Replies: 6 - Last Post: Sep 21, 2012 8:54 AM Last Post By: SoloHobo
Sep 20, 2012 2:22 PM
yellowstoneHello lonely planet friends and globe trotters,
I am planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park... We have no time frame, which is why I am posting. When is the best time to visit? Best places to go? We like to hike and bike. Not opposed to camping but we are coming in from chicago so maybe a cabin or motel would be a better option.
Thanks so much!
Sep 20, 2012 2:47 PM
1This would be $20 well spent:
Sep 20, 2012 2:56 PM
Sep 20, 2012 3:33 PM
3I'd rather go to xYellowstone in the depths of winter than in shoulder season.
March, April and November (and to a lesser extent, May and October) are to be avoided like the plague. Services close as they transition between winter and summer, roads are closed to wheeled and non-wheeled traffic, and the weather still sucks.
Sep 20, 2012 4:02 PM
4Late May and early June are great for wildlife, and not as many crowds.
There is a lifetime's worth of hiking in Yellowstone, everything from short, easy trails to serious wilderness backpacking trips. Some of the easy hikes I'd recommend: Hellroaring Creek, Trout Lake (very short but you can see otters hunting trout), Mystic Falls, any hikes in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone area.
The geothermal features are unique, so be sure to explore beyond Old Faithful (in my view, it's a bit of a circus and my least favorite part of the park). Walk the boardwalks at the geyser basins and check out some of the lesser-known features: the extremely weird Sulfur Cauldrons area is my favorite, with boiling mud lakes, hissing lava tubes and churning cauldrons. Other-worldly. Norris Geyser Basin, Fountain Paint Pots, Midway Geyser Basin and Mammoth will all give you good overviews of the geothermal wonders.
For wildlife, the Lamar Valley is tops for grizzly bears and wolves, as well as other wildlife. Be there early in the morning or in the evening. The Hayden Valley can also be good for grizzly bears. The drive between Tower and Roosevelt has a lot of black bears and I've had fantastic wolf sightings there. The cliffs around Tower for bighorn sheep. Keep your eyes open at all times--I've seen great wildlife throughout the park. You never know when a bear or a wolf might make an appearance. You'll see bison and elk everywhere.
If you have enough time, visit the Grand Tetons for great scenery and great hiking.
Sep 21, 2012 6:36 AM
5If you don't mind a structured group experience, you could try a field seminar. They're offered nearly year-round, although of course the activities and topics vary.
Sep 21, 2012 8:54 AM
6Are you driving from Chicago or flying to Salt Lake City or Denver?
I live in Chicago and just returned from Yellowstone NP over Labor Day, and really was not that bad, and I hate crowds and high seasons. We spent 3 nights and 4 days at Yellowstone, which was just enough time to see the entire park via driving, and also get in some hikes. Ideally, you would want some more time to hike, so 4-5 nights would be better.
Overall the park lodging is okay, and very full, some areas have cabins to rent, though they are stacked next to eachother like cars, did not look very appealing IMO, lodge rooms may be better.
We rented a cabin north of the north entrance (Gardiner) 17 miles north in Paradise valley on the Yellowstone river, in the Emigrant/Tom Miner area, which actually had more wildlife to view than in YSNP, as we saw grizzlies grazing early evening and wolves early morning, and lot of deer.
In the park itself, it is truly one the most beautiful places in the country, and the world I have been too. You can catch field seminars by the rangers and also wildlife spotting with the rangers daily, though you will not be alone. There are a number of good trails to hike, we focused on the Lamar Valley area, saw some elk and rams, and mountain sheep, it can be tough and some of the more remote trails are 6 hours. Keep in mind the threat of grizzlies are everywhere, so you need to get some Bear Spray for hiking. if you want to hike the backcountry, you need a permit and also take a short course on safety at the visitor center.
We flew from Chicago to Denver on Southwest and picked up a car and then drive Steamboat/Rock Springs a night, then on to Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons, and into YSNP from from south entrance to the north via Mammoth. On the way back we drove out the east entrance along the YS lake, and thru Shoshoni NF to Cody, then down to Casper a night, then on to Boulder/CDenver, 1800 miles round trip with all the park driving and to/from the cabin.
I would imagine the fall colors right now are spectacular. On Labor Day to days were in the 60's and 70's and evenings in the 40's. If you do camp, be prepared for some extreme weather.
I have the LP Yellowstone guidebook, if you are around downtown, I will sell to you for $10. Its like new.
Here is my Trip Report.
A much closer place to enjoy the mountains and hiking right now, is Smokey Mountain NP and the area around it, drive there is easy, compared to YSNP. Great hiking on the sections of the Appalachian trail too, perfect weather right now.
(4 star Hotel)
From US$275.00 per night
Salt Lake CityBook now
(3 star Hotel)
From US$99.00 per night
(5 star Hotel)
From US$395.00 per night