December 29, 2017 at 8:24 pm #199671
Brian GrospeParticipantBasic Member
I am currently looking to put together a couple trips for 2018 and for me Yellowstone has been on the list for 2 years now. I have never been and I am looking for advise and possible route guidance.
I would like to take some back roads and hopefully by mid June it will be starting to warm up. I need to know where to go and what to see too, also if anybody wants to join in I would love to put a convoy together.
I was considering Moab but I want to save that trip for when I get a new rig. I am thinking 8-9 day trip and I am an obsessive planner so I have 6 months to plan. Any thoughts are appreciated.January 1, 2018 at 10:05 am #199688
Guy MinerParticipantArea Coordinator
Howdy Brian – just saw this. I greatly enjoy Yellowstone and have been several times. During the summer months, it’s pretty easy to get around in the park, except for the crowds. Expect traffic jams. Seriously.
You’ll want to make campsite reservations well ahead of time. Starting your planning now is great!
So many different things to see at the park… I like to focus on one or two things, and enjoy those, rather than spending so much time driving from place to place in the park. For example, my last trip was a solo trip in October 2016, and I wanted to focus on watching wildlife, so I camped in the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone. The Lamar Valley is famous for large numbers of wildlife – mostly bison. I also wanted to do some fly fishing, but that didn’t work out. Water conditions/weather were poor for that option, at the time.
One thing that will drive what you see and do, and where you camp, is which entrance you take. There are only a few:
West Yellowstone – easy reach from Washington – kind of touristy – but that’s hard to escape at the park.
Coming in from the North through Gardiner – is interesting. Gets to Mammoth Hot Springs and the historical old park admin buildings which are still in use. Usually quite a few elk in the area to photograph.
South Entrance – past Grand Teton – wow – pretty spectacular and will likely lure you into a return trip just to spend time in the Tetons.
Northeast – through Red Lodge – pretty remote – not very heavily traveled. Incredible vistas, and a lot of wildlife along the way.
East – towards Cody, Wyoming. A favorite of mine. I’ve hunted outside the park along that route a bit. Good for fly fishing too, and of course Cody is a worthwhile destination all it’s own.
I’d recommend doing a good map-study of western Montana, and of Idaho, and decide what you’d like to see on the way to and from Yellowstone. I’ve done many trips through that area, yet feel I’ve hardly scratched the surface. When my sons were younger, we’d take family vacations out there, driving a fair bit and camping too. Did some fishing, had some adventures.
Honestly don’t know where to start with any kind of “must see” list. There’s so many interesting places.
If you do want to add a bit of “overlanding” flavor to your trip, consider taking the “Lolo Motorway” through part of the Idaho panhandle. It’s an interesting dirt route, and you can find a lot of info on it online. Also some folks here have traveled it in the past year or so and there should be trip reports avail to read.
Even the paved highway (12) that parallels the Lochsa River, and runs well below the “Lolo Motorway” is a great drive.
Take your time and enjoy. There’s a lot of natural beauty, and quite a bit of interesting history still to be seen in the area.
Regards, GuyJanuary 1, 2018 at 11:38 am #199689
Ole HellevikParticipantBasic Member
I went to Yellowstone two years in a row, first with the family in an RV, next year hiking the back country with a group of boy scouts. The back packing was 10x cooler than RV camping, so i’d recommend it if you have the chance. We spent a few days canoeing on Shoshone lake in canoes rented in Jackson, and a few days hiking by Heart lake.
Bring bear spray if you go off the beaten path (boardwalk), the rangers will be happy to walk you through how to use it 🙂
I’ve heard recommendations on taking Old Gardiner Road out of the park, from Mammoth to Gardiner. Only problem, you’d miss out of one of the few (the only?) hot spring where you can actually take a dip – search for Boiling River Yellowstone.
Very little cell coverage in the park, so plan on off line maps and notes. I only saw coverage in Canyon Village.January 2, 2018 at 9:31 pm #199705
We were there in October. We saw a lot of cool wildlife, and got in a few nights camping. Even the first week of October was a challenge to get camping spots. And by “camping”, I mean listening to RV generators when you wake up and go to sleep. It’s a busy park and a very popular destination – and for good reason. Even driving around, you get a sense of the expanse and wilderness. Just don’t kid yourself that you will ever be “alone”. There are a few unpaved side roads in the park that are a nice deiversion from the pavement. Because a winter storm came through when we were there we stayed a few nights in Gardnier. That was a good location for us. Very easy access to what we wanted to see in the north section of the park. As the other guys have said – start planning now. Don’t expect to roll in and find a place to stay – let alone camp. Find a trail, pack a bag and bear spray, and do some day hikes. You experience a totally differnt dimension of the park once you get out of your car.
CraigJanuary 4, 2018 at 9:55 am #199716
One more suggestion, and this goes for all NPs. Subscribe (follow) the Tweets for the park you plan to visit. All of the parks I’ve visited do a great job tweeting any recent updates (road conditions, closures, sever weather, etc.). It’s as close to real-time info. as you can get.January 6, 2018 at 5:43 pm #199745
Went there annually for years. June is a great time… July kicks off tourist season but you still may hit big crowds after all it is Yellowstone and is considered a drive through park. Because everyone drives through, I found that if you stop and walk any trail a little bit you’ll leave the crowds behind.
June is baby time so you’ll see lots of elk and bison calves in the herds roaming around.
Over in the NE there is Slough Creek Campground (https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/sloughcreekcg.htm) that is very much grizzly country so police your camp and keep it clean. The link talks about stuff to do around there. If you’re a fly fisherman the brown trout in slough creak are the size and shape of a football but they are very picky. Bring lots of bug spray. Biting flies are intense there when the sun hits the hay meadow that the creek flows throw.January 7, 2018 at 1:36 am #199751
Guy MinerParticipantArea Coordinator
Slough Creek is where I camped, Oct 2016. We had bear, bison and deer in camp, and a coyote just outside of camp.
I was there the last night it was open that fall, everyone had to pack up and move out the next day because winter weather was about to hit. Great camping area, less developed than the others I’ve used over the years.
GuyJanuary 7, 2018 at 11:12 am #199758
+1 on Slough Creek. One word of advice: the camp host in 2017 (this fall) never changed the status sign on the main road. It aways says “Full”. So no matter what the sign says, head up the gravel road to find out the real availability. The earlier in the day the better. He will tell you if others are leaving, and let you hang out until a space opens up.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.