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Mammoth or West Yellowstone on way into YNP??

Los Angeles, CA
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142 posts
13 reviews
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Mammoth or West Yellowstone on way into YNP??

Hello everyone,

I'm torn on whether to stay one night in Mammoth or West Yellowstone, and I'm hoping you guys will weigh in with your opinions.

In Sept 2011, we will be in Glacier National Park for 4 days, and then will drive down to YNP on the 5th day. That day will obviously be a long day of driving (around 7 hours). As we get closer to YNP, we will need to spend the night in either West Yellowstone or Mammoth Hot Springs. I have ruled out going further into the park, as I feel we will be exhausted from a long day of driving. I also have ruled out Gardiner, as I read the TA hotel reviews and didn't feel any of the hotels were worth the price.

I like Mammoth because we will be there in the 2nd week of September, and feel that the elk will be worth spending a night there. Perhaps we will get to hear some bugling? Since we arrive that evening, we would have a chance to see the elk that evening and then again the early morning before heading out to explore the park. We would be looking at a cabin with bath.

In West Yellowstone, I already have a reservation at the Alpine. What I liked about West Yellowstone is being able to get a non-Xanterra dinner, and a break from National Park lodging before heading into the park for several nights.

For either Mammoth or West Yellowstone, we are planning on waking up early the next morning and begin exploring, so we won't be spending any significant time at either location.

In case this makes a difference, the following is our itinerary

Day 1-4: Glacier

Day 5: Drive from Glacier to YNP

Day 6: sleep at Old Faithful

Day 7-8: Canyon

Day 9: fly home out of Bozeman

There is only my boyfriend and I, and we are mid 30s, no kids.

Does anyone feel strongly about either option?

Thanks!

Mentioned in this post
Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs
1,648 Reviews
Yellowstone National Park, WY
Alpine
Alpine
Wyoming
Old Faithful
Old Faithful
3,928 Reviews
Yellowstone National Park, WY
Mount Washburn
Mountains, National Parks
Gibbon Falls
Geologic Formations, National Parks, Nature & Wildlife Areas, Waterfalls
Aurum Geyser
Geologic Formations, Hot Springs & Geysers, National Parks
Moose, Wyoming
Destination Expert
for Wyoming, Jackson, Jackson Hole
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7,143 posts
5 reviews
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1. Re: Mammoth or West Yellowstone on way into YNP??

Sounds like you've done a good job planning your trip.

If your priority is seeing elk, I'd go with Mammoth. The rut begins end of September and runs through October. During the rut, the male elk spend a lot of his time bugling (which will keep you up at night), keeping other males away from his harem, and making baby elk. (It's no wonder the males look so tired by early November.) If you're more concerned with creature comforts, stay in West; Mammoth has pretty basic (some might say spartan) accommodations.

Everett, Washington
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2,459 posts
55 reviews
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2. Re: Mammoth or West Yellowstone on way into YNP??

Another outside the park lodging option on way to Mammoth might be Chico Hot Springs - about 30 miles north of Gardiner. Nice place with great restaurant and hot springs pools for road weary muscles.

We've had a lot better luck with Elk being in rut after first of Oct. than when we have passed through a couple weeks earlier. But this past year even in the last days of Sept. it was so warm they didn't seem to be in the mood.

W. Yellowstone is OK and more central to in-park routes but would miss out on the Elk aspect. The drive down from Bozeman (Belgrade really) through Big Sky is very pretty. Might be some off-season lodging options at Big Sky.

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
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32,630 posts
448 reviews
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3. Re: Mammoth or West Yellowstone on way into YNP??

We like staying in West Yellowstone because of different restaurant options and the scenery into the park is one of our favorite drives in YNP.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Destination Expert
for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
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21,848 posts
55 reviews
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4. Re: Mammoth or West Yellowstone on way into YNP??

Of the 2 towns, I liked the feel of Gardiner, but liked the attractions, dining, shopping and lodging options in West Yellowstone. We really enjoyed the Grizzly Wolf Center, maybe stay near there and you can hear the wolves howling! We were in Mammoth in early August, on a day that the park was full! Did not really care much for it as there were too many people. There were elk around the hotel. We actually saw more elk near Madison Campground on the west side of the park, then we did in Mammoth, so go figure, lol!

When we were in Gardiner looking around and doing some grocery shopping, saw a few hotel/motels/cabins that looked nice from the outside. Not sure how they all are inside though as well as service quality. Absaroka Lodge, RIverside Cottages, Comfort Inn and Travelodge.

Have a great trip!

Mentioned in this post
Madison Campground
Madison Campground
220 Reviews
Yellowstone National Park, WY
5. Re: Mammoth or West Yellowstone on way into YNP??

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