On the spur of the moment I, for some reason, thought flying into Jackson and leaving out of Kalispell within a 9 day time frame would be a good idea. I scored a cheap flight and a great 1 way rental back in the winter from Alamo. We are scheduled for July 9th - 17th and I am officially thinking "what was I thinking?" at this point! I need help to make the most of this. I am in my 30s but my parents will be with me and they are in their late 60s. Still pretty mobile but not huge hikers at all.
So I am looking for advice on a few things so I will quickly share my itinerary to see if anyone can help:
Day 1: Fly into Jackson, stay at Ranch Inn and see the "square", dinner, million dollar cowboy bar, etc
Day 2: Leaver early for the south entrance to Yellowstone, along the way stop and see the major vistas for the Grand Tetons, see mormon row, the sch landing etc - lunch at snake river lodge or somewhere along the way (approx 3 hrs), drive through south yellowstone entrance, see west thumb basin, a few stops along the lower basin, and then end up at the OFI. Take a tour of the inn if there is time or just spend the evening seeing the new visitors center. Overnight at the OFI (reserv confirmed)
Day 3: Breakfast at Snow lodge, see the lower basin and upper geyser basins on the west side. Overnight at OFI
Day 4: Drive through the canyon area, up through roosevelt area to mammoth. Overnight in Gardiner at Best Western.
Day 6: Up early to tour the Cathedral in Helena and take the Last Chance train trolley tour at 11. Quick lunch in Helena and then drive the 3+ hours to East Glacier Park. Overnight at the Brown House in East Glacier.
Day 7: Up early to head toward Many Glacier area. I have scheduled a red bus evening tour at 3:30, but I can't decide if we should leave it off this day and just take a boat tour and quick hike? We check in at Many Glacier hotel at 4 pm.
Day 8: Leave for the GTTSR, drive ourselves to the Logan Pass area, do the quick hike there on the boardwalk, then head towards Lake McDonald. Leave out through the GTTSR west entrance and spend the night in Kalispell at La Quinta Inn. OR if we do not do the red bus tour the evening before we could move it to this day and do the 4 hr one that leaves at 10:30 from Rising Sun area. Although I don't think that would leave us much time for the Logan Pass area.
Day 9: Flight leaves Kalispell/FCA at 2 pm.
OR would any of you suggest that we stay overnight on Day 4 in West Yellowstone instead of the Gardiner area (I just thought it looked like a beautiful route to Glacier going this way via I90) and then head up through Virigina City/ Nevada City or Bannack and end up in Helena via 287? We could leave off the museum in Bozeman and the mineral museum in Butte. My dad just likes rocks and I thought that would be a neat stop to break up the long drive. Suggestions on the best way to get to Glacier would be appreciated. I don't want to waste driving time just to see the Gardiner/Livingston/Bozeman area if it really isn't as great as going up through Virigina City.
I know this is long, I hope one of you will be kind enough to spend your time reading it and gving me a few pointers.