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On our own or tours?

Tishomingo, Oklahoma
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On our own or tours?

We will be staying at the Antler Inn in Jackson On July 22 then West Yellowstone Hotel on Juky 23 and 24. We will likely be in Jackson by 3 pm on the 21. Unsure what there is to do there so we could leave early the next morning for Yellowstone or spend a good part of the following day in Jackson. So I’m thinking we will have at least half the day the 22nd all day the 23rd and at least Half a day the 24th. My room is in Laramie the 24th as we plan to spend the 25th in Cheyenne Frontier days and see the parade/rodeo. Family of four, boys are 8&11. So do you just drive around and get our to see things or take tours, hike, etc? We travel a lot but never road trips and we’ve never been to a National Park. Looking forward to it but this is out of my realm of normal family vacations concerning activities. Help is appreciated.

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Antler Inn
Antler Inn
652 Reviews
Jackson, WY
Jackson
Jackson
Jackson Hole, WY
Laramie
Laramie
Wyoming
Cheyenne
Cheyenne
Wyoming
11 replies to this topic
conn
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1. Re: On our own or tours?

I like self touring NP's better than doing guided tours. I recommed looking into any ranger lead hikes or talks these are great and are a real part of the experience of visiting a National Park. You can find a list on the park web Site. And if you have a chance try and do a evening camp fire program.

Billings, Montana
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for Yellowstone National Park
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2. Re: On our own or tours?

There are pros and cons with self-touring and with taking a guided tour. Yellowstone Park is easy to drive on your own as the roads are in a figure 8 but it's huge so can at times, be overwhelming to break down into manageable chunks each day.

What is your family interested in? Just seeing the iconic physical features, a combination of the physical features and seeing wildlife? While anyone can see wildlife there are many small group tours focused on wildlife that have scopes. While the tours can be pricey they are a great way to get to areas where there is wildlife with someone else driving. You also get an educational component with the tours that you wouldn't get if you were self-driving.

Yellowstone Forever (non-profit partner of Yellowstone Park) has some great family tours. They are based out of Gardiner (north entrance).

https:/…

Xanterra (official concessionaire for Yellowstone) offers a variety of tours

The following is a list of private companies authorized by the park service to provide tours in Yellowstone Park. There are quite a few companies based out of West Yellowstone that provide tours but unfortunately the list is not organized by entrances (like the winter tour groups are). You will need to click on different companies and go to their website to see where they are based and if they have a tour that you may be interested in.

https:/…transbusn.htm

Deb

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Yellowstone Park Hotel
Yellowstone Park Hotel
634 Reviews
West Yellowstone, MT
Gardiner
Gardiner
Montana
Billings, Montana
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3. Re: On our own or tours?

I have links to various trip planners on the following threads:

"Yellowstone 2018 Visitor's Guide is Now Available Online"

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60999…

"2018 Summer Ranger Program is Online!"

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60999…

"Xanterra's 2018 Experience Planner is Now Available Online"

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60999…

Deb

Edited: 08 June 2018, 02:13
Tishomingo, Oklahoma
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4. Re: On our own or tours?

We want to see the main sites and also some wildlife. I really don’t know but realize we don’t have enough time to explore it all. I really don’t want to be in the car the entire time as it is a long drive from Oklahoma! I want the kids to have some outdoorsy experiences that aren’t in a car.

Tishomingo, Oklahoma
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5. Re: On our own or tours?

So do you pay a fee to do the summer ranger program hikes?

Spery, Iowa
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6. Re: On our own or tours?

Evening campfires are tough to do staying outside the parks, as you need to be back to your lodging before dark, due to the dangers of wildlife on the roads.

The Jr Ranger programs are good, but you don't have a lot of time for the parks, one or two partial days for GTNP, and a partial and a full for YNP. West Yellowstone to Laramie is a lot of driving, I would not count on spending a half day in YNP on the 24th.

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Tishomingo, Oklahoma
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7. Re: On our own or tours?

Is it daylight until about 9pm in late July? I’ve been reading about the many hikes from a link you posted. Is that ok to do? We love to hike but I worry about wildlife. Hoping these trails usually have many visitors on them and are well marked?

Spery, Iowa
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8. Re: On our own or tours?

It depends on what trails.

And yes, sunset is about 9 p.m. late July.

You can hike, if that is your choice for your time in the park. It is your trip, so what you see and do is up to your family. You will want to carry and know how to use bear spray.

Driving is slow in the park, so you want to plan your day so you are back to West Yellowstone before sunset. https:/…Park-Map-with-mileage.pdf

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Ennis MT
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9. Re: On our own or tours?

Lots of helpful info on the park websites!

www.nps.gov/yell

www.nps.gov/grte

Georgia
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10. Re: On our own or tours?

"I really don’t want to be in the car the entire time as it is a long drive from Oklahoma! I want the kids to have some outdoorsy experiences that aren’t in a car."

The great thing about the Tetons is that everything you want to see is within about an hour's drive. So get out and explore, hike, ride the bike path in GTNP, kayak on String Lake, etc. Your Teton day requires VERY little driving and there's lots to see and do.

To see Yellowstone, you have to drive. Since you have two days there, I would spend one day driving the one loop (for example lower) and stop to see the things along that loop that appeal to your family. The next day, drive the other loop (in this example, upper loop) and stop and explore what interests them.

Be sure to stop at the Museum of the National Park Ranger at Norris.

Your kids may also enjoy the Grizzly and Wolf Discover Center in West Yellowstone. One ticket is good for two days so you could visit on both afternoons. Be sure to be back "home" before dark! You don't want to drive on park roads in the dark.

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String Lake
String Lake
79 Reviews
Grand Teton National Park, WY
Norris Campground
Norris Campground
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Yellowstone National Park, WY
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