Yellowstone holiday advice sought
We went to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons in 2010. Some of my pictures are at:
The EXIF info is available by clicking on the "i" button on the popup that appears when hovering over the picture. All pictures should have GPS coordinates so the pictures can be "mapped" by clicking on the "map this" button. The panoramas were created from multiple pictures using Autopano Pro.
The equipment required depends on what type of pictures you are after. I used a 300 mm lens for many of the animal pictures. The Nikon 18-105 kit lens was used for a lot of the landscape/scenery pictures. I had a 10-20 mm lens, but didn't use it much. Part of the reason for this is that I just didn't want to carry multiple lenses on hikes. It was also extremely valuable having a good tripod. Even with the tripod it took good technique to get really sharp pictures at 300 mm.
Camping was more convenient than staying at lodges since there are more campgrounds that are closer to the locations we were interested in visiting, and we could easily change campgrounds if we wanted to change locations. However, you need to get to a campground very early in the morning to get a site.
We thought we would be spending most of our time looking at the scenic areas, but ended up spending more time viewing wildlife. We would get up at 4:30 AM and drive to a good wildlife viewing area before dawn.
All in all it was a great vacation. You should really enjoy it.
Thanks for sharing your sets of photos, they have whetted my appetite even more. Just thirteen weeks to go now! Grand Teton looks amazing and those bluebirds are well named. I have accommodation booked in Yellowstone, so that's sorted and I unfortunately can't do much hiking now due to arthritis. I am in two minds about the 10-20mm, like you I don't like carrying too much. If I could get away with the X100 alone, I would.
I've been to most of the places on your list, typically several times. One thing I would suggest is to minimize the amount of planning (especially for your first trip to the area). As others have noted there are a lot of stops on your itinerary, and those stops each have a lot of stuff. Creating a detailed plan overlooks the fact that your plan will almost certainly be blown to shreds by events (weather, animals, whatever) very quickly - so don't be a slave to photography or anything else. Enjoy your trip, and enjoy whatever comes your way.
For example, you could run into a wolfpack in Yellowstone. If you do, enjoy the moment. Get pictures (if you can). And if you don't get to part of the park because of it - so be it. Quite honestly, even with a week in Yellowstone you still won't see all the stuff right next to the road - so you will miss stuff.
Given that the Great Salt Lake and the mine are best accessible through a flight through Salt Lake City, I think you have to fly there. Rocky Mountain NP is great, but save it for another time. Similarly I wouldn't include Dinosaur NM on this trip - its a full day's drive to get there. This is not to say its not worth the drive (its my favorite National Monument) but its probably a 3-4 day time outlay to include it. If you do go, you should probably do so only with a high clearance vehicle - especially if you plan to go to Echo Park (and you should if you go). The road to Echo Park is a fairly well maintained dirt road, but is not advisable for passenger cars (you can do it, but one time I did it I was really unlucky with a rock and destroyed part of my car's oil system, seized my engine and needed a 120 mile tow).
If you aren't planning on hiking, you can see the Tetons in a day or so. Use the photography books referenced earlier to find things that typical tourists miss (such as the Mormon structures). Be advised that the Tetons can quickly become shrouded in clouds (which could easily mess up any plan you might have).
Yellowstone thermal features significantly vary due to a variety of factors. Warm air and cold air make them look very different. IMHO geysers are particularly un-photogenic on cloudy days.
A few random notes - the trail to Tower Falls was still closed as of last fall. A lot of people prefer the view of Old Faithful from the adjacent hillside. Similarly, the hillside next to Grand Prismatic (on trail to Fairy Falls) provides an unequaled view of Grand Prismatic.
Anyway, I'll stop here. And again, have fun and enjoy the memories.
Thanks for your advice and ideas.
I haven't really made a detailed itinerary, I have done enough trips of this sort to know that things don't always go to plan. I was just noting things of interest, though I can see how it read. This is likely to be a one of trip due to cost and health, so I want to see certain sights, others only if I can. The flight is booked into SLC, car booked, accommodation booked at Glacier and Yellowstone where it's hard to get. Other than those and the first and last nights hotel, I will probably follow my nose. I bought one of the suggested photo books and it will be a big help when visiting the area.
Unfortunately, we are unable to change the weather, do it is a matter of making the best of what comes. Optimising the photo gear is worth it but when I think that my last road trip to Washington state and BC was shot with a 5mp Minolta compact, It is not something to get too tied up about.