We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Itinerary for 4 days in YS and 1 day in GT.

Minneapolis...
Level Contributor
8 posts
2 reviews
Save Topic
Itinerary for 4 days in YS and 1 day in GT.

I have read through multiple plans and did not find one that suited my needs. We will be there (4 adults and 2 kids(5 and 3)) and will be staying all days at West Yellowstone. Can someone provide us with a plan for 4 days in YS and 1 day in GT. This will be a road trip and we will be coming in from Rapid City.

USA
Level Contributor
9,465 posts
44 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Itinerary for 4 days in YS and 1 day in GT.

Welcome to TA-Yellowstone!

A great place to start is to read through "plan your visit" on the NPS-Yellowstone site:

http://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm

Also, look through 69 Things to Do in Yellowstone to narrow down your own interests:

tripadvisor.com/…TtD

Lots of choices depending on your group's interests. Holler with questions.

Billings, Montana
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
5,613 posts
1 review
Save Reply
2. Re: Itinerary for 4 days in YS and 1 day in GT.

The following website was created and maintained by a couple named Alan and Sue Johnson. Al was a frequent poster on Trip Advisor and had a wealth of information. Unfortunately, he lost his battle with cancer in 2011. His website is still available and has a lot of great itineraries that work from different bases on the park. I highly recommend the site as a resource for your planning.

alandsuejohnson.com/ynp_itineraries_west_yel…

Deb

Minneapolis...
Level Contributor
8 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Itinerary for 4 days in YS and 1 day in GT.

Thanks for the links. Went through them more than once and still a little unsure. I found the Johnson's plans a little ambitious with our little ones.

The horse riding is ruled out since the kids are underage,so is the cookout as we don't eat meat.I am also unsure of whether we can catch anything during dawn/sunrise. Also ruled out are back country hikes. Having said all this, we are interested in seeing wildlife/geysers/scenic views.I have the following questions

1.I saw that each of the famous geysers are a part of their own basin or circular trail route. How many of these can you cover in 1 day. I see each of them are about 0.8-1.5 miles not taking into account the road time to reach each entry point to these trails.

2. If we were to reach Lamar Valley at dusk for wildlife viewing, is there a viewpoint or strategic place to get to for best chances? Similarly about Hayden valley.

3. Do we have enough time to get to West Yellowstone before dark?

4. Shortest route to take from there(both Hayden and Lamar) to West Yellowstone (which part of the loop)

5. Is driving after sunset just not recommended or plain dangerous.

6. The 3 year old is quite active if well fed and slept. How easy or difficult is the Uncle Tom Trail.Is there an alternate route to reach the same observation point.

7. How different is the North Rim/South Rim Drive to the Canyon? Is there one preferred over the other?

8.How much time would it take to do both.

9.Is it mandatory to carry binoculars? Will we miss a lot if we don't carry one. Can we rent any near the park especially in West Yellowstone?

10.Which of the non-geyser trails would be the easiest with the kids(assuming those don't have stroller friendly paths)

Still looking for any rough plans that you can outline.

4. Re: Itinerary for 4 days in YS and 1 day in GT.

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This post has been removed at the author's request. The author may post again if desired.

Posts on the TripAdvisor forums may be edited for a short period of time. Once the edit period has expired, authors may update their posts by removing and reposting them.

To read more about editing your posts, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/help/how_to_edit_your_posts

Removed on: 09 July 2016, 23:04
N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
21,321 posts
109 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Itinerary for 4 days in YS and 1 day in GT.

The showiest geysers are in the Upper Geyser Basin around Old Faithful. You can walk the path and boardwalk thru the basin to see Grand, Riverside, Castle and Daisy which are the predictable ones. The total walk is probably too much for the little ones but you can check for timing at the Visitor Center and have the rangers help you plan how to see them if their times correspond to your visit. There is also a good view of some geysers from the 2nd floor deck of the Old Faithful Inn where the kids can rest.

Which *famous* geysers are you wanting to see? I particularly like Sawmill which is small but has a wonderful pattern of spray. It is probably not on anyone's list of famous ones, but it is so cute!

I would go in from West Yellowstone, go to Old Faithful and work your way back thru the other geyser basins as your group has the time and energy. There are some nice picnic areas between the Fountain Paint Pot area and Madison if people need a nap.

I would not recommend Lamar Valley at dusk or dawn for you. It will be about a 3 hour drive and it would mean you are driving in the dark which we do not recommend. You will be able to see wildlife at other times during the day. Hayden Valley (south of Canyon) is closer to West Yellowstone but you need to allow yourselves 1.5 hours from the Canyon VC to get to the West gate before dark. Trust me on this...I have goofed and had to make that drive in the dark and even knowing the road it was awful. Big animals all over the road! It is dangerous.

Uncle Toms trail is stairs that go down in to the canyon. There is no other way to access this viewpoint. You can see several other awesome views of the Falls from an easier vantage point.

You can't actually see into the canyon from either Drive. The South rim has 2 overlook parking areas, one for the Upper Falls View and Uncle Tom's and the other parking area for Artist's Point. There are a number along the North Rim. You can probably do the South rim, excluding the Uncle Tom's stairs in 45 minutes or so, assuming you are able to find parking spots at the parking areas. The North rim takes longer as there are more viewpoints. It also depends on how long you spend at each viewpoint.

Nothing is mandatory in the park. Binocs are helpful. If there is a wonderful wildlife sighting there may well be people with scopes who are usually very generous and will invite you to look.

The easiest non-geyser trail might be Natural Bridge. It is a mile or so back to the bridge and is on an old road bed, so it is level.

editing to add: Cross-posting with Ystoner!

Pam

Edited: 29 April 2014, 02:39
Minneapolis...
Level Contributor
8 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Itinerary for 4 days in YS and 1 day in GT.

Thanks Pam and Ystoner. Will take some time to read through both your posts and come up with a suitable plan. Any pointers on Grand Teton must do's. Will have only 1 day there.

Minneapolis...
Level Contributor
8 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Itinerary for 4 days in YS and 1 day in GT.

Pam,

We definitely want to see Old Faithful,Grand Prismatic, Morning Glory and depending on time/energy any of the other that we can do like Black Sand Basin,West Thumb,Mud pots,Norris. We were thinking of covering one loop in two days and the other in another two. Is there any better way to split this? Like the west side and east side of the loop. Also the 3 year old will mostly be in the stroller(hopefully he is still obedient enough till the trip) and the 5 year old walking or on someone's shoulder or the stroller. Will the weather wear us down to lose energy at the end of May?

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
21,321 posts
109 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Itinerary for 4 days in YS and 1 day in GT.

Well, I like to spend one day doing Old Faithful to Madison. I like to sit and wait for geysers to erupt, you will have to take some down time for the kids so it will probably even out.

Old Faithful and Morning Glory are in the Upper Geyser Basin so you will start at the Visitor Center and move around this basin. Morning Glory is accessible via a paved path so easy to do a stroller on. You can also access it via a boardwalk thru the back side of the basin which does have some steeper patches, but nothing you can't manage. (More difficult if you are pushing a wheelchair.) I would probably try to do this in the AM as it can get pretty hot in the geyser basin. There is a lot of white *sinter* that is pretty reflective so you will need sunscreen. (Altho if you are hitting a cold patch in May you may WANT to do it in the afternoon!) You might check on the eruption times for the predictable geysers and decide if you want to wait for OF or head down toward Riverside or Grand. Riverside is the nearest to Morning glory, so if it is going at a convenient time, very easy for you to catch. Grand is on the boardwalk on the far side of the basin, but you can see it from the paved path.

Grand Prismatic is in Midway and accessible via a boardwalk from the parking lot.

Black Sand Basin is pretty small. Easy to park in the lot and walk the boardwalk.

West Thumb is also small, can be done in an hour or so. It is not as dynamic as the Upper Basin. I would pick this up on your way to Grand Tetons.

Fountain Paint Pots is also a shortish loop. In the back corner, Clepsydra is a perpetual spouter, so very fun as it pumps and spews. If you are lucky you will see some action from Fountain which is nearby. There are also some goopy, blorpy mud pots which are fun to watch. Also in the Lower Geyser Basin is Firehole Lake Drive which has the really awesome Great Fountain Geyser. The parking lot for it is literally right beside it, so if the timing is right on this one perhaps the kids will need a nap and give you time to wait. The entrance to Firehole Lake Dr is between Midway and Fountain Paint Pots.

Norris is very big. Boardwalks thru there too. There are 2 loops, one going thru the Back Basin, one thru Porcelain Basin. You can get a great look at Porcelain Basin from the top of the hill at the gift shop area, so if you have to choose one, I would do back basin. There is not a predictable geyser in Norris at present.

There is also Artist Paint Pots which is between Madison and Norris.

I would also spend another day doing the Canyon to Fishing Bridge. Mud Volcano can be quite smelly which your kids will love if they are boys and maybe not so much if they are girls. That is a pretty stereotypical statement as I loved Mud Volcano as a little girl!

Here is a link to the Accessibility guide. You can give it a quick look to see where there are stairs or steep patches on trails in the major areas.

www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/loader.cfm…

One thing I have been thinking about on your trip is that you may not get your early morning wildlife watching in with the kids. You may have to think about doing that when you and your wife return to the park when the kids are older. Or when one of the kids gets a summer job in the park and you come to visit, lol

Pam!

Minneapolis...
Level Contributor
8 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Itinerary for 4 days in YS and 1 day in GT.

Thanks Pam for the detailed response. Looking forward to see all this in person. Is there anyway we can see wildlife other than the recommended dawn/dusk other than the road crossing bisons( Are they common).

Both the kids are boys so they should like it.

On which day would you cover the valleys and Mammoth springs?

Ps: I am the wife. But yeah, hubby and I love wildlife so will hopefully return later. :-)

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
21,321 posts
109 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Itinerary for 4 days in YS and 1 day in GT.

Oh good grief...not sure when I determined you were the Husband! So very Sorry!!

Really you can see wildlife sightings any time of the day. Since you are going early in the season, that is more likely than if you were in August. You may have good luck seeing bear in the Upper Loop, Hayden or Lamar during the day, so by all means drive thru them. Hayden Valley you can cover when you do Canyon to Fishing Bridge. Another day you can circle the Upper Loop and take a buzz out in to Lamar then. You may see quite a bit of wildlife on the West entrance road. There are many elk and bison on and around the road. They may be crossing the road or walking down the road. BTW, I suggest as you prepare to exit each afternoon that you stop at the Madison Junction rest area to do a potty stop. I started that when I didn't one time and got caught in about a 45 minute bison jam on the West entrance road. That was a loooong drive out!

If you have 4 full days, I would probably do the Upper Loop on Day 3, giving you day 4 to fit in Norris, Artist Paint pots, anything you missed or want to see again. Day 5 when you go to Grand Teton will be a longer day in the car as will the day when you do the Upper Loop, so I woudl separate them by a shorter drive day.

Sorry I am not good on Grand Tetons so no recommendations from me on that front.

Pam

Get answers to your questions about Yellowstone National...