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Trip Report - July 2009

London, UK
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276 posts
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Trip Report - July 2009

After an eventful few days in Jackson (my mum broke her wrist on our 2nd day which needed surgery to correct it!) we arrived in Yellowstone.

We stayed for 8 nights in West Yellowstone which suited us and the drive in and out of the park each day wasn’t too bad (except for the Bald Eagle nest area – see below) especially as both my husband and I shared the driving. We saw animals on the way – the bald eagle and deer everyday and on one occasion a coyote and on another a bison.

We headed into the park early every day (around 7am) taking our breakfast/snacks in the cooler we had purchased in Jackson. We took the advice from other travellers and stocked up in Jackson as it was cheaper and also as the supermarket was a lot bigger than the 2 in West Yellowstone there was more variety. Also by leaving at 7am we were pretty much first in the queue for the road to open which was always opened promptly at 8. We spent the 10 mins or so we had waiting each time enjoying the scenery with the sound of running water in the stream while sipping hot chocolate! I too, like the other poster – found myself nodding off on one occasion as it was so relaxing.

We explored an area each day starting off with the visitors centres which are very interesting and informative. We then took our time to see the main “attractions” in each area. The boardwalks were great and the 50c guides you can purchase were very good and informative.

We were fortunate enough to see a black and grizzly bear on our last day (just past Tower on the way to Mammoth) and lots of bison, elk and deer. Sadly I did not get to see a moose ....

Each day we headed back to West Yellowstone early afternoon so my mum could rest and also so we could eat early (the good restaurants in West Yellowstone get very busy later on). As we wanted to experience a bit of American culture - we went to the Rodeo one night. It was brilliant – an hour and a half of very good entertainment – the audience participation was also very entertaining. I would recommend it.

Our one biggest disappointment though was the standard of driving in Yellowstone. Many cars and trucks were exceeding the speed limit, ignoring road marking (ie when not to overtake) and other signs posted – particularly the sign on the West entrance for the Bald Eagle which clearly stated not to stop or get out of your vehicle. Every day there was a queue of traffic as people had stopped in the road and got out to take a photo! There were many other occasions when vehicles had stopped in the middle of the road to take a photo of scenery even when there was a pull out nearby. When we saw the bears the road looked like a major highway accident – there were cars everywhere and the rangers were shouting for drivers to return to their vehicles as they were blocking the road. Sadly these people not only put themselves and other tourists at risk but the whole reason why they are in Yellowstone ie the wildlife and the environment. So please if you are planning a trip to Yellowstone obey the rules and regulations – they are there for a reason.

With this exception we thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Jackson and Yellowstone – we saw a programme on Yellowstone in the UK and this led to us booking this trip. We were certainly not disappointed – it was everything and more that we had imagined. We even saw one of the Geyser Guisers that was on the programme!

Thank you to everyone who replied to my questions on trip advisor and everyone else who has posted a question – your questions also helped me plan our trip. For those of you still to have your vacation – have a great time. I will be looking at our photos and video for years to come.

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1. Re: Trip Report - July 2009

Thanks for posting your trip report! Good to know about the 50 cent brochures; I remember reading about that a few months ago and then I forgot about it. Do you have to have the exact change for them? If so, guess I'll be bringing with a bag of quarters;-).

Less than a month until we leave for our trip, and reading these trip reports has me very excited to go!

Billings, Montana
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for Yellowstone National Park
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2. Re: Trip Report - July 2009

In regard to the 50 cent guides- they are on a honor system. They are in a little metal box with a slot below them. If you want, you can even take one without paying and return it after finished. Sometimes I've done that, other times I've left less then 50 cents, sometimes I've left more. They are nice to keep because they help later with information when you're going through your pictures and making memory books.

Thanks for the great trip report. I agree with you about some of the drivers. I was in the park for a day trip with my grandson and there was a rental van that passed over 50 vehicles when there were solid no-pass lines. He almost ran one vehicle off the road. He got way ahead of me but for some reason was behind me coming into Mammoth. He almost hit 2 people walking in a crosswalk when he went around my car and the car in front of us (we were both stopped for the people). He screeched to a stop beside another rental van waving like crazy to them so I'm assuming they were together. I feel for the rangers having to direct traffic. Even though there are safer areas to park a little ways down some people just seem to think they can stop anywhere. I'm surprised there isn't more accidents.

Glad you had a great time- too bad about your mum breaking her wrist though.


Atlanta, Georgia
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for Road Trips
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3. Re: Trip Report - July 2009

Thanks for the trip report. I am glad you had a good time and hope your mum is better!

Ennis MT
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for Yellowstone National Park, Ennis
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4. Re: Trip Report - July 2009

Sorry about your mum's accident, but glad that you were still able to enjoy your trip.

It sounds like your expectations were realistic and you were well-informed before you arrived, which certainly contributed to your enjoyment.

Thanks for taking the time to post your report!

Englewood, Fl.
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5. Re: Trip Report - July 2009

Thank you for sharing this trip report. Sorry about your mom's fall, and hope she is doing well, but we are thrilled that you enjoyed you time spent exploring one of our foremost national treasures.

As for some poor driving habits displayed by a few, please do not think that this is the way that all drivers behave in the park. As you found out, Yellowstone is pretty much "self policing." There are law enforcement personnel. However they are spread out rather thin, covering over 350 miles of roadway, and unfortunate though it may be, there are just some people who will take advantage of that fact.

The posted speed limit within YNP is 45 miles per hour, and in many cases that is usually at least ten miles per hour too fast for anyone to enjoy the very things that they supposedly came there to see.

Speeding and wreckless driving anyplace, but especially inside Yellowstone, is not only dangerous, it's downright stupid.

So on behalf of the majority of us who take Yellowstone seriously, "play by the rules", appreciate what we have, and are thankful that we have it there for our enjoyment, I appologize for the few inconsiderate slobs who just can not seem to follow simple basic rules, and who might have taken a bit of the enjoyment out of you visit.

Once again, we're glad that you enjoyed your experience, in spite of the unfortunate accident.

London, UK
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6. Re: Trip Report - July 2009

Thank you for all your replies - due to the first class treatment my mum received at St John's hospital she is doing very well and her own doctor in the UK was impressed with the surgery. Re the driving thank you for your post. Yes the majority of people visiting Yellowstone did comply with the rules and regulations and I agree that in some places 45 mph is too high to appreciate the wildlife/views. But sadly as you say there are always a few that will not obey the rules - sadly you get that everywhere. It certainly did not spoil our trip (we just had the odd moan and pulled into a pull out to let those wanting to go faster than the speed limit - get on with it!) We love to take our vacations in the USA and have been to many parts - its a beautiful country with so much to see and do - we certainly will be planning our next trip soon! Thanks once again.

Los Angeles
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for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
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7. Re: Trip Report - July 2009

I'm so glad you had a great time. West Yellowstone is a very cool place to stay.

I agree that the driving is sometimes a little aggro (we saw two high speed chases in the northern part of the park! it was like Dukes of Hazzard!)

But, truthfully, we had seen nothing yet - as we then drove up through Montana and out to the Pacific Northwest. The drivers in the Idaho panhandle and through eastern Washington (and really all the way down to Portland) were crazy. And they say Portland has safe drivers - we didn't see it.

You can't stop people, easily, from stopping for bears - but the harassment of the eagles (and of the coyotes who were denning by the road when we were there) was shameful and the park has the resources to control that a little better.

Although I suppose at the high point of summer they'd have to have an officer there all day long ticketing people (which we actually saw at one place where a mother grizzly was hanging out in Grand Tetons).

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8. Re: Trip Report - July 2009

Wow, what an eventful trip. Glad to hear your mom's wrist is doing better! The rest of the tripo sounds like it was great. It really is a beautiful area.

I have to agree with you about the drivers. I spend a lot of time in Yellowstone and people simply do not pay attention to the speed limit. You have no idea how many animals I have seen killed there because people were going 20 MPH over the limit. It is not pretty. The speed limits are there for a very good reason. I would like to see speed enforcement ramped up considerably. The rangers have a rough job because so many people visit the park and they are so under budget for enforcement.

A little self awarness and common courtesy goes a long way, doesn't it?

Nice job on seeing a black and grizzly bear on the last day.

9. Re: Trip Report - July 2009

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