It’s a little late in the year for this review, but it may help someone planning for August next year. I planned this trip to GTNP and Yellowstone for a year and am sure this trip report will take almost as long to read. This was a family vacation for two parents, a 10 year old girl and 13 year old boy and was our first national park vacation. My daughter knew this was going to be the "worst trip ever." She didn’t want to go, doesn’t like hiking, gets car sick and "we know this, so she is just going to complain the whole time and make us miserable." Turned out to be an amazing family vacation, not the worst ever. Saw lots of great wildlife, amazing views and had some exciting adventures along the way. Glad I planned as much as I did, so I could easily adjust our itinerary when needed. Also glad kids were 10 and 13, so they could handle the long days, odd mealtimes and safety issues. We used the 4th grader's “Every Kid in a Park” Pass for free entry to both parks.
We liked our mix of in park and outside park lodging. Great to be in park to beat the crowds to areas like Old Faithful and Canyon. Gardiner is a fantastic base for Lamar, Tower, Mammoth. More to do in this area than we expected. Preferred the feel of Gardiner to W. Yellowstone.
We were there in peak summer, but did not feel crowded except in Canyon and around Grand Prismatic. No real problems with traffic or parking. We saw lots of wildlife, had some great adventures and nice hiking. We enjoyed Beaver Ponds, Storm Point and Yellowstone River Picnic Area the most. (Also Taggart Lake in GTNP.) I wish we had been able to take longer rest breaks on our hikes to really soak it in, but there was so much to do in a short time, even with 10 days. Also wish we had been able to do Avalanche Peak, Mt. Washburn and Lonestar (next time…)
Thursday, Aug 3 – Fly to SLC from RDU and rent car. We drove the scenic route (89) through Logan, UT, around Bear Lake to Montpelier, ID and through the Star Valley. First time for the kids in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. Stayed at Kodiak Mt. Resort in Afton, WY. Beautiful drive out of Logan. Wish we had had more time to stop along the way at the various pullouts, but were trying to get to hotel by dark. Smoke from wildfires made the Bear Lake Overlook hazy, but we were able to catch the tail send of the Raspberry Days Festival – and had delicious fresh picked raspberries. Open Range Loose Stock Road signs through the national forest were a surprise! Kodiak Mt. Resort is new with 2 queen beds in cabins. Food truck, campfire, fireplaces in room and staff on hover boards. Very nice place.