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So terribly confused on how to split our vacation/lodging

Texas
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So terribly confused on how to split our vacation/lodging

I apologize but I am so terribly confused on how to split our vacation/lodging and I need someone to help! :(

We are looking at June 2015 and did not realize that reservations opened today so I'm panicking a little...ok, a lot!!!

I cannot say where we will be flying in yet, as air has not been released but we are going to shoot for Bozeman.

We will probably have 8-9 nights to work with and will probably try to fit GTNP in if possible.

This trip is mainly geared towards wildlife viewing (elk, moose, bear, wolf) but am always up for some beautiful scenery. Waterfalls are good and they geysers are too but I don't think we want to spend a whole lot of time looking at geysers as we will have a 11 year old with us and i'm sure she would be bored with that.

Where should we stay, for how long, and why?

Thanks sooooooooo much!!!

N. Idaho
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1. Re: So terribly confused on how to split our vacation/lodging

OK, no need to panic. People are still finding vacancies for 2014, so you do not need to feel pressured to book now for 2015. Yes, the reservations opened. The ones that are hardest to come by are the accommodations at Roosevelt with a private bath as there are so few of them. Even if you wait until January, you will still be able to book. It may take some watching of the website and some calling, but there is always a lot of movement in the reservations. You can always do back up reservations in West Yellowstone or Gardiner next year after checking the cancellation policies.

Did the advice in your other thread not help?

With 8 nights, flying in from Bozeman and departing from Bozeman, I suggest the first 2 nights in Gardiner or Mammoth. The next 1 at Canyon or Lake. The next 3 in Jackson or Grand Tetons. The remaining 2 at Old Faithful or West Yellowstone. This works you around in a clockwise manner thru both parks. It positions you to come in the North gate (about 1.5 hours from Bozeman) and to depart thru the West gate (about 1.5 hours from Bozeman, lol.) If you have 9 nights, spend another at Canyon or Lake. Depending on what time your flight leaves, you might need to spend the last night in Bozeman.

editing to add: I just realized you thought you might be *bored* at Old Faithful. Well, I have taken 11 year olds there and they did like the dynamic nature of things spewing in the geyser basin, but each child/family is different so you should switch things around to suit you.

Pam

Edited: 02 May 2014, 22:15
Texas
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2. Re: So terribly confused on how to split our vacation/lodging

The post from a couple of days helped A LOT when it came to airports...but am confused as to where I should stay and for how long now hahaha. I appreciate your guidance and it helped to calm me down ;)

We would like to spend the most amount of nights in an area with a lot of wildlife viewing opportunities..would that be Canyon area or Lake? Or somewhere else? There could be equal amount of opportunity all throughout the lake for as much as I know! ??

You're right, she may find the geyser area very interesting. Would like to spend a full day wandering around there...should we do 2 full days there?

jackson, miss
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3. Re: So terribly confused on how to split our vacation/lodging

If you didn't mind moving around, I would spend 2 nights in Gardiner and see boundary road and look for big horn sheep on the cliffs before you get to mammoth and do Lamar Valley at least once. Tower Road is great for black bears too. I would then move to the Lake/Canyon area at a room or cabin that suits your budget for 2-3 nights to be close to Hayden Valley at sunrise and dusk. And it gives you good access to lower and upper falls. Also the East Entrance road can be very good for grizzlies. I would then move to the Tetons for a couple of nights. Gorgeous scenery and lots and lots of moose and grizzlies. I would stay in the park. My personal favorite is Signal Mountain, but definitely stay in the park. Then I would spend 2 nights at the Old Faithful area. Do the hotel tour, and walk the boardwalks. Be sure to go to the West entrance. I have been reading the eagles are nesting again this year in the nest near the entrance. If that is too much changing, then I would go 3-4 in the Lake/Canyon area (pretty easy access to lamar via Dunraven from Canyon), 3 in the Tetons and 2-3 at Old Faithful.

Ennis MT
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for Yellowstone National Park, Ennis
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4. Re: So terribly confused on how to split our vacation/lodging

First off, take a deep breath -lol!

Don't make this trip more complicated than it needs to be. Have you looked at the YNP website? Besides all the great suggestions for "Thing to do/see", it has a nice interactive map that will help you visualize where the lodging areas are located within the park: www.nps.gov/yell . Based on the interests you expressed, I would suggest dividing your nights among Mammoth, Lake or Canyon, and even Grant Village, with 2-3 nights in Jackson or GTNP. Your daughter would probably like the touristy shops etc. in Jackson. If your interest in the geysers is low, I wouldn't spend more than 1 night in that area. Just my personal experience, but my family stayed at OFI on our first trip to the park, and my 3 kids threatened a boycott if they ever had to stay there again. Just wasn't that interesting to them.

When you're ready to decide on your travel arrangements, read through the first question under the TQ's at the upper right of this page for help. Also, the article "What do newbies need to know" is especially informative for first-time visitors.

Have fun planning, and Enjoy your trip!

Jackson, Wyoming
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5. Re: So terribly confused on how to split our vacation/lodging

Grand Teton, not Yellowstone or anywhere else in North America was rated number one for wildlife observation on the continent a few years ago. Unequivocally FAR better for seeing moose than anywhere in Yellowstone. Lots of elk, bison, and more.

With all due respect an in my obviously biased equation if you're just thinking of thrying to "fit in" in GTNP and your number one priority is wildlife observation you haven't thought this through very well at all.

With an 11 year old you should also be thinking some good hikes, and GTNP is in the conversation of any serious hiker's best destinations. I also see bears and wolves in the area fairly frequentrly by simply knowing where to look. No, its not the Lamar, but then the Lamar is not Hermitage Point, Two Ocean Lake, Hanging Canyon, etc.

I'll just honestly encourage you to really re-think your priorities if GTNP is just a passing thought right now.

N. Idaho
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6. Re: So terribly confused on how to split our vacation/lodging

*With all due respect*, OP does not mention hiking as a priority so she need not be told she *should* be considering what someone views as *good hikes*. Most people visit the area the first time with a view toward seeing the main sights in both Yellowstone and Grand Tetons, then on a return visit can drill deeper into what both areas have to offer. No one should be made to feel they must see anything in particular, geysers included, lol! (But really, they are my favorite, so mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.)

BTW, to the OP, in Yellowstone most wildlife watching is done from the road. People will often set up spotting scopes when there is a bear or wolf sighting. They will often offer to allow you to view thru their scopes as well. It does help if you have several sets of binoculars so once you can see the animal in the scope you can then watch with your binocs.

Pam

Jackson, Wyoming
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7. Re: So terribly confused on how to split our vacation/lodging

Pam,

WADR and IMO, again qualified as biased since that didn't seem to register the first time for you, the saddest aspect of most people's priorities for the GYE is that they just roll around in their cars looking for wildlife. Wildlife Tour Companies also make good money doing that. But to not go to a place like Gros Ventre campground and take a short stroll to see numerous moose including B&C Bulls is again IMO crazy. To not stroll less than a mile to likely see balckies on Two Ocean or a little farther for Emma Matilda to not ease out onto Third Creek past Swan Lake and Heron Pond and enjoy an evening with Otters, etc., is IMO also crazy. To not even think about renting a canoe and doing String and Leigh Lakes [EASY 10 minute PORTAGE] and having moose and blackies to yourself is again in my biased opinion crazy. To not think about doing the 1.2 mile "climb" of Mt. Leidy and take in one of the greatest views on the planet is again IMO crazy.

OP you will have a decent amount of time to do several different things. If you think your 11 year old will be happy just rolling around in the car then do that if that's what you want to do. Or think outside the constraining box so many newcomers to the area do that of the nearly 20 million acres of the GYE only the less than 3 million acres of the parks deserve your time. TR didn't lobby for the Shoshone to be the world's first National forest for no reason. They didn't set aside the bigger than both parks combined BTNF for no reason at all either.

When I was a boy 40 years ago I had a wonderful experience rolling around Yellowstone looking for wildlife. But it paled in comparrison to someone taking the time to get me even just a little beyond the Asphalt and gravel. When I stood on Mt. Leidy at that age I was moved far more than by any geyser or roadside zoo. When I rode my horse to the head of Crystal Creek I thought more of the value of conservation than viewing any any fumarole. When I did the short hike to Laurel Lake I was far more moved to responsibility than at any boardwalk. We are all different, but in my experience kids really appreciate the wild far more being in it than watching thee dge of it on a roadside. OP, you know that 11 year old. Do what you want to do. I'll just suggest that if you're not thinking of any easy dusk hike on Hermitage Point or to the Moose Ponds above Jenny Lake, etc., and you're just gonna drag that girl in the car the whole time, that its just sad.

Whatever you do, whether you get out of that box or not, I hope you all have an awesome time.

USA
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8. Re: So terribly confused on how to split our vacation/lodging

ashlie_nichole, you're the one who said the 11 yr old gal is a non-hiking air condition baby! There's plenty for every type in the parks.

Perhaps have her look through the 69 things to do in the park to have her have some input into choices:

tripadvisor.com/…TtD

That might get her excited via some pre-trip research!

With your main focus upon wildlife, Roosevelt cabins are a great location for a couple of your many nights to easily access Lamar valley, plus be nearby for the evening horseback or wagon ride to the Roosevelt cookout if that is of interest. You can now see online what is available, including Roosevelt cabins with en suite.

Canyon or Lake lodging is also a great choice for your main focus upon wildlife, as wildlife-rich Hayden & Pelican valleys are nearby.

You can always grab lodging in several locations & then utilize the liberal cancellation/ change policy if you change your mind.

You'll have a great trip no matter what!!!

Marcellus, New York
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9. Re: So terribly confused on how to split our vacation/lodging

OP, obviously you know your child best, but I have two kids ages 9 and 11, and both of them love visiting the Yellowstone area. In the summer we've done lots of geyser fields, we've done the walk up at Mammoth (FWIW, I'd walk down if I had it to do over again - lol!), we've done lots of float trips down Big Springs and, while we have seen many things from the car/box, we've always enjoyed ourselves a whole lot.

Bottom line, try lots and lots of stuff, even if you think she won't be into it. You just never know! Did my kids love every hike and experience? Nope. Some of it was just too hot for them - main complaint we heard - and sometimes it was too much walking/hiking. BUT both kids loved things I never would have guessed they would. Give your daughter a chance to experience new things, and hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised!

Yellowstone Nat...
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10. Re: So terribly confused on how to split our vacation/lodging

<< confused as to where I should stay and for how long now >>

Here's the deal ... YNP is so incredible that every place you stay is great. You can't go wrong. Well, I shouldn't say that; you can go wrong by trying to micromanage the entire vacation instead of relaxing, taking your time and letting the park come to you. It won't fail you.

ENJOY!