We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Yellowstone "novices" Need suggestions PLEASE!

Walnut Creek, CA
Level Contributor
139 posts
65 reviews
Save Topic
Yellowstone "novices" Need suggestions PLEASE!

We are so inexperienced about the National Parks!. We are retired and just got our Park lifetime passes. (#1 checked off our "to do" list) and are planning on driving from SF BAY AREA to Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Mt. Rushmore, Black Hills.in a few weeks. We have no reservations and have just purchased guide books and will begin our planning immediately. Our timing I know after reading posts is really bad, and to top that....we are traveling with a 7 lb. toy poodle. She is a service dog. (trained hearing dog with her jacket, creditionals, etc.) so we know legally she can go on leash and stay anywhere. But, we prefe to go where pets are allowed as not to offend and have to show papers, etc.. Can someone give us some suggestions PLEASE!. So far, we will spend first night in Winnemuca, NV., then Pocatello? or Idaho Falls,? then should we try to stay in the park? or in Gardiner? As you can see....we are the true "innocents at home" as opposed to innocents abroad so we need your help!. Obviously we are "seniors"!.

Nashville
Level Contributor
1,093 posts
79 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Yellowstone "novices" Need suggestions PLEASE!

It is doubtful you will get reservations inside the park, unless you get lucky and call right after a cancellation. I would try for West Yellowstone and make sure you can cancel it if you get lucky with a national park cancellation. Get reservations there and in the other popular areas you will visit now.

Please don't go to the Yellowstone area without reservations. My dad did that when I was 12 . Around supper time, he tried to get a room at Old Faithful, then we backtracked to the Lake area looking for a room. When they didn't have any place, we had to drive after dark to West Yellowstone. We almost hit a large elk as we rounded a curve in the dark. It was well after 10:00 when we found a room. Again, the areas you are going to are going to be at their peak vacation time and rooms will be tough to get.

Good luck with your planning.

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
19,549 posts
109 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Yellowstone "novices" Need suggestions PLEASE!

Congrats on retirement and your park pass. I'm getting mine in August!

There is always concern about the domestic vs wild canid interface in Yellowstone so there are reasons (including parvo, distemper and mange) pets aren't allowed very far from the parking lots or roads in Yellowstone.

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

NOT saying your sweet dog has ANY of these, but that is part of the reason they make rules.

However, this guy seems to be coping:

forums.yellowstone.net/viewtopic.php…

Back to your main topic, you will do better in Yellowstone if you wait til later in August. Have you thought about heading up I-5 and hitting Olympic, Mt Rainier and N. Cascades NP, then across to Glacier, down into Yellowstone/GTNP and across to Rushmore? I would, however, guess you would run into the same lodging issues at the other parks as you will at YNP/GTNP. (And can you tell I'm thinking about MY retirement trip??) Everyone up North has a short tourist season.

For Yellowstone, I would recommend staying in West Yellowstone for at least 3 days and Gardiner MT for 2 or 3 days, then head down into the Tetons. Not sure how far it is from Winnemucca to Idaho Falls, I would stay there as you are an hour or so closer to the park. You would then enter thru West Yellowstone and the West Gate. Here is a list of lodging in West Yellowstone.

www.westyellowstonechamber.com/sleep/hotels/

You can also keep calling Xanterra which is the company that has the concession for lodging in Yellowstone. Don't go thru any 3rd party to book.

One thing I want to do after retirement is work a season at Yellowstone. They hire people for the stores and reservations and usually start some time in April with a contract thru October, I think. A friend of my parents did that a number of years ago and had a wonderful time working at the Lower General Store at Old Faithful. On time off she would take a sack lunch and a book and go sit and wait for things to erupt in the geyser basin. What fun!

Pam

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
28,048 posts
415 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Yellowstone "novices" Need suggestions PLEASE!

Congrats. We have our National Park pass and use it all over the US. What a bargain for $10.

Here is a website for the must sees in YNP-

www.yellowstone.net/topten

Also check out national park websites for YNP and GTNP.

We like staying in West Yellowstone for YNP if not in park lodging and Jackson Hole for GTNP.

In Keystone, SD (Mt. Rushmore) we like staying at K Bar S Lodge which sits in the shadow of Mt. Rushmore. Go online or oder a SD travel guide at

www.travelsd.com

The Black Hills area has lots of info. Be sure to visit Custer SP while you are there. The State Game Lodge has a nice lunch buffet with bison stew and homemade pies. Stop by Deadwood and see Mt. Moriah Cemetery too.

Enjoy your trip!!!

Walnut Creek, CA
Level Contributor
139 posts
65 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Yellowstone "novices" Need suggestions PLEASE!

thank you for your good advice!. will work on it NOW !!!

Walnut Creek, CA
Level Contributor
139 posts
65 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Yellowstone "novices" Need suggestions PLEASE!

Wow!. thanks for such great suggestions. Have started a notebook and will add this info!. Hope I can send you a followup on having success!?

Walnut Creek, CA
Level Contributor
139 posts
65 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Yellowstone "novices" Need suggestions PLEASE!

You are AMAZING!. Really appreciate the details ( the site with the traveling dogs was great) as well as other informational and VERY helpful webstites. (What did we ever do before Trip Advisor?) We will take your advice about West Yellowstone and entering through the West Gate. (as well as some of your other suggestions!) If you think of anything else please add!.

Edited: 13 June 2011, 18:21
Green Valley...
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
Level Contributor
18,001 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Yellowstone "novices" Need suggestions PLEASE!

A cooler for snacks and beverages and good binoculars.

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
19,549 posts
109 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Yellowstone "novices" Need suggestions PLEASE!

Isnt the picture of the golden a hoot??

Pam

Walnut Creek, CA
Level Contributor
139 posts
65 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Yellowstone "novices" Need suggestions PLEASE!

if you had a choice would you head towards West Yellowstone or go to Jackson Hole, before going into Park? (decision may be moot depending on room availability) if all equal, which? Are we being too ambitious trying to see (go through) Grand Tetons? We are not hikers, just scenic driving with binoculars type tourists.

Walnut Creek, CA
Level Contributor
139 posts
65 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Yellowstone "novices" Need suggestions PLEASE!

YES ! a true hoot!.