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 > Northeast Ohio to Yellowstone with Kids!

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richardcoxid

Idaho Falls, ID

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Posted: 01/13/20 09:24pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Some helpful information about YSNP (some general items apply to GTNP also)

YNP is BIG!, about 45 miles E/W and about 65 miles N/S (2.2 mil. Acres total). The “figure 8 grand loop” road inside the park is about 140 miles around. The lower loop is 96 miles and the upper loop is 70 miles around and yes, it is bigger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.

Whatever time that you think you will need to see YNP you better double it, or to say it another way is that you will see one half as much as you planned on in the allotted time. The Bison think that they own the road (they do!) and will slow down the traffic to walking speed or stop all traffic for 1/4 mile or more blocking both directions of travel, the thermal attractions also tie up traffic and with a 5 month long summer tourist season that coincides with a 5 month long road construction season and a 45 MPH radar controlled speed limit it will take about a full day to see each loop and then you will only see the main attractions. In addition to the occasional construction delays they will also sometimes close whole sections of road (for uninterrupted night construction) between 10 PM and 8 AM in the morning, if you are running late and get caught at night in the wrong area it CAN be a LONG way around to your CG! (The entrance stations will have current construction information or go on line to check it out)

Then there is the elevation- YNP ranges from a low at Mammoth- 6239 ft to 7784 ft at Fishing Bridge or higher if you go hiking and there are passes on the grand loop road that are close to 8000 ft or so! Drink plenty of liquids and pace yourself when walking.

I recommend that you get up EARLY, leave the CG and be back by 4 or 6 PM have dinner and be sitting in your recliner drinking a cool one when your neighbor drags himself back to the CG at 8-10 PM. Remember that from mid May to mid July in YNP the sun doesn't set until about 9:00- 9:15 PM then there is a long and bright twilight.

Cell Phone Service- Only at the major visitor centers, otherwise non-existent!

Clothing- Especially in the early or late season it is not unusual to have a 30 or even the occasional 40 degree temperature change throughout the day. Dress with easily shed layers of clothing. Also dress in bright easily seen clothing. I am sure that we all have been to a sporting event, parade or Disney World etc. and we blink our eyes and our partner/child has disappeared. My DIL was born and raised in HI, you guessed it, every Xmas, b-day or Father's Day I receive a Hawaiian shirt. One of them is shiny black with 4-5 inch dia. bright flowers. Not many of them in Wyoming and in YSNP, that is what I wear. If your partner has on a Violet blouse and a Orange scarf with a Pink hat I guarantee that she will be the only one within the boundaries of either NP. It can save you a few anxious moments.

Water- Now I will have to contradict myself, at the altitude of YNP yes, drink lots of water! HOWEVER, be aware that the flush toilet restrooms are in the major tourist areas- Mammoth, Canyon, Fishing Bridge, Lake Hotel, Bridge Bay, Grant Village, Old Faithful, Madison Junction etc. The geyser basins and other thermal attractions areas only have pit toilets. I have seen the pit toilet line at the lower Geyser Basin (2 R/Rs) 25 or more feet long (bless the tour buses) So be smart about drinking your water and use the major tourist area R/Rs before leaving the area! I.e. “Never pass up a flush toilet!”

Sun- At YSNP altitude the Sun is intense (uv) have and apply sunscreen, wear that old floppy wide brim sun hat, wear Sunglasses!

If your luck is like mine Old Faithful will have just erupted when you get there and you will have up to a hour and 10 to 15 minutes wait for the next one. Tour the O/F Geyser basin while waiting. O/F INN is a must see, reportedly the largest LOG building in the U.S. (Meals in the O/F Inn dinning room are “A OK” also.

We have lived about 110 miles from West Yellowstone, MT since 1964, go to YSNP 3-4 times a summer (normally before Memorial Day and after Labor Day) and haven't seen it all yet! So don’t be discouraged that you didn’t have the time to see all of it. Just plan on coming back another time!

I honestly don’t mean to scare or discourage you but to give you a heads up as to what to expect! After all there was 4.1 million visitors in 2015! As far as I know we didn’t lose one of them. Except those who by their own stupidity step off the board walks into BOILING HOT water and ignoring the warnings about the WILD ANIMALS! That is called purifying the gene pool!

Now, for the early spring/late fall visitors, YSNP is closed to ALL wheeled traffic from mid November to mid March (Snow Machines, Snow Coach’s, Snowshoes, X-country Skiing etc only as of mid Dec to mid March) the first road to be plowed open in mid April is from West Y’stone, MT to Old Faithful. The last roads to be plowed is Norris to Canyon to Fishing Bridge, West Thumb south to GTNP. Other tourist venues are open AS the shelves are stocked, beds are made, winter debris cleaned up etc. All tourist venues are open by Memorial Day weekend the official opening.

Note I have seen on this blog and others about folks “day tripping” from YSNP to GTNP, it is done all the time (myself included) however remember this is BIG country and with the speed limits, animals and thermal attractions you will be doing a LOT of slow driving. From Grant Village Visitor Center (extreme S/E corner of the lower loop road) to Jackson, WY is about 80 miles with Coulter Bay being about 1/2 way, then from Grant Village you have to add the distance to your CG it will be a Long days trip!

A point of Coulter Bay (GTNP) clarification- there are two (2) CG’s at Coulter Bay, One the “Coulter Bay RV Park” a full service “RV Park” with FHU’S that takes reservations. The other is the “Coulter Bay Campground “ (FS CG) has no hookups and doesn’t take reservations. Both have about 300 sites and are basically across the road from each other.

The Gros Ventre FS CG in GTNP (about 5 miles north of Jackson and about 4 miles n/e toward the town of Kelly, on the right side of the road) is about 300 sites (including about 30 sites that are electric only) has no hookups and doesn’t take reservations.

When in the Jackson area I highly recommend seeing the Bar J Chuckwagon dinner show! If you go, MAKE RESERVATIONS and BE THERE EARLY TO PICK UP YOUR MEAL TICKETS/ TABLE SEATING ASSIGNMENTS! They seat you by when you show up to get your tickets NOT by your reservation number. Tim, their fiddle player has won the "Idaho state old time fiddle contest 9 times and the US open fiddle championship twice". If you decide to go you will sit at picnic type of bench seats/table, they get pretty hard, I recommend that you take along a blanket/pads to sit on. We day trip it there 2-4 times every summer just to see them! Disclaimer- We have no financial or other interest in the Bar J only that it will be the best $$ value for your money on your trip! Check out their website.

http://www.barjchuckwagon.com

Also in Jackson check out the “COWBOY” bar, the bar stools are saddles and the # of Silver Dollars imbedded in the bar. The Wort Hotel Bar (just around the corner from the Cowboy Bar) also has Silver Dollars imbedded in the Bar.


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BarryG20

Castle Rock, Colorado

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Posted: 01/14/20 09:40am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wow reading this thread makes it seem like no one can take a vacation without a month or more to do it. Oh yeah, the kids will make it worse they will hate it.

We don't all have unlimited time or funds. At one point in time I was a kid and my parents did trips like mentioned except we had even less time. Yes the driving was not the greatest but you get over it. Yes the kids might complain some but they get over it. No you may not be able to see everything you wanted to at whichever park/s due to time limitations. However as I have looked back over my life at various times I look back on those trips with a great fondness (I can even remember complaining about the drive time). I am so glad my parents did those trips. Did I see everything in any given park not even close, did I care no. I just went back at a later time in my life again and again and again if needed to see all that I wanted too or in some cases to see the same thing/s again.

I know even today as I near retirement I cant take three weeks off of work at a time and most times not even two weeks at a time so you make do with what you get. Doesn't mean I cant enjoy going to "those" places that I cant possibly see in a week to ten days or less with travel time. Those trips with my parents showed me there was more out there than I knew and watching it on you tube (which wasn't around back then), reading about it in a book or watching it on tv isn't the same thing as being there seeing it first hand even if only for a short while. Don't get me wrong it would be great and even better if one could spend 2-4 weeks at YNP (or whatever park/area) but the reality is most visitors at any park spend only 1 or 2 days. I know for me those few days at YNP or whichever park instilled in me a desire to see more and explore deeper in those areas even if I didn't realize it until years later.


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KNDB

Ohio

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Posted: 05/25/20 03:38pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I realize that I am a little late to the party with this post, but we made this trip with kids about 9 years ago. It was a GREAT time! We are also from Northeast Ohio. We spent 3 days on the road in each direction, pulling a hybrid camper. To avoid set-up/take-down time each day, we stayed in hotels on the way out and back. We stayed in Yellowstone NP (6 nights) and Grand Teton NP (4 nights) during out time there. To do it again, we would spend the 4 nights in Yellowstone and the 6 nights in Teton--we felt like there was so much that we missed in Teton (but we will be back!) We took I-90 out. We planned for some time at Devil's Tower and Mount Rushmore. Our boys were impressed with Mount Rushmore, but Devil's Tower took their (and our) breath away. Be sure to pack clothes for both warm and cool temps (we had snow in June) and be ready to layer up and down. Each day we packed a cooler in the car and daypacks and took off for a different end of the park with stops at the thermal features, and some hiking. Try a horseback ride out of Teddy Roosevelt lodge and then have dinner at the lodge--delicious! There is a hiking trail at the Prism spring area that takes you up above the spring and has a fantastic view of the area. If you go to Grand Teton, take a boat ride across Jenny Lake and hike some of the trails there. I found in the Lonely Planet guidebook a recommendation to go to Jackson Lake Lodge in the evening and sit on the patio in the back. We found the lodge on the first night and did this--kids had a cherry coke and the adults a local beer--we enjoyed incredible views of a slough busy with wildlife, the beautiful lake and incredible views of the Tetons--we ended up there each evening for a bit to take it all in, then back to the campground for dinner and planning the next days adventures. Ranger talks in the evening at each park were great. The driving out and back was certainly a haul, but it was also a great way to see some of the country. We certainly added to our list of places to go on that trip. We went back home via I-80. We made some amazing memories with our family, including the long hours in the car. Wishing you all the best!

richardcoxid

Idaho Falls, ID

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Posted: 05/25/20 04:40pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

X2 on KNDB’s and my comment about layered clothing. We live about 110 miles from each park, at 6:15 AM this morning when I got up the temp was 36* now at 4:40 PM it is 70*. With 89* predicted by this weekend.As the snow in the higher elevation melts the nite temp’s warmup.

ferndaleflyer

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Posted: 05/25/20 05:48pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I did about the same thing as the other guy from MD. Left our home at BWI went the Northern route out + up into Canada. Headed South, Grand Canyon, Vegas, Disney,Tucson, then into Mexico. Tombstone, Bisbee, Albuquerque, —— you get the idea. You can do it. Best part was skiing on Mt Hood in August. Can’t never did anything.

6door74

Maryland

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Posted: 05/25/20 06:49pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If you and your significant other can safely do long drives like that, go for it. My family and I have traveled plenty with long drive days to maximize time at the destination. Mind you, that was before the kids had ample entertainment to occupy their time during the ride as the do now! You know your family and their ability to do long rides. Hit the road and enjoy. The road trip is half the fun for me, always has been. Whatever you don't see this time, see it another time. Sorry I can't help on the route but i figured I'd chime in to counter those who act like it's the worst thing in the world and child abuse to take long drives.


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DHamm20

Northeast

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Posted: 05/29/20 06:56pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

As BarabooBob commented it is up to your children. My children also grew up thinking this is the way you travel. One daughter cleans windows, wife makes a snack, I fill the tank. The other daughter jumps in and helps who ever needs to use the bathroom first. If you work as a team this can be done and done with smiles on your face. From Niagara Falls NY we made it in 3 days hitting the Corn Palace and Wall Drugs. I say go for it!!!!

DHamm20

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Posted: 05/29/20 07:54pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Go to RVPARKY and set your trip there so you can see how long each day of driving will be.

Lantley

Ellicott City, Maryland

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Posted: 05/29/20 08:22pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Since this thread has been resurrected my general thought is vacation is not an endurance run. Vacation is meant to be enjoyable. 8-10 hour driving days are not enjoyable. If you only have 2 weeks of vacation choose a 2 week destination not a 3 week destination. Excessive time staring out the windshield is a waste of vacation time.
Wherever you are starting from there is a great big country out there, you don't need to drive for 3 consecutive days to find a worthwhile destination.


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BarabooBob

Baraboo, WI

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Posted: 05/30/20 08:19pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Driving a couple of long days at the beginning and end of a vacation is not high stress. My kids grew up doing it and they still enjoy on the fly trips. When you are young with young kids, sometimes you either bust your butt to get somewhere or you don't go. I only had 2 weeks for vacations because that was all I could get from my job. We went to Yellowstone, Glacier, The Grand Canyon, Florida, and Acadia. Every one of those trips was usually 2 days at the beginning and end with 600 mile days. Three of our daughters still talk about those trips as being great family vacations. If you talk about it like it is hell on earth, the kids will not have any fun.


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