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itinerary refinement for first time family visit

Cincinnati, Ohio
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itinerary refinement for first time family visit

Your advice on this forum has been invaluable to planning our first trip to YNP in mid-June, so thank you! We've booked flights from SLC (cheapest by far) and through daily checking, I've booked in the park rooms. We are a family of four, two kids, 10 and 12, who are not good a sitting still (so I'm trying to minimize driving each day), but love to play in the water and find creatures under the rocks, see wild animals, and cool geology/science stuff (but not much into plants, trees, flowers). Short hikes (1-3 miles) are good if plenty to see, but not long ones. I want to avoid hikes along high unprotected cliffs. Due to availability of lodging, we will criss cross the park. I could use a little help refining what to see when, since we can not do the four areas of YNP in any sort of normal order. Here's what I have booked (in order) and what I thought we'd do that day:

Canyon Lodge 1 night : Lamar Valley, Canyon visitor center

OF Inn 1 night: drive to this section, OF, nearby geysers,

Lake Lodge 2 nights: grand canyon, fishing on the lake, Fishing Brigde visitor center, maybe grant village visitor center

Here's what I was thinking of booking BEFORE the above (starting from SLC):

--West Yellowstone 1.5 days/1 night: IMAX, Wolf&Grizzly center (first .5 day), Norris geyser area and visitor center (and hotel with swimming pool)

--Gardiner 1 night: Albright visitor center, swim in river heated by spring (my kids will LOVE this) and white water rafting...then leave to Lamar valley next morning and on to canyon lodge

Am I missing a key section of the park or key area to see? Where is the safe, warm swimming " Firehole" area - I wasn't sure which day should I work this in? Finally, any advice on which trails avoid high unprotected cliffs in the grand canyon area would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you for your help!

P.S. We decided against the Yellowstone Family Adventure because we are the type of family that when we find something fun to do, we can do it for hours, and we wanted the flexibility to go at our own pace.

Atlanta, Georgia
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for Road Trips
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1. Re: itinerary refinement for first time family visit

At Lake Lodge you can also go up to Artist Point and visit the Hayden Valley. Here is a website that shows the must sees in YNP and will help you plan your trip-

www.yellowstone.net/topten

Enjoy your trip planning!

Driggs, Idaho
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for Grand Teton National Park
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2. Re: itinerary refinement for first time family visit

Hi Iheartpalmbeach -

Not every thermal river is safe or legal to soak in. I think you might be referring to Boiling River? There are only two safe and legal places to 'soak' in yellowstone.

Here is a link to the trailhead and information on it:

kidscantravel.com/familyattractions/boilingr…

The Grand Canyon of yellowstone does have the canyon hike which is unprotected and walks north alongside of the east side of the Canyon. But you can clearly see where it starts north of the parking lot, and avoid this hike should you be afraid of heights. If it is just an issue of safety, its easy to stay on the trail. You would have to work awful hard to fall off, and I think your children are old enough to respect this area. IMO, not dangerous.

Here is a nice 3 mile rt hike in the Lake Area that will allow you to see a great deal w/too much excertion - try Elephant Back Mountain. (No cliffs).

Fishing - make sure to get your fishing permit for your children. Even though they are young enough that they do not have to pay, they do require a permit and adult supervision. Here's a link if you have not already seen it:

www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/fishing.htm

If you truly enjoy fishing, you might have more luck hiring a guide and learning how to fly fish on one of the many rivers. Yellowstone Lake is deep and cold. Are you taking a boat out or just hoping to cast from the shore?

Cincinnati, Ohio
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3. Re: itinerary refinement for first time family visit

PeachBelle 8228 and BlueBirdDay -- Great tips! Thanks for the trail advice. I do live in fear of my kids falling of a cliff after an incident at the Smoky Mtns when they were younger (scary trail!). And the boiling river trail was what I was looking for.

We were thinking of doing a 2 hour boat fishing trip at yellowstone lake. If river fishing is that much better, we could try it. (And I didn't realize the kids still needed permits even though free.) 2 hours is about the right time because any more and the kids get bored, but less time and then Dad isn't happy.

Thanks!

Driggs, Idaho
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4. Re: itinerary refinement for first time family visit

The boat trip sounds fun. I would assume they will educate you as to what is needed, but I bet they take care of the license so I hope I wasn't speaking out of turn there. I was thinking more of you just casting on the side of the lake .... and if that was the case, river fishing might be more fun, and either way, you'd need a license.

Go for the boat ride. I've never been on a real boat in Yellowstone. Only a kayak. Sounds great!

Austin, Texas
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5. Re: itinerary refinement for first time family visit

I booked a two hour guided fishing trip on Lake Yellowstone for this summer. When I booked it they said you'll need to get your fishing license before hand.

Aubrey, Texas
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6. Re: itinerary refinement for first time family visit

Don't miss Artist Point which I would do while in Canyon. If possible, get there before 9:00 a.m. when the day trippers arrive. From Canyon to OF, go across the park and visit Norris; along the way there's an interesting stop which shows how the area has recovered from the devastating fires in the 80's. A nice hike at OF is to Observation Point; time it so that you have a view from above of OF erupting. West Thumb is a good stop. Not a lot to see at Grant Village except more views of the lake.

Cincinnati, Ohio
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7. Re: itinerary refinement for first time family visit

Thank you all again! We'll be sure to do Artist Point (early) and consider skipping Grant Village.

Connecticut
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8. Re: itinerary refinement for first time family visit

Food suggestions for Canyon: the Cafeteria is good for breakfast with lots of choices . You pay by the size of the plate. We found the smallest plate held more than enough for us. The Grill is good for lunch and a light supper. The dining room was good for dinner but will probably be too slow for your kids.

Food suggestions for Old Faithful: the deli in Old Faithful Inn is good for food for the road. The dining room is pretty good but can also be slow. There is a Grill downhill from Old Faithful Inn (to the right as you face the entrance) and they have nice breakfasts.

I don't have any suggestions for the Lake Hotel. The dining room is quite nice but again, probably more than your kids might want to deal with..

By all means, get yourself a cooler for beverages, fruit and energy bars so that you always have something to snack on if you get stuck in road construction.

My best suggestion is to have your kids do their own research for what they want to do. They will know what to expect and be eager participants.

Last summer, with a 9 year old and an 11 year old, we started off in Jackson doing a luge ride and some swimming. We spent our last two nights at Jackson Lake Lodge for more swimming, some horseback riding and a float trip.

In Grand Tetons, Leek's Marina and Signal Mountain Lodge are kid friendly places to eat. By all means, make a stop at Jackson Lake Lodge, go upstairs to the lobby and enjoy the view. You might be able to have lunch outside and the kids will have plenty of room to do some exploring in your sight.

Barbara

Sechelt, BC
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9. Re: itinerary refinement for first time family visit

Make sure to sign your kids up for the Junior Ranger Program. It is a great way for them to understand the natural events and environment of Yellowstone. At the end they attend a ceremony and are given a badge and pin.

It is a great way to connect with what they are seeing.

My only comment is that you seem motivated to visit every visitor centre. The information available is great and some of them do have fascinating displays (i.e. Fishing Bridge has a large number of stuffed animals, Canyon does have some interactive displays and a movie) I wouldn't let visiting them dictate your day.

Maybe your kids would enjoy a Stage Coach or Horseback Steak Dinner (Tower-Roosevalt).

Pack a lunch and snacks each day. The park is full of beautiful picnic sites - use them. Purchase binoculars for the kids.

I'd suggest Uncle Tom's Trail at Canyon. It is steep but not that long. And it is busy enough and challenging enough to keep kid's interest. Or Brink of the Lower Falls as an alternative. Otherwise explore the different geyser basins they are spread out enough I would pick the ones to visit based on length of time in the car and where you are when you need a break from driving.

Brooklyn
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10. Re: itinerary refinement for first time family visit

Last year I went to GTNP and Yellowstone with two 9 year olds. We went on a whitewater rafting trip in Jackson, did a stagecoach cookout dinner, and hot air balloon ride. Had a great time at Jackson Lake Lodge horseback riding and a breakfast cookout at Elk Island. Absolutely loved Old Faithful Inn and did the Junior Ranger Programs. The kids are still talking about what a great time they had! Any questions,just ask...