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Advice on Yellowstone vacation

Discussion in 'Off Topic Threads' started by 548, May 23, 2013.

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  1. 548

    548 Guest

    My family is planning an early July Yellowstone vacation. We plan to spend a couple days at the Montana State Shoot in Billings before continuing on to Yellowstone.

    We would probably use the north entrance and then circle through the park exiting the northeast entrance. What are the recommendations and experiences you have for the must see attractions and activities. What did you do or what do you recommend for lodging (hopefully it's not too late for reservations). Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Pocatello

    Pocatello Active Member

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    July is probably the worst time, and accommodations inside the park are probably not available. Camping reservations for July may still be available. The closest lodging on the route you propose is Gardiner MT just outside the north entrance. Next closest is Livingston about 50 miles north.

    One must-see just inside the north entrance is Mammoth Hot Springs. From there I would suggest heading south to Norris Geyser Basin, then south to Old Faithful and the surrounding thermal features. That would make a pretty full day, especially if you are staying at Livingston. The next day I would head east from Mammoth to Tower Junction, then south to Canyon and Yellowstone Falls. Unless you particularly wanted to see Fishing Bridge and Yellowstone Lake, I'd backtrack to Tower and head east to Cooke City and try to spend the night there. The next day head out over Beartooth Pass (spectacular) towards Billings.

    If you tell where you are coming from, I could list other attractions on your way. For example, if you take the east entrance as opposed to the NE there is a great firearm museum in Cody. SE of Billings just off I-90 there's the Custer Battlefield, a little further the Black Hills and Mt Rushmore in SD.
     
  3. wolfram

    wolfram Well-Known Member

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    You will have a good time. The town of West Yellowstone has quite a bit of lodging if you can't get something at the park lodge. Also there is (or use to be) a great little bar in West Yellostone that has Guiness on tap and it was poured by an honest to goodness Irishman complete with pointy little ears. (really) I found that part more interesting than the park tours which were also very fun.
     
  4. Trail

    Trail Active Member

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    We camped, but spent very little time at the camp site....too much to do.
    The hike along he "Grand Canyon of Yellowstone" to me was by far the most memorable part of the trip....breathtaking.

    Took a horse ride up in the north end...that was cool. Set that up in advance.

    Trail
     
  5. Brian in Oregon

    Brian in Oregon Well-Known Member

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    We stayed at Mammoth Hot Springs in mid-August, and it was cold. There was only one day we could wear light jackets. The family thought I was crazy when I made them pack winter parkas, but I was vindicated when snowflakes came down. Be prepared for any weather conditions at any time.

    Mammoth Hot Springs is not centrally located in the park, but, I think it makes a better base of operations than the lodge at Old Faithful. That attracts the most tourists, especially with kids.

    You'll want to divide the park up into areas to visit.

    We did Mammoth Hot Springs down to the Norris Geyser Basic in a day. If you visit the different features on that route it will take the better part of a day.

    Then the next day we leapfrogged past that and went to Old Faithful, then followed the lake rim to Fishing Bridge, Canyon Village and back to Mammoth Hot Springs after dark. Canyon Village is near Yellowstone Falls, which is a must see.

    Unfortunately the road between Canyon Village and Roosevelt was closed for repair when we were there, otherwise that makes another good loop, heading east from Mammoth then turning south to Canyon Village, then loop back via Norris after dark.

    Our favorite area was around Norris and the area north of Old Faithful. Parking is going to be an adventure in some of these areas. Most of the wildlife we saw was around Mammoth Hot Springs (mostly elk), but there are buffalo herds in Hayden Valley south of Canyon Village, though buffalo can be anywhere in the park.

    Our least favorite was the drive along the lake. There are a lot of places to camp, but not a lot of features other than the lake.

    We never saw a bear, though a grizzly had been reported the day before we arrived working over a buffalo carcass east of Mammoth Hot Springs.

    Gasoline and food are expensive inside the park. Top off the tank before you enter. Try to pack food if possible. Take water too. Even if you plan on dinner at base camp, pack enough food because your plans may change if you wind up being out late.

    If you have a digital camera, make sure you have a large enough memory card or carry extras, along with extra batteries. If it only takes a unique rechargeable battery pack, now is the time to purchase extras and a car charger for them. If you have an SLR, get a polarizer for it so reflections can be removed from the multi-colored hot pools. Otherwise you'll pick up the sky and clouds. Modern cameras use beam splitters for focusing, so get a CIRCULAR polarizer, not a LINEAR. A good camera store will know and understand the difference. Circular polarizers cost a bit more, and cheap shops seldom have them. They can be a pain to use on lenses that turn the front element when focusing, requiring constant fiddling, but the results are worthwhile.
     
  6. trapwife

    trapwife Well-Known Member

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    We camped at West Yellowstone and drove into the park each day. There is a great IMAX theatre in West Yellowstone. We were there in Sept and had a freeze warning one night, go prepared for any weather. Traffic was very slow in the park, be patient. The grand canyon/waterfalls were spectacular. Old Faithful was high on my must see list, won't do it again, but had to see it once. Leo fished and actually caught something!
     
  7. TRAINWRECK

    TRAINWRECK TS Member

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    Another vote for west yellowstone as most ohters places will be booked an may be now if you are going around the 4th. They used to have a rodeo in west yellowstone around the 4th so make your reservation now. I have been there in july before an recommend you take a jacket, have seen it drop in the 40's when rain moves in during july.
     
  8. Shawn

    Shawn Member

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    I would recommend shoting all 5 days at the Montana State shoot.
    We did Yellowstone one year just prior to the state shoot.
    We had a great time.

    Shawn
     
  9. Remdog1187

    Remdog1187 Well-Known Member

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    548 they don't like you liberal trolls around those parts. You might not make it back. Why don't you try D.C. or Frisco. It's more your style.
     
  10. DoubleAuto

    DoubleAuto Well-Known Member

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    A day or two in Cody, Wyoming is a must see. Cody Museums, etc. If you get a chance, drive the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. Beautiful and a lot of history. We went in September after kids went back to school and had a great time with no crowds. Even a light snow. Really liked West Yellowstone, Montana. Also the elk are in the rut in September and a lot of bugling going on. Saw a lot of moose up around Jackson Lake Lodge.
     
  11. Pocatello

    Pocatello Active Member

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    We were up at the lodge at Jackson Lake with my wife's folks last September. There was a huge bull moose with a cow about 400 yards out from the terrace. He looked big enough to make B&C. Anyway while we were watching we saw him mount the cow and do the deed. There were also a few cow elk out on the flats, and some pronghorn just off the road on the way down to Jackson Hole. When we were up there in fall 2011 we saw a small grizzly just off the road about five miles south of the lodge.

    Quite often in the spring there are bighorns hanging around the small butte on the east side of the Elk Refuge at the north end of Jackson Hole. You can see them with binoculars from the Visitor Center, or drive right up to them on the road past the butte. Also the winter sleigh rides on the Refuge are a great trip, getting you within feet of the elk.
     
  12. Brian in Oregon

    Brian in Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, what Pocatello said brings up another thing... Get a good set of binoculars of 8x to 10x for everyone in the vehicle, so you don't have to share. We had a couple of pairs of the Bushnell H2O 10x25 compacts and they worked great, as you could pocket carry them anywhere. I've used them for hunting for many years. we also had a couple of older 7x35s and they did OK. It's nice not having to share binoculars, or wind up leaving big heavy ones back at the car.
     
  13. Brian in Oregon

    Brian in Oregon Well-Known Member

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    The link has maps, trip planners, self-tour guides, etc.

    Also, Yellowstone shows up quite well in Google Earth, and you can look at some of the features in advance of your trip.
     
  14. 548

    548 Guest

    Thanks a lot everybody. Very helpful!
     
  15. Bisi

    Bisi TS Member

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    548, the bears are very friendly and are docile. Be sure to take some extra snacks for them. Feeding a grizzly bear a roasted marshmallow out of your hand will make a Kodak moment you will long remember and treasure.
     
  16. skeeljc

    skeeljc Supporting Vendor Supporting Vendor

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    The best time to visit is early May. Kids are still in school. You will see more animals. Only negative is there could be some snow.

    Jim Skeel/P/W Dealer/Distributor
     
  17. CalvinMD

    CalvinMD Well-Known Member

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    Since this is a trip of a lifetime for you...may I suggest wearing pork chop necklaces as the bears do find this extremely attractive on humans...oh and don't pay any attention to those warning signs..just walk on up to the critters as they love posing for photos...be sure to check in with us when you get back and share them with us
     
  18. tcr1146

    tcr1146 Well-Known Member

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    Be sure and take photos, books, and videos of your idol to keep you warm and fuzzy! Tom Rhoads
     
  19. 100straight

    100straight Member

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    I would highly recommend a swim in one of the pools at Mammoth Hot Springs. Take your swim trunks and try out the relaxing warm water. Others may say "don't do it," but pay them no attention (It's because they want to keep the secret for their own benefit. Even the Park Rangers will try to tell you not to, but they swim there all the time when no one is around). I promise it will be an experience you'll never forget.
     
  20. 391 shooter

    391 shooter Well-Known Member

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    Plan for 2 to 3 days in the park. There is so much nature to see, you do not want to be rushed.


    The elk are unbeleivable, the garnd canyon and water fall are a must see, the lodge at old faithfull is something else, the hot spring pools are all over and spectacular.

    When we went we did the Cheif Joseph senic highway out of the park going to Cody. We actually came and went out of all the entances during our visit.

    If you go to cody plan a full day at least.

    Have a good time.
     
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