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Yellowstone with an active toddler?

Victoria, Canada
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Yellowstone with an active toddler?

hey all,

We are planning a 5-7 family day trip for July with our two year old. We are from Western Canada and are debating whether to go to Yellowstone or Yosemite. Yosemite is cheaper, closer, more accessible and is the obvious choice. Yellowstone- I've always wanted to go, I find the landscape more interesting.

What it comes down to-

I've read every single toddler post on this forum and it seems like my toddler would have to be on a leash almost all the time, and if not, then in the car. Well, she's one to run around and hates the car (I might get a dvd player for that trip so it might solve some of the issue) but I want to go somewhere that would be fun for all of us, where we could take day trips and she could run around. My idea of letting her run around does not involve gift shops, it involves open fields.

Wait until she's older? or can we plan an easy-going trip where her free spirit can shine? (obviously, I'd keep her away from danger and hold on to her at geyser spots but is that all there is to see?)

Thanks!

N. Idaho
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for Yellowstone National Park
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1. Re: Yellowstone with an active toddler?

Actually, I think Yellowstone is probably closer than Yosemite. Without doing too much work, I went to www.distancebetweencities.net That only does cities in the US, so I plugged in Bellingham WA to both Yosemite and Yellowstone. The mileage to Yosemite came out as 1037 and the mileage to Yellowstone was 837.

There are several regular posters on here who have traveled to the park with small children, so they will address your concerns about that.

Pam

Iowa
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2. Re: Yellowstone with an active toddler?

I would probably wait until she's older, especially given she hates riding in the car. It's a fair amount of driving no matter where you stay, and when you come upon the inevitable bison herds it's even more time spent in the car. Don't get me wrong, it's amazing to see the bison right next to you, but could be a long haul with an unhappy child;-). As for running around in the open fields, that might not be an option since the bison, elk, and other wildlife like those open fields too and of course you have to keep your distance. And, in addition to the geyser areas, there are also places with sharp drop offs (such as the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone) where you'd also want her either on a leash or holding your hand or in a stroller.

One area I can think of that she could run around at a bit is the small beach area alongside Lake Yellowstone. Water is freezing cold, so it's not much of a swimming/wading beach, but I bet she'd have fun in the sand:-). Other than that, I can't think of any areas that are "active toddler friendly".

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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3. Re: Yellowstone with an active toddler?

I agree with Kren. I have not taken a toddler, but I have watched those touring the park with youngsters. Based on your description of your child, I'd wait. Yellowstone is a fabulous place, but you will probably need to restrict her,which she will probably not like. I recall watching a family with a young girl the approximate age of your child. She was tired, cranky, and crying. They were trying to "bribe" her into walking just a little bit farther and promised to find a flower for her at the Norris Geyser Basin. I don't think they found one..... The "short walk" around Norris would have been at least 1 mile. I felt really badly for this young lady who was in dire need of a nap.

Although not everyone will agree, I think your whole family would be happier putting off Yellowstone until your child is older.

Green Valley...
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for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
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4. Re: Yellowstone with an active toddler?

I agree, hold on Yellowstone. Be aware also that Yosemite is very, very crowded in summer and you can not drive around the (fantastically beautiful) valley, must ride a crowded bus system. Again, I'd wait until older.

Have you considered other areas?

Your question re: Yellowstone NP: "... but is that all there is to see?)" Hardly. The park website contains an enormous amount of very good information. If what you want is not easily found, use the search box. See “View Map” on home page for interactive map.

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

Victoria, Canada
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5. Re: Yellowstone with an active toddler?

Thanks so much for your replies. Yellowstone is off the table.

As for your question "have you considered other areas?" I am very open to suggestions. I am literally sitting down with google map right now and just clicking away.

We looked into Utah and the canyons. Wow. Amazing pics. BUT I don't think it is suitable for either my daughter or I - we both don't really like a lot of heat. So that's off the list. We are travelling in mid-July, for about a week, maybe less.

So so openminded about where to go and so so clueless. The one thing that makes most sense is California, but what can I say, I think the vistas are quite similar to where we live (West coast of Canada) and I just don't feel like going there!

Please feel free to make any suggestions.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
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6. Re: Yellowstone with an active toddler?

Consider Colorado. Rocky Mtn National Park, Great Sand Dunes Nat Park, many lakes, hikes and parks! Glenwood Springs has a wonderful pool and Aspen is beautiful.

Green Valley...
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for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
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7. Re: Yellowstone with an active toddler?

Puzzled by your comment likening CA vistas to the West coast of Canada. If you mean the truly rugged and/or treed west coast of Canada, whether the mainland or Vancouver Island, it is not like that for most of its (California) coastline. A better comparison to the W. Canada rugged coastline would be the far more easily accessible and IMO equally beautiful Oregon coast (which I would recommend, given the scenic beaches, small towns, interesting sights).

In the time you have allotted and given that this is a driving trip WA and/or OR would be more "doable". But to minimize the driving, I suggest the time better spent in the Puget Sound region. And you and your husband would also enjoy it. If interested in OR, Google Map the distances to, say, Florence and return (perhaps by another perhaps faster route via I5 and Portland) and see what works. Then, cut mileage/distance as you decide.

Perhaps save California for when your child is older and, yes, she can visit and better enjoy Disneyland and the National Parks. Had to say it, sorry...

I suggest that you post your questions on the WA/OR/California Forums and see what others have to say.

Have you been to the Puget Sound region? The San Juan Islands? OR coast? Some ideas below...

PS The southern Utah parks are indeed terrific and I agree, extremely hot and, for us, uncomfortable in summer.

Washington, western: Options for self drive itineraries in the Seattle region, with websites.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g60878-c112037/Seattl…

Oregon Coast

http://www.oregoncoasttravel.net/

Newport, OR

http://discovernewport.com/

www.aquarium.org

Yachats/Cape Perpetua

fs.fed.us/r6/…

Green Valley...
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for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
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8. Re: Yellowstone with an active toddler?

BTW, I don't know your starting point in BC, but suggest that Yellowstone probably would be an overnight drive, x 2, RT, cutting up to three days of your time at the parks. The same time/distance concern, IMO, applies even more to the Colorado proposal, above, though that is indeed an excellent trip, but it involves lots of car time.

Victoria, Canada
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9. Re: Yellowstone with an active toddler?

Thanks for your detailed reply and wonderful suggestions. We are indeed from Victoria, BC (didn't mean to sound secretive, sorry) and have travelled to beautiful WA (Rai over, St Helen etc) and my in-laws who we will be traveling with just did Luger sound. Oregon is beautiful- agreed!

I agree with you that my toddler will likely better enjoy CA when a bit older.

One thing I guess I wasn't clear about is that we plan to fly out, no drive, so that makes Colorado, for instance- a possibility.

You have made some really great suggestions, thanks for taking the time to provide links and such great advice. Now it's back to reading for me.

And BTW- we decided to go to southern Utah in April (without my in laws). I just couldn't sleep after seeing the pics from the canyons there! And it's so cheap for us to fly direct to Vegas!!!

Thanks again

Victoria, Canada
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10. Re: Yellowstone with an active toddler?

Oh stupid iPhone! Mt. Rainier and Puget Sound. Sorry for the other spelling mistakes.