Yellowstone Trip any help much appreciated!

Hi everyone!
Our family is going for a week in August 22. We have 4 days booked in Jackson Hole but struggling with the rest of the planning. Should we stay in Yellowstone? The reason we ar thinking no is because of the crowds. But maybe 1 or 2 nights is a good idea. We will be doing very easy walks and car b/c my Dad’s stamina and mobility are not great. 3 kids 8,11 and 13 they love being active so our thought was to stay outside the park in a place with a pool so they can blow off steam when my Dad needs to rest. The plan is to do super early mornings to avoid as many people as possible. Or is it better to be in the park…see I just go around and around! I wanted to do a tour to avoid being responsible for the planning but they are crazy expensive for 8 people. Any help on where to stay appreciated. There is a place called Chico’s 30 miles away with a hot springs pool anyone heard of it? Give me a WDW trip to plan any day. The last time I was at Yellowstone I was in my 20’s, it was covered in snow, it was gorgeous and we thought we were all that because we sprung for a best western!!!

I would stay in the park if you can. You lose so much time driving into and out of the park. Maybe a couple nights in and then stay outside?


We’ve stayed at the Old Faithful Lodge Cabins and the cabins at Mammoth. Staying near Old Faithful was such a good experience for us! We were able to watch her blow at least four times from several different vantage points and at different times of day.

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We also stayed at the Old Faithful Lodge Cabins and had a great experience there. It was a nice central spot to drive out from and visit other parts of the park. It didn’t feel too crowded but this was early June in 2018 (or 2017 - the before-times all run together now). We also stayed at the Mammoth Hotel - at the time the rooms had a shared bathroom but it looks like they have renovated and have private bathrooms now which would be a great improvement!


We did this a few years ago with DS14 & DD11 and DM80. We did as @Julianne_fki suggested and stayed in Jackson Hole a few days, I think one night at Old Faithful Lodge cabins and a couple of nights at Canyon Lodge cabins. We also loved seeing Old Faithful blow multiple times, and without the massive crowds that are there during the day. There are plenty of walking trails to keep kids busy, and Junior Ranger activities, while your dad needs to rest. Your challenge will be that some of the loding,particularly Old Faithful, books up very far in advance.


I responded to your post in my thread.

Yellowstone is huge and depending on what you want to do, it is much more convenient to stay in the park. The park roads are not freeways and you are always subject to bison crossing delays. If you stay in the park, Dad can easily lounge at the hotels.

Book your in park lodging now! Yellowstone opened for booking for all of 2022 on May 1st. See if you can get any in park lodging first and go from there. I have read that people stay outside the west entrance. And I told you in my post that Gardiner is feasible outside the north entrance.

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Same! And we got to see other geysers blow because they were so accessible.

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We actually did white water rafting in Gardiner. And a trail ride. I think it was a Paddle and Saddle package. :joy:

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We went to Jackson Hole/Yellowstone in August of this year (2021). We stayed a few days in Jackson Hole (flew in the Jackson airport) and the a few days in Yellowstone. Downtown at Jackson Hole and at Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone. I would 100% suggest staying in both locations, not trying to drive between Jackson and Yellowstone each day.


Repeat to get in Grand Prismatic? :wink:

Way, way too far!

Oh, and not sure what part of August you plan to travel, we went the last week. It was not warm enough for swimming. Got to freezing at night in Yellowstone. I’d akin it to going to Disney in January. You may luck in to a day with it warm and sunny enough but most likely, it’s going to be too cool. I think it was warm enough on 1 of our 7 days.

We did a Yellowstone guided tour with Austin Adventures. Yes, it was pricey but we were able to experience more than we would have on our own. Plus, we didn’t have the worry of planning or headache of getting around by ourselves. Glad we did it. Maybe one day we’ll save up enough to do the winter excursion trip.

You should split up time lodging in and out of the park because it’s a lot of driving.

Consider through hikes if you have someone that can drop off/pick up the group or you are using multiple cars with hiking drivers and can break up into separate groups. One guide walked with us from Biscuit Basin to Old Faithful where the other guides were waiting to pick us up. This also was helpful for Wapiti Lake trail which travels through a variety of land types - valley, thermal basins and Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Saved us additional hiking to get back to our starting point and we got to cover more territory, seeing things we might have missed if we had to conserve steps for getting back to the car. Wapiti Lake trail travels through a variety of land types - valley, thermal basins and Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

Know your park etiquette and animal safety. :bear:

From our time in Jackson, I highly recommend the Rustic Inn. It provides a nice downtime option while being close to the main square area. After our trip, we learned DH’s coworker (living in Bozeman) always stays at Rustic Inn when they go to Jackson.

It’s been a few years, but we picked a couple of places based on
Snake River Grill (Best Think I Ever Ate - Eskimo Bars) - Dinner was excellent too.
Cafe Genevieve (Diners, DriveIns & Dives) - brunch was superb

We also ate at Gather which was very yummy. I gave these recommendations to friends who went to Jackson a couple of months ago. They said Gather was their best meal.

Save room for huckleberry ice cream at Moo’s.

Thanks for letting me go down memory lane.

For our trip in June 2019, we stayed in the parks. 2 nights and Old Faithful, 1 night at Canyon Lodge, 1 night at Roosevelt Lodge, and 2 nights at Colter Bay (Grand Teton). It was the most efficient way to spend more time out in the parks and less time driving around. Especially when it’s busy, you will waste a ton of time (literally half your day is not unreasonable) driving in and out of the parks every day - wildlife backups alone will add hours, depending on where you are coming from and going to.

The Circle of Fire tour is a great all-day tour that helps you hit the highlights and see where you want to spend more time. The tour buses don’t have to deal with parking, which is another source of delay/pain when the park is busy.

We did whitewater rafting in Jackson with Lewis&Clark - they had great reviews for bringing kids and it was phenomenal. Can’t recommend them enough.

We have such great photos from that trip! Getting home was a complete disaster - spoiler alert: we finally made it home 3 days late, but our van (RIP) stayed in Wyoming. But the parks themselves were amazing!!!

Chico is fun if you like soaking in hot water, but it really is just a big pool of hot water and a smaller pool of really hot water. There aren’t any activities to keep younger ones entertained if they don’t want to just swim/soak. The water is definitely warm enough to swim at any time of year though. There is something to be said for below zero temps with your hair freezing but the rest of you warm and soaking in the water.

Thank you so much! I ended up booking Canyon Lodge for 2 nights then we have 4 nights in Jackson Hole.


Thank you so much! I’m glad to hear you liked the activities. How far ahead did you need to book them?

That’s so fuuny! I was there 30 years ago in April…we arrived to snow in shorts because it was warm when we left Chicago!!!


Thank you so much!!! The good news is my brother is the naturalist so although I am stuck with the planning I can count on him to keep us safe in the park. Thank you for the food recommendations as well. I plan on shamelessly using the Adventures by Disney itinerary as a guide!!! Getting dropped off for hiking is genius! The grown-ups are going to take turns going back to the hotel with my Dad and that is a great idea! Thanks again!

Thatnk you so much for the suggestions @ISUamanda I will check out the Circle of Fire tour.
@orendat thank you!! We decided against Chico and will stay in the park instead. The hotel in Jackson Hole has a pool so the kids will get to swim eventually!
Thanks so much everyone! I really appreciate all the advice. Booked our flights yesterday. Decided to fly to Denver and drive from there. No direct flights and flying is rough for my Dad. also decided to spend the night in Denver and drive the next day and reverse it for the way back. Without direct flights the travel days will be too difficult. Plus it gives us a buffer if flights get delayed/cancelled. Hate to pay that much for hotels and not get there in time to enjoy it.
The trip is now 9 nights which might lead to me losing my mind completely but will be better physically for my Dad. He really wants to do this trip but I’m worried about the toll it will take on him. The original plan was Alasks but we quickly realized that it would be way too difficult.