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Old 11-04-2013, 06:30 PM
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We're visiting family in Bozeman summer of 2014 and plan on spending three days on our own (two adults and two kiddos) traveling in Yellowstone. Where do you recommend we stay that would be an easy shot from Bozeman that might also be entertaining for elementary school age children?

I've thought about West Yellowstone...looks like it has a zoo of sorts for the kids to visit which could be fun.

or...spending the extra time to drive all the way down to Jackson, which seems nicer at first glance.

Am I missing other opportunities? any other suggestions?

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Old 11-04-2013, 06:50 PM
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I think you'd be better off to stay within YNP for your visit there.

Once in, you're closer to the points of interest and don't have to deal with a multi-day commute.

The gateway places outside the park don't represent much savings if you consider the travel time/costs to get to the park each day.

IMO, your kiddos should have more than a full plate of activities and sights to see within the park to the extent that you'll not need to do other stuff during your visit to YNP.
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:13 PM
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I agree, I think we missed the window to get a hotel in the park though...
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:17 PM
Location: Tennessee
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Default visit in summer of 2014

I agree with Sunsprit regarding staying in the Park if possible, but getting reservations can be very tough even this far out. West Yellowstone also books up very early in the spring. My wife and I have stayed three times in Big Sky which is an hour north of Yellowstone. But the drive is terrific along the Gallatin river, and the scenery itself in Big Sky is gorgeous. Facilities in Big Sky are nicer, imo, than those in West Yellowstone. If you stay in Big Sky, most of the resorts are high up in the valley near the mountain tops. Every single night there are deer and sometimes moose crossing the road, so always drive carefully and slowly on the winding curves.

Also, whether in West Yellowstone or Big Sky, a visit to Earthquake Lake, on the west side of Yellowstone Park is interesting and enlightening. A large earthquake took place in that area in the fifties which killed 27 people. The side of one mountain came down and crossed the valley and up the other side, where the visitors' center is now located. The "lake" still has trees, dead, of course, standing where once it had been solid land. The quake had covered up the natural flow of the water forming the lake. Engineers have cut a release valve so water flows through now, but still interesting.

We've been to Yellowstone six times in all, but the only place we ever saw a bear is at the grizzly preserve in West Yellowstone. A fascinating display there is of trash cans and dumpsters, designed to be "bear-proof", which were literally destroyed by bears trying to get at food garbage that had been dumped in them.

Summertime is crowded in Yellowstone, so be prepared for heavy traffic, slow traffic that stops at the sight of just about any animals--and they are everywhere. Believe the authorities with all your heart that a 50 yard distance is the closest you want to come to elk, bison, or moose. Check on the internet for videos in Yellowstone of animal attacks on humans. I saw one where a guy got about 15 yards from a bison and it nailed him in a heartbeat.

If animals start across to the road don't challenge them by honking your horn or slowly moving up toward them. They are not adverse to charging a vehicle.

Wherever you stay, you are in for a great experience.

P.S. With only three days, I wouldn't try to get to Jackson, which is gorgeous, stick to Yellowstone. The west side of the park has the geysers and plenty of animals.
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:25 PM
Location: Idaho
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The town of West Yellowstone is just outside the west entrance to the park. Lots of hotels and there are a couple of museums and the Grizzly Center, where they house some bears that can be viewed. If you are coming in the winter, and want to go into the park, you'll need to reserve space on a snow cat. Make reservations before you arrive, at least a couple weeks in advance! (We didn't know about this when we spent Christmas the other year and had to content ourselves with cross country skiing in Rendezvous visit other cool places, such as Earthquake Lake and Ennis, (has to have the neatest gun store in the west.) West Yellowstone is a quick, fairly direct shot from Bozeman. Carry tire chains, just in case.
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:30 PM
Location: Cabin Creek
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well West Yellowstone and Gardiner are only a couple miles outside the park that not much more travel depending where in the Park you want to go.
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Old 11-05-2013, 08:48 AM
Location: Wyoming
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For Yellowstone I'd also recommend West Yellowstone. It's virtually AT the west gate, and it's usually a fairly quick and pleasant drive from there into the "loop". But if you've never been to Grand Teton Nat'l Park/Jackson Hole, I'd also plan a night there -- two days in Yellowstone and one in Jackson Hole.

Unsolicited tip: While I'm not usually an early riser, I suggest getting a very early start for the best Yellowstone experience. I like to start right at sunrise. The roads are nearly empty then, plus then and early evening are the best times for capturing that great photo you'll want to hang on a wall.
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Old 11-05-2013, 12:10 PM
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If it were me I would plan on staying a couple of different places so my family could enjoy a few different things. West Yellowstone does have a museum, Imax theater of park things, sort of a zoo....so that might be a nice thing to do. Cody has a wonderful large museum, but it would take you half a day to visit it. Also during the summer Cody has a fun night rodeo every night, so if that is something you are interested in it is an inexpensive activity. Jackson has a lot of shops, etc., is more of a "tourist town". The smaller towns right outside the park may have accommodations available as well. It is my opinion that staying in the park or at one or more of the close by towns doesn't make a lot of difference. They are all "close" to Yellowstone. The reason I suggest staying at various places is that you can plan visiting the areas of the park that are close to the place you are staying each day. It would eliminate a lot of backtracking.
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Old 11-07-2013, 03:02 AM
Location: Central Indiana/Indy metro area
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I would strongly recommend staying in W. Yellowstone given the information provided. When I went out there in the late 2000s (hoping to get back soon for a more in-depth trip) it was part of a larger road trip and mostly a sightseeing based trip. We were two young adults and two older adults, no kids. Since our trip was just a general sightseeing, take some photos type trip we didn't do all that much in terms of hiking, ranger programs, etc.. We saw a lot, and we spent two of three days in the park, with a third day resting and checking out some things around W. Yellowstone.

In doing my research, I discovered that in-park accommodations don't provide things like cable TV, a pool, free breakfast, etc. like a typical hotel usually offers. I also think internet is limited to what you can get 3G wise from the nearest cell phone tower. Given all that, even with no kids, since this wasn't a hiking/camping/fishing etc. focused trip, I choose to get a typical hotel in W. Yellowstone. Staying there was nice, as the park border is just blocks from where most of the hotels are located. We were in the park around 8AM and usually out by 5PM. We did the north loop the first day, the south loop the second day. We should have driven down to Jackson, WY/Jackson Hole area the third day, but we opted to just stay in W. Yellowstone. I'm not sure how you travel, but if you are going in the summer time, the only suggestion I can give to you is to put the kids to bed early and make them get up early. Get some breakfast, and head into the park early. This really helps with beating traffic into the park.
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Old 11-07-2013, 12:30 PM
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Default Depends on what you want to do

Does your family like outdoorsy type stuff? My kids just loved wandering around in West Yellowstone (we always stay there). There's also lakes and rivers to go play at not too far from town.

One thing to note is that it's not cheap to stay there in the summer. Research the hotels as there are some good and some bad.

There are 2 grocery stores so you can buy snacks/food if needed. Lots of places to eat--some chain places and some local.

The Grizzly and Wolf discovery center has an IMAX about Yellowstone and you can view the animals in a 'natural' habitat (better than zoo, but only those 2 animals)

To get to Jackson you would go through the park then south past Grant Village, then through the teton park. Probably 2 hours driving time from old faithful. Tetons are very majestic. Jackson is more 'upscale' than West Yellowstone with trendy places to eat and shop.
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