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Yellowstone with Grandson

East Meadow, New...
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Yellowstone with Grandson

We will be in and around Yellowstone with our timid grandson who is a city/suburban kid with no hiking or nature experience and we want to introduce him to his first national park gracefully. He does not want horseback riding and we have reserved an SUV for higher wildlife viewing. We are mostly in motels for his comfort and ease because we want this to be a success so he will travel with us again.

Should I be booking any private nature guide, ranger walks, float trips, events, or whatever in advance? What should we be sure to see while there?

We have booked the following:

2 nights Gardiner, explore north loop, visit Lamar Valley dawn/dusk

2 nights drive Beartooth Hwy to Cody, rodeo, Buffalo Bill Museum, perhaps Thermopolis, perhaps dino museum or dig

1 night Lake Lodge cabin in Yellowstone

2 nights West Yellowstone- Geyser Basin, Old Faithful, perhaps ranger walk, perhaps Grizzly/Wolf Discovery, perhaps IMAX

3 nights Jackson- boat and hike Hidden falls Grand Teton, float trip Snake River, shoot out in JH

Advice appreciated please, especially for anything I should book NOW

Driggs, Idaho
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for Grand Teton National Park
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1. Re: Yellowstone with Grandson

You have the hard part out of the way - lodging. The rest you can enjoy. I can't think of anything you'll need to "book" w/the exception of a float trip in Jackson which you might want to book now to get your preferred time/date.

How old is he? Look into the Junior Ranger Program in Yellowstone:

www.nps.gov/yell/forkids/beajuniorranger.htm

The Bear Wolf Discovery Center is an excellent education choice. Make sure to be there during the day when they do Keeper Kids. Your grandson can hide the food before they let the Grizzlies out (to see how easily they find anything!). Again, based off age 5-12.

www.grizzlydiscoveryctr.com/programs2.php

I hope you don't intend to spend a lot of time in the car. There is still a lot of walking to be done to really experience YNP w/o having to do true hiking. For instance, you'll be able to take an entire day just exploring the paths around the Old Faithful geyser basin.

There are no guides that will book walks with you, nor are there any float trips inside YNP.

While in Jackson, I would add a Tram Ride at Teton Village to your list of activities.

Just enjoy yourself.

East Meadow, New...
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2. Re: Yellowstone with Grandson

My grandson is 13 but not adventuresome....too old for the ranger programs but with no hiking experience and nervous around animals. ?????

Moose, Wyoming
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for Wyoming, Jackson, Jackson Hole
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3. Re: Yellowstone with Grandson

The Jackson rodeo is Wed and Sat nights at 8:00.

Driggs, Idaho
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4. Re: Yellowstone with Grandson

Well, I hope he enjoys his vacation and you open his mind to some new wonderful things.

If you can walk, you don't need to be experienced in hiking.

If you are respectful of the animals, they should never be close enough to pose any danger to him where he would have any reason to be fearful.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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5. Re: Yellowstone with Grandson

I don't agree that he'd be too old for all the junior ranger programs ... Yellowstone has a wonderful Young Scientist Program out of either Canyon or Old Faithful visitor center. The cost is $5 which includes a reward at the end of the endeavour. One of the adventures is geared toward teens.

Definitely check out the visitor centers.

Where the animals are depends somewhat on the time of year you will be visiting. I love getting caught in a 'bison jam' on the west side road to Old Faithful early summer. After 4th of July, those herds tend to migrate toward Hayden Valley.

There's a pair of nesting bald eagles next to the road between West Yellowstone and Madison Junction. If there are eaglets, the park keeps a very strict 1/8 mile area for their protection from intrusion, but they can easily be seen by pulling over outside the restricted area..

Green Valley...
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for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
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6. Re: Yellowstone with Grandson

Give him, and you, some good binoculars; I'll define that if you wish.

And a camera. Both will involve him more in this wonderful trip.

He can use his pictures to show his friends.

You really don't need to be up at dawn to see wildlife (he will appreciate that); rather, be observant at viewpoints and along the roads. When you see spotting scopes at viewpoints, inquire; you'll probably be happy that you did so. Maybe he will loosen up to inquire himself.

The walks in the geyser areas are many, intriguing.

There are short trails available of varying degrees of difficulty; see this.

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

Have a cooler.

See if you can get him involved in the Young Scientist Program so he'll meet other kids.

Billings, Montana
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7. Re: Yellowstone with Grandson

My grandson will be 13 this August. I'm lucky because he loves nature, hiking, camping and especially Yellowstone Park. He has been my camping buddy to Yellowstone since he was 4 years old.

One of the things I've allowed him to do as he has gotten older is to plan each of our days. I give him a rough itinerary but he has to look at maps and decide where we're going to go based on what we want to do that day. When you enter the park you will receive a map of Yellowstone Park. Years ago I started showing him where we saw different animals on the map and he would write the animal's name on the map where we saw it. This started getting him really interested in where everything is. He now keeps a little notebook to fill with information of what we see and do. Nothing fancy but it connects him.

Buy a book like Yellowstone Treasures by Janet Chapple that he can read and look at before coming. It's neat knowing what you're going to see ahead of time and it will also fine-tune what he is really interested in spending more time doing. My grandson absolutely loves the Old Faithful area and we have to go visit it every single time we are in the park. Last year we saw Old Faithful go off probably 20x in our 8 visits to the park- I could care less but his trip is not complete unless we do.

Another activity that has totally got him involved is a camera. He became an active participant in Yellowstone when he was taking pictures. Way more exciting then just standing and looking. The nice thing about digital cameras is they can take as many pictures as they want but you don't have to develop all of them. I'm willing to bet the first time he takes a picture of a bear he will be hooked.

The junior ranger/scientist program is great but see if that is his "cup of tea'. It is one thing my grandson has never wanted to do and would fight being a part of a group activity like that but there are kids that absolutely love that type of stuff.

I might have missed it.....did you say when you will be in the park? Let me know and I might be able to give you some other ideas of things to do that your grandson will be interested in. My grandson and I are going into the park this weekend so I'll ask him what he things a 13 year old boy that's never really been out in nature would like to see and experience in Yellowstone.

Deb

Driggs, Idaho
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8. Re: Yellowstone with Grandson

Just out of curiosity, why do you think your grandson is "not adventuresome"?

Has he not had the opportunity to travel, or has he travelled and showed a severe dislike for anything new? Its hard to ascertain how a child will experience something he hasn't seen before - but its awesome to prepare them w/a book, or even go online and google areas you will visit to show videos and photos... although there is a vast age difference between my child, and your grandson, I always like generating a sense of excitment before we visit someplace new. It sets his expectations, he knows what to look for and is mentally prepared for the trip that lies ahead.

One other thought - please make sure he packs appropriately w/warm clothes and rain clothes. Nothing came damper a day than a cold or wet boy.

Yellowstone is a great place, plenty to do for all. All of the suggestions above are excellent ones.

Edited: 26 May 2011, 01:26
N. Idaho
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9. Re: Yellowstone with Grandson

There are also ranger led walks that are not really specific to kids. I love to take the ones in the Upper Geyser basin, always learn something new.

Another thing, as you walk around the Upper Geyser Basin you may see people with walkie talkies who are calling out geyser eruptions. These are *geyser gazers* and are often very knowledgeable about what is going on. Some friends and I started talking to one guy a few years ago and he walked the whole basin with us. It was amazing!! (Word of warning, some are jerks, so observe for a bit then ask a question if they look like they would be open to it.)

If he doesn't think he will like *hiking* then just go for a walk instead!

Pam

East Meadow, New...
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10. Re: Yellowstone with Grandson

Thanks for all the commentary. We are going on June 21, in less than a month.

Do you think I should buy a spotting scope in advance of the trip? How important is a tripod? We have 3 pairs of binoculars, one with shake resistance, one with a bigger view, and one pair small enough for pocket. We each have a camera, battery charger, and extra memory cards and will have a netbook along to download and examine photos and research anything of interest along the way. I have found that when I put a camera in his hands he notices more.

I have involved my grandson every step of the way in planning so far and he chose to stay in a motel most of the time and to try a cabin for one night with some concern about what we would do if there are animals outside our door when we go to leave the cabin. He does not want to get too close. He has traveled with his parents many times to Florida where he plays tennis a lot and he was in Mexico twice at big resorts with pools and beaches but very little outside contact or cultural connection- no nature trails, no hiking, no animals, no major geographic features. Both he and his brother are very good athletes and travel to participate in sports tournaments. A national park is very different.

He is the one who chose this particular trip from among ten choices including two in South America and one in Europe. I provided descriptors and maps and he was interested.

I am disappointed to learn that the rodeo in Cody is only on Wed. and Sat. since we will be there on a Thurs. and Fri. and the website did not indicate that when I was booking lodging or I would have organized it that way. Are there any other rodeos anywhere around?

He already has a guide book and I am coming prepared with two others, maps, and notebooks to spot and record our finds. In addition, I introduced him to letterboxing a few years ago and I note that there are clues for boxes in Cody and in Jackson, another type of adventure we can enjoy as part of the trip.

I prepared a checklist of clothing and gear for preparation by his mother and included wet and clod weather stuff, flashlight, daypack, water bottle with strap, etc. Being cold or wet is a sure way to have a terrible time.