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Our first visit to Yellowstone (June 2013) Help!!

Apopka, Florida
posts: 127
reviews: 15
Our first visit to Yellowstone (June 2013) Help!!

My partner and I just decide to go visit Yellowstone for 7 days landing June 19th (Hope the weather will be nice). After reading many many post I almost have our itinerary in order but I need some help and advice. Btw we do not mind doing easy to medium trails and hikes but we mainly like to enjoy nature and history.

After checking prices landing in Bozeman from Orlando, FL works best for us (car rental is cheaper). I haven't bought the airline tickets but we were wondering how soon do I need to buy them (they might go down early next year?)

Day 1: Land in Bozeman and drive to the Old Faithful Inn (staying 2 nights, I booked it online last night West Wing)

Day 2: Old Faithful Inn we will do the top attractions in the area.

Day 3: Drive down to Jackson Hole and stay 1 night ( Cowboy Village Resort looks nice). I think one night stay will give us time to see Grand Teton NP and the area.

Day 4: Driving up to the Canyon area. We were thinking staying somewhere near the Canyon to spend time there and also visit the Lamar Valley. I was wondering if we stayed in Gardiner this day it will be a far drive to do both. My partner is more of a hotel guy and after reading the reviews, the accommodations in that area seems very rustic. what do you guys recommend? Should we stay in the Canyon one night?

Day 5: Staying in Gardiner Guesthouse B&B for two nights to check the main attractions in the area and it would be closer to the airport

Day 6: Gardiner Guesthouse B&B

Day 7: Flying out late morning

Looking at goggle maps the driving distance between places doesn't look bad (time wise), are those accurate? I am afraid we might run out of time to see some o the sights.

I stayed up until 4am trying to put this together but since we have never been in that area is kind of hard. Any input/advice will be greatly appreciate it. Once I have all these down the second part of the planning begins...places to eat and what to pack LOL

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 15,700
reviews: 256
1. Re: Our first visit to Yellowstone (June 2013) Help!!

Looks like the start to a great trip. I would check out Lake lodging if Canyon is too rustic. It would be better for seeing this area.

Bozeman, Billings, Idaho Falls, Jackson Hole and SLC are all good airports to check and yes also check car rental rates.

Yellowstone is huge- the size of the state of Rhode Island- here is the link to some of the most popular places to visit-

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

In park food is adequate but not gourmet. Jackson Hole has excellent food imo. Gardiner OK food and West Yellowstone some decent choices imo.

Pam who is one of the DE's on the forum is great at helping with detailed daily trip plans. I am sure she and others will post with hiking info, helpful hints, etc.

Good luck and let us know if you have more questions.

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
posts: 9,712
reviews: 67
2. Re: Our first visit to Yellowstone (June 2013) Help!!

I agree with PeachBelle that staying in Lake would be good. It is too far to drive from Jackson to Gardiner and expect to do Canyon and the sights in the area from Lake up to Canyon in one day. If you stay at Lake (or Canyon) you can see the things that are in that area.

I like that you have the Yellowstone days split up as it will be easier to access Bozeman for your departure. You may be planning this already, but when you head to Old Faithful, go down 191 to West Yellowstone so you can see that area. We usually recommend you pick up a cooler and some lunch and beverage stuff, which you can easily do in Bozeman.

I'm hoping the weather will be good for you as well. In any event coming from Apopka in June to Montana/Wyoming in June, it will probably feel chilly to you at least in the early mornings and in the evening. When you do your packing lists, be sure to include a light jacket, at least 1 long sleeve shirt and long pants. I would bet you will not need shorts. You might throw in some glove liners. What I am thinking is that if you don't have glove liners, this is the perfect time of year to pick them up cheaply as they will be nowhere to be found in June in Central FL!! lol!

Googlemaps is not usually accurate for driving times withing the park or over Beartooth highway. They are probably pretty accurate for Bozeman to West Yellowstone and/or Gardiner. In the park, double the miles for the approximate time it will take to drive a piece of road without stops. The maximum speed limit is 45 mph and many places it is signed slower than that. Sometimes there are wildlife jams which will hold you up as well. Here is a link to the front page of the Yellowstone website, the map link is on the lower left. Did you have specific distances you were concerned about?

http://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm

Looks like a wonderful trip. If you decide you want help on a detailed daily itinerary, I would be glad to do one for you. Some people like detail, some people are driven nuts by it. In any case, any itinerary you have will need to be flexible in case something interesting turns up.

Pam

Apopka, Florida
posts: 127
reviews: 15
3. Re: Our first visit to Yellowstone (June 2013) Help!!

Thanks Peachbell and D0bby for your comments. Well right after posting I decide t book two nights at the Grand Canyon Lodge (Dunraven). My spouse deserves it :).

Peachbelle - I thing we will manage with the food, I am not a fuzzy eater and I know we will be just fine. I watched few you tube videos and we are really looking forward.

D0bby - Yea I am trying to cut travel time but doing a loop of the park and staying places were we could manage to see most of Yellowstone and getting close to the airport last few days (read it in one of the past posts). Thanks about the cooler and snacks, I'll be renting a mid size SUV so we will be packing lot of snacks for the road right after we land in Bozeman :).

More likely we will be wearing jeans and bring a light jacket to protect from insects and the cooler temperatures...typical Floridians you know. I'll definitely get some glove liners.

I am overall concern about the times to take to drive inside the par in general. I might plan to see few attractions in a day and I would ended up only seeing two or three. How reliable is the GPS?

I am a detail person for sure and if is not an inconvenience I would LOVE for you to help me with an itinerary for our trip. That would help with the concern I have from driving times. We are not hardcore hikers, easy and medium hikers I must say.

I am still undecided about buying the plane tickets this month...just wondering if prices might change next month or so.

Day 1: Land in Bozeman

Old Faithful Inn

Day 2: Old Faithful Inn

Day 3: Cowboy Village Resort looks- Jackson Hole, WY

Day 4: Canyon Lodge

Day 5: CanyonLodge

Day 6: Gardiner Guesthouse B&B

Day 7: Gardiner Guesthouse B&B

Day 8: Flying out late morning

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 15,700
reviews: 256
4. Re: Our first visit to Yellowstone (June 2013) Help!!

60 days out is usually the cheapest you will find airfare prices. I am a bargain hunter when it comes to airfare. Also before you decide on Bozeman check out Southwest if they have any big sales the first part of the year. We've flown into SLC and saved a lot of money.

Apopka, Florida
posts: 127
reviews: 15
5. Re: Our first visit to Yellowstone (June 2013) Help!!

Will do that PeachBelle..thanks for the advise :)

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
posts: 9,712
reviews: 67
6. Re: Our first visit to Yellowstone (June 2013) Help!!

No advice on flying...since I usually drive, lol!

Here is a suggested itinerary.

Day 1: Arrive Bozeman. Stop at WalMart or another store and pick up a cooler, lunch fixings and beverages. Depending on what time you arrive, if it is around noon (your stomachs will still be on Eastern time so you may be hungry anyway! lol), go ahead and eat lunch in Bozeman. Head south on 191 To West Yellowstone and enter Yellowstone thru the West gate. It's 1.5 to 2 hours from Bozeman to West Yellowstone. It's about an hour of drive time from the West gate in to Old Faithful with no stops, however, plan on a lot more since there is a lot to see. You will likely see your first bison and elk on the west entrance road, or in fact on 191 as you head down to West. Take your time on the West entrance road, then at Madison Jct turn right. Madison has flush toilets and makes a good pit stop. After you leave Madison in the direction of Old Faithful you cross the Gibbon River Bridge. Take the next right into Firehole Canyon Dr. Re-enter the Loop Road and continue south. I would probably head straight to Old Faithful area skipping the geyser basins you pass as you can pick them up tomorrow. Arrive at Old Faithful, check in at the Visitor Center, pick up the brochure at the desk for 50 cents and write down eruption times of the predicted geyers if any are predicted for early evening. Depending on time of day, get ice cream on the first floor of the Old Faithful Inn and take it up to the 2nd floor deck and enjoy eating it while overlooking the geyser basin. Overnight Old Faithful

Day 2: I would start back at the Visitor Center. There is usually a Ranger-led tour at 830 for about an hour and a half and it is usually quite good. If there are any prediction times up, note them down. Walk thru the Upper Geyser basin. If I am not on a tour, I usually start by walking around to the left of Old Faithful, going behind it and crossing the bridge over to geyser hill. Work your way down to Morning glory pool on the Boardwalk area until it meets the paved path. There is a vault toilet at Morning glory. Head back to the Visitor Center/OFI on the paved path. I like to eat lunch at the Lower General Store. It has gas pumps out front and is the first building you come to when you are headed back from Morning glory. Hop back in your car and head back toward Madison Junction picking up Midway geyser basin, Firehole Lake Dr (check for time on Great Fountain eruption and if there are people waiting stop. It's magnificent!) You exit Firehole Lake dr right across from Fountain Paint Pots, but you can't go straight across, so turn left or right and then hand a u-turn in the next pull out. Depending on how your time is running, you might have time to head to take a look at Gibbon Falls and Artist Paint Pots which are on the road between Madison and Norris. I doubt you will have time for Norris today. Return to Old Faithful. See what the Ranger program is for the evening. Overnight Old Faithful

Day 3: Head to Grand Teton. I would probably not stop much in Yellowstone. Skip West Thumb geyser basin for now. Overnight Jackson

Day 4: On your way back in to Yellowstone stop at West Thumb for a quick walk thru. What you see today will also depend on how much time you spend in Grand Teton. If you want a short hike today some choices would be Natural Bridge, just before you get to Bridge Bay or Storm Point which is east on the East entrance road from Fishing Bridge. Drive thru Hayden Valley looking for wildlife or for people with large camera lenses or spotting scopes. If you have a chance, stop at the Visitor Center at Canyon. Overnight Canyon

Day 5: Often people will take a drive down thru Hayden Valley to look for wildlife before breakfast, then either return to Canyon for Breakfast or go on to Fishing Bridge. If you begin from Canyon after breakfast, be aware there is a rainbow over the Lower Falls at 945 from the Artist Point overlook on the South rim. This one is an easy, level walk out to the overlook. You might also want to do a ranger led hike this morning. Do the overlooks on the South and North rim. Head south thru Hayden again stopping at Mud Volcano and then Fishing Bridge. Park and walk across. You are not actually looking at the bridge, you are looking for wildlife from this vantage point. Perhaps otters, golden eagle, white pelican, muskrat. Head back toward Canyon stopping at Le Hardy Rapids. If you are looking for a picnic spot in this area, I love Nez Perce Ford picnic area. It is back off the road and right on the river. Head north to Canyon. This is probably a full day especially if you have gotten in a hike. Overnight Canyon

Day 6 From Canyon, head north over Dunraven Pass. Stop at Tower Fall and overlooks north of there. At Tower Roosevelt Junction, turn left toward Lamar Valley. If you are looking for a hike, I like the Yellowstone Picnic area hike, the trailhead of which is just past the Yellowstone River bridge on the right. You will need bear spray. If you wanted to look at a hike up Mt Washburn this would be a good day to do it. You would need to check with the Rangers at Canyon VC to see if it is open as it can be late to get the snow gone up there. Drive out in to Lamar Valley and look for wildlife. Many like the Trout Lake hike in this area as well. If you don't want a hike but do want to drive Beartooth Highway, you could do it this day. Drive out the NE entrance and drive over Beartooth to Rock Creek Vista, returning the same way. It is OK to back track! Depending on how much time you have, you might be able to fit in the very short drive back to Petrified Tree (look for Black bear) an then the drive on Blacktail Plateau Drive which exits right by Petrified Tree. Head to Mammoth. You likely will not have time to do Mammoth this afternoon. If you need a pit stop, the best bathrooms are by the gas station and bus parking lot. Overnight Gardiner

Day 7 Re enter the North entrance. Stop at Mammoth and go to the Visitor Center the do the Lower Terraces. Drive to the Upper Terraces which will be on your right as you drive up out of Mammoth. Head south again. If you are near lunch time, I like Sheepeater Cliffs for a picnic area. Head down to Norris Geyser Basin and do Porcelain Basin and Back Basin. I like the small museum of the National Park Ranger which is by the entrance to the Norris Campground. If you didn't fit in Artist Paint Pots the other day, you can head toward Norris and see them now. You can also head over the connector road between Norris and Canyon and do the Virginia Cascade drive. Overnight Gardiner

The disclaimer on the itinerary is that it should go out the window if something interesting comes up like wolves, bear or a spectacular geyser eruption! Also if you don't like one area you don't have to stay! I usually spend a whole day in the area between Madison Junction and Old Faithful and another whole day between Canyon and Fishing Bridge.

You will need to buy bear spray when you are in Bozeman. You really should not hike without it. If you are out real early in the geyser basin around Old Faithful you should have it.

You also want to get to your lodging in the park before dark. That time of year you will have lots of daylight, so shouldn't be a problem.

www.sunrisesunset.com

You asked how reliable GPS is, and I am not sure what purpose you would use this for? There is really no need within the park as the road is a figure 8 and it's really straight forward to get from the airport into Bozeman and on to 191 and back from Gardiner to I90 and return to the airport. If it is handheld, someone who geocaches recently posted about finding Earth Caches in Yellowstone.

Also many of us like Janet Chapple's Yellowstone Treasures guidebook which gives a lot of information.

Pam

Ennis MT
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Ennis
posts: 2,450
reviews: 27
7. Re: Our first visit to Yellowstone (June 2013) Help!!

Just a quick tip re: driving times. You'll get a map when you enter the park - or you can look it up on the website beforehand: www.nps.gov/yell When figuring places to visit, double the mileage to get an approximate driving time. So going 30 miles would take you about an hour - not counting stops for wildlife etc.

Relax and Enjoy!

Gardiner, Montana
posts: 106
reviews: 6
8. Re: Our first visit to Yellowstone (June 2013) Help!!

A definite second on buying bear spray if you plan on doing any backcountry hiking (basically anything off the boardwalks) or early morning anywhere! Since you are flying, you can also turn in any used bear spray canisters or those that you don't want to take home on the plane with you at the hotel front desks or general stores to be recycled.

Pam - I love so much that you included ice cream on the OFI mezzanine in your itinerary....that is one of my all time favorite things to do at Old Faithful (along with sitting there in the morning with my coffee!)

Yellowstone Nat...
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
posts: 1,267
reviews: 19
9. Re: Our first visit to Yellowstone (June 2013) Help!!

One quick comment about driving times ... it is a lot farther from SLC to YNP than from Bozeman. Every minute away from the park matters.

Henderson, Nevada
Destination Expert
for Flagstaff, West Yellowstone
posts: 1,899
reviews: 57
10. Re: Our first visit to Yellowstone (June 2013) Help!!

I expect you will be happy with Dunraven lodge. It is not what I'd call rustic. We were quite comfortable there. The hikes around Canyon are probably perfect for what you describe you want to do, not too long nor difficult (but assess your interest in steps, and lots of them in some cases). We got caught up watching an osprey nest at one of the overlooks when we stayed there a couple of years ago. No long hike required!

Although I understand what Bill is saying, it's hard to beat the Southwest policies and prices! Comparison shop, but SW is wonderful for their cancellation policies, which allows a person to easily cancel and re-reserve the same flight without penalty (if you think you'll be able to use the credit you get, not cash back, within a year). They also have no fees for checked baggage, and we, personally, like their seating arrangement where you choose when you board. Just something to keep in mind when comparison shopping.