Yellowstone/Grand Tetons for Families

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Yellowstone/Grand Tetons for Families

Postby Mountainspirit » Sun Feb 19, 2012 6:28 am

Hey there folks.
This summer, my family will be taking a week to explore Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP. \:D/ My boys will be 9 & 7 at the time and are very competent hikers (both have a couple of 14ers under their belt, but nothing technical). We will, however, also be with my brother and his "flatlander" family who are also active.

It has been 30 years since I was there, and I am very excited to get back. I know there are certain places that are "must see" items, but that is different for everyone. I was wondering if any of you have strong opinions (of course you do) about specific hikes (nothing beyond class II or III please), places, peaks, trails (under 10 miles round trip), waterfalls, springs, etc. that you would recommend and like to return to when you visit.

I know a week for both parks is not a very long time, but I sure would be curious to hear all of your thoughts/recommendations.

Lay 'em on me and thank you very much in advance for your time and suggestions! :D
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With the beauty of the days gone by." - Van Morrison
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Re: Yellowstone/Grand Tetons for Families

Postby prestone818 » Sun Feb 19, 2012 8:48 am

First off, there is lots of wild life. So be sure the kids aren't running ahead on the trail.

I went to gtnp last summer and plan to go back this summer. Cascade canyon was a nice trail. Getting into the canyon requires some moderate hiking but once you are in its pretty much flat.

Also Phelps lake, not that intense. There are a lot of hikes, just have to figure out which ones interest you. I wanted to rent a boat on Jackson lake but didn't have time, I will definitely make time for that this summer.
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Re: Yellowstone/Grand Tetons for Families

Postby SeracZack » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:52 am

I don't remember the trail name or anything, but if you start at Jenny Lake and hike around it to the south (there is a boat that will take you to the other side) we saw a bear along the trail and it eventually comes around to a short hike up to a waterfall. The waterfall is very cool and the hike is all flat and easy to get to, especially as the flatlanders get used to the elevation. I really enjoyed the Grand Tetons and we will be going back in August this year. Have fun!
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
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Re: Yellowstone/Grand Tetons for Families

Postby prestone818 » Sun Feb 19, 2012 11:58 am

That's on the way to cascade canyon and inspiration point
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Re: Yellowstone/Grand Tetons for Families

Postby The Turtle » Sun Feb 19, 2012 6:02 pm

I'm one of the fortunate who "has" to take a business trip to Jackson Wy. every August and have done so for about 15 years now. I usually force myself to stay a few extra days and have many many miles of hiking under my belt. Nothing thechnical though. A hike my son and I did a few years back was to Wind Cave. The approach is from the Idaho side. Not very long, 2.7 miles one way and 1,870 ft. of gain. It would be a nice reward for everyone when you get there because you can go a long way back in and my understanding is once you go through a small opening a short distance into the cave it opens up into a large cavern. I was told it's not to wet either. Bring good lights. It was an enjoyable hike. My son really liked it as I did. The trail starts at Darby Creek. After Wind Cave you can hike farther to Ice Cave but I was told by some young men who were going into it that it's very wet and slippery and you should not enter without a rope. I didn't go in so I cannot confirm that information. Another hike if you are into caves is back to Holmes Cave. Very senic, high open meadows but once again It's probably not one to enter unless you have a rope. Both Ice and Holme's cave drop steeply when you enter. I have a book called Jackson Hole Hikes by Rebecca Woods that I bought several years ago that has these hikes in them. If you can't find info on them email me and I can copy a few pages and email them to you

Have fun!!!
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Re: Yellowstone/Grand Tetons for Families

Postby ptyrg » Mon Feb 20, 2012 1:37 pm

If you are driving up from Colorado, A day trip to Green river lakes, in the wind river mountains Is one of the most incredible places in wyoming! It is about 50 miles north of Pindale, take a right at Cora, and follow the road for 20 miles until it ends.Great campground, many miles of trails, and 2nd, and 3rd class peaks. Square top being the famous peak! More info, at click, mountains/rocks Then search /for white rock. Or just google green river lakes. Also I have always enjoyed Hiking on the Idaho side of the Tetons, Alaska basin, Less crowds.

enjoy!! Peter
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Re: Yellowstone/Grand Tetons for Families

Postby Mark A Steiner » Mon Feb 20, 2012 4:49 pm

The possibilities in and near Yellowstone are endless. There is Mount Washburn in the vicinity of Dunraven Pass (about 1400 feet vertical). Some I know love trails in the Absaroka WIlderness area on the east side of the Park. Beware of the bears, however. Northeast on US 212 is the Beartooth Plateau, over 11,000 feet AMSL in some places. Magnificent photo ops of the granitic terrain of the southern Beartooths are something you will never forget. An easy hike into the Beartooths that is non-technical could be very enjoyable.
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Re: Yellowstone/Grand Tetons for Families

Postby Papillon » Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:02 pm

Park at the Fairy Falls TH which, I believe, is located in the Midway Geyser Basin between Geyser and Old Faithful. Check the time on your watch and start up the trail which is basically an old two track road. Right around the ten minute mark, begin looking to your left for social trails. These trails should be pretty obvious.

You will climb 50-100 feet up onto a hill that will give you a great view of Grand Prismatic Spring. Behind you there will be an even higher perch, maybe 200-300 feet higher. You can hike up to that vista and get an unreal view of Grand Prismatic Spring (see images below). This is all class I and II with a little bit of brush and down timber but nothing problematic.



You can then return to the road and continue on to Fairy Falls if you want. Honestly, you can do a lot of miles in Yellowstone on the boardwalks. The Old Faithful area and its connecting trails to Morning Glory Pool and such will add up.

Washburn from the north (Chittenden Road?) is 6 miles and 1000 feet on an old dirt road to a fire lookout around 10,300 feet. That was where I first hiked above 10K several years ago. Although very popular, it is also prime grizz territory because the road travels through some whitebark pine which the grizz love. I also heard that there is a known grizzly den on the south side of the mountain.

Bunsen is another good one at 8564 feet. You can ascend Bunsen, drop down the backside on good trail and then continue onto Osprey Falls (also good trail). You'll lose and then have to regain 500-600 feet coming out of the canyon, however. These could also be done as separate trips if the mileage exceeds 10. The TH is just south of Mammoth.

There is a huge staircase descent to the bottom of the falls at Canyon (near Artist's Point) but the name of the trail escapes me. It was closed all three times I visited the park.

Yellowstone is a pretty slick place that requires many many visits to truly see. Picnic lunches are the way to go, either on the trail or at some random area (the park maps will show these). Gull Point was my favorite spot to eat.


Enjoy your trip.
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Re: Yellowstone/Grand Tetons for Families

Postby cougar » Wed Feb 22, 2012 8:05 am

+1 on the Fairy Falls trail and Mt Washburn. Go beyond the falls about another flat mile (maybe a bit less) to Imperial Geyser - nice sidecountry geyser in a colorful pool that erupts continuously. The Grand Prismatic Spring overlook isn't marked but there is a beaten loose dirt path up the hill as mentioned.

Mystic Falls and the overlook trail loop is another nice one - steam vents along the side of the falls. And Lone Star Geyser is another lone geyser in the forest with a good eruption - check eruption times at the trailhead - it's a 3 hr interval.
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Re: Yellowstone/Grand Tetons for Families

Postby peter303 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 8:43 am

Reserve park housing ASAP. It fills early and fast.

You can also consider "edge cities" just outside the park like West Yellowstone, Gardiner, Cody, and Jackson Hole.
The one "must stay in the park night" is at Old Faithful. It fun to stroll at night there.

It takes about 2 1/2 - 3 days to hit every stop on the 180 mile interior loop. Some of the hike stops are moderately strenuous, being a couple miles and almost a 1000 feet of elevation change. Do several of these each day and you'll feel like you've worked out. I'd try to get housing at three stops: Old Faithful, Mammoth, and Yellowstone Lake area. Jackson is close enough for a night or two at Teton.

There are at least three Grand Lodges in the area- classic large wooden hotels: Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone Hotel, and Jackson Lodge. The first two have some reasonably priced rooms. They are fun to hang around the great lobbies. As of 2010 the first two did not have televisions or wireless or broadband. Only smart phones worked. So your always-wired teens may go crazy from electronic withdrawal.

Both parks have nice camping opportunities. Teton tends to reserve up quickly. Teton also has climbers hostel. I've visited it, but not sure about the rules for use.

I was a little nervous about trail-running off the beaten path and encountering big game. Each of my several several trips to Yellowstone I have seen a black bear or grizzly, but not while running. More common are the bison which are everywhere. I've stumbled on bison on runs just around the corner. The park fatality figures reflect this. Bear caused deaths are only about one per five years, while 2-3 annual deaths from charging bison.
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Re: Yellowstone/Grand Tetons for Families

Postby DanR » Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:40 am

I was around the same age as your kids when I first visited to Yellowstone. It was definitely one of the most memorable vacations of my childhood. Since then, I've been back every few years and I manage to find new highlights every time. For I first time visit, I would try to make these the priorities:

Geysers and hot springs:
Even with everything else the park has to offer, these are the main reason that Yellowstone is a major destination. I like to hit as many of the geyser basins as I can but the upper geyser basin is the one that I consider a must. It's a pretty spread out area that encompasses a couple of larger predictable geysers. The visitor center has predicted eruption windows for them and I highly recommend trying to see Grand Geyser (tallest predictable geyser in the world) though the large prediction window can sometimes mean that you have to wait quite a while. There is nowhere else on earth that you can see anything like it.

You might see some "geyser gazers" around the geyser basins. They will stand out with floppy hats, full day packs, radios and often crazy creek chairs. Gazers are amateur enthusiasts/experts and most of them have been visiting Yellowstone every year for quite a while. If you see a large group waiting near a geyser or rushing off somewhere you might find it worthwhile to see if there's something exciting about to happen.

On my most recent visit last summer I "discovered" that early morning visits to geyser basins are probably the easiest way to see a Brocken Spectre ( thanks to the high volume of steam in the chill morning air and the low angle of the sun. As a bit of a nerd I thought this was pretty neat but ymmv.

The hikes to Imperial Geyser and Lone Star Geyser are, as mentioned by others, quite nice as well.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone:
Uncle Tom's Trail is staircase into the canyon that Papillon mentioned and it is pretty cool. There are nice views from the points along the rim but I'd suggest getting there early in the day both to minimize crowds and to make it easier to spot the fumaroles in the canyon.

While wildlife is often a highlight but can be hard to predict. You will see bison and deer with near certainty and there is a good chance that you'll see some raptors and maybe some bighorn sheep. I've only seen wolves by seeking them out, and then only from through binoculars or a scope. Bears and moose happen but they aren't exactly predictable.

Whatever the case, it's a spectacular area and I hope you and your family have a great time!
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Re: Yellowstone/Grand Tetons for Families

Postby nyker » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:19 am

Hey Mountainspirit, that sounds great!

Yellowstone/Teton is among my favorite places on earth. From my two trips there, I would recommend being up and out before sunrise to maximize your chances at seeing some great wildlife. It's amazing the difference an hour can make in sightings. Also, try and time being at Lamar Valley at dawn and dusk for wolves. Bring plenty of batteries and memory cards for your cameras and bring longer zoom lenses or see if you can rent one if you don't have one. Binocs and a scope wouldn't be a bad idea either if you have the space.

For any hiking, bring some bear spray and be "bear aware" as you walk around...

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