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Yellowstone in mid-September

DaveNW

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We're driving to Yellowstone in two weeks for another week of fun in the National Park and surrounding area. I've been checking around online, and it seems things are going well this Summer there. I'm not seeing any recent fires, and I'm hoping things go well.

I'm looking for ideas on how to show my sister-in-law a nice time at the park; it'll be her first trip there. She recently retired from a career in education, and this is kind of a celebratory trip for her. Anybody have suggestions for specific things to do that she might enjoy? (I've been to Yellowstone many times, and I'm always looking for something new to experience.) We're staying at the Worldmark in West Yellowstone.

Any new restaurants to try, interesting tours to take, or any "not to be missed" activities? Anybody been to the Park recently?

Dave
 

geist1223

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Earthquake Lake. Start at the West End with the Visitor Center.
 

CO skier

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We're driving to Yellowstone in two weeks for another week of fun in the National Park and surrounding area. I've been checking around online, and it seems things are going well this Summer there. I'm not seeing any recent fires, and I'm hoping things go well.

I'm looking for ideas on how to show my sister-in-law a nice time at the park; it'll be her first trip there. She recently retired from a career in education, and this is kind of a celebratory trip for her. Anybody have suggestions for specific things to do that she might enjoy? (I've been to Yellowstone many times, and I'm always looking for something new to experience.) We're staying at the Worldmark in West Yellowstone.

Any new restaurants to try, interesting tours to take, or any "not to be missed" activities? Anybody been to the Park recently?

Dave
Last September I asked a ranger at the Old Faithful visitor center for "something different to see", since it was my fifth trip to Yellowstone. Among his suggestions was Lone Star geyser. The trailhead is a few miles south on the highway out of Old Faithful (The trailhead is not well labeled, or I missed the sign and drove past it and had to turn around). Flat and level walk of about an hour through a pine forest to the geyser. It has a reputation of being as faithful as Old Faithful. If you want to lose the crowds, there were six people at the geyser when it went off. Bring folding chairs and snacks or picnic. Insider tip: There is a warm-up show, then the real show begins about 20 minutes later (usually ... you know how geysers can be. It did not disappoint me on my visit).

It is a paved trail most of the way. If you want to have double fun, rent bikes, take them to the trailhead, and bike to the geyser in about 10 minutes.

I also noticed one of those clear plastic displays on the counter like you see in restaurants that list their drink specials. This one listed a ranger-led hike in the Biscuit Basin just NW of Old Faithful in two days. It was a 90 minute hike with about 200' elevation gain (participants may turn around at any point they want). It was really informative with emphasis on the geology and biology of the area. I opted for the "up-and-over" return that provided excellent views of the upper geyser basin.

There was also a ranger-hosted "birds of prey" gathering in the Hayden valley. I encountered a bison traffic jam and was worried I would be late. I was late, but it did not matter. It was not a hike, just a gathering at a parking lot. Spotting scopes were set up. Many people, including me, had our own binoculars. It was a somewhat windy day, but at least 30 birds were counted in the two hours, including a bald eagle. Bring snacks and folding chairs if you do not want to stand the whole time.

I traveled in September hoping to avoid the crowds. Grand Prismatic parking lot had 6 tour buses in the parking lot by 10 a.m. I felt extremely fortunate to find a parking space. Then I was blocked in by a Chinese tour bus, with no driver in sight for half an hour.

So, plan to be on the road into Yellowstone by 7 a.m. to tour the famous attractions, then spend the afternoon "off the beaten path" with some customized recommendations from the helpful rangers at one of the visitor centers.
 

CO skier

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Earthquake Lake. Start at the West End with the Visitor Center.
My teenagers at the time liked to sleep-in, so I would plan a few sleep-in days on vacation. One of those days at Yellowstone was the tour of the Earthquake Lake area. From West Yellowstone, we stopped at a few of the sites on the way to the Earthquake Visitor Center.

We spent about an hour at the visitor center and surrounding landslide area. Knowing the story, we stopped at the points of interest on the way back, including where the old highway descends into the newly formed lake.

I am glad it was the only thing planned for that day, because the whole experience was so solemn.
 

Passepartout

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You'll be sick when you see the GIANT Marriott being built and Mack's Inn. They took out the theater and all the businesses like the boat rental and coffee/c-store there. The place across Henry's fork is now a Mexican joint. Don't bother. The theater is now up at the turn off to Ennis/'Quake Lake. Bigger, nicer, seats more and the Prime Rib is still fine- just not great. The show is worth the price.

In the Park, little has changed. We got a bonus when Old Faithful erupted for us the nearby Castle Geyser erupted, bigger and longer than O-F. We enjoyed the Wild Game Lunch boof-fay in the Inn. Enjoyable to see the visitors from all over the world. We enjoyed the boardwalk to Grand Prismatic Spring, and the one to Steamboat that has awakened. +1 on taking any Ranger walks you can. As an aside, yesterday we got a Ranger led tour of Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood. Capped off another fine TS week.

Jim
 
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Laurie

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A couple of years ago we booked a guide to see wolves (no guarantees of course but generally pretty successful), and we saw 2 different packs. It was our second trip to Yellowstone, this was mid-September, and was the highlight of our week.
 

WinniWoman

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I also second Earthquake Lake.
You'll be sick when you see the GIANT Marriott being built and Mack's Inn. They took out the theater and all the businesses like the boat rental and coffee/c-store there. The place across Henry's fork is now a Mexican joint. Don't bother. The theater is now up at the turn off to Ennis/'Quake Lake. Bigger, nicer, seats more and the Prime Rib is still fine- just not great. The show is worth the price.

In the Park, little has changed. We got a bonus when Old Faithful erupted for us the nearby Castle Geyser erupted, bigger and longer than O-F. We enjoyed the Wild Game Lunch boof-fay in the Inn. Enjoyable to see the visitors from all over the world. We enjoyed the boardwalk to Grand Prismatic Spring, and the one to Steamboat that has awakened. +1 on taking any Ranger walks you can. As an aside, yesterday we got a Ranger led tour of Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood. Capped off another fine TS week.

Jim
Jim- The IMAX theater was moved? Wow. We were there years ago but we did enjoy the IMAX show.
 

WinniWoman

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Also- we liked Yellowstone Lake and the historic hotel there. Absolutely loved eating dinner at the Old Faithful Inn and doing the tour beforehand as well.

And we loved crossing the Continental Divide going to the Tetons for a day.
 

Passepartout

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Jim- The IMAX theater was moved? Wow. We were there years ago but we did enjoy the IMAX show.
Nope. Sorry for the misunderstanding. The IMax is right where is was near the Park entrance in West Yellowstone. I was referring to the Island Park Theater at Mack's Inn on the Henry's Fork. About 25 Mi. W. of the Park. It's a live, Summer Stock theater that does a dinner/show with either a melodrama (boo the villain, cheer the hero) or a comedy. Prime rib dinner and show for $30.- the actors serve you. It moved about 5ish miles closer to West. Bigger, nicer. Whether it's better is in the eye of the beholder. Get tix early- it sells out.

Jim
 

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We're driving to Yellowstone in two weeks for another week of fun in the National Park and surrounding area. I've been checking around online, and it seems things are going well this Summer there. I'm not seeing any recent fires, and I'm hoping things go well.

I'm looking for ideas on how to show my sister-in-law a nice time at the park; it'll be her first trip there. She recently retired from a career in education, and this is kind of a celebratory trip for her. Anybody have suggestions for specific things to do that she might enjoy? (I've been to Yellowstone many times, and I'm always looking for something new to experience.) We're staying at the Worldmark in West Yellowstone.

Any new restaurants to try, interesting tours to take, or any "not to be missed" activities? Anybody been to the Park recently?


Dave
Great and timely thread! We will be there in about two weeks as well, our first visit ever. My dh found a great App by REI that lists trails and sites. Can't wait to see everything!
 

Passepartout

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Great and timely thread! We will be there in about two weeks as well, our first visit ever. My dh found a great App by REI that lists trails and sites. Can't wait to see everything!
No fear of that. Remember, only 3% of Yellowstone Nat'l Park can be seen from ANY road. Sept. is a great time to visit. Less crowds. More wildlife. Cooler temps. You'll have a chance of frost in the mornings. Enjoy! Oh, and about that app. There is virtually NO phone or internet service in the park.

Jim
 

WinniWoman

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Great and timely thread! We will be there in about two weeks as well, our first visit ever. My dh found a great App by REI that lists trails and sites. Can't wait to see everything!
The best national park ever! IMO....
 

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No fear of that. Remember, only 3% of Yellowstone Nat'l Park can be seen from ANY road. Sept. is a great time to visit. Less crowds. More wildlife. Cooler temps. You'll have a chance of frost in the mornings. Enjoy! Oh, and about that app. There is virtually NO phone or internet service in the park.

Jim
Thankfully I'm married to my tech support and he already pre-planned the need to download the information ahead of time! :D
 

Beachclubmum

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We haven't booked a room yet...looks like we can show up and see what's available in the Park. The website lists data on when rooms typically fill each morning. All that said, what advice would you give a totally new person on where to stay?
 

WinniWoman

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I suppose you could stay at Old Faithful Inn or the Yellowstone Hotel near Yellowstone Lake. We stayed at Worldmark West Yellowstone timeshare condo via a rental by a Worldmark points owner. Like a mile from the entrance.
 

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We enjoyed our first visit to the Grand Canyon several years ago and managed to get into the El Tovar, which was a real treat. VRBO doesn't seem to have availability when I stick the WM West Yellowstone into the search. Also, we don't need a 2 bedroom that sleeps 6 with only 2 people and a young child. Open to any an all advice! Looks like the OF Lodge fills up more than the others though.
 

Passepartout

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We haven't booked a room yet...looks like we can show up and see what's available in the Park. The website lists data on when rooms typically fill each morning. All that said, what advice would you give a totally new person on where to stay?
I would stay a night in the Old Faithful Inn, or Canyon Hotel or Lake. All those are historic and iconic (and expensive) For day-to-day stays I'd make a base of operations at West Yellowstone. It's just 16 miles in to Madison Junction and you can go either North (Canyon & Norris Geyser Basin & Mammoth Hot Springs) or South (Old Faithful, Midway Geyser Basin & Yellowstone Lake). More choices for eats, souvenirs, (wi-fi & phone service). Worldmark would be outstanding, but I understand it's a hard catch. Jackson & Bozeman is too far to use as a base. We own at Island Park ID (Timbers) and is works for us, but 22 miles from West might be further afield than you want. Units there can be booked through Trading Places.

Jim
 
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WinniWoman

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We enjoyed our first visit to the Grand Canyon several years ago and managed to get into the El Tovar, which was a real treat. VRBO doesn't seem to have availability when I stick the WM West Yellowstone into the search. Also, we don't need a 2 bedroom that sleeps 6 with only 2 people and a young child. Open to any an all advice! Looks like the OF Lodge fills up more than the others though.
They are actually kind of small. We were just 2 people with our son. We liked having the kitchen, but we were out most of the day. It was also nice to have the balcony overlooking the pines in the park, indoor pool to relax and the barbecue grilles and play area outside as well as the business center to use computers if needed.

if you did want to stay there your best bet is to contact a Worldmark owner and request to book it and pay privately. I might still have the contact information for the woman we booked through if you want it.
 

DaveNW

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@Beachclubmum: I agree with Jim - set up in West Yellowstone for the best availability of location and services. There are any number of motels there, and one will surely have availability the day you're there. The Park lodges get cancellations all the time, but you can't count on them. You'll spend most of your time in the Park, so sleeping arrangement should be secondary. Staying in the Park at a lodge would be great, if you can do it.

We may be in the Park the same general time you are. PM me your schedule, and let's see if we can catch up.

Dave
 

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Great information...thank you! This trip is being tagged onto the main trip which is to help our dd move to the opposite coast and entails several components. After she is relocated we are visiting family and touring two other national parks as well. Our timeline for room dates has to be a little fluid right now, so we will have to take a chance and plan to book when we are there (or nearly there within a day or so). It's great to have info from people who are seasoned veterans at Yellowstone...thank you!
 
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