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Yellowstone National Park - looking for ideas
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My wife and I are taking a road trip out to Yellowstone and will have about 3 days to spend exploring the park. I know that's not tons of time given the size of the park but such is life.

I've never been to Yellowstone so looking for ideas on how to spend those 3 days. related info that might be useful:

- We'll be staying in Island Park, ID about 30 min from West Yellowstone
- we both like to hike and would be comfortable hiking 10-15 miles round trip
- primary goal is to simply enjoy natural beauty of the park, hopefully see some wildlife, etc
- we'll be taking our Miata and I've heard Bear Tooth Hwy is a great scenic drive so would like to fit that in.

Any ideas/suggestions are appreciated. Thanks!
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Re: Yellowstone National Park - looking for ideas [Dirty Bottles] [ In reply to ]
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We went last year. If you want to see wildlife - make sure you're out when they are. You aren't going to see much in the middle of the day. We were never in the park early enough in the morning for us to see much, but we saw quite a bit in the evening.

If you go hiking, try to stay with people who are 20-30 years older than you. That way if a bear comes up - there will be people who are slower than you and you can run away to safety.
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Re: Yellowstone National Park - looking for ideas [Dirty Bottles] [ In reply to ]
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I was just there, but with little kids so didn't do any real hiking. Lamar Valley is the best chance to see wildlife and you will drive through it on the way to beartooth pass. The animals will be most active close to dawn and dusk.

Highlights are the geysers and pools in the western side and the canyon with its waterfalls in the middle but both will be swamped with tourists.

They are doing construction on the loop road in the northwest toward Mammoth, but it probably only added 15 minutes when we drove through toward the evening. If you want to see Elk there is a herd that lives in Mammoth at the ranger station.

Bear spray is highly encouraged.
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Re: Yellowstone National Park - looking for ideas [Dirty Bottles] [ In reply to ]
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If you're looking for the traditional Yellowstone then you head to the Norris and Old Faithful geyser basins. Walk around the boardwalks, see the geysers and the hot springs, etc. If you have never been to Yellowstone and don't know when you will be back, well, you kind of need to.

If you want an area that is really cool with fewer people, great scenery, but no thermal features there are two or three that come to mind.
1 - Up and over Bunsen Peak, down to Osprey Falls and back around the peak to the parking lot. This is a longish hike with a pretty decent amount of climbing. You will not see many people at all up here.

2 - Slough Creek, goes out of the Slough Creek camgroundno difficult climbing, really pretty valley. A few more people. Out and back hike

3 - Specimen Ridge - pretty tough hike, usually an out and back since the creek at one end gets tough to cross. No people. We were out for most of an afternoon and saw literally no one.

2 and 3 are in the northwest corner - so a drive from you, 1 is in the northeast corner.

For wildlife viewing the Lamar Valley and the Hayden Valleyis are where you need to go. Most of that you do by car and stop at the turnouts. On Mt. Washburn you can see some very very tame bighorn sheep. Most of the iconic wildlife is not stuff I really want to see up close on a hike. Elk and moose can be testy, bears run away and/or eat you, wolves run away, bison will drive you before them and crush you to the lamentations of your women.

Betroth Highway is in fact very very cool. In a Miata this would be great fun, pulling a camper this would be freaking terrifying. Of course it is on the opposite side of the park from you. It is a big park, you can't go 80 mph. Plan your trips, from where you are staying you could easily spend all day in the car if you don't think about it a little bit.

We are so fucked.
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Re: Yellowstone National Park - looking for ideas [Dirty Bottles] [ In reply to ]
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Bear Tooth Highway is an awesome drive.
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Re: Yellowstone National Park - looking for ideas [j p o] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks all for the feedback, exactly type of info I was looking for. While we will likely hit some of the major tourist areas (like old faithful), I would like to find some areas that are a bit off the beaten path....and hope we don't get eaten by bears.

For Beartooth, we're coming in via North Dakota/Montana so I think we'll drop down and hit beartooth on the way out to Island Park.
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Re: Yellowstone National Park - looking for ideas [Dirty Bottles] [ In reply to ]
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Agree with those who say get there early and stay late. Also, get away from the people. Look at the map, look at the entry points and realize that most people kinda just dip their toe into the park -- drive in for an hour or so and back out, or they go straight for ol' faithful. So get deep in the middle of the park and you will see a lot more 4-legged creatures and far fewer 2-legged ones.
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Re: Yellowstone National Park - looking for ideas [Dirty Bottles] [ In reply to ]
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There is lots of great hiking in the Gallatin range along the western border of the park. That would be fairly close to you.

I would avoid the Old Faithful area at all costs (unless your will be going after Labor Day). It is too busy to be enjoyable in the summer. If you want to see the thermal features, I would suggest heading up towards the Norris Geyser basis.

You can't go wrong up in the Northern section of the park, but that would be pretty far.

I might suggest you head up through the Bechler River Ranger entrance. That is fairly close to Island Park and it is pretty far off the beaten path. Nothing to do there but hike, but lots of waterfalls, and few people.
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Re: Yellowstone National Park - looking for ideas [Dirty Bottles] [ In reply to ]
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Jpo have a great summary. I live in Red Lodge, other end of the beartooth. Great drive, and if you want to spend a night here or just grab a beer, message me.
Only think I would add if you are hiking, get bear spray and respect wildlife. We have already had a few injuries with idiots trying to take selfies with bison or bear.

Jim
"In dog beers, I've only had one"
http://www.shakercolonial.com/
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Re: Yellowstone National Park - looking for ideas [Dirty Bottles] [ In reply to ]
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I just left 3 days ago.

Stay inside the park if possible. Check the xanterra website several times a day. Rooms open up.

The crowds and driving is crazy. Start early as most visitors sleep in and eat breakfast. Get going early.

Wildlife? You can see elk, deer, and bison without trying. Forget about bears.

I watched the Mollie wolf pack in Hayden Valley w a group of NPS personnel and a couple of wolf watchers. It was an amazing experience and requires patience and an early arrival to the valley. Drive to the Hayden Valley and you'll see the folks set-up to watch/monitor the Mollie pack. Go to the folks on top of the hill opposite the valley and stand around listening to them. They are monitoring the Mollie pack which is 11 adults and some unknown number of pups. Whenever a wolf appears they'll ask if anyone wants to see it/them. Most people don't have the patience to wait 10 minutes to see the wolves move around the den. Times for this are: daylight until 10:00 am and 4:00 pm until dark. The afternoon sunlight is best.

The boardwalks are a necessary evil but it's the only way to see the most of the park.

I was most impressed with the thermals/geysers at Mud Volcano (boardwalk). My hike to Fairy Falls and Imperial Geyser from the Sentinel Meadows trailhead. It's considered backcounty and covers vast meadows, wetlands, a falls, geysers, pools, and fountains in a 8 mile round trip hike. The views from Mt. Washburn are spectacular but the hike is dull (dirt road).

I'm typing on my phone as I'm still "out there" so forgive my grammar and spelling.

Seriously. Check for in Park lodging. The bumper to bumper driving is such a waste of time.
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Re: Yellowstone National Park - looking for ideas [Dirty Bottles] [ In reply to ]
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PS: I bought bear spray but it never left the package or my car. The experienced backpackers simply clap a few times every few minutes and call out a yipee-you in between.

Park Rangers told me that most people injure themselves with beat spray. Be aware of your surroundings and listen. But buy bear spray if your wife insists. :-)
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Re: Yellowstone National Park - looking for ideas [Dirty Bottles] [ In reply to ]
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All you need is a picnic basket.
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Re: Yellowstone National Park - looking for ideas [Dirty Bottles] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks to everyone for the ideas and suggestions. We had a blast. A few snippets...

- Trip through Bear Tooth pass in the miata was absolutely amazing. The day was picture perfect (sunny, low 70's). I would love to go back just to make that drive again. Red Lodge seems like a cool little town. We stopped and had a beer and a sammy at a local brew pub.

- We ended up staying one night inside the park (Grant Village), and then 2 nights in Island Park Idaho. While staying in the park has its obvious advantages, I enjoyed escaping the crowds and unwinding in Island Park.

- It was crazy busy, if I go again I'd like go in early September once all the kiddios are back in school.

- Had a couple of fun Buffalo encounters (below). Being next to those things in a tiny miata makes you feel awfully exposed. The video is a bit choppy at times as my wife was busy putting the top up (made us feel a tiny bit less naked).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WC3flwhNYc
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Re: Yellowstone National Park - looking for ideas [Dirty Bottles] [ In reply to ]
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Glad you enjoyed your trip. When we went last year, we stayed near Wapiti which I think east of the park. Two days in a row when entering the park, we saw a bison holding up traffic while walking in the middle of the other lane. It was funny to watch, though I'm glad I wasn't the one stuck behind him.
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