Yellowstone:Early Sept or Late July?

Discussion in 'Americas' started by brianjonesphoto, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. brianjonesphoto

    brianjonesphoto Hacked off

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    I've trying to figure out what time of year will be better for a trip to Yellowstone. I haven't been there for 20 years and Mrs. Photo has never been. She got Vacation scheduled for late July and Early Sept (8-11 after labor day).

    The idea so far is take 3 days to get there the senic route. spend 3 days around the park. 3 days home.

    Here's what I'm thinking.
    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. byways

    byways byways

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    Early September for sure.

    Last summer was hot and smoky from wildfires in Idaho, with windblown dust as well.

    Have a look at this Idaho thread.

    I live two hours from Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Perhaps I can help with your planning.
    #2
  3. Eyes Shut

    Eyes Shut See no evil Super Supporter

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    We've been to Yellowstone in both mid-July and mid-September. I would vote for early September myself.

    Advantages of early September: Most of the crowds are gone. The weather should be still be good. OTOH, Yellowstone can always get an early winter storm. When we were there in mid-September, we had snow and rain. Also, many of the facilities close right around that time.

    Advantages of July: The days are nice and long. Daylight from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Ranger activities and campfire talks are going on (if you have interest in those type of things).

    When we were there in July, it wasn't nearly as crowded as I thought it would be. We beat the crowds by getting up early and seeing the more popular sights early in the morning. We also found that any sort of sight that required longish hikes thinned out the crowds, too.

    Either way, I've enjoyed Yellowstone immensely!
    #3
  4. yelostn78

    yelostn78 Have GS will Travel

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    early sept- some of the facilities may be closed- but they have installed at most fuel point pay at the pump open 24-7

    in july there are a lot of people
    #4
  5. cycletlh

    cycletlh Slower than yesterday!

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    Looks like a great trip. My wife and I toured Yellowstone a couple of years back. Just our opinion but a day was plenty for us.

    I like your route! Would suggest taking a day to get over to Hwy 95 in Idaho on the return. At Cambridge go to Brownlee Dam, Oxbow Dam, then over the paved Forest Service road to Joseph. Then Joseph to Asotin/Lewiston/Orifino via Rattlesnake! You could even ride to McCall/New Meadows as planned and cut south on 95.:clap

    SPECIAL ALERT!!! Wife just walked in and gave this advice: Ride into the park afternoon of 4th day, 5th day in park, leave 6th day. This gives you a little more time to get there following the route you have planned.

    Good luck and give us a trip report when finished.
    #5
  6. brianjonesphoto

    brianjonesphoto Hacked off

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    Thanks for all of the input.

    At this point the schedule may be a little ambitious. I'm planning 300-450 mile days on back roads. We'll see how it goes. Here's the legs I'm looking at

    Everett WA-Kingston ID for a Strom PNW gathering 453 miles
    Kingston ID- just west of Lost Trail pass Wisdom MT 430 miles
    Wisdom MT- Yellowstone 295 miles
    2.5 Doing the park. I'm a photographer so I like to spend some time exploring scenes.
    Bear tooth pass loop move camp to Teton NP 300ish miles
    Teton NP- Stanley ID 330 Miles
    Stanley ID- Ritzville Wa 411 Miles
    Ritzville Wa- Everett Wa 280 Miles

    Since we are looking at an end of summer trip we should have plenty of time to train for longer days in the saddle. I've done a couple 500+ day, but my wifes longest day is just over 300.

    The part of the route I still need some help with is from Hayden ID to Kingston. I'd like to find another option than I-90, but I don't want to rely on forest roads that early in the trip and that late in the day.

    Day 2 looks like it could be a big day. There's lots of NF road paved and gravel. We may end up splitting that day into 2 and extending day 3 since it's pretty short at this point.

    Anyone have any experience riding from Wallace to the west end of Lolo via Avery and Elk River?

    Thanks
    #6
  7. cycletlh

    cycletlh Slower than yesterday!

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    Hayden to Kingston is a short jaunt on I-90 and is very pretty. At the end of the day it will be welcome. Wallace to Avery is very good gravel road. Avery to the MT stateline headed toward St. Regis is paved. Do not know about the route to Lolo.

    My wife and I generally ride 300 to 400 miles in a day. Our 7 day trip last summer I planned at 250 mile days. We ended up at 300 miles avg. when we added a couple of agressive days. This was all paved and we do not stop a lot.

    You are adding scenic roads and gravel over many days. Suggest more days and less miles. 450 miles @ 45mph avg is 10 hours seat time. Your summer rides will give you a good idea. Also need to be aware of "deer season" those hours around dusk and dawn.

    SPECIAL ALERT II!!! Wife just said too many miles "it will never happen".

    Others please chime in.

    Good luck. Trip planning and this board is what keeps us going when there is too much snow to ride.
    #7
  8. Drifter

    Drifter Long timer

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    There is a possibility for early snow in September.
    #8
  9. kayak99

    kayak99 HD guy

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    I was there last year in late August so I'd recommend early Sept. It did sleet/snow atop Beartooth Pass if you're planning on heading out the Northeast towards Red Lodge, NT Still, the northeast section of the park was beautiful with lots of wildlife.
    #9
  10. thetourist

    thetourist Just passing thru

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    Stanley to Ritzville is another ambitious day. Curvy roads, restricted speedlimits and lots of small towns. Maybe 10 hrs of solid riding at or above the speed limit.
    #10
  11. PGAero

    PGAero R1100RS

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    I'd vote for September as well.

    Also, the Lamar Valley to Beartooth pass is a must. One day in the "figure-8" of the park is enough, although you will probalby enjoy the phography options and be able to enjoy more time there.

    Plan a whole day to see the area along the Lamar River and especially the high country around Beartooth Pass.

    ~P
    #11
  12. jonz

    jonz Miles are my mantra Supporter

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    I go to that area almost every year and own a house just outside West Yellowstone. It's a big snow year (much needed) so it will still be wet in July. The good part - flowers. The bad - could still be lots of mosquitoes/biting flies and lots of people. But no matter the number of people, I never mind the crowds because I'm always so happy to be there.
    September - the good, no bugs, less people, the elk may start bugling. The bad - fewer/no flowers, colder nights, less daylight riding hours (though that doesn't sound like it will be your limiting factor).

    If you're camping, what's worse for you two - bugs or cold? Finding a spot in the park will be tough in July but much easier in September. Same with hotels.

    There's a few things to consider.
    #12