29 Jan A Day To Play in Yellowstone
One of the questions we often ask prospective guests is “Are you planning on visiting Yellowstone during your travels?” Why do we want to know this? Well, our first trip together out to this part of the country was to visit Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole – the valley at large. We spent 8 days on the road, making our way from Billings, Montana, to Jackson Hole. There is a lot of driving that goes with the magnificent scenery and sightseeing. And with that driving you’ll find a lot of other vehicles, lower speed limits, road maintenance / repair / construction (because it’s got to get done in the summer), not to mention traffic incidents and traffic jams – due to the bear, bison, moose, elk, wolves, and other wildlife. We’ve even been known to have owl jams here
So, if you’re going to do a loop tour to/from Jackson Hole – rather than also staying within the parks or at the other gateway towns (West Yellowstone, Gardiner, Cooke City, Cody) – then you will need a full day, a full 12 hours. And in that day, you’ll be trying to catch a glimpse of what really takes several days and for some, even several weeks, to experience.
The Hideout is about 60 miles to the south entrance of Yellowstone – that’s 1 hour, 30 minutes’ drive time, and about 120 miles to the west entrance – that’s 2 hours, 15 minutes’ drive time. And between the Hideout and the south entrance is Grand Teton National Park, while between the Hideout and the west entrance is the opportunity to say you’ve also visited Idaho and Montana.
If you chose to enter and exit the south entrance, you should be able to travel all the way around Yellowstone’s lower loop which features Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River / Upper Falls / Lower Falls, Hayden Valley and Yellowstone Lake. You might also be able to check out Firehole Canyon Drive, Mud Volcano and Fishing Bridge.
If you chose to use both the south and west entrances, you’ll be treated to all of the thermal hotspots on the lower west side of the park including Upper Geyser Basin (Old Faithful), Midway Geyser Basin (Grand Prismatic), Lower Geyser Basin (Fountain Paint Pots) and Norris Geyser Basin (Steamboat). You might also have time for Kepler Cascades, Firehole Lake Drive, and Gibbon Falls. And, you’ll get to possibly visit Mesa Falls along the way, or simply make a photo stop at the top of Teton Pass.
So, you can and should definitely visit Yellowstone while visiting Jackson Hole, it’s just a matter of how much you wish to, and are willing and able to, explore America’s first national park. And, remember, you can also come back for another vacation to travel Yellowstone’s upper loop, the Beartooth and/or Chief Joseph Highways, not to mention the wilderness and wildlife elsewhere in Wyoming and in neighboring Utah, Idaho, Montana and South Dakota.