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Bases outside park

United States
Level Contributor
66 posts
3 reviews
Bases outside park

I'm setting up a trip to Yellowstone/Grand Teton for this September. My wife may not be able to walk much by next year, so it is now or never.

The park accommodation is full, of course.

I am set up for GT, and have gotten a place in West Yellowstone. I am trying to choose one or two other entrances that will allow us to see the Eastern side, and do Bearclaw road as well. I am assuming we can do mammoth from W.Y. Maybe the Canyon as well,xunless that would be better accessed from East or northeast. We will be concentrating on driving for the views and stopping for short walks. Hiking is no longer really much of an option, sadly. Thanks in advance for your ideas. The forums have always been a big help!

23 replies to this topic
Jackson, Wyoming
Level Contributor
1 388 posts
1. Re: Bases outside park

Openings inside the park pop up all the time, check often for quite some time.

Silvergate/Cooke City is an awesome base for dawn and or dusk in the Lamar.

I am more a fan of Gardiner than West Yellowstone personally but others love West.

Madison, WI
Level Contributor
10 332 posts
66 reviews
2. Re: Bases outside park

itemtwo...it's Beartooth, but there's a great bakery in Cooke City called Bearclaw:-) Maybe you can stop for a bearclaw before Beartooth. Look at Gardiner and keep checking for in-park lodging. Abs is right.

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
25 046 posts
112 reviews
3. Re: Bases outside park

Well, I don't *love* the town of West Yellowstone but I do like it's location for touring the park. My time in West Yellowstone is generally spent sleeping, lol. I try to spend all waking hours in the park!

I'd go with a split between Gardiner and West Yellowstone. To me Cooke City/Silvergate puts you too far east to see some of the major sites in the park. It's great for wildlife watching and to me better for a 2nd time visitor who knows that is what they want to do.

Staying toward Cody is not suggested, nor is staying at the South entrance.

I agree with Abs that you should keep trying to get something within the park. Book only thru Xanterra at www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com Do NOT try to book this thru a 3rd party as they will charge you a 10% booking fee and have horrible cancellation policies.

Beartooth is beautiful BUT to me driving it depends on how long you have set aside for visiting Yellowstone.

When in September are you planning to visit? Last year was an awful year for early winter which started in mid-Sept. There were lots of road closures including Beartooth. Here's a link to a thread from last Fall.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28973…

Here is how 2016 shook out:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60999…

I've visited many Septembers when weather was not as severe as the last 2 years but you've got to keep it in mind.

Pam

Madison, WI
Level Contributor
10 332 posts
66 reviews
4. Re: Bases outside park

First day of September 2008 my wife and I ate lunch in Cody....it was raining. I said, "oh, oh" as we were headed across Chief Joseph and Beartooth to Red Lodge. Just as we got to the 296/212 intersection it was really snowing. About 6 bikers were there changing into rain gear. We could hardly see the road at the summit....continued on and started seeing plows coming up from Red Lodge. Got to our hotel, showered and cleaned up, and went down for dinner. About 3 hours later we saw the bikers rolling into town....they closed road just as we got down. Not trying to scare anybody....just be prepared.

United States
Level Contributor
66 posts
3 reviews
5. Re: Bases outside park

Oops! Sorry about the misnaming. Scrambling to get things together quickly!

United States
Level Contributor
66 posts
3 reviews
6. Re: Bases outside park

What will be will be. Maybe I should push back till August?

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
34 975 posts
508 reviews
7. Re: Bases outside park

Yes watch weather on Beartooth Hwy in late August or early September. We were the last car thru one year and it was hot in Yellowstone and cooler when we got to Cooke City. On the Beartooth we experienced heavy snow, sleet and treacherous conditions. So glad to get off the road and to Red Lodge. The road was closed for the next several days.

Georgia
Destination Expert
for Atlanta, Savannah
Level Contributor
19 605 posts
95 reviews
8. Re: Bases outside park

We drove the Beartooth in September three years ago with a few snow flurries. They closed the road that night but reopened a few days later.

I LOVE going in September! It's my favorite month in YNP. Three years ago, it was 80 degrees the entire time we were in Yellowstone. The next year (same dates), it was more normal temps, cool but not cold. I skipped last year (to go to Italy) but am returning this September, but a week later. I initially scheduled the trip to see the aspens turn gold but loved that time of year. It's been warmer than it was in early June a few years ago!

If you are coming up from the Tetons and you aren't doing hiking and/or spending hours on the side of the road waiting for wolves or bear, I would do the following -

Drive up from the Tetons, stopping along to see the sights on the eastern side of YNP. Head out toward Cooke City and spend the night there. Definitely stop the next morning at the Bearclaw Bakery! Retrace your route to the main Grand Loop Road and then turn right toward Mammoth. Enjoy the Mammoth area and then head towards West Yellowstone. Be sure to stop at the little but lovely Museum of the National Park Ranger. Spend that night and the next night in West Yellowstone. Spend the next day exploring the Old Faithful and the geothermal areas. Keep calling Xanterra, and if you can get a room at the Old Faithful Inn, snag it!

If you are willing to splurge a little, get a geyser view room! There is nothing like being able to watch Old Faithful erupt just outside your window! Also be sure to make a reservation for dinner at the Dining Room at the Old Faithful Inn.

Enjoy! I know the two of you will have a lovely time!

4 posts
9. Re: Bases outside park

Well, great input.

We are flying in and out thru Salt Lake, and renting a car there. I found a place in Wilson from Aug 13th thru Aug 17th, to do Grand Teton. From there up to West Yellowstone from Aug 17 thru Aug 21. Take our time seeing things from there.

I haven't figured out the rest of the trip. Time is not an issue, really. I know that we want to do Mammoth and the Canyon. I am thinking of Gardiner for that. A couple days there. Somehow, I would like to drive the beartooth Highway to Red Lodge. Maybe stay overnite there.

I would like to drive back to Salt Lake in 2 days or 3. There has got to be a lot of beautiful driving outside of the park.

On the other hand, maybe it would be fun to drive back through the park to West Yellowstone and overnite there. I know everyone says see the geysers last. But maybe we will see them coming and going.

All opinions on these ideas welcome. I know what ever we do, we will have a grand time. All our mishaps become great stories.

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
25 046 posts
112 reviews
10. Re: Bases outside park

Kathy, if you wanted opinions on your plan it’s best to start your own thread so responses don’t get confused between you and the OP.

Although I will add that I don’t recall anyone on this forum recommending holding the thermal areas until last. I think where you place them in your plan has more to do with where you are coming from/going to. They are my favorite so I do often do them first.

Pam

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