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Review Our First Draft YSNP & GTNP

North Carolina
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Review Our First Draft YSNP & GTNP

EARLY PLANNING ADVICE NEEDED: (Mostly trying to reserve lodging immediately) (1) Does it look like all travel times are doable in relation to where we plan to stay? (2) Is trip over to Cody something we should include? (3) Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

MY EARLY PLANNING: Spent about 5 hours reading thru TA posts, virtual tourist forum, and have ordered Chapple's Yellowstone Treasures.

TRIP: Late July/Early August 2011. Traveling west for 1st time ever- consider this our 1 time shot, so hope to do it "right" but stay within our budget (although we hope to be so blown away that we plan return trips)

TRAVELERS: Family of 4 (12 & 16 yo's). Pretty early risers, travel during summer & spring breaks. Typical east coast destinations with only 1 previous family flight.

RELATED EXPERIENCE: We've visited Smoky Mountains twice enjoying hikes, waterfalls, tubing, rafting. Not ready for tent camping, but don't mind modest accommodations.

BUDGET: Trying to save a few bucks here & there to extend our stay as we are traveling on NC teacher's salary ;)

ITINERARY: (does not have specific YSNP routes planned yet)

Day 1: RDU to Salt Lake City (early research looks like it will save the family $600-800 vs. flying into airports nearer to park).

Drive to West Yellowstone via I-15 (stay the night if flight arrives in afternoon... possibly Idaho Falls if night arrival)

LODGE: Hotel outside YSNP

Day 2: Rise early & enjoy YSNP all day. LODGE: Lake Hotel Cabin

Day 3: Full day in YSNP. LODGE: Lake Hotel Cabin

Day 4: Use Beartooth HWY to travel to Cody in am. Enjoy BBHC & Nite Rodeo. (I'm sure kids will love this day, but not sure if we should use an entire day away from park). LODGE: Hotel in Cody

Day 5: Hit Buffalo Bill reservoir in am on way into East Entrance to visit missed YSNP areas. LODGE: Old Faithful area

Day 6: In am, visit OF & areas on way to South Entrance. make a evening float trip in GTNP. LODGE: Colter bay

Day 7: Am hikes in GTNP, drive to Jackson Hole for shops & dining. LODGE: Idaho Falls or closer to SLC

Day 8: On to SLC for departing flight

*1st & last days lodging/visits may change a bit once flight times are confirmed.

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Canyon Village Campground
Canyon Village Campground
#1 of 17 Speciality lodging in Yellowstone National Park
Roosevelt Lodge Cabins
Roosevelt Lodge Cabins
#2 of 17 Speciality lodging in Yellowstone National Park
Madison Campground
Madison Campground
#3 of 17 Speciality lodging in Yellowstone National Park
Englewood, Fl.
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1. Re: Review Our First Draft YSNP & GTNP

Glad to see that teacher has done her, or his, homework! Looks like a well thought out plan to me, and certainly doable within your time frame.

WARNING!

Once y'all experience The Greater Yellowstone Area, you probably won't be that excited about spending much time in the The Smokies anymore. That will enable you to plan that return trip to YNP............... ;-)

As for the itinerary that, > does not have specific,YSNP routes planned yet.< IMO, that is the best way to enjoy Yellowstone. The parks are best enjoyed at a relaxed pace, allowing everyone plenty of time to enjoy the experience. The main roadway inside YNP is called, "The Grand Loop. It is roughly in the shape of a figure "8", and everything is well signed. The days are long in late summer, and you should have enough time to cover all of the areas without rushing, so try to remain flexible and let the park, and it's inhabitants, dictate the daily pace.

A day driving the beartooth, even partially, and visiting Cody would make for an interesting experience. I have been over the beartooth pass into Red Lodge, and I've visited Cody, however I do not travel with kids who need to be entertained, so I really can not advise you there. Many folks feel that it is an absolute "must do", with or without kids. However only you can decide if it would be worth taking a day away from your National Park experience. If you were to skip Cody this time, you would have another reason to plan that return trip!

Enjoy your experience, no matter how the final plans work out!

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Atlanta, Georgia
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for Road Trips
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2. Re: Review Our First Draft YSNP & GTNP

Good work!! I know you will be hooked like us once you visit. Look at this website for must sees in YNP-

www.yellowstone.net/topten

Being a retired school teacher I love getting a great deal on airfare and car rental. If you life near an airport that has Southwest check them out. Also check deals on Frontier and Delta to SLC. We have flown both Southwest and Delta to SLC because we can either fly out of Birmingham or Atlanta. Start checking car rental rates next winter at www.carrentals.com if you know the week you are coming. I usually get great deals in Feb. for the summer months. Early June is a good time for wildlife babies and no heavy crowds but weather can be iffy. In 2007 it was warm and sunny but in 2008 it was cold, snowy and icy. We are coming this year at the end of August. Enjoy your trip planning.

Edited: 08 August 2010, 18:06
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Atlanta
Atlanta
Georgia
Santa Clarita...
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3. Re: Review Our First Draft YSNP & GTNP

You've got a great trip ahead of you, and your itinerary is excellent! Flying into SLC will save you a good bit of money. I prefer coming into Yellowstone through Jackson, though, not West Yellowstone; and going out the same way. There's more natural beauty to be seen, in my opinion.

You could spend a night at Jackson Lake Lodge if you have a late flight inbound. A bit pricey (maybe $225 for four), but if it's in the budget it will set you up for a nice drive into the Lake area in YP. Also, you'll love the Lake Hotel cabins - my wife and I always go for them.

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Jackson
Jackson
Jackson Hole, WY
Jackson Lake Lodge
Jackson Lake Lodge
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Grand Teton National Park, WY
Green Valley...
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4. Re: Review Our First Draft YSNP & GTNP

Sounds like a plan, well thought out.

Canyon is more central than Lake (which is nice, also) to the major sights. I'd use Lake as the fallback position.

My mantra, bring at least one good pair of binoculars, 8 x 42, and more if possible, everyone will be using them.

Bring cameras... again, plural if possible.

Some reading compiled from some TAs...

This too often understudied park website is jam packed with a lot of very good information and answers to many questions.

http://www.nps.gov/yell/

Official Lodging and Tour Vendor for Yellowstone National Park (Call them frequently, cancellations occur. Don't use other agencies, they charge a service fee and, in the end, they have to call Xanterra themselves, which you can do for free.) Locations, costs, lodging descriptions are all here.

http://www.travelyellowstone.com/

For wildlife viewing and photography:

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

Packing for your trip:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28973-c100586/Wyomin…

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Ennis MT
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for Yellowstone National Park, Ennis
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5. Re: Review Our First Draft YSNP & GTNP

Looks like a great plan - nice to see how much thought you've put into it.

I like your lodging choice of the Lake area (sorry voyaging :-)). It's only about 15 mi. south of Canyon - and a beautiful drive through Hayden Valley on the way. I prefer it because it's less congested than Canyon - and I also like the Lake views. But - that's personal preference. Either way, you'll have a wonderful trip.

BTW - I vote for keeping Cody in the itinerary too.

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Hayden Valley
Hayden Valley
860 Reviews
Yellowstone National Park, WY
Cody
Cody
Wyoming
North Carolina
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6. Re: Review Our First Draft YSNP & GTNP

Thanks for the informative replies! I try to do a lot of reading before bothering the fine experts at TA with my questioning. Adding your info to all my pages of notes & web bookmarks.

After 2nd call & re-reading various posts tonight, I reserved our YSNP lodging, very slightly different from my original post due to availability. I moved OF cabin up to day 2, and moved Lake cabin to Days 4 & 5, with day 3 lodging still in Cody. Big relief to have the basic itinerary & park lodging firmed up.

Next will be watching for airline & rental prices, as well as firming up accommodations in West Yellowstone, Cody, GTNP.

For future planners: after reviewing more airline pricing, actually think we'd save closer to $1000 flying into SLC (total for 4 tickets), making the extra hours of driving much easier to accept.

Q: Regarding rental vehicle, will full size vehicle be OK for the parks (1st week of August)?

heypaula, we are suckers for hanging out near lakes/rivers, especially in the evening so the canyon vs. lake argument was relatively...

Thanks Hawkeye, I'm a "his" ;)

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Green Valley...
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7. Re: Review Our First Draft YSNP & GTNP

Believe me, I too like Lake, and since I enjoy observing wildlife and spend hours at its viewpoints, any time of day, any ride through the Hayden Valley is a good ride. Centrality was my issue, not Lake itself.

Do stop and walk the boardwalks at Le Hardy's Rapids, just south of Mud Volcano, which is just at the south end of Hayden Valley.

At Lake, buy a beverage, sit on the deck, feet on the railing, relax. Perhaps see bear and bison from this vantage point. (The laundry room is on that level, so you can relax while clothes are getting done.)

I, also, vote for Cody. Glad it's included.

Full size car is fine. A SUV, however, depending on size might provide more room (especially for the kids and the cooler) and visibility for all passengers, so it would be my first choice, but you don't, as you know, need four wheel drive.

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Hayden Valley
Hayden Valley
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Yellowstone National Park, WY
Cody
Cody
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8. Re: Review Our First Draft YSNP & GTNP

We like a mid-size SUV and found it to offer more window views and room for kids, luggage and cooler.

Texas
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9. Re: Review Our First Draft YSNP & GTNP

Definitely Lake! It's so calm and Yellowstone-esque whereas Canyon is enormously congested and like being in a suburban shopping mall. Still very convenient too.

I know you said you just booked but how about Lake Lodge cabins instead of the Lake Hotel cabins - a couple of hundred yards away and the Lodge building itself is older, beautiful lobby for family cards etc, wonderful patio for hanging out looking over to the lake and the cafetieria has beautiful views over the lake too and seems more family friendly in terms of watching your $$ than the Lake Hotel options which I understand are expensive.

North Carolina
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10. Re: Review Our First Draft YSNP & GTNP

Sounds like SUV is the way to go then.

Just added Le Hardy's Rapids to our list!

Our 2 nights at the lake are Lake Lodge Cabins :).

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Lake Lodge Cabins
Lake Lodge Cabins
776 Reviews
Yellowstone National Park, WY