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Belated Trip Report: YNP & GTNP (8/26 to 9/6/12)

Bucks County...
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Belated Trip Report: YNP & GTNP (8/26 to 9/6/12)

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.

Nature Coast...
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31. Re: Belated Trip Report: YNP & GTNP (8/26 to 9/6/12)

Enjoyed EVERY word. Great pictures. Great to see you managed so many pictures of the two of you - we always struggle with that. Thank you so much for taking the time to do such a detailed trip report. It helped me re-live my trip and will be useful in planning the next trip.

Bucks County...
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32. Re: Belated Trip Report: YNP & GTNP (8/26 to 9/6/12)

Oh pixiesnake-- I'm so glad you got to read my TR! I really enjoyed yours and the amount of detail you included and I laughed when I read your review of the Roosevelt Lodge dining room because we had the same server (Maggie). Plus, we were in the parks around the same time. I also read your post about visiting in June and hope it works out for you to go then.

NJ
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33. Re: Belated Trip Report: YNP & GTNP (8/26 to 9/6/12)

What a fantastic trip report with such lovely pictures! I'm trying to plan our family's first trip to Yellowstone & Grand Teton, and your itinerary has given me lots of ideas... Thanks!

Pittsburgh...
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34. Re: Belated Trip Report: YNP & GTNP (8/26 to 9/6/12)

Lornadune, im still reading through your report but had to stop and comment on one of your pictures from day 3. Without sounding over dramatic I think the picture of the fire hole river (picture #4 of this day's album) is one of the best pictures I've ever seen. If this was my picture it would be framed in a vey prominent place in my house!! I will be in Yellowstone in June and will try to get a similar shot. Can I ask what type of camera and lense you shot this with??

Bucks County...
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35. Re: Belated Trip Report: YNP & GTNP (8/26 to 9/6/12)

Thanks for reading my trip report, DH6040! (And belated thanks for your kind words, RebeccaMinNJ-- so glad it gave you some ideas!)

DH6040-- Mr.Dune (and I) thank you for your compliment-- he was the main photographer on our trip and I asked him about that photo. His camera is a Canon SX40 HS. He used a neutral density filter, a tripod, and a 5 second exposure. He says it's a pretty good "point and shoot" camera but if we're fortunate enough to return to Yellowstone in 2014 as we're planning, he's researching and hoping to buy a DSLR camera so he can use interchangeable lenses since he couldn't get any decent photos of distant animals with the point and shoot camera.

Pittsburgh...
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36. Re: Belated Trip Report: YNP & GTNP (8/26 to 9/6/12)

Thank you so much for getting back to me with those details. I think I better keep them to myself though because I just convinced (forced) my husband that we need a good DSLR with a couple of lenses for our trip next summer. Haha.

Bucks County...
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37. Re: Belated Trip Report: YNP & GTNP (8/26 to 9/6/12)

Glad to help! I talked my husband into getting a better camera now, and practicing with it over the next year so he's used to it for our 2014 trip. The only "problem" with the DSLR is that with the lenses, it won't be as easy to carry as his point and shoot has been. He could almost fit it in a pocket of his cargo pants, but will have to carry a camera bag in the future. We saw a few photographers carrying two camera bags and it looked like a hassle, but I'm hopeful that the beautiful photos and better close-ups will be worth it.

Don't forget to get a copy of "Photographing Yellowstone National Park : Where to Find Perfect Shots and How to Take Them" by Gustav W. Verderber. Mr. Dune got a lot of ideas from that book.

Pittsburgh...
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38. Re: Belated Trip Report: YNP & GTNP (8/26 to 9/6/12)

That book sounds great. I think I'll order it from amazon. We've used point and shoots before on trips to some of the Utah national parks and Europe and ive got some good pictures but they seemed grainy if I tried to enlarge them at all. I figured investing in the DSLR would be good because I hope to keep traveling a lot. It is a pain to be switching lenses but I think it will be worth it!

Ohio, USA
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39. Re: Belated Trip Report: YNP & GTNP (8/26 to 9/6/12)

Great book. I found it very useful for our trip to Yellowstone. It will give you a lot of great ideas. Between "Photographing Yellowstone" and "Yellowstone Treasures" I think just about every nook and crany of the park is covered!

As for cameras, go with whatever you are comfortable with. That was the advice that I was given at a camera store by a sales person when I was considering moving up from my Canon SX30 IS to a DSLR. I stuck with the SX30 and when I do move up it will probalby be to another point and shoot. I think they image quality is pretty darn good and the convenience is just too much to trade in. When hiking, less is definitely more.

Pittsburgh...
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40. Re: Belated Trip Report: YNP & GTNP (8/26 to 9/6/12)

Good advice ohiohick. We did purchase a canon rebel t3i which I think is a step up from the point and shoot we have but is certainly not a professionals camera. It's sort of intermediate. We have four months to get used to it and the various lenses. We are practicing at some state parks around here to get ready for the landscape shots were hoping for in the tetons, rocky mountain national park, and of course Yellowstone.