Yellowstone holiday advice sought

Started Mar 25, 2012 | Discussions thread
jcharding Senior Member • Posts: 2,336
Another way of thinking

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.

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