Itinerary for LoveTravel
2 kids, 5 and 12
7/3 in SLC
7/4 in Jackson or near Grand Teton
7/5 in Canyon Cabin (just booked) Tour Grand Teton in the AM, perhaps a raft trip or a hike. Enter Yellowstone after lunch. Stop at West Thumb Geyser Basin for a short walk and stretch. Continue north beside Yellowstone Lake. Turn right at Fishing Bridge and go the the small Visitor Center here to get the information for the Jr. Ranger Program. When you come back across Fishing Bridge, park and walk across looking for wildlife. Rejoin the Loop road heading North. Stop at LeHardy Rapids and Mud Volcano. Continue North thru Hayden Valley, stopping if you see anyone with large camera lenses or spotting scopes. Get checked in at Canyon, then go to the Visitor Center. I don’t think you will have time to do any of the Canyon overlooks this afternoon, but if you do, go for it.
7/6 in Canyon Cabin (booked) This morning, do the Canyon overlooks. If the kids get tired, the easiest one to access if Artist Point on the South rim. It is a level, paved path out to it. From Canyon, head west to Norris Geyser Basin and do the boardwalks in the Back Basin and Porcelain Basin. Take the side road to Virginia Cascade on the way back. If you want to while you are at Norris, go over to the Campground and look at the small Museum of the National Park Ranger.
7/7 in Old Faithful lodge (booked) Today, head North from Canyon over Dunraven Pass. Stop at Tower Fall (flush toilets). At Tower Roosevelt Jct, turn right and head out into Lamar Valley. Go at least to Soda Butte, then turn around. Again, look for big camera lenses and spotting scopes. At Tower Roosevelt Jct, turn right toward Mammoth. At Mammoth, do the Lower Terraces. The best bathrooms here are the new ones between the gas station and the bus parking lot near the Lower Terrace parking. Head South from Mammoth toward Norris. On the right as you climb up out of Mammoth, turn right in to the Upper Terrace Drive and do this short loop then continue South. At Norris, continue around toward Madison Jct. There are nice flush toilets here if anyone needs a pit stop. As you leave Madison, you cross the Gibbon River Bridge, then turn right into the Firehole Canyon Dr. Rejoin the main road. You will come to several geyser basins, which I would skip until tomorrow. At this point I would go directly to the Upper Geyser Basin. At this point it will probably be mid-afternoon, and usually I advise people to go to the Visitor Center first. In this instance, I recommend you go directly to the Old Faithful Inn (not Lodge) and get ice cream on the first floor and take it up to the 2nd floor deck to eat it overlooking the geyser basin. I recommend you spoil your dinner if necessary to get the ice cream in.
7/8 Basing this on you staying at Old Faithful for the night, but easy to do if you have to go out to West Yellowstone for lodging. First thing this morning, go to the Visitor Center. There is usually a ranger-led tour at 830 which is really interesting. If they have the eruption times for predicted geysers up on the board, write them down on the brochure available at the desk for 50cents. Try and do your walk thru the basin so you can catch some of these. I usually walk around behind Old Faithful and across the bridge to Geyser Hill which is the way the ranger tour goes. Then I walk down the geyser basin on the boardwalks to Morning Glory Pool (pit toilet here) and back up to the main area on the paved path. I like to eat lunch at the Lower General Store, nice 50’s type diner feel. It is the first place you come to on the way back from Morning Glory. This afternoon, hop in your car. Head out to the loop road and in the direction of Madison Jct. Stop at Midway Geyser Basin, then north again to the Firehole Lake Dr. On this drive, if there is anyone standing about at Great Fountain Geyser, stop. It is spectacular to see in eruption. Next do Fountain Paint Pots, the entrance of which is directly across from the exit of Firehole Lake, but you cant go straight across, so turn left or right and go to the next turnaround (not far in either direction) and come back. If anyone needs a pit stop, I advise going to Madison for flush toilets. After Fountain Paint Pots, either return to Old Faithful area OR head to Madison and out the West entrance road to West Yellowstone. I strongly recommend another ice cream session on the 2nd floor deck.
7/9 If you have stayed at OF last night, take a last look around the basin then head toward Madison and out the West gate this morning. Your kids may enjoy the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery center and/or Imax theater in West before you head west on US 20 to Idaho Falls and then down I15 to SLC.
7/10 noon flying back home
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. something else may work better for your family.