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First trip to Yellowstone! Help?

Oakland, California
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First trip to Yellowstone! Help?

Hi everyone!

My bf and I are planning a road trip from the SF Bay Area, CA to Yellowstone/Grand Tetons in mid-July and would love some suggestions! We have a place to stay in Jackson Hole and plan on using that as a base camp, and otherwise definitely want to keep things as low-cost as possible (we're broke-ish 20-somethings).

We have about 12 days for the trip (including driving days). How many days would you suggest spending in Yellowstone, and how much at the Grand Tetons?

Would it be smart to camp a few nights in Yellowstone, rather than driving up from Jackson Hole everyday? If anyone has a camping site they think would be great (and still available), please share!

Finally, there's so much to see in both places, and I know we probably won't be able to fit everything in with the limited number of days we have. So, what do you think are the you-must-see-this-or-you-may-as-well-have-stayed-home things to see/do?

We're obviously in the very early stages of planning this semi-impromptu trip, so I'm so excited to read your suggestions!

Thank you so much in advance!


Cinnaminson, New...
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1. Re: First trip to Yellowstone! Help?

I would STRONGLY recommend staying in or near Yellowstone when visiting that park. It is way too long to do day trips from Jackson if you want to see the central to northern parts of the park.

If you can camp, that would be good too. While I've never "camped", I do know that a lot of the sites are first-come first-serve, so get there early. There are tons of sights to see, and I know a few will post links you can check out for the sights. You have a good amount of time to spend, so you will see a lot. The key is not to overplan. If you try to have a set agenda, I can almost guarantee you won't be able to keep it, as things like animal jams, sightseeing, weather, and other things will change your plans.

Atlanta, Georgia
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2. Re: First trip to Yellowstone! Help?

If possible either camp in the park or stay in West Yellowstone to see YNP and then you can stay in Jackson Hole to see the Grand Tetons. Yellowstone is huge and the size of a small state- might also check for cabins by going online or calling Xanterra- Old Faithful area and Lake or Canyon area would be best. Here is a link to the must sees in the park-


Good luck!!

Yellowstone Nat...
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3. Re: First trip to Yellowstone! Help?

I second the posts above. Camping in YNP to see YNP is a MUCH better way to do it than driving from Jackson each day.

I am not in favor of trying to see everything you can think of in 10 or 12 days. Pick a handful of things that most interest you, with a little variety, and immerse yourself in each for a day or so. Breathe 'em in, touch 'em, walk in 'em, look at 'em this way and that, imagine 'em a hundred years ago or two generations from now. "Be the ball, be the ball." (Sorry for the Caddyshack reference). You cannot see everything anyay, not in a hundred trips, so focus on a few. YOU know what interests you, so you decide what you want to see and do, and there are plenty of people here to help you succeed. Enjoy!

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4. Re: First trip to Yellowstone! Help?

Without a doubt, you'll want to try and find a place either inside Yellowstone park or outside in West Yellowstone. It is simply way too long of a drive to be commuting back to Jackson each day.

I haven't camped in Yellowstone for many years, but I WILL say that the nights do get cold so make sure you're prepared. As others have stated, most of the campsites are first-come-first-serve so make sure you arrive early (I would suggest around 9 am) to grab a site.

Yellowstone is huge so I would plan on spending at least four days in order to cover all the areas of the park. If time permits, zip over to Cody to take in their wonderful rodeo (Jackson has one too, but I've never attended it and don't know how good it is) and their fantastic western museum (considered the Smithsonian of the West).

Your interests will determine how long you want to spend in Grand Teton NP. GT is a much smaller park than YNP and can be driven from one end to the other non-stop in about an hour. I would suggest at least two full days to get a general overview of the park, but you could easily find things to do for a longer stay.

Yellowstone, on the other hand, can take a couple hours just to get from one part of the park to another (you'll certainly want to visit each section of the park). I would suggest either purchasing a travel book or going on-line to see what may interest you to help determine your plans. Both parks are amazing and have so much to do (hiking, horseback riding, rafting, beautiful views, animal viewing, fishing, etc) that you won't have trouble entertaining yourselves. If you and your friend enjoy hiking, I WOULD suggest that you try and get off the "beaten path" in Yellowstone and away from some of the crowds by taking some short (or long) hikes.

Enjoy your trip! You'll have a blast!

5. Re: First trip to Yellowstone! Help?

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