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Staying at Fishing Bridge - Help me Divide the Park

Livonia, Michigan
posts: 69
Staying at Fishing Bridge - Help me Divide the Park

We're going to be taking our first trip to Yellowstone in August of 2013. We are a family of 4 - my wife and I are healthy and in our 30s - our kids will be 6 and 9. We will have 6 full days to spend seeing everything we can. I have reservations at Fishing Bridge where we hope to spend very little time and will be using it simply as a place to sleep, shower, and likely eat breakfast/dinner.

We are into hiking but like to keep them to 5 miles or less round trip. My kids are tough as nails and can handle most. We would much rather see something up close than to look at it form the designated area with the masses. We are the type to see something last second and decide to check it out instead of pressing on with a strict schedule.

I have dipped into the Yellowstone Treasures book and read through tons of posts here and elsewhere online.. but I'm over-whelmed. This is proving to be our hardest trip to plan.

I know we want to hit the top 10 commonly referenced here. We'd also like to make sure we hit a rodeo. Besides that.. who knows. Without figuring things down to the minute, how would you plan out our 6 days? What direction would you head in each day?

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 15,304
reviews: 256
1. Re: Staying at Fishing Bridge - Help me Divide the Park

Pam (DObby) who is one of the DE's is great at doing detailed daily trip plans and I am sure she would be glad to help you.

Rodeo is two days a week in Jackson and each night in Cody. Great idea and the kids will love it. Personally like the one in Cody. Cody also has world class Buffalo Bill museums.

USA
Destination Expert
for Alaska, Denali National Park and Preserve, Yellowstone National Park
posts: 9,273
reviews: 44
2. Re: Staying at Fishing Bridge - Help me Divide the Park

Will you have a car in addition to your RV? Or will you be doing all your traveling in the park in your RV?

Livonia, Michigan
posts: 69
3. Re: Staying at Fishing Bridge - Help me Divide the Park

I've read several of Pam's detailed trip plans and they've been a great help! I was hoping to find one that she's done in the past with Fishing Bridge as a daily starting point for about the same amount of days.

Yes, we pull the camper with a truck.

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
posts: 9,494
reviews: 67
4. Re: Staying at Fishing Bridge - Help me Divide the Park

I don't think I have used Fishing Bridge as a starting point, but would be glad to give it a whirl. Some people thrive on really detailed itineraries, but I am sensing you would prefer a more general scheme? I can do either, just don't want to flood you with details if that is not your style. (yes, I can try to rein in my details, lol! BUT with kids I will tell you where the flush toilets and running water is!)

Tell me where you are entering from and your proposed schedule for that day and also what direction/destination on your leaving day. You have said you are there for 6 full days, so that is 7 nights, right? Will you have done Cody, Grand Tetons or Beartooth?

This is going to be a memory of a lifetime trip for you and the kids. Make sure they know they can come back and work here during summers while in college!

You have some good level hikes in the Fishing Bridge neighborhood to get you started. Storm Point is a ranger-led hike just east of FB. Natural Bridge is just south of Bridge Bay marina area and goes back on an old road bed, so quite level.

Pam

Livonia, Michigan
posts: 69
5. Re: Staying at Fishing Bridge - Help me Divide the Park

Hi Pam!

I'm excited that you found this thread(: I would LOVE one of your detailed itineraries! If you do that, maybe you could tell me which stop/point(s) you'd skip if time were starting to get tight. I just don't want to have to leave a place if something cool is happening so that we can make the next stop in time. Because everything sounds so great, I don't know what to eliminate.

We will be arriving at Coulter Bay in GTNP August 2nd and switching to Fishing Bridge on on the 6th. We will be leaving Fishing Bridge and heading to the Badlands on the 13th. So by calculating 6 full days, I did not count the 6th or the 13th. We may have time on the 6th but will be rushing out of town on the 13th.

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
posts: 9,494
reviews: 67
6. Re: Staying at Fishing Bridge - Help me Divide the Park

OK, good to know. I will work on a detailed itinerary and get it up tomorrow for you! I will tell you the things I would miss!! Others may disagree, lol.

At least with a detailed itinerary, you can still chuck it if something better pops up!

Pam

Livonia, Michigan
posts: 69
7. Re: Staying at Fishing Bridge - Help me Divide the Park

Take your time, Pam - I really appreciate it!

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
posts: 9,494
reviews: 67
8. Re: Staying at Fishing Bridge - Help me Divide the Park

Fishing Bridge Itinerary

Up to 5 mile hikes, kids 6 and 9

August 6: Travel Coulter Bay to Fishing Bridge. If you have time and need a break, stop at West Thumb Geyser Basin as you head north from Grand Tetons. There are several waterfalls on the South entrance road you may want to see as well.

August 7: Use this day to explore the area from Fishing Bridge up to Canyon. Stop and walk across Fishing Bridge. This is an area rich in wildlife, possibly otters, golden eagle, muskrat, white pelicans. Turn right on the Loop road toward Canyon. Stop at LeHardy Rapids. Head north thru Hayden Valley stopping if you see people out with long camera lenses or spotting scopes. When you get to the Canyon area, go to the Visitor Center first. There are nice flush toilets here, so a nice place for a pit stop. Take a look at the displays here, then head to the overlooks on both the North rims and then South Rims. If you are photographers, there is a rainbow over the falls at 945-10AM at Artist Point. There are also a couple of Ranger led hikes in this area, so look at your park newspaper and see if you would like to join one. Work your way back south stopping at Mud Volcano and hiking here. Other choices for hikes are Natural Bridge (old road bed, so very level) and Storm Point.

August 8: Make this your Geyser Day! Turn left on the Loop Road. Go to the Upper Geyser basin and 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). There is usually a Ranger-led tour at 830. Try to work your walk thru the basin so you can see some of the predictable geysers. I usually start by going behind Old Faithful on the path to the left side of this geyser, crossing the bridge 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) as you head back to the Visitor Center. After you see this area, hop in the car and head north from Old Faithful on the loop road. Do Midway Geyser Basin, the Firehole Lake Dr. (on the right), Fountain Paint Pots (the entrance is right across from the exit for Firehole Lake Dr but you can’t go straight across, you will need to turn left or right, go to the next pull out and make a u-turn) and go almost to Madison Jct and turn left into Firehole Canyon Dr. This is one way headed back South. (If anyone needs a pit stop, go on to Madison Jct, there are flush toilets there.) At Madison is it shorter by 12 miles to return to Fishing Bridge via Norris and Canyon altho you can take another run by the Upper Geyser Basin (ice cream on the 2nd floor deck of the Old Faithful Inn??). If you are running short of time, skip Biscuit Basin, Black Sand Basin and Fountain Flat Dr.

August 9: Today head for the other wildlife rich area, Lamar Valley. Turn right on the loop road and head past Canyon. Go over Dunraven Pass, stopping at Tower Fall. Stop at the overlooks north of here and look down in to the Canyon. At Tower Roosevelt Jct, turn right. Drive out into Lamar again, stopping if you see people with cameras and spotting scopes. Drive at least to Soda Butte, and farther if you see activity. Reverse your direction. Several nice hikes in this area are Trout Creek and Yellowstone River Picnic area. If you want a big hike, do Mt Washburn in the morning (less chance of storms). You will need bear spray.

August 10: Today, go to Canyon and take a left. Do Norris Geyser Basin, then stop at Norris Campground for the small Museum of the National Park Ranger. Head north taking in Roaring Mountain and the display in the pull off area for Obsidian Cliff. Continue north stopping at Sheepeater Cliff. There is a very short level hike along the river here. Continue on to Golden Gate, then as you drop off in to Mammoth, make sure to do the Upper Terrace Drive on the left. Continue down in to Mammoth. Go to the Visitor Center, walk the Lower Terraces, do the self guiding walking tour of Old Fort Yellowstone if you like. Here the best bathrooms are NOT in the Visitor Center, but the new ones between the gas station and the bus parking lot. From here head east toward Tower Jct. There are a couple of waterfalls along here. Take the turn in to Blacktail Plateau Dr. It is dirt and gravel. Many see wildlife back in here. I usually don’t but it doesn’t stop me from trying, lol! At the end of Blacktail Plateau, you rejoin the loop road and then turn immediately into Petrified Tree area. The tree is a bit of a disappointment, but many see black bear back in here. At Tower, turn south and head back toward Fishing Bridge over Dunraven Pass.

August 11: Today if you like, leave the park and head out to Cody since you won’t have time to see it on your way thru when you leave. Go to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center and see the 5 museum complex there. There is a nightly rodeo in Cody, but I wouldn’t recommend you go to it because you don’t want to drive back thru the park in the dark.

August 12: Today is your catch-up (laundry? Yuck) day. Either visit things you missed or revisit things you really liked. There are lots of hiking opportunities for you today as well. You could do the Lone Star Geyser Hike (near Old Faithful), hike along the Canyon rim, do any of the hikes on the connector between Norris and Canyon, do Artist Paint Pots, head out to West Yellowstone and do the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center if you haven’t seen bear or wolves.

August 13: Wave good bye to Yellowstone and Fishing Bridge and head to South Dakota.

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, an 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.

Here is a link to the Ranger-led programs. They are often similar year to year, so you can see how you might work some of them in. You will get this list in the park newspaper you get at the entrance gate. You can see there are nightly programs at the Fishing Bridge amphitheater, so try to get to some of those (altho they are past my bedtime! lol)

www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/rangerprog.htm

Let me know if you have questions.

Pam

Livonia, Michigan
posts: 69
9. Re: Staying at Fishing Bridge - Help me Divide the Park

Holy Awesome! Thanks Pam! I haven't read through it closely yet but after a quick scan I can tell this is going to help a TON and I already feel a relief(:

I will definitely have more questions as I get more informed on each of your points. Actually, while I'm thinking about it, somewhere around these forums you mentioned a waterfall Ranger guided tour that you had always wanted to do (I think it was you). Is that still offered?

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
posts: 9,494
reviews: 67
10. Re: Staying at Fishing Bridge - Help me Divide the Park

The one I have wanted to do is Wraith Falls, which is listed as a Discovery hike here.

nps.gov/yell/…mammoth2012.pdf

Based on their last year's schedule you could certainly fit it in. Since you are starting from the same place every day (as opposed to those that move around a lot) all your itinerary days are interchangeable. You could definitely head up to Mammoth area early since it was an 830 start time last year. The trailhead is about 50 miles from Fishing Bridge (going via Norris which is probably a bit faster) so that is going to take you at least 1 hr 45 minutes barring wildlife jams in Hayden Valley. There are Ranger led hikes closer to Fishing Bridge. I would encourage you to do the Storm Point hike which is very nearby.

And yes that was me who said that! Wow, you are really doing some research. Before you know it we will have you crazy for Yellowstone too! You know we expect a trip report when you get back.

Did we nag you to get the Yellowstone Treasures guide book by Janet Chapple? Many of us use the heck out of this book in the park. Good to look at for planning and to bring with you for the park.

Pam