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First timers to Yellowstone

New York
Level Contributor
135 posts
58 reviews
First timers to Yellowstone

Hi Everyone.

We are recent empty nesters so this is our first trip without the kids. I dont have to worry about food and entertainment for the kids on this trip.

For our 25th anniversary, we decided on Yellowstone. We are both in our 50s and want to see scenic views and enjoy the wildlife.

Taking baby steps on the itinerary. First need to purchase airline tickets. Does this sound good? 8 days and 9 night. Is that too much time for YNP?

My next step will be lodging.

11-Sep arrive jackson (noon)

12-Sep Grand Tetons

13-Sep YNP - Old Faithful

14-Sep YNP - Old Faithful

15-Sep YNP - Canyon Lake

16-Sep YNP - Canyon Lake

17-Sep YNP - Not sure

18-Sep YNP - Jackson

19-Sep Leave Jackson (noon)

Any feedback is greatly appreciated. Thanks everyone.

6 replies to this topic
New York City, New...
Level Contributor
1,228 posts
32 reviews
1. Re: First timers to Yellowstone

I would move your "not sure" to staying at Mammoth Hot Springs, the town of Gardiner right outside the North Entrance/Roosevelt Arch, or Roosevelt Lodge & Cabins after staying at Old Faithful, because you'll want a wildlife watching base in the north. If you could add one more night there to break up the driving, that would be ideal. Doing that before Canyon or Lake would get you closer to Jackson at the end of your trip. You might also want to just head to Old Faithful at the beginning (after overnighting at Jackson upon arrival) and save Grand Teton for the last thing you do so that you don't have a lot of driving to do right at the end when you might be losing some steam. That's what we did.

Spery, Iowa
Level Contributor
11,093 posts
181 reviews
2. Re: First timers to Yellowstone

Have lodging either in-park or at gateway cities of West Yellowstone (for OF and Canyon) and Gardiner that you can cancel if park lodging opens up. Don't arrive without reservations. Things begin to shut down, so while there may be fewer families, there are still travelers and you don't want to wing it. Use only www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com for in YNP.

I would slip Mammoth or Gardiner in between OF and Canyon. I might also change the order and do Canyon first, then Mammoth and then OF, but it may depend on what lodging you find. Do be prepared for possible winter weather. https:/…conditions.htm Not usual, but last September it started early. https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28973…

Edited: 07 June 2018, 21:46
New York
Level Contributor
135 posts
58 reviews
3. Re: First timers to Yellowstone

Due to my poor planning, my lodging options are limited. My possible choices are Canyon Lodge, Grant or 1 night in Mammoth. Luckily I didnt purchase the airline tickets yet.

1)Does it make sense to drive from Jackson to Mammoth on the same day? That 1 night in Mammoth is only available in the start of our trip

2) Is there extensive driving if you lodge outside of the park? I read about the concern of driving at night too.

Tacoma, Washington
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
11,490 posts
1 review
4. Re: First timers to Yellowstone

Book lodging before tickets

Level Contributor
126 posts
25 reviews
5. Re: First timers to Yellowstone

We have done two empty nest trips to Yellowstone and because we're not able to plan so far ahead, we always stay outside of the park. Don't let not being able to get lodging in the park stop you from going. We divided our time between Gardiner, West Yellowstone and Jackson. Yes, you do want to be off the roads before it gets dark. The possibility of wildlife being on the roads increases after dark and you can't see them. We didn't find it to be a hinderance to be outside the park. We got up pretty early to be in the park by 6:30 or 7:00 am because that's the best time to see wildlife out feeding. So we were more than ready to be back in our hotel by night fall.

Spery, Iowa
Level Contributor
11,093 posts
181 reviews
6. Re: First timers to Yellowstone

Here is the map for the drive times in the park. https:/…Park-Map-with-mileage.pdf

You can drive from Jackson to Mammoth in a day.

Canyon is a good location.

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