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Need help with our itinerary

Dunedin, New Zealand
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29 posts
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Need help with our itinerary

We are from New Zealand and want to see all the best spots in Yellowstone in the first week of September 2013. We are fit and like hiking (day hikes).

We will drive to Yellowstone from Craters of the Moon National Park and have 5-6 full days to enjoy the park before heading down to Grand Teton Park.

How do you suggest we can get the most out of our time in the park?

We will be camping in a tent in the park. Which camp sites would you use for each night? (perhaps Madison, Norris and Canyon?).

We were thinking of the following itinerary. We are not sure whether this is workable and whether we are trying to fit too much in some days and not enough in others.

Day 1 - Upper Geyser Basin, Lower Geyser basin, Midway Geyser basin. Lone Star geyser basin, Firehole Canyon Drive and perhaps one of the waterfalls (Mystic, Fairy Falls or Kepler Cascades)

Day 2 - Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs and the Beaver Ponds Loop

Day 3 - Drive to Canyon Village see inspiration point and hike Uncle Toms Trail (not sure what else to do around this area)

Day 4 - Tower / Roosevalt Area. Hike to Tower falls and see Lamar Valley (not sure what else to do around this area)

Day 5 - Canyon Village area. see Mud Volcano area, Hayden Valley, Pelican Valley, West Thumb and Geyser Basin

Day 6 - drive to Grand Teton

suggestions and ideas would be appreciated

Albany, New York
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1. Re: Need help with our itinerary

I am not going to comment on your itinerary, as I am not an expert, Pam will get on that for sure!! I will say this,depending on how long you spend at the geyser areas, for example ....It took us 3 hours just to do the upper and lower geyser basin boardwalk, not because its a long walk, but because we were in such AWE of everything and I am an avid picture taker, so i had to get many shots of each one!!! So just be aware of how long it possibly could take!!!

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2. Re: Need help with our itinerary

As a fellow camper, the nice thing about Madison campground & Canyon campground is that they take reservations which makes it so much easier for visitors without a lot of time to gamble for the first-come/first-serve campgrounds like Norris.

That way you know you have secure spots each night. Madison CG is on the beautiful Madison River with walking trails down to watch for elk. Canyon has wooded, private sites and is near Canyon village for visitor center, restaurants, shops.

I split my time between campgrounds since the park is so huge. Madison CG is perfect for the west side Old Faithful & geyser areas. Canyon CG is perfect for the east side canyon, Lamar & Hayden valleys for wildlife.. Canyon has showers & laundry, a bit plus.

I would suggest that when you make your reservations that you either ask, if you call, or type into the request box if reserving online for TENT ONLY loops in both campgrounds- much quieter without the RV generators.

Edited: 12 April 2013, 14:17
N. Idaho
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for Yellowstone National Park
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3. Re: Need help with our itinerary

Yep, you have too much on your plate for Day 1. I would defer Lone Star geyser til another day. It's an easy hike, on an old road bed, so pretty level, but with everything else you are doing that will be too much. You may wind up spending some time waiting for geysers to erupt in the Upper Geyser Basin, or sitting on the 2nd floor deck of the Old Faithful Inn overlooking the geyser basin. (See Webbsue's comment in #1! lol Last year someone had a pedometer on thru the geyser basin and they wound up with 9 miles!) Keppler Cascades is right by the road, so just a quick stop and the parking lot for Lone Star is right there so you can do both at the same time. I would, however add the Firehole Lake Dr, the entrance to which is between Fountain Paint Pots and Midway Geyser basin.

Day 2, you might want to drive out to Gardiner (just 5 miles from Mammoth) and see the Roosevelt Arch, which is the old entrance to the park. You also might catch a glimpse of bighorn sheep on the cliffs on the right hand side of the road around mile 1.5. There is also a self guided walking tour of the Old Ft Yellowstone buildings. The Albright Visitor Center is in one but the rest are occupied by YNP employees so you can only view from the outside. Make sure you do the Upper Terrace Drive. It will be on your left as you begin your descent in to Mammoth. You also might want to do Artist Paint Pots which is near Norris. Try to do that in the AM as the parking lot gets full. Norris is also good in the AM, to me it gets very hot in that geyser basin.

Day 3, Inspiration Point is on the North Rim along with several other overlooks. My favorite view is from Artist Point which is on the South Rim. You will also want to drive thru Hayden Valley to see if you can spot some wildlife. You might want to hike Mt Washburn today, but stop at the Canyon Visitor Center and talk to the Rangers as well.

Day 4, the hike to Tower Fall is actually not a hike, but a short walk on a paved path. There are a number of overlooks north of Tower Fall so stop at those and look over the edge. I like the hike from the Yellowstone River Picnic area. You turn right at Tower Roosevelt Jct, cross the river and it is on your right. It is steep headed up from the parking lot, but then is pretty easy from there. You can do this as an out and back or continue to where it intersects with the Specimen Ridge Trail and take a left back to that trailhead and the road. It is less than a half a mile hike back to the parking lot. This has great views of the Canyon. After you do Lamar, you can also return to the Tower Jct and head right toward Mammoth doing the Petrified Tree (which in and of itself is not much IMO, but you might see black bear back in there) and the Blacktail Plateau Dr. (This is dirt/gravel so your rental car agreement might not cover anything off pavement. You do not need a high clearance vehicle to do this road.) If you wanted to on this day, if you get an early start, you could drive Beartooth Highway. For this you would drive thru Lamar Valley and out the NE entrance. Drive to Rock Creek Vista (clearly signposted) and then turn around and return to the park. This will take most of the day.

Day 5, many like the Storm Point hike which is east of Fishing Bridge. You can also either revisit things you didn't spend enough time with or pick up whatever you missed this day.

Have fun!


4. Re: Need help with our itinerary

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