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Must see in Yellowstone and Grand Teton

New York City, New...
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Must see in Yellowstone and Grand Teton
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My apologies if something similar was already asked but I thought i better ask questions that are more specific to our trip.

Some of you might remember that i have been asking about road trip from NYC to Cody. We decided we would like more time in the parks so we are flying instead :)

I would highly appreciate additional suggestions for must see or do in both Yellowstone and Grand Tetons. our accommodations, flights and car are booked so i will not be able to make changes.

so to be short, this is the plan:

5/20 - flight to SLC, pick up car, necessities shopping and drive to Cody, WY.

we have 3 nights in Cody. except for Hayden Valley and Yellowstone Lake, please suggest other must sees.

5/23 - move from Cody to Gardiner, MT. i plan many hours in Lamar Valley and also to visit Mammoth Hot Springs. anything else must see or do in the area?

5/26 - move to West Yellowstone (sort of, accommodation's are in St Anthony but we are ok with driving. its not an issue.) planning to go to Grizzly and Wolf Center, Grand Prismatic, Old Faithful. is Hayden Valley accessible from West Yellowstone considering construction plans?

5/31 - move to Driggs. we will have 2 days for Grand Tetons and we also have a photo tour booked for 5/28 which makes it 3 days. please suggest must see/do in Grand Tetons.

6/2 - head back to SLC. flight home is on 6/3 so we have half a day for SLC.

I would love to see/visit a Ghost Town or two. Are there any we can take a drive to from any of the locations we will be staying at?

any suggestions for best hikes are also appreciated. easy to moderate are preferred.

thanks a bunch!

15 replies to this topic
Boston...
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1. Re: Must see in Yellowstone and Grand Teton
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5/20 what time does your flight arrive SLC? Are you really going to drive to Cody that first day?? That is a full day drive even if you go outside the parks!

New York City, New...
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2. Re: Must see in Yellowstone and Grand Teton
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1:30 and yes. We are 2 drivers, getting to Cody is not an issue.

N. Idaho
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3. Re: Must see in Yellowstone and Grand Teton
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Oh my word on the Saint Anthony lodging! My goodness...that is really going to cut into your sightseeing day from there. It's 70 miles so 1h25-30 minutes to the West entrance gate. You'd want to be back to St Anthony before dark. So..you are adding nearly 3 hours to your commute time. I suspect you'll wind up not going in to the park for some of your days there. To me, it's not a matter of not liking driving, it's that you are taking hours from your touring time in the park.

Here is a map of the park showing the Road Construction closures. It has no effect on the drive from the West Entrance to Hayden Valley.

https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/road-construction.htm

If you are going to go to Hayden Valley from Cody, then you can continue the few miles further to the Canyon area for the overlooks on the North and South Rim. In addition to Mud Volcano, there is Lehardy Rapids which may have some of the very cool Harlequin Ducks sitting on rocks in the roaring river, then flying upstream and floating back down.

https://www.nps.gov/features/yell/tours/canyon/map.htm

Mammoth area: Here is a copy and paste of some recommendations I made recently to someone else with some additions:

- Pull into Hellroaring Trailhead (if open when you visit)and look for pikas in the rocks there.

- Hike back to Wraith Falls. If open when you visit,

- Drive the Old Gardiner Road which leaves from behind the Mammoth Hotel and ends at the North entrance.

- Walk the self-guiding tour of the Old Ft Yellowstone buildings.

- See the Old Mail Carrier’s cabin in the Mammoth Historic District.

- Get ice cream at the Mammoth General Store.

- From the Roosevelt Arch in Gardiner, drive north around the Gardiner school and the Yellowstone Heritage Center and continue out on Boundary Road/Old Yellowstone Trail. This is a good area to see Elk, Pronghorn and Bison up close. Good for birds too.

- There is a cemetery in Mammoth if you are interested- it is near the Lower Terraces parking for RVs and there are a couple of vault toilets there. It's marked "corral" because they used to have horse rides out of there.

You might want to get a copy of Yellowstone Treasures by Janet Chapple. She has an excellent mile by mile road guide.

Pam

N. Idaho
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4. Re: Must see in Yellowstone and Grand Teton
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Cross-posted with you and Cala....

"1:30 and yes. We are 2 drivers, getting to Cody is not an issue."

It's not an issue of drivers getting tired. It's an issue of needing to get there before dark. Wyoming is an open range state which means cattle do not have to be fenced and can be on the road. You cannot see them in the dark and if you hit one you are responsible for paying the rancher AND you'll have rental car issues. There is also wildlife in the road as well which is a hazard

And thank you CaLa, I missed the fly in to SLC. Your plan would have worked better to do your nights at the West entrance first, then Gardiner, then Cody, then Grand Tetons based on your airport. Not sure if you can change now or if you want to, but you may need to alter your first night's lodging.

Pam

Edited: April 30, 2021, 12:33 am
Spery, Iowa
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5. Re: Must see in Yellowstone and Grand Teton
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As you are driving to Cody, skip the shopping and just hit the road. Shop in Cody.

Bannock State Park, Virginia City and Nevada City for driving to a ghost town.

Boston...
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6. Re: Must see in Yellowstone and Grand Teton
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I assume you are planning to drive outside the parks to get to Cody? I would change my first night to Lander to be safe. You could visit the historic Gannett bar and grill. Then drive to Cody the next morning and do your shopping there. You seem to have plenty of days in YNP. I wouldn't take the risk and rush to get to Cody that first night. Driving to Cody outside the parks is 450 miles on mostly 2 lane roads.

In GTNP, you can drive the 42 mile scenic loop and stop at all the stops to take pictures.

You could check with the rangers to see what short hikes might be snow-free when you get there, if interested in hiking.

http://www.tetonhikingtrails.com/grand-teton-best-easy-hikes.htm

Not sure if you are interested in activities, but there is TetonBills list of things to do:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g143029-i1019-k11681719-Non_hiking_activities_in_and_around_GTNP-Grand_Teton_National_Park_Wyoming.html

New York City, New...
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7. Re: Must see in Yellowstone and Grand Teton
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I’m confused by “You'd want to be back to St Anthony before dark”

Why? Is there a curfew in place? Do people not drive after nightfall in WY?

There are other open range states, people drive before and after dark. I’m confused as to why would this be an issue.

Edited: May 03, 2021, 12:11 am
Madison, Wisconsin
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8. Re: Must see in Yellowstone and Grand Teton
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It is NOT recommended to drive after dark. Besides the open range factor, another bigger factor are large animals such as bison, elk, deer, pronghorn, etc. A bull bison weighs half as much as a car. They appear black at night, they have non-reflective eyes, making them almost invisible.

While it is legal to drive after dark of course, you are taking a big risk. I learned the hard way when I hit and killed a bull elk north of YNP on US-89.

Your choice.

Edited: May 03, 2021, 12:24 am
N. Idaho
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9. Re: Must see in Yellowstone and Grand Teton
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No, of course there is not a curfew in a small Idaho town of 3,500. It's the animals you might encounter on the way. And yes, of course locals drive at night but it's more difficult for visitors to know where the wildlife might be.

You'll drive in a lot of National Forest area from West Yellowstone to St Anthony. I saw an elk with the largest rack I'd ever seen coming out of the woods along the highway West of West Yellowstone a number of years ago. It was before day break and he was headed across the road in front of me. I had less experience driving in wildlife rich areas then so had the car on cruise control which I immediately released and slowed down. I realized cruise control is not a good idea in the dark with wildlife and now I don't leave West Yellowstone to make the drive back home before I can see colors.

As to the drive from SLC to Cody....in your driving experience have you come across a Black Angus at night in the middle of the road? Can't see them at all.

It's fine if you don't choose to acknowledge our collective experience or comments but they are coming from a good place.

Pam

Billings, Montana
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10. Re: Must see in Yellowstone and Grand Teton
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>>>1:30 and yes. We are 2 drivers, getting to Cody is not an issue.<<<

Apparently, I didn't see this thread on the 19th. I am concerned with this statment:

>>>1:30 and yes. We are 2 drivers, getting to Cody is not an issue.<<<

It is about a 450 mile drive from Salt Lake City to Cody (going around the parks) on two lane roads. With a 1:30 pm flight arrival into Salt Lake City, I would highly recommend not driving all the way to Cody that day, especially after a long flight from New York. I would recommend the same whether no matter how many drivers you have.

Your trip would flow a lot better and more efficiently if you put your Cody nights in the middle of it. A loop that makes sense would be:

1. Salt Lake to West Yellowstone or Island Park (way better than St Anthony for visiting Yellowstone)

2. Stay overnight in Gardiner or Cooke City *Cooke City would be better if you want easy access to Lamar Valley which seems to be a high priority for you

3. Drive out the northeast entrance and over Chief Joseph Scenic Highway to Cody for your nights there

4. Drive through the east entrance and down to the Tetons for your nights in Driggs. You would be able to do some touring of the Tetons on your way to Driggs.

5. Drive back to Salt Lake City from Driggs.

Deb

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