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Yellowstone & Grand Tetons Sept Trip Routing Question

Sydney
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Yellowstone & Grand Tetons Sept Trip Routing Question

Hi all

We are heading to Yellowstone and Tetons in mid September which is part of a larger trip but these questions are only about that portion of the trip. We are family of 6, mum, dad and 4 boys. The accommodation etc that we have chosen may not seem ideal to some of you but getting all of us in one room was very limited, so we have worked with what was available.

We have the following booked and although we know it's not enough time, it's all we have for this section of the trip so we really want to make the most of it. We can not add any more nights at all as we have flights and other planned booked in after this section. There is another section of our trip before this so we are not flying in to Idaho Falls we will be driving from the south, so I will just start with when we are in the area and ask for advice from there.

Idaho Falls - 1 night

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins - 2 nights

Cody - 1 night

Old Faithful Inn - 1 night

Colter Bay Village Cabins - 2 nights

Jackson - 1 night

then south and out of the parks.

We would ideally like to enter the park from the West entrance as the kids would like to go to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Centre, then head up to Mammoth Hot Springs.

After that we would like to drive a portion of the Beartooth and then the Chief Joseph out to Cody.

After Cody we would like to drive on the 14 via the lake to Old Faithful Inn.

After OFI we will drive south to Colter Bay, then south to Jackson and then out of the parks.

The main questions that I have are how to include most of the main bits of Yellowstone without doing too much doubling back, as we will be sort of going around the outside a bit what would be the best way to work it so that we don't miss the bits on the inside loop section?

We really want to see the falls and the grand canyon and also animal spotting which I have read Lamar Valley is good for, so definitely don't want to miss that. We know we will get to see the hot springs whilst at Mammoth and we know we'll get to see some geysers whilst at OFI and we can work in the lake, but it's the other bits we are worried about missing out if we don't get a good route sorted in our heads.

Does anyone have any advice for us please? I have already done a lot of reading and research and know where everything is in the park, it's just trying to work out how to fit it in that is the tricky part for us newbies. Any advice welcome.

Thanks,

Kim

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Georgia
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1. Re: Yellowstone & Grand Tetons Sept Trip Routing Question

There's only one main road in the park = the Grand Loop Road. It's a figure 8 road with an upper and lower loop. There are 5 entrance roads that meet up with it from each of the 5 entrances. So for "routing", there's only one choice. Because it's made up of 2 loops, you'll probably do some "looping" or "backtracking" but that's good because many segments of the road have good wildlife sighting options.

So based on your lodging.

Come in the west gate after you leave West Yellowstone.

Drive up to Mammoth via Norris. You may have to wait UP TO 30 minutes because of the construction on that segment of road. There's always a segment of road under construction every summer in Yellowstone.

When you leave Mammoth, continue the loop over towards Tower-Roosevelt and then to Canyon. If you wanted to take a side drive out into the Lamar Valley you could head out toward the NE exit and then turn around and get back on the Grand Loop Rd if you wanted.

After T-R, stop at Canyon to explore a bit. At least stop at Artist Point at Canyon.

Then head south on the Grand Loop Road towards Lake and then out the east gate to Cody.

To get to Old Faithful, come back in the east gate and return to the Grand Loop Road. If you turn south on the Grand Loop Road, you'll be continuing on the lower loop over to Old Faithful. You could stop at West Thumb Geyser Basin now if you wanted.

Drive on to Old Faithful. If you got an early start, you have time to explore the geyser basins near Old Faithful.

Spend the night in Old Faithful. The next day, explore as many geyser basins that interest you. And then at least 3 hours before sunset, head south (you are repeating at least one segment of the Grand Loop Rd. now) towards the south gate of YNP.

As you exit YNP, you are driving into Jackson Hole (the valley). As you drive towards Jackson on the other side of the valley, you'll be driving through GTNP the park.

There's one main road in the Tetons too. As you explore GTNP, you'll find a few other small roads and one bigger Teton Park Rd which, with the front road, makes a 42 mile scenic loop. GTNP is much more compact than YNP. You'll do about an hour in one direction vs about 2 hours just to get from one village of YNP to the next. A LOT less driving. A lot more time to see and do things without having to drive so much to get to them.

Given there is one main road in YNP and one main road in GTNP (also a state highway), it's very easy to navigate both parks!

Take a look at the map of the park(s) and you'll see the main road in each. If you look closely, you'll see all the sights there are to see in Yellowstone arranged along that one road.

Edited: 05 July 2018, 12:11
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2. Re: Yellowstone & Grand Tetons Sept Trip Routing Question

Here's the map for Yellowstone (with driving times for each segment) -

https:/…Park-Map-with-mileage.pdf

Here's the map for GTNP -

https:/…GRTE-Summer-Map-access.pdf

Here's a link to a page with a map that shows both parks next to each other -

https:/…maps.htm

Sydney
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3. Re: Yellowstone & Grand Tetons Sept Trip Routing Question

Hi onemoreroad,

Thanks for the reply and the links to the maps. The bit that I am trying to work out is that we are going from Mammoth to Cody and we want to go via the Beartooth and the Chief Joseph which obviously leaves the main part of the loop not covered. Given that we have 2 nights at Mammoth, should we use that middle day and go for a drive around the whole top part of the 8, we have limited time so don't want to miss too much but don't want to be so worried about missing it all that we don't actually see anything, if you know what I mean.

Thanks.

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Cody
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4. Re: Yellowstone & Grand Tetons Sept Trip Routing Question

I would. Use your first day to do the entire upper loop.

The second day, drive out into the Lamar Valley to do the Beartooth and then circle back to Cody.

Sorry I missed that.

That worry about "missing something" doesn't happen when you do the loop approach. Each loop takes less than 4 hours to drive. ALL the sights in YNP (places with parking lots) are along the two loops. Admittedly, I have a far more relaxed approach to Yellowstone than many, but I've traveled it with a wide variety of people with different interests. If you drive the two loops, stopping at whatever interests the people in your car, you're going to see the chance to see EVERYTHING. The only variables are 1) what interests the people in your car and 2) how much time you have to stop and do things, including hikes. As the ranger says in the upper loop video, a lifetime is not enough to experience everything Yellowstone has to offer. But then, again, most people come to see a few things and even with a relaxed trip there's time to see those iconic things in Yellowstone - without missing out on anything.

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Sydney
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5. Re: Yellowstone & Grand Tetons Sept Trip Routing Question

Great, thank you. We know there is no way to see it all but we go on the proviso that we would rather see some than none!

Billings, Montana
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6. Re: Yellowstone & Grand Tetons Sept Trip Routing Question

>>>The bit that I am trying to work out is that we are going from Mammoth to Cody and we want to go via the Beartooth and the Chief Joseph which obviously leaves the main part of the loop not covered. Given that we have 2 nights at Mammoth, should we use that middle day and go for a drive around the whole top part of the 8, we have limited time so don't want to miss too much but don't want to be so worried about missing it all that we don't actually see anything, if you know what I mean.<<<

Hi Kim,

If you want to be able to get Beartooth Pass and Chief Joseph into your itinerary, the best time is to do it the day you are going to Cody. Use your middle day at Mammoth to tour the upper loop, driving east to Tower/Roosevelt, over Dunraven Pass to Canyon and then west to Norris and back up to Mammoth. On the day you check out of Mammoth to go to Cody for that night, drive east and go out Lamar Valley. Eat breakfast in Cooke City before continuing on to Beartooth Pass. Drive as far as the Rock Creek Vista Rest Area and turn around backtracking to the junction with Chief Joseph Highway. Take that to Cody. The next day, enter Yellowstone Park through the east entrance and tour your way to Old Faithful for that night's lodging. I would suggest turning right at the Fishing Bridge junction so you're able to go through Hayden Valley on your way to Old Faithful.

If you're interested in waterfalls, let me know and I will tell you where there are 3 waterfalls on the Beartooth Highway that you can stop at. Two of them are pretty easy to miss.

The day you want to drive over Beartooth Pass you need to check to see if it is open. There are times when it is temporarily closed due to a snowstorm that night. If that is the case, you can still drive a very small portion of the road to the south gate (a little ways past the Top of the World Store) and you will also be able to drive Chief Joseph as Dead Indian Pass is way lower than Beartooth Pass.

Deb

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Sydney
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7. Re: Yellowstone & Grand Tetons Sept Trip Routing Question

Thanks Deb, I think that what you suggested is a plan that sounds like it will work for us. I would love some info on the waterfalls please.

Billings, Montana
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8. Re: Yellowstone & Grand Tetons Sept Trip Routing Question

>>>Thanks Deb, I think that what you suggested is a plan that sounds like it will work for us. I would love some info on the waterfalls please.<<<

You're welcome.

Beartooth Pass Waterfalls

Crazy Creek Falls and Lake Falls are not spectacular drop falls but they are really cool to look at. We stop at Lake Falls every single trip over Beartooth Pass. Crazy Creek Falls is pretty amazing in early summer when spring melt is running full force. Since your trip is in September, they won't be as spectacular but still pretty cool. Actually I like Lake Falls more in August and September because you're able walk out to some of the rocks on the left side of the falls for awesome photos. In June those rocks are completely under water.

Going east from the northeast entrance (Cooke City)

Crazy Creek Falls on are the north side of the road across from Crazy Creek Campground. Coming from the northeast entrance Crazy Creek Campground is about 14 miles from the entrance. You’ll drive by Fox Creek Campground about 1.5 mile before Crazy Creek Campground. Lots of people totally miss the falls as they are driving too fast over the small Crazy Creek Bridge. Immediately east of the bridge there is a large dirt pullout dirt parking lot with two entries on the north side of the road. It's a short walk on a trail through the woods to the base of the falls.

Crazy Creek Falls June 2018

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php…

Lake Falls is about 1 mile east of the Chief Joseph Hwy junction. Lake Falls is just east of the Lily Lake Road turnoff. It’s not marked and most people drive by it before they realize it’s a trail head. You will drive around a curve on the road and cross a long and very high bridge over the creek. Coming from the CJ Highway Junction there is a smaller parking pullout before you get to the bridge on the falls side of the road and a longer pullout on the other side of the bridge on the south side of the road. You can park there or cross the bridge and park at a smaller pullout on the north side of the road. Walk just a short distance to a foot bridge over the creek and falls. There are some really huge boulders next to the creek that you can walk out on and get the neatest pictures with the creek/falls as background.

Lake Falls

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php…

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php…

The Beartooth Lake Falls are about 8 1/2 miles past the Chief Joseph Hwy junction. They are on the south side of the road and can be easily seen as you're driving toward Beartooth Pass. There is a small pullout that you can park in to take pictures. If you're going west towards Cooke City, the falls are easily missed.

Beartooth Falls *not the best pic

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php…

PS

On the day you're traveling down to the Tetons, be sure to stop at Moose Falls. The falls are about 1.5 miles north of the south entrance. There is a paved parking lot on the left side of the road as you're traveling south. We've always driven by it every day trip we've taken to the Tetons but finally stopped there in June. Boy, am I sure glad we did. The falls are wonderful.

Photo of the bridge going over Crawfish Creek *I was standing by the brink of Moose Falls

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php…

Short video of Moose Falls

https:/…

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php…

Deb

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Sydney
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9. Re: Yellowstone & Grand Tetons Sept Trip Routing Question

Lovely photos Deb, thanks so much for sharing and taking the time for the very detailed response.

Kim

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10. Re: Yellowstone & Grand Tetons Sept Trip Routing Question

Thanks Kim,

I have some inaccurate directions in the paragraph about Lake Falls. I was using a document I made for the falls using directions coming from the east. I tried to make sure I changed specifics to meet your direction of travel from Cooke City but missed changing a few. Here is the correct information for finding Lake Falls driving east from Cooke City. Sorry for the confusion.

********************************************************

Lake Falls is about 1 mile east of the Chief Joseph Hwy junction. Lake Falls is just east of the Lily Lake Road turnoff. It’s not marked and most people drive by it before they realize it’s a trail head. You will drive around a curve on the road and cross a long and very high bridge over the creek. Coming from the Cooke City (driving east) there is a smaller parking pullout before you get to the bridge on the falls side of the road and a longer pullout on the other side of the bridge on the south side of the road. You can park at the smaller pullout or cross the bridge and park at the larger pullout on the south side of the road. Walk just a short distance to a foot bridge over the creek and falls. There are some really huge boulders next to the creek that you can walk out on and get the neatest pictures with the creek/falls as background.

***********************************

Deb

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