4.5 days in Yellowstone and Grand Teton

Yellowstone is a fantastic park to explore by car. If you are just passing by, I think it is still really worth it to drive through the it, making the elementary stops at the volcanic wonders. The only downfall to solely driving through, especially in July and August which are high-season months, is that you might be bothered by the high number of tourists. I know that Bobby and I really care about seeing things alone or in a secluded setting. That is why we always wake up very early and try to catch sunrises and get a jumpstart to the day. For this reason, hiking seemed like the best solution to get away from the beaten paths (even if some hard hikes are highly visited too).

Trout Lake

My favourite hikes (and links to see pictures and details)

  1. Cascade Lake : 4.4 miles (7km), 180feet+, easy out and back
  2. Trout Lake : 1.2 miles (2km), 200feet+, easy loop
  3. Yellowstone Lake Overlook : 1.7 miles (2.7km), 200feet+, easy loop
  4. Norris Geyser : 2.7 miles (4.3km), 180feet+, easy loop
  5. Grand Prismatic Overlook : 1.2 mile (2km), not a loop, 200feet+, moderate out and back

What to plan if you’ll be hiking in the summer

  • Food container (bearproof)
  • Sturdy hiking shoes + a pair of regular sneakers
  • Bear Spray ? We did not have any and we have been lucky not to see any bear too close. If you are not budget sensitive, you can buy some for $50 at the visitor center or rent some..
  • Water (a lot)
  • Layers (rain gear, a warmer sweater, pants, shorts,…) – weather changes a lot
Grand Teton

Our itinerary

Day 1 :

Coming from Bozeman, we made our way down to the North Entrance through Gardiner, visited Mammoth Hot Springs first and then headed to Lamar Valley and hiked Trout Lake. We finished the day in Cooke City, Montana – where our hotel for the whole trip was.

We stayed at the Alpine Motel of Cooke City, a bargain and a very decent hotel just a few miles from the Northeast entrance of the park. Perfect for wildlife watchers since you are as close as Lamar Valley as it can be if you don’t stay inside the park. Regardless, the restaurants in town are good and unique. Special shout out to Montasia, a fusion tiny food spot that makes DELICIOUS Malaysian/Montana Foods ;).

Day 2 :

We headed down to do the middle loop : Norris Geyser, Grand Prismatic, Old Faithful, West Thumb and Lake Yellowstone. It was our volcanic and touristy day 🙂

Day 3 :

We drove all the way down to Grand Teton (I was scared of distances and travel time but it was totally doable!!). Visited the park, stopped on the way inside Yellowstone + at Jackson Lake + visited and hiked Jenny Lake. We drove back into Yellowstone around 3:30pm to catch the sunset in the park.

Day 4 :

We explored Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, hiked Cascade Lake and then drove up Montana on the Beartooth Highway. The weather was a bit rough in the afternoon.

Day 5 :

Drove the North road under a beautiful sunrise from Cooke City, MT back to the Northwest entrance, Gardiner, Livingston and Bozeman :).

Livingston between Yellowstone and Bozeman Airport

All the pictures and informations for each activity is on the blog as photos series. I have tried to link them throughout the article so click on what you are interested in to know more. Also, if you are into wildlife, we caught some pretty nice shots throughout the trip. You can check them out HERE and HERE.

Our budget

The trip’s budget is a simple breakout :

  • $420 per person for the flights with AA (Louisville-Dallas-Bozeman and Bozeman-Chicago-Louisville)
  • $615 for 1 double room/5 nights at the Alpine Motel of Cooke City
  • $260 car rental (with Budget)
  • $100 gas, we took gas in Cooke City, MT most of the time
  • 35$ fee entering Yellowstone – $35 entering Grand Teton

Our grand total = $1,885 so less than $1,000 ($942.50) per person for 5 days in July !

NB : We spent around $300 extra dollars on food and souvenirs for the both of us and that includes breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinners.

Love, Coco

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