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Returning to my favorite place

Georgetown, Kentucky
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501 posts
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Returning to my favorite place

We just found good deal on airfare to visit Yellowstone/Grand Teton and will be flying into Butte, MT August 24-31. Our first national park trip was to Yellowston/Grand Teton in 2007 and it inspired us to visit national parks for most of our vacations since then. Fast forward 6 years later and we will be bringing our 3 year old son and infant daughter (who will be 8 months old) to the area.

For our first trip we went in the 2nd week in May and lucked out with good weather (70's). There were no crowds and lots of animals. We stayed 3 nights Jackson, WY, 1 night Gardiner, MT and 3 nights in West Yellowstone, MT. We hit most of highlights of both parks except that one road on the Yellowstone Figure 8 was not open (Dunraven Pass?). For this trip, since we have the already seen the highlights and have little ones in tow we don't need to see everything. I am debating on how to split the trip and what to do about lodging.

I am thinking of either getting cabin near West Yellowstone for the the entire week. Or splitting the stay with 3 nights near Grand Teton and 4 nights in West Yellowstone. I know staying in one places means more driving, but driving in Yellowstone is fun when there are animals to look for.

Our lodging budget is about $1000-$1500 for the week. I am surprised about how much more expensive hotel rooms are for our dates than they were (I guess that is the difference between May and August). For the Grand Teton area, prices for hotels in Jackson seem to be $150 per night and up. I was thinking of going with a 2-room cabin at Signal Mountain Lodge, which is about $200, but might be worth it for the location. How are these rooms? Are they clean and safe for an infant?

Any other lodging recommendations? Also, we love hiking in glacial curved valleys (like Swiftcurrent Valley or Grinnell Glacier trail in Glacier National Park). We would like to do one day hike around 5 miles or less. Any recommendations? We haven't tried hiking with both little ones, but managed to hike around 30 miles in a week in Glacier NP when our son was 15 months old.

Edited: 05 April 2013, 18:00
jackson, miss
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1. Re: Returning to my favorite place

I love the 2 room cabins--they are rustic though. Small bathoom with a shower tub combo and toilet. The sink is outside the bath. No tv or wifi. Private porch on the front. Not enough outlets, so bring a strip of outlets. I have always thought they were clean but I have never had a small child with me. Beds are super comfy and views are just steps away and fabulous. They have screened doors out onto the porch with a hook and eye lock. No AC but several screened windows and fans. Small fridge but no coffee maker although there is free very good coffee in the lobby. I always stay here.

Philadelphia...
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309 posts
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2. Re: Returning to my favorite place

We were there in 2006 and are returning again this year and I also noticed the increases. In 06 we paid about $180 at night at jackson Lake Lodge- this year it's $250.

I'll really throw your for a loop. I'm looking at our TWA Services brochure for Yellowstone lodgingfrom our 1980 trip:

Old Faithful Inn - Deluxe Rooms - $39; OF Lodge Standard cabin $29 or Roosevelt; Roughrider cabin $9.50; Rustic Cabin $7.00

And Gas was only about 80 cents a gallon.

Georgetown, Kentucky
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501 posts
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3. Re: Returning to my favorite place

Wow you could get a room back then for what it would cost to camp now!! We stayed on the best room room category in Wagon Wheel Village in Jackson $75/ night. Now that name has changed to Rustic Inn and the cheapest rooms are around $300 for our dates. Airfare did not go up nearly as much. $250 in 2007 vs $300 for this trip

Georgetown, Kentucky
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4. Re: Returning to my favorite place

I am going to go ahead and book the 2 room cabin at Signal Mountain Lodge on Monday. How long will it take to travel from Butte MT to the lodge? Google maps says around 6 hrs via the interstate through Idaho. Would it be better to go another way?

Philadelphia...
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5. Re: Returning to my favorite place

If your spending your entire time at SML:

I-15 S to Sage Junction, ID (Exit 143_ ID SR-33 east to and thru Teton Valley, Driggs, Victor, then over Teton Pass on WY SR-22 to Jackson is about 285 miles and 5, possibly 6 hours.

If you plan on any overnight stops closer to Yellowstone use I-90 to Livingston, then south into Gardiner or Mammoth is about 165 - 170 miles and 3 hours. You could do Yellowstone will stops at Gardiner at West Yellowstone if nothing is available in the Park and then you could head down to GTNP and Signal Mountain Lodge.

Georgetown, Kentucky
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501 posts
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6. Re: Returning to my favorite place

We are planning 3 nights in Signal Mountain Lodge followed by 4 nights in West Yellowstone. Google maps says 5 hours 40 min via the interstate through Jackson, WY but about an hour shorter going through West Yellowstone and driving the Yellowstone into Grand Teton from the north. Is this accurate? I was thinking that google might not have an accurate estimate for travel times through the park.

Edited: 06 April 2013, 13:35
Philadelphia...
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309 posts
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7. Re: Returning to my favorite place

I just ran it on MS Streets & Trips: Shows 2.5 hrs from Butte to W Yellowstone via I-90 and US 191. BUT also shows W. Yellowstone thru YNP and into GTNP ending at SML at ONLY 2 hours.

I would think 1 hour from W Yellowstone to Old Faithful. Another 1 hr from Old Faithful to YNP S. Entrance, then 30-45 minutes to SML or total of about 2.5 - 3 hrs at best.

Philadelphia...
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8. Re: Returning to my favorite place

The again from Jackson up to SML is 30 - 35 minutes so it might be 6 of one, half dozen another

N. Idaho
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for Yellowstone National Park
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9. Re: Returning to my favorite place

I drive Butte to West Yellowstone every time I go to the Park as I travel I90 from Idaho. I do not travel all the way to US191/Bozeman/Belgrade, that takes more time.

If you decide to go thru West Yellowstone (and then Yellowstone) to get to Signal Mt Lodge, drop off I90 at Cardwell, after you exit there is a big brown road sign saying YNP turn left. Ignore this sign and go straight ahead. This cuts a few miles off as you will intersect with US287. Follow US 287 in to West Yellowstone (and also take a look at the thread Bill074 just posted about bison on the road north of West Yellowstone as this is part of your route). It takes closer to 3 hours for me from Butte to West Yellowstone. I drive the speed limit.

I do not have an opinion on your best route to SML from the Butte area. I would probably go I15 to Idaho Falls and thru Jackson, but I have no real basis for that opinion.

Pam

Edited: 06 April 2013, 19:39
Marietta, Georgia
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10. Re: Returning to my favorite place

We stayed 5 nights in West Yellowstone last year and had no issues driving in and out to go places. You are going to drive in YNP no matter what. You'll find plenty of doable hiking options in YNP. To me, the ease of access to so many things in YNP make it the best place to go with children.

Tetons - Signal Mtn is fine. Rustic but clean and comfortable. Plus, you can't beat the view. My recommendation for a hike in Teton is taking the boat across Jenny Lake and going up to Inspiration Point. It's a pull, but relatively short. Once there, you can hike back into the valley as far as you wish and it is relatively level. Since you've done Glacier, you'll be fine.

Routes from Butte, I think it all depends on your tome and if you want to explore. To me, any route you take will have great scenery

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