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"Bang for Your Buck" Trails?

Illinois
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507 posts
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"Bang for Your Buck" Trails?

Hello, fellow TA'ers! My husband and I are eagerly preparing for our mid-July Yellowstone visit. I've been scouring this forum and other Yellowstone resources, and we visited YNP many years ago, so I know there are really no "not worth it" sights. That being said, we are in our mid-and-late 50s and not in the best of shape (working on that!) and so will not be attempting some of the more strenuous hikes I've read about. We are staying in the park for several days, and so will have time to explore at a leisurely pace. Can anyone recommend good "bang for your buck" trails that offer not-to-miss scenery or wildlife viewing accessible from trails that are not too taxing? We do want to try the view of the Grand Prismatic as seen from off of the Fairy Falls trail, which I've read about several times, as well as the clamber down Uncle Tom's trail (know we'll have to take it verrrry slowly going back up!) Any other suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you, everyone!

N. Idaho
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for Yellowstone National Park
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1. Re: "Bang for Your Buck" Trails?

Hopefully you will do most of your wildlife viewing from the road.

Lone Star geyser hike is not taxing. It is an old road bed, so fairly level and straight. The geyser basin is *GBNW* (good but not wonderful, lol) I think geyser-wise there are more to see in the Upper Basin especially for a second trip. To me, Lone Star is 3rd or 4th tier.

Pam

Spery, Iowa
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2. Re: "Bang for Your Buck" Trails?

some easier to walk trails are also bike trails : www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/bicycling.htm

I love Lone Star, Natural Bridge hikes. If you are going to clamber up on the Fairy Falls trail, you could go on back to Fairy Falls and just beyond is Queens laundry- however my book says may be too wet at the laundry (lol) until late July.

For animals, your best bet is the roads, and pulling into a pullout when you see people with scopes.

My best advice- really walk all the boardwalks in all the areas! Many people just out at the parking lot, take a pic and move on. There are miles of boardwalks, and a million things to see from them. Take plenty of water, a snack and when you see a group gathered, ask and if they recommend waiting on a geyser, then have a seat and wait. Your leisurely pace will be perfect for getting the most out of your trip! Have fun and report back!

Spery, Iowa
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3. Re: "Bang for Your Buck" Trails?

once again- typing while Pam gets the info out :)

chicago, illinois
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4. Re: "Bang for Your Buck" Trails?

I'm in the over 50 crowd and none too slim, I'm always looking for fairly short hikes, lesser travelled, with big rewards. For a picnic with solitude around Canyon - I'd recommend the Ice Lake trail along the Norris Road. Half of the trail is paved because it leads to a wheelchair access campsite. It's only about a 1/2 mile to the wheelchair site with a nice easy trail (go left/west, not right) to the other side of the lake.

Also on this same Norris Road is the Little Gibbon Falls Trail - difficult to locate trailhead. The trailhead is at a turnout on the South side of the road directly west immediately past the LIttle Gibbon River. Find the West end of the metal guard rail and then start looking for the trailhead on the North side of the road. It's about 3 miles round trip with a trail to the overlook of the LIttle Gibbon Falls as your reward. It's a little hilly, but not strenuous.

Also if you feel up to an uphill climb, I'd read up on Elephant Back just north of Fishing Bridge Road on the Grand Loop Road. Strenuous for me, but the views of the Lake and the Tetons at the top is breathtaking. Heavily used trail.

Moving toward the South Entrance is the Ribbon Lake Trail - very flat all the way to the lake. I think it's about 4 miles total - there and back. This area is typically closed in the early summer because of bears, so check with the Rangers for updates - the views of Mt. Sheridan and Ribbon lake again are breathtaking.

A longer hike, fairly well travelled is Shoshone Lake from the Old Faithful loop road - at the Continental Divide. It's 6 miles total in and out, and fairly flat. Shoshone Lake is positively pristine and large enough to feel like you really went somewhere.

I'm not ashamed to tie my folding chair to my backpack frame so I can just sit down & rest wherever I go. That way, if I can't make it to my destination, I can still have a picnic and a of view paradise wherever I am.

chicago, illinois
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5. Re: "Bang for Your Buck" Trails?

Oh my.. almost forgot! If you're up in the Lamar Valley region, Trout Lake is not to be missed. It's a little hilly, and yet it's very short - one mile to Trout Lake. If you're able to get there in the morning, the mountains reflect over the lake, for a supreme photo moment. Many people report seeing otters and the fishing is good. Then there's a little trail with a pretty bridge along the stream that flows from Trout Lake - just a nice little adventure!

Illinois
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507 posts
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6. Re: "Bang for Your Buck" Trails?

Thank you, carriebaby, d0bby & thbergs! I've saved all of your suggestions to my trip folder. D0bby - didn't mean to sound like I'm one of those people who tries to get dangerously close to wildlife; we will definitely maintain an appropriate distance, as has been referred to on the Yellowstone website. Carriebaby, I especially appreciated the "photo moment" reference, because I'm all about those. Please keep 'em coming, everyone!

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7. Re: "Bang for Your Buck" Trails?

The Wraith falls hike is a very easy and short one - @ 1/2 mile. It is located on the "top" of the upper loop.

Below is a link to a photo I took of the falls as well as a website describing its location and another link to a very useful Yellowstone map (click on the map to zoom in).

flickr.com/photos/…set-72157624577989104

americansouthwest.net/wyoming/yellowstone/wr…

yellowstone-bearman.com/jpgs/yellowstone_map…

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
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8. Re: "Bang for Your Buck" Trails?

I second thbergs advice about walking the boardwalks. So much to see. The Upper Geyser Basin trails make for a great day hike. We walked form Old Faithful to Biscuit Basin and back and it made for a great day (I think it was about 4 hours total).

We did a few of the other hikes that have been mentioned; here are a few comments on those and links to the reviews that I posted on each:

Trout Lake is a nice short hike, but getting to the lake is a fairly steep, uphill hike. But it is a pretty setting and there are critters to be seen.

tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60999-d4821…

The hike to Fairy Falls is nice, but the real reason for me was to access the hills overlooking the Midway Geyser Basin and Grand Prismatic Spring. The climb up the hill is faily steep and the hills are covered with downed trees that you have to scramble across. But if you take your time you can get an amazing view.

tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60999-d1267…

For completeness, here's my review on our treks through the Upper Geyser Basin:

tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60999-d1267…

One last hike to mention, but it is a steep uphill 3 mile hike to the top is Mount Washburn. There are critters to be seen along the way, and the views are very nice, but it is strenuous. We went up the Chittenden Road:

tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60999-d1448…

Illinois
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507 posts
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9. Re: "Bang for Your Buck" Trails?

Thank you, ohio & 16 for the info and links. I really apppreciate your help and have added the info to my trip folder.

Cinnaminson, New...
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587 posts
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10. Re: "Bang for Your Buck" Trails?

I like the easier hikes as well, mainly since my knees don't always want to work properly. Some of my favorite hikes, and are pretty easy, are:

Storm Point. On the East Entrance road. It's a fairly level hike and you go past Indian pond and also back through the woods to Storm Point, which overlooks Yellowstone Lake. Amazing picture spot, and there is a big rock pile where you can see a bunch of marmots. Just watch out for bison though, as they like the area.

I second Natural Bridge. Very easy and level hike, and a really cool rock formation (natural bridge).

This year we are also going to do the hike from the Yellowstone Picnic area along Specemin Ridge. Should have amazing views of the Narrows of the Canyon. It does have a little elevation, but not too bad.

One more is the hike to Lost Lake from the Petrified Tree parking area. Very easy hike to the lake, and a great opportunity for wildlife.

Hope these help! (I'll be in the park in 5 days!)