We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

GNP, Yellowstone, and GTNP

Raleigh, NC
Level Contributor
161 posts
32 reviews
Save Topic
GNP, Yellowstone, and GTNP

(I posted the same post in Wyoming Forum)

I apologize if you helpful folks have already answered this one 100 times, but I have read through the forums and seem to just get everything confused. If any of you can be of help on any of these questions, I would be very grateful. These forums have served us so well in the past - and I very much appreciate it.

We, a group of four friends, are planning a trip to see Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park, and Glacier National park right after Labor Day (gathered from these forums this was a good time to go). We plan on flying into SLC and renting a SUV. We will have seven days. We are mostly the tourists that drive as much as possible and hike short (< 2mi) trails to see the "really cool" things. So, we cover a good territory each day. We don't need to see everything in every park - just a good overview.

First, I am having a hard time trying to figure out which cities to stay in to get to do all three parks. We don't mind moving from place to place, but just not every night if possible. I prefer not to drive more than about five hours from city to city - if possible. Where possible, it would be great to find a two bedroom place to stay (or even one bedroom with a couch), but renting two rooms is OK as well. We are not totally cheap, but would like to keep it at reasonable rates. Don't really want to stay in the parks themselves if the lodging is over-priced. Driving 30 minutes or so to get into the park is fine with us. $100 night per room is about our budget - or $175 or so for a bigger place that we can all stay.

Second, if there are any organized bus tours, etc, on any of these parks I would love to know if they are worth the time and money.

Third, I would love to know of the "must see" things between SLC and the other cities/towns that you recommend. Looks like Flaming Gorge may be a nice stop.

Any and all recommendations would be appreciated. Or, point me to other posts that you guys have taken the time to write.

Thank you in advance....from Raleigh, NC

Winston Salem...
Level Contributor
1,223 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: GNP, Yellowstone, and GTNP

You said you're flying into Salt Lake... do you plan to fly out of Salt Lake as well? If so, this is too much ground to travel in 7 days. On the other hand, if you're flying into Salt Lake and then out of somewhere like Kalispell, it is doable. I'd suggest Salt Lake to Jackson, Wyoming as the first leg. It's a 5-6 hour drive (5 hours interstate; 6 hours taking the scenic drive through Logan Canyon/Bear Lake). In my opinion, Flaming Gorge is too far east to add to this already long trip. Though Jackson is expensive overall, try the Buckrail Lodge. You can walk the short 6 blocks to town for dinner, shopping, sightseeing. They have some rooms with connecting doors perfect for a foursome, and less than $150. From Jackson head north toward Yellowstone, stopping in the Tetons at Jenny Lake. Take the short boat trip to the trailhead to hike the 2 mile round trip up to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. In Yellowstone, you can either make West Yellowstone or Gardiner a base or find accommodations in the park. The park is bigger than you are going to expect it to be. You'll want to spend a couple days here. Then north to Glacier. Whitefish is nice.. about 30 miles from the west entrance. With only 7 days you will have to pick and choose, but defintely do the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier.

Raleigh, NC
Level Contributor
161 posts
32 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: GNP, Yellowstone, and GTNP

Thanks CDudley. We are not stuck on flying into SLC or out of SLC - just seemed to be the closest large airport. Maybe we should rethink that so we don't waste that time. Sounds like we need to bump this up a few days to cover all this.

Winston Salem...
Level Contributor
1,223 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: GNP, Yellowstone, and GTNP

I happen to love Salt Lake City and have driven many times between Salt Lake and the Tetons. But there are actually some pretty decent flights from North Carolina to Jackson, Wyoming, which would definitely save you time. I've also done a huge almost-circle from Salt Lake to Yellowstone to Glacier to Banff, Canada; then back south through Idaho and flying out of Boise. But we had 16 days for that, and I have family in Boise :) I've never taken any organized tours. There is a red bus tour that is famous in Glacier National Park on Going to the Sun Road. Here's a link if you'd like to look into that. That would probably be the only tour I'd consider. I prefer doing the traveling on my own.

glacierparkinc.com/TransportationRedBusTours…

It is glorious country with wide open skies and views that go on for miles. After you've done this trip, you'll never be the same! When you get a better idea of the time you have to spend and what your priorities might be, I'd be happy to share my opinions on the highlights.

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
Level Contributor
5,519 posts
62 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: GNP, Yellowstone, and GTNP

Dudley has already given you some very good advice. I have not been to Glacier, but you are going to be covering a lot of territory in a short time, and it would probably be good to fly in one area and out another if possible. Sometimes the rental car companies really charge higher fees for doing this. You might also consider flying into Jackson rather than SLC. It would shave off some time. You could fly out of Missoula or Kalispell. The smaller airports will charge higher prices, but it is really up to you how you much to spend. SLC is probably the cheapest option.

I second Dudley's advice on the Buckrail Lodge. This is a GREAT place!! Immaculate! The rates drop quite a bit after Labor Day also. Bubba's BBQ is a good restaurant in this area,and Jedediah's House of Sourdough was good for breakfast. We visited here 10 years ago, so hopefully these places are still great.

The Hidden Falls hike is great, but 10 years ago, the boat had shut down right after Labor Day. We still took the hike, but it wound up being 6 miles round trip. We started at 8 and ended around 1:30-2:00. We really took our time and enjoyed it. The nearly level trail takes you around Jenny Lake. It was gorgeous. Despite the length, the hike wasn't that difficult.

Yellowstone is large and you might have to pick out what you really want to see. If you haven't done so already, go to nps.gov and look at Yellowstone's portion of the site. It will give you an idea on what's there so you can pick out what interests you. Gardiner might be a good base for you since you are travelling to Glacier. Gardiner is about 8 hours from Glacier according to Mapquest. W Yellowstone is also a great base also filled with economical lodging. I can't speak for hotels in Gardiner since I haven't been there. W Yellowstone was our base and we really found it very convenient.

Hope this helps some. Have a great trip!

northwest Georgia
Level Contributor
844 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: GNP, Yellowstone, and GTNP

We did a similar trip in 2005. I agree with some of the others,

it's alot of ground to cover in 7 days! We had 10 days and this is

what we did:

flew to Salt Lake City, then flew to Idaho Falls. Drove all the way to

Kalispell (about 8 hr.). Next 2 days in Glacier--Going to the Sun

Road, fishing and a little hiking. On the 4th day, we drove all the

way to Yellowstone-- spent 4 nights here (2 at Canyon Village &

2 at Grant Village). Then, off to Grand Teton NP-- 3 nights at a Colter Bay cabin. We flew out of Jackson Hole. You need to make reservations 3-4 months advance.

Good luck on your itinerary and have a great trip!

Maryland
Level Contributor
1,188 posts
69 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: GNP, Yellowstone, and GTNP

You may also want to look at flying into SLC and out of Spokane, WA.

I'm planning a trip myself - heaven't been to the parks since '86! As far as tours in the park, I think the most tempting one I've seen is teh Red jammer bus in Glacier that goes along the Going to the Sun Road. glacierparkinc.com/downloads/RedBusBrochure.…

Raleigh, NC
Level Contributor
161 posts
32 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: GNP, Yellowstone, and GTNP

Thank you all for your advice. Here is our revised plan based on feedback. Flights booked. Working on lodging now. Any feedback appreciated.

Day 1: Fly into Salt Lake (arrive Noon) and drive to Jackson. Skip Flaming Gorge. If anyone has lodging recommendations in Jackson or things we should see along the way, let me know.

Day 2: Spend the day at Grand Teton and another night in Jackson. I will read the Grand Teton forums for the 'must dos' there.

Day 3: Drive up to Yellowstone and see some of it along the way. Stay in West Yellowstone.

Day 4: Yellowstone. Spend another night in West Yellowstone.

Day 5: Yellowstone. Either spend another night in West Yellowstone or start driving towards Glacier NP. Know of a good 1/2 point to spend the night?

Day 6: See some of Glacier NP. Spend the night (need recommendations for the area to stay near GNP)

Day 7: Glacier NP. Stay in the area.

Day 8: More of Glacier and then drive to Spokane, WA. Any suggestions on what to see on that trip? Spend the night in Spokane, and...

Day 9: Fly out of Spokane back to NC.

I took your advice and added a day and not driving back to SLC. Spokane was relatively close and the flights were very attractive ($).

Thanks in advance.

Maryland
Level Contributor
1,188 posts
69 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: GNP, Yellowstone, and GTNP

What is your budget for lodging? I have the Lonely Planet guide for Yellowstone / GTNP and the Moon Handbook guide for Glacier. Both have reasonably priced lodging recommendations.

Raleigh, NC
Level Contributor
161 posts
32 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: GNP, Yellowstone, and GTNP

$100 night per room is about our budget - or $175 or so for a bigger place that we can all stay.

Thinking about a cabin at Cowboy Village in Jackson (150/night).

In Yellowstone, West Yellowstone Inn looks good...again, cabins.

In Glacier, looking at Apgar Village Lodge, Silverwork Log Chalet, or Glacier Outdoor Center.

NJ
Level Contributor
34 posts
Save Reply
10. Re: GNP, Yellowstone, and GTNP

I'm doing a similiar trip in July, but going for 9 days. I'm flying from NJ to Jackson Hole and staying one night at the Painted Buffalo ($150 - cheapest I could find on late notice) . While at YNP for 4 nights, I will stay in Gardiner (Super 8 Motel for less than $100 using AAA discount. I actually enrolled in AAA b/c of the discounts for this trip). I'm eager to be close to the wildlife and was told this location was better for this purpose than West Yellowstone.

From there, I'll drive to East Glacier NPstaying at Swiftwater Cabins or Jacobsen's Cottages (probably the former) for 3 nights. The last night will be spent on the west side in Kalispell at another Super 8 or Motel 6. I'm flying out of Missoula on the last day (supposed to be a nice 2 hr drive from Kalispell).

I'm very excited about this trip -- sounds like you are, too. Enjoy!