Sorry this took so long! Our internet has been off more than on since Monday and I knew I couldn’t type this much on my phone. Here you go. As always, this is just a suggestion on which way to go from your lodging each day. If something pops up that is more interesting, go for it!
8/22 Leave Cody, head up Chief Joseph to Beartooth. Turn right and head up over Beartooth to Red Lodge for lunch, then back (really it looks pretty different in both directions!) to Cooke City and in the NE entrance. Take your time, stop at the pullouts. Watch for crazy people skiing! If you see people with big camera lenses or spotting scopes in Lamar Valley, stop! I like to stop at Soda Butte. You will know it when you see it because it is a knob near the road on the left with a pull out. Get out and walk behind to look at the cliff swallow nests. You may also see wolves, bear or I have actually seen a couple of moose from here, in the distance across the meadow. Overnight at Roosevelt
8/23 If you are interested, I would head out to Lamar early (before breakfast) and look for wildlife. I would return to Roosevelt for Breakfast, then go toward Mammoth. There are some waterfalls near Mammoth and there is sometimes a Ranger walk to one of these. You will get a newspaper when you enter the park which will list the Ranger hikes, but I like to have some in mind when I arrive so I can structure around the time frames. They do list activity level, easy to strenuous. Head to Mammoth and go to the Visitor Center which is in one of the very old buildings across from the old hotel. BTW, the best bathrooms in the Mammoth area are the ones between the gas station and bus parking lot near the lower terraces. After you scope out the VC, do the Ft. Yellowstone walk if you like, otherwise, head to the Lower Terraces and walk thru these. If you are a birder, watch for the killdeer hopping around in the terraces and the bluebirds in the trees. Get back in the car. At this point, I would probably head toward Gardiner to see the Roosevelt Arch. On the way, look for bighorn sheep on the big cliff on your right. If you see people pulled over, stop if you can. There are a couple of pullouts but you may want to just note the location and stop on your way back when the pullouts are on the correct side of the road. Exit the park, look at Roosevelt Arch, maybe go to the huge Yellowstone Association bookstore right there at the corner (green metal roof). Maybe lunch in Gardiner? Head back toward Mammoth. At this point head south on the loop road. As you climb out of Mammoth, turn right in to the Upper Terrace Drive. This is a park and walk a short way to look kind of drive. Very interesting formations, and I often see mule deer back in here. Go on to Golden Gate. If you can catch it, turn it right into the *hoodoos*. You may not see these til you are on your way back down. If you miss, no big deal, it's just cute. Depending on how your time is running, you may want to drive to Sheepeater Cliffs before you turn around and head back to Mammoth. You drive back in to the cliffs. If you are up for a short mostly level walk, you can walk along the Gardiner River for maybe 1/2 mile from the parking lot by the cliffs (actually columnar basalt). Return to Mammoth, turn right toward Roosevelt. When you get to Blacktail Plateau Drive, turn in here. It is a 7-mile dirt and gravel road. Easily done in a regular car (altho your rental agreement may say not to go onto unpaved roads). I usually go very slow even in my 4WD car, just because it is beautiful back in here. I pull over and let others blast by me! Many have great animal sightings along here, I don't, I've only every seen a chipmunk tail heading down a hole! It doesn't stop me from doing it tho! Often people see black bear and moose. This drive exits right by Petrified Tree so turn right into there next. The tree itself is pretty underwhelming, but again many see black bear back in here! Overnight at Roosevelt
8/24 Today I would do the rest of the Upper Loop. I would probably start in the direction of Mammoth. This will put you at Norris in the morning when it is cooler and then when you come north past Tower Fall the pull outs are on the correct side of the road. So...head to Mammoth, then South to Norris. You may see animals at Swan Lake Flat which will be on your right after you get to the top. Stop as you like along here, there is an interesting display at Obsidian Cliff (you come to the display before you get to the cliff). I am probably the only person (ever!) that stops at Apollonaris Springs, but it just is kind of enchanting to me. You park on the right, then have to walk across the road. At Norris Campground, turn in and take 10 minutes to see the Museum of the National Park Ranger. Then, on to Norris. I usually start by heading toward Steam Boat geyser, then finish up with Porcelain Basin, but you can go either way. From Norris, go toward Canyon, turning in at Virginia Cascade. This is a beautiful drive, altho if someone is on a pressing schedule it's skipable. When you get to Canyon, the Visitor Center has very nice, new bathrooms (flush toilets, lol) From Canyon, head north over Dunraven Pass stopping at the overlooks. Stop at Tower Fall (a short walk to the fall overlook, but also nice flush toilets, altho they are often crowded as many tour buses seem to stop here!) As you leave Tower Fall, stop at the overlooks on the right and peer over the side. Also look back up behind you and you might see bighorn sheep on the cliffs. Overnight at Roosevelt
8/25 Head south toward Canyon via Tower Fall and over Dunraven Pass, looking for grizzly in the sage brush areas. At Canyon, stop at the Visitor Center if you didn’t do that yesterday, then do the North Rim overlooks and South rim overlooks. Except for Artist Point on the South Rim, they are all a hike down on a paved path. If you are not enjoying this, just do one overlook on the North rim. I would recommend Brink of the Upper Falls which is the first one you will come to on the North rim drive. On to the South Rim, and at least do Artist Point, which is a level walk out to the overlook. There is a short flight of steps up to the actual overlook, but you can see just as well upstream from the area at the bottom of the steps. From Canyon go south thru Hayden Valley, stopping if you see people with long camera lenses and spotting scopes. Stop at Mud Volcano and tour this area. Stop at LeHardy Rapids, then stop at Fishing Bridge. Park here and walk across. You are looking for wildlife, not the actual bridge. You might want to head east on the East entrance road if people have been seeing wildlife (bear/moose) out this way. (Ask at the Canyon Visitor Center or the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center for this info.) If you have time, you can head down beside the lake. Overnight at Lake
8/26 From Lake, I would head south toward West Thumb (skipping this for now) then around to Old Faithful. Check in at the Visitor Center and write down the eruption times for the predictable geysers on the brochure available at the desk. (50 cents) Try to work your walk thru the basin so you can see some of these geysers. I usually start by going behind Old Faithful on the path to the left side of this geyser, crossing the bridge behind Old Faithful (you can’t see it from the front of the geyser) and up onto Geyser Hill. From there I head down the geyser basin to Morning glory pool (pit toilet here!) and go back toward Old Faithful on the paved path. I like to eat lunch at the Lower General Store. It will be the first store you come to on the right (well, the geysers are on the left, lol) before the Old Faithful Inn as you head back to the Visitor Center. There are tours of the Old Faithful Inn if you are interested. Try to work it so you get ice cream at the ice cream parlor on the 1st floor of the Inn and take it up to the 2nd floor deck overlooking the geyser basin to enjoy it. You can also do this with drinks in the evening and coffee in the morning. Can you tell this is one of my favorite spots! Overnight at OF
8/27 This day, you might want to start with the Ranger-led walk around Geyser Hill which usually starts around 830. Then, I would head toward Madison Junction, stopping at Midway Geyser Basin, then turning right into Firehole Lake Drive. Before you leave the OF area, you might check at the VC to see if they have a prediction time for Great Fountain Geyser which is on Firehole Lake Drive. There is also a board by Great Fountain Geyser which shows the eruption time. If there are people hanging around, stop and see what is going on. It is well worth seeing. Just past Great Fountain is White Dome which usually goes frequently. Check with the VC to see if it is currently on something like a 30 or 45 minute cycle, and then you might want to wait. When you re-enter the loop road, continue North toward Madison Junction (nice flush toilets here, lol!) then around to Gibbon Falls and Artist Paint Pots. Retrace your steps to Madison and go south again toward OF. After you cross the Gibbon River Bridge, turn right in to Firehole Canyon Falls, then again head toward OF. Head out Fountain Flat Drive and take a look at the hot pools. Go south again on the Loop Road, picking up Fountain Paint Pots, Biscuit Basin and Black Sand Basin. If you have time, you can also go past OF and take a look at Keppler Cascade. Return to Old Faithful. You could also consider a short drive out to West Yellowstone when you are in the Madison Junction area. Many enjoy the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center there. Overnight at OF
8/28 Head to Jackson, stopping at West Thumb for a quick look around before you go toward the South gate.
I hope you have a wonderful time! Let me know if you have any questions.