It is about 100 miles from the airport to West Yellowstone. Plan on 1 1/2 to 2 hours if you make any stops.
As far has hikes and wildlife....what time of the year are you coming and how much time will you be spending in the area? Are you based in West Yellowstone for the entire trip?
DebEdited: 05 February 2012, 15:52
We will be coming June 21, 2012, we will be here a week and will be staying in West Yellowstone for the week.
Perfect time : )
If you haven't already gone to the National Park Service's website for Yellowstone National Park please do so. It is an excellent planning tool and has a map that will help you figure out the layout for the park. The park is huge and speed limit is 45 mph with many sections posted at a lower speed limit. You will also be slowed down by traffic and animal jams. A good rule of thumb for the time it takes to get from one point to the next is to double the miles and that is how many minutes to plan on. Of course time will be added if there is a lot of traffic on the roads or if there is a herd of bison on the road or bears near the road.
Wildlife- Hayden Valley, Dunraven Pass and Lamar Valley (all on the east side of the park probably offer the best chance of seeing grizzly bears with and without cubs. I have also seen a lot of grizzly bears between Norris and Mammoth. Another key area for grizzly bears in June is east of Fishing Bridge by Sedge Bay. Wolves are active in Hayden and Lamar Valley in June. I have always had better luck of seeing wolves closer to the road in Hayden Valley than in Lamar. There will be people at pullouts with spotting scopes watching wolf packs. Most are very generous with letting you look through their scopes so don't hesitate to ask.
Black bears are more concentrated around the Tower/Roosevelt area. You will see bison everywhere but especially in Lamar and Hayden Valley. Elk at that time of the year will be more concentrated around the Madison River (coming in from West Yellowstone) and up by Mammoth. There are usually two nesting Bald Eagles on the Madison River.
While you will be able to see wildlife anytime during the day, your chances increase dramatically early in the morning so plan on getting up and on the road before sunrise a couple of the days especially to get over to Hayden and Lamar Valley. They will be quite the drive from West Yellowstone but doable. Your trip will be during the longest days so you should be ok with getting back to West Yellowstone before dark. If you do have to drive in the dark please be sure to drive slowly and be constantly on the lookout for animals on the road. Bison are very dark and do not show up well in the headlights of cars. They are huge so will cause a lot of damage to your vehicle if you hit one.
Hikes: what length of hikes and level of hikes are you interested in? There are many that I can suggest but I need to know what you're comfortable with.
The national park website has information on day hikes but it's buried deep and I had trouble finding it the first couple times I looked over their website. This is where you look for info about the day hikes.
You also might want to buy a book called Day Hikes in Yellowstone. It's a good book, gives the level of difficulty. It also talks about safety in the park. Safety as in bears and getting lost. There a popular hikes and well traveled hikes into some of the backcountry.
Thank-you for all your help?
The length of hikes we are looking for is 1 to 2 hour or 3 hour hikes at a time. I have read it is unsafe to hike alone. Any information on this? How far is it to Hayden and Lamar Valley from from West Yellowstone.
If you go to the link I provided and click on the link you will see a button that says "Map" at the top. Click on that and you will see a map of the Grand Loop of Yellowstone Park. The roads basically form a figure 8. It will have miles listed for each section of road.
The book cited by montanamom above "Day Hikes in Yellowstone National Park" by Robert Stone is a good general hiking book for the park. I've used it a lot. My recommendations for short hikes 1-3 hours long and ones that have a good chance of having a good amount of other people on the trail at the same time are:
Around Old Faithful:
Fairy Falls (you can also climb a steep hill to get an awesome view/ picture of Grand Prismatic Spring from this hike, Mystic Falls, Observation Point (great observation point for seeing Old Faithful erupt from above).
From Mammoth to Tower/Roosevelt Junction:
Wraith Falls (very short), Hellroaring Supsension Bridge (steep switchbacks down and of course back up but really cool hike), Yellowstone Picnic Area to the end of the ridge where you can look across to Tower Falls,
Trout Lake (if the trout are running during the time you are there you will probably see otters having a fantastic buffet feast).
Yellowstone Lake area:
Elephant Back Loop (steep switchbacks at beginning but awesome views of the lake at the top)
There are lots of trails along side the canyon on both sides that are great. Uncle Tom's Trail is a series of switchbacks and metal stairs that take you to down into the canyon for a fantastic view of the lower falls.
There are some other hikes that are really great but they're not as well-traveled so without a bigger hiking group I wouldn't recommend them to you.
It is recommended to have bear spray and not hike solo. My grandson (13) and I hike by ourselves but we each have a can of bear spray on us and we constantly are on "bear aware" status. The only reason we have two cans is we do a lot of hiking in the Beartooths and other mountains around the park. If you decided not to buy a can of bear spray try pick very popular trails and hike with or near other groups of hikers. Always scan your surroundings....not only for bears but for other animals and scenery that you would miss otherwise. If you are going through or around a blind area make some noise by clapping your hands or by saying "hey" loudly.
That being said,I see more bears and closer bears right off the roads and in campgrounds than on trails in Yellowstone. In all of our hiking we've done the closest I've seen a grizzly bear while on a hike is about 1/4 mile away. I have seen older bear scat and tracks on hikes in Yellowstone though. We've had grizzly bears come within 75- 100 feet from our tent and I've had grizzlies come within 5 feet of my vehicle alongside the road.
When you get closer to your trip send me a private message. My grandson and I always make a 5 day camping trip around the 3rd week of June so we might be in the park when you are. If we are and you want to we can try to figure out a way to meet and you can go on a hike with us.
DebEdited: 06 February 2012, 02:30
-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-
This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.
To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html
We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.