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Should we visit Yosemite or Yellowstone?

london
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Should we visit Yosemite or Yellowstone?

We're coming to California in June and don't have time to see both Yosemite and Yellowstone. Obviously if we go to Yellowstone we have to fly there on our way back to UK, and it would be much easier to reach Yosemite from LA or San Francisco, which we'll be visiting.

But I really want to see the bears and wolves and other animals at Yellowstone. I know there are some bears at Yosemite but are we likely to see them and are there any other wild animals there?

What other differences are there apart from the geysers at Yellowstone?

It's unlikely we'll be able to come again to West USA.

Look forward to your answers to a tricky query and many thanks in advance,

Phil

California
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1. Re: Should we visit Yosemite or Yellowstone?

What a tough choice. This is just my opinion, and both parks are spectacular in their own way. I think Yosemite wins hands down for sheer dramatic beautiful landscape, there are very few spots like it. Yosemite stays near the very top of my favorite places on earth no matter how much I travel. It touches my soul in a way other places, including Yellowstone, don't. The landscape of Yellowstone is more rolling hills and wide open spaces that seem like they go forever. On the other hand, the Grand Tetons are quite spectacular, and you can easily see them and should see them on a trip to Yellowstone(2 hours drive away from Yellowstone). The Beartooth Highway is also an incredible drive with incredible scenery(but again, that drive takes an extra day). So if you just do Yellowstone I think the Yosemite scenery blows it away, but if you add Beartooth Highway and the Grand Tetons you're pretty close. Yosemite is much more crowded, but much more accessible, while Yellowstone has a feeling of wide open space with lots of driving. It takes far longer to see Yellowstone, it is a huge park, we spent 5 nights at Yellowstone/ Grand Teton last year and packed alot in, saw the "must sees", but many people stay longer, I think we stayed the absolute minimum if you're including Grand Tetons and Beartooth. Yosemite you can easily see all the highlights in 3 or 4 days, and even a shorter trip is worthwhile. Now you mentioned you really want to see the animals. Here there is really no comparison. Yosemite has bears and deer, raccoon, coyote, but the animals are elusive. You will very likely see some deer and could see bear, although I have been to Yosemite 9 or 10 times and never seen a bear there. And you could see nothing. I have been to Yellowstone just once, and saw 2 black bear, one grizzly from quite far away, numerous elk, deer, tons of bison, a bald eagle, and a mountain goat, but no wolves. No guarantee about what you will see and getting up at dawn for animal viewing helps, but I think my animal viewing experience was about average, you are very likely to see quite a few animals. If you really want to see animals in the wild, Yellowstone is hands down the place to go, nothing else comes close. The geysers are also quite interesting although for me I had enough after a day or so, but well worth seeing in a once in a lifetime trip. So I think it depends in part on how much time you have and what you want to see. If you only have a few days and scenery is paramount, Yosemite is the place. But if you have more time and animal viewing is the priority, I would take the plane and go to Yellowstone. Just my opinion but I hope it helps.

raamsdonksveer...
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2. Re: Should we visit Yosemite or Yellowstone?

I think Lorenky did a great job trying to explain the differences between the two parks.

I visited both parks and would say Yosemite is beautiful but Yelowstone is truely unique (geysers, animals and scenery) but comparing them is really doing them both injusice!

But I would also urge you to consider the practicalities. I don't know if you have already looked into the possibilities of traveling to and from Yellowstone. My experience dates 15 years back, so it may be way different now, but when I travelled from San Fransisco to Yellowstone there were not many cities that had direct flights to Yellowstone NP (at that time that was either West-Yelowstone or Jackson Hole)so we had to change flights twice and there were not a lot of flights a day (wich may cost you extra time connecting to your international flight home).

Whatever you chose, have a great time!!!

Santa Cruz...
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3. Re: Should we visit Yosemite or Yellowstone?

tulipgirl said it.

To visit Yellowstone you would need to fly into Jackson Hole, probably from Salt Lake City, making it a two stage plane trip.

There are lots of differences, because of geography and geology.

If you want to see bears at Yosemite, just leave some food in your car. They might tear off the car door to get to it <grin>. Seriously, this is a problem.

Good luck making a decision.

Georgetown, Kentucky
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4. Re: Should we visit Yosemite or Yellowstone?

We went to Yellowstone and Grant Teton in May 2007. Then went to Yosemite and Sequoia/Kings Canyon in May 2008.

Both parks are beautiful. I would go back to either in a heartbeat if I had the opportunity. But having been to both I would personally choose Yellowstone/Grand Teton. The mountians at Grand Tetons are breathtaking. Yellostone has so much variety including more geysers than you will see anywhere else beautiful landscapes and sooooo many animals. There were numerous times when we had to wait for several minutes because herds of wild buffalo were crossing the road. They walked right beside our car. We also saw more elk than we could count in both Grand Teton and Yellowstone. We saw our first moose in Grand Teton right as we entered the park for the first time. We saw our second on a hiking trail and our third when driving from Grand Teton to Yellowstone. We also saw lots of bears (6 grizzlies and 4 black bears). We also saw a few mule deer, a few coyotes, and one wolf. All these sightings were over a week stay. In general we stopped every time we saw a crowd built up beside the road. So we didn't have to be particularly skilled to see the harder to find animals (bears especially).

I think you would enjoy either choose. But in my opinion, if you want to see animals, Yellowstone wins.

Georgetown, Kentucky
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5. Re: Should we visit Yosemite or Yellowstone?

As far as flights go if you decide on Yellowsonte, to save some money and probably a connection, you might consider flying into Salt Lake City and driving from there. That is what we did. We took the scenic route via Bear Lake. It is a nice drive through several small towns. I think it takes 5 or 6 hours. But we didn't mind the drive since the scenery was nice.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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6. Re: Should we visit Yosemite or Yellowstone?

I'd sit down and cry because I couldn't visit both. I do actually visit both every summer. My favorite activity is to watch the eagle nest on the Madison road from West Yellowstone. The eaglets should be very active in June.

Seriously, lodging in Yosemite will be rougher to secure than in Yellowstone.

Yellowstone is so vast, you can't even imagine ... but well worth the trip for the geology, the animals and the geysers.

Here's what I'd recommend ... get a flight to Jackson, Wyoming or Idaho Falls and rent a car. You could find a central location or spend one night in each area you visit. Some people stay in West Yellowstone.

Canyon is easy for getting to either the north or south loops ... and you can see bears at Dunraven Pass. You can see a lot of bison, elk and birds in Hayden Valley. Bears and moose tend to be in the northern part of the park. There's a sizable elk herd near Mammoth Hot Springs.

My favorite souveneer was bought at Canyon Market last summer ... bison dung paper from a visiting artist(look up 'Dung and Dunger' on the internet). There's usually a wonderful artist at the Old Faithful Inn.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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7. Re: Should we visit Yosemite or Yellowstone?

Oops! Forgot to mention the wolf watchers by the side of the road on the north side of Dunraven. Look for the telescopes and turn off your car engine when you pull off the road.

Last year, wolves were quite vocal. I stayed at both the Madison and Canyon campgrounds (not a hotel person myself). Heard wolves near both locations! By Dunraven a family of wolves was howling to each other early one morning.

Oakland, California
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for Yosemite National Park
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8. Re: Should we visit Yosemite or Yellowstone?

I just wanted to add that if you do decide that the scenery and convenience to where you are traveling make Yosemite your choice, then your best bet to see some wildlife (besides deer) is to spend some time in the high country around Tuolumne Meadows. We almost always see some kind of wildlife when we visit Yosemite Valley- particularly coyotes, whom we also hear at night- but you'll see more up in the less crowded areas. But stay up all night in the parking lot at Curry Village, and you'll likely see or hear a bear trying to break in to someone's car!

Mariposa, California
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for Yosemite National Park
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9. Re: Should we visit Yosemite or Yellowstone?

One of the things people are most disappointed about in Yosemite is the wildlife viewing opportunities. I've had many a cranky visitor who demand to see wildlife, and other than saying "hang out in the meadows" and "keep your eyes peeled" there's not a whole lot we can offer.

If wildlife is your priority, most definitely do Yellowstone. The wildlife is out and about in extremely accessible areas. You don't even have to go looking for it....or at least I didn't.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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10. Re: Should we visit Yosemite or Yellowstone?

There's no experience quite like getting caught in a bison jam. Animals in Yellowstone have the right of way. You'll get groups crossing the road or individuals going right down the middle of the road.

Don't get too close, though. People are hurt every year because they forget the warnings and become overwhelmed with their 'wilderness experience' ... that's what good camera lenses are for.

I checked and there's are flights from both LAX or SFO to Jackson Hole via SLC (United has the fewest changes). From there, you take the Rockefeller Highway through Grand Teton NP (there's a nice visitor center near Moose, Wy, a few miles from the airport) and up into Yellowstone ... where you traverse the Continental Divide a few times before reaching Old Faithful.

Or you take the West Thumb cutoff and go past the lake/Hayden Valley to the Canyon area.

Remember, Yellowstone was the first national park.

You don't say how much time you have for the nature part of your trip. That would help us give you advice.

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