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Help me plan a trip to Yellowstone

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Old 08-16-2012, 08:22 PM   #1
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Help me plan a trip to Yellowstone

Hey everyone,
Being from Alberta, and having never visited the good ol' US of A, I know nothing of whats available in and around Yellowstone. Here are some of the things we're looking to find / do / have while on our vacation:

1. First of all, there's 3 of us. Me, wife and our son who will be just over 3 months old at our time of departure.
2. We're driving nearly 1000 miles to get from our home to the nearest park entrance, and will stay in a hotel after day one of driving on the Canadian side of the border and cross through in the morning.
3. We'd really like to stay in a 'well equipped' [read: kitchen w/ fridge and a decent bathroom] cabin, or lodge of some sort.
4. We are planning on spending a total of 6 days in the park after arrival day, so we're looking for a good list of places to go / things to see / doable activities giving that we'd be packing our kid around.
4.1 on the kid note, we do have a carrier which I will be using to 'wear' our kid on my front, and we are looking to do some short to medium hikes. Just want a few good suggestions where to do such a thing.
5.We're planning on heading out on the 28th of september, and leaving the park on the 5th of october. What sort of weather should we be planning to be outside in during this trip?
6. Any suggestions of places to stop / things to see or do on the way from the Canadian border to the Park or on the way home as well. For reference we'll be crossing in Coutts, Alberta, over to Sweet Grass, Montana.
7. What items should we bring that I may not obviously consider as necessary, but you think I might want while there?

Thanks for any and all input. For the help I'll be trying to GoPro the entire trip from the hood of the truck, maybe roof, who knows. Also, a lot of pictures will be posted here for all to enjoy. This is my first trip into America, help me make it a great one!
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Old 08-18-2012, 10:47 PM   #2
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Prepare for snow, plan for chilly mornings and nights and decent days.

You really ought to see Glacier too while you're so close.

West Yellowstone or Mammoth probably where you're gonna want to stay. Should be able to find a place like that for some $$$$.

Be smart about animals, and stopping, and gawking, and where you do it. There are too many stupid people in Yellowstone, so don't contribute. Traffic should calm down by then a bunch but I'm betting there will still be some. That's a good time to visit though honestly, though the weather won't be superb. WY weather changes rapidly, very rapidly, so keep your rain gear with you if you go on a long hike and keep something warm handy. I wouldn't be surprised at all if you saw a flurry of snow.

I wouldn't focus on taking pictures of each scene a 100 times at different angles but just try to see as much as you can and take it all in or you'll go too slow and miss too much, or at least IMO.

Make reservations soon!


Been a long time since I've been to Jellystone. Like, since the 4th grade, though I drove through very very quickly this summer. Grew up 4 hours south in Kemmerer fwiw.
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Old 08-19-2012, 10:47 AM   #3
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was thinking glacier NP too, ...maybe big sky, ...i've been several places in MT, but don't think there's any big attractions unless you're into skiing or something like that...
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Old 09-06-2012, 05:46 AM   #4
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The wife and I are planning on spending last of May-beginning of June 2013 there for our 10 year anniversary. We alre also about 1000 miles away but will be towing our popup with the Tacoma. In researching our trip, we found the National Park Services website really informative about how to plan your trip. There are many well done videos with a ranger discussing your trip, the rules of the park, and how to plan accordingly.

http://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm

The "Plan your Visit" tab on the left side is where we started. All of the lodging- primitive campsites through the high end lodges- are resrved through Xantera Parks and Resorts. It takes a little researching, but once you get the hang of how the website is set up, it's pretty easy; especially for the reservations, as some areas of the park open before others and you have to select where you want to stay before the dates.

There is so much information on the website, that I really haven't looked elsewhere, but maybe some one more local knows more than what I do.

Good luck with the trip.
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Old 09-06-2012, 06:46 AM   #5
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Yellowstone is my "back yard", my 2nd home of sorts...ahem...

the end of September is a good time to visit as the crowds are thinning out at that point and the animals tend to be more active (rut is in full swing).

after labor day (this past weekend) many of the park services start to close up for winter. by the end of september most will be closed. gas will be available by credit card only at canyon and old faithful and some gift shops may be open. all cafes and grocery stores will most likely be closed.
find a full list of dates here

also some roads close early and construction delays pick up as they try to cram as much maintenance into the shoulder season as possible. the upper loop of the park from canyon to tower will be closed so any exploring in the northern half of the park will require more driving out and back.
road construction and closing dates here

the weather can vary day to day and hour by hour. plan for both 70* days and 50* days, sun, rain, and maybe snow. nighttime lows will most likely be below freezing. i was down there this past weekend and while it was a perfect 70* in the afternoon it was only 28* when I woke up in camp.

not only do the services in the park start to close up but places out of the park close up too as visitors dwindle. get reservations ASAP! there are cabins available in West Yellowstone, MT at Madison Arm Resort - they are closed after October 1 http://www.madisonarmresort.com/
and the Yellowstone Association (a non-profit, educational organization) offers cabins for rent year round in Gardiner, MT (NW entrance) and offer guided tours and programs - a much pricier option but if you must have a cabin with kitchen your options are going to be limited this time of year.
http://www.yellowstoneassociation.or...llowstone.aspx

lots of hotels will still be available so look into that option too.

of other links here
http://www.destinationyellowstone.com/

I'll post more about hiking and what not later...got to get some work done now. I would also suggest spending at least a day in Grand Teton park - its beautiful in the fall.
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Old 09-06-2012, 02:36 PM   #6
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For hiking in the park:
what distances are you comfortable traveling?
how long (time) do you want to be out?

If you just stayed on the boardwalks around the geyser basins you could easily cover 5-7 miles a day. Mammoth has a decent length of boardwalk to cover, lots of stairs here too. Norris is probably the 2nd longest boardwalk (and some dirt path), Upper Geyser Basin (Old Faithful) is the longest boardwalk. The Canyon area has some interesting hiking opportunities too - just hope you're not afraid of heights.
If you're more adventurous and want to venture onto some of the trails I would suggest picking up Day Hikes in Yellowstone (it has a description of the trails, directions to the trailheads, and any POI along the way). Having a good map (not the freebies they give you as you enter the park) will benefit you both driving and hiking. I have the National geographic Trails Illustrated map and it is very detailed.
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Old 10-10-2012, 05:35 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTgirl View Post
Not sure if OP is reading, but I have been helped by your info.

Thanks.
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Old 10-10-2012, 08:22 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LostCajun View Post
Not sure if OP is reading, but I have been helped by your info.

Thanks.
Good to know...I have lots more info if you ever make it up this way.

Just wondering what happened to the OP...did the trip get canceled? Did he get detained at the border? Mauled by a bear? Buffalo? Squirrel?
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Old 10-12-2012, 12:44 PM   #10
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MTgirl.

would springbreak time suck? that seems to be the only big chunk of open time my wife has. (nursing school) we vowed to see more of the USA, and spend less time and money overseas.

a roadtrip to yellowstone seems like a great idea. gentle camping, etc.
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Old 10-12-2012, 01:24 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by aficianado View Post
MTgirl.

would springbreak time suck? that seems to be the only big chunk of open time my wife has. (nursing school) we vowed to see more of the USA, and spend less time and money overseas.

a roadtrip to yellowstone seems like a great idea. gentle camping, etc.
Spring break is in.....March?? Bad time. The park closes down almost completely for 6 weeks in the fall (early November to mid December) and again in spring (early March to mid April). The only access during those times is through the NW entrance at Gardiner/Mammoth and the only stretch of road that is open is between Mammoth and the NE entrance at Cooke City. In the winter you have to be on a rented snow machine or on a snowcoach tour, both are guided tours and you have a set schedule for travelling through the park. If its the first week of March you may be able to get in for the very end of the winter season and get on a snowcoach tour but if there is not a lot of snow they may end the season early. If you want full access to the park and to drive your own vehicle you need to go between mid April and early November. They don't have the exact dates for 2013 posted yet but its usually the 3rd weekend in April and the 1st weekend in November.
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Old 10-13-2012, 04:54 PM   #12
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thanks..spring break is the 3rd week of march.

oh, well. maybe the east coast then
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