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  1. #1
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    Default Yellowstone Help

    We MAY be able to take a trip to yellowstone this year. I have absolutely no clue how to plan this. I don't mind camping but there are a couple of members in our family that might prefer a hotel of sorts.

    I MUST see the gyser...but I don't know what else to do...reservations to make...How impossible is it to get tours at the last minute (I don't know if we'll be able to go or not yet)...we are probably only looking at a couple of days...if we can go.

    Any ideas how to plan a trip of sorts?
    Have no clue 1983
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  3. #2
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    Check nps.gov for park info. There is some lodging inside the park. Xanterra operates them. We made ressies a couple months ahead of time. There is so much to see and do there - you will have a great time!

  4. #3
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    If you plan on camping, be aware that it is first come first serve with no reservations.
    If you want to stay in park lodging start booking now. West Yellowstone, Gardiner or Cooke City are your best bets outside the park.
    Allow four days to see the park, it is very big with lots to see and do.
    If you are an outdoors type person, this is a trip of a lifetime.
    Dave aka: Altair
    "I don't want to believe, I want to know" - Carl Sagan

  5. #4
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    I don't want to be Debbie Downer, but depending on when you are planning to go, you may not be able to book a room or camp site inside the park for this year. July of 2010 (one year in advance) I called to make a reservation for July of 2011 and the only rooms left were something like $429 per night. Because of that and questions about the flight I scrapped plans for this year (we are going back to WDW instead). I called back last month and found out that bookings open up in May so I will be calling back and trying to get a reservation for July 2012.

    If you were planning on the summer this year you may be too late, but try calling anyway because you may get lucky and scoop up a cancellation.
    Rita (aka NJGIRL)

  6. #5
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    Oh my...that's good to know. We may not be able to go. My absolute preference is to "tent" camp. I guess I'll give them a call and see what my possibilities are.
    Have no clue 1983
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  7. #6
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    We're doing a trip to Yellowstone this summer as well. Lucky for me I'm not having to do any of the planning as its a trip my son's Honors/AP Biology class is taking. What I can tell you is we're flying into Salt Lake City, Great Salt Lake for a swim, heading to Antelope Island State Park, then headed to Hayden Valley, West Yellowstone, Old Faithful Lodge, Jackson Hole, WY, then white water rafting down the Snake River. Not sure what's being done what day, but we'll be there for about a week.

    I'm looking forward to some of the information others have as well since I've never been out there either.
    OAmy O DVC Member
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  8. #7
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    Regarding tent camping: - If you want to tent camp you shouldn't worry too much about finding a place. True it's first-come, first-serve, but as long as you're not showing up after mid-afternoon you should be able to find something. If you're getting in late the first day you might want to book a hotel somewhere that night then go to the campground you want to stay at first thing the next morning, find an empty spot or one where people are leaving, set up, pay for your day(s) and go out exploring. Remember it can be in the 30s at night even during the summer, so make sure you're ready for that type of camping. Also, with the size of the park it may make sense to camp for a few days on one side, then move for a few days to another area (i.e. two days at Madison campground then two days at Canyon campground).

    When it comes to hotels it's just like Disney, people are always canceling/changing/making plans so something that's booked this morning may be open tomorrow. The prime hotels fill up just about as soon as the booking window opens.

    The place is huge and there's so much to see and do that a couple days visit is going to be like trying to see all of Disney World in one day - you can probably just barely see all the highlights in that time but it's better than never seeing it. The Old Faithful geyser area is part of a huge geyser basin and there are two other basins nearby so just seeing the old faithful area can be a full day in itself.

    If you're up for some hiking by all means do it, get away from the roads and the touristy spots. Seeing Old Faithful is amazing, but the boardwalk, hotel and thousands of other people watching at the same time don't really contribute to the feeling of being in the wilderness. There's a stat on the National Geographic website saying that 99 percent of Yellowstone visitors never leave the park roads (I'm guessing they mean roads/developed areas). It's just amazing to me to think that people go all that way, drive around, get out, snap some pictures then go drive around some more when there's so much more to see.

    I could go on and on, Montana is my second home so feel free to ask anything and I'll try to answer.

  9. #8
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    Hi, We are from Iowa and go to yellowstone once in a while.
    1. Hotels inside fill fast.
    2. Outside hotels on the west and north side are not that far away. There are a few more tourist things to do at west side entrance.
    3. It snows sometimes even in early June.
    4. The distances are deceptive. IE: a 20 mile stretch of road may require 3 hours to cover. The traffic stops for animals and sightseers.
    5. We stop at every sight with a parking lot.
    6. We live in a low altitude state and it takes a couple of days to be able to hike at a reasonable pace, in the thin air. We plan for that now.
    7. Read some guidebooks. The park does not change, so earlier editions of books are fine.
    My must-see list
    1. Old faithful and surroundings
    2. Gibbon falls
    3. Waterfall from several trials
    4. Canyon

    I love it there, as you may have suspected.

  10. #9
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    Best times to visit for:
    wildlife -Spring/Fall
    wild flowers- Summer, best mid-July
    small crowds- Spring/ Fall; winter very few
    waterfalls at peak - Spring
    Ranger led activites - Summer
    Dave aka: Altair
    "I don't want to believe, I want to know" - Carl Sagan

  11. #10
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    For those of you that have been there, how many days should we spend? I was thinking about 5 full days. We will be staying at Old Faithful Lodge. We are not "hikers" but tourist who like to walk around (if you know what I mean). We will want to see all of the major attractions, What do you think?

    Also, I read that there is no AC in the hotels. I know the nights are cool but how do you cool off during the day?
    Rita (aka NJGIRL)

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by NJGIRL View Post
    For those of you that have been there, how many days should we spend? I
    Four to five days will cover it. Try to take some of the shorter hikes or walks. It is well worth the time and can get you away from the crowds.

    The areas around Mammoth, Old Faithful and Tower Falls can get very crowded in Summer, but most folks don't move too far from path or road.

    Nights are very cool even in Summer, days are usually mild with very low humidity. You may run the heater in the car in the mornings.

    Do a search for Yellowstone Association for the best printed material (maps, books and booklets) available.

    If you can find my homepage, I've got a few Yellowstone photo albums availalbe.
    Dave aka: Altair
    "I don't want to believe, I want to know" - Carl Sagan

  13. #12
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    Thanks for the info Dave. We do like to walk alot. I guess I wanted to make it clear, that when trying to figure out how long we were going to stay in the park, we would not be spending most of the time hiking for hours at a time.

    We really enjoyed the Grand Canyon and stayed there for two whole days, but I think we should have stayed longer.
    Rita (aka NJGIRL)

  14. #13
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    Yellowstone is like 5 parks in one, kind of. There is the Mammoth Springs area, the Canyon Area, the Lake, Old Faithful and there's another one . . . hmm.

    Anyway, driving around Yellowstone is slow. It can take 2 hours to get from the southern gate to the northern entrance. This is partly because of the roads, but more because of the animals and folks stopping to look at them. You never know when you will go around a corner and see something else. And as was said, you gotta stop at each pull out. That's what you're there for.

    We camped at the northernmost Grand Teton camp ground to do day trips into Yellowstone, about 30 minutes from the south entrance. One day our neighbors "did" Yellowstone. They left before daylight and got back about midnight. And that was it. They were done. What can you see either one day or in the dark!?!?

    We spent a day around Mammoth, another day in the Canyons area and a day at the Old Faithful area (and neighboring boardwalk thermal areas). And even then we only hit the high spots in each area.

    I understand that most trails are short as the backcountry areas are meant to be mostly free of humans. Don't know how true or recent this is. We did at least one walk/hike in each area.

    It's been awhile since we camped there but one reason we camped in Grand Teton was the bears. There were fewer problems with bears in that park. But perhaps by now, the visitors have been educated enough that the bears are no longer as much of a problem in Yellowstone.

    We camped in mid June and had more than one morning with temps at sunrise being in the upper 30s. But if the sun were shining, the temps warmed up nicely. Mid 70s anyway for day time highs.

    We've actually done longer hikes in Grand Teton. We made sure to hike a lot here in Missouri. We have maybe 800 elevation instead of say 8,000 feet but if wecould cover four or five miles an hour in these hills, we didn't have to allow much time to acclimatize to the altitude.

    Our grandson did the Junior Ranger program there at Yellowstone and enjoyed it. You can get info at www.nps.gov/yell.

    Jan

  15. #14
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    Thanks Jan that was great info.

    I have a few more questions for everyone.

    What is there to do at night? My husband and son are not too trilled there aren't any TV's in the hotels.

    Has anyone taken the "safari" tour?

    What tours have you taken and did you like them?

    We are planning on walking and driving around on our own but I do want to take a few organized tours also.
    Rita (aka NJGIRL)

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by NJGIRL View Post
    What is there to do at night? My husband and son are not too trilled there aren't any TV's in the hotels.
    Go to the Yellowstone park official site and download the paper Yellowstone Today. The most current one available is for Spring, but the summer one should be out soon. It will list all the ranger led evening and day time activites.
    Star gazing is tremendous in the park.

    Mostly it's rest up for the next day.
    Dave aka: Altair
    "I don't want to believe, I want to know" - Carl Sagan

  17. #16
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    You're welcome.

    As for evening activities, have to agree with Dave - rest up for the next day.

    And as he mentioned the ranger led activities, we always try to do every evening activity planned. And whatever afternoon ones we could fit in. We have usually enjoyed the ranger led activities.

    As for tours, we didn't do any but I don't remember there being any. If there are, they are probably good. In other national parks when we've done tours we have enjoyed them.

    Jan

  18. #17
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    For anyone coming from the east, try to plan a drive on the Beartooth Highway. The full length runs from Red Lodge, MT to the NE entrance, but you can also hit some by traveling from Cody, WY to the NE entrance. If you can do this coming or going, you won't be disappointed. Do a search for info.

    Also, just booked four nights in West Yellowstone for June 27-30.
    Dave aka: Altair
    "I don't want to believe, I want to know" - Carl Sagan

  19. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Altair View Post
    Also, just booked four nights in West Yellowstone for June 27-30.
    We're envious. We'd love another trip back to Yellowstone, especially now that we have a new person - grandniece - to introduce to the park.

    But this summer we are at least getting to take a long Amtrak trip out to Portland, Oregon and then southwestern Washington for a family reunion. I know . . . most folks would not be glad of either the train ride or the reunion.

    Safe travels.

    Jan

  20. #19
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    Just a note from one who lives at sea level (NJ) . . . elevations at YNP start high and go higher. Expect to feel more tired, plan to drink a lot of water, wear sunblock (i was there in the fall and although I always wore long sleeves the back of my hands got very sun burned), and you might even have some difficulty sleeping. That helps take up the night time entertainment.

    If you have a full moon, or close to that, seeing some of the sights again at night is worthwhile. Get up with the sun and have an early start to your day. Just think its a couple hours later "back east!"

  21. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by CPT Trips View Post
    Just a note from one who lives at sea level (NJ) . . . elevations at YNP start high and go higher. Expect to feel more tired, plan to drink a lot of water, wear sunblock (i was there in the fall and although I always wore long sleeves the back of my hands got very sun burned), and you might even have some difficulty sleeping. That helps take up the night time entertainment.

    If you have a full moon, or close to that, seeing some of the sights again at night is worthwhile. Get up with the sun and have an early start to your day. Just think its a couple hours later "back east!"

    Are the elevations higher than the Grand Canyon on the South Rim and why the difficulty sleeping?
    Rita (aka NJGIRL)

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