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Trip to Grand Teton and YNP in June

Miami
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Trip to Grand Teton and YNP in June

We're from Miami, planning to drive from the Denver area on Sunday June 16, arrive in the evening at Jackson. We're thinking of taking the Jenny Lake ferry on Monday, and hiking to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point and part of the Cascade Canyon Trail, and the remainder of the day look for views of wildlife, and photo ops of the GT mountains, Schwabacher, Snake River, Oxbow Bend, and Mormon Row. Possibly look for more such views Tuesday morning, head to Yellowstone, stay in West Yellowstone, visit YNP for a few days. We need to leave on Friday and reach Bozeman around 5-6 PM that day. After Bozeman, we must head east for NYC.

Once we get the answers to our questions, we would try to put together a possible itinerary for review. Thanks so much!

GT Questions

1. How early do we need to arrive at Jenny for obtaining parking? Or is it not a problem in June?

2. We wouldn't want to go much if at all past the North and South Forks, but is the scenery constantly improving up to that point, or could we go just a mile or 2 past Inspiration Point and be satisfied that we didn't miss much?

3. How great of a concern are afternoon thundershowers in the area? (Hopefully not like in Miami!) Bears?

4. Which of the famous photo ops in GT should be done at sunrise or early AM, which in the middle of the day, and which in the late afternoon? Will it be necessary to cut down on the hike in order to have enough time for the photos? Hopefully there's no need to delay the departure for YNP.

YNP Questions

5. What do you suggest for Tuesday PM in YNP? The South Loop to east, counterclockwise, to Hayden Valley and Grand Canyon area, and Porcelain, or better to go west directly to Old Faithful and see as many of the geysers and Grand Prismatic Spring as the day allows?

6. Which of the famous photo ops in YNP should be done at sunrise or early AM, which in the middle of the day, and which in the late afternoon?

7. Would there be adequate time to hike Mt. Washburn, see the Lamar Valley and Mammoth on one day?

8. We're also considering the Beartooth Hwy. Would it make sense to do the Lamar and then Beartooth on Friday on the way out, and then work our way up and west to Bozeman? (thinking possibly not, since the best time for wildlife in Lamar would be late in the day, and we wouldn't make it on time) If no, would it make sense to drive on Beartooth as far as Rock Creek Vista, and turning back the same day?

After Bozeman

9. What places of interest would you suggest we visit going from Bozeman to NYC, allowing relatively short departures from the main interstate routes? We don't want to spend more than 5 full days on the road from and including the day we leave Bozeman and arrival in NYC. Reasonable? Stretching things? Possible w/o much night driving?

We are open to any other suggestions that you have to make this a better trip.

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1. Re: Trip to Grand Teton and YNP in June

I'll try to help with your GT questions.

>1. How early do we need to arrive at Jenny for obtaining parking? Or is it not a problem in June?

That parking lot is pretty big, and although it gets full in the summer from time to time, you should be able to find a place to park in mid-June, especially if you arrive about 8 to 9am.

>2. We wouldn't want to go much if at all past the North and South Forks, but is the scenery constantly improving up to that point, or could we go just a mile or 2 past Inspiration Point and be satisfied that we didn't miss much?

The entire canyon is a pretty hike, so yes, you should be satisfied with just a mile or so. It's not so much that the scenery improves as you hike farther; it's more that it just changes. If you do reach the fork, I'd suggest you take the north fork if you intend to hike a little farther.

>3. How great of a concern are afternoon thundershowers in the area? (Hopefully not like in Miami!) Bears?

Afternoon thunderstorms often occur during the summer. The temperature can drop from 75 to 45 in 10 minutes, the rain feels like ice water, and then the wind can come up. So be prepared. When I did volunteer work for the park one summer, patrolling hiking trails, I carried a bunch of cheap plastic ponchos in my backpack to give out to tourists who got caught in one of our summer thunderstorms wearing t-shirts and sandals. It was the kids I really felt sorry for.

That trail is the most used trail in the entire park, so it's rare to see bears anywhere close by. But there are bears out there, so it's wise to take precautions: hike with others, make noise as you move through dense foliage, maybe carry bear spray if the expense isn't an issue and if you're going to be doing some other hiking.

Edited: 17 March 2013, 14:38
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Inspiration Point
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2. Re: Trip to Grand Teton and YNP in June

And I'll give your YNP questions a go...

5. I would probably do Old Faithful and work your way north thru the other geyser basins on the western side of the lower loop. You really only have 2.5 days in Yellowstone, so altho I would choose to spend a whole day in the geyser basins, you may want to see other things.

6. Photographing Yellowstone by Gustav Verderber will give you some good information on this question.

7. Wow, that is a lot planned for a day but I guess it's doable if you get an early start. It would not allow much time to stop and see any wildlife if something is out in Lamar.

8. With your 2 full days in Yellowstone and 2 partial days, there is so much to see in Yellowstone I don't think you have time to fit in Beartooth.

I am assuming with your 9th question that you are driving back to NY and not catching a flight out of Bozeman? Is there a possibility that when you leave Bozeman, you can spend a day going back down to Gardiner, across the Northern Range of the park, exiting thru NE gate and doing Beartooth then? With an overnight in Red Lodge or Billings? On the Friday that you leave the park, you could do Mammoth on that day, leaving your lodging in West Yellowstone and entering the West gate, then traveling to Mammoth and leaving the North gate.

You might want to post on the Road Trip forum for suggestions on the way to NY. Let them know how many days you have to get there. A suggestion for things to see is to follow I90 and see Devil's Tower, Mt Rushmore and Badlands.

Pam

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Old Faithful
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3. Re: Trip to Grand Teton and YNP in June

Mt. Washburn hike will depend on snow conditions. I did the hike June 16 from the Dunraven trail & it was challenging with snow bridges to cross & ice. Those who came up Chittenden road trail had it a little easier.

Check at the ranger station regarding conditions when you arrive.

Early morning in Lamar is likewise good wildlife viewing, although I have had good sightings all throughout the day.

Beartooth pass is slated to open June 14th, but it is weather, sequestration-money & plowing-status dependent, so check on that too as it gets closer to your trip time.

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4. Re: Trip to Grand Teton and YNP in June

Oops, cant edit and I see you say 5 days from Bozeman to NYC. That is 2200 miles in 5 days so not much time to see anything and definitely not enough time to drop back down and do Beartooth as I had suggested.

Pam

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5. Re: Trip to Grand Teton and YNP in June

Do you have to return to Bozeman from Yellowstone before heading to NYC? If not, you could head east over the Beartooth rather than backtracking to Bozeman.

Perhaps I'm missing something....!

Edited: 17 March 2013, 18:19
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6. Re: Trip to Grand Teton and YNP in June

I am also wondering why Bozeman?

Miami
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7. Re: Trip to Grand Teton and YNP in June

Thanks to all of you who've responded.

Yes, Denalicat, we would need to be in Bozeman at the stated time (personal matters, thbergs). I don't think you intend, and we will certainly not have the luxury, time, or energy of heading to NYC, and coming back another 2000+ miles to the area on this trip, as we will need to return home to Miami from NYC. The other option, mentioned by Pam, would be to head back to Yellowstone after leaving Bozeman, then driving Beartooth, and then proceeding east to NYC. That is tempting, but it would probably add about 4 hours onto our trip to NYC, which is long already.

Let me pass this along, and see if it's a way to give us a shot at doing more than otherwise expected:

In doing some research, I've discovered that in mid-June, the sun rises just after 5:30 AM and sets after 9 PM (dark 9:30?), so there should be about 16 hours of daylight.

Also, note: we've driven from Miami to Atlanta, and also the reverse, over 660 miles in one day, on several occasions, even with late starts like 12-2 PM. However, I really don't want to be doing so much night driving, in mountainous and animal-populated areas like these parks.

Followup GTNP

We're thinking the trip from Denver to Jackson could allow us to get in a couple hours of late-afternoon photos, wildlife in GT. Assuming we start by 9-10 AM on Sunday, head up 287/26 to Moran (9 hrs or so from Denver?), there would be 2 hrs or more to proceed south on 191/89/26 to Jackson along the Snake River. Or are we nevertheless biting off too much?

Followup YNP

If we leave Jackson by 10 AM, drive through GTNP taking some photos, we should still have about 10 hours to see the geysers in YNP on Tuesday.

So how much time would you recommend for a first-timer to divide between the geysers on the Upper, Midway, Lower, and possibly Norris?

We want to see Grand Prismatic Spring--is it generally too late to get a parking spot in mid-June around 12-2PM? If so, what time do spots become available--4PM, 5PM ?

Wednesday would be available for the Grand Canyon, Mt. Washburn if passable, and Mammoth, maybe Bunsen Peak.

Thursday we could do the Hayden Valley early, just pass by the Canyon again, then Tower Fall, and then Lamar Valley late in the afternoon. Maybe leave at the northeast entrance, stay at night in Silver Gate or Cooke City, and do the Beartooth to Rock Creek Vista on Friday, and head back along the northern route to Mammoth and Gardiner and Bozeman. Or just do the entire Beartooth heading east, and then north to I-90 and west to Bozeman?

I know we'll be sacrificing the lake area, but let's face it--there's plenty of water around Miami. Maybe this is still too ambitious? Or sacrificing things that we shouldn't miss? What do you think?

And thanks again!

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8. Re: Trip to Grand Teton and YNP in June

Didn't mean to pry- sorry if I offended you by asking why. Sometimes people post a place because they "think" they should go there, but have no idea why, and no interests there and it doesn't fit with the rest of their journey. For whatever reason (and I have planned a trip to hit certain spots for good food, even if it meant a short side trip, especially if chocolate is involved, lol.) As long as you have a reason for Bozeman, then of course, we will help work around that.

I am a fan of the Upper basin, and would spend more time there (like Pam) less at Norris. I think it will depend on your interests- Upper has more "showy" geysers, and some are predictable, check with the VC as you thought, and if there are geyser gazers waiting at one, politely ask for information- if they recommend staying and you have time, do. Norris is a hot area, and quite interesting in its own way. It can be hot (temperature) in the afternoons in all the basins, which is good for less steam, but be sure to take plenty of water. Grand Prismatic is better with less steam to see the colors. I would give a shot at it when you can, and if the parking is too bad, stop back- were you thinking of the unofficial trail to view it from uphill?

You can make a quick stop to see the Lake on your way by. If you need a potty break, stop at West Thumb, get a quick taste of the basin and get the Lake view and head farther into the park. If not, as you said, skip it for other more rare sightings.

Be sure to have a cooler with food and drinks. You will need all your time without having to find dining when you are hungry. There are great picnic areas with views if you have time, or just eat on the go.

I am not the best at times- other than driving in the park is miles x 2 plus animal jams. You seem to already have the sunset times info, so you will know when to leave to avoid driving in the park in the dark.

I have never gone past IA, so I am no help getting to NY. I will say, if you are on I80 through Iowa, if I was in a hurry, I would just keep driving. Not that there is nothing in Iowa, but you have very short time frame.

Happy planning and safe travels! You have quite a trip ahead!

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9. Re: Trip to Grand Teton and YNP in June

With your short time frame, I would skip Norris. Are you wanting to try the trail which overlooks Grand Prismatic? The parking area for that is Fairy Falls and it fills early. You might have good luck later in the afternoon. The actual parking lot for Grand Prismatic, to view it from ground level is constantly in flux, so you may have a chance there for a parking spot.

As far as your split between Upper, Midway and Lower geyser basins, I would recommend at least 4 hours in the Upper Basin around Old Faithful (skip Black Sand and Biscuit Basins), 1 hour at Midway, 1 hour for Firehole Lake Dr, 1 hour for Fountain Paint Pots, probably an hour for Firehole Canyon (as you head north, you will pass the exit, turn left in to the entrance, head back up river for a few miles, then reenter the Loop road and head back north.

It's pretty difficult to assign a time to each area. You may find you want to catch some of the predictable geysers in the Upper Basin erupt and will want to spend more time here. You may want to spend some time on the 2nd floor deck of the Old Faithful Inn eating ice cream overlooking the geyser basin. Someone may want to take the free tour of the Old Faithful Inn. You may be there in time for a Ranger hike thru the basin. You may want to watch OF go twice. You may want to hike up to Observation Point to watch OF the second time. In general, I recommend spending the most time in the Upper Basin and less time in the other basins. When I go, depending on what time I have available, I can spend all day in the Upper Geyser basin with a break for lunch and a break for a snack assuming it does not interfere with geyser timing!

We don't recommend driving in either park after dark due to the big animals on the road, so you will need to plan your time so you can get to the West gate before dark.

With the rest of the driving you are doing, I would recommend not trying Beartooth this time. It will probably add more than 4 hours to your journey if you do Bozeman/Gardiner/Beartooth/Billings.

The Lake area is not a favorite for me, altho having lived in the Miami area as well, it is completely different from the Miami *water*.

I would do Hayden Valley down to Fishing Bridge on the same day you do Canyon. If you do decide to hike Mt Washburn based on Ranger recommendations, do it first that morning. Then if you decide to overnight in SilverGate or Cooke, do Mammoth, Tower Fall and Lamar and go out the NE entrance.

Pam

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10. Re: Trip to Grand Teton and YNP in June

<< Assuming we start by 9-10 AM on Sunday, head up 287/26 to Moran (9 hrs or so from Denver?), there would be 2 hrs or more to proceed south on 191/89/26 to Jackson along the Snake River. Or are we nevertheless biting off too much? >>

Well, it is possible to do that driving if you press it and take the minimum stops for refueling and hitting the head; that is how I have usually done it. But, and this is a big "but," you have expressed an interest in photography. That's a whole different ball game, unless you just mean that you might stick the camera out the window and take some snapshots. Photography adds time to your trip.

From Dubois westward you're traveling along the Wind River in a very pretty area. Add time. Wildlife photography takes a lot of patience ... add time. And it seems that 287 around Togwotee Pass is perpetually under construction ... add time. (Maybe someone can update this forum on the progress, if any, of that road construction). For that matter, construction in other parts of Wyoming is a possibility. The drive from Moran to Jackson will knock your socks off ... add serious time. See what I mean ... different ball game altogether if you plan any photography along these routes. And I second the idea expressed above that you do not want to be driving in either YNP or GTNP after dark. So, "biting off too much" may indeed be the case.

Without going back and scouring this thread I don't know, but has anyone pointed out that timewise your best drive from Denver to Jackson is along I-90 to Rock Springs, then up 191 through Pinedale?

<< geysers >> Here's another thought about seeing geysers. Start at the geyser basin nearest you and enjoy it and photograph it for as long as it interests you. Then move to the next one. ... Some may think that sounds obvious, but others place a schedule ahead of enjoyment. I say enjoyment trumps scheduling. All of the geyser basins are photogenic. I like Norris, but all of us have a different eye for beauty. Do not worry about seeing all of the geyser basins (and certainly not al of the park) on a limited visit -- it can't be done, so skip the brain damage you'll give yourself from trying to do it.

Footnote with a coulpe of personal preferences relevant to your original post ... I think that the North Fork of Cascade Canyon to Lake Solitude is one of the prettiest places on the planet, a place where I could easily spend three days shooting photos and still want to return. And I do not share the general enthusiasm often expressed in these forums for the Beartooth Highway, probably because I have often driven Trail Ridge Road in RMNP and sometimes driven Going to the Sun Highway in Glacier, both of which have similar top-of-the-world tundra scenery. Like I say, just personal preferences.

Above all, ENJOY!

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