Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    8,484

    Default Yellowstone/Grand Teton trip report

    Thanks to all of you who helped plan our wonderful trip! If youíre thinking of taking your kids to Yellowstone, do it! It was truly extraordinary. If you donít feel like reading this whole post, upfront Iíll say that, in my opinion, itís not at all necessary to stay in the park each night. We only stayed in the park one night, and, though Iím glad we did, because we got to see a lot of geyser action we night otherwise have missed, it was MISERABLE without air conditioning! The room never cooled down, though outside (and lobby) temperatures were cool. Also, you donít have to plan a year ahead. If youíre willing to stay outside the park and are okay with clean but basic accommodations, rooms are available. Also, in-park rooms open up. Had we wanted to do so, we could have stayed inside the park each night booking rooms a week out from our trip, so donít let a short time frame dissuade you! There is a lot of driving. Be prepared! If your kids donít do well in the car, this isnít the trip for you! Thereís also a lot of walking. Plan on each stop being a .5-1.5 mile walk at minimum. Our 7 year old, who loves to hike, got lazy from all the car time and several times refused to get out of the car or leave the visitor center. We did a kid swap with our 10 year old DS going with first one parent and then the other, and that took a lot of time. Sometimes DD would join in the second round. I think this trip is better for slightly older kids.

    Hereís our itinerary with comments:

    M- Day 1: Fly into Bozeman, MT. Lunch and shopping in Bozeman, then drive to Gardiner. (Approx. 1.25 hrs) -We carried on all our luggage and bought toiletries and sunscreen on arrival. We were upgraded to a minivan, but the trip would have been fine in a sedan.

    20th T- Day 2: Gardiner hotel to northeast of loop. Mammoth Hot Springs and Canyon. Exit to Cooke City through Lamar valley. (Tower Junction to Cooke City is 1 hr). -The Lamar Valley was wonderful! We saw a lot of wildlife on our way out even though we thought we were too early (about 5pm). We saw fewer animals at 6:30-7:30am on our way back in, which is when I thought weíd see them. Our motel, the Alpine, was not ideal, though the staff were very nice. I do not recommend you stay there! Thereís a great restaurant here, though, The Beartooth Cafe.

    21st W- Day 3: Cooke City through Lamar Valley to lower east side of loop: Hayden Valley, Mud Volcano, the lakes, West Thumb Geyser Basin. Exit park to Jackson. (Total time of 4 hours with no stops! 1.5hrs back to Canyon. Canyon to lake is 34 min. Lake to West Thumb is 30min. West Thumb to Jackson is 1.75hrs) -We stopped to eat breakfast at Roosevelt Lodge. We ate lunch at Grant Village after West Thumb. The ride to Jackson was really long with extensive delays due to road painting, and, honestly, we could have skipped Jackson and Grand Teton. A drive less than half the length to Jackson gets you fabulous views of the Grand Tetons. Then you could go back to Yellowstone and be happy. Thereís not much to see in GTNP besides views of the Tetons, and Jacksonís cute but very touristy. IMO, itís not worth the detour at all, and skipping Jackson would have kept the whole trip during the work week and avoided the weekend crowds at Yellowstone.

    22nd Th- Day 4: Float trip and GTNP by car and stay in Jackson again. -The float trip was relaxing, and we all enjoyed it. We loved the little Chapel of the Transfiguration, and the kids got huckleberry soda in the Menors Ferry general store. We saw Mormon Row, but you canít go into any of the buildings. We had dinner at the Gunbarrel Steak and Game house, which is an old taxidermy museum. The kids got a kick out of that. The food was adequate, not great.

    23rd F- Day 5: Up through GTNP to Old Faithful Snow Lodge. Hit what was missed in GTNP and Yellowstone. -We tried to see more of GTNP, but the kids were tired, and there wasnít really much to see, so we drove through the park back to Yellowstone. Iím glad we stayed at Old Faithful, because we got to see the Grand Geyser erupt twice and Old Faithful a bunch of times. I think that area of the park is worth two days or even more. The geyser walk was long and hot, and we sat at the Grand geyser for almost two hours to see it erupt the first time. It was worth the wait, but I wouldnít have waited if Iíd been rushed with only one day. Iím thinking the boardwalk was about 3-4 miles. You can walk back the second half from the Biscuit geyser basin, but we didnít. The hotel was HOT, but it was a good idea to stay at Old Faithful, because itís a haul from West Yellowstone, and the geysers erupt when they erupt. You need to adapt to their timetable.

    24th S- Day 6: Old Faithful and the rest of Southwest of lower loop (Grand Prismatic Spring, Fountain Paintpots, Firehole Dr.) out to West Yellowstone hotel.-we really loved the Old Faithful geyser area, and we spent half the second day there. We hit the gift shop by the cafeteria, too. Unfortunately, we chose to do the most popular part of the park on the weekend, and that meant waiting for space in the parking lot of Grand Prismatic Spring. I would avoid the Southwest of the park in the weekends in summer! We somehow missed the fountain paintpots this day but drove past Madison to Artist Paintpots. There was lots of wildlife on our way out of the park to West Yellowstone.

    25th Sun- Day 7: West Yellowstone hotel to northwest of upper loop. Exit park through Gardiner and drive to Bozeman.- We backtracked this day to see Grand Prismatic spring again and hit the Fountain Paintpots. We had multiple stops for wildlife on the way. Even at 9am there was a wait for the parking area. We didnít get to the Norris Geyser basin until afternoon. There was no food around this section, so we actually drove all the way back out to West Yellowstone for lunch at the kidsí request. If I had realized, I would have packed in lunch. DD was very resistant at the Norris basin, so we only did the Porcelain loop and half the longer loop. Then we drove to Mammoth Hot Springs again stopping at pullouts to see the golden gate and other sites. We did the drive through the upper area of the hot springs, hit the gift shops, left the park, and drove to Bozeman.

    26th M-Day 8: fly home.

    We saw tons of bison and elk as well as grizzly and black bears through binoculars, trumpeter swans, eagles, pelicans, and small critters like marmots. We got 45 states in our license plate game. We couldnít find CT, VT, IA, WV, or RI, but we got AK and KY in the Bozeman restaurant parking lot on the very last night! Now weíre all exhausted and trying to recover before school starts on Tuesday. It was wonderful, though. I wish I were still there!


    Sent from my iPhone using Baby Bargains

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    868

    Default

    Havent read the entire post yet, but think we were there the same time! We just got home sunday.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    .
    Posts
    7,178

    Default Yellowstone/Grand Teton trip report

    Sounds like a great trip. We are considering it for next summer (or Scotland).
    DD (3/06)
    DS1 (7/09)
    DS2 (8/13)

  4. #4
    WatchingThemGrow is offline Pink Diamond level (15,000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    19,118

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by cckwmh View Post
    Havent read the entire post yet, but think we were there the same time! We just got home sunday.
    I think we may have been around the same time also. Was there construction at the Fishing Bridge intersection? We sat at a manned traffic stop for 25 min., so we ended up getting cans of food out of the trunk and eating there, lol.

  5. #5
    KrisM is offline Clean Sweep forum moderator
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    MI, USA.
    Posts
    25,493

    Default

    Sounds like a good trip! I think we ate at the Beartooth Cafe too.
    Kris

  6. #6
    marinkitty is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    North Shore Chicagoland
    Posts
    2,075

    Default

    Thanks for sharing. We are hoping to visit these parks next summer, so I'll definitely be referring back. And I may have time end of September to spend a day in Yellowstone (entering from West Yellowstone - it would be a day trip from Big Sky). What would you do if you had one day going in and out from Big Sky?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Salt Lake City, Utah.
    Posts
    7,977

    Default

    I would go from West Yellowstone to Old Faithful stopping at all of the stops along the way. Then, maybe, depending on the time of day, etc. I might push a drive from OF through Hayden Valley and then back to Big Sky. (but not with kids!!!) but West to OF is an enjoyable trip. I grew up 3 hours from Yellowstone and spent sooooo much time there. And then worked at OF for a summer--great summer job!!
    Mom to:
    DS '02
    DD '05
    Simon--the King Charles cutie
    RIP Andy, the furry first child, 1996-2012

    "The task of any religion is not to tell us who we are entitled to hate but to teach us who we are required to love."

  8. #8
    marinkitty is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    North Shore Chicagoland
    Posts
    2,075

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by StantonHyde View Post
    I would go from West Yellowstone to Old Faithful stopping at all of the stops along the way. Then, maybe, depending on the time of day, etc. I might push a drive from OF through Hayden Valley and then back to Big Sky. (but not with kids!!!) but West to OF is an enjoyable trip. I grew up 3 hours from Yellowstone and spent sooooo much time there. And then worked at OF for a summer--great summer job!!
    Thank you! Finalizing plans now and toying with flying in two days early into Jackson, staying a night there, driving through GTNP and staying second night at OFL and then on to Big Sky to meet up with the rest of my group for the long weekend (Th-S). Flight costs are the same so it would just cost me those two nights lodging and extra days rental car. Tempting . . . .

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    .
    Posts
    5,267

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by 123LuckyMom View Post
    Thanks to all of you who helped plan our wonderful trip! If you’re thinking of taking your kids to Yellowstone, do it! It was truly extraordinary. If you don’t feel like reading this whole post, upfront I’ll say that, in my opinion, it’s not at all necessary to stay in the park each night. We only stayed in the park one night, and, though I’m glad we did, because we got to see a lot of geyser action we night otherwise have missed, it was MISERABLE without air conditioning! The room never cooled down, though outside (and lobby) temperatures were cool. Also, you don’t have to plan a year ahead. If you’re willing to stay outside the park and are okay with clean but basic accommodations, rooms are available. Also, in-park rooms open up. Had we wanted to do so, we could have stayed inside the park each night booking rooms a week out from our trip, so don’t let a short time frame dissuade you! There is a lot of driving. Be prepared! If your kids don’t do well in the car, this isn’t the trip for you! There’s also a lot of walking. Plan on each stop being a .5-1.5 mile walk at minimum. Our 7 year old, who loves to hike, got lazy from all the car time and several times refused to get out of the car or leave the visitor center. We did a kid swap with our 10 year old DS going with first one parent and then the other, and that took a lot of time. Sometimes DD would join in the second round. I think this trip is better for slightly older kids.

    Here’s our itinerary with comments:

    M- Day 1: Fly into Bozeman, MT. Lunch and shopping in Bozeman, then drive to Gardiner. (Approx. 1.25 hrs) -We carried on all our luggage and bought toiletries and sunscreen on arrival. We were upgraded to a minivan, but the trip would have been fine in a sedan.

    20th T- Day 2: Gardiner hotel to northeast of loop. Mammoth Hot Springs and Canyon. Exit to Cooke City through Lamar valley. (Tower Junction to Cooke City is 1 hr). -The Lamar Valley was wonderful! We saw a lot of wildlife on our way out even though we thought we were too early (about 5pm). We saw fewer animals at 6:30-7:30am on our way back in, which is when I thought we’d see them. Our motel, the Alpine, was not ideal, though the staff were very nice. I do not recommend you stay there! There’s a great restaurant here, though, The Beartooth Cafe.

    21st W- Day 3: Cooke City through Lamar Valley to lower east side of loop: Hayden Valley, Mud Volcano, the lakes, West Thumb Geyser Basin. Exit park to Jackson. (Total time of 4 hours with no stops! 1.5hrs back to Canyon. Canyon to lake is 34 min. Lake to West Thumb is 30min. West Thumb to Jackson is 1.75hrs) -We stopped to eat breakfast at Roosevelt Lodge. We ate lunch at Grant Village after West Thumb. The ride to Jackson was really long with extensive delays due to road painting, and, honestly, we could have skipped Jackson and Grand Teton. A drive less than half the length to Jackson gets you fabulous views of the Grand Tetons. Then you could go back to Yellowstone and be happy. There’s not much to see in GTNP besides views of the Tetons, and Jackson’s cute but very touristy. IMO, it’s not worth the detour at all, and skipping Jackson would have kept the whole trip during the work week and avoided the weekend crowds at Yellowstone.

    22nd Th- Day 4: Float trip and GTNP by car and stay in Jackson again. -The float trip was relaxing, and we all enjoyed it. We loved the little Chapel of the Transfiguration, and the kids got huckleberry soda in the Menors Ferry general store. We saw Mormon Row, but you can’t go into any of the buildings. We had dinner at the Gunbarrel Steak and Game house, which is an old taxidermy museum. The kids got a kick out of that. The food was adequate, not great.

    23rd F- Day 5: Up through GTNP to Old Faithful Snow Lodge. Hit what was missed in GTNP and Yellowstone. -We tried to see more of GTNP, but the kids were tired, and there wasn’t really much to see, so we drove through the park back to Yellowstone. I’m glad we stayed at Old Faithful, because we got to see the Grand Geyser erupt twice and Old Faithful a bunch of times. I think that area of the park is worth two days or even more. The geyser walk was long and hot, and we sat at the Grand geyser for almost two hours to see it erupt the first time. It was worth the wait, but I wouldn’t have waited if I’d been rushed with only one day. I’m thinking the boardwalk was about 3-4 miles. You can walk back the second half from the Biscuit geyser basin, but we didn’t. The hotel was HOT, but it was a good idea to stay at Old Faithful, because it’s a haul from West Yellowstone, and the geysers erupt when they erupt. You need to adapt to their timetable.

    24th S- Day 6: Old Faithful and the rest of Southwest of lower loop (Grand Prismatic Spring, Fountain Paintpots, Firehole Dr.) out to West Yellowstone hotel.-we really loved the Old Faithful geyser area, and we spent half the second day there. We hit the gift shop by the cafeteria, too. Unfortunately, we chose to do the most popular part of the park on the weekend, and that meant waiting for space in the parking lot of Grand Prismatic Spring. I would avoid the Southwest of the park in the weekends in summer! We somehow missed the fountain paintpots this day but drove past Madison to Artist Paintpots. There was lots of wildlife on our way out of the park to West Yellowstone.

    25th Sun- Day 7: West Yellowstone hotel to northwest of upper loop. Exit park through Gardiner and drive to Bozeman.- We backtracked this day to see Grand Prismatic spring again and hit the Fountain Paintpots. We had multiple stops for wildlife on the way. Even at 9am there was a wait for the parking area. We didn’t get to the Norris Geyser basin until afternoon. There was no food around this section, so we actually drove all the way back out to West Yellowstone for lunch at the kids’ request. If I had realized, I would have packed in lunch. DD was very resistant at the Norris basin, so we only did the Porcelain loop and half the longer loop. Then we drove to Mammoth Hot Springs again stopping at pullouts to see the golden gate and other sites. We did the drive through the upper area of the hot springs, hit the gift shops, left the park, and drove to Bozeman.

    26th M-Day 8: fly home.

    We saw tons of bison and elk as well as grizzly and black bears through binoculars, trumpeter swans, eagles, pelicans, and small critters like marmots. We got 45 states in our license plate game. We couldn’t find CT, VT, IA, WV, or RI, but we got AK and KY in the Bozeman restaurant parking lot on the very last night! Now we’re all exhausted and trying to recover before school starts on Tuesday. It was wonderful, though. I wish I were still there!


    Sent from my iPhone using Baby Bargains

    We liked Yellowstone a lot but really loved Grand Tetons. Not as many attractions as Yellowstone’s thermal features but really great options for hiking and boating and of course the beautiful panorama of mountains. We spent two days in Yellowstone, and the rest of a week exploring Jackson Hole and the Tetons.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •