Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Teton trip planning

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BlackDog1

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For wildlife viewing Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley are your best bets. Bring a good tripod with spotting scope, good 12X50 binoculars and 400mm or 600mm lens.

16 Wolves

View attachment 186439
We would get to Hayden Valley just before sunrise, set up chair scope and coffee-freeze our butts off and then when the sun would finally pop up start to hear the wolves barking and howling. So cool.
 

EffinNewGuy

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Following. Departing South Carolina in roughly the same time period for a camping/fishing trip with Army buddies. Mostly sticking to GTNP, Absoraka Range, Wind River Range, and Big Horns due to one guys limitations on vacation hours and attempting to make the most out of the trip. Time (and fuel budget) permitting, I may head up to Glacier. My plan is mostly dispersed camping in my 4Runner on USFS/BLM land.
 

David C Gibbs

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Hi Jason,
You' haven't said where you're staying the three nights out, or in which order your planning to visit the parks. I have these parks in my backyard, as I live in Boise, ID. Been to all 3, several times. Be ready to be disappointed! Depending on Snow this winter, and spring warming up. The road "Going to the Sun" in Glacier, may be closed. And some on the roads in YNP may still be Snow-bound. We were in West Yellowstone and the Tetons last fall. There are lots to see in routes over and back, depends on your travel plans... Devils Tower in Northeast Wyoming; Mount Rushmore, Rocky Mountain NP & Estes in Colorado. While in Montana, a day trip to Flathead Lake and Hungry Horse Dam & Res are worth the efforts as well. On the East side of Glacier - if you can get into Many Glacier's is worth the visit. If you have to take the road around the south from East Glacier to West, a stop in Walton and the Essex Railroad Depot are worth the detour. We had a great Grilled Cheese sandwich to go with a bowl of French Onion soup. Another Day trip (for photo's) is up the west side to Polebridge, then up to both Bowman Lake and Kintla Lake. Take dope for Horseflies. Phone # for the Visitor Center at Apgar is 406-888-7800. Montana has great travel maps at 406-444-2654 and a travel web site at https://travel.mt.gov
David
 
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Tundracamper

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Gonna follow as well. I’m headed that way in early May. My plans, though, are to stay in the woods away from people. Therefore, I expect I will stay away from the name-brand parks. I’m headed to the Idaho falls area ultimately. Trying to plan has been a little overwhelming. I’m hoping the NF gates aren’t locked and I can find at least one hot springs that is reasonably accessible from the road.
 

dboden01

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My family and I experienced Glacier, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons last June as part of a 9 month excursion. We made it to Glacier on June 8th, the day they reopened, and I have to say, avoid this timeframe. The park is beautiful and vast, but we were severely limited in what we could see. The road was only clear to Lake McDonald Lodge, as Going to the Sun road was still closed due to snow. As I have come to understand, peak times to visit are July and August. I will make it back someday. That said, there are plenty of dispersed camping spots, and inexpensive National Forest sites nearby. We stayed at Murray Bay Campground on Hungry Horse Reservoir. Sites are inexpensive, well spaced, have a fire ring, picnic table, and clean vault toilets. There is great trout fishing on the reservoir. There are plenty of other dispersed campsites along the forestry road, and nearly every turn off is accessible by vehicle and will provide you with tremendous views and waterside camping.

To access the West Yellowstone gate, we discovered a dispersed camping spot just south of Box Canyon Campground in Island Park Idaho. There are 2-3 spots in this location, all of which are free, and first come, first served. Fire rings are available, and sites are positioned right along the Henry's Fork River. Access to Yellowstone is a reasonably short drive from this location, but you will want to plan to leave early to avoid the large crowds. We were confronted with large crowds at all trailheads in Mid June.

To access the Tetons and the South Entrance to Yellowstone we took Rt. 22 over Teton Pass into Jackson, WY. This is a beautiful drive, and despite the paved road I highly encourage this route. While you could stay at the Gros Ventre Campground, I would highly encourage you to continue on that same road, pass the campground, to the Antelope Flats. Here there are a few select dispersed camping spots, all free, first-come, first-served, and with INCREDIBLE views of the Tetons. They are almost always full and you might have to stalk the site, or you could continue up the fire road to the right which will lead you to numerous other dispersed sites. Bring your mountain bike as there is a beautiful, not too technical, loop trail through this region.

Good Luck with your journey! I can't wait to travel out West again.

While this worked fo us, you may discover that there are other areas that you'll want to visit. There is so much to explore! A great utility I have used is the app Campendium. This is an app popular with RV'ers, but highlights numerous dispersed camping spots or "boon docking" spots throughout the area.

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Dorian

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Great spots to visit. Make sure you take the weather seriously. The Going to the Sun road in Glacier is usually closed because of snow till June or early July. It’s the main East West road through the park and as busy as it is you really don’t want to miss it.
 

huf67

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Following along here because we're planning a similar trip from MO in June - Teton, Yellowstone, Wind Cave (hopefully), Black Hills, and Badlands. We're planning three nights at Madison inside Yellowstone. Hoping to get a night at Devil's Tower as well. Was thinking Signal Mountain in Teton, but the spots on the Snake River (Ashton Flagg Rd) look really good too - and free.
I'm doing about the same trip as you with my daughter in August of this year. I've been to everywhere on your list but the Tetons so we're planning on coming up from the south and going thru the Tetons first and then circling back around. I love all of those places.
 

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Following along here because we're planning a similar trip from MO in June - Teton, Yellowstone, Wind Cave (hopefully), Black Hills, and Badlands. We're planning three nights at Madison inside Yellowstone. Hoping to get a night at Devil's Tower as well. Was thinking Signal Mountain in Teton, but the spots on the Snake River (Ashton Flagg Rd) look really good too - and free.
We are planning almost the same journey...starting from Indiana and headed out that way. Found some great dispersed spots at Badlands but considering the time of the year, not sure how many other people have the same idea!
 

Kerner

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We are planning almost the same journey...starting from Indiana and headed out that way. Found some great dispersed spots at Badlands but considering the time of the year, not sure how many other people have the same idea!
Curious what you found near the badlands. We've got a reservation in the NP campground but being dispersed sounds much better.
 

ThundahBeagle

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I've been watching this thread, and another one that USStronman commented in. At first I was headed out last October for my nephew's wedding but we all know COVID put that plan out of commission.

Now, I plan to head out of the greater Boston area late on 14 or very early 15th May. Take our time over the next few days getting there, meet up with some family who will also be on the road. See some sights. Hit the wedding. See some more sights. And finally returning over the Memorial day weekend, most likely the Saturday. I want to take the Sunday to unpack and clean up, actually relax on the Monday so I can get back to work for the American people on Tuesday 1 June

I hope to have all the fundamental maintenance and preparedness done before then. A lot of this will be standard road trip, but I want to try and build some camping and dirt roads/ fire roads into this if there any nice ones to see along the way
 

Kerner

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Curious if anyone is planning any fishing connected to this trip. I spent part of the day building a rod holder to more easily carry both spinning and fly rods. Thinking about trying to fish on the Snake and the Madison.
 

DMS1

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Curious if anyone is planning any fishing connected to this trip. I spent part of the day building a rod holder to more easily carry both spinning and fly rods. Thinking about trying to fish on the Snake and the Madison.
I was in Yellowstone and Grand Teton for 10 weeks in the fall of 2019 and saw a lot of fishermen but I did not see one person catch a fish. Inside Yellowstone you have to buy their special fishing license. I bought a one week Wyoming fishing License and fished the Snake river in Wyoming south of Jackson and caught one small Trout.
 

IdahoTom

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The Henry's Fork of the Snake has some good fishing as well, and there are more dispersed areas for camping down that way on FS. It is a little more out of the way, but the Warm River area is nice and in my opinion is close enough to both Grand Teton and Yellowstone that you could access both.
 
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Motomikeca

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We have been fishing Henry’s Lake and surrounding areas for generations. I’d recommend to take the drive to Hidden Lake, excellent fishing very peaceful. If your up for a hike, pack your rod and walk to the backside and you’ll find a couple ponds first one is goose and the second one is otter. Both have had decent sized fish in the past. All in all you can’t go wrong, the whole region has world class fly fishing, There are a few fly shops in West Yellowstone that can recommend setups and spots. Best of luck to you and your journey, you’ll have a blast.
 

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Curious what you found near the badlands. We've got a reservation in the NP campground but being dispersed sounds much better.
This is the one we have done a few times. Check out this video on this link and it gives you a good idea of the view. It was pretty windy in our tent...but so worth the view.