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)
Let me know if you have questions.