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First visit to YNP and GTNP Summer 2017. Camp or lodge?

Seal Beach...
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First visit to YNP and GTNP Summer 2017. Camp or lodge?

Hello! We are planning a big western national parks road trip for Summer 2017. We are planning to visit YNP and GTNP for 4 nights, but could stay longer. We will be driving from SLC and have out camping gear with us as we plan to camp in Glacier National Park after Yellowstone. We have read mixed things about camping in YNP and are wondering if Lodges are a better experience? We have camped before and have equipment. We have 3 kids ages 10, 8 and 4.

In your opinion would you stay in a lodge or camp for a first time visit. We are thinking of camping in one of the more developed sites, either Canyon or Canyon. I haven't researched much about GTNP yet, but we are open to camping there, as well. We will drive through GTNP on our way to Yellowstone, so could spend a day there or we could spend more time if you think it's a better experience than Yellowstone? Because setting up and taking down camp takes time, I think we would prefer to just camp in 1 location. Does this sound right?

Thanks for any input. Trying to get this figured out before reservations open on May 1.

Andalucia, Spain
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1. Re: First visit to YNP and GTNP Summer 2017. Camp or lodge?

We loved Colter Bay in Grand Teton. I definitely think that one sunrise and one sunset in Grand Teton is a must.

For Yellowstone, I would set up base in Madison and/or Canyon. I do not know how long it takes you to set up your gear, but we move from the East to the West side when we are camping half way through the trip. I prefer camping over hotels, because I like to "sleep in my own bed" and cook for my family. Take out/cafeteria/restaurant food gets old real quick for me.

Pacific Grove, CA
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2. Re: First visit to YNP and GTNP Summer 2017. Camp or lodge?

How fun is this going to be!!!! Kids are great ages too! I wonder when in summer you are planning because June can still be a mixed bag for weather, with near or below freezing temps at night... Might make a difference if camping.

I agree you won't want to short change the Tetons, especially with kids. There are so many more activities to do than in Yellowstone (and I love Yellowstone!) It just isn't a drive thru park. While you have the jaw dropping scenery, you can take an early morning float trip to search for wildlife, 6am is recommended. Ride bikes thru Jackson Hole on a beautiful pathway system. Kayak or boat on Jackson Lake, Rodeo in the town of Jackson Wed or Sat nights, stage coach rides and shoot out on the Antler town square, Ranger programs. Ferry across Jenny Lake and hike.

Lodging for the Tetons can be camping or motel/cabin in one of the four lodges in the park. ColterBay is a good one with lodging and camping options. Also the town of Jackson minutes away has motels ranging from affordable $100-$150/night and up.

In Yellowstone I agree that we like Madison and Canyon campgrounds the best. Mammoth the least, very sparse, not a lot of trees, brown in the summer, beside the road. While I also agree with staying in more than one location in Yellowstone because it's huge...I would want to move camp with three kids and their gear as little as possible. That makes Canyon campground the winner in my opinion. It's centrally located for most features in the park, has services like a grocery, restaurants, laundry, etc. and you wouldn't need to move anywhere else.

Lodging in Yellowstone should be booked thru Xanterra.com only. (Others will charge you a processing fee.). Reservations open May 1. If you decide on lodges in Yellowstone, Roosevelt Lodge has some rooms with 3 beds which would work really well for you guys, but those go fast! The Canyon Western Cabins with 2 Queen are spacious and you could fit a twin blow up in them. Ideally getting 2 nights at Old Faithful and 2 nights at Roosevelt or Canyon would be great!!!

Maybe you could plan on camping in the Tetons, lodging in Yellowstone and Camping in Glacier. Breaks it up kind of well.

Have fun planning, you'll get lots of great advice from the experts!

Crystal

Salt Lake City, Utah
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3. Re: First visit to YNP and GTNP Summer 2017. Camp or lodge?

Good advice so far. I also endorse the idea that GTNP isn't a drive through park. Camping for 3 nights there would give you two full days. We've camped at Colter Bay and Gros Ventre in GTNP. We liked Colter Bay because of the amenities in the village - evening ranger talks in the amphitheater, well stocked market, pay showers and laundromat; plus access to boat/canoe/kayak rentals. We also like Gros Ventre because it has great views of the Tetons and is a little quieter. But there are no amenities other than rest rooms. With kids, I think Colter Bay is the better choice.

Yellowstone Nat...
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4. Re: First visit to YNP and GTNP Summer 2017. Camp or lodge?

<< We are planning to visit YNP and GTNP for 4 nights, but could stay longer. >>

Three or four nights would give you a taste of Yellowstone, and I would add one night for Grand Teton National Park as well. There is a GTNP forum on TA that may interest you.

<< We have read mixed things about camping in YNP and are wondering if Lodges are a better experience? ... In your opinion would you stay in a lodge or camp for a first time visit. >>

Camping in YNP is a fine experience. I don't know what you may have read that is "mixed." Camping or lodging is strictly a personal preference. I would recommend that you have reservations. I would also add that it would be a shame to miss a night at the historic Old Faithful Inn.

ENJOY!

Seal Beach...
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5. Re: First visit to YNP and GTNP Summer 2017. Camp or lodge?

Wow thank you so much for these responses! Very helpful. We will be there probably the first or second week of July. And the mixed things I've read about camping in Yellowstone is that there aren't many trees and campsites are very close together. But I agree, everyone has their own opinion and the pictures I've seen of the campsites look pretty. We are looking for campsites with lots of trees, yet bathrooms and showers for the kids, and me! Thanks again for the responses so far. I'll keep researching but sounds like a lot of fun!

6. Re: First visit to YNP and GTNP Summer 2017. Camp or lodge?

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Jackson, Wyoming
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7. Re: First visit to YNP and GTNP Summer 2017. Camp or lodge?

Even the most spectacular of National Park Campgrounds have "mixed reviews." Some people leave their brains at home when they go on vacation and can be a pain in the posterior at a developed campground. I prefer to boondock outside the parks but there are many iconic campgrounds in the parks, many will assert Jenny Lake is the most spectacularly beautiful campground in the National Park System. Cave Falls is the most spectacularly beautiful campground I've been to in the National Forest System. Double Cabin right behind that. If you don't have an RV remember that there are sometimes Hard Sided Vehicle Restrictions in different places throughout the ecosystem.

If you have anything less than a month for BOTH Glacier and Yellowstone on this roadtrip I'd do one of two things; THIS TRIP forget Crown of the Continent [Glacier] or forget Greater Yellowstone and focus on one or the other. In my admittedly biased opinion Grand Teton is more spectacular and beautiful than Glacier. If you're planning on packing even more parks or other public lands into a relatively short period of time with all due respect that's crazy unless you like being in the vehicle for ridiculous amounts of time.

I'd mix it up, camp some and lodge some. Greater Yellowstone is better for kids IMO. Lots of kid stuff to do in Jackson, Cody, etc.

Have fun!

Pacific Grove, CA
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8. Re: First visit to YNP and GTNP Summer 2017. Camp or lodge?

Agree 110% with the above post as regards Yellowstone and the Teton parks as opposed to Glacier.

Crystal

Seal Beach...
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9. Re: First visit to YNP and GTNP Summer 2017. Camp or lodge?

Thanks everyone! I think we have decided to spend 2-3 nights in GTNP, 2 nights at Old Faithful Inn and 2-3 nights camping at Canyon. I'm trying to decide now if we should stay at Colter Bay or cabins at Dornan's when in GTNP. Any opinions on locations of these two places and activities for younger kids, etc?

Andalucia, Spain
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10. Re: First visit to YNP and GTNP Summer 2017. Camp or lodge?

We took our DD (when she was 3) out on a rental motor boat (for fishing) from Colter Bay Marina for 2 hours. We had breakfast, we cruised the shore line watching wildlife. It was one of the highlights of our trip. We also took the Jenny Lake Boat across to hike up Inspiration Point. Do note that there are cabins at Colter Bay.