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May 10 - 13 Yellowstone area trip - four kids 7 - 14

Atlanta, Georgia
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May 10 - 13 Yellowstone area trip - four kids 7 - 14

Hi and thanks in advance for your advice.

Our family is taking a leisurely vacation in the area this May and I'm just now planning where we'll be and what we'll be doing. By the time we mosey over to YNP it will be May 10 and we don't fly out (of Denver) until May 15 so we have lots of time to spend here.

Here's my problem after reading so much of this forum and the other pages - how much time to allocate for the park in the first place. Our family is fine to walk around, but we're not "hikers". We will be staying at a local hotel but YNP is so huge I don't even know which "local" to look for.

If you could spend 2 - 3 days in the area what would you do and where would you stay? Since this is likely the last leg of the trip before flying home, it would be great to do something really cool.

Thanks,

Mike

Atlanta, Georgia
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1. Re: May 10 - 13 Yellowstone area trip - four kids 7 - 14

For a little more info - we are flying into Denver on the 5th - heading up to Mt. Rushmore area (did not factor in a Badlands visit which seems to be a mistake) then heading across. We are trying to avoid long drives so stopping every 4 - 5 hours is resulting in spending time places that may not make great sense like Sheridan and Billings.

Our flight out on the 15th from Denver is around lunch time so I'm assuming we're going to want to be in the area the night of the 14th.

N. Idaho
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2. Re: May 10 - 13 Yellowstone area trip - four kids 7 - 14

It is still going to be pretty winter-y in Yellowstone that time of year. The park is scheduled to reopen to vehicles on April 20. Some services will not be open yet in the park and some area will be closed to hiking due to snow and/or bear management. Most activities dont get ramped up until Memorial Day however it is a terrific time to see newborn bison and bear cubs. Very cute.

It looks like you would arrive on the 10th, and leave on the 13th which will just give you 3 days to do Yellowstone.

Here is a link to the National Park website giving dates for road opening and closing. It looks like the East entrance opening is planned for May 4 which is where you would come in from Cody. You will need to keep tabs on that to make sure it opens if you plan to come in that way.

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

Here is a link to facility opening/closing dates as well.

nps.gov/yell/…open_closedates.htm

If you don't plan to stay in the park (Old Faithful has lodging open that early) I suggest you stay in West Yellowstone, MT. You can also stay in Gardiner MT, but I prefer West.

Pam

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Cody
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Gardiner
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N. Idaho
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3. Re: May 10 - 13 Yellowstone area trip - four kids 7 - 14

So, in rereading your original post, I understand your wanting to keep driving limited but you may need to plan to push thru to Yellowstone from SD in order to maximize your sightseeing time.

Pam

Driggs, Idaho
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4. Re: May 10 - 13 Yellowstone area trip - four kids 7 - 14

Hello –

It sounds like you have not booked your lodging and if you are looking inside the park your options will be limited.

>”We will be staying at a local hotel but YNP is so huge I don't even know which "local" to look for…”

Not everything is open yet and what is, may already be booked. Check out www.xanterra.com.

Out of the hotels in Yellowstone, only Mammoth, Lake Hotel and Old Faithful Lodge and Snow Lodge (not to be confused with Old Faithful Inn) will be open (many of them not opening until 5/11).

Also, be aware of weather conditions which can affect your travel - snow, ice and snow fall is not uncommon that time of year. Dunraven Pass (Tower to Canyon) will still be closed. These are important factors when deciding what entrance to come in vs where you want to stay.

Coming from SD, perhaps heading to the N entrance of the park and staying in Gardiner or Mammoth might be wise. Gardiner is a gateway town and not inside the park so reservations might be easier. Beartooth Pass would most likely still be still closed near the NE entrance.

That time of year, it is more about wildlife and thermal viewing than hiking so I wouldn't worry about that part. Focus on seeing the thermal areas such as Norris and Old Faithful and for wildlife viewing, Hayden and Lamar Valley.

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Atlanta, Georgia
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5. Re: May 10 - 13 Yellowstone area trip - four kids 7 - 14

Here is a website with the must sees for the park-

www.yellowstone.net/topten

We've been to the park the third week of May in both 2007 and 2008- warm and sunny in 2007 but cold, snowing and icy in 2008- had a great time both years but actually saw more wildlife in 2007.

We like staying in West Yellowstone for out of the park lodging- more hotels, restaurants, even has a McDonalds.

If you stay in West Yellowstone eat breakfast at the Running Bear Pancake House.

Enjoy your trip planning. If you have not gone online for travel info for Mt. Rushmore/Black Hills then check out-

www.travelsd.com

We did the Black Hills also in 2008.

Green Valley...
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6. Re: May 10 - 13 Yellowstone area trip - four kids 7 - 14

Have you considered flying into Salt Lake City? It's about a five to six hour drive to West Yellowstone or Jackson, I believe, compared to the drive to/from Denver, which eats well into your allotted time. Plus, you wanted a leisurely vacation with limited driving. Know too that you'll be putting on many (wonderful) miles just in Yellowstone itself.

Unless you have reasons for Denver, I'd fly into SLC and focus on YNP and GTNP. Your family will enjoy the trip more, there is so much to see and to do.

Atlanta, Georgia
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7. Re: May 10 - 13 Yellowstone area trip - four kids 7 - 14

Thanks for all the help.

We have not booked lodging in YNP area yet because we wanted to hear more from you all.

We avoided flying into SLC because the family did want to see Mount Rushmore a lot and my wife and I visited SLC a couple years ago and thought it was pretty boring. If we ended up with time on either end of the trip we wanted to spend it somewhere more interesting.

I did find out that I can fly into Rapid City and do the loop from there rather than Denver if that makes life easier. It would certainly give us a little more useful time in Rapid City/Rushmore and save us the 6.5 hour drive from Denver the first night.

Green Valley...
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8. Re: May 10 - 13 Yellowstone area trip - four kids 7 - 14

FYI, I was not suggesting visiting SLC, just use of the airport and rent a car. SLC would not be on top of my list, either

I'm unsure how many days you'll actually have available in Yellowstone. Ideally, at least three full days. I can almost guarantee, YNP will be the highlight of your trip for you and for the kids. BTW, how old are they? Depending upon age, we can suggest a few things for them.

Atlanta, Georgia
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9. Re: May 10 - 13 Yellowstone area trip - four kids 7 - 14

A few more details as we're thinking about everyone's helpful comments.

Kids are 7, 8, 12 and 14. All pretty smart and enjoy cool things God made as well as typical kid friendly stuff.

Seems like several people are wondering about the dates - would moving this to the back part of May be a good idea?

N. Idaho
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10. Re: May 10 - 13 Yellowstone area trip - four kids 7 - 14

The later in May you can make it the more likely (not guaranteed! lol) you will have better weather. You will need to be prepared with some warm clothing for everyone, including hats, gloves and jackets. The kids will not need shorts. Consider this when you put away winter stuff so it will be easy to get back out!

The younger kids might enjoy the Jr. Ranger thing.

http://www.nps.gov/yell/forkids/index.htm

There is also a web ranger they might want to do ahead of time as well.

In fact, someone recently said as adults they enjoyed it, so my plan is to do the Jr Ranger thing next time as well.

Pam

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