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travelgirl619 Feb 21st, 2010 06:52 PM

Yellowstone - Planning trip for 2011 - When is the best time to go?
I am planning a trip for 2011 and thinking about going in May or June. I am looking for advice on all aspects of the trip. Should I just stick with YNP or include GTNP and surrounding areas? I have about 10 days not counting the travel to and from the area. I will be flying from Tampa and have flexibility in my dates. Where are the best places to stay in the park? I am looking for the best experience so price isn't my 1st priority although I do not have an unlimited budget. I have also been reading that the roads may be closed in May. How many roads are typically closed in May and how much will I miss due to road closures? I am not much of a hiker so I will be sticking to the main roads and easier trails and would like to avoid the peak season if possible.

Also, I was thinking about taking a side trip to Mt Rushmore. How reasonable is that?

boom_boom Feb 21st, 2010 07:18 PM

All depends on the kind of winter they have there next year. I've seen all the main roads open by late May and I've seen them closed due to sudden storms in late June.
In a "normal" year early June should be OK. I would include GTNP as well. Try Signal Mountain Lodge or Jackson Lake Lodge.
Mt. Rushmore is a day's drive in each direction, plus time there.

ElendilPickle Feb 21st, 2010 07:43 PM

We are visiting Grand Teton and Yellowstone in early June. We tried to time the trip so that most of Yellowstone will be open; originally we were going to go in May but we wouldn't have gotten to see much of the park.

I don't know if they'll be the best places, since we're going for cheap, but we're staying at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge cabins (I think - can't find the reservation at the moment), the Mammoth Lodge cabins, and the Canyon Village cabins.

Lee Ann

emalloy Feb 22nd, 2010 02:34 AM

We went to Yellowstone in late June a few years ago and there was some snow but the roads were clear. The baby animals were all over the place, great to see elk, bison, etc with their little ones. There were no real crowds and we were able to find a parking place at all of the major attractions.

If you don't hike much, then three or four days in Yellowstone should be enough time to see the major parts of the park. I would plan for some time in Grand Teton too, it is very close to Yellowstone and if you fly into Jackson you will be going through part of it on the way to yellowstone.

As for Rushmore, it would probably be a day to drive there, a few hours there and then a day to drive back, but there are other attractions near it like Crazy Horse, Wind Cave, Jewel Cave that you might want to include if you do decide to go there too.

RetiredVermonter Feb 22nd, 2010 02:55 AM

Let me first suggest that you immediately send away to each of the states (Montana and Wyoming and maybe South Dakota) for their info packet, with maps, etc. You can do that on line. We planned our trip and that was half the fun!

We flew into Billings, Montana 3 years ago and rented a car for 2 weeks. We arrived in late May, and spent 4 days in and around Yellowstone. No snow problems until Memorial Day weekend, when we drove up to Bozeman, Montana, and had to endure sleet and slushy roads the whole way! (Be warned that rental cars apparently do NOT put snow tires on their cars, for expense reasons! At least Enterprise didn't, and that was an uncomfortable thing for us!)

We loved YNP and stayed in one of those cabins one night, but also enjoyed a lovely B&B (Yellowstone Expeditions B&B) not far from the park, in Livingston, MT. By the way, you might ask at the ranger's station when you go in about a National Parks card, which allows you into ALL National Parks forever, I believe! Might be a good investment.

We did not get to Glacier, unfortunately, but enjoyed a couple of days down in Jackson, Wyoming.

Some people may boo and hiss me, but we drove all the way over to see Mt. Rushmore and spent maybe half an hour there. Yes, it was a lovely day, and it looked like the pictures but that was that! A B&B in Spearfish, South Dakota was very nice, as was the town, really.

As for Crazy Horse, at least back then, there was little to see yet, so we never bothered to pay the money they wanted to go in. (You could see a hole in the mountain from the road.) To each his or her own! We did enjoy a day trip up to Devil's Tower (from "Close Encounters" fame.)

Get the info, look it over, and see what appeals to you. Enjoy!

spirobulldog Feb 22nd, 2010 03:43 AM

I would certainly spend 2-3 days in GTNP since you are so close. As others have indicated 3-7 days in Yellowstone, depending on how thorough and how much hikind you want to do. We normally hike a lot. We were in Yellowstone for 4 days and had planned to hike, but there is just so much to see right from you car we never got to it. We stayed at Old Faithful Inn, Lake Hotel and Roosevelt Cabins. We stayed at a cabin in Colter Village in the Tetons. Our first day was June 16, 2008. The roads didn't open up that year until June 14. We flew into Billings and had planned to drive the Beartooth HWY, but it wasn't open yet. We picked June to avoid the crowds and see the baby animals. Plan on at least an entire day just gazing at geysers. We saw old faithful go 3 times and it was probably my least favorite. We really liked riverside geyser and castle geyser. Old faithful is easy to catch. The others you can expect to wait an hour or two for them to go. But, sometimes you have them all to yourself and they can go much longer. Get up early one morning and catch OF around 6:00am. Just myself and one other person at that time of day.

Here are photos of our trip, might help you with lodging.

Gretchen Feb 22nd, 2010 04:00 AM

DEFINITELY spend time in Grand Teton--at least 3 days. Yellowstone IS a wonder, but there is much to see elsewhere.

nanabee Feb 22nd, 2010 06:25 AM

If you visit the Fodorite Lounge you will find you can bring your guns into National Parks now. :(

maj Feb 22nd, 2010 06:44 AM

I'd go early June. Most of the roads should be open after Memorial Day. Never can count on Beartooth Hwy being open at any time. That is a one day trip if you are staying in Yellowstone. I would fly into Jackson and stay in the Tetons one night. If you really want to try the Beartooth Billings might be a better option to fly into. As far as Mt.Rushmore, it is a one day trip to drive there. I would fly into Jackson or Billings and out of Rapid City if you really want to see Mt.Rushmore while you are there.

peterboy Feb 22nd, 2010 06:55 AM

Traditionally the National Parks have the fewest visitors the week before and the week after Labor Day. Americans tend to stay home since the kids start school then and foreign tourists generally wait until after this big holiday weekend to come. The weather at Yellowstone is great then too.

Mt Rushmore provides too little bang for the distance you'd have to drive to get ther IMO.

RetiredVermonter Feb 22nd, 2010 11:10 AM

I hasten to agree with others on the grandeur of the Grand Tetons. We left Jackson to head back north and just stopped to enjoy the view across the lake, and it was magnificent! It was a lovely day, with blue skies, and no one else around, so our only "company" were some squirrels!

A word to those who may not know they are sensitive to altitude:

We stayed overnight once at the Comfort Inn in West Yellowstone, and I had a terrible time! Felt like I was having a heart attack! When we left, I learned that that was about 6500 feet above sea level, and it was just enough altitude to affect me. I had never known that I had that problem, but I now know that I'm not the only person to suddenly find out I have altitude sickness, as they call it!

I also again want to mention "The Howlers Inn" B&B, outside of Bozeman. The few rooms are lovely and the innkeepers have a whole pack of wolves right outside (in a huge penned-in area). Different!

By the way, count me among those who are VERY unhappy about the business now of allowing hidden weapons into many National Parks. Sorry, but I think it's absurd.

travelgirl619 Feb 22nd, 2010 04:39 PM

Thanks for the great advice. It's been a huge help!

berryjohn50 Feb 26th, 2010 08:41 AM

Been there three times, I like the first two weeks of September, no crowds, nice weather, great hiking.

rolohof_duvall Apr 6th, 2010 12:03 PM

I am making n my first trip to Yellowstone this June. I found the book Yellowstone Treasures (The travelers companion to the national park) by Janet Chapple very helpful.

travelinandgolfin Apr 6th, 2010 01:57 PM

Just went there last year in early September.

Weather is very unpredictable in YS and GTNP, but from everything we read, this was probably the best time to go. It was just beautiful!! Mild temperatures, no rain, no snow, not a lot of crowds, everything open (except for the junction by Madison....they were replacing a bridge).

We stayed at the Dunraven in Canyon Village for a couple nights, then stayed at the Alpine Inn in West Yellowstone for another two nights. We are much like you...not a lot of long hikes....more the short, easy ones, and lots of pictures taken along the many turnouts on the roads. We found four full days in YS just about right.

We also spent time in Jackson and used it as a base for exploring GTNP (which I HIGHLY recommend). We stayed at the Rustic Inn. Many said to stay in GTNP, but we wanted to experience the town of Jackson, so we chose to stay there. It is without a doubt, the best "small town" we've ever visited. 3-4 days there was just about right for us.

From your itinerary, you'll have a couple days left over, so Mt. Rushmore or Glacier might be doable. I've had friends who have gone to both while visiting YS, and they seemed to enjoy the side trip.

bigtyke Apr 7th, 2010 07:17 AM

We went about June 10 in 2002. Everything was open and the roads were clear.

We stayed at the Old Faithful Lodge CABINS which we thought were great. Right near Old Faithful but enough out of the way to be quiet. They are not rustic cabins but the equivalent of a mid price motel room.

WanderingSteph Jun 30th, 2011 10:37 AM

A friend and I went to Grand Teton and Yellowstone in late June 2006 on our way to Cody (which is another great place to visit). We happened upon a place called Togwotee Mountain Lodge, just outside of Grand Teton. It was fabulous. Towgotee has cabins and a main guest lodge. There are tons of things to do. We went horseback riding up the side of Angle Mountain. It was a short stay, but it was memorable!

atravelynn Jun 30th, 2011 11:08 AM

Include Tetons. I've been in June, not May and it was a great time. If you can go the first couple of weeks of June, you'll miss some of the family vacationers who must wait until mid-June when the kids are out of school. Fewer people is a better trip in my book.

Jackson Hole--I stayed on 2 occasions at the Painted Buffalo and enjoyed several pieces of buttermilk pie at Bubba's right across the street. Mmm mmm mmm!

Consider the Roosevelt cabins for great access to the wildlife abundant Lamar Valley in Yellowstone.

Have fun.

utahtea Jun 30th, 2011 05:27 PM

travelgirl619 started this thread back in <b>Feb. 2010</b> for a trip in either May or June of 2011, SO I'm wondering if travelgirl619 has taken her trip and how it went.


atravelynn Jul 1st, 2011 06:13 PM

Foiled again by another old thread.

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