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Yellowstone in late September - Lodging and Itinerary Help

Sydney, Australia
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Yellowstone in late September - Lodging and Itinerary Help

Hi All (again)

Thanks for all your help so far, but I have more questions in relation to Yellowstone.

I am still trying to work out a basic itinerary so I can finalise lodging, but it is difficult because lodging and camping in Canyon and Tower-Roosevelt will be closed for the season. So this is what I was thinking....

September 21st - drive from Bozeman to Mammoth Campground. Find a camping spot. Then drive to the Lamar Valley and spend the day exploring that area. O/N Mammoth Campground.

September 22nd - explore Mammoth Hot Springs then spend the rest of the day exploring the canyon area and perhaps doing a short hike. Drive to West Yellowstone. O/N in West Yellowstone.

September 23rd - explore Hayden Valley and lake area. Again maybe doing a short hike? Drive back to West Yellowstone. O/N in West Yellowstone.

September 24th - Geyser day. Explore geyser areas and old faithful. O/N at the Old Faithful Inn (if a room ever becomes available).

September 25th - Head to Grand Tetons/Jackson.

Does this itinerary sound reasonable or is the level of backtracking it entails utterly ridiculous? We could camp two nights at Mammoth but I am not sure if that will save us any time.

Also, we thought two nights in West Yellowstone instead of a full three nights at Old Faithful purely to save some cash.

I know this basic itinerary also skips the area between Norris and Mammoth. Is that a big loss?

Again, any ideas and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much!

Atlanta, Georgia
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1. Re: Yellowstone in late September - Lodging and Itinerary Help

We don't camp so cannot help you with that but be mindful of the fact that the later you get in September the weather can be iffy. I personally would not want to camp when the weather is getting colder but that is just me.

You should be able to find reasonable priced lodging in West Yellowstone at that time of the year- but it does mean more driving time to see the sights.

Keep checking Xanterra because lodging does open up all the time. Have several people on the forum get lodging here recently for their trips.

If Canyon and Roosevelt are no longer options then look at Lake area and keep checking if you want one night at Old Faithful. Gardiner is also an option as it is very near to Mammoth area.

Good luck with your trip planning!!

Spery, Iowa
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2. Re: Yellowstone in late September - Lodging and Itinerary Help

If you are up for camping, then you would be fine in the least expensive lodging- I would watch for Lake Lodge or Lake hotel Cabins ( a bit pricier) for two nights or the Old Faithful Lodge budget cabins. I have seen a lot of movement in lodging the past two weeks- so call and watch the website. Days are shorter end of September, and you don't want to drive in the dark, so staying inside will give you much more time. Sounds like you are interested in wildlife (Lamar and Hayden mentioned) and Lake would be good for that.

Good Luck!

Sydney, Australia
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3. Re: Yellowstone in late September - Lodging and Itinerary Help

So is the Lake area still well located for Lamar Valley?

From the comments above I gather we should maybe spend one night at Mammoth, 2 nights around the lake area and one at Old Faithful?

We are trying to budget as we are in the US for 9 weeks but we don't want to compromise on lodging locations if it means missing out on a lot. We know it will be cold for camping (we are also camping in Glacier the week before) but even if we camp for one night here and there on our trip it means we can have the odd splurge along the way.

I guess ultimately we are trying to work an itinerary that will give us enough time to best experience the wildlife and the varying landscapes . We're not big hikers but we definitely want to incorporate some short hikes to keep us moving.

Spery, Iowa
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4. Re: Yellowstone in late September - Lodging and Itinerary Help

Lake is a bit far for nearly morning or evening to Lamar, so yes, a night at Mammoth or maybe Cooke City or Silver Gate for that. I was just replacing your West Yellowstone nights with in park nights. And the Old Faithful Lodge budget cabins are the least expensive in the area. You can still visit the Inn, no matter where you stay. It is more budget friendly to move lodging and avoid backtracking all the time driving back to outside lodging.

Sydney, Australia
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5. Re: Yellowstone in late September - Lodging and Itinerary Help

Thanks for the replies.

So I gather i would be best to try and skip West Yellowstone and maybe spend a night or two around the lake area.

Does anyone have any ideas on how we can work our itinerary to fit in the Beartooth Highway and the Chief Joseph Highway? Or do we just not have enough time?

Thanks again.

Atlanta, Georgia
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6. Re: Yellowstone in late September - Lodging and Itinerary Help

You would just need to check weather conditions on the Beartooth Hwy before you plan to drive it. Weather can get iffy in higher elevations at that time- it can be iffy at other times also. We drove it on Sept. 1 a couple of years ago and encountered snow, ice and freezing temps- no fun for this flatlander from Atlanta- they closed the roads for a couple of days the next day.

Spery, Iowa
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7. Re: Yellowstone in late September - Lodging and Itinerary Help

yes- weather dependent. But if it could fit, You would need to see Mammoth on day 1, then I would try to leave from the north-east gate on day 2 when moving from the north to the south. Drive only part way and back down, then you have the choice of back into the NE gate and down over Dunraven to Canyon and Lake. Or going down the Chief Joseph and in the east gate to Lake. This takes a day from Yellowstone, and depends on you staying at Lake, and is a long day of driving.

Personally, I wouldn't try to squeeze it in, but it is your trip after all :)

K S
Auburn, California
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8. Re: Yellowstone in late September - Lodging and Itinerary Help

We will be there the same time you are (actually we'll be there the whole month of Sept). We'll be camping in our trailer, though. It will be our 5th trip to YNP. We will base at Mammoth Campground for Lamar Valley, Mammoth Hot Springs & Tower-Roosevelt areas, but you can do Canyon from there, too. Then we move to Fishing Bridge (RVs only) but you could move to Lake (hotel or cabin), which isn't much further south. From there you can easily get to Hayden Valley, Old Faithful, & Canyon (we usually do Canyon from FB rather than Mammoth). Frankly, I think that Lake is more 'central' for touring the southern part of the Grand Loop Road than Old Faithful is, plus you'll be well placed to head south to the Tetons.

We are going to try to drive the Beartooth Hwy from Mammoth (north entrance), weather permitting. You can also drive it from the east entrance if you stay at Lake.

There are lots of interesting geothermal features in/around Norris. When you leave Mammoth for Lake or Old Faithful (wherever you end up staying) you can take the 'west' side route of the Grand Loop Road and it will take you right through the Norris area & you can make a few stops en route. Of course, you'll miss Dunraven Pass which is pretty scenic (no geothermal areas though) but if you visit Canyon from Mammoth you will have already driven over it.

Remember that YNP is HUGE and traveling is slow. Figure distance x 2 = travel time (ie 30 miles will take you an hour, without stops). Best advice is to use Google Earth or Mapquest to map out the distances from wherever you are staying to the areas you want to see. It can help you estimate times and thus use your time to your best advantage. Be sure to add in the time you want to spend at your actual destinations. If you are unable to get in-park lodging (you shouldn't have a problem if you're camping in Mammoth) for Old Faithful or Lake, you can stay in West Yellowstone, but you will need to allow for a lot of extra drive time. Again, Google Earth &/or Mapquest will be invaluable.

K S
Auburn, California
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9. Re: Yellowstone in late September - Lodging and Itinerary Help

correction to my post above; Beartooth Hwy from the northEAST entrance (not the north entrance) while at Mammoth.

Sydney, Australia
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10. Re: Yellowstone in late September - Lodging and Itinerary Help

Another question.....

Following Yellowstone we were planning on heading to the Grand Tetons for two nights, probably staying in Jackson. However, I don't really know what there is to see and do in the Grand Tetons NP.

Given that we are trying to stuff so much into our Yellowstone itinerary including the Beartooth Highway. should we consider changing our itinerary to dedicate 5 nights to Yellowstone, leaving only 1 night for Grand Tetons? Or is there a lot to see and do in the Grand Tetons that we would miss by making this change?

Thanks again!