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  1. Default Seattle to Yellowstone looking for adventures along the way.

    Hi there, I'm new and just discovered this forum. I want to thank all the people who are posting and answering questions! Just by reading a few threads I've got some great information.

    We are planning a trip in mid Sept. to Yellowstone from Seattle. We want to explore the area on the way. We would love to hear some ideas and places not to miss. We can venture into Montana and Wyoming and Idaho. We love to photograph beautiful scenery. We are into exploring ghost towns, abandoned mining towns, rock hounding and fossil hunting. We love rivers, and are also into finding great food places.

    Also, any advice on Yellowstone itself. Like how long do you recomend staying at the park. We are going last minute and already know the lodging in the park is still booked at the time we will be there. So we might camp there.

    We have 10 days total and can drive 10 hrs in a day.

    Any tips and advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks in advance:)

  2. Default Notes about Yellowstone and Cody

    Hi. Thought I'd slap together notes from my trip journal of a few years ago for you.

    Many people like to vary their lodging within Yellowstone Park so as to accommodate the many hours of driving on the one main road throughout the park. (Get that?? The park is the size of 2/3 Connecticut yet there is just one road, so with tons of summer vacationers and ruling animals and a 35 mph speed limit, driving is a key part of your visit.)

    However, because I booked within two weeks of my travel, I was lucky to score any room, probably due to cancellations. I was told that I was free to check out earlier than my originally booked stay because they were sure to re-book, even for same day cancellations.
    That means, call back if you don't get what you want; you'll probably get it later. The staff at the call center were wonderful and honest, which came in handy when I had a choice of properties.

    So, we used a stand-alone cabin (better than staying in bldg) at the Lake Hotel as a base for two days of touring: Old Faithful, which we did after rolling into the park from Grand Teton, and then the "Upper Loop" which, despite being 70 miles, took all day to complete so we had dinner at the Canyon Lodge cafeteria. (see above re driving!)

    Watch out, city slickers-- you are in the land of nature! The park's operational approach is about letting nature be. At night, we heard wolves howling (they sounded more like ambulances to our city ears) and the sky was like a planetarium show and hundreds of little bugs were busy. You are discouraged from night driving. Bison rule the road. Deer are less visible. Cell phones don't work!

    Be sure to get two books, from the library or as purchases, to help you navigate: National Geographic driver's guide to Yellowstone, a slim volume you can buy at the park if you forget, and the straightshooting Moon guide to the Tetons and Yellowstone Park. Also look at the very helpful for suggestions on roadtrips to get there and maps for the park itself.

    Beyond Yellowstone: I was told by locals it's not a good idea to drive long distance at night in Wyoming. If you head out of Yellowstone one way, I think you're in Montana. The other way, you wind up in Cody, a great town.

    I got the following accomplished by getting into the Cody area by elevenish from the Lake Hotel:
    --stopped at the Yellowstone Drugstore in tiny Shoshoni on the way for the renowned milkshakes (even at 10 am!);
    --stopped at the Buffalo Bill dam to check out the canyon views;
    --ate at Peter's Cafe for a really tasty lunch;
    --shopped at the super Yellowstone Gift store nearby and browsed other stores;
    --reserved seats for the 6 PM gunfight at the Irma for $1 each;
    --bought night Rodeo tickets at the Irma;
    --visited the Trail Town musuem, a reassembled ghost town with a lot of artifacts and documentation;
    --visited the Tecumseh Trading post with a miniature Western town;
    --checked in at the lovely K3 B&B;
    --sat in the Buzzard's Roost for the Rodeo, which ended at 10 pm.

    From Cody you could head out for a few days and finish in Denver from where to fly home, as I did. If I had done this trip again, I'd squeezed in more driving to get to Mount Rushmore.

    Have fun!
    Last edited by momof3east; 09-01-2010 at 06:00 AM.

  3. Default

    thanks so much for all the great info and tips!

  4. #4


    Welcome to the Forum! I would say you could easily spend a week in Yellowstone and the surrounding area. I was there this summer during a cross-country road trip (from Philadelphia), and our 3 1/2 days in the park were not enough. Camping in the park books pretty quickly, but there are private campground options around the park that are just about as convenient. There's a very nice KOA campgrounds just west of West Yellowstone, MT, which is the town at the west entrance to Yellowstone. I camped at that KOA, and it was great. They have laundry, a general store, free WiFi, and a little grill serving breakfast and dinner everyday (we didn't have cooking stuff, since we were road tripping for 6 weeks and didn't have room in the car...). West Yellowstone itself has tons of little motels, and the town is nice. Good breakfast at a little place called Ernie's on Route 20, and a Yellowstone IMAX right near the park entrance.

    It's worth driving to the south of the park as well. There's another private campgrounds there, right between Yellowstone and Grand Teton. I think it's called Flagg Ranch. That's a great location for accessing both parks. Admission to one park gets you in the other, and your admission is good for 7 days. Grand Teton is beautiful, although I only drove through it and then spent my time in Yellowstone.

    South of Grand Teton is Jackson, WY. If you haven't been there, you should go. It's an awesome little town with many great shops, restaurants, and bars. I'd recommend breakfast at Pearl Street Bagel (on Pearl St. a couple of blocks off the town square, which has arches of Elk antlers at every corner). And you should get a beer at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, right along the square, because you can sit on barstools that are actual saddles. Very western and fun. Live music & dancing at night.

    In Yellowstone itself, there's awesome stuff to see everywhere. One of my favorite spots was the Lamar Valley, in the northeast part of the park. It's called the Serengeti of Yellowstone, and it's home to a herd of over 1,000 bison. Definitely take binoculars with you -- there's so much to see, and you'll always want a closer look (unless a bison crosses the road in front of your car, in which case you'll be a little nervous about how close of a look you're getting). And if you camp or plan to hike, get some bear spray from a camping supply store for your own peace of mind. There were 2 bear attacks right before we got to Yellowstone, so everyone was on high alert. We only ended up seeing one bear while driving through the park, and it was at a safe distance across a river, but we felt safer in our tent at night knowing we had the spray with us.

    Anyway, happy trip planning. If you have other questions, let me know!

  5. Default

    Don't give up on getting a place to stay within Yellowstone. Yes, it's true, people book MONTHS in advance. But some reserve only to cancel later. Hint: in order not to forfeit their deposit, people must cancel 48 hours in advance. When I looked for a place a week ahead of time there was nothing available. However, on a Monday I found a couple openings for the following weekend; and on a Tuesday, I was able to reserve accommodations at Old Faithful Inn for Friday and Saturday.

    I echo the advice to try to stay at different locations in the park. It is a pity to have to leave an enchanting area of the park, or a place where the wildlife is finally emerging, more than an hour before sunset just so you can get back to your faraway lodgings before nightfall. You definitely don't want to be driving at night in the park.

    I hope you enjoy good weather during your trip!

  6. Default

    Hey, sam1.

    You did ask about going from Seattle to Yellowstone, and we addressed mostly Yellowstone.

    When reviewing any RTA thread, including your own, try scrolling down to the very bottom of the page and look at the "similar threads" list.

    Also, if you are a member of AAA (which I think is a good idea for roadtrippers, if only for the mapping tools and perks) you can input your itinerary in its "triptik" tool, which you should find in their travel section of their website.

    You don't need to be a member to use the tool but you do in order to save your work and to ask AAA via phone or office to send you related maps and books, which are an excellent resource and backup to GPS. (GPS really stinks in all the National Parks I've ever been to!).

    An AAA office will also highlight the itinerary on a spiral-bound set of maps so you don't have to print all the maps from the website-- but getting the online detailed directions printed out can be very helpful when GPS gets baffling.

    Once you've mapped the two endpoints of your roadtrip on the online Triptik, click on any spot along the route to zoom in and check out the icons of what's nearby that might interest you. I have discovered some amazing stops that way.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default RTA is going to offer that feature too!

    Quote Originally Posted by momof3east View Post
    Once you've mapped the two endpoints of your roadtrip on the online Triptik, click on any spot along the route to zoom in and check out the icons of what's nearby that might interest you. I have discovered some amazing stops that way.
    RTA is building a similar type of mapping program. There will be a soft beta launch towards the end of 2010, with a more complete experience by very early 2011.


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