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Forums » Wyoming » 4 days for Yellowstone and Grand Tetons

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CajunLady

4 days for Yellowstone and Grand Tetons

by CajunLady »

My husband and I will be driving from Glacier NP to Yellowstone NP on Sep 8th. Staying the 1st night at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, 2nd night in a Canyon Lodge Frontier Cabin and 3rd night in a  Lake Lodge pioneer cabin.  He very much wants to see wildlife. Are there places we can drive to in the different areas at dawn and dusk to position ourselves to see wildlife? I realize 2 days is not much time to truly explore YNP.  So I would appreciate suggestions to catch the highlights. From Mammoth to Canyon Village is it better to take the west or east side of the loop, or should we make the whole circle?  Fireside Falls sounds fun - will it be warm enough to go for a dip?  I love sunsets and waterfalls. I read Artist Point is a good place for sunset.  A boat ride on the lake? Would like to try and get in a few short hikes.

On Sep 11th we're heading to Grand Tetons.  So we probably have a half day more in YNP before leaving. Which are the best geysers to see in the time we have?

We're spending the night at Colter's Bay. Is it worth trying to get there in time to do an afternoon boat ride on the lake? Hoping the next day to hike to Jenny Lake before heading to Jackson Hole for the night.  Does this sound like a good plan?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions, as I want to make the most of our short time. Would also like thoughts on where to eat in the parks?

 

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AWineGeek

RE: 4 days for Yellowstone and Grand Tetons

by AWineGeek »

 

Not sure why you would want to spend each of your 4 nights sleeping in a different location, but it sounds like your accommodations are all set, and you must have your reasons for doing so.

 

It has been a long time since I visited the parks but as far as seeing wildlife your husband will not be disappointed, in fact I think you would have to try very hard to not see wildlife in Yellowstone and Grand Teton. The Hayden valley (located between Canyon and Lake) is a popular spot a dusk to view large herds of bison and sometimes moose and elk and antelope as well. But there is abundant wildlife everywhere. As you drive around the park you will often find cars pulled over on the side of the road afor no apparent reason and they are all there trying to get a view of an elk or bison etc. I recall several times in Teton where mid day traffic stops because of bison crossing the road, and they always have the right of way! If you venture off the main roads and explore who knows what you will find if you are taking it slow and looking out.

 

I never made it to Mammoth but I found the Canyon area especially beautiful. I also loved some of the “smaller” sights where you can see bubbling mud pits and the “paint pots” and there are many smaller geysers near Old Faithful that you can enjoy without the crowds.

 

Jenny lake is beautiful any time of day but late afternoon it is common to have thunder storms blow though with little notice. I had this happen to me while canoeing on Jackson lake (turned out to be a very memorable experience anyway as we tried to dock our boat on a small island but were chased off by a mama bear and her cubs. We finally found a bear-free spot to wait out the lightning and were joined by a massive bald eagle). In the morning the water and weather tends to be calmer.

 

My favorite spot of all in Teton is 'Oxbow Bend'. Be sure to get there in the morning to enjoy the awesome view of Mt Moran and its giant glacier reflected in the calm water, and if your lucky you may see some wildlife as well. Worth the effort for the picture perfect serene view. I am sure you have seen photos from this spot, perfect postcard view as seen here:

 

https://www.google.com/search?q=oxbow+bend+grand+teton+national+park&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=jMLqUdCxH9bK4APn5IHIDw&ved=0CEEQsAQ&biw=1024&bih=489

 

 

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CajunLady

RE: 4 days for Yellowstone and Grand Tetons

by CajunLady »

Thanks for the tips AWineGeek. Will definitely stop at Oxbow Bend on the way to Jenny Lake.  Loved hearing about your "very memorable experience." It's often the unexpected that become highlights of a trip.

We're moving every night because I was advised not to travel the roads in the dark. So we're positioning in different areas for early and late wildlife viewing. It was my idea - hope it works.

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traveld

RE: 4 days for Yellowstone and Grand Tetons

by traveld »

I usually go to YNP a couple of times a year, so I'm very familiar with the areas that you are talking about. You have indeed picked the best route for spotting animals, and you are wise not to travel at night. There are no lights, not even at the intersections. Have you ever seen the front of a car after it hits a buffalo? I have. (It wasn't my car, fortunately!).

Having said that, I have never heard of Fireside Falls. Do you mean the Firehole River? If you would like to swim in warm water straight out of the hot springs, the Boiling River (it's actually a stretch of the Gardner River) is much friendlier, and closer to your route as it is right there in the Mammoth area.  It's about a half mile walk on flat ground. The Firehole is a little scary, if you ask me. I woudn't go in there unless I was very comfortable in the water. The Boiling River is an area where you can safely soak out of the current and it's a lot of fun. Also, the cliffs around there are good spots to look for bighorn sheep.

If you don't have a good pair of binoculars, please get them! You will definitely want them for this trip.

I would recommend you visit the Boiling River after you check into the Mammoth Hotel on the 8th. Also, go to the cafeteria and place an order for a box lunch to pick up the next morning ( be sure it's ready early!). You don't want to waste time in a crowded cafeteria, and the picnic areas are beautiful! (Also make reservations for the dining room at Mammoth, Canyon and Lake- now).

Then you can get up early (you want to be on the road no later than 6 am. but earlier is better) and drive down to Roosevelt, which is on your way to Canyon. Turn left (east) and drive out to the Lamar Valley. This is the premier wild-life viewing area in Yellowstone- the wolf watchers will be out in force and usually are very friendly, just ask if you can peek through their spotting scopes.  If you see the white Yellowstone Association vans, stop and ask where the wolves are- they always know! When you get to the Pebble Creek campground turn around and head back.

Once you're back at Roosevelt, turn left (south) and the road gradually ascends. This is bear territory- if you see cars pulled over (especially with a ranger pressent) there could be a bear sighting. Don't waste time pulling over to look at elk or bison  they're all over the place, you'll see a lot of them in three days! It's not safe to look at them up close except from inside a car, though, so if they're right on the shoulder of the road, that might be worth stopping for.

Continuing on, just before Tower Falls there are pullouts where you can see bighorn sheep across the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Then it's up over Dunraven Pass and Mount Washburn- there might be grizzlies lower down on the mountain and sheep & the rare mountain goat up higher.  

Then you can check out all the sights around Canyon in the evening. The next day get up very early again and look for animals in the Hayden Valley. You will arrive at Lake fairly early in the day- there is a nice walk around Pelican Point, if you go do take some bear spray, though, or go with a group. The restaurant is nice, you will need reservations, I'd make them now. I honestly would not bother with a trip out on the Lake. The ride at Jenny Lake in GTNP is better (and it's also the only way to get across it!). 

The next day, stop at West Thumb Geyser Basin. This is a very nice basin with many different thermal features. Go early before it gets hot. If you want to see Old Faithful, now is the time to detour over there and take a look. There are neat geyser basins to see, as well. Then double back and continue your trip down to GTNP. 

You will have a blast, and you are minimizing your driving. You can't see all of YNP in 4 days, it's best to get as much out of the places you CAN see- and remember, early to bed, early to rise is the way to see animals and avoid crowds. 

 

 

 

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CajunLady

RE: 4 days for Yellowstone and Grand Tetons

by CajunLady »

Thanks Traveld, that's exactly the kind of detailed advice I was seeking.

You're right, I did meant Firehole River. Appreciate the tip on Boiling River. Was thinking of the Terraces that first evening, but soaking in a hot boiling river sounds more adventursome. Is there a place to change there?

I was not planning on making dinner reservations because I dont know what time we'll be eating. Was hoping after Labor Day it wouldnt be as crowded. But I can at least make 5:00 reservation at the Lake since you think we'll be arriving early. Then we'd have time to ride back out to Hayden Valley before sunset.

 

 

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traveld

RE: 4 days for Yellowstone and Grand Tetons

by traveld »

There is a single-stall bathroom at the Boiling River trailhead, but since many people wish to change in it, there is typically a long wait. I'd recommend changing in your room. The walk back will dry you sufficiently to tolerate the short ride back in a damp suit- and many people change discreetly in the parking lot.

Unfortunately, the Terraces are not much to see these days as the hot spring flow has decreased, and there is activity at only a handful of thermal features. You could see them after going to the river, or drive through the upper terrace the next morning. 

Yellowstone will still be very full at that time of the year. A couple of years back, I was surprised by the number of visitors in Sept. and when I asked the a ranger about it, he remarked that it was when retirees liked to plan a visit. At the end of Sept the numbers do start to fall, but it isn't until October that I'd call it truly uncrowded. The Park hotels are always completely booked until the day they close for the season, (which is staggered and thus keeps all remaining open hotels & their restaurants full). They also shorten the restaurant hours in Sept. Thus, at suppertime there will always be a wait unless you have a reservation.

If  you have a reservation and don't need it, you can always cancel.

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d4ni3l

RE: 4 days for Yellowstone and Grand Tetons

by d4ni3l »

Hi, I'm a little late. We did pretty much all the most important sights within 4 days. Here our itinerary. It probably won't help you anymore, but maybe any future readers.

http://itinerariesandmore.blogspot.com/2013/06/4-days-in-grand-teton-and-yellowstone.html

 

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