Day 1: Arrived in Bozeman. Off to REI for bear spray, next door for a cooler, off to the Coop for food (nice store) and to Safeway for ice, and away we went. Supper in West Yellowstone and then off to OF Inn. Saw deer and our 1st bison on the way. OF Inn was great. We had a lovely room (shared bathroom and shower) which was spacious, located at the front of the building (with views of the geyser fields past the parking lot), near the front balcony which overlooks OF geyser. The building is old so the walls are thin. Earplugs worked fine for me. Hubby did not need them. Bed was soft.
Day 2: Watched OF blow, then did the geyser boardwalks, including the overview, saw various neat things and some geysers erupting. Afterwards we went to see the grand Prismatic from the overlook at the Fairy Falls trailhead (which I read about on TA). Magnificent view. We went to 2 overlooks, one lower down and then one higher up. Then we went to paint pots, which was fun, and then to see the Grand Prismatic from ground level. Then we returned, knackered, to OF, starving. We did not feel like waiting to get into the dining room so we did take out burgers from the bar next door and ate on the balcony.
Day 3: Saw OF erupt twice over a very leisurely breakfast on the balcony. Then we went to Black sand basin and Biscuit Basin, both nice. Then we drove to GTNP stopping at what seemed like hundreds of stunning pullouts. We stayed at the Ranch Inn in Jackson, nice place with reasonable rates.
Day 4: Hiked to Sunrise and Amphitheater Lakes, very nice hike. Fabulous day. We spent 3 hours up there, climbing up a ridge on top of Amphitheater Lake and then scaling a small peak behind Sunrise lake. There are switchbacks all the way up on smooth trails, so itDay 1: Arrived in Bozeman, nice place. Off to REI for bear spray, next door for a cooler, off to the Coop for food (nice store) and to Safeway for ice, and away we went. Supper in West Yellowstone and then off to OF Inn. Saw deer and our 1st bison on the way. OF Inn was great. We had a lovely room (shared bathroom and shower) which was spacious, located at the front of the building (with lovely views of the geyser fields past the parking lot), near the front balcony which overlooks OF geyser. The building is old so the walls are thin. Earplugs worked fine for me. Hubby did not need them.
Day 5: Rest day, a picnic at Colter Bay. Magnificent views. We weren’t brave enough to swim, but some people did. Then we went to the very nice Indian Arts museum at the visitor center. After that was some Moose viewing for hubby and drinks at the Jackson Hotel bar, which must be one of the best spots in the world for a drink.
Day 6: Hike over the Paintbrush Canyon divide. This is a long hike, 19 miles total, with 4900 feet elevation gain. I had spoken to a ranger when we passed by Jenny Lake, and she told me that ice axes and crampons would be needed, so we had to rent them. They were certainly needed, this being a big snow year in the Tetons (and Yellowstone). The day started with a close up view of 2 beautiful elk in the parking lot. This was hubby’s first time using an ice axe and he found it very exciting, which it was, one step beyond hiking, towards mountaineering. Astounding hike. We did it in 11 hours. We went over the pass and on to Solitude Lake. If any readers like to hike, but the whole loop is too much, then I highly recommend going up to Solitude Lake. Great, great views in Cascade Canyon. We even saw a moose and her calf on the way down.
Day 7: Back to YNP. We stayed in a Lake Lodge Pioneer cabin which turned out to be kind of cute and spacious enough for us. We visited Mud Volcano and ran into a troop of Bison (including 3 babies), right at the site, who ended up walking along the boardwalk right in front of us! Afterwards we checked out some coyotes in Hayden Valley, including a totally cute pup who was right near the road.
Day 8: Up Mt. Washburn in the morning. A ranger had suggested we go via the South Trailhead, and even though it’s a bit longer, it seems MUCH nicer than the other trailhead, which seems to be mostly burnt forest. From the south trailhead there are lovely forests, views of the Tetons, the lake, the top of the canyon, and magnificent wildflowers. Lots of sheep at the top and very civilized up there, with an enclosed viewing gallery and toilets with seats. It is an old road and is easy to get up. The afternoon was Canyon time and we went to 5 lookouts, including going down the trails to 2 of them. I recommend going to see at least 1 of the Brinks. I found it amazing to see up close the power of the waterfalls. After that I figured we would check out Lamar Valley, since it was only 19 miles to Roosevelt. Well, it's quite the drive. between being stuck behind a slow car who didn't use the pullouts and the major curves on the road (with steep drop offs) and a couple of scenic stops, it took well over an hour. We saw pronghorn sheep and bison.
Day 9: Beaver Pond Trail at Mammoth. It was hot. I would recommend leaving much earlier than we did as much of it is in the sun. We saw the resident bear!! Very exciting. Luckily the bear (a cinnamon colored black bear) was not at all interested in us, as he or she ended up very close to us at one point, not more than 30 feet away. I was armed with my spray, and hubby had the camera out! I can’t recommend Mammoth though. I should have heeded the advice of another Trip Report, who said the same thing. I really wanted to see the Mammoth Hot Springs because of photos I had seen, but in Yellowstone everything is changing, and the hot springs are mostly dormant. There’s very little of interest to see and from the Beaver Pond trail at one point you overlook the hot springs and they look like an open pit mine from a distance. After that we wandered around Norris Geyser Basin, which was nice.
Day 10: Hiked up to Avalanche Peak. In my opinion, this must be the best, fairly easily attained, view of the park. Washburn is nice but this view was superlative. You’re much closer to many mountain ranges, the lake is close and there’s 360 degrees of astonishing views. It’s a steep trail (2100 feet elevation gain in 2 miles) but WELL worth the effort. We even had a bonus of a lovely male deer on the way down.
Day 11: back to Bozeman, and then home. Saw 2 big Pelicans on the way out, stopped off at various viewpoints, snapped photos of the elk at Mammoth, found good homes for the cooler and the bear spray canisters, and back to civilization. It was lovely to have 11 days of no internet, TV, news, bills, etc. We also had great weather, the only rain falling a bit on the drive on the first day and a bit when we were packing our bags on day 10. Gotta lova it!
Thanks to all who answered my questions and to those whose trip reports I read eagerly prior to my own trip.