Seeing Yellowstone National Park

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260chrisb
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Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by 260chrisb » Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:39 pm

We want to see Yellowstone and am looking for advice. This is an adults only for 2-4. Always try and miss the peak season when we travel. Would like to go in early May. Good month or bad? How long should we plan to be in the park? Where is it best to fly into from the Midwest? Thoughts and advice is general relative to lodging and your experiences are welcome please. Thanks.

bubbadog
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by bubbadog » Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:51 pm

I would fly into Jackson Hole, Wyoming and also plan to visit the Grand Tetons. Another option is to fly into Bozeman, Montana and travel south to enter the park. Lodging in the park may already be booked up for May as you usually have to book way in advance to secure accommodations. The town of West Yellowstone is along the western edge (duh!) of the park and would be a good place to check for lodging outside of the park. I would think 4-6 days in the park would give you a good overview of what the park is all about. We make an annual winter snowmobile trip to Yellowstone and we stay in West Yellowstone.

Have a great trip. :sharebeer

bi0hazard
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by bi0hazard » Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:04 pm

We spent 4 days in the park which was enough.

We stayed inside and outside (west Yellowstone, Mt) the park and both were fine.

A lot of people (in the summer) but they seem to spread out ok, so it's not annoying.

We flew in to salt lake which is economical, but Jackson hole is much closer (ridiculous flight prices).

Bring good binoculars!

livesoft
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by livesoft » Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:16 pm

In/out Jackson Hole was cheap for us. We went in September. Saw Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. Stayed in Jackson Hole, Colter Bay Village, and ranger housing in middle of Yellowstone. 10 days was about right, but we did quite a lot of hiking besides all the usual tourist attractions.

There are several discussions of Yellowstone at bogleheads.org and tripadvisor.com. Check them out.
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letsgobobby
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by letsgobobby » Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:27 pm

Reserve now. We reserved for June, back in November. Some nights already completey booked and very few options available the other nights, at least in the park.

jalbert
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by jalbert » Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:37 pm

We want to see Yellowstone and am looking for advice. This is an adults only for 2-4. Always try and miss the peak season when we travel. Would like to go in early May. Good month or bad? How long should we plan to be in the park? 
Bad month-- overcast, cold, and rainy, snow possible, and there likely will be snow on the ground in many areas, but likely not enough to x-country ski or snowshoe.

September after labor day would be a good time. Be sure to plan for time in Grand Teton Natl Park which shares a border with yellowstone. Many people find it to be the more spectacular of the two.
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radiowave
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by radiowave » Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:40 pm

We flew into Bozeman and stayed at Big Sky MT. A little over an hour to west park entrance. I actually drove through the park stopping at all the usual places early morning and crowds were not bad at that time. I made the south gate around noon and traffic was backed up several miles to get into the park. This was mid July a couple years ago and one day we had snow so if you go mid May be prepared for winter weather. BTW, day trip into Yellowstone from MT was quite reasonable and seemed to have beaten most of the crowds by getting there very early and leaving before there were too many people out and about.
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PaunchyPirate
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by PaunchyPirate » Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:11 pm

We spent 7 nights in the area during the week of June 20th or so. My cousin, who lives in Jackson, WY, advised us to not come earlier than that due to unpredictable weather. We timed it perfectly, the weather was great and the full force of summer vacationers were not yet in motion.

We flew into Jackson Hole on a Saturday and spent 2 nights at Teton Lodge ski resort and explored the Tetons a little as well as did a lazy boat ride down the Snake River. We were fortunate that my cousin had a friend with a boat and it was just the 4 of us. Great afternoon. We also rode the gondola to the top of the mountain at the Teton Resort. There was still a lot of snow up there, but it was warm enough to enjoy a waffle and spend time outside enjoying the view.

From Jackson, we spent the next 5 nights at various locations as we criss-crossed Yellowstone in our car during the days. The main roads thru the park roughly form a Figure 8. On the first day, we drove north from Jackson up to Chico Hot Springs Resort in Montana (look for celebrities!) along the west side of the Figure 8. Of course, along the way, we stopped at all the park sites. This was our longest day, I think. The hot springs bath felt wonderful that night except on the sunburn from walking outside. On the next day, we drove from Chico to Red Lodge, MT along the northern part of the Figure 8. Great little town to spend the evening walking around. Try the candy store. The next day we drove to our home for the next 2 nights -- Canyon Lodge -- which is a park lodging facility in the central area of the park. We also had plenty of time to explore other parts of the park that day -- venturing out to the eastern entrance and down to Yellowstone Lake. The next day we explored more around the central part of the park again. Including the road across the middle of the Figure 8. Finally, on our last full day, we drove from Canyon Lodge, across the middle and back down the western side because we wanted to revisit Old Faithful again. We ended up that day back in Jackson for one night before our return flight the next morning. An evening in Jackson is well spent as there's some fun shops and restaurants and such.

All-in-all, it's an itinerary I highly recommend (my cousin, the local, mapped it all out for us). I probably will do the same itinerary again at some point after I retire. It allowed plenty of time in the Park (we're not hikers) to see all the geologic and historic sites as well as time to just sit along side the road and watch the bison and look for grizzlies.

But, as others said, you may be late in getting your lodging in place if you're looking to do this during the upcoming season. I think we booked at least 6-9 months in advance.

Enjoy. It's a special place.

slowmoney
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by slowmoney » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:15 pm

Our family went to Yellowstone in late June. As we drove into the park, we ran into a sleet storm. The rest of the week was fine. It would seem May is early. I think 4-6 days would be enough time to see the park. However, the longer you are there the better the chances are to see rare wildlife; we missed a bear by 5 minutes. :annoyed

We stayed in West Yellowstone; lodging has Wi-Fi, lots of restaurants and comfortable sleeping. It is not far from the park. Start early. Like 6am to 7am, otherwise traffic is already too much by 8-9am. Once you get to park area you want to explore its fine.

We did not go to the Grand Tetons. If you are already there, it would seem nice to see the Grand Tetons as well.

I have always thought it would be nice to see Yellowstone in winter. Maybe after the kids are gone and I can convince the wife to freeze, I’ll see Yellowstone in winter.

We were not disappointed. Bring hiking shoes and hiking gear so that you can see as much of the park as possible.
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InMyDreams
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by InMyDreams » Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:45 pm

260chrisb wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:39 pm
Would like to go in early May. Good month or bad?
I was there the weekend before Memorial Day weekend years ago. Great trip, but be prepared for cold, possibly snow. Some areas of the park may be inaccessible d/t closed roads (again, snow).

Take a look at the average & extreme temps
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowsto ... rk#Climate

Looks like they're a bit ahead of average snow pack:
http://www.wrds.uwyo.edu/wrds/nrcs/upda ... te-mt.html

davidsorensen32
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by davidsorensen32 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:37 am

* Book your lodging inside the park . This will hugely determine you park experience. There is no substitute for it. If you can’t get availability then book now for next year. If you reside outside of the park then you’ll be driving needlessly for hours just to get inside the prime zone like Lamar valley. We stayed entirely in the lodges inside - canyon lodge , Roosevelt lodge ( the best ) etc and it was the best ever

* Book activities. Take a horseback ride. Book a photography trip with a ranger.

* Get a good spotting scope and zoom lens. You’ll need them to see the wild beast.

* Hike. Get out of the busy spots. We saw a bear chasing a bison once.

* Do one park at a time. If you have enough time for both parks then do both GT and YP. Else just do once.

* Avoid Old faithful lodge like the plague - overcrowded, over expensive and absolutely against what the park stands for


Enjoy



260chrisb wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:39 pm
We want to see Yellowstone and am looking for advice. This is an adults only for 2-4. Always try and miss the peak season when we travel. Would like to go in early May. Good month or bad? How long should we plan to be in the park? Where is it best to fly into from the Midwest? Thoughts and advice is general relative to lodging and your experiences are welcome please. Thanks.

livesoft
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by livesoft » Mon Feb 19, 2018 7:08 am

davidsorensen32 wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:37 am
* Avoid Old faithful lodge like the plague - overcrowded, over expensive and absolutely against what the park stands for
Actually, Old Faithful Lodge is exactly what the park stood for at one time. It is an extremely important historical building with daily tours. All visitors should participate in one of the tours in order to understand the Park and the way Americans dealt with Nature at one point in our history. Avoiding it would be like avoiding Monticello or other historical buildings, wouldn't it?
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davidsorensen32
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by davidsorensen32 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:03 am

Naah. I did all of those things and regretted it. The opportunity cost was too high. Spending a day of my precious few days in OF meant 1 less day to explore nature. I go to NP to see nature not history. If I want to learn the history of YNP, I'll just watch it on one of the channels or pick up a book in the library. But, its a free country. Whatever floats your boat. I would much rather have spent 1 extra day and try to catch a glimpse of the wolves or get that dream photograph - the reflection of a rising or setting sun in a buffalo's eye (catchment light ?) instead of shoulder to shoulder with a mob of chinese tourists jumping over themselves to photograph every inch of OF.
livesoft wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 7:08 am
davidsorensen32 wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:37 am
* Avoid Old faithful lodge like the plague - overcrowded, over expensive and absolutely against what the park stands for
Actually, Old Faithful Lodge is exactly what the park stood for at one time. It is an extremely important historical building with daily tours. All visitors should participate in one of the tours in order to understand the Park and the way Americans dealt with Nature at one point in our history. Avoiding it would be like avoiding Monticello or other historical buildings, wouldn't it?

livesoft
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by livesoft » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:38 pm

The Lodge is not the same as Old Faithful, nor is OF the same as all the other geysers in the Geyser Basin areas. And geysers are definitely part of Nature. The Lodge itself was less than 60 minutes of my time.

We should do a survey of who has seen wild wolves in Yellowstone that were closer than a black speck in a spotting scope. :)
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Toons
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by Toons » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:36 pm

Yellowstone was just too crowded for my style in June.
Spent a day driving thru in the Rv pullling off looking at various sites.
If I was to do it over ,would probably go 1st part of May. :happy
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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by Doom&Gloom » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:26 pm

Just as there are 50 ways to leave your lover, there are (at least) 50 ways to see Yellowstone. We have only been once--in July a few years ago. One night at the Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton NP, two nights at the Old Faithful Inn, and one night at the Lake Hotel in Yellowstone. We thoroughly enjoyed it, but it certainly isn't seeing Yellowstone "The Boglehead Way."

One of the great things about staying at the Old Faithful Inn was DW arising early one morning and being the only person in sight watching Old Faithful do its thing. She still considers that one of the greatest experiences of her life.

We didn't see any wolves, but we did see one scrawny coyote, plus countless bison and elk, and a few bears. We hit Custer State Park a few days later and saw more wildlife including bighorn sheep and a couple of moose on the way there.

All three of us (DS went also) were more than happy with our experience. Different strokes for different folks.

livesoft
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by livesoft » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:35 pm

davidsorensen32 wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:03 am
... or get that dream photograph - the reflection of a rising or setting sun in a buffalo's eye (catchment light ?)
You mean sort of like this?
Image

That's part of a larger photo which cannot be posted due to size. https://i.imgur.com/CrNtZin.jpg
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onthecusp
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by onthecusp » Mon Feb 19, 2018 7:02 pm

livesoft wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:38 pm
The Lodge is not the same as Old Faithful, nor is OF the same as all the other geysers in the Geyser Basin areas. And geysers are definitely part of Nature. The Lodge itself was less than 60 minutes of my time.

We should do a survey of who has seen wild wolves in Yellowstone that were closer than a black speck in a spotting scope. :)
We were there in September just before Canyon Lodge closed. (A few flurries in the higher elevations.) We saw at least two distinct packs of wolves, not exactly close up but much more detail than a black speck. You could tell one individual from another. It was a highlight of the trip and plan to do September again.

About as close as we got to a Grizzly, which was plenty close enough :D

livesoft
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by livesoft » Mon Feb 19, 2018 7:05 pm

^Thanks! Great field report.
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markelp
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by markelp » Mon Feb 19, 2018 7:25 pm

I've been to Yellowstone multiple times (March, May, June, July and August) and early May is by far my favorite time. There are far fewer crowds than June-Sept and far more access to the animals. Additionally, the animals are just coming out of winter, hungry, and starting to explore. Last year I saw 10 bears (grizzly and black) and a dozen wolves along with coyote, fox, moose, big horn sheep, elk, bison and pronghorn. Seriously, if you drive slowly and keep your eyes open you will be amazed by what you can see just from your car, let alone hiking off the road. Dawn and dusk in Lamar Valley are best for wolves and bear. Some of my pics from last year:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/21202451@ ... 0647887863
https://www.flickr.com/photos/21202451@ ... 3630421846

The downside is the weather (cold and maybe snow) and many of the roads in the southern part of the park are closed. Layers, boots, parka, warm hat and gloves are essential. Check out the "Park Roads" page on nps.gov/yell for road opening details and plan your trip accordingly. Lodging will be difficult at this late stage, especially on the weekends. I spoke to an inn keeper last year and he said the problem was not crowds or quantity rooms, but they couldn't get enough people to clean the rooms. He only had two room cleaners and the visa system to bring in other workers doesn't kick in until June, so they can only book a portion of the rooms.

This year, I'll fly into Salt Lake on a Sunday and drive north to Gardiner via the West Entrance and exit through Teton NP just as the South gate is opening on Friday 5/11. Flying into Jackson is an option, but expensive both for the airfare and car rentals. Bozeman, MT or SLC are much better options for an early Yellowstone visit.

I typically stay outside the park in Gardiner (Super8 or Best Western) since there are more services, open restaurants, a grocery and the lodging is about 1/2 the price of staying in the park. Additionally, fuel and food are far less expensive away from the Xanterra franchises. The drive to the edge of the Lamar valley is about 45 minutes from Gardiner and a beautiful drive.

Happy to answer any specific questions about my trips.

Pinemartin59
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by Pinemartin59 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:03 pm

OP, I worked in YNP for 1 season and GTNP for 2 seasons. For the best weather, I would go after June 15th. July, August, or September are the best months weatherwise. Before then, the weather is too unpredictable. It could be nice or it could be snowing. All three seasons I worked in the parks, it snowed 3-4 inches on June 15. Being from Texas, that sort of freaked me out. In GTNP in May/early June, you can have 3 or 4 consecutive days where because of cold and fog, you can't see any of the Tetons. And another thing to consider...in late June, the mosquitoes are brutal. To me, late August and September are the best months to visit. Less traffic and mostly a more mature crowd. Although, if you go early...you have the best chance of seeing wildlife! Hope this helps. Have a great trip. PM59

davidsorensen32
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by davidsorensen32 » Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:56 am

Like this --> Image

livesoft wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:35 pm
davidsorensen32 wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:03 am
... or get that dream photograph - the reflection of a rising or setting sun in a buffalo's eye (catchment light ?)
You mean sort of like this?
Image

That's part of a larger photo which cannot be posted due to size. https://i.imgur.com/CrNtZin.jpg

DrGoogle2017
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:02 pm

We were in YNP around 4th of July, it was comfortable time of the year. But that was years ago, before my husband and I got married even. Will go back next year.

mnnice
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by mnnice » Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:57 pm

jalbert wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:37 pm
We want to see Yellowstone and am looking for advice. This is an adults only for 2-4. Always try and miss the peak season when we travel. Would like to go in early May. Good month or bad? How long should we plan to be in the park? 
Bad month-- overcast, cold, and rainy, snow possible, and there likely will be snow on the ground in many areas, but likely not enough to x-country ski or snowshoe.

September after labor day would be a good time. Be sure to plan for time in Grand Teton Natl Park which shares a border with yellowstone. Many people find it to be the more spectacular of the two.
It can snow any month. We visited in August and had temperatures below freezing at night and a brief session of sleet. In early May not all the roads at the higher elevations are likely to be open (which may or may not be a problem).

livesoft
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Re: Seeing Yellowstone National Park

Post by livesoft » Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:30 pm

davidsorensen32 wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:56 am
Like this --> ...
Thanks! That also led to these photos: https://www.yellowstone.org/photo-contest-2016-winners/ which brought back many memories. Thx!
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