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Best National Park - Yellowstone or Yosemite?

Perth, Australia
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Best National Park - Yellowstone or Yosemite?

My husband and I would like to spend time at a US national park next year. We've already been to Alberta and just love to look at mountains, lakes, waterfalls, forests and sunsets and fabulous scenery that we don't get here in Perth, Western Australia. We are keen photographers and like to take photos of scenery and local flora and fauna.

We will probably travel in spring/summer and are flexible with our travel arrangements.

Is anyone brave enough to suggest the best NP or parks for us to visit? We're thinking of spending a week or so around Yellowstone and GTNP but would like to know if there are other places we should consider.

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Green Valley...
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1. Re: Best National Park - Yellowstone or Yosemite?

How long will you be here and how long would you be interested in seeing other parks?

The YNP/GTNP complex provides far more wildlife, diverse scenery and geology (including but not limited to the geysers in Yellowstone).

I've been to both many times but given your interests in photography, scenery and flora and fauna, and the season, my strong suggestion would be for YNP/GTNP.

I'd not try to dissuade you from seeing any of them w/o good reason, but the good reasons for not choosing Yosemite include: the incredible, dense, crowding of the valley; while the remarkable falls will be full, the falls photography might be limited by the voluminous spray; and seasonal accessibility might be limited (you say spring/summer). If Yosemite, you certainly would want to go to the high country, e.g., Tuolumne Meadows, but it might be snowbound.

Given your interests, I recommend at least a week in the two parks, YNP/GTNP.

You need to make reservations for them now, at this website:

Official Lodging and Tour Vendor for Yellowstone National Park Call them at least once a day and monitor the website continuously, cancellations occur. Don't use other agencies, they charge a service fee and they have to contact Xanterra themselves which you can do for free. Lodging locations, costs, reservations, camping, things to do and much more are here.

http://www.travelyellowstone.com/

Some lodging hints for YNP, a huge park, the size not to be underestimated. So, with a week or so, consider splitting lodging locations. For example, options include lodging in: West Yellowstone, MT and Canyon or Lake; Old Faithful and Canyon or Lake; OF and Tower/Roosevelt or Gardiner or Mammoth.

The point is, try to lodge fairly close to the major points of interest and minimize your driving (you'll do a lot of worthwhile driving in YNP; GTNP is much smaller). Also, when driving at night, be aware that wildlife is hard to see. See the park map ("View Map" on the park website home page), to get an idea of what this split would mean.

Given your interest in photography and wildlife...

Wildlife viewing and photography, an article prepared by several TAs:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g60999-c96653/Yellows…

And a little but very practical humor...

Mistakes First Timers Make http://tinyurl.com/3tcd9uy

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Tuolumne Meadows
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Gardiner
Gardiner
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Chapel Hill, North...
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2. Re: Best National Park - Yellowstone or Yosemite?

If you can eek out another week you could make a quick trip through Utah, too. There is some amazing scenery there. We did a two week (16 days, Sat thru Sun) trip this summer that included 4 days in Yellowstone, 1 day in Grand Teton, 1.5 days in Arches (Moab UT), a drive-by of Monument Valley, AZ, 2 days in the Grand Canyon, 1 day in Page Az (float trip down the Colorado to the start of the Grand Canyon), 2 days in Zion (UT), and 1 day in Bryce (UT). There were several smaller parks we included, too. It was a bit whirlwind, but I really thought it went amazingly well for our family. Two weeks was about the right time for us, too.

Yosemite is beautiful and close to San Francisco so you can easily combine a visit to see both. It does get crowded though, partially because of its proximity to the metro region of SF. I wouldn't discourage anyone from visiting that area. It's amazing, but summer is the high season for all parks in the US.

Weather is very variable depending on where you go, though, so come prepared for anything. Yellowstone can be quite hot in the middle of the summer, but it's at a very high elevation and can experience snow in any month. I saw it snow on July 4th one year. It cools down a lot at night. I can't remember the opening dates for the park (May?), but if you go in the spring to Yellowstone or Grand Teton expect it to be quite cold and some roads will be closed because of snow.

Zion National Park in Utah is often compared to a little Yosemite. It has many similar rock formations and is really just stunningly beautiful. Yellowstone is very unique and amazing with the wildlife and the geysers, but I don't think the scenery (rock formations, mountains) are quite as beautiful as some other parks, however, portions of the park, esp the NE corner (Roosevelt) area are quite scenic and the Tetons are very close by and as beautiful as any mountains anywhere and do have beautiful forests and waterfalls. There are definitely many waterfalls in Yellowstone as well, but the forest is primarily lodgepole pine and to me gets a little samey after awhile, but I'm from the eastern US where we have magnificent oaks and many other deciduous trees. I only bring this up because I think people are occasionally disappointed in the scenic vistas in Yellowstone. The geysers and wildlife are really what make the place for me. Of course the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is fantastically beautiful.

The southern Utah parks, Zion, Bryce and especially Arches and Canyonlands are extremely hot in the summer. I am glad we went to Arches this summer (early July), but it was crazy hot so that we only went hiking in the morning and late afternoon/evening. The middle of the day was too hot to be out in the desert, really.

Of all the parks we went to Zion was really one of my favorites. I'd love to go back and hike more of the Narrows. I loved Yellowstone, too. I worked there for a portion of one summer after college so it feels like a second home to me. I'd love to go back to Yosemite, too. It's been about 15 years or so for me. Hard to choose just one. If you can extend your trip so you can hit several parks that's what I would do!

Good luck

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Julian, North...
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3. Re: Best National Park - Yellowstone or Yosemite?

If you want beautiful pics of fall colors,go to Paintbrush canyon in the Tetons!September is a great month to go.Also love Zion..must hike Angels Landing for wonderful pictures.

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Angel's Landing
Angel's Landing
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Charlotte, North...
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4. Re: Best National Park - Yellowstone or Yosemite?

It depends on your travel style. Yellowstone is a better choice for the visitor who will always be within about a one-two hour walk of the car. Most of the major sights are easily visited on short walks/hikes. There are enough of these hikes to ccupy 3 days, or many more days.

Yosemite offers stunning scenery and is very nice. The down side of Yosemite is that the easily visited areas are concentrated in the valley.The up side is that it is relatively close to San Francisco, Seqouyah (sp?) National Park, and other sights.

Either one will be a great trip and you will not choose wrong. I like Yellowstone a little better, but flying from Australia it is harder to get to.

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Connecticut
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5. Re: Best National Park - Yellowstone or Yosemite?

I love them both but Yellowstone, together with Grand Teton offer a much bigger variety of scenery. Try and visit when the in-park lodgings are open. Yellowstone has a much shorter season.

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Grand Teton
Grand Teton
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Grand Teton National Park, WY
Salt Lake City, Utah
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6. Re: Best National Park - Yellowstone or Yosemite?

That would be a hard choice if you are really limiting it to those two parks. Both of them are highly visited and will be crowded. Also neither one is like the canadian rockies at all, so if that is what you are looking for you'd be better off trying something else.

Timing will be a consideration. Yellowstone is not really visitable much before the middle of May. So when you say spring you really couldn't put Yellowstone in the running. The high country of Yosemite would also be most likely snowed in.

But if you are willing to put up with crowds, and come in the summer then I agree with the rest that Yellowstone (and definitely include the Tetons) would give you more variety, more wildlife, more interest than Yosemite.

AND, I really like panchopup's suggestion that you try the parks in Southern Utah. A different experience altogether.

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Utah
Utah
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Green Valley...
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7. Re: Best National Park - Yellowstone or Yosemite?

I agree re: the S. Utah Parks. Here is a helpful website:

www.utah.com/nationalparks/grandcircle.htm

Crowding is often in the eyes of the beholder. Yosemite Valley is densely crowded (think of a subway station going to/from work). OK, not that bad and the scenery is much better, but... even getting on the valley buses can require waiting in lines.

Unlike the small valley, crowding at Yellowstone occurs at a few locations (e.g., Old Faithful, Mammoth, the store and parking area on the road to Tower). But the traffic and visitors diminish if you visit the many sights early morning and late afternoon. And, given the size of the park, regardless of the hour and with the exceptions noted, the visitors are dispersed . And if concerned, walk/hike a trail.

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Utah
Utah
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Old Faithful
Old Faithful
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Yellowstone National Park, WY
Chicago's North...
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8. Re: Best National Park - Yellowstone or Yosemite?

tough call....both parks are truly awesome...

for you, logistically speaking, yosemite is easier to get to... it's about a 3-4 hour drive from SFO, traffic permitting... if you allow an extra week or two, you can also visit other nearby quality areas and parks such as lake tahoe, mt shasta, lava beds, lassen, sequoia, kings canyon, devils postpile as well as san fran itself..... you can also whitewater raft in the area.... the scenery in the sierras and southern cascades is breathtaking...

on the other hand, y-stone offers world class wildlife viewing, not to mention its unique thermal features, which i find totally fascinating.... other quality parks/areas within a day's drive is glacier/waterton, devils tower, black hills and of course, the tetons... also within reach is the badlands of south dakota.... besides the tetons, other stunning mountain vistas are near the northeast entrance along the beartooth mountains.... again, if you want to venture out to these other areas, you should add on another week or two to your trip... y-stone alone requires a week to do it right....

you probably have your sights set on these two parks, but you did ask if there are other areas to consider.... just throwing this out there, but consider looking into the Great Lakes region.... since i'm biased towards the Midwest/Great Lakes, i like to tell people the Lakes, especially Lake Superior and upper michigan is the best kept secret in the lower 48..... if you choose this route, allow a week+ for each lake to do it right.... when you see them for the first time, you 'll have a hard time believing they are NOT the ocean!! and, guaranteed, you won't see big and FRESH water like this in australia!

a bunch of links.....

www.great-lakes.net/tourism/circletour/

lake superior sights/sites:

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

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

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

michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/Details.aspx…

michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/Details.aspx…

http://www.uptravel.com/

http://www.exploringthenorth.com/

http://www.lakesuperiorphoto.com/

http://www.lakesuperior.com/

http://www.northshoreinfo.com/

www.ontarioparks.com/english/lakes.html

http://www.northofsuperior.org/

http://www.soolocks.com/index.phtml

http://www.agawacanyontourtrain.com/

lake michigan sights/sites:

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

http://www.sleepingbeardunes.com/

http://www.mackinacisland.org/

www.wisconsinhighways.org/other/lmct.html

www.michiganhighways.org/other/lmct.html

http://www.ssbadger.com/home.aspx

www.travelwisconsin.com/Door_County.aspx

http://www.beachtowns.org/

michigan.org/Things-to-Do/…

http://www.michiganwines.com/

lake huron sights/sites:

http://www.ontarioparks.com/english/kill.html

http://www.manitoulin-island.com/

http://www.island-queen.com/

http://www.brucepeninsula.org/

sorry for all the links, but it gives you a general idea of what the region is like....

i'm omitting the lower (and smallest) lakes of erie and ontario as they aren't quite up to the scenic calibre of the upper lakes, IMO.... the one exception is niagara falls.... the st lawrence river region is supposed to be very nice, but i've never been, so i can't comment.....

if you choose any of these 3 regions, you can't go wrong!!!!

and finally, from what i've heard, and from my own experience, a good time to visit these areas is mid to late june... reasons being, the weather is usually decent, but not too hot; the crowds are relatively lighter than the summer because some schools are still in session and the peak travel season doesn't really kick in till the 4th of july holiday (our independence day); and, prices tend to be a bit cheaper since it isn't quite the peak season yet...

have fun!

So Cal
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9. Re: Best National Park - Yellowstone or Yosemite?

I loved Yellowstone, but I'd put it well below Yosemite and Grand Teton as far as scenery goes. As for Yosemite valley being crowded - true, but as with every other national park I've visited, if you go half a mile from a trailhead the crowds start to dissipate. All the parks are going to be crowded, so I wouldn't let it be a deciding factor.

Yellowstone will definitely have a whole lot more wildlife to see than Yosemite, and the concentration of geysers is unique in the world.

Agree with the suggestions re including Utah parks, if you're able to swing more time (although I don't think Zion looks anything like Yosemite). Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Highway 12 - fantastically scenic.

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Grand Teton
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Utah
Utah
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Perth, Australia
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10. Re: Best National Park - Yellowstone or Yosemite?

Thanks everyone for all the advice and tips and especially for the links which I will now go and check out. I 'm sure we'll have a great time wherever we go. We love visiting the US!