Trip Itinerary: Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

I am always working on itineraries for trips and sometimes that can be tough when you don’t know the area you are planning to visit. We got back from 12 days on the road to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. I thought I would share our itinerary and give you sense of what we planned and did on the way – while we were there and on the way back. Here is what our trip looked like. For more information on the activities we did while in Yellowstone, please click here!

Day 1
Portland, OR – Couer d’Alene, ID
Met up with our friends at their lake house on Lake Couer d’Alene.

Day 2
Couer d’Alene, ID – Lewis & Clark Caverns, MT
We drove drove drove. Had some nice play time at the playground before showers and lights out. Stayed at Lewis & Clark Cavern State Park campground.

20130819-124802.jpgDay 3
Lewis & Clark Caverns, MT – Madison Campground, Yellowstone, WY
Went in the Caverns (fantastic!), had lunch at the deli, then hitched up the trailer (which we left at the campground during our caving) and drove 2.5 hours to Yellowstone. Landed at Madison Campground in Yellowstone.

Day 4
20130819-124642.jpgMadison Campground, Yellowstone, WY
Went to Old Faithful, and regret not stepping foot in the lodge, but watched the O.F. 3 times. Did not only the Jr. Ranger Program, but also the Young Scientist program with the Lad. On the way back to the campground we also stopped at Biscuit Basin and Paint Pots. Saw one Bison.

Day 5
20130819-124535.jpgMadison Campground, Yellowstone, WY
Went to Mammoth Hot Springs, did the Upper Terrace Drive and walked the boardwalks. Picnic lunch at the tables across the road then ice cream at the general store. Also did a short walk at Norris Basin and an even shorter walk at Artist Paint Pots. Laddy was DONE after that.

Day 6
20130819-124327.jpgMadison Campground – Canyon Campground, Yellowstone, WY
Moved on to Canyon Campground in the morning. Stopped at Gibbon Meadows to have a look at 3 massive 12-point Elk Bucks with full velvet. Just gorgeous. Got to the campground, set up all lines of defense against the mozzies who decided we were breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. High-tailed it for the day to Roosevelt Lodge. Grabbed a quick ice cream to keep us going and had a nice hike up to Lost Creek Falls (the falls were unimpressive by our standards but a pretty and short walk-it was about 3/4 of a mile round-trip). Then did the 2-mile round trip to Lost Lake. It was gorgeous and serene. Laddy whined the whole way, which we figure must have benefited us because we didn’t come across any bears. Turns out scientific studies prove the bears don’t want to hear it either! Who knew! Having worked up a sweat and appetite, we had dinner at the Roosevelt Lodge.

20130819-124000.jpg

Day 7
20130819-123834.jpgCanyon Campground, Yellowstone, WY – Bay Bridge Campground, Yellowstone, WY
Bugs got the better of us, and we left for Bay Bridge where there were fewer but Laddy had a good collection of bites the next morning. We started the day by checking out the Canyon Visitor’s Center before hitting the road. Nice exhibits and beautiful new building. Then did the South Rim Drive to Artist Point. That waterfall IS impressive by our standards and the canyon is breath-taking. We checked out both the upper and lower falls.

Had a look at Sulfur Calderon and checked out Mud Volcano. Watched a Bison roll around in the mud. Must be the Bison Spa! Had a picnic lunch in the parking lot while digging slivers out of Laddy’s hands (we warned him not to run his hands along the rails which were really rough…lesson finally learned). After checking into the campground headed up to Fishing Bridge for ice cream, to see their fantastic visitor’s center and have a look at the lake.

Day 8
Bay Bridge Campground, Yellowstone, WY – Grant Village Campground, Yellowstone, WY
We made our way to Grant Village for the night. It gave us a chance to have a low key day, get laundry done, a little grocery shopping, refueling the car, got ice cream, then had a wander around their visitor’s center. Checked out the Lakehouse for dinner. It was OK. Had showers which were awesome. Early turn in for us as we were up early the next morning!

Day 9
20130819-111948.jpgGrant Village Campground, Yellowstone, WY – Signal Mountain Campground, GTNP, WY
Got up early to get to our campground to secure a site. I was really starting to run low on battery power, so decided to splurge on an electric site at Signal Mountain. $45/night was a heavy price, but I had 3 full batteries for the rest of the trip. Lucky we got there early. The campground filled by 10:04a according to the Ranger 20130819-111936.jpgStation. Had a late breakfast at their restaurant and it was good. We then headed out to Colter Bay to visit their Visitor’s Center and to pick up the Jr. Ranger Packet. We had a nice time, ran up to the grocery store for a few lunch items, and then went to Jenny Lake. Did a short hike along the lake trail. It was getting late, so we headed back with a detour driving up Signal Mountain.

Day 10
Signal Mountain Campground, GTNP, WY – Gros Ventre Campground, GTNP, WY
Had a leisurely morning, taking our time with breakfast. Then hopped in the car to get a spot at Gros Ventre (pronounce Grow-vont…I was corrected several times). On our way out we saw a grizzly lazily walking across a meadow, which was the only bear we saw this trip. We also stopped at the Snake River Overlook, which is the spot of one of Ansel Adams’ most famous photos. Checked into the campground and dropped anchor. Then we headed 20130819-111926.jpgto Mormon Row where we got caught in a Bison Traffic jam. It was actually pretty fun. Just before that we saw 1 pronghorn. Had a look at the famous barn, which was being refurbed for it’s 100 year old birthday and Laddy learned about old irrigation lines and water diversion. After that we headed to Dornan’s for an early lunch (we had had a light breakfast), and went to the Craig Thomas Discovery Center. Finally finished the Jr. Ranger Program and checked out one of the family backpacks for our tiny hike around the area. Laddy earned both the badge and the patch which was fun. Drove into Jackson for the afternoon to have a look around. Grabbed some fresh bread at Great Harvest Company (love that stuff!), ice cream at Moo’s (it was suggested by a local and was AWESOME!), picked up a cowboy hat to go with the cowboy boots Laddy currently lives in, and had a look at Teton Toys which is a fantastic toy store (and gave me 3 minutes to have thoughts of my own – Brilliant!).

Day 11
Gros Ventre Campground, GTNP, WY – Three Island Crossing SP, Glenn’s Ferry, ID
20130819-111918.jpgGot up early-ish, hooked up, and headed to Kelly on Gros Ventre, which is 3 miles down the road from the campground to get what had been touted as Jackson Holes best espresso. It was very good. They also had fresh mini waffles (with your choice of toppings…my choice: Nutella with raspberries and a sprinkle of powdered sugar) and amazing views of themountains. She also made up some sandwiches for us to take with us on the drive. They were tasty! It was a great send off and gave me the energy to get over Teton Pass at 8431 ft. That WY-22 highway is no joke! Holy cow. I have been over a LOT of mountain passes, but this one seemed to go straight up and then straight down again. They said 10% grade, but it seemed far steeper. We drove and drove and enjoyed amazing views until they were gone and we pulled into Glenn’s Ferry, ID to stay at Three Island Crossing State Park. It was 103 when we got out of the car. We set up quickly, then headed for the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center there at the park to seek some A/C. They were closing in 5 minutes but let us hang out for a bit and sold us ice cream. I mentioned several branches of the family tree passed through here, and that helped. We also were able to teach the nice lady about Bison Scat (thank you Jr. Ranger Program!). The heat was brutal and I was missing my valley home and the mountains I had just left. The sprinklers were on at the campground, so we played in them and then dried off in no more than 7 minutes. Went to bed early due to an early departure.

Day 12
Three Island Crossing SP, Glenn’s Ferry, ID – Portland, OR
Got up at 6:30 and were on the road by 7:00. Made a quick stop in Boise for coffee and breakfast and continued driving for home. It was a long day (9 hours driving) and we made it back in time to catch Portland Friday Summer Traffic which is not as fun as a Bison traffic jam.

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