Category Archives: Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park – Wyoming

Planning a Summer to Remember

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Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful Beat the January blues by planning a summer to remember. “When children see their first bear or geyser eruption, it typically makes an impression that lasts a lifetime, and those kinds of experiences are exactly what families can expect from a trip to Yellowstone,” says Rick Hoeninghausen, director of sales and marketing for Xanterra Parks & Resorts, operator of the lodges, restaurants and other concessions in the park. “To ensure Yellowstone memories are the best possible for everyone in the family, we recommend a little bit of advance planning coupled with realistic expectations.”

Hoeninghausen offers the following suggestions for ensuring a great family trip.

Before you go:

  • Carefully choose the time you travel. If you have very young children Bison or a flexible travel schedule, consider traveling during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. These seasons offer a greater choice of accommodations and campground sites. Plus there is the added bonus of the best wildlife-viewing opportunities. Spring is the time to view bison and elk calves and fall is the mating season for bison and elk.
  • Study the park before you go. Xanterra offers a Yellowstone Adventure Planner through its online gift store. Priced at Adventure Planner$39.95, the planner comes  with a DVD highlighting the park, park map, copy of the Yellowstone National Park Magazine, guide to activities and picnic spots, safety and photography tips and coupons for more than $40 that can be used for gifts and activities. Another source is the National Park Service (NPS) site, Mud Pot which also offers a variety of online vacation planning tools. Learning about the park together also gives  family members a chance to discuss their expectations. After learning a bit about the park, ask each member what they’d like to do and see? Older teens may want to take a challenging hike while younger kids may want to see a mudpot.
  • Decide where to stay in the park. Yellowstone is highlighted by a huge diversity of geological features, including hot springs, geysersLake Yellowstone Hotel, Yellowstone Lake, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Lamar Valley, considered the best wildlife-watching region in the lower 48 states. Yellowstone’s nine lodges are located throughout the park. Xanterra recommends studying a map to help decide which location – or locations – makes the most sense. Some people prefer to change hotels every night as they move around the park; others prefer to establish one lodge as a home base and then return to the same lodge each night. Lodging reservations can be made at online  or by calling (1) 307-344-7311 or toll-free (1) 866-GEYSERLAND (1-866-439-7375) Ask reservations sales agents for their suggestions and guidance when booking lodges and activities.
  • Let every family member pick at least one activity. There are numerous activity choices that are perfect for every age group. For example, little ones might enjoy the Hikerscovered wagon ride to the Roosevelt Cookout. Another family member might want to participate in a ranger-led hike. Concessioner Xanterra offers an online adventure planning tool that allows travelers to choose activities based on the duration of the adventure, intensity level and region of the park.
  • Book your lodge(s) now. Yellowstone National Park features nine lodges in a variety of locations throughout the park. Some of the historic or most popular lodges – the Old Faithful Inn and Old FaithfulOld Faithful Inn Snow Lodge – are beginning to fill for prime summer dates. Still, with some 2,000 guest rooms in the entire park, there are plenty of rooms available for the summer. Lodging reservations can be cancelled with full refunds on deposits if made 48 hours or more before the arrival date. Hat
  • Pack smart. Yellowstone is one of the wildest spots in the country, and the weather is no exception. Pack for rain and widely fluctuating temperatures. Typical summer temperatures range from the high 70s to the low 40s. Sturdy shoes, sunscreen, hats and refillable water bottles should be included on every packing list.

During your trip:

  • Get to know the National Park Service rangers. Free ranger-led programs are offered daily in every area of the park. The pYellowstone Family Programrograms are fun, creative and available for families with children of all ages. For example, the Yellowstone Wildlife Olympics, a four-hour program offered six times during the summer, gives budding wildlife scientists a chance to show off their knowledge of the park’s non-human residents. The Junior Ranger program is a perfect way to engage children. Plus, there are ranger adventure hikes, evening astronomy programs and evening talks.

Yellowstone Falls

 

  • Don’t be too ambitious. An early-morning wildlife-watching tour in Lamar Valley followed by a ranger-led geyser hike followed by a lake cruise followed by the Roosevelt Cookout may sound like a good plan, but it’s not. And it probably would not even be doable. Driving from one part of the park to the other, especially in the middle of summer, takes time. And travelers lucky enough to encounter wildlife or other special park experiences during the drive should savor those experiences instead of worrying about making it to the next activity on time.

  • Lunch at Lake Yellowstone Lodge Think beyond the burger. Xanterra offers 17 restaurant choices in the park, ranging from the quick-serve Geyser Grill at Old Faithful Snow Lodge to the elegant Lake Hotel Dining Room. Every restaurant offers value-priced options to suit every budget, as well as vegetarian and children’s options.

  • Designate a spontaneous day. Over-planned vacations can sometimes  seem like a forced march, with everyone proceeding in lock-step to the next planned activity. Sometimes, planners just can’t help themselves. Hoeninghausen recommends “planning” a  Poolsnothing day. “The park is full of surprises – like an unexpected eruption of a backcountry geyser or a clear safe-distance sighting of a bear and cubs,” said Hoeninghausen. “Many families miss these special and truly memorable experiences because they’re driving to the next place on their agenda. Get up one morning and just let the day happen. Allow time to stop for that ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ wildlife sighting that seems to always occur when you Horseback Ridersare in a  rush.” 

 Moose

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  • White Pelican
  • Be safe. Follow all posted National Park Service signs and directions. Every year, tourists stray from a boardwalk in a hot springs area or get too close to wildlife. The National Park Service medical clinics see plenty of injuries each summer that could have been prevented if travelers had simply followed NPS rules.

  • Start your in-park visit with a trip to a National PCanyon Visitor's Centerark Service Visitor Center. NPS rangers have the latest information on wildlife sightings, trail conditions, ranger-led programs and more. This is also where kids can obtain information on becoming a Junior Ranger.

Wildlife Viewing

 

  • Do the dawn. Wildlife are early risers, and the best time to see them in action is just after dawn. Make the effort to get up early to improve your chances of seeing wildlife. Save the geysers for mid-day when animals are less active. The other great time to see wildlife is at dusk.

 

  • Visit Old Old FaithfulFaithful in the late afternoon and evening. When day-  trippers head back to their hotels in gateway communities, the popular spots such as Old Faithful Geyser have fewer visitors. See it in the late afternoon and you are more likely to find a place to sit and watch from the boardwalk benches.

Climbing AboardPools 2

Jewel Geyser

       

 

 

 

 

 

          Start planning your family’s Yellowstone

          memories today.

Pronghorn

 

Looking for Osprey

*Travel Log* – Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming – June 5, 2009

We’ve Had Better Days

Yellowstone National Park to Helena, Montana

  • Bad night – Bob’s not feeling well.
  • Day is cloudy – the sky’s the same color as the steam and sprayfrom the geysers and fumaroles, forecast includes rain.
  • Breakfast at Old Faithful Inn Dining Room.
  • Nancy snaps a few pictures, watches Old Faithful one more time and goes to the temporary visitors center – the new one is taking shape.
  • Grazing BisonWe see a couple of bison grazing very close to the road, also a larger bison herds in meadows plus elk, a pair of nesting bald eagles and a muskrat swimming down the river.
  • Before leaving the park we stop at the Junior Ranger Cabin near Madison Junction.
  • Route US191 from West Yellowstone to Belgrade, goes through the extreme western portion of the park, then follows the Gallatine River for miles and miles.
  • Route US287 from west of Three Forks to Helena – broad valley with mountains in all directions, lots of wheat fields irrigated from the wide Missouri (River).
  • Wingate Hotel, Helena – this is a good facility and good value.
  • No prime rib at Silver Star Steak Company tonight, no Great Northern Carousel ride, no fun!

*Travel Log* – Wyoming – June 4, 2009

Reflections on the Day – Dubois to Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Posted 6/5 – No Internet connecions in Yellowstone

Reflections

 

  • A cozy and comfortable night at Twin Pines Lodge & Cabins in Dubois plus a continental breakfast.
  • Explore Dubois – from the cemetery to the Conoco.
  • Drive the Togwotee Trail – US26/287 to Moran Junction.
  • Only two short delays for construction along the Togwotee Trail route – the completed sections (19 miles) are huge improvements.
  • Descending Togwotee Pass and the remarkable first view of the Tetons.
  • Oxbow Bend Viewpoint – great views of Snake River and the Teton Range, today we had remarkably clear reflections – see above photo.
  • Lunch at Jackson Lake Lodge – Grand Teton National Park
  • Grant Village Visitors Center – Yellowstone National Park
  • Reservation at Old Faithful Inn – easy check-in, helpful and congenial staff.
  • Old Faithful eruptions – we watched three.
  • Dinner in Old Faithful Inn Dining Room – The roasted red pepper with smoked gouda soup was the highlight.
  • After dinner walk around the Old Faithful area checking out gift shops and guest facilities.
  •  Followed by relaxing on the 3rd-floor balcony watching people, gazing down into the crackling fire and noting architectual details of the historic lodge.
  • One final geyser eruption before retreating to our room.
  • Wildlife of the day included deer nibbling on spring aspen leaves, elk slowing ambling across the road, an osprey sitting on her nest and a mountain bluebird flitting from limb to limb.

*Travel Log* – Dubois, Wyoming – June 3, 2009

Centennial, Colorado – Dubois, Wyoming

  • We had to slow down for miles of thick fog between Fort Collins and Laramie.
  • Early June is ideal for crossing Wyoming – recent rains have turned everything green.
  • National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center – Dubois, worth the stop.
  • Sheri Howe – Go Togwotee Trail Public Involvement Specialist – learned about the Togwotee Trail Poject, major improvements to 38 miles of US26/287, a major and scenic route to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks.
  • Sundance Cafe – Exceptional food, chef/staff and atmosphere, loved this place.
  • Twin Pines Lodge & Cabins – #23, Kitten Creek, cozy and comfortable.

Painted Ladies

 

Being easily entertained I found this sign interesting. Perhaps they don’t make cowboys like they used to, can you imagine John Wayne being caught at the Painted Ladies Salon?

Old Faithful Inn – Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Snag a Cancellation – It Works!

Old Faithful Inn Exterior In a previous blog I shared hints from Xanterra Parks and Resorts for securing reservations at some of the country’s best National Park Lodges. “Be persistent,”  they say, “Rooms open up due to a variety of reasons. You might be the lucky one to re-book that room.” Today was my lucky day – I snagged a reservation at Old Faithful Inn on June 4th.

We’ve had the privilege of staying at Lake Yellowstone Hotel, Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel but never the venerable Old Faithful Inn. As a young girl I remember lunch there on my family’s first trip West in the 1950s. Two years ago our Yellowstone National Park vacation included lunch and a interpretive tour of the inn. An overnight was on our “Some Day” list.

Old Faithful Inn Interior 2 In a few days we’re leaving on a road trip to the Pacific Northwest. Two months ago I checked the Xanterra website for a room at Old Faithful Inn without success; I looked again 30 days out since that’s when group tour operators must release rooms they’ve booked but haven’t filled. The last few weeks I’ve occasionally searched the website for availability. No luck until this morning when almost as an after thought I logged on. There it was, a room with two doubles and private bath. It didn’t take long to request and confirm our reservation. Old Faithful Geyser

One additional hint I’d share is to register on the Xanterra site with your information when you begin your searches. That way you’re in the system and can quickly make a reservation when something opens up. Try it – maybe it will be your lucky day.

Xanterra Parks and Resorts operates nine lodges within Yellowstone National Park as well as restaurants, gift shops and activities. Plan your visit at their Yellowstone specific website. They are also official concessionaires at Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Death Valley and Crater Lake National Parks.

Old Faithful Inn - Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Old Faithful Inn – Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming