We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

First time to Yellowstone - Advice for a young family.

Dubuque, Iowa
3 posts
Save Topic
First time to Yellowstone - Advice for a young family.

Wow! Glad I found this forum. I have been getting a lot of information by reading the posts and now I am ready to get a little more customized information for the trip we are planning. Looking to be in Yellowstone the last week of July. In the planning stages but thinking at least 3 days in the park. 4 days is possible but 5 is pushing it. My wife and I have never been to Yellowstone (parents left me with relatives when they took my older siblings. Said I was too little ... whaaa). We are taking taking our 5 oldest kids (leaving the three year old with relatives ... sorry). Kids are ages 15, 13, 11, 9, 7. The 13 and 11 year olds are boys. Now, what do we want to do. After reading some of the posts here I have some ideas but need to know if I am on the right track. Also, very open to suggestions. 1. Geothermal. Will that take a whole day? 2. See some (or one) great waterfall(s). 3. Wildlife is a given, more the better. Sounds like Hayden or Laman Vally areas are great. In the time we have is it feasible to do both or should we focus on one? If just one, which? 4. Might tent camp for one night. Don't need facilities and would like to be fairly isolated. Near a stream or a brook would be cool. What is recommended. 5. Intrested in any one day hiking that is highly recommended. However, our 7 year old has a limp (due to a stroke at birth) and would be limited by distance and if the terrain is too rocky. 6. One post mentioned Teatons as having "Sound of Music" scenery. If we added a day to the trip would it be enough time to drop down to see? 7. Any family freindly sites that are a must see!! 8. We will be driving from Iowa. Taking two days to drive out and two days to drive back. Coming in through Cody looks like the most direct route, however, if accommodations (hotels with pool) are North or South and we should come from a different direction, I'm open to that. 9. I'm sure I can find a hotel online but if there are any with a pool, whirlpool, and free breakfast that you reccommend, let me know. (Also, any I should stay away from?). I think that is it. Maybe too much detail but I need lots of advice to makre this trip as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Thanks in advance!!!

AKJ
Bruceton Mills...
Level Contributor
2,526 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: First time to Yellowstone - Advice for a young family.

I'll take a crack at a couple of these.

Here's some sample itineraries we put together. You don't need to follow but they should give you an idea of what you can do in a day or two.

www.alandsuejohnson.com/ynp_itineraries.htm

Push it and go for 5 days. You won't be sorry.

The Tetons are worth a day trip or more. Here's a link to a story from our visit last June and several pictures.

www.alandsuejohnson.com/grand_tetons_2008.htm

Wildlife is where you find it. Lamar and Hayden Valleys are the main aras. In July, you need to be in those areas near dawn or you may not see all you could. That's easy to do from Canyon but not from Old Faiithful Inn.

How far can your son go?

To find the kind of accomodations you describe, you'd need to stay outside the park. I always recommend staying in the park to be near the action. www.travelyellowstone.com is where you make reservations. This late, you'll need to call their 800 number too.

For nicer places to stay, you can stay in West Yellowstone, MT or Gardiner, MT. Cooke City would be a choice but they don't have a lot of options. Here's a link to a map that tries to show estimated driving times.

alandsuejohnson.com/yellowstone_map_pics/yel…

Its a long drive from West Yellowstone to the east side of the park.

Bemidji, Minnesota
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
2,664 posts
18 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: First time to Yellowstone - Advice for a young family.

I'll take a stab at answering your questions.

1. Geothermal, yes it will take all day and all the next if you want to see all of it. We spent about a 12 hour day in the Old Faithful area. Note that there is much more to see there than just Old Faithful and I feel that the area from Lone Star Geyser just south of Old Faithful to Madison Junction to all be Old Faithful area. Then there is the Norris Geyser Basin to the north of Madison Junction, and West Thumb near Grant Village on the west side of Yellowstone Lake.

2. In the Canyon area you will get to see both the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River. On the west side you can hike to the brink of the lower falls. On the east side, Uncle Tom's Trail gets you lower on the downstream side. Between Madison Junction and the Norris Basin you can see Gibbon Falls right from the road. There are lots of waterfalls in Yellowstone.

3. Animals abound in the park. If you don't see some, you have your eyes closed. Hayden or Lamar Valleys are great for looking as they are open. We saw bison and elk near Old Faithful, grizzly bears on Dunraven Pass north of Canyon, a wolf and antelope (and more bison, they were everywhere) in the Lamar Valley, bighorn sheep on the hike up Mt. Washburn, etc.

4. Being young (55 is still young, isn't it?) we tent camped every night. Our first night was at Bridge Bay (because that was how far we got) and the rest were at Madison. There are a few campgrounds that take reservations (not on the website, you have to call to reserve). We liked the location of Madison for the access to the Old Faithful area and the fact that it was alongside the Madison River was a plus. It wasn't isolated but they separate the tents from the RV's.

5. Lone Star Geyser is about 3 miles each way, but the path is paved and nearly level. Bring a bike along, this is also a bike path. Try to find out the expected eruption time and be there ahead of it. Artist Paint Pots trail is not long or difficult and your 7 year old might really enjoy the colors and the big bubbles the plop when they break. There are lots more.

6. Yes the Tetons are spectacular. Instead of taking a day to drive down and back up, do the Tetons on your way home. It won't add much to your travel distance or time and you will appreciate not having to drive back to Yellowstone at the end of the day. You can camp there or stay in a lodge in the park or motel it in Jackson or east of Moran Juncion in the town of Dubois.

7. Family friendly sites? To many to mention. Better plan on 2 months or more for this trip.

8. If you "need" a hotel with pool, it will have to be outside the park. West Yellowstone is probably your best bet with Gardiner a close second. I'd stick to the route through Cody.

9. We almost always stay in a tent while we are visiting the park so I'm just not the one to ask. We did stay at the Alpine Motel in Cooke City on our way home, but it didn't have all the amenities you asked for.

Illinois
Level Contributor
1,413 posts
253 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: First time to Yellowstone - Advice for a young family.

You've gotten loads of good advice already so I'm not going to add too much. I will agree that push it to 5 days if at all possible-you won't regret it. The park is spectacular--every inch of it. Also a good idea to possibly hit the Tetons on your way out. They are beautiful, and worth seeing. However, I like YNP so much more and we're skipping the Tetons this trip. If you take the 5 days, try to see them. If you only have 3 or 4 days and have to cut something, that is what I would cut out. Just my opinion.

My favorite YNP hiking guide is Hiking Yellowstone National Park by Bill Schneider. You should be able to find many appropriate hikes in this, or other similar books.

I have never stayed outside of the park so can't help you there, but if you rely on the reviews on TA you should find a good match for your family. Happy planning!

Dubuque, Iowa
3 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: First time to Yellowstone - Advice for a young family.

Thanks for the information and all the great links!

Dubuque, Iowa
3 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: First time to Yellowstone - Advice for a young family.

Wow! Thank you for the detailed reply. Great information and very helpful.

Ennis MT
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Ennis
Level Contributor
2,849 posts
34 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: First time to Yellowstone - Advice for a young family.

Just one more suggestion.

If you haven't already checked it out, take a look at this link for your kids: http://www.nps.gov/yell/forkids/index.htm

The Junior Ranger and Young Scientist programs are great - and the link also has some "pre-visit" online info and activities.

Have a great trip!

chicago
Level Contributor
222 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: First time to Yellowstone - Advice for a young family.

1. Yep. Geothermal can take a whole day. Explore the road from Grant to Madison. It's spectacular.

2.There are lots of great waterfalls! Of course, the biggest is uppper and lower Yellowstone falls. Very impressive. Get there early to avoid the crowds.

3. AS far as wildlife, you can see it anywhere in the park, but people tend to focus on Lamar and Hayden valleys, in the eastern part of the park. I always tend to see lots of elk around Norris in July. Bison are all over. Bring a pair of binoculars to help assit your wildlife viewing.

4. As far as tent camping near a stream or a brook inside the park, there are a few choices. The cleanest resource I have seen for Yellowstone campgrounds:

parkcamper.com/Yellowstone-National-Park/Yel…

I think Pebble Creek campground fits your requirements very well. There is a walk in tent area right next to little Pebble Creek in a nice little canyon. This is also close to the Lamar Valley and the Beartooth Pass area.

5. A neat, quick hike that your youngster might be able to do is the Trout Lake hike, which is near Pebble Creek campground. It's failry steep but not really rocky. It takes you to a verdant lake area with otters.

6. Yes, Grand Teton does offer "sound of music" scenery. This comment refers to "in the mountains" alpine splendor. This is obtained by road in the Cooke City area at the NE entrance to Yellowstone(very beautiful), Beartooth Highway, and Grand Teton National Park. You can climb and hike in Yellowstone to get itno the mountains and obtain this, but they are long hikes (Gallatin Range in the NE corner of the park). You can definitely do Grand Teton in day, but make sure you leave Yellowstone early. While GRand Teton is only six miles south of Yellowstone, it's a long way through the remote southern part of Yellowstone to get to it. The drive is beautiful though. Really. Make sure you take the Teton Park Road and head South to Jenny Lake. You will be simply blown away by the majesty of the scenery.

7. Almost everything there is family friendly.

Wisconsin
Level Contributor
1,084 posts
206 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: First time to Yellowstone - Advice for a young family.

We did this trip in 2007 with our 3 kids; 5, 2, and 1. And just as a note, your 3 year old would love it. If you are leaving him behind because you think he wouldn't like it, you are wrong. Our 2 year old loved it (he was almost 3) and talks about it all the time. He wants to go back to Yellowstone this year instead of going to Disney! Even our 1 year old loved it. She doesn't remember it, but she was in awe when we were there and was always looking and babbling and very excited.

So here we go with the questions:

1, 2, and 3. It is hard to do this all in one day without wasting all your time driving. We did sections of the loop at a time. We did geothermals and hikes mixed into one so we didn't have to backtrack. You will see wildlife all over the place while you drive. We went the last week of July as well and saw a lot of wildlife. We didn't spend a lot of time viewing wildlife. The kids thought the buffalo were neat (but they had seen so many in the badlands). We have bear, wolves, and deer here so we didn't want to waste our time looking. Plus my husband would get an urge for hunting! :) So I can't help you with that.

4. We stayed in a hotel the whole time in Gardiner.

5. We did all of Yellowstone we could do in 2 1/2 days. We were limited to hikes no longer than 3/4 miles with the ages of our children. We did most hikes that had senic places within the first 3/4 mile. We stopped at all the stops along the way and did most trails. There are also a lot of things to see that are just off the road.

6.I would stay here one night if possible.

7. All are family friendly. I must say Old Faithful is our least favorite as it is crowded and really touristy.

8 and 9. We stayed in Cody on our way out as well. We stayed in the Best Western Sunset Motor Inn. It was very nice. It had an indoor and outdoor pool. The breakfast was very good as well. Not the usual cereal and donuts.

Have a great time!

9. Re: First time to Yellowstone - Advice for a young family.

-:- 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.

Removed on: 15 October 2009, 20:20