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Please critique my itinerary

Fort Lauderdale...
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Please critique my itinerary

I'll be traveling with my teenage son in early July. This will be our first trip to Yellowstone/Grand Teton. I've been scouring these boards for information, reading travel guides and books. I've finally put together an itinerary for our trip. Let me know what you think of it...

Day 1 - We arrive late morning in Bozeman. I plan to stop at a store in Bozeman, or a town on the way, for supplies - bear spray, non perishable food, etc. Once in the park, I plan on stopping at the Mammoth park headquarters and walk around the upper and lower terraces. Then we will head east to check in at Roosevelt Lodge. After that, we'll head out to hike the Yellowstone River Picnic Trail.

Day 2 - Get an early start and hike the trail to Trout Lake. After that, we'll head out of Yellowstone to travel the Beartooth Highway, stopping at various sites. We plan to get back into Yellowstone late afternoon for our horseback ride/cowboy cookout that we reserved through Roosevelt Lodge. If we have time before the cookout, we'll go and check out Tower Falls.

Day 3 - Another early start and straight to Lamar Valley to hopefully see some wildlife. From there, we'll head south to see the Grand Canyon area where we will try to arrive in time to see the rainbow effect on the lower falls. We'll hike the south rim trail from Uncle Tom's Trail to Artist Point. Then, we'll drive to Observation Point. I would like to stop by Hayden Valley later in the afternoon. Then, we'll head to Old Faithful Lodge to check in for our next two nights. If we are early enough, we'll probably hike up to Observation Point.

Day 4 - I plan to rent bikes for the day and ride the Lone Star trail, the trail to Morning Glory, and the Daisy Geyser to Biscuit Basin route. I'd also like to catch a Grand Geyser eruption. I know it only erupts every 8 - 10 hours, and you need to arrive an hour or two before the next predicted eruption.

Day 5 - We'll start out the day on the geyser boardwalks, hopefully seeing an eruption or two. We might hike up to Observation Point, if we didn't already do it the other day. Then, we'll head south into Grand Teton National park and basically drive through it, stopping at a few sites - Oxbow Bend, Mormon Row. We'll continue on to Jackson for a mid-afternoon whitewater trip. After the trip, we'll spend some time in Jackson for the evening. We'll head back into the park and check in at Jackson Lake Lodge.

Day 6 - We'll head over to Jenny Lake and take the shuttle boat across the lake. We plan on hiking to Lake of the Crags. Later in the afternoon, we'll head over to the marina on Jackson Lake and rent a motor boat for a couple of hours.

Day 7 - We plan on starting the day by taking the tram up Rendezvous Mountain and hiking up there for a while. Once we come back down, we'll head back into Yellowstone, stopping at West Thumb Geyser Basin, and then heading to Fountain Paint Pots. We'll then leave Yellowstone through the west entrance, stopping at the Grizzly Bear & Wolf Discovery Center(if we have time). Then we are driving to the town of Dillon to stay one night there.

Day 8 - We are planning on seeing Coolidge & Bannack ghost towns. Then we will head back to Bozeman for out late afternoon flight home.

Let me know what you think. Is there anything I should drop from the plan? Is there something you would recommend I add? Thanks for any input.

N. Idaho
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1. Re: Please critique my itinerary

Sounds pretty good. My only comment is the bike day. There is a lot of territory to cover, I do see that you are going to pick up Fountain Paint Pots later, but there is Midway as well as a drive thru Firehole Lake Dr. Your day before is pretty packed, so if you don't get to the Upper Geyser Basin early enough to look around and perhaps see some of the interesting geysers, I would hold on the bikes especially biking out to Lone Star. There are better geysers to watch, IMHO. Also get the times for Great Fountain geyser which is in the Firehole Lake group. It is as good as Grand is. They are 2 of my favorites, Riverside being the 3rd. If you do get in Fountain paint pots that day, you could sub in Artist Paint Pots on the day you come back thru the park to West.

Don't know about the ghost towns, and I will leave GTNP comments for others as well.

Pam

Mahtomedi, Minnesota
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2. Re: Please critique my itinerary

Well it sounds like a great trip. The only thing I would question is your plan to hike to Lake of the Crags. seems pretty ambitious if this is your first trip to GTNP. the trail is not maintained and has no signs. It is also pretty steep gaining around 2700 feet in 2.5 miles.

Also have backup plans for poor weather days.

Edited: 21 May 2012, 02:47
Fort Lauderdale...
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3. Re: Please critique my itinerary

Thanks for the replies!

@D0bby - Our "bike day" is pretty flexible, and I'm planning to rent the bikes for the full day. So, we'll be able to bike some and hike some. I was actually planning to visit the midway geyser basin on this day, hike up the hill on the Fairy Falls trail to see the great view of the spring from above. I think that even with biking, we should have plenty of time to explore the upper and midway basins by foot also. The 3 biking trails we want to do are 4.5 miles, 2.5 miles and 2 miles. So, I'm thinking the three bike trails would take up about 5 hours of our day at most. That should still leave us with another 4 - 5 hours to explore by foot.

Thanks for the suggestion on Firehole Drive. That's definitely something I would want to check out. I'm thinking it would be best to do it on the same day that we are heading to Fountain Paint Pots. I could cut out the Wolf and Grizzly Discovery Center on that day to make time for it.

And I'll be sure to check out eruption prediction times on Great Fountain and Riverside geysers, based on your recommendations.

@gnp4me - I have also been second guessing myself on this hike. It just looks so beautiful, that it's hard to resist trying. We are coming from Florida (elevation - 3 feet below sea level). However, I will have been in Yellowstone/Grand Teton for a week, so hopefully I should be acclimated to the altitude by then. A couple of summers ago, we were in Yosemite, and we hiked up to Vernal Falls. It was a 3 mile roundtrip hike with a 1,000 ft elevation gain. I did take it slowly and rested at points, but I made it. My son had no problem at all. He probably could have run up the entire way. I am in pretty good shape. I bike regularly, play tennis regularly, etc. So, I'm still on the fence about trying the hike. I guess another factor I need to consider is how much snowfall there will be. I'm not sure if this was a high or low snowfall winter in the Tetons this year.

And thanks for the suggestion of back up plans for poor weather days. That is something I need to plan for.

Houston, Texas
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4. Re: Please critique my itinerary

Try to go to Great Fountain shortly before sunset. (see my avatar or google great fountain and look at images). At it's best if rain goes through a few hours earlier and mostly clears just before sunset. It's also challenging to catch the eruption. Twice a day +- 2hours, 4 hour window. The one time I though I would get a magical eruption right at sunset with multi-colored clouds, the eruption was late, 45 minutes after the predicted window and 30 minutes after sunset. (

I always have plans for more than I have days. Weather or other opportunities have a habit of presenting themselves. They can be as simple as take each location and make a list of possibilities. Note which ones you wouldn't want to do in bad/stormy weather. I.E. I wouldn't want to hike to the top of Mt. Washburn in thunderstorms or do a long hike into the back country on a rainy day. Check the weather for the next day or two. If weather is good today but predicted to be rainy tomorrow, or vice versa, I frequently rearrange the itinerary.

The Visitor Center is spotty about posting predictions for Lone Star. Being in the backcountry they can't observe it. They don't know when the last eruption occurred until a volunteer or a ranger come back with the information. So they rarely have the a prediction up early in the morning. And not at all some days.

N. Idaho
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5. Re: Please critique my itinerary

One thing you are not factoring in on your bike days is the time you will spend watching or waiting for the eruptions. The VC will have predictions for both Lone Star and Daisy. I can't remember what the variable is on either, but I think Lone Star is about an hour, so you may wind up waiting an hour or more for it to erupt. It would be a shame to go back in there and then not see the geyser! Same with the bike out to Morning Glory. You go by lots of interesting geyers and will no doubt stop to watch. (PS, there is a vault toilet down by Morning glory). Dont forget time to get ice cream at the Old Faithful Inn and take it up to the 2nd floor deck overlooking the geyser basin!

You can be flexible on the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. If you have time then go for it, but don't stop watching something interesting just to get that checked off the list.

If you have time on the day you do Midway, you can cruise thru Firehole Lake Dr as the entrance is not too far north of the Midway GB. It is right across from Fountain Paint Pots. You probably want to do the Fairy Falls overlook of Grand Prismatic around midday as that is when you will have the least amount of steam. It could still be quite chilly in the mornings in early July which can create more steam to obscure the pool. Be warned that the parking lot for Fairy Falls can get quite jammed.

Also forgot to say, on your day in the Canyon area, after Hayden be sure you do Mud Volcano and Fishing Bridge (not to look at the bridge, but to look for wildlife).

You indicate you are getting *non-perishable* food in Bozeman, how about a cooler with some stuff for sandwiches? There are several picnic spots on the stretch of road between Canyon and Fishing Bridge. I love the Nez Perce Ford picnic area just south of Mud Volcano. There is also another nice one called Otter Creek which is just North of Hayden. If you are not packing lunch stuff your choices in the area will be Canyon or Fishing Bridge for food. The good thing about having lunch and snack stuff is that if you do happen upon interesting wildlife, you don't have to leave when people get hungry.

Pack at least one long sleeve shirt and jackets/rain layer for you and your boy.

Pam

Burlington, Iowa...
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6. Re: Please critique my itinerary

Make sure you arrive plenty early for your horseback ride to the cookout. If you have time to spare, explore Rosie or hang out on the porch with a cold drink. You never know if you'll get stuck in a bison/bear jam on your way back and miss the ride. There is usually no extra room to put you on a wagon and it is non refundable. I'd hate for you to miss it!

Fort Lauderdale...
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7. Re: Please critique my itinerary

Thanks again for the tips/suggestions.

I'm thinking with the bikes, I'll just wing it. I'll rent them for a full day, but maybe will skip the Lone Star Trail if it is going to be too time consuming. If we can fit all three trails in, great. If not, I won't sweat it.

As to the cooler, I was planning on stocking up on snacks and drinks before getting into the parks. I was planning on buying prepared sandwiches at the beginning of the day and throwing them in the cooler for the afternoon. I'm assuming Yellowstone has grab n go type sandwiches.

And thanks for the tip about when to try and photograph Great Geyser. I'm a bit of a photography buff, so I'll plan on being in that area if an eruption is estimated around sunset.

We definitely plan on getting back to the lodge well before the meeting time for horseback riding. I'm planning on getting back 1 1/2 - 2 hours before, that way we can relax for a while.

8. Re: Please critique my itinerary

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