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Itinerary advice. Late Sep/Early Oct

Wanaka, New Zealand
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Itinerary advice. Late Sep/Early Oct

Hi everyone,

With lots of great help from here, I was all planned for a trip to Yellowstone during 2013. However, a change of plans put the trip on hold which, given the Government shutdown around the same time, was probably a blessing.

So now I am back planning for the same time this year and I would love your comments and advice on my itinerary. I realise from my research last time that I need to be prepared for any kind of weather, and for than reason I'd prefer to air on the side of caution. If people think we are better to lodge outside of the parks at that time of the year, then that's what we'll do.

Thur 25 Sep: Arrive at LAX at night. Overnight in LAX hotel.

Fri 26 Sep: Morning flight to SLC. Hire car and drive about half way (perhaps Idaho Falls). Will be jet-lagged and aren't keen to travel much further on our first day.

Sat 27 Sep: Continue on to West Yellowstone. Visit the bear/wolf place and perhaps catch an IMAX movie.

Sun 28 Sep: Full day guided tour of Yellowstone. We'd like to use a guided tour to get our bearings, learn a bit about the area, and work out the highlights that we want to revisit. Overnight West Yellowstone.

Mon 29 Sep: Drive ourselves into Yellowstone. Overnight in mammoth.

Tue 30 Sep: Drive to OF inn. Overnight. (There is presently still accommodation at both OF and Mammoth, but I know I need to make some decisions fast).

Wed 1 Oct: Drive to Jackson Hole. We can go out the South gate or West gate of Yellowstone depending on the weather. Bar T. Wagon dinner that evening if the season is still running.

Thur 2 Oct: Day tour of Grand Tetons (either guided or self-drive).

Fri 3 Oct: Relaxing morning exploring Jackson, drive in the afternoon half way (perhaps Bear Lake?)

Sat 4 Oct: Continue on to SLC. Afternoon flight to LAX. Next few days at Disneyland.

So how does that seem? It's the nights of the 29th and 30th that have me most concerned. I'm wondering if I should spend the 29th in WY and the 30th as an extra night in Jackson. That way, if the weather is awful, we can explore the townships instead and have plenty of dining options. But in the same breath, staying in Yellowstone seems to be part of the experience and the OF inn looks like an amazing experience. Please share your thoughts :)

Also, I'm not sure if it makes any difference, but I can reverse the order and do Jackson/Grand Teton first.

Thanks in advance.

N. Idaho
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1. Re: Itinerary advice. Late Sep/Early Oct

On Sat Sept 27 it is only about 2 hours from Idaho Falls to West Yellowstone. I would go ahead and go in to the park that day, perhaps after lunch. Your time is short and I would recommend not using it to hang around West Yellowstone. Spend time on the West entrance road, then when you get to Madison Junction turn right. (There is a rest area there with flush toilets which I always use as my first stop, lol!) Madison Junction is about a half an hour to 45 minutes in, depending on how often you stop. Continue toward Old Faithful stopping as you find things that interest you. In particular, after you cross the Gibbon River Bridge just past Madison, turn right in to the Firehole Canyon Drive. This is just about a 2 mile side road and rejoins the main road. After you get back on the main road, continue south stopping at Artist Paint Pots, Midway and perhaps Biscuit and Black Sand Basins. On your way back to West Yellowstone, take the Firehole Lake Dr, which will be on your right and is another loop road which will rejoin the Grand Loop Road.

I would probably book the night of the 30th back at Old Faithful instead of Mammoth as that will put you closer to the South gate to exit.

I would definitely do Yellowstone first. As you know your dates are a little late in the season so definitely do the higher elevation first.

Pam

USA
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2. Re: Itinerary advice. Late Sep/Early Oct

That time of year most gas stations in the park are closed with credit card fill-up only. I don't know how that works with out-of-country visitors & credit card readers necessitating a US zipcode. Hopefully, someone else is more knowledgeable. It's something to consider. My recommendation is to fill-up at the gateway towns!

I had sun, rain, sleet, hail & a little bit of snow that time last year so be prepared for anything & bring warm layers, warm hat & gloves.

Have fun!

Edited: 10:14 am, January 09, 2014
Wanaka, New Zealand
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19 reviews
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3. Re: Itinerary advice. Late Sep/Early Oct

Pam, thank you so much for your advice. I remember you helping me a few years back and your expert advice is clearly much appreciated on this forum. I am going to pull up a map and look at the route you suggested for our first day in the park.

Denalicat, thanks for that advice. It's not something that I would ever have thought of since I've never heard of a credit card reader needing a zip code. In my travels my security pin has always been all I've ever needed. That does have me a bit worried and hopefully someone can chime in as to solutions to this problem. Surely they must be able to accommodate out of country visitors somehow, otherwise people would get stranded every year??

I've just had an email back from the Bar T Wagon people and their last dinner for 2014 is presently scheduled for Sep 30. This throws a spanner in the works as it's a very unique experience I know my family would love and we are going to miss it by a day. I'm wondering if we might cut out the night in Mammoth, spend the 29th in Old Faithful Inn, and then have an extra night in Jackson Hole on the 30th. It does look like such a beautiful town and very much a place I would be happy staying. In saying that, I understand (please correct me if I'm wrong), there is a lot of great wildlife in the Mammoth area, and at the end of the day, that's what we're coming for. Hhmm decisions...

Edited: 1:14 pm, January 09, 2014
4. Re: Itinerary advice. Late Sep/Early Oct

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Wanaka, New Zealand
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5. Re: Itinerary advice. Late Sep/Early Oct

Thanks so much for pointing out that tour option. I missed that one, but it would work perfectly.

I do really want to go to that dinner, so I am going to try flipping the itinerary around and will post it to see what everyone thinks.

Wanaka, New Zealand
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6. Re: Itinerary advice. Late Sep/Early Oct

So how about this alternative? It actually flows so much more nicely than my first suggestion. The only problem I can see is (as Pam says) leaving the higher altitude parts for later in the trip.

Fri 26: Flight to SLC, drive to Bear Lake (I hear this is the more scenic route to Jackson Hole?)

Sat 27: Continue to Jackson, explore the lovely town, go to the Wagon dinner.

Sun 28: Grand Teton NP (tour or self drive)

Mon 29: Drive to Old Faithful Inn, spend 2 nights here.

Tue 30: Do the tour Ystoner suggested.

Wed 1: Drive to Mammoth. Explore Overnight in mammoth

Thur 2: Explore. Overnight in West Yellowstone. My son would love one of those themed rooms in Three Bears Lodge.

Fri 3: Drive to SLC (or most of the way). Are there any charming towns within an hour or so of SLC worth staying at? We also need to stop at a Walmart at some stage to do a bit of shopping. Things such as Lego (my sons favourite toy) are SO much cheaper in America. Perhaps Idaho Falls for a shopping stop?

Sat 4: Flight to LA or Anaheim.

So how does that sound? In my head it looks like it will work quite nicely, but I might be missing something.

Thanks everyone! You're all awesome.

N. Idaho
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7. Re: Itinerary advice. Late Sep/Early Oct

I am desperately sorry to tell you but most Eastern Idaho towns are short on charm. There is a big Wal Mart in Idaho Falls and you will go right by it on your way in to town. There may be some bigger shopping areas down toward SLC but I'm not as familiar with that area.

Reversing the trip is fine, a couple of days hopefully will not matter that much weather-wise so your revised schedule looks fine. I think Ystoner's suggestion of the tour from OF is excellent. I had the opportunity to do a tour last summer with the guy who trains the tour guides and he was simply amazing. If his guides learn a tenth of what he teaches them you will have an excellent tour.

Pam

8. Re: Itinerary advice. Late Sep/Early Oct

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Removed on: 11:34 pm, July 09, 2016
Edited: 11:34 pm, July 09, 2016
Wanaka, New Zealand
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9. Re: Itinerary advice. Late Sep/Early Oct

Thank you so much to both of you. We're not big shoppers but an hour or two in Walmart/Target etc. should work out great. We mainly want to pick up some kids Xmas presents and my Mother in Law wants to pick up some craft supplies. Is Walmart good for craft supplies?

I went ahead and booked those two nights in Old Faithful Inn (Old House Shared bathroom). The whole shared bathroom thing is close to my definition of 'roughing it', but I'm not going to pass by an opportunity to stay in the Old House; the architecture looks stunning.

Now I just need to decide what to do about Mammoth. At present I can choose between a cabin with a bathroom or the hotel with shared bathroom. I leaning towards the cabin, but is there any benefit to picking the hotel instead? Alternatively, is it worth considering a stay in Gardiner?

Thanks heaps for your continued advice.

10. Re: Itinerary advice. Late Sep/Early Oct

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Removed on: 11:34 pm, July 09, 2016
Edited: 11:34 pm, July 09, 2016