Vacation-Yellowstone:UPDATE

peterk123

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Sep 7, 2020
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Massachusetts
You already know this but it needs to be stated; the crowds are next level. I do not believe it has ever been this bad. So bring your patience. I'm assuming you have your accommodations squared away, otherwise you are sleeping in a car somewhere where the rangers won't nail you.

Getting off the beaten path is good advice but if you are a first timer then you need to suck it up and see the main attractions. They truly are amazing and educational. Once you realize what is happening there you realize how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things.

The elk may be higher up although some cow elk should be there. You can always pop out the North entrance and head toward Emigrant. They will be bedded on the right in a well irrigated field.

Tetons are my favorite as well. Stunning scenery and the hikes are awesome. Hit Taggert lake. Easy hike and beautiful. Bring a bathing suit and go for a swim. We have this rule..... if you hike to a lake then you need to swim it :) warning..... it's cold.

Enjoy..... my favorite place on the planet.
 

grfox92

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Mar 14, 2017
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488
In case there was any confusion as to what people mean about there being alot of traffic....I live 30 miles from the East Gate. It's a 50 mile ride from Cody to the gate. I leave my house for work at 7am and most mornings, there is a line of cars driving to Yellowstone that has no break for my entire 20 mile ride into town.

This is without question the busiest year Yellowstone will ever have. They broke they're June record last week about half way through the month.

My boss was in there on Monday and said the traffic was a bit irritating. Not trying to scare you off, just making sure you understand it will not be much of a solitude experience.

There is lots to do and see around the park as well.

If your coming into Cody, let me know. If I'm free we can meet up for coffee at some point.

Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk
 
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EJDXT21

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Mar 29, 2021
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Kingwood, TX
Great suggestions so far I appreciate all the input. I'm sure we will not like the crowds but I'm going to do my best to drag everyone out of bed as early as possible so we can try to beat some of those crowds. I have some waypoints mapped on Onx and Go hunt apps, so I'll be trying those out and doing a comparison to see which one I want to use Elk hunting this year, although I'll probably use both too.

peterk123, we want to go into Bozeman one day so I have it down to stop and look in the Emigrant area for Elk if we do that. And yes as far as accommodations, we have a tent site at the mammoth campground reserved for the 1st-5th.

grfox92-Thank you for the offer. We may be going through Cody, not 100% sure yet but if the opportunity presents itself I will definitely let you know...I know the crowds are inevitable, trying to prepare mentally for that.
Question for those who have been there: I was pondering taking my pipe and some Scotch to relax in the evenings at camp. There shouldn't be an issue with smoking the pipe at camp right? I figured there are plenty of people who will be smoking cigarettes so a pipe shouldn't be much different. And yes its just going to be pipe tobacco in there not long bottom leaf lol! If there's no wind I should be able to get some nice smoke rings, or maybe even a sail boat haha!

 

TREE ‘EM

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Jan 26, 2018
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554
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NE MO
There’s a far less crowded campground up the hill just outside of Gardener, MT just a few miles from the North entrance.
Vault toilets and pretty basic but way more enjoyable than camping shoulder to shoulder in the park.
Had elk walk through while we were there.
Bug nets are a MUST!
You can see Mammoth from the campground.

Wolves have pushed most of the remaining elk in to and around town.
Wolves have pretty much wiped out the moose.
We saw one wolf cross the road right in front of us. Almost became roadkill...Ford’s suck
 

Jgriff

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Joined
Jan 21, 2021
Messages
19
Just got back Monday from there. As everyone has said, there was lots of people. My advice is get up early and get going. Most of the people don’t get out until mid to late morning. Patience is key, but seeing the main sites are definitely worth the hassle. We saw a ton of Buffalo, antelope, a few mule deer and moose, and a very few elk. Did see three really huge bulls though. No bears or wolves for us, but we talked to several people that did. We stayed in West Yellowstone, MT for a couple of nights and then Jackson for three nights. Jackson is a place everyone should visit, but I don’t ever plan on staying there again. Hard to get in restaurants and tons of people, as well as very expensive.
We did go on a 7 hour horse ride through an area I’m elk hunting in 2023. Unbelievable beautiful scenery.
 

kbaerg

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Joined
Jan 16, 2016
Messages
142
Location
North West Wyoming
Like @grfox92 said be patient and get up early. I live here in Cody as well and it is busy. If you need any help or a want to chat hunting let us know. Not sure if they are still around but last week I heard rumor there was a bear and her cubs hanging around the east entrance .
 

grfox92

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Joined
Mar 14, 2017
Messages
488
Like @grfox92 said be patient and get up early. I live here in Cody as well and it is busy. If you need any help or a want to chat hunting let us know. Not sure if they are still around but last week I heard rumor there was a bear and her cubs hanging around the east entrance .
There is a few pairs that can usually be seen from the road if you are looking. If you want to take a ride one night let me know.

Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk
 

thinhorn_AK

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Jul 2, 2016
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Alaska
Biggest mule I’ve ever seen was at the MOA campground in Cody wyoming one night when I got up to take a leak.

There’s an old town in Yellowstone with some springs I forget what that place is called but when I was there, there was an entire heard of elk just walking around the small “town”. I also stayed in a hotel there one night and there was a Buffalo just outside of the hotel entrance.

Saw a moose on a short evening hike when I was staying at the grant small cabins, we went on a walk on a trail that starts just behind the restaraunt there and goes up to a small lake, the moose was on the far end of the lake, he was probably a 50” bull.

All the food in the park sucks, take your own. The restaraunts are expensive with limited menus and the food is mediocre at best although it seems good when you are just getting back from a tough hike. There’s a place with a 1950s retro design, store/restaraunt thing, that place is ok for a burger and to stock up on beer.

Old faithful is lame, it’s a circus of kids running around and people walking too slowly. It’s also not all that cool to see old faithful. There are cooler places to visit.
 

thinhorn_AK

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There’s also a bunch of stuff in the park that isn’t worth bothering with, at one point we drove like 20 miles down some road to see a petrified tree, one single tree with like 40 people there taking selfie’s with it.
 

ClearCreek

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Dec 31, 2017
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WY
There’s also a bunch of stuff in the park that isn’t worth bothering with, at one point we drove like 20 miles down some road to see a petrified tree, one single tree with like 40 people there taking selfie’s with it.
The Petrified Tree "attraction" that is just west of Tower Junction is only a mile, if that, from the highway. So, if you drove 20 miles down a road to see a petrified tree you wasted a lot of time.

We have seen black bears along the road to the petrified tree that I as talking about.

ClearCreek
 

thinhorn_AK

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The Petrified Tree "attraction" that is just west of Tower Junction is only a mile, if that, from the highway. So, if you drove 20 miles down a road to see a petrified tree you wasted a lot of time.

We have seen black bears along the road to the petrified tree that I as talking about.

ClearCreek

Maybe on over exaggerated the 20 miles, it sure seemed like a long drive to see a tree. I didn’t see a black bear, I saw one fox but that dosent matter to me, I see several foxes most days here.
 

ClearCreek

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WY
Maybe on over exaggerated the 20 miles, it sure seemed like a long drive to see a tree. I didn’t see a black bear, I saw one fox but that dosent matter to me, I see several foxes most days here.

I have had days where a mile or two seemed like 20!

Interesting you mentioned seeing a fox at the Petrified Tree; a few years ago we saw a fox that had mange near the Petrified Tree . It was the sorriest looking critter I have seen in a while.

I know what you mean about seeing some critters that don't really raise your level of interest because you see them all the time. Pronghorn is one for me; I don't stop to look at them while in Yellowstone because I can see them out my kitchen window.

ClearCreek
 

thinhorn_AK

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I have had days where a mile or two seemed like 20!

Interesting you mentioned seeing a fox at the Petrified Tree; a few years ago we saw a fox that had mange near the Petrified Tree . It was the sorriest looking critter I have seen in a while.

I know what you mean about seeing some critters that don't really raise your level of interest because you see them all the time. Pronghorn is one for me; I don't stop to look at them while in Yellowstone because I can see them out my kitchen window.

ClearCreek

I did get to hang out with an entire pack of bighorn sheep while walking up mt Washburn though, that was certainly cool. All the bears we saw were ruined by the massive crowds that would just park wherever they saw people looking, that’s ok too as I see bears fairly regularly.
 

Razz

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Sep 13, 2020
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Nestled between the Tetons & the Big Holes
Question for those who have been there: I was pondering taking my pipe and some Scotch to relax in the evenings at camp. There shouldn't be an issue with smoking the pipe at camp right?

Watch the park's website and that for Bridger Teton National Forest and Caribou Targhee NF (depending on where you will be) New Fire restrictions in BTNF and GTNP starting July 1.

"Fire managers are implementing Stage 1 fire restrictions in Bridger-Teton National Forest, Grand Teton National Park, and the National Elk Refuge starting Thursday.

Restrictions go into effect at midnight July 1. Stage 1 restrictions apply primarily to campfires and smoking.
Smoking is allowed only in an enclosed vehicle, building (unless otherwise prohibited), developed recreation site, or while in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials (i.e. parking lots, developed campsites, or locations surrounded by water)."

Full article: https://buckrail.com/partial-fire-restrictions-take-effect-thursday/
 

NJDiverDan

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Apr 3, 2014
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531
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Rigby, Idaho
If you are planning to go to Bozeman, make the loop and drive by Quake Lake and Hebgen Lake. Stopping at the Quake lake visitor center is worth the time.
 

hunterjmj

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Feb 3, 2019
Messages
222
If you get into Bozeman definitely hit all the hunting stores. Schnee's, Stone Glacier, Kenetrek and Sitka are all easy to get to. Bozeman hot springs is a great place to soak your bones and there are a bunch of good places to eat. If you need to re-stock supplies we have all the major stores. Let me know if you have any questions.
 

PDob

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Dec 7, 2018
Messages
29
If you are planning to go to Bozeman, make the loop and drive by Quake Lake and Hebgen Lake. Stopping at the Quake lake visitor center is worth the time.
Agree on Quake Lake and Hebgen Lake
 
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EJDXT21

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Mar 29, 2021
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49
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Kingwood, TX
UPDATE:

First and Foremost, thank you to everyone who provided input, I really appreciate all the suggestions and input. I definitely referred back to this thread a few times as cell reception allowed, so it was definitely helpful. Glad to be part of this community. And now the update:

Crowds: Going into this, especially after all the talk about the crowds on this thread and prior research, we definitely expected a lot of people, and there definitely was a lot of people, but, I think I actually expected more than there was. All the major attractions were crowded, but it wasn't shoulder to shoulder. Parking was an issue at some places like the Midway Geyser Basin and we had to park far away at Old Faithful, but we never got caught in a two hour line to get somewhere. We did hit some wildlife traffic jams, but it was manageable. So overall, we were pleasantly surprised as far as the number of people we encountered and the time it took to get to and view what we did. Now we did leave camp early each morning. We were staying in Mammoth and were on the road by 6:30 ish each morning, and I will say, the big crowds really didn't start showing up till after 10am. So yes there were people, but it was better than we thought it would be.

On the drive up, and I will note we were driving up from north side of Houston, we left a day early to stay with friends in Kerrville, then woke up and drove to Trinidad Lake State Park in CO. Really nice place there, but it there was a light rain so just got in a quick hike around the camp and lake before we had to turn in. Saw a lot of elk tracks.
Next day woke up and drove through CO into WY and up to Greybull where we stayed at the Antler Motel. They have some really nice little cabins that we booked through Airbnb. Only about $90 for the night. Parking was limited as we had our 16' trailer, but was able to park in front of one of the cabins by the road. There are 4 bunks in the cabins, no blankets or pillows provided unless you want to rent some from them. But we knew this going into it and we had our camping stuff so it worked our perfect. They do have AC, a window unit, and separate bathroom. If you just need a place for the night this is a great option.
Woke up and headed to Red Lodge and hit the Bearthooth Scenic Highway, and wow! Amazing views and awesome drive. We even encountered a group of Mountain Goats at the top at one of the pull offs. We were literally about 25 yds from about 7 goats. Also got to hike a little trail and the kids got to make a few snow balls. On the way down I stopped at a fast flowing stream to fill up my befree filter bottle and everyone got to drink some fresh cold mountain water.
In Yellowstone, came in through the NE entrance and saw one lone Mountain Goat on Barronette peak, but couldn't get the scope out to video in time before he disappeared. I think we hit all the major attractions throughout the stay; Mammoth hot springs, the petrified tree, old faithful, the falls at the grand canyon of Yellowstone, artist paint pots, roaring mountain, Grand Prismatic, and a bunch of other stuff. I will say, regarding the petrified tree, yes it is just a tree, but man the girth of that thing puts into perspective how old it was at the time it got buried and how puny all the other trees there now would look if that thing was still alive. We did this one early in the morning so there were only two other people that were leaving when we got there. Didn't get to do the Norris geyser basin and a couple of other things but overall, very satisfied with what we saw. Got lots of great pictures, and I will be posting some here as a get them sorted out. Basically drove all over the park and came in or out of all the entrances. Saw all the major animals except Grizzly bears, didn't see any of them. But saw, mountain goat, wolves at Lamar valley, got some great video of them through the scope, two sow black bears, one black with one black cub, the other cinnamon with two black cubs, saw Elk, Moose, and hundreds of Bison and a coyote, plus numerous other small varmints and birds.
On the third day we went into Bozeman through Emigrant, didn't see any Elk in those fields but it was a nice drive. Didn't do too much in Bozeman, just drove around a bit, ate lunch, stopped at Schnees and gave them a little more money. This was on Saturday so some places were closed. Really nice town there. On the way back we did take the long way back through Quake Lake and Hebgen lake. Stopped by the visitors center and glad we did. There was a I believe NPS, with a rep that had some black bears and a grizzly, stuffed of course, that were taken illegally or were donated. The kids got to ask questions and feel the hide, got some activity books and stickers and pamphlets on bear safety, so that was great. And man the history on Quake lake was amazing, as were the views. Left there and came into the west entrance and looked around there a bit. Had Elk in camp that morning also, so the kids got to see some cow elk close up.
As far as my favorite part of the trip, other than seeing the kids wide-eyed at all the animals and features of Yellowstone, it had to be the Wolves at Lamar valley. There are 5 pups I believe, two black and three grey. I think the mamma is the Black wolf and the papa is grey. Got to see the pups running and playing so that was awesome.
For the drive home, came out the south entrance and drove through the Tetons, then headed to Glade Park CO, where we stayed at another Airbnb. Woke up drove to Amarillo, stayed at a hotel there. We were going to stay at Palo Duro but heavy rains cancelled that. Would have been setting up and tearing down in the rain. Then Finally got home yesterday. What a trip.
We didn't get to do much hiking but we did see a lot. We definitely want to go back, and next time, since we have seen most of the major attractions, I think we will see what we didn't see this time, then focus on hiking and fishing. Overall though, this has been the best family vacation we have been on, minus the 10/11 hour drives with fighting screaming kids lol. Everyone loved it and we are only left with a greater appreciation for the animals and mother nature. Yellowstone is something everyone should experience at least once. It really puts into perspective how vast, wild and beautiful nature really is. And to top it off, I found out that Drew a cow tag in the CO secondary draw I put in for, so that's just icing on the cake. Now it's back to eating clean, probably will be doing a whole 30 to cleanse out all the smores and processed junk food we ate on the trip, and get back into working out and getting in shape for second rifle. Thank you again everyone!
 

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