Yellowstone... HELP!!

Old Nov 22nd, 2011, 01:22 PM
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Yellowstone... HELP!!

I'm in the planning stages of a 10-14 day August 2012 trip. I, my husband and 2 daughters,14 and 23, will be travelling.

We'd like to spend the bulk of our time visiting YNP, both for hiking and wildlife viewing, with 2-3 days in GTNP and a couple in Jackson Hole.

I'm thinking of flying into Billings and heading straight to Red Lodge for an overnight so we can approach Yellowstone via the Beartooth H'way. We would fly out of Jackson Hole.

Does this sound good, as we really want to do the Beartooth. Any other options for doing this drive in a convenient way ?

ANY input regarding a YNP/GTNP trip is hugely appreciated.

P.S. We don't necessarily have to stay in the parks, unless this is the best choice?
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Old Nov 22nd, 2011, 01:32 PM
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Not sure your origination city, but be prepared for sticker shock when you look at airfare - and that may in part determine your destionation airport. Unfortunately, flying into Salt Lake is usually much cheaper - but then you lose most of a couple of days driving to/from airport.

Look at a map of the general Parks layout - there is no really convenient way to organize it with flights. Also, we were not prepared for the vast distances one travels - and trying to calculate transit time is imperfect since "animal jams" are both common and wonderful.

Of the National Parks we have visited, staying out of Park at Yellowstone and GTNP has been less experience-limiting that at other Parks. This is because there are towns right at the entrances - Gardiner to the north, West Yellowstone to the west - where we stayed. While staying int he Parks is a total experience, there are advantages to staying outside that only you and your daughters can weigh. Outside is often less expensive, you have more space in the room, and you get TV, internet - and more varied dining options. These are considered advantages to some, disadvantages to other.

That should be a start - I would suggest you break up your stay into 2-4 night segments rather than try to find a central lodging location.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2011, 01:34 PM
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Red Lodge is a great place to spend a night. We had a big, comfortable room at Rocky Fork Inn.

We also enjoyed the nights we spent in Jackson, WY. I can't especially recommend our motel but I can vouch for good meals at Snake River Grill and Rendezvous Bistro.

Signal Mountain is a family-friendly place to stay in GTNP and the restaurant serves up good food at sensible prices.

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Old Nov 22nd, 2011, 01:38 PM
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When I did this last flew into DIA cheaply Termopolis Wind River Cody Red Lodge back down through jackson saved a tonne.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2011, 04:40 PM
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ljv, there are dozens of trip reports and threads on Yellowstone if you check the search the forums box. Then come back with pointed questions.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2011, 06:51 PM
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For me, I would definately stay "In Park". I would spend part of my time at Old Faithful Inn, Roosevelt Lodge, and Lake Hotel. We had a cavin at Colter Village in the Tetons. Some of those cabins have 3 beds, so that might be good for all of you. Part of the National Park experience is the historic lodges and Yellowstone has some really good ones. Mammoth Lodge is fine, but that area is my least favorite part of the park. Certainly, it is worth a visit though.

If you are going to be doing much hiking at all, I would invest in bear spray.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2011, 03:04 AM
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While there are towns near the entrances I think you have to consider your goals.

You did mention wildlife.

In general wildlife is most active early morning and late evening. That means you want to be inpark as you won't be there at those times if staying outside the park.

We saw wildlife on Signal Mountain, Hayden Valley and Lamar. We did see some in other places but the above have a lot.

Because of the size of the parks the only issue we had with crowds was the Jenny Lake hike. Going on a Sunday didn't help.

The only other issue might have been the parking lot filling for the Mount Washburn hike.

Personally, I would always try to stay inpark. Just so much closer to where you want to be.

Inpark I would plan on staying in as many as 3 locations: Grand Tetons (we stayed at Signal Mountain Lodge and it was very good), Old Faithful area and somewhere further up (we stayed in Canyon though you could stay even further up).

YNP & GTNP are large. You may not want to spend a couple of hours driving in the morning and evening.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2011, 08:57 AM
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I agree completely with the previous posters who advise staying in the park. The best wildlife viewing is in the early morning and evening; so it is much easier to be staying right there. When we stayed at Roosevelt Lodge, we would head out in the car very early every morning and were rewarded with fantastic sightings of animals. The Lodge is in the Lamar Valley, which has the heaviest concentration of wildlife and is the least visited.

Spirobulldog has great advice on places to stay in YNP. We also liked Colter Bay cabins, because they have two bedrooms. But we liked Jackson Lake Lodge with its incredible views even more.
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Old Dec 16th, 2011, 09:09 AM
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That’s exactly the trip we took last August, and it was amazing.
He had 1 night in Red Lodge (Rocky Fork Inn), 3 nights at Canyon (we originally wanted Roosevelt, but it was booked; Canyon was a very good choice), 2 nights Lake (best dinner in the park), 3 nights Old Faithful, 3 nights Signal Mountain Lodge in GTNP (amazing view, great food) and 2 nights in Jackson (lovely cabin at the Rustic Inn, by a creek).

We got to see a lot of wildlife, really enjoy the parks and not rush. We loved GTNP, it is so different than YS, and would’ve loved an extra day there, but overall I think it was a great, relaxing trip. Crowds were not bad at all, except at dinner time. Some restaurants don’t take reservations, and the wait was about 1 hr. But it’s vacation…not a big problem.

We flew on points, so not sure about flight prices, but I was surprised of how expensive the car rental was.
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