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Yellowstone Park Touring Advice

Franklin Square...
posts: 8
Yellowstone Park Touring Advice

Hi, I would love to know the best way to go about touring the park. I have been doing a lot of research and find this a bit overwhelming. I have written up a plan of attack but I would love to know your ideas. Yellowstone is where I am having trouble, so much to see. This is where we are staying. I have all my reservations in place and those I will not change we are three couples early 50s. I am planning this trip so I want to make sure everything goes smoothly. Thanks so much in advance.

We are going to SD first to visit that area.

8/18 flying into Rapid City- 8/20 Spending the night we think in Gillette then driving to Cody on 8/21

8/21 Day in Cody with Museum, dinner show and rodeo

8/22 Drive into Yellowstone

8/22, 8/23 Canyon Lodge - Frontier Cabins - 2 nights

8/24 Mammoth Springs Hotel - Frontier Cabin

8/25 Old Faithful Inn

8/26 Finish up Yellowstone and drive to Jackson Hole

8/26 - 8/29 Stay in Jackson Hole area and tour Grand Tetons. Flying home from Jackson Hole.

I need help figuring the best plan from each area. We would like to do small hikes but nothing to strenuous. Thanks :)

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
posts: 12,646
reviews: 89
1. Re: Yellowstone Park Touring Advice

I would be happy to do a detailed daily itinerary for you if that would be helpful for you. It looks like you have gotten a good spread for your lodging.


(PS Shoveling snow this morning, so may be later in the day when I get back!)

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 19,283
reviews: 323
2. Re: Yellowstone Park Touring Advice

Great plans and so glad you got in park reservations.

For the Black Hills of SD go online or order a travel guide for great info-


It has a nice map, lots on info, etc.

Pam (DObby) one of the DE's does daily detailed plans so I am sure she will be glad to help with that and with hiking info too. Voyaging and others will give you insight into info for first timers to the park, wildlife viewing, photography, etc.

The park is huge and there is much to see- here is a link to most popular sights-


Be sure and get a cheap cooler in SD and pack it with water, snacks, etc. so you will not have to hunt for lunch while touring the park.

Good luck with your planning. As you probably know already one way car rental fees are going to add up and you will pay a minimum of about $800 for car rental for this trip.

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
posts: 12,646
reviews: 89
3. Re: Yellowstone Park Touring Advice

Itinerary for Funhouse

3 couples

August 22: Enter the park from the East gate. Stop at Fishing Bridge, park and walk across. This is a good spot for spotting wildlife. Turn right on the loop road toward Canyon. Stop at LeHardy Rapids, then Mud Volcano. Drive thru Hayden Valley and stop if you see people out with long Camera lenses or spotting scopes. Go to the Canyon Visitor Center (nice flush toilets). If you have time, do some of the overlooks on the North and South rims of Canyon. The easiest to access is Artist Point on the South rim. The paved path from the parking lot is level. Overnight at Canyon

August 23: Finish up any Canyon overlooks you didn’t get to yesterday. Head north from Canyon over Dunraven to Tower Fall. (flush toilets here too) Stop at some of the overlooks north of Tower, then at Tower Roosevelt Jct, turn right in to Lamar Valley. This area is rich in wildlife. Again stop if you see a gathering of folks. Drive at least to Soda Butte. Return to Tower Junction. Depending on your time, you may be able to fit in the drive back to Petrified Tree and Blacktail Plateau Dr before you return to Canyon. They are both on the section of road between Tower Jct and Mammoth. Overnight at Canyon

August 24: Head west to Norris. Walk thru this geyser basin. Stop at the Norris Campground and look at the very tiny Museum of the National Park Ranger. Head north to Mammoth stopping at Roaring Mountain and the display for Obsidian Cliffs. I like to stop at Apollonaris Spring, it is just cute to me. You can bypass it if you like. Stop at Sheepeater Cliffs. On your way down in to Mammoth, make sure to do the Upper Terrace Drive, then stop and walk the Lower Terraces. The better bathrooms in the area are the ones between the gas station and the bus parking lot. Check out the Visitor Center. Overnight at Mammoth

August 25: Head south to Norris, then on toward Madison Jct. Stop at Artist Paint Pots. Stop at Madison Jct (flush toilets). As you leave Madison and cross the Gibbon River, turn right in to the Firehole Canyon Dr. Rejoin the loop road heading toward Old Faithful. Stop at Fountain Paint Pots, then turn in to Firehole Lake Dr. This circles back around to re-enter the Loop road across from Fountain Paint Pots. Head south again, stopping at Midway Geyser Basin. From here, head directly to Old Faithful, making the Visitor Center your first stop. Get the brochure at the desk (50 cents) and write down the eruption times of the predictable geysers. Try to see some of those this afternoon. I like to walk around behind Old Faithful, cross the bridge over to Geyser Hill and then work my way down toward Morning Glory Pool (pit toilet here). How much of this you will see this afternoon depends on how your time is running. You may have to save the Upper Geyser Basin until tomorrow morning. I encourage either ice cream or an adult beverage on the 2nd floor deck of the Old Faithful Inn! Ice cream can be bought on the first floor and taken up to the deck. Overnight at Old Faithful

August 26: Finish up the Upper Geyser Basin this morning. There is a very nice ranger-led program at 830 from the Visitor Center thru the Basin. Get back on the loop road and head toward West Thumb and out the South entrance. Overnight at Jackson

Are you all planning to pick up a cooler for lunches and snacks? On the day you go from Mammoth to Old Faithful, you will likely need a picnic lunch this day. There is no food at Norris or Madison (well vending machines, ick) and nothing until you get to Old Faithful.

Here is a link to the Ranger-led programs from 2012. They are usually at similar times year to year.


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.

I decided to go ahead and do an itinerary as I am putting off going out to shovel snow! If it is not useful to you, that is fine!

Have fun!


Edited: 12:10 pm, January 07, 2013
Franklin Square...
posts: 8
4. Re: Yellowstone Park Touring Advice

Wow Pam this is great. Thanks so much!

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
posts: 12,646
reviews: 89
5. Re: Yellowstone Park Touring Advice

You are welcome. I'm nuts in case you haven't noticed!


(PS Did get 6 inches of snow shoveled!)

Yellowstone Nat...
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
posts: 1,640
reviews: 19
6. Re: Yellowstone Park Touring Advice

funhouse8, keep in mind that you will not / cannot see all of Yellowstone in one trip, so don't give anyone brain damage trying to do what cannot be done. At all of the places you are staying -- Canyon, Mammoth, OF -- the Rangers at the visitor centers can make suggestions based on your interests and fitness and local conditions right up to the minute. Listen to them, take your sweet time and let the park come to you. That's what makes the richest moments. ENJOY!

Franklin Square...
posts: 8
7. Re: Yellowstone Park Touring Advice

Great Advice. Thanks. :)

Green Valley...
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
posts: 16,860
reviews: 53
8. Re: Yellowstone Park Touring Advice

Bring good binoculars, cameras, extra batteries, battery charger, , etc.

Wildlife Viewing and Photography, prepared by several TAs: http://tinyurl.com/7dt5xe2

Yellowstone Newbies - Things You Need to Know http://tinyurl.com/7e62x72

posts: 4
reviews: 1
9. Re: Yellowstone Park Touring Advice

Your schedule is perfect. The park is basically one big figure 8. Honestly, you are in a couple of great locations, my advice to you is to make sure you travel the entire figure 8, and stop at every stop there is, and if you do that, it won't really matter which route you take. Just get out very early in the morning, because that is when there is less traffic and more animals.

Spery, Iowa
posts: 2,800
reviews: 84
10. Re: Yellowstone Park Touring Advice

Is the Cody day doable? I haven't done it, but driving, museum, dinner show and rodeo seems packed? I would steal a day from Jackson for the park, but that is from someone who has never spent time there. 4 nights each seems heavy on the south side, but then again, I don't know what your interests are. Bill is right, the park will have it's own lures for you- relax and enjoy whatever you see and do. No more stress. Until you start practice packing that is, lol.