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Overwhelmed - 7 Day Itinerary Help for Yellowstone

Phoenix, Arizona
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Overwhelmed - 7 Day Itinerary Help for Yellowstone

Hi, Looking for a 7 day Itinerary for Yellowstone. Thinking if possible, one or two of those days at Tetons. Family of 4, two adults, two kids 7 and 16. We are staying in Big Sky as home base. We do want to go on "small hikes" since we have a 7 year old. However, I don't know if we will ever have a chance again to get back to Yellowstone so therefore, we want to see as much as possible.

I've read much online but get overwhelmed. Therefore, I thought I'd ask for your best knowledge to do for each day.

What time is best to get to the park in the morning for wild life? I know many say early, but what does that mean? 6AM? 8 AM? Thank you for your support.

San Diego...
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1. Re: Overwhelmed - 7 Day Itinerary Help for Yellowstone

I have found the following websites to be very informative and easily understood while we were planning activities:




It is very overwhelming at first to decide what to see and what to do, but it helped our family to decide what was our priority (wildlife and hiking) and to build our activities around that.

We'll be spending a day in each quadrant of the park -- Old Faithful area, Madison/Norris area, Tower/Roosevelt area, Mammoth/Northeast Entrance Road area, Canyon area, and Lake area. It helped us to pick a day for each area, and then see what we wanted to do from the list of hikes and activities in each area based on our priorities for our trip. (Hopefully that makes sense!)

You could see wildlife at any time within the park, but around dusk and dawn are usually periods of higher likelihood. This website can help you know what time sunset and sunrise will be: www.sunrisesunset.com/search/results.asp… Hayden and Lamar Valleys are popular spots. Between sunrise and about 10am and a few hours after dusk are ideal. But again driving when it is dark is very risky, so keep that in mind when planning your daily trip into the park.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
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2. Re: Overwhelmed - 7 Day Itinerary Help for Yellowstone

Big Sky is a long drive to Yellowstone, close to 2 hours one way to Old Faithful area, Canyon area and longer to other corners of the park, then of course the 2 hour drive back. Doesn't leave much time in the day to see the huge park. Any chance you can change your lodging? West Yellowstone, Gardiner both would be better options even if you have to move around. Also 1 or 2 nights in Tetons/Jackson would be the place to stay to visit Tetons. When are you visiting? You may also be able to get a cancellation at one of the lodges inside the park.

Wildlife will be out early, 6am or so, you will have to get the kids and yourself up very early!

N. Idaho
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3. Re: Overwhelmed - 7 Day Itinerary Help for Yellowstone

I completely agree with Casa. Staying in Big Sky is going to make a long day in the car even longer. If there is any way you can change at least to West Yellowstone and/or Gardiner you will have a happier family. Are you trying to do a time-share condo in Big Sky?

It is a good 45 minutes from Big Sky to the West gate at West Yellowstone. From there the closest major site, Old Faithful is another hour into the park. Canyon is 1.5 hours from the West Gate. Mammoth about 2 hours from the west gate.

Many like to get to the major wildlife areas at dawn. I never make it that early. From Big Sky, Hayden Valley will be your closest, so that is about 2h15 minutes (without stops for food, bathroom or scenery). I would forget about trying to get into the park early from your lodging. Even if you were staying in West Yellowstone it would be difficult. There is wildlife out and around thru all the park, so you can see anything any time.

Are you flying in and out of Bozeman? It would be more efficient to fly in open jaw, in to one area, out of another if you intend to do Grand Tetons.

I hope you are planning to stay nights in Grand Teton area. It will be about a 4 hour drive from West Yellowstone to Jackson, perhaps more, as there is road construction between Old Faithful and West Yellowstone.


Jackson, Wyoming
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4. Re: Overwhelmed - 7 Day Itinerary Help for Yellowstone

Agreed. Big Sky is a bad choice of where to stay to see Yellowstone let alone Grand Teton. It may cost more but it will end up being priceless to stay in multiple locations.

Kids would love 2 nights in Jackson area, great stuff in GTNP and BTNF and Alpine Slide, Aerial Tram [way better than Big Sky] Downhill Mt. Biking at JH Resort....

N. Idaho
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5. Re: Overwhelmed - 7 Day Itinerary Help for Yellowstone

Here is a link to the official map of Yellowstone. We recommend you double your miles for the approximate driving time, not counting stops for scenery, wildlife jams, bathroom breaks or food.


As Casa pointed out it's 2 hours to Old Faithful from Big Sky, 2.5 to Canyon and 3 to Mammoth plus a possible 30 minute delay for road work between Norris and Mammoth.

It's hard to give you an itinerary as I have no idea how much drive time your family will be able to tolerate.

I would head down to Old Faithful on one day. Do the Firehole Canyon Dr on your way down, skip the other basins, head to Old Faithful Visitor Center. Go to the desk, write down the eruption schedule (map for 50 cents) and head out in to the basin. Ask the Rangers at the desk to help you figure out how to see the big erupters if something is set to go off in the next couple of hours. If you have time before you head back to Big Sky, stop at the smaller geyser basins as you head back north to Madison Junction and the West entrance road.

One day, go in to Canyon. Do the Visitor Center. Head south and do the South Rim overlooks. Head south into Hayden Valley. Stop at Mud Volcano and at Fishing Bridge get out and walk across. Head back to Canyon. Do the North Rim (one way going north so it will put you at the Visitor Center at the end.) , then head back to the West entrance to Big Sky.

Another day you can go in to Norris Geyser Basin. Also do Artist Paint Pots this day.

If your family is tolerating the long days in the car driving to various sights, you might want to try to do the whole upper loop one day. Go in to Canyon, turn left, go up and over Dunraven Pass. Stop at Tower Fall. At Tower Roosevelt Junction turn right and go out in to Lamar Valley, then back to that intersection and head for Mammoth. Stop at Petrified Tree. The tree is not much, but there are often black bear back in here. You may have a good chance to see bears along the road from Tower Junction to Mammoth during the time of year you will be there. Continue to Mammoth. Do the Lower Terraces. Head south to Norris and out to West entrance.

If this seems like to much driving you might be able to manage just going in to Norris and north to Mammoth and back out the same way.

If you are enjoying the thermal areas, you can get a lot of walking on those days along the boardwalks and paths in the geyser basin. Canyon overlooks have a lot of walking as well.

Here is a link to day hikes on the NPS page.


You might also be interested in the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone if you wind up not seeing much wildlife.

You may see wildlife in the Big Sky area. Be sure to ask the locals in Big Sky where you might see wildlife.


6. Re: Overwhelmed - 7 Day Itinerary Help for Yellowstone

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