Hi. It's another snowy day in NJ, so I've got time to plan our July trip to Yellowstone – hoping we have enough time to leisurely explore the park and avoid the heaviest crowds (at least sometimes). Two adults and two kids (ages 10 and 12) and all enjoy hiking and wildlife. Our timing has changed from what I posted months ago, but all these reservations are made.
* Thursday 7/10: Drive up from SLC area. Hopefully arriving in YNP by early afternoon. Plan to explore West Thumb geyser basin and perhaps hike Storm Point. Pick up Junior Ranger book/s at the visitor’s center. Sleep at Grant.
* Friday: Explore Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin. How much can we really get in that day? We’re not afraid of hiking but probably limiting it to 7-8 miles a day. Sleep at Grant.
* Saturday: Explore Midway Geyser Basin. Hike Fairy Falls so we can catch that view of Grand Prismatic Spring. Norris Geyser basin and Artist paint pots too, if that’s not too much. Sleep at Grant.
* Sunday: Drive up to Mammoth Hot Springs and explore the upper and lower terraces. Check out Norris basin and Sheepeater cliffs on the way. Perhaps hike Bunsen Peak or swim at Boiling Springs/Firehole River? Sounds like too much in one day? Sleep at Roosevelt Lodge.
* Monday: Explore Lamar Valley in the morning. Hike Yellowstone River Picnic Area. Perhaps Tower Fall? Horseback riding and Cowboy Cookout that night. Sleep at Roosevelt Lodge.
* Tuesday: Explore Lamar Valley. Hike Trout Lake. We were thinking we might drive Beartooth Highway this day. Is it worth it if we’ll be in Grand Teton for 4 nights? Sleep at Roosevelt Lodge.
* Wednesday: Explore the north and south rims of the canyon, Uncle Tom’s trail, Inspiration/Artist Point, etc. Too much in one day? Maybe drive down to Hayden Valley too. Sleep at Canyon Western Cabins.
* Thursday: Hike Mount Washburn (from which side?), and then maybe back to Hayden Valley or down to Lake Yellowstone? Sleep at Canyon.
* Friday 7/18: Maybe a boat trip on Lake Yellowstone or the ranger-guided Storm Point hike then heading south to Colter Bay for a few days.
I’m having a hard time figuring out how much we can do each day. I want a plan, but with enough flexibility to account for the unexpected. We’ll probably eat either breakfast or lunch out of cooler/backpacks each day. We'll likely stop at any visitor's center we pass and will try a ranger program or two. Are we planning too much, or could we be more ambitious? Any suggestions of how much we can do each day without rushing or backtracking much -- or what might be missing from our agenda -- or how to avoid the July crowds -- would be appreciated. These forums have been so helpful thus far!