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Trip Outline for Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons NPs

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Trip Outline for Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons NPs

Hi. We are planning a trip to Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons National Parks for next summer. Our trip will be for about 14 days sometime between late July and late August. It will be my husband, our little girl who will be 10-years old next summer, and myself.

We want to enjoy nature, see the sheer beauty of the areas, see wildlife, and do some hiking. We don't mind drives and love to get off the beaten path.

We have a general trip outline at this point. Any ideas, feedback, or suggestions on our plans would be greatly appreciated!

Here's our plan:

Day 1 - fly from NC, into Jackson Hole, WY

Get rental car and stay in Jackson Hole for 2 nights.

Day 2 - Grand Tetons NP

Maybe do a float trip on Snake River.

Day 3 - Drive to Yellowstone NP.

Enter in South Entrance and drive to West Yellowstone.

Stay in West Yellowstone, maybe at Old Faithful Inn.

Stay for 3 nights.

For the next 2 days, see Old Faithful, West Thumb Geyser Basin, Upper Geyser Basin.

Day 4 - West Yellowstone area

Day 5 - West Yellowstone area

Day 6 - Drive to Canyon area in Yellowstone.

Stay in Canyon area for 3 nights.

See Hayden Valley, Artist Point, Inspiration Point, and Fishing Bridge area.

Day 7 - Canyon area

Day 8 - Canyon area

Day 9 - Leave Yellowstone via North Entrance and see Mammoth Hot Springs on way out.

Drive to Glacier NP.

Arrive in Glacier NP and stay on East side in the St. Mary and Many Glacier area for 3 nights.

Day 10 - Glacier NP

Explore St. Mary, Many Glacier area. See Swiftcurrent, Josephine, and Grinnel Lakes.

Day 11 - Glacier NP

Explore St. Mary, Many Glacier area.

Day 12 - Drive Going to the Sun Road to West Glacier.

Stop at Logan Pass and hike to Hidden Lake overlook.

Stay in West Glacier - Lake McDonald or Apgar Village area.

Stay 2 nights.

Day 13 - Glacier NP

Explore West Glacier area.

Day 14 - Drive to Kalispell, MT, turn in rental car, and fly back to NC.

Thank you very much for taking a look!

Bemidji, Minnesota
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for Yellowstone National Park
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1. Re: Trip Outline for Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons NPs

From my recollection of the area your itinerary looks pretty good but don't feel compelled to follow it exactly. Things change throughout the season and you may want to change (or be forced to change) if a forest fire should break out near you and visibility gets bad. Animals happen. You never know when the "once in a lifetime" photo opportunity will happen so keep your eyes open (not just on the road either, small openings can house a big bull elk) and your camera ready. Remember that speed kills, not just literally but it also kills opportunities for pictures. Backtracking is never bad in these western parks either. The other side of a tree may be where a bear is sleeping off his meal.

If you are physically able, take time to hike some of the trails. Remember the rule of 1000. If you get 1000 feet from the parking lot you will see 1 /1000 of the people.

In Glacier, if you want a parking space at Logan Pass you need to be there before 10 AM. Otherwise you should plan to take the (free) shuttle because it always has a space to park there. Wear decent shoes. The hidden lake trail is usually over a snowfield and you don't want cold, wet feet. While there, also consider the Highline trail. You may only go a little way and turn back but it is still a good one to try.

If you have the time you might want to drive into the Two Medicine area as it is off the beaten path and also has some great trails.

Louisville, Kentucky
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2. Re: Trip Outline for Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons NPs

Your trip sound awesome and you are smart to plan so far ahead of time. For Glacier, you need to go ahead and make reservations for next year if you have not done so already, especially in the Many Glacier/St. Mary area. I would recommend staying at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn in Many Glacier, and then hang out at the Many Glacier Hotel at night for spectacular scenery.

If you're looking for some easy, scenic hikes, the hike around Swiftcurrent Lake is spectacular and a great chance to see moose:


Take the hike to Redrock Falls and take the side trail to Fishercap Lake along the way, especially in the early morning, you have a great chance to see moose:


Take the advice of the above post at Hidden Lake Overlook/Logan Pass. The parking lot fills up very early! Personally, I would rather take my own car than spend time waiting for the shuttle.

On the west side of the park, be sure to hike the Trail of the Cedars, a very easy hike on a raised boardwalk with huge western hemlocks. Also included is Avalanche Gorge which is spectacular.


Glacier offers ranger led hikes for some of the most popular hikes to Iceberg Lake, Grinnell Glacier and Dawson Pass. Not sure what level of hiking you are able to do with your daughter, but here's the park guide which will give you an idea of teh hikes:



Atlanta, Georgia
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3. Re: Trip Outline for Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons NPs

Great advice and yes be sure and make reservations in the park for next year. I did not do a lot of planning (like I've done for Yellowstone) and waited until a couple of months before our trip to try to get in park lodging. Needless to say they were booked so we stayed outside the park in Kalispell. We enjoyed our trip even with all the driving.

Before you make airfare please check one way car rental rates- they can be very expensive!!!!

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
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4. Re: Trip Outline for Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons NPs

Good plan, but I would try to add 2 more days to the trip if possible. Also check car drop off fees between Jackson and Kalispell, if they are too high, then look at flying roundtrip into Billings and doing a big circle.

I would consider adding another day and night to Jackson and the Tetons. Just spectacular! That would give you time to do some hikes and a float trip and even horseback riding!!

I think 2 nights in Old Faithful area, 2 nights in Canyon and 1 or 2 nights in Roosevelt (for Lamar Valley early and late) might be an options, plus will make the drive to Glacier a bit shorter.

Also consider making the drive from YS to Glacier over 2 days, then you can stop to see more of Montana. Helena is a fun small city and there are plenty of places to see along the way. I also like the Bozeman area with lots of historic and scenic places. Lewis and Clark Caverns, Headwaters of the Missouri River, Madison Buffalo Jump and more.

Check out some of the Montana State Parks for other interesting places to visit. http://stateparks.mt.gov/

western WA
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5. Re: Trip Outline for Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons NPs

The Yellowstone part of your trip could use some fine tuning. You have lots of days, but are spending too much time in any one place.

You might want to post this on the Wyoming forum where the real DE's for YNP hang out. There are some here, too.

I would go from Jackson to Lake. Do you want to go to Cody or the Beartooth Highway? I think it is worth it. If so, head from Lake to Cody and spend a night there. The next day, drive to Red Lodge via Belfry and Bear Creek late in the afternoon after exploring Cody, and spend a night there. Cross Beartooth Pass the following morning. From there, you'll be in the Lamar Valley. Overnight at Mammoth.

Spend the next night at Canyon. It is ok to double back from Norris Geyser Basin -- you will miss going over Dunraven Pass at Mt. Washburn which is time consuming. Have a buffalo burger in the main dining room -- delicious! We were just there. Canyon is amazing and takes some time to explore. Drive to Old Faithful at the end of the day and stay at the Inn. I like the northwest end of the old original Inn because it is furthest from all the people.

Spend a day walking and exploring Old Faithful and the new Visitors Center. Midafternoon, start heading out to West Yellowstone. Stop at the geyser basins and Firehole Lake/river locations along the way. There really isn't a reason to spend several days in West Yellowstone as you indicated on your plan. Driving in the park is often slow and delayed due to animals or roadwork, so having a base camp does not work.

The next morning, head to Glacier and points north. I think that is six nights in YNP. You could add more by spending an extra day in Canyon and taking a day trip up to Tower, or an extra day or two anywhere to do more hiking.

There are Junior Ranger programs at all the parks. Your daughter is the perfect age and will enjoy them a lot. Make sure she has a camera she can use to take pictures and movies of the animals and things you'll see. There are souvenir shops everywhere, so plan ahead. I found the souvenirs cost less in the General Stores. They also have locally made ice cream (Wilcoxsons) which became our "souvenir" when we made a stop. When you're in Jackson, stop and stock up at a grocery store for road snacks, hiking snacks and bottled drinks. There's plenty of water in Yellowstone, but anything extra will be expensive.

We swam in the Firehole river this summer. If you want to do that, my advice is to get there by 9:30am. It gets crowded pretty fast after that.

Atlanta, Georgia
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6. Re: Trip Outline for Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons NPs

A super plan for sure.. If you wish to stay in Old Faithful Inn you better book ASAP. You may wish to shorten your stay in Yellowstone as 8 days might be much. It isn't that bad to see the soith loop in 1 or two days..and the northern loop in another tw1 or two. that's for sightseeing. If you get involved in hiking you may need additional time. Then devote some time to Montana on way to Glacier. Perhaps an overnite in Missoul and watch kayakers at Brennan's wave and ride the antique carousel. I agree with other posters on your stay in Glacier and their hiking trail advice.. especially Avalanche Creek. Nice reward view at teh end of the trail.

We wanted to stay in Swiftcurrent and many Glacier area.. and in McDonalds Lake area but were shut out ( all booked). We ended up in Columbia Falls.. (it was fine but entailed a 20 minute drive to West Glacier entry every day.)

To stay in either park make reservation and plans as early as possible. As far as drop off fees on car.. Consider Bozeman. Not too bad a drive to Yellowstone on arrival. Not too bad a drive (if you leave early) from Glacier.

Wish I was going back.

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7. Re: Trip Outline for Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons NPs

You guys are so helpful! Thank you to RM-MN, lahord59, PeachBelle, CasaAzul, ainwa, and steverinoh for all the helpful tips, insight, and ideas for fine tuning our trip. We've printed off your suggestions and will use your ideas as we continue planning.

We don't mind getting off the beaten path and exploring. Love the rule of 1000!

We truly appreciate you all taking the time to write.

8. Re: Trip Outline for Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons NPs

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