Summer trip

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Posted by TravelingBear ( on 13:22:35 01/07/16

In Reply to: Summer Trip posted by Scorn

I agree that the National Park Service web site for Yellowstone mentioned by 46er is the best place to start planning what to see and do in the park. There is a wealth of information on there about what to see and planning your trip.

A good first step is to look at the map of the park on that site to familiarize yourself with the basic road layout, where the tourist villages are located and the 5 entrance roads. The roads form a "figure 8" with an upper loop and a lower loop.

The timing of your planned trip is at the peak of visitation for Yellowstone so expect things to be quite crowded. On top of that, 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Visitation to the park topped 4 million people in 2015 and it will be even higher in 2016.

Reservations for accommodations inside the park for the 2016 summer season opened on May 1, 2015 - eight months ago. While it may be possible to get in-park lodging via cancellations, at this point that will require bird-dogging the Xanterra web site or calling them (the recommended option) on a frequent basis. Do not book lodging inside the park through a 3rd party - go directly to Xanterra.

The gateway communities of West Yellowstone and Gardiner provide the best choices for lodging if you can't get in-park lodging but I recommend trying to get at least a few nights inside the park. Cody and Jackson are just too far for a daily commute into the park, in my opinion. You spent too much time on the road going back and forth.

Most people recommend staying in at least 2 different places during a visit of 7 nights. That cuts down on your backtracking and gives you more time to explore. Traffic jams caused by critters on the road (and people stopping in the middle of the road to take pictures of wildlife) can cause major delays when driving in the park.

The Yellowstone forum on Trip Advisor is a great place to ask questions and get answers from veteran Yellowstone visitors (and sometimes some newbies too).

There are also many trip reports posted on that site. Many of them address going to the park with kids your age and engaging them in the planning of the activities (while the adults figure out the lodging) is rewarding for all.

I had my 12th birthday (and two others) at the Old Faithful Inn and 56 years later still have fond memories of exploring the park with my parents.

Enjoy your trip!

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