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gtnp/ysnp Trip from 10/31 to 11/3

New Orleans...
5 posts
gtnp/ysnp Trip from 10/31 to 11/3

I know its late to visit YSNP and GTNP in November as the park closes after Nov 4. But we got really cheap tickets to Salt Lake City and planning to see Arches, Canyon Lands, Zion, Bryce NPs from Nov 3rd to 5th. So we have about 2-3 days to see YSNP.

We are renting a mid-size car with not much experience driving on snow as we have always lived in south (is that going to be a problem?). And we are planning to stay 2 days in Jackson Hole and 2 days in West YS.

I would like to know whether we can see Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot springs, Grand Canyon of YS, Lower YS River Falls? I saw that we cannot see Tower Falls due to road closures from Sept 22 to rest of the year...:(

Thanks for all the information you provide in this forum, helps a lot to plan.

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
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354 reviews
1. Re: gtnp/ysnp Trip from 10/31 to 11/3

We just returned from a trip to SW US including Arches NP and have been to YNP and GTNP three times in past five years.

First let me clarify your dates you are flying into SLC on 10/31?

Oct. 31- fly into SLC- if early drive to YNP- it is a 5 hour drive to the park.

Oct. 31- Nov. 1- West Yellowstone, MT

Nov. 2-3- Jackson Hole, WY

How many days do you have to see the rest of your trip plan?

It will take you a full day of driving to get from Yellowstone to Moab, UT.

You may want to focus on these areas in the park-

Geyser area including Old Faithful

Artist Point

Lake Yellowstone

Lamar and Hayden Valleys

Pam (DObby) who posts here is great at helping with daily trip plans.

Since a lot of the park will be closed, buy a cheap cooler and get snacks, water and deli sandwiches in West Yellowstone and do picnic lunches in the park.

Check out the NPS websites for great info.

Good luck with your trip planning!!

Green Valley...
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
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17,528 posts
57 reviews
2. Re: gtnp/ysnp Trip from 10/31 to 11/3

Did I read this correctly? "...and planning to see Arches, Canyon Lands, Zion, Bryce NPs from Nov 3rd to 5th." Sounds like 2 - 3 days, at best, to see these sites and that would be a driving thrash. Since it is so late in the season, and weather in YNP iffy, I'd consider spending all of your time visiting the S. Utah parks. Would give you time to smell the roses in these intriguing, unique, areas. Take a look at the website below, perhaps it will help you to plan, and Google Map the proposed trip.


You could plan on a focused trip to YNP/GTNP of at least 3 - 4 full days in season, when you'll have more access to the park and more certainty about the weather.

Whatever you choose, have a great trip.

Edited: 9:01 am, September 27, 2012
Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah
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15,339 posts
134 reviews
3. Re: gtnp/ysnp Trip from 10/31 to 11/3

First off, welcome to the TA forums. This is a great place to learn information you won't find anywhere else.

Voyaging is correct in that 2-3 days for seeing the parks you have listed in Utah will not be possible. You will need at the least 7 days to see both Arches/Canyonlands on the east side of the state and Zion/Bryce on the west side of the state. Driving between those two areas will take a day and doing it in a day leaves out the whole center of the state which has plenty of other great places to see.

If you really do get up to Yellowstone you will probably be able to fit in either Arches/canyonlands OR Zion/Bryce, but not both. 2-3 days is bare minimum for Arches and Canyonlands.

With that amount of time and being late in the season I would probably head to Moab and enjoy the whole time there. If there is a storm you could easily run into snow near Bryce as well as near Yellowstone.

Edited: 1:07 pm, September 27, 2012
Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
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23,349 posts
354 reviews
4. Re: gtnp/ysnp Trip from 10/31 to 11/3

In looking at your post again I would like to add that the weather can be very iffy in Yellowstone. You might consider doing some of the other national parks, etc, in Utah. Arches and Canyonlands, Monument Valley, and Zion and Bryce are some suggestions. It really just depends on your actual schedule and your interests in terms of scenery, hiking, etc.

Hope all this info helps with your planning.

Let us know if you have more questions.

New Orleans...
5 posts
5. Re: gtnp/ysnp Trip from 10/31 to 11/3

Appreciate all the suggestions and replies. I know it's really crazy to go to YS and Zion as there is a lot of drive time. But wife and I work schedule doesn't let us have lot of vacation time which we both hate. So this is only vacation time left for this year (using rest of paid vacation to go to Vegas for our first anniversary). For the above reason, I'm being really selfish to see all these awesome parks in Utah. If you look into the miles to drive and total vacation time from Oct 31st to Nov 6th in the below schedule, it is kinda 5 hrs per day so it's not really crazy, but we have to include the time we spend at each park.

Wednesday, 10/31 - From SLC drive to Idaho Falls

Thursday, 11/1 - Grand Teton National Park

Friday & Saturday, 11/2 - 11/3 - Yellow Stone National Park

Sunday, 11/4 - Arches National Park,Canyon Lands

Monday, 11/5 - Bryce canyon National Park, Zion National park

Tuesday, 11/6 - Drive back to SLC

I really need your suggestions on what will be open in YSNP and GTNP on 11/1, 11/2, 11/3 depending on that we will reduce the amount of time to spend in YS.

N. Idaho
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for Yellowstone National Park
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6. Re: gtnp/ysnp Trip from 10/31 to 11/3

Well, in Yellowstone, all the roads will still be open (weather permitting) except the road between Canyon and Tower Junction. This would mean you could visit all the natural features (Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, the geyser basins, the hot spring terraces at Mammoth) except Tower Fall and see wildlife in Hayden and or Lamar Valley and along the roadside all over the park.


All lodging will be closed and all food facilities except the Geyser Grill fast food at Old Faithful, the Canyon Adventure Store which may have very limited food (maybe hot dogs? sorry don't really remember!) and the Mammoth General Store which has some fast food type stuff.


For your 2 nights lodging you could stay both nights in West Yellowstone or you could do your first night in Gardiner and the next one in West Yellowstone.

Here is a suggestion for a possible itinerary based on staying the first night in Gardiner and the 2nd night at West Yellowstone.

Day 1: Enter thru the South entrance. Stop at West Thumb. Head north around the Lake, stopping at Fishing Bridge. Park and walk across looking for wildlife. Stop at Mud Volcano, then the South Rim going to Artist Point for a view of the Lower Falls. Return to the road, do the North rim, stopping at one overlook, perhaps Brink of the Upper Falls. Stop at Canyon Visitor Center for a pit stop if the bathrooms are open (VC itself is closed). Go to Norris Junction, then head North to Mammoth. The better bathrooms here are the ones next to the gas station and bus parking lot. Depending on how your time is running, walk the lower terraces or just drive out the N. entrance to Gardiner.

Day 2: See the Lower Terraces if you ran out of time yesterday. Head south. Go to the Upper Geyser Basin first which will be the furthest away, then work your way back to Madison Junction seeing the other geyser basins. When you get to Old Faithful, go to the Visitor Center (it is still open) and check on the eruption times of predictable geysers. See if any of those would coincide with a walk thru the geyser basin. As you head to West Yellowstone, work your way back thru the other geyser basins.

Day 3: Leave West Yellowstone and head to Moab. According to Google Maps this is about 9.5 hours/552 miles.

I recommend you get a cooler with food and beverages for your lunches.

Make sure you have paper maps to refer to in case you run into bad weather and have to make a change of plan. You cannot rely on a GPS for this. You also need to be checking weather every evening for the next day and be ready for a Plan B if a storm is going to move thru.

We would love to have a trip report.


Salt Lake City, Utah
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for Utah
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7. Re: gtnp/ysnp Trip from 10/31 to 11/3

I know you are thinking you can do the driving,,, but I will say it again. What you have proposed for the Utah section of this trip is not possible. Really!!!!

You will need all of your two days for Yellowstone. You will not be able to drive very much of the way (if any) from there to Moab for Arches on 11/3, so you will need to drive that all on the 11/4. It is a 10 hr drive. And that is assuming good weather. How you expect to see ANY of Arches that same day I have no idea. This will be November so the days will be short (about 10 hrs of sunlight). You just simply can't do it. If you still want to see Arches then you'll need to plan to do that the next day 11/5. To really see it you'll need most of the day.

If you don't need to be to SLC early then you could conceivably visit Canyonlands Island in the Sky and Dead Horse Point on that morning before driving back to SLC on 11/6.

There is no time in there for Zion and Bryce. From Moab to Bryce would be a five hour drive. From Bryce to Zion is a two hour drive. That would be a 7 hr drive in one day if you were even close to making it happen. Leaving you only 3 hrs of daylight to see two parks. Bryce you could maybe do in 3 hrs, but Zion you'll need closer to all day.

Your Utah plan would need 1 day for travel from Yellowstone. 1 day for Arches, 1 day for canyonlands and travel to Bryce. 1/2 day for Bryce and 1 day for travel to and visiting Zion and then another 1/2 day to travel back to SLC. I count 5 days absolute minimum. You have only 3.

Please consider this is impossible. Cut out something. You will enjoy what you see so much better if you aren't trying to see it all when you really don't have the time.

Edited: 12:24 am, September 29, 2012
Billings, Montana
Level Contributor
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1 review
8. Re: gtnp/ysnp Trip from 10/31 to 11/3

You need to also realize and take into account that there will only be 10 hours of daylight at that time of year. On Friday, 11/2 sunrise is at 8:04 am and sunset is at 6:12 pm. You do not want to be out driving around in the dark in Yellowstone Park. The animals use the road and some of them are quite large and quite dark making it very hard to see until it's too late.


New Orleans...
5 posts
9. Re: gtnp/ysnp Trip from 10/31 to 11/3

Thanks Pam, Deb and kbecjeans.

Pam your itinerary helps a lot and I understand that you are advising not to include Lamar Valley in the itinerary. We can see Hayden Valley on the way to Canyon junction from Fishing Bridge. Just wondering whether the road from West thumb basin to Fishing Bridge will be open that time or not, if not we might have to visit Old Faithful on Day 1 and Head North to Mammoth (Stay in Gardiner) and visit Canyon Village on Day 2 before heading to West YS.

kbecjeans, I agree with you and will not visit Zion/Bryce if we are running out of time due to driving. Depending on the weather in YS, I'm planning drive on Saturday night may be 3-5 hrs and start driving to Moab on Sunday early morning. Planning to visit Arches for sunset on Sunday and stay there. We have Full Thursday, Friday and Saturday to see YS so we can try to see most of it by saturday noon and start the drive to Moab.

New Orleans...
5 posts
10. Re: gtnp/ysnp Trip from 10/31 to 11/3

Forgot to ask, will a mid-size rental car be sufficient for the November cold weather or an SUV is required?