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syz's avatar

We're trying to plan a vacation to Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, and Glacier - any hints?

Asked by syz (33259 points ) January 22nd, 2013

The flights are slightly more affordable than expected, the car rental is phenomenally more expensive than expected, and the hotels are steep but doable. (We’re on a pretty restrictive budget.)

We’re thinking 2 nights in Jackson, 3 nights in Gardner, and we haven’t quite figured out our Glacier route. Neither of us have spent any time out West, so we’re going to avoid noob camping. (We’re planning on June.)

Anyone familiar with the area? Any must sees? Any “look out for“s? Suggestions on accommodations?

Thanks.

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7 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Bring your camera and lots of memory cards.
It always take longer to drive from one place to another (sightseeing and roads are winding).
Get out of the vehicle and walk a short distance off the the pavement in the parking lot, just be careful of wild animals.
In Jackson Hole ride to the top of the Snow King. It’s downtown.
Car rental costs are high, because you’re in the middle of nowhere.

majorrich's avatar

Just north of Yellowstone there is a hot spring in the river that is publicly accessible. You can sit in the river like a hot tub while ice floats downstream just feet away. Last time we went, an elk looked over the ravine at us probably thinking we were fools.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Dress in layers, cold in the morning, temperatures rise through the day.
Pace yourself because you’ll be at 6,000 feet or higher. (It’s not North Carolina, I know!)
Traffic jams at any wildlife sighting areas.
Go to a saloon in Jackson, the “Million Dollar” was the one I went to.

glacial's avatar

I’ve been to Glacier and Yellowstone, and both are gorgeous. So much wildlife at Yellowstone, I was amazed – and I’ve encountered a lot of wildlife in my life. My visits were camping-based, though, so a different experience. We were at Glacier too early in the season (in May!) for all of the trails and campsites to be open. Yellowstone is full of people, so don’t expect much alone time. There’s so much to see at Yellowstone, that it’s easy enough to drive through and turn off wherever you like for a glance. Mammoth Springs is a highlight, and Old Faithful is actually a bit of a bore (everyone sit here, now, wait for 5 minutes, click, whoosh, “Ooohhhhh”, click, back on your way) – but I went even knowing that, because you kind of have to, you know? Lots of other geysers around that somehow have a more “natural” feel. Try to see a couple.

I would advise that you not get out of your car to take pictures of nearby animals. You don’t want to contribute to their learning that socializing with humans is a positive experience. At Yellowstone, expect to have to sit in your car for an hour or so while bison cross the road. Several times. I’m not kidding.

Sunny2's avatar

You’ll have a great experience. Allow time to take a raft trip. We saw bald eagles. Also picked and ate thimble berries. Generally, I don’t try to find other people’s serendipitous finds. Find your own and make it your unique trip.

Jeruba's avatar

When are you going?

Jeruba's avatar

I visited Glacier National Park in Montana with my son last July. It was beautiful and amazing.

We stayed in Kalispell for a very modest rate. There was a bit of a drive to the park, but we didn’t mind it. We enjoyed several meals at the Sykes Diner in Kalispell, which had the appearance of a local institution.

Looking at snow-covered peaks at eye level, stepping in the snow in July, having runoff cascade in waterfalls directly onto the car while driving, seeing mountain goats frisking along, watching a bear cross the road—these were all memorable moments. I also spent a lovely quiet day on the lakeshore at the Lake MacDonald Lodge while my son and his friend went hiking.

I loved the boat ride on St. Mary Lake. I didn’t love the Going to the Sun Road because I was bothered by the grade and the steep drops. (That goes double for the Teton Pass.) For some reason, being in the mountains is not at all like thinking about being in the mountains. It turns out that my preferred elevation is sea level. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this spectacular trip, which took in several national parks in the western states, but I don’t want to do it again.

All the huckleberry treats were wonderful. If you’re there in season, be sure to have some huckleberry lemonade.

Sorry about the preceding post—I didn’t read your details closely enough to see that you’re planning for June. Fluther crashed while I was editing that post, and I couldn’t get back to it in time.

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