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First Time Visit to Yellowstone in September

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Venice, Florida
posts: 13
reviews: 37
First Time Visit to Yellowstone in September

We will be arriving Salt Lake City Sept 5th and leaving Sept 7th for 2 nights in GTNP staying at Jackson Lake Lodge. We arrive Yellowstone the morning of Sept 9th and will spend our 1st night at Old Faithful Inn, 2nd night at Yellowstone Lake Hotel followed by 2 nights at Canyon Lodge for a total of 4 park days, including day of arrival. Can you please suggest travel routes to points of interest from these hotel locations. We will leave Yellowstone via the North entrance traveling the Bear Tooth Highway to Billings. We are in our late 60's and will not be taking long hikes. The Travel Forum is full of helpful information, and we would be grateful for your trip planning assistance.

Ennis MT
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Ennis
posts: 2,430
reviews: 27
1. Re: First Time Visit to Yellowstone in September

If you haven't already checked it out, the YNP website has a wealth of information, including a map that will show you where the lodging and main sights are located, making it easier to visualize the park layout and to plan a route that suits your specific interests: www.nps.gov/yell

Edited: 10:12 pm, May 31, 2012
Spery, Iowa
posts: 2,757
reviews: 80
2. Re: First Time Visit to Yellowstone in September

When you arrive at Old Faithful, check in at the visitor center for predictions and base your first visit to the geyser basin from that. If you plan to eat dinner at the Old Faithful Inn you will need reservations. Do you leave from the north entrance at Mammoth/Gardiner or the Northeast at Roosevelt Lodge/Cooke City?

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 15,300
reviews: 256
3. Re: First Time Visit to Yellowstone in September

Here are the must sees in YNP to help you plan your trip-

http://yellowstone.net/intro/top-10/

The book Yellowstone Treasures by Janet Chapple has info on daily trip plans, hiking, lodging, restaurants, wildlife, etc.

Check weather before you leave out across the Beartooth- we drove it in early September in 2010 and encountered snow, ice and freezing temps- they even closed the road the next day- so be prepared for anything!!!

Enjoy your trip!!

Venice, Florida
posts: 13
reviews: 37
4. Re: First Time Visit to Yellowstone in September

Thanks for the tips. We are planning to leave the park via the Northeast entrance and will check the weather as advised. We do have a dinner reservation at OF Inn.

Green Valley...
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
posts: 16,606
reviews: 42
5. Re: First Time Visit to Yellowstone in September

The park's map mentioned above is interactive, so you can expand it and get a lot of information, including distances between major points. To estimate time between these points, multiply the miles shown by 1.5 or 2.0. Driving the park will be less than the 45 MPH speed limit due to wildlife viewing, construction, etc. See “View Map” on home page for the interactive map. Here it is: http://www.nps.gov/yell/

You have good lodging locations in the park. Prepare for a lot of interesting driving, so buy a cooler for beverages and snacks/sandwiches - useful especially when you are in a fascinating area and don't wish to drive all the way to dining facilities.

The travel routes you inquired about... As you know, for all of its size, the park's major road is a simple figure 8 with a few-off shoots. So, each day, you could pick one or more "circle", drives, stop at viewpoints and major areas, follow the signs, enjoy. You have lots of time so backtrack as desired (a good thing) and see things differently and more chance of wildlife. Plus, you have a time on this trip to return to areas of particular interest, so each day need not be a thrash.

If you go to the Lamar Valley, I'd do this early in the day so you don't have that long drive back to your lodge before dark, which you would not want to do anyway, anywhere, in the park.

Bring that cooler and, if you like, good binoculars. If you see people with spotting scopes, inquire; they'll probably say "have a look", and you will be delighted.

The following article contains some very useful information (e.g., use the facilities when you can, not when you need to; sunscreen; carry water into the geyser areas, they are large, it might be hot/sunny; etc.)

Yellowstone Newbies - Things You Need to Know http://tinyurl.com/7e62x72

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
posts: 9,488
reviews: 67
6. Re: First Time Visit to Yellowstone in September

OK, so here is what I would do with the days you have:

Day 1: Travel from GTNP to Old Faithful. Tour West Thumb on the way in and the do the Upper Geyser Basin around Old Faithful that afternoon. All the area is boardwalk or paved, so easy walking. Be sure to enjoy either an evening drink or an early morning coffee on the 2nd floor deck of the OFI overlooking the geyser basin. As THBergs indicates, start at the Visitor Center so you can check time for the predictable geysers. I think there is usually a geyser walk about 5 or 530. There also may be a ranger program that evening and they are always interesting.

Day 2: Finish up the Upper Geyser Basin, then as you leave the Old Faithful area, head north toward Madison. Work your way thru Midway, Firehole Lake Dr, Fountain Paint Pots and Firehole Canyon Drive to Madison Jct. (Nice rest area here. Flush toilets! lol) You can drive partway out the west entrance road if you want. There are usually lots of elk out this way in Sept. and it is a pretty drive along the Madison River. Turn around when you cross the bridge so that the river is now on your right (north side of the road). Head toward Canyon, stop at Gibbon Falls, do Artist Paint Pots if you have time. Take the Virginia Cascade Drive. Stop at Canyon Visitor Center. Depending on how much up and down walking you want to do, the easiest viewpoint for the falls is Artist Point on the South Rim. The walk is pretty level and it is my favorite view. Continue to head toward Lake, driving thru Hayden Valley, doing Mud Volcano, Le Hardy Rapids and Fishing Bridge. Park and walk across Fishing Bridge and look for wildlife. You might see otters!

Day 3: Head back toward Canyon. In Yellowstone it does not matter if you backtrack. You just increase your chances to see wonderful wildlife! At Canyon, turn left. Stop at Norris Geyser Basin, then work your way north toward Mammoth. Stop at Sheepeater Cliffs if you want to see some nice columnar basalt. Drive thru the Upper Terraces. Go to the Visitor Center, walk around Ft Yellowstone if you wish, then go do the Lower Terrace. The best bathrooms here are the new ones by the bus parking lot between the Liberty Cap formation and gas station. The ones at the Visitor Center are old, down stairs in the front and very small. If you have a lot of daylight left, you can head out to Gardiner and drive thru the Roosevelt Arch. Look for bighorn sheep on your way out. If you have the book Yellowstone Treasures, she tells you exactly where to look for them. On your way back into the park, you will cross the bridge so river is now on your right, and there are a couple of pull offs. Pull to the front of the paved one and then get out with your binocs and scan the cliff area. Depending on how your time is running, either return to Canyon by way of Norris or go to Tower junction and down.

Day 4: Finish up anything at Canyon you missed, then head north over Dunraven Pass. Stop at Tower Fall, then stop at the overlooks north of the Falls. Be sure to look behind you and across the road up on the cliff area to see if you can see bighorn sheep. At Tower Junction, head out in to the Lamar Valley to look for wildlife. Return to Tower. Turn Right as if you were headed to Mammoth, do Blacktail Plateau Dr. This is dirt and gravel, but usually OK if you take it slow. You may spot some good stuff back in here. Blacktail Plateau comes back to the main road right by Petrified Tree, so duck in there as well. Return to Canyon.

Day 5: Check the weather at the Canyon Visitor Center for Beartooth Pass. If the Ranger tells you it's good, head North over Dunraven again, then out thru Lamar and on out the NE entrance to Cooke City and Beartooth. If the weather is not favorable, you will head out the North entrance via Gardiner to Billings. The important thing here is to have your back up plan as PeachBelle suggests. I am guessing you will have paper maps which is imperative!

Here is a link to the park map.

nps.gov/common/…

Did we nag you to get Janet Chapple's Yellowstone Treasures? It is wonderful for planning and for bringing with you. She has a wonderful mile by mile road log.

Pam

Venice, Florida
posts: 13
reviews: 37
7. Re: First Time Visit to Yellowstone in September

Thank you all so much for the detailed responses--the forum is a valuable resource. My Yellowstone Treasures has arrived and I will gladly read it for additional tips and advice.

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
posts: 9,488
reviews: 67
8. Re: First Time Visit to Yellowstone in September

OK, now (she says a bit breathlessly)..., you need to get different colored paper clips and some sticky notes so you can keep track of things when you read Yellowstone Treasures....

I AM nuts!

lolol

Pam

Columbia, South...
posts: 43
reviews: 23
9. Re: First Time Visit to Yellowstone in September

If you decide to take the northern loop, we'd recommend the firehole just west of OF (nice boardwalk), Gibbon Falls, Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Falls, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Spery, Iowa
posts: 2,757
reviews: 80
10. Re: First Time Visit to Yellowstone in September

oh, Yellowstone Treasures has arrived! Prepare for Yellowstone Fever. Symptoms include sleepless nights up reading, followed by random comments beginning with "the book said" :)