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Yellowstone over summer (or how to piss off the Wifey)

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by stoney, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. stoney

    stoney Part of the unwashed, middle-American horde

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    So I've made tentative plans with my sister's family and parents to get a big family camping trip together early-August in Yellowstone. Somehow me telling Wifey that it's something that I wanted to do doesn't qualify as me saying that I am going to try and make it happen. Apparently the idea of camping with Hannah (1.5 y/o then) is so appalling that she'd rather spend fuck tons more and just go to like Mexico, again.

    But the plan is to have the whole family fly to Denver, then load up the Subaru and Infiniti, including the box(es because @Nick is awesome and has a box), spend a long day driving there, 5 nights camping, then another driving back to Denver. Infiniti has headrest TV screens, so perfect for distraction for hours during the drive.

    We're going to hit the normal tourist spots: Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, Grand Canyon, Mammoth Hot Springs, etc plus the stuff on the below links
    https://we3travel.com/10-must-see-in-yellowstone/
    https://www.dirtinmyshoes.com/12-things-cant-miss-first-visit-yellowstone/2/

    Anything else you guys can think need to be done while there? Any good just off road hikes or climbing areas?
     
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  2. Toshi

    Toshi Harbinger of Doom

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    Grand Teton. Jenny Lake.
     
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  3. junkyard

    junkyard You might feel a little prick.

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    Do lunch or dinner at the old faithful inn. Or at least hang out and drink beers there. There is tour that takes you up to the very top which looks cool, but i dont know because i didnt do it.
     
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  4. Montana rider

    Montana rider Monkey

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    I just pulled these comments from a Yellowstone thread I had with @Adventurous two years back so just ignore the camping info, I didn't feel like editing our thread...

    If you tell me what kinds of stuff you and the missus are into, I can give more specific recommendations (i.e. birds, bison, geysers, avoiding people, hiking, hot springs) for route and trails...

    TLDR version -> Beartooth Hwy for the win

    +++++

    1) The park boundary is quite large, so it's hard to find free and easy back country camping, close enough to make sense.

    I know a few spots on the South side of Hebgen Lake that aren't too far from West Yellowstone, and there's decent forest service camping in the NE Corner (east of Cooke City, which I already mentioned as a must see)

    It's possible you'll find in park camping options too this time of year which would lessen drive time.

    If it were me, I'd just plan a loop that takes in most of the "must sees" in the park, which would be:

    Old Faithful and surrounding geyser basin
    Canyon Village (Upper and Lower Falls)
    Lamar Valley (best chance to see wolves/bears/goats and hundreds of bison)

    Are you bringing bikes or just hiking? Some of SWMT's best rides are <30 mins from West.

    IMO the hiking in the Beartooth is just so much better than Yellowstone, if you're into high alpine scenery, since a mile or so of elevation of the park blew off in the last big one the expansive views just aren't there in the park proper (compared to Tetons/RMNP)

    You're in Denver area right?

    One idea would be to drive up to Cooke City via Cody and explore Beartooth for 1.5 days, then hit Lamar & the Falls area working your way out to West Yellowstone/Hebgen to camp (for free) or at a pay site like Norris Junction would be centrally located for next day.

    Then hit OF and Lake area on your drive down to Tetons.

    I can provide more beta re: free camping sites and hikes (or bike rides) in a bit, if that general plan makes sense...

    Whatever you do, avoid the road from Norris to Mammoth (construction, Treesaw got an unexpected 2-3 hour delay on that route last week...)

    2) So given what you said re: high alpine hiking, I would focus your hiking efforts in the Beartooth.

    Treesaw found some free camping just outside Cooke City, but if you're planning to do "longish" hikes, you probably want to stay higher up.

    FYI, the lower down campsites (closest to YNP/Cooke City) are closed to "tent campers" as per hungry bears eating people a few years back, so camping in your truck should be fine/preferred anyways.

    We camped out at Island Lake a few weeks back in a canvas tent and lived to tell the tale...

    My favorite campsite in the Beartooth is Island Lake, which is almost at the top of Beartooth Pass, and $15/night.

    https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/shoshone/recarea/?recid=35911

    While camped there, I did some rides and it appears you could easily throw down for free across the street and uphill from Island Lake on the Morrison Jeep Trail (Forest Road 120)

    OR there's a fire lookout a few miles after making your right onto Beartooth Hwy from the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway (https://www.travelwyoming.com/listing/yellowstone-national-park/chief-joseph-scenic-byway)

    I've thrown down on the road up to the lookout in years past when arriving late at night, and they have a little interpretive center re: history of the West and Fire Suppression (and sweet views, natch...)

    For specific hiking recommendations just check out a Beartooth Hiking Guide from the Library or just look at the map and pick something, it's all good.

    Since the road does most of the real climbing, it's usually just a mile or two to the first lake, and then you encounter more lakes every mile or two the higher you go.

    When I was there last month, I wanted to ride up the trails West of Island Lake, and hook into the downhill into Beartooth Lake (10ish mile RT) which would be a scenic introductory hike to the area...

    Don't miss the "Top of the World" store which is between Island and Beartooth Lakes, and has a pretty good book collection and your normal tourist tchotchkes.

    Just uphill from those lakes is the 11,000 pass with scenic views South into WY and North into Red Lodge/MT. Worth the extra 5 minutes of driving to check out if you're up there anyways, the best views into WY are before the pass on the last right sweeping hairpin turn.

    After your legs get tired from all the hiking and your eyes glaze over from the dramatic scenery, you'll head into the park via Silver Gate entrance (NE corner) and drive through the Lamar Valley.

    Before too long you will see big red cliff bands on the right where people are usually pulled over with binocs/spotting scopes watching Mtn Goats.

    After that (somewhere before Pebble Creek Campground) you may see a bunch of birders with binocs/scopes pulled over to the LEFT checking out an Osprey nest with hatchling.

    The Lamar Valley in general is your best chance to see wolves (1 out of every 6 trips or so) bears (1 out of 4 trips) and herds of bison (every time)

    A few miles (2?) before the Tower-Roosevelt Junction, you will come across a bridge. We've spotted Big Horn Sheep in that general area almost every trip.

    For a fun (off trail/unadvertised shortish) hike in the park there is an unofficial hike to a petrified ceder grove near Specimen Ridge (which is before Tower-Roosevelt,)

    The one pager from Park Service attached, but this link gives you some pixels as well:

    https://www.hike734.com/trip/petrified-trees-specimen-ridge/

    From that junction continue on to Canyon Village to check out the falls.

    If you want a vertigo inducing and atypical view of the lower falls from closer to the river hike down the 300+ steps to that overlook on the NORTH side of the road, and then continue on to get the traditional falls view from Lookout Point. And then drive to get the south side views from Artist Point.

    Depending on how much you want to pack into one day, you could continue on to Old Faithful or (more likely) drive out to West Yellowstone for tacos from either of the two school buses:

    https://www.yelp.com/biz/las-palmitas-west-yellowstone-2
    https://www.yelp.com/biz/taqueria-malverde-west-yellowstone

    My free "grandfathered for locals" camping site on Hebgen Lake is on Square 29 of the jpg attached (Rimbaugh Ridge) which is just after Lonesomehurst and Cherry Creek pay campgrounds on the RIGHT side of the road by the water.

    There are a few free sites, some down by the water and one parallel to the road just as you drop down to the water.

    If you get skunked there, you can continue driving up HWY 20 to Targhee Pass which has a pull out on the N and S side of the road for the CDT where you could park and camp.

    Before you get to Old Faithful, stop by Fountain Paint Pots to look at gurgling mudpots.

    For Old Faithful, I recommend ignoring the parking lot directions, and parking at the OF Lodge. Enter the OF Lodge to marvel at the architecture and check to see when the next eruption is scheduled to go off.

    If you just missed it (and have an hour or so) take a walk (right) around the boardwalk around OF, for a short counter-clockwise loop to some geysers, and then return to the 2nd floor of the OF Lodge to sip microbrews and watch the show above the hoard of the unwashed masses.

    On your way out, stop to take a picture of your sweetie eating ice cream on the "Knotty Porch" which is on the other side of OF Lodge away from the geyser basin, back towards the road/gas station...

    From OF head south towards Lake. If you want to blow some cash for a fancy dinner, make dinner reservations (AHEAD OF TIME!) at the Lake Lodge (a little out of the way, but scenic) or at OF Lodge...

    I'll let Rideit cover the Tetons, as we don't get down there quite as often so I don't know as much about that area...

    Feel free to shoot me any questions and let me know if you are unsuccessful in finding a map/hiking guide for Beartooths and I'll scan portions of what I have though I just lent my hiking guide out and they haven't returned it yet...

    3) If you can find a copy of this map (locally at REI/Amazon or some such) pick it up:

    http://www.beartoothpublishing.com/product/beartooth-mountains/

    While they break up Yellowstone into 4 sections for Yellowstone, this one provides a good enough overview (re: topo lines, assuming you're not planning any off-trail hikes) and covers ALL of the park:

    http://www.beartoothpublishing.com/product/yellowstone-national-park/

    If not, I can scan the pertinent sections of the Beartooth and pdf them to you...

    ETA 2 downloads: park map and off piste hike to petrified cedar grove in Lamar
     

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    #4 -   Jan 10, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
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  5. stevew

    stevew unique white person

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    buy the wife a ticket to mexico....you and the little wookie have fun in wyoming...as far as hikes....i will have to add to this later....mind is blank...
     
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  6. boostindoubles

    boostindoubles Nacho Libre

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    It is fun to pose for photos next to / on the bison. Haha

    How are you going in and out of the park? Sunlight Basin is amazing and you can stop at https://centerofthewest.org also.
    Thermopolis has lots of springs and such to experience, should be a good place to wash off the camp stink.

    The best way to do YNP is to get off the pavement as soon as possible and walk directly away from it. This is not really kosher with kiddos though and requires some pretty thorough planning with YNP and understanding of how to pet the animals without getting eaten. Amazing peace and tranquillity out there though. A 2 week foot path tour of YNP is bucket list stuff.
     
  7. KenW449

    KenW449 Thanos did nothing wrong

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    If you're gonna be down near the GC, may as well hit the 4 corners or Horseshoe bend.
     
  8. Westy

    Westy the teste

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    Go forth and make bear gifs
     
  9. stoney

    stoney Part of the unwashed, middle-American horde

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    Wolf is better
     
  10. SkaredShtles

    SkaredShtles I love NEWCASTLE and will ONLY drink NEWCASTLE!!!!

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    My only general advice would be to avoid the main part of Yellowstone from 10am-3pm. See the sights early and then later. Esp the stuff at the GC of the Yellowstone and the Geyser Basins. Those parking lots can and will be complete clusterfucks during the day.
     
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  11. eric strt6

    eric strt6 Resident Curmudgeon

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    P1100157_Fotor_zps0d4j6dwrA.jpg
     
  12. rideit

    rideit Bob the Builder

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    Give me a shout if you need JH recommendations.
     
  13. stevew

    stevew unique white person

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    that wonderful traffic round a bout should be complete....
     
  14. jonKranked

    jonKranked Press Button, Receive Stupid

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    you're assuming the national parks will be open by summer.
     
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  15. rideit

    rideit Bob the Builder

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    That roundabout has been a MAJOR improvement!
     
  16. Nick

    Nick My name is Nick

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    behind you, don't wait up.
    LOL ... I have to admit, I don't see Wifey camping.
     
  17. stoney

    stoney Part of the unwashed, middle-American horde

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    I've made her do multi-day backpacking trips.
     
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  18. stevew

    stevew unique white person

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    mind blown....will have to see/believe.
     
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  19. Nick

    Nick My name is Nick

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    Yes, I remember. PRE-childrens! :D
     
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  20. stevew

    stevew unique white person

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    biking related....if you drive past tetons for awhile there is some ranch where parts of some recent mtn bike film was filmed....
     
  21. rideit

    rideit Bob the Builder

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    It's in Dubois. Too sick for me.
     
  22. StiHacka

    StiHacka Compensating for something

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    i͓̽t͓̽ i͓̽s͓̽ fu͓̽l͓̽l͓̽ o͓̽f s͓̽t͓̽a͓̽r͓̽s͓̽
    Beartooth... :drool::drool::drool::drool::drool:
     
  23. stevew

    stevew unique white person

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    that be it....
     
  24. jstuhlman

    jstuhlman We noticed.

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  25. Adventurous

    Adventurous Starshine Bro

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    Ugh. Yellowstone mid-summer during the tourist crunch. So many people. :bad: Personally I find the Tetons to be a far cooler park, but if you are heading to Yellowstone, heed @Montana rider ’s advice. The Beartooths, IMO, were more spectacular than anything inside the park. Red Lodge was also pretty darn cool too.

    As far as the park itself goes, the northeast entrance and the big fields on that side usually have bison (bison <> buffalo), and if you go in the early morning, they will be very close to the road. Prismatic Pool was neat, as was the walk through Mammoth Springs and the trip to Yellowstone Falls. Uncle Toms Trail might be open when you go; that’s supposed to be one of the better trails in the park.

    It’s a neat park for sure. Not my favorite, but it’s worth the trip. Be prepared for tons of traffic, both on the roads and on the boardwalks and trails. If you don’t hate people now, it should serve as a great reminder.

     
  26. boostindoubles

    boostindoubles Nacho Libre

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    IMG_0396.JPG IMG_0404.JPG IMG_0611.JPG
     
  27. Jm_

    Jm_ Turbo Monkey

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  28. boostindoubles

    boostindoubles Nacho Libre

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    Those guys are strong like bull. They have no fear out there. He wouldn't budge for us and we eventually had to make a wide swath around to catch the trail again.

    IMG_0401.JPG