not much to see when we were there, but it was moving none the less. My son was 13 and I thought it was important for him to see.

Hope you have a wonderful trip, Yellowstone is amazing.
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Dec 2nd, 2010, 04:47 PM
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To address aukislander's question regarding handrails on the boardwalks. My experience is that, in general, there are handrails only where there is the greatest danger. For example - overlooks for the falls, at one or two of the larger mudpots that you're are basically above, looking down into, that sort of thing. But mainly it's wide boardwalks or pathways that do not have rails of any kind. I've seen children pushing their younger siblings along these - not something I would probably have allowed - but I think that does give a sense of the width of the walking surfaces. Definitely wide enough for comfortable, 2-way foot traffic.

Since you have a daughter who lives in Denver, you probably already know to plan on wearing layers. The weather in Yellowstone and the Tetons is quite changeable. We were snowed on in the Tetons at mid-high elevations in early August and a few morning later awoke to frost on the windshield at Canyon in Yellowstone. Only days before I'd been hiking in shorts and a t-shirt.

You're going to a beautiful part of our country. Have a great trip.
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Dec 2nd, 2010, 05:52 PM
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If Old Faithful Inn is booked you can book cabin at the Old Failthful Lodge. You can park right outside the cabins. They have different level cabins. With or without private bathroom.

Most of the boarwalk do NOT have railings. When we were waiting for Grand Geyser to erupt there were several people in wheelchairs sitting and waiting as well. The boardwalks and wide pathways (level) are all interconnected and very easy to walk. I would be concerned about little kids. You don't want them falling off. It's quite warm in there.

At Canyon the parking lots are very close to most of the viewpoints. Any walking is quite easy and nobody is rushing you.
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Dec 3rd, 2010, 02:21 AM
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You can see a number of Yellowstone sights from the car. Others are a short walk to get a better view, with perhaps the non-walking members of group them sitting somewhere while college girls take a longer walk. Hopefully you will be on the road when a bison herd walks by - so close you could touch them (don't).

You do not want to rent anything - since college girls are likely under age 25 and you will pay a huge premium for underage drivers - a premium for each of them. The CRV is fine (I own one) as long as people bring a reasonable amount of luggage since there will be ample cargo space for 4 medium sized suitcases - but not for huge ones. Save room for a small cooler to bring snacks and drinks or a picnic lunch - food is available within park, but you may be quite far away from it when you get hungry or thirsty. No trams or shuttles - not that kind of place.

We stayed outside Park at Yellowstone - do not discard this as an idea. Unlike other National Parks, hotels are very close to entrance - and dining options are far more varied. Lodging options/room types are more varied - you could get a suite, adjoining rooms, etc. Advantage of in-Park is that younger travelers could leave you there and go off for a hike and leave you in nice surroundings.
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Dec 3rd, 2010, 04:13 AM
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If you can't get the location in the park that you prefer, just book rooms at whatever lodge is available and keep checking back by phone for your first choice. People book a year in advance and then find that they can't make the trip as time gets close they cancel. You can cancel with out penalty up to within a short period (I'm not sure if it's a couple of days or weeks) before your date, so if you get your first choice cancel the other one.

Consider getting a walker for the walking challenged for boardwalks without railings. They can be bought or rented at most larger drugstores.
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Dec 3rd, 2010, 05:42 AM
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Important note; lodging in Yellowstone is older: elevators, an ADA afterthought & a loooong walk to get too I.E Old Faithful Inn was really difficult in particular so would rec visiting but not staying. HIGHLY rec: ask when booking..

Note too, the handicap parking for Old Faithful Inn would not be easy for someone who had to walk...and there are many handicapped visitors so spaces are generally used.

Consider staying in GTNP:Jackson LAke Lodge as a base had relative easy access in the cabins: and a elevator fairly centeral for lodge building upstairs.

Distance to Yellowstone would not be that far: you could do loops in 1 or 2 days. On second day drive out West entrance to Cody. Cody is very easy. flat, usually one story buildings, good handicap parking.
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Dec 3rd, 2010, 06:00 AM
  #18
 
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Re Handicapped parking at Old Faithful Inn and other NP lodging - we (the "youngsters" dropped the "elderly" off at the front door with the luggage and one youngster parked the car. The older two never walked from the hotel/lodge to the parked car. We didn't have any problems with elevators in any of the lodging.
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