We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Drive from Bozeman to West Yellowstone

Belmont...
Level Contributor
31 posts
43 reviews
69 helpful votes
Drive from Bozeman to West Yellowstone

We (family of 4 with boys 16 and 14) are flying into Bozeman (arrive 10:30am) and driving to West Yellowstone to start our Yellowstone and Grand Teton vacation. Does anyone have suggestions of things to do in Bozeman, Big Sky or West Yellowstone for our first day?

We have tossed around horseback riding or ATV - really just looking for something fun and active after many hours in a plane. Names of specific outfitters are greatly appreciated

Thanks!

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
28,033 posts
115 reviews
46 helpful votes
1. Re: Drive from Bozeman to West Yellowstone

How many days are you going to be in the Park?

I would head directly for West Yellowstone and into the park altho that would add to your windshield time. Maybe hike Fairy Falls near Midway Geyser basin depending on how your time is running by then unless you are getting enough activity walking around Fountain Paint Pots and Midway Geyser basin. You could also head left at Madison Jct and do Artist Paint Pots and perhaps Norris Geyser Basin.

Pam

Belmont...
Level Contributor
31 posts
43 reviews
69 helpful votes
2. Re: Drive from Bozeman to West Yellowstone

Thanks so much for your quick response! We are 3 nights in Yellowstone and 3 nights in Grand Tetons. Tenative intinerary:

Thursday - Upper Geyser Basin, grand prismatic lake (get view from above), fountain paint pots or artist (not sure which to see). thought maybe hike/bike to lone star geyser. Then planning to drive thru Hayden Valley - night at Lake Yellowstone.

Friday - early start, hike Mt Washburn - not sure about afternoon. Night at Canyon Lodge.

Sat - early start - hike North Rim of Canyon - do loop by doing Clear Lake Trail to Ribbon lake Trail to South Rim back to lot. Drive to Grand Tetons - night at Teton Village (here remainder of time).

Sunday - Cascade Canyon Trail - maybe all the way to lake Solitude

Monday - either something on water or hike to lake Tarragart Lake, or if we are really up for it, Granite Canyon down (tram up).

Tuesday - fly out

My thought was to do something on the way to cut time spent in the car but not sure if we are missing something in Yellowstone.

Thanks!

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
28,033 posts
115 reviews
46 helpful votes
3. Re: Drive from Bozeman to West Yellowstone

OK, so I would definitely head into the park from Bozeman. I would turn Left at Madison JCT and head toward Norris. Artist Paint Pots is on your right after you pass the Gibbon Falls area, so that would be a nice quick acclimation hike and get the boys into the fresh air. It is *hikier* than Fountain Paint Pots which is mostly, if not all, boardwalk. On the main road, there are a couple of big meadow areas on the Left, so stop and scan those areas to see if there is anything interesting. If people are not too tired and your time is good, you can go on to Norris geyser basin and see some of that.

For your Thursday, I would go directly to the Visitor Center at Old Faithful without stopping at the other geyser basins. Behind the desk is a board with geyser prediction times on it. Sometimes there is a predicted time for Lone Star if you want to try and see that. See what the prediction times are for the other geysers that can be predicted. Ask the Rangers at the desk what a good route would be to catch some of the good ones in eruption. I particularly like Riverside which is at the far end of the basin, so a bit of a hike to get to. The other awesome one in this area is Grand geyser, which is a fountain type geyser and just amazing. You can actually do quite a bit of walking in the Upper geyser basin so you might not want to use time your first trip to go to Lone Star.

If you are looking to eat lunch at OF, I like the Lower General Store which is near the Old Faithful Inn, on the geyser basin side. It has gas pumps outside. Inside is an old fashioned grill...good burgers, great hand-dipped shakes and a nice feel. (altho, like all food in the area, not cheap!) If youve brought picnic stuff, go to the deck on the second floor of the Old Faithful Inn. There is a wonderful seating area facing Old Faithful and some shade if it is a hot day.

As you leave the OF area, turn back right (unless you are going to Lone Star) and hit Black Sand basin and Biscuit basin. Just before you get back to Midway, there is a trail head on the left for Fairy Falls. I understand there is a good viewpoint for Grand Prismatic there, so you might want to hike here instead of Lone Star. There is also a scramble up Midway bluff from a paved parking area on the right. There is no *official trail* but lots of paths in the hillside for the other higher view of Grand Prismatic. After that, hit Midway, then after you are back on the road to Madison, turn Right into Firehole Lake Dr. This winds thru a nice geyser basin. If there are people gathered at Great Fountain Geyser, STOP! It is wonderful to watch! Next is White Dome geyser which goes about every 45 minutes. When you get back onto the road, you are routed to the left or right. If there is no traffic, you might be able to sneak straight across into Fountain Paint Pots. From there, head back toward Madison, turn left into Fountain Flats and walk to the hot pots at the end of the trail. Tell your boys that one winter when I was there a bison had fallen into Ojo Caliente some weeks before. It smelled sort of like beef stew in the area! (Really, that did happen!!) Next back to the main road, back left, just before you get to Madison, you will see a sign on the left for Firehole Canyon Drive, Take that. It will loop around to the main road but is a very pretty drive. I didn't see where you said what month you are going. There is a swimming hole there, but will probably not be swimable until into July. Someone on another forum reminded me that it is often closed in June due to high run off. (Hmmm, if you are late July or August and it is hot, you might be able to swim that first day.) Anyway, that will take you back to the main road, then stay straight at Madison and head for Lake. You will want to get there before dark.

Friday, after you hike Mt Washburn, I would head North to Tower Fall (good bathrooms there...flush toilets) then work your way up to Tower/Roosevelt stopping at the overlooks on the right to look into the canyon. Do not let the boys go over the walls because the ground is unstable and people have fallen to their deaths. Also, look back up behind you to see if you can see some bighorn sheep. At the Junction, you can head out into the Lamar Valley for wild life spotting or go toward Mammoth. If you go toward Mammoth, take the short road to Petrified Tree (sometimes there are bear back there) and if you have time take the Blacktail Plateau Drive. It is dirt and bumpy, but doable in a standard rental. If you time is still OK, you can head to Mammoth and look around there. It is always amazing to see elk munching away on the lawn there! Walk around the terraces if you have time before you head back to Lake, making sure to leave enough time to get there before dark.

You can post on the Wyoming forum and get some good ideas about float or whitewater trips and other things available in the GT area.

Pam

(PS do the boys have their own cameras? Makes it a lot of fun if they have at least inexpensive point and shoots.)

Edited: 7:31 pm, May 27, 2011
N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
28,033 posts
115 reviews
46 helpful votes
4. Re: Drive from Bozeman to West Yellowstone

...and really, I AM going to shut up, but do you have the guidebook Yellowstone Treasures by Janet Chapple? It is wonderful and filled with a lot of detail on her route log.

Also you will likely need jackets at the top of Mt Washburn as it is 10,000'.

Pam

Belmont...
Level Contributor
31 posts
43 reviews
69 helpful votes
5. Re: Drive from Bozeman to West Yellowstone

Thank you so much for the detailed information. I have been scouring the internet and using several books but do not have the one you mentioned. Will definitely look for it. I went to Yellowstone years ago but didn't spend much time out of the car - the boys and my husband have never been.

Again, thank you for all the help - i will be printing it out and using it as our guide in July.

Susan

Troutdale, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Hood River, Troutdale, Cascade Locks, The Dalles, Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
12,541 posts
146 reviews
79 helpful votes
6. Re: Drive from Bozeman to West Yellowstone

Is that easly July or late?

My Husband was born in Anaconda and he said it usually snowed on him at the Butte 4th of July picnic.

So you still get that?

min

Belmont...
Level Contributor
31 posts
43 reviews
69 helpful votes
7. Re: Drive from Bozeman to West Yellowstone

We are going in lateJuly so hopefully that will not be an issue.

Bozeman, Montana
Level Contributor
327 posts
19 reviews
22 helpful votes
8. Re: Drive from Bozeman to West Yellowstone

After your long plane ride, you could spend about an hour or two having lunch and walking around Bozeman before getting in the car again for a 3 hr plus car ride to Yellowstone. Bozeman is a cute college town with a nice downtown. Two great places for lunch are The Garage at the corner of Main and Church and the Nova Cafe which is almost across the street. You can sit outside at The Garage.

If you decide to head down to Yellowstone right away, a good place to stop for lunch is Buggaboos in Big Sky, it's right on the road so you can't miss it.

Make sure you make dinner reservations in advance at Lake Yellowstone Hotel or you will be eating out of the vending machines. They have a very good restaurant for inside the park and it's very popular with hotel guests.

Bozeman, Montana
Level Contributor
327 posts
19 reviews
22 helpful votes
9. Re: Drive from Bozeman to West Yellowstone

After your long plane ride, you could spend about an hour or two having lunch and walking around Bozeman before getting in the car again for a 3 hr plus car ride to Yellowstone. Bozeman is a cute college town with a nice downtown. Two great places for lunch are The Garage at the corner of Main and Church and the Nova Cafe which is almost across the street. You can sit outside at The Garage.

If you decide to head down to Yellowstone right away, a good place to stop for lunch is Buggaboos in Big Sky, it's right on the road so you can't miss it.

Make sure you make dinner reservations in advance at Lake Yellowstone Hotel or you will be eating out of the vending machines. They have a very good restaurant for inside the park and it's very popular with hotel guests.

Belmont...
Level Contributor
31 posts
43 reviews
69 helpful votes
10. Re: Drive from Bozeman to West Yellowstone

Thank you for the lunch recommendations and the heads up on Yellowstone lake dining room. With 2 hungry teens, vending machines would be prettty awful.

Thanks!

Get answers to your questions about West Yellowstone