Belated Trip Report: Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks (8/26 to 9/6/12)
I'm late in getting this trip report written, but since returning, life has gotten in the way. It was hard to find the time to go through the journal I kept, and it's taken Mr. Dune a while to sort through all his 2,100 photos. I want to thank OhioHick for his help and suggestions on writing a trip report, and for all the TripAdvisor experts and travelers who generously shared their knowledge and trip reports which helped in my planning before our trip.
We are a middle-aged couple-- I'm 56 and Mr. Dune is 60-- and our favorite kind of vacation involves spending time in natural settings. We usually prefer road trips closer to home on the east coast, but decided to splurge on a vacation out west to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary which occurred September 18. I visited Yellowstone and Grand Teton National parks as a child with my family, traveling in an RV, and Mr. Dune camped in Yellowstone as a 16 year-old, hitch-hiking to the park and back with a friend from his home state of Washington. We originally thought we'd do a 14-day road trip including Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Zion, and then heading north to Yellowstone and south through Grand Teton park, but I woke up one morning in a cold sweat and near tears, thinking of the amount of driving, the lack of a restful vacation, and the potential for divorce, so we began focusing on just Yellowstone and Grand Teton areas (thankfully!) We only started planning in early March 2012 but were able to secure lodging in all the areas we wanted. Once those reservations were made, I began having the fun of planning our trip.
The Yellowstone and Grand Teton Forums on TripAdvisor were invaluable to my preparation and planning. I read as many reviews of lodging, restaurants and archived trip reports as I had time for and gleaned tons of information by searching in and reading the TA forums daily. Forum experts recommended Janet Chapple's book “Yellowstone Treasures” as well as “Photographing Yellowstone National Park” by Gustav W. Verderber which I bought Mr. Dune for his birthday in April. I also referred to and learned from “Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks Road Guide” from National Geographic and “Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks Must-Do Hikes for Everyone” by Andrew Dean Nystrom. I bought Rand McNally “Easy To Read!” Montana/Wyoming and Utah state maps from Amazon.com. We picked up an Idaho “Official State” Highway map at an Idaho visitors center, and got a lot of use from the maps that Rangers give out when you enter each park. I also bought almost every 50 cent guide available at the Old Faithful Visitor Center for all the geyser basins and for the Canyon area. I tend to over-plan but learned from forum experts and many others on TripAdvisor, that we needed to be flexible and open to serendipity experiences. And although we crammed as much as possible into our days, we were rewarded for our flexibility many times during our six days in Yellowstone and three days in Grand Teton national parks.
As an aside, I don't mention it often in my report, but we had breakfast every day in our room (juice, cereal, milk, bread, and peanut butter) while traveling in the parks, and usually ate at least one meal out of our cooler, and one at a grill (closer to fast-food) or cafeteria. We enjoy fine dining occasionally but tend to prefer diner-type restaurants when traveling-- no reservations needed, and a little less time is spent indoors when we mostly want to be outdoors as much as possible. Also, I often mention times in my report so you can get an idea of how long it might take to get somewhere or what time of day we did things. I wish we'd written down mileage driven each day, but didn't think of it.
I'm very detail-oriented and really enjoy reading trip reports and reviews that include a lot of detail, so this report may be more than you bargained for, if you prefer less rather than more information. I've included links to photos at the end of each day's report if you get tired of reading and want to skip to the photos.