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Yellowstone trip

Mason, Tennessee
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31 posts
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Yellowstone trip

We are 5 seniors planning to travel to the yellowstone area in early July. We will have 10 days. We want to see the park and maybe the Rocky Mountains or Mount Rushmore. Will we have enough time for this trip? If so, what else could we see in those areas. We are not hikers, but a mile or so would be ok for us. We like to see the natural sites and wildlife. We are from Memphis and would also like some information on where to fly into and where to stay. We will be renting a car so we would like to fly out of the same airport. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Atlanta, Georgia
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1. Re: Yellowstone trip

You will love your visit. We have fallen in love with the area and have been three times in four years and already planning our trip for this September.

Some suggestions-

Fly into Denver and drive to Estes Park (RMNP)- Day 1

Tour RMNP- Day 2

Drive to Jackson Hole, WY- Day 3

Tour GTNP- Day 4

Tour Yellowstone NP- Day 5-8

Drive to Cody, WY for museums and rodeo- Day 9

Drive to Denver- Day 10

or

Day 1- Fly into Denver and if early flight drive to Keystone, SD- Day 1

Tour Black Hills area- Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Custer SP- Day 2-3

Drive to Deadwood, Devils Tower and on to Cody, WY- Day 4

Tour Yellowstone NP- Day 5-8

Tour GTNP- Day 9

Drive to Denver- Day 10

If you want to stay in Yellowstone the Canyon area is most central and would need to call ASAP for reservations. For out of the park we like West Yellowstone, MT. For GTNP we always stay in Jackson Hole, WY.

Here is the NPS website for info about lodging, etc.

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

This website shows you the must sees for YNP- it is huge- the size of a small state-

www.yellowstone.net/topten

For car rentals compare prices at this website and be sure you can take the car out of state and it has unlimited miles-

www.carrental.com

For airfare we fly from Atlanta or Birmingham and have flown both Delta and Southwest airlines to both Denver and SLC.

These are only suggestions- if you do no want to do either the RMNP or Mt. Rushmore then I would fly into Salt Lake City. It is 5 hours to YNP and GTNP from SLC.

You could then use these suggestions-

Fly to SLC- Day 1 and if early flight drive to YNP

Tour YNP- Day 2-5

Drive the Beartooth Hwy and tour Cody, WY- Day 6-7

Tour GTNP- Day 8-9

Drive to SLC- Day 10

If you choose to only do YNP and GTNP then besides SLC there are closer airports such as Jackson, WY, Bozeman, MT and Billings, MT.

Hope these suggestions help!! We were in YNP last August and in RMNP and Denver last September.

Bemidji, Minnesota
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for Yellowstone National Park
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2. Re: Yellowstone trip

For a major airport, Salt Lake City is the gateway to Yellowstone at about 5 hours away. if you want closer, Jackson, Wy is closer, right at the south end of the Tetons which makes a very scenic drive into the south entrance to Yellowstone. I think you have allocated sufficient time to really enjoy the park without overwhelming you with trying to see it all with only a few short days.

Try to get lodging within Yellowstone for the majority of the time. You may have to call several times to get rooms as it is likely to be booked up by now but there will be cancellations and you should be able to get in. My favorite areas for lodging would be Old Faithful and Canyon with Lake being close behind Canyon for touring the east side. If you cannot get rooms inside the park, West Yellowstone, Gardiner and Cooke City are all gateway communities.

Mason, Tennessee
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31 posts
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3. Re: Yellowstone trip

Thanks so much for the info, it was exactly what we were looking for. You have given us several options and now all we have to do is make a decision!

Nashville
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4. Re: Yellowstone trip

Make sure you acclimate yourself to the higher altitudes. While the air out west was thinner, it was pleasant not to have the heat and humidity of the mid-south to deal with.

Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of water and on your first few days, slow your pace down a little and you should be fine. The only problem I had on our 2008 trip was when we drove up Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mtn NP at the end of our trip. I had done an early morning run and failed to drink enough water before we rushed out of the motel and up into the mountains. I paid the price with dizziness and headaches.

Another thing we did that helped was that we flew into Denver (mile high), then drove to the Mount Rushmore area (5 to 6,000 feet). We then spent a day in Cody (5,000 ft) before heading into Yellowstone, which was mostly in the 7,000 to 8,000 foot range. The gradual increase made the acclimation pretty easy.

You will love the area. It will be a great change from the bottom lands around West Tennessee.

Mason, Tennessee
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31 posts
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5. Re: Yellowstone trip

Thanks for the tips! How long were you gone? I don't think we have enough time to do Rocky Mountain NP, Yellowstone, and Rushmore in 10 days, do you?

Atlanta, Georgia
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6. Re: Yellowstone trip

In 10 days I would either do RMNP and YNP/GTNP or Mt. Rushmore and YNP/GTNP or for the full Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Cody experience just stick with the Yellowstone area.

Check out the trip plans I already suggested and you can see that YNP is huge- the size of a small state and there is much to see and do.

Nashville
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7. Re: Yellowstone trip

We had 13 days, but 2 of them were spent visiting friends in Buena Vista. While it would be a stretch to do it in 10 days, it really depends on what your priorities are for the trip. Our mindset going in was that we wanted to allow enough time to enjoy Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. We allowed a week for those 2 areas. Everything else was a "survey". We did brief visits to the Black Hills and Rocky Mountain National Park (a day at each) and a "drive by" at Cody, the Badlands and Devils Tower (a few hours at each). While we only saw the highlights, we did do more than Clark Griswald did at the Grand Canyon in the movie "Vacation".

All of those places deserve more time than we allowed. However, they were just short detours. It was kind of like Yellowstone/Grand Tetons was a big piece of warm pecan pie and the other areas were a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream that we were able to add.

Atlanta, Georgia
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8. Re: Yellowstone trip

Interesting way to say it- tntands!!!

Green Valley...
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9. Re: Yellowstone trip

If you are into wildlife watching/birding, you will want to emphasize time in YNP and GTNP. I'd say 3 - 4 days in YNP, a full day, including driving, or overnight in Cody, the balance in GTNP/Jackson. As noted, YNP is a huge park with many miles of scenic roads, many viewpoints, much wildlife, etc. It's not to be rushed but savored at the viewpoints and geyser areas and more. GTNP is absolutely beautiful but much smaller, so much less driving. Take a few hikes and float trip or river rafting! (If some or all of you up to it, recommend all highly.)

You need to make reservations ASAP. Go to the Xanterra website, study the rooms, then call, don't rely on the web. Take what you can live with and if necessary, call repeatedly and await further cancellations until you get, hopefully, the room types you want.

Canyon lodging and services is most central. Old Faithful is good for one full day, perhaps an overnight. Lake is also fairly central. If no lodging currently available when you call, consider West Yellowstone lodging; read their cancellation policies so if you later get rooms inside the park you can cancel. With five, I'd lodge in no more than two places in YNP, one in GTNP.

Reservations, ditto, GTNP or Jackson area.

The park websites contain a lot of very good information; if not easily found, use the search box. See “View Map” on home pages for interactive map.. e.g., http://www.nps.gov/yell/

Official Lodging and Tour Vendor for Yellowstone National Park (Call them frequently, like every day, cancellations occur. Don't use other agencies, they charge a service fee and they have to contact Xanterra themselves, which you can do for free.) Locations, costs, lodging, camping, things to do and much more are here.

http://www.travelyellowstone.com/

Bring cameras, batteries, charger, etc.

Bring binoculars and if you see folks with spotting scopes, inquire; you'll be glad you did.

Buy a cheap cooler for beverages and snacks. You'll be far from dining areas, and you won't want to leave some locations just for food.

Familiarize yourselves with the park map, which will be provided at entry. For all of its size, YNP is easily driven on the figure 8 road system.

Car Rental: with five, have you considered renting a van? You'll want room for luggage and cooler.

See the interactive map on park home page where it says "View Map"; very helpful with re: the different "villages", mileages, highlights, etc.

Multiply mileage by 2 or, more likely in some areas, 3, to determine time getting from A to B - due to traffic, wildlife in or next to the road, speed limits, etc. No matter, you'll love it.

There is so much more in the area of the two parks, so you might be interested in at least this information and these highlights:

See PeachBelle's top ten list...

To enhance your wildlife viewing and photography, an article prepared by several TAs:

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

Cody, WY Buffalo Bill Historical Center – A fascinating complex (with cafeteria); plan on at least two to three hours. For all ages.

http://www.bbhc.org/home/

National Museum of Wildlife Art - North of Jackson, on road between Jackson and the south entrance to Grand Teton National Park.

http://www.wildlifeart.org/

BTW, have you considered flying into SLC or Jackson? If you decide you are not into all that driving, and might be squeezing your time, these are options.

Edited: 16 February 2011, 03:49
Mason, Tennessee
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31 posts
14 reviews
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10. Re: Yellowstone trip

Hey,

Thanks for the information. We have been slow because one of our sisters had to have some unexpected surgery, but thank goodness we are back planning our trip. We are looking into all of your suggerstions and trying to finalize our plans. Thanks again for our help, and I'm sorry it took me so long to get back to you.