A few questions about day trips *from* Yellowstone and Grand Teton.
1. Given that we're interested in scenery (especially views from on high and waterfalls) and wildlife (and we're happy to day-hike to see them if there's time), what are the must-do day trips outside Yellowstone and GT? (We're not so interested in history or, er, human activity, so even though the Buffalo Bill Centre sounds fascinating, we probably wouldn't go for a trip to Cody.)
2. (From Cooke City,) is it better to do the Beartooth/Red Lodge/Belfry/Chief Joseph loop clockwise or anti-clockwise?
3. (From West Yellowstone,) is it worth doing a day exploring stuff off highway 20 south of West Yellowstone. I'm thinking some or all of Mesa Falls, Big Springs and Bechler (for a short walk round Cave and Bechler Falls, perhaps in a loop or perhaps a short there-and-back from Cave Falls) and whatever else is doable in a day and recommended.
Many thanks for your help.
Some back-story ...
I'm planning a 2-3 week "holiday of a lifetime" trip to Yellowstone and GT from 1 September next year (starting and finishing at Jackson airport, a few days south to north in GT followed by a sort of anti-clockwise tour of Yellowstone finishing at Old Faithful). In planning our trip, we pretty much decided not to do any fun stuff outside the parks lest we end up wanting to go for 2-3 months!
However, reading this forum has provided lots of brilliant help and advice, in particular in response to some questions I've asked, but also from reading other threads. It's the latter that's the problem and I have weakened and cracked! I've seen so many people wax lyrical about the Beartooth and Chief Joseph highways that I think we'll add another day to our itinerary to cover it (hence question 2 above).
We've already got a night booked in a very reasonably priced and very well reviewed B&B in Cooke City (Skyline Ranch) anyway, so it would be easy to add a second night. Besides, for nearly all of the trip, we'll be staying in cheaper cabins and hotel/motel rooms so it will be nice to be somewhere where we're a bit more pampered a bit longer!
I've also read about Mesa Falls and Bechler and wonder if they are worth a day (hence question 3).
And having opened the floodgates by considering stuff outside the parks, and at the risk of it turning into a 2-3 month trip, I can't help wondering if there is more we should consider - hence, question 1!
Many thanks for any help you can give me.