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Old 08-13-2010, 04:41 PM
 
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I have not traveled much except some for work. I have vacation time and havent planned anything. Planning is always my downfall.

I would like to go near the end of the season which is good because its probably the only way I'll find room.

I would prefer to stay at the lodges in the park if possible. I understand some close earlier than others?

From what I've read so far its the north end that stays open later and where there is good wildlife viewing.

On trip advisor I think someone said in order to not spend all your time driving to spend a couple of nights in a few different lodges. Not sure if this will be possible but I plan on about 6 nights.

Thanks,

Mary
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Old 08-13-2010, 05:43 PM
 
Location: San Diego
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We went to Yellowstone in July and honestly didn't care for it. We were there for 2 nights and couldn't wait to leave, I can't imagine 6! You're hard pressed to find any wildlife. In fact, every single person we encountered said the same thing. You had to spend an entire day driving around just to see buffalo, a hundred feet away. We had a much better wildlife experience in South Dakota. Yellowstone was a huge disappointment.

Also, Old Faithful is a huge disappointment. After the "eruption", we heard every person near us mutter, "That's it??" followed by some disappointing comments. Honestly, I'd go to another park if you want wildlife. Yellowstone is my least favorite so far. Oh, and we stayed at the Grant Village which left a whole lot to be desired!
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Old 08-13-2010, 06:07 PM
 
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Curious what time of year did you go? What part of the park? And where did you see wildlife in SD?
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Old 08-13-2010, 08:08 PM
 
Location: San Diego
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We went over July 4th weekend. We drove through a good portion of the park over the 2 days we were there. Basically, the entire loop from Grant Village all the way around and near the MT/WY border. The most interesting part to us was the thermal spots, with the cool different colored water. We saw almost no animals, which to us was shocking. The guides there told us not to expect to see much, and we'd be lucky to see even buffalo. We thought they were kidding, but nope, they were right on. We drove in from Jackson Hole, then spent time in Montana after, so we drove through a good portion of the park.

In South Dakota, we went to Custer State park. We went in September of last year, and saw herds upon herds of buffalo. We couldn't believe it, and totally did not expect it. Here are some pictures from South Dakota of the buffalo. We saw a lot of other animals as well, but this was surely the highlight of our trip, and totally unexpected!







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Old 08-13-2010, 11:27 PM
 
Location: Bel Air, California
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As much as I like the Black Hills they really fall quite a bit short in comparison to the total package that Yellowstone offers. Just don't expect the wildlife waiting alongside the road for the next tour bus to come by.

I'd say that most people when visiting Yellowstone don't drag themselves 50 feet from the parking lots or nearby gift shops which will obviously result in some pretty predictable observations of the backs of other peoples heads.

Long lines of people trudging on past the Old Faithful Inn without a thought of stopping in to see the wonderful interior or sample the ambiance of the dining room or lounge. Instead they will make a beeline for Old Faithful and stand around for 45 minutes constantly asking "when is this suppose to erupt?" Immediately after, another long line of cattle trudging off to the parking lot to hop into their cars to drive to the next McVista.

not the best quality in these old scanned prints but nothing can really capture the sights, sounds and smells that Yellowstone offers...

Old Faithful Inn...


Instead, head off towards the river behind you where you will be rewarded with a series of paved trails that meander for miles past an array of beautiful steaming pools and geysers that are more spectacular and that you will have mostly to yourself and a handful of other amazed spectators.

Beehive Geyser...


Castle Geyser...


Grotto Geyser...



Morning Glory Pool...


Beauty Pool...


Blue Star Pool...


unknown thermal pools...


Believe it or not, the park stretches far beyond the confines of the park loop road and the wild life typically donít hang out next to the asphalt waiting for the next tour bus to come by. You may have to get out occasionally with a pair of binoculars or hire a guide. The best place to see these animals may be the seldom traveled NE corner of the park where the Lamar Valley is. Tour guides will take you into this area and will know where the activity is. Best chance to see wolves are up here. Just be willing to get up early to see them.

Mamoth...





Norris Basin...



Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone...



Firehole River...


Yellowstone is much more that Old Faithful and these other sites are easily accessible provided you're willing to walk a few minutes away from the parking lots. Iíve been to Yellowstone several times and feel that I have barely scratched the surface of all that there is to see there.
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Old 08-14-2010, 06:38 AM
 
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My understanding is that the south park closes earliest. How late I go will depend on lodging availability. From what I've read Lamar valley and Hayden valley are the best for any wildlife viewing and they are in the north half.
The Do I do this or not - is largely dependent on trying to figure out which lodge is open till when, when they have availability and what the airline tickets cost flying into ? and having to book them by ?
Sort of a lot of moving parts and I'm kind of slow at these types of decisions (I hate decisions!)
If I'm going to limit myself to prowling the northern half of the park primarily then the lodges are
Mammoth Hot Springs Lodge, Roosevelt Lodge Cabins and Canyon Lodge.
I'm assuming flying into Billings which is 130 miles from the north entrance! Already a lot of driving.

I'd appreciate tips on lodging, time planning (just how long does it take to drive from one area to another?) especially if only one lodge is available, I'll be driving out and back a lot. If possible, should I book the farthest lodge and work my way back toward the north?
General tips on booking flights.......
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Old 08-14-2010, 08:19 AM
 
Location: San Diego
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We hiked extensively in the park. We're not ones to follow the herds of tourists. The path behind the geyser you mentioned was just as full as the sitting area. That is where we went, and we stumbled upon everyone and their mother back there. It's changed a whole ton and the entire area was beyond packed with thousands of tourists. Here are some of our Yellowstone pictures, taken in July. If it wasn't for these thermal spots, we would have been very disappointed!

















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Old 08-14-2010, 09:06 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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There is lots of help on WY forum.

I have done Yellowstone many times (including a weekly delivery route during college). Only stayed overnight when I took a group of 40 kids for a week. I frequently stay overnight in Tetons (which I prefer), often camping in the 'bush' with a motorcycle. The 'must see' for me in NE Yellowstone is Beartooth All American Road - Cooke City Montana, Cody Wyoming, Red Lodge Montana Beartooth Highway, That will be tough to do end of season, but possible. I also like the NE part of park (Tower Falls).

Drive to extremities pre dawn and post sunset, do most of commuting 'off-hrs.' and hike / eat during peak driving times.

I love both parks. Take a kayak and enjoy the rivers / lakes, especially the Snake from Jackson Dam to Jackson Hole.

Be sure to plan times of day based on 'lighting' conditions for each prime view. (Several camera websites should be able to help you plan this, or just call up 'ranger bob' and ask)
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Old 08-14-2010, 10:13 AM
 
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So giving the map a quick look - is Beartooth the 212 from Billings to the Park? At what point does it become pretty sure it will be closed to weather? (mid Sept, late Sept, mid Oct etc.?)
If I fly into Billings seems like I should go in the NE entrance and start there. I've spent the morning out of the heat looking at websites and it seems to be that whenever wildlife and Yellowstone are mentioned in the same sentence its Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley.
At this point I wouldn't even plan to go see Old Faithful because I don't want to spend all my time driving, I can see other geysers at Mamouth right? I'm more a birdwatcher, wildlife, naturalist though geology etc. is really interesting and of course a big bonus.
Will do a thread search on the Wyoming forum. Thanks.
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Old 08-14-2010, 10:30 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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There is a thread on WY about a guy who did a winter photo trip of Northern Yellowstone. He also has a nice website for his pics.

Bozeman is another nice choice to fly into. You can also fly to Cody (I do this with my bonus miles, tho they often run cheap specials (probably not in Sept, due to prime hunting season))

Get used to driving, it is common to have to drive 100 miles one way for groceries when living in WY. My college newspaper route in WY, SD, NE, CO was 864 miles. (daily).

I would surely stay in Jenny Lake Lodge (Tetons) as it is quite pristine (restful / tranquil) and of a different character than Yellowstone. You can drive there in a couple hours from northern Yellowstone, especially during 'off-traffic-hours'. (Watch OUT for deer if driving at dusk)
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