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  1. Default Planning trip to yellowstone with minimal amount of time, possible?

    Hello,

    I am not huge on Roadtrips, but I am planning a trip from Eastern WI to visit the parents in WA, and would like to take my young kids to visit Yellowstone (never been myself) along the way, at least for a day. What are my options, to include best place to stay (on a budget) the night before and after, what options I have to make the most of the day?

    Thank You!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    How much time do you have for your overall trip?

    It really is impossible to "see" Yellowstone in one day, so you're going to have to figure out which part of the park you want to focus on. West Yellowstone could be a good place to look - while there is nothing cheap near Yellowstone, you're probably most likely to an affordable room there (still likely over $100), and that would put you closest to Old Faithful and the surrounding Geyser Basins that could make for an enjoyable day.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
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    Las Vegas, Nevada
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    10,060

    Default Resources for planning trips

    Jon,

    One thing to remember -- less is more on trips with young children. Here are a couple of articles that might give you some helpful advice:

    Planning Family Road Trips

    Trips with very young children

    Other ideas

    Mark

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    Default

    As you approach from the east you could drive the wonderful 'Beartooth Highway' through the Silver Gate entrance to Yellowstone NP, getting as close to the Red Lodge area as possible which depends on where and at what time you set out, as you will need at least one overnight stop on route. Perhaps Billings would offer reasonable lodgings. You could then drive through parts of the park next day to the West Yellowstone area as mentioned by Michael. You may have time to stop at Tower Falls and Grand canyon of the Yellowstone and then if you have time the following day re-enter the park and perhaps visit Old Faithfull and Norris Geyser basin and exit through Gardiner and look at spending the night around Bozeman. If you don't have that much time then you will have to pick a couple of highlights as Michael suggested.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 02-06-2016 at 04:40 AM.

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    ...enter the park and perhaps visit Old Faithfull and Norris Geyser basin and exit through Gardiner and look at spending the night around Bozeman. If you don't have that much time then you will have to pick a couple of highlights as Michael suggested.
    So, does visiting Old Faithfull and Norris Geyser Basin take an entire day... my goal is to stop in Billings, spend the night, head to/thru Yellowstone, and then leave toward Bozeman spend the night there.... a solid hit of some highlights for the day, then continue onward to my parent's (my boys are way young and if we like it will possibly do this again with better planning when they're older).

  6. #6
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    The problem with your plan is that you're going to need almost a full day just to cover the miles. To go Billings to Old Faithful back to Bozeman, you're looking at a 400 mile trip that involves going over Beartooth Pass and then a lot of driving within Yellowstone. None of those are fast roads - and between traffic and wildlife delays, your average speed within the park could easily be under 30 mph.

    Do you need all day to see Old Faithful and Norris? No. However, I'd bet you are underestimating the amount of time you will need. Old Faithful will probably take you at least 2 hours. You're looking at about an hour and a half between eruptions, plus time to get in and out of there. There's also a geyser basin that's right behind Old Faithful that's an easy walk, but again would take more time.

    For Norris, there are 2 loops of boardwalks. If you only did the smaller Porcelain Basin loop, that's still nearly a mile and I'd certainly plan for at least an hour.

    If those are the only parts of Yellowstone you stopped for, that would already be 3 hours on top of what would will most likely be 9-10 hours in the car, and you'd have barely even scratched the surface. There's no such thing as a bad trip to Yellowstone, but I really don't think your current plan is a very worthwhile one. If you insist on going from Billings to Bozeman, then I wouldn't try to get to anything in the southern loop of the park - including Old Faithful. I'd probably just try to enjoy Beartooth Pass, look at some of the wildlife in the Lamar Valley, perhaps make a quick detour to Tower Falls, and then walk around the Mammoth Hot Springs area. That's is still more than enough to fill up a day all by itself, and would give you a lot more exploring compared to just driving.

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    If you insist on going from Billings to Bozeman, then I wouldn't try to get to anything in the southern loop of the park - including Old Faithful. I'd probably just try to enjoy Beartooth Pass, look at some of the wildlife in the Lamar Valley, perhaps make a quick detour to Tower Falls, and then walk around the Mammoth Hot Springs area. That's is still more than enough to fill up a day all by itself, and would give you a lot more exploring compared to just driving.
    Okay, thank you so much for the info, I did not realize which part of Yellowstone Old Faithful was located, I will look into what you have suggested, sounds like the better idea.

  8. #8
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    If you're not familiar enough with Yellowstone to even know where Old Faithful is, then I would really strongly recommend you spend a lot of time researching the park, and learning more about it so you can know much more about what you might enjoy. The National Parks website has an incredible amount of information, including some virtual tours, to give you an idea of what you'll find.

    The recommendations I have of where you should go are purely based on your locked in desire to go from Billings to Bozeman in one day. They are some great areas, but they might not be exactly what you are looking for. Both Dave and I previously recommended looking at staying in West Yellowstone - which as we noted, because it is fairly close to Old Faithful and several of the geyser basins and those are some of the most popular areas of the park.

  9. #9
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    It is going to take you a full day from dawn to dusk just to make a whirlwind "pass through" tour of Yellowstone with carefully selected stops. It really is that big and it's that slow going.

  10. #10
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    Default Making the most of a drive-through

    Quote Originally Posted by youjs85 View Post
    (my boys are way young and if we like it will possibly do this again with better planning when they're older).
    If they are that young, they are not going to be fussed as to what they see. To them it is likely that the animals will be a hilight. I'd have to agree that you need to find somewhere closer to Yellowstone to stay, to make a one day drive-through worthwhile. I have on four occasions driven through Yellowstone, without making a multi day visit, but each time chose a different route through the park, seeing only a minimum. The time I drove the Beartooth Highway, I simply drove through the northern route, stopped in the Lamar Valley where there was a moose with calf, then drove to the Mammoth area, where I looked around and then on to West Yellowstone. Complete with having to stop for animals on the road and traffic stopped to view/photograph animals off the road, the trip took me all day.

    With my limited time, it was more than worth it. [On other trips I have stopped at Old Faithful, other geysers and features of the park.]

    Lifey

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