OK, they said the internet wasn't working because it was too cold?!? Whatever! Anyway, posting quick before it goes out again but what the heck, it's up to19!
BTW, just because you have an itinerary doesn't mean you have to stick to it if something more interesting comes up (mama bear and cubs, wolves, pikas (lol), awesome geyser eruption, etc). It's just a guide to head you in a direction from your lodging with an indication of what you might see for the day.
Itinerary for Bizlee
Easy to moderate hiking
Day 1: Travel from Provo/SLC to Yellowstone via Idaho Falls and West Yellowstone, entering thru the West gate. If you haven’t already gotten a cooler and supplies in the SLC/Provo area, I would suggest you do so in Idaho Falls. Get stuff for lunches, snacks and beverages. Often in Yellowstone you are caught watching something interesting and are far away from a food source when your stomach is in the mood for food. Your choices will be better in IF than in West Yellowstone. Anyway, enter the park thru the West gate. There are a couple of pull off areas on the left, one with a short nature trail which you might be in the mood to do. Also when you get to the sign saying Riverside Drive on the left, take that. It is a very narrow road, pretty potholey but is right next to the river. At the end of this drive, just before you head back up to the main road, keep a look out for trumpeter swan. Along the way also look for bald eagle. Proceed toward Madison Jct. You will probably see elk and bison along the West entrance road. Madison is a good place for a pit stop…flush toilets. Take a right out of Madison Rest area and just after you cross the Gibbon River Bridge, turn right again in to Firehole Canyon Drive. After you rejoin the main road, continue toward Old Faithful. I would probably head directly to Old Faithful at this point without stopping at the geyser basins you will come to, and save them for tomorrow. Check in at the Visitor Center to orient yourselves and check out the eruption list for the predictable geysers. Pick up the brochure available at the desk (50cents) and write prediction times on the back either now or over the next 2 days. If time and inclination permit you might want to have an adult beverage out on the 2nd floor deck of the Old Faithful Inn which overlooks the geyser basin. Otherwise, get ice cream on the 1st floor of the OFI and take it up to the deck! Overnight at Old Faithful.
Day 2: Make this your geyser day. Begin at the Visitor Center. Check to see if they have any prediction times up yet. There is an excellent Ranger-led hike thru the Geyser Hill area this morning, usually at 830. Check the time in the newspaper you got at the entrance. This is a great orientation to the area. Do the Upper Geyser Basin down to Morning Glory Pool (pit toilet here). If I am not on a ranger led hike, I usually go around behind Old Faithful to the left, cross over the bridge and do Geyser Hill, then proceed down the basin on the boardwalks as far as you can go, then down to Morning glory and back up the paved path. I like to eat lunch at the Lower General Store which is the first building you will come to as you come back to the main area. It is by the gas pumps. It has a cute 50’s type diner, great hand dipped milkshakes. At this point, get back in your car and go out to the loop road. Head back toward Madison Junction. Stop at Midway Gesyer Basin, head north again, then turn right in to the Firehole Lake Drive. If people are around Great Fountain Geyser stop! This is a great one to watch. Rejoin the loop road. If anyone needs a pit stop, I usually go all the way to Madison for the flush toilets rather than the vault toilets at Fountain Paint Pots. Do Fountain Flat Drive and look at the hot pots there, then back to Fountain Paint Pots and head back in the direction of Old Faithful. Pick up Biscuit Basin and Black Sand Basin. Overnight Old Faithful
Day 3: If you would like a hike in this area today, an easy one is Lone Star Geyser. The trailhead is just to the east of the Old Faithful junction, near Keppler Cascades. It is an old road bed so is pretty level all the way out. You might also check the park newspaper and see if there is a ranger hike in this area that interests you. Sometimes they do a Mystic Falls hike. (Internet still out, cant check last summer’s schedule, but will add a link later.) Other things to do: If you are as enthralled with the thermal areas as I am, you may want to see if you can catch some of the spectacular ones that are predictable (and listed at the Visitor Center. Yes, yes, I have sat for as much as 4 hours waiting for Great Fountain geyser…need a lunch, snacks, water, sunscreen, jacket, etc, lol). You can head to Madison Junction then on toward Norris. Stop at Gibbon Falls and Artist Paint Pots. There is sometimes good wildlife sightings in the meadow areas across the loop road from the Artist Paint Pots parking entrance as well as the next meadow area toward Norris. If you don’t hike, you may want to do Norris Geyser Basin. There is an excellent Ranger walk thru here as well. You could also drive a bit toward Canyon and do the Virginia Cascade Drive. Very cool and peaceful back in there. Overnight Old Faithful
Day 4: (This is probably a packed lunch kind of day.) Head back toward Madison and then go toward Norris. Stop at Norris if you didn’t do it yesterday. Stop in at the Norris Campground area and do the small Museum of the National Park Ranger. Head north. Stop at the Roaring Mountain, and again at the exhibit for the Obsidian Cliffs. You can’t actually stop at the cliffs as they are a culturally sensitive area. Head north, stop at SheepEater Cliffs. From the parking lot there, you can take a short mostly level hike along the river. Stop at Golden Gate. If you see it in time, as you leave the Golden Gate area, there is a very, very short turnout on the left which takes you thru some little hoodoos. It is hard to see and then hard to re-enter the main road, but cute back in there. As you start to break off down in to Mammoth, you will see the sign for the Upper Terrace Drive on your left. Do this drive and enjoy walking out to the Canary Spring and looking at the other hot features. Depending on your time, you might have time to stop at the Visitor Center and look around. You might also have time to do the Lower Terrace boardwalk and if you are interested you can do the self-guiding tour of Old Fort Yellowstone. Overnight Mammoth
Day 5: There are some interesting Ranger-led hikes in this area as well. I have always wanted to do the waterfall hike that is early in the AM. This might interest you, or not, lol! Finish up the parts of Mammoth you haven’t done yet and head east toward Tower/Roosevelt Jct. After you leave the Mammoth area, take the right turn for Blacktail Plateau Drive. Many see wildlife (black bear and moose) back in here. I have only ever seen the tail of a chipmunk headed down a hole, but I always drive it anyway! As you leave Blacktail Drive, turn right in to Petrified Tree. The tree is underwhelming, but again, many see black bear in here. At Tower Roosevelt Jct turn left toward Lamar Valley to look for wildlife. Stop when you see people with big cameras and spotting scopes. Overnight Mammoth
**Alternative Day 5: If you are interested in driving Beartooth Highway, this is a good day to do it, if your weather is clear. Leave Mammoth first thing and head to Lamar without doing any side trips. Leave the NE entrance. Head up over Beartooth to Red Lodge. Have lunch and reverse your trip.
Day 6: From Mammoth head east to Tower/Roosevelt Jct, where you will continue south toward Tower Fall. On this stretch of road, stop at the overlooks on the left as you can, depending on traffic. Keep an eye out for black bear. Do Tower Fall. Head south over Dunraven Pass watching for people with camera and spotting scopes looking at Grizzly. Stop at the Canyon Visitor Center (flush toilets). Depending on your time, (if you did Beartooth yesterday, you might have done Blacktail Plateau and other things this morning), you might start looking at some of the overlooks on the North rim of the Canyon. Head down thru Hayden Valley toward Lake. Overnight Lake
Day 7: There are some good hikes in this area! There is a Ranger led hike to Storm Point which leaves from east of Fishing Bridge, there are a couple of Ranger-led hikes that are pretty level around the canyon rim and there is the hike back to Natural Bridge which is on an old road bed. Someone recently indicated this might be closed in June due to bear activity, so check at the Fishing Bridge visitor center. At Fishing Bridge, park and walk across to look for wildlife. Often you can see otter, white pelicans, golden eagle, muskrat. Head north. Do LeHardy Rapids and Mud Volcano if you didn’t do it yesterday. Go back thru Hayden Valley, stopping if there is wildlife to be seen. Do the Canyon overlooks on the South and North rims. If you are looking for a nice picnic site, my favorite spot in the whole park is in this section, it’s Nez Perce Ford Picnic area, between Mud Volcano and Le Hardy Rapids. You can get back off the road by the river and it is so nice back here! Overnight Lake
Day 8: Use this day as a catch-up day, either revisiting things you didn’t spend enough time at or seeing things you missed. You can also drive out to Cody today and tour the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, a group of 5 world class museums. Overnight Lake
Day 9: Head South to Grand Tetons. Stop along the Lake if you wish, stop at West Thumb geyser Basin is you wish then head out the South gate.