Ideas for a father/son 18th birthday trip?

osseous

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When we do the park we avoid staying in one place and heading in a different direction each day. You wind up with a TON of windshield time, and the first and last hour of each day is the same. Pick a place to stay and see/fish what is CLOSE to that spot- then move to another area and stay in that area. Far more time enjoying what you're there to see. Remember- the park is the size of VT or NH. It takes a long time to traverse it....and then you have to get back. West Yellowstone and Gardiner would be a good starting point. Another thing you may consider is a day with a guide on one of the Paradise Valley spring creeks like Depuy's. Stunning area- and very unique fishery that should make a lasting memory. It did for me

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ts47

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Thank you for all the information and answered questions. I've have put a few choices to my son and await his decisions. There is a good chance I'll be back if a few days with another question or two. Thanks everyone! (y)
 

LePetomane

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Thank you for all the information and answered questions. I've have put a few choices to my son and await his decisions. There is a good chance I'll be back if a few days with another question or two. Thanks everyone! (y)
Todd, you're welcome. It is a lot to think about. Those of us who live in the west just hop in the car and go. I can be in Yellowstone in 4 hours. I take a lot for granted now whereas when I was working I had to plan my western trips around my schedule.
 
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ts47

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Okay... So I have some clarification (maybe confirmation, it's hard with teenagers) from my son. He wants to spend his birthday in Yellowstone and perhaps the surrounding area. I have two questions:

1. For those of you familiar with Yellowstone, how much time should we allow for inside the park to see the sites? 1b. We will stay in the park assuming I can get reservations. Is there value to spending a few days on one side of the park, then switching where we stay to the other side of the park for a few more days?

2. Fishing: We will spend 1 to 2 days fishing. I prefer to fish with a guide as we don't know the area and won't have any gear with us. Any recommendations on where and how to locate a guide?

I realize some of this overlaps conversations above. I'm just trying to nail things down so I can get reservations in place - and have never been there before.
 

osseous

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You're spot on. Two locations- maybe 3 days in each. Out of West Yellowstone (close to Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Spring) you have several fly shops. Henry's fork is close, Madison, Hebgen Lake...

Get after those reservations in the Park- there are only so many rooms.

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h2ofishfloatski

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Have you decided where you are flying in and out of and renting the car? In and out of same city or point to point? The park roads are basically a figure eight with off shoots to the gateway towns. Be aware that you will NOTA be able to drive the full figure eight - the road is closed for repair between Canyon and Tower. If you are flying in and out of Bozeman you could start with a stay in Gardiner and spend the first handful of days exploring across the northern tier of the park through the Lamar Valley into Cooke City. Maybe drive up on top of the Beartooth highway (Charles Kuralt - most scenic road in the US).

Then relocate to the West Yellowstone side and you will be able to explore the full southern loop. It also positions you to do a day or two of guided fishing based out of West - check Blue Ribbon Flies for a great crew of guides who can go inside or outside the park, depending on what is fishing well. Lots of opportunity for interesting fishing in August including some of the higher lakes as well as local streams and rivers. You can loop back to Bozeman from there.

If you had a BIT longer than nine days - you could drive down to Moab and visit Arches NP and Canyonlands. They get as busy as Yellowstone so you would want to book now. Its a long day from Bozeman to Moab but that's a favorite long weekend trip for Bozeman mtn bikers. But that's two long days of driving as part of the trip...
 

ts47

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My short answer is I'm trying to figure this all out. I'm surfing the Yellowstone site with my son in hopes of choosing activities. It doesn't look like they are taking reservations for their packages, at least not until they have a Covid solution or things get better.

Any thoughts on taking a tour or trying to get one or their packages versus going and exploring on our own?
 

mikemac1

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2. Fishing: We will spend 1 to 2 days fishing. I prefer to fish with a guide as we don't know the area and won't have any gear with us. Any recommendations on where and how to locate a guide?
If you are staying in Gardiner (or at the Mammoth Hotel), it‘s Parks Fly Shop. Ask for Walter Wiese. You can fish the Yellowstone or the NE corner streams in August.

If you are staying in West (or Old Faithful Hotels) there are at least five fly shops in West with quality guides. In August the best fishing will be outside the park on the West side. West side streams are crap in August

Madison River Outfitters
Blue Ribbon Flies
Arrick’s Fly Shop
Jacklin’s Fly Shop
Big Sky Anglers (formerly the Trout Shop)

Book your fishing early. I suspect things will be crowded this summer.
 
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k_e_v

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Todd, as to your latest question let me offer my opinion. I sense from your posts that you are stressing out a bit about the planning. YNP is very well suited for DIY. Any section of the park is full of incredible sights to see and streams full of fish To catch. Its almost as simple as finding your lodging for the evening and then setting out to explore , hike, and fish that next day. Break the park into quarters and whatever quarter you are able to get a nights lodging near spend the day or two in that quadrant. There are no shortages of opportunities to see in each of the 4 quarters. IMO, besides the planning needed to arrange for lodging ahead of time the rest is ideal for a free spirited and unscheduled approach. Load up on a few maps and guidebooks and go have a special one of a kind trip with your son. You guys are very lucky to have this in your future......enjoy

kev
 

zjory

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Todd, as to your latest question let me offer my opinion. I sense from your posts that you are stressing out a bit about the planning. YNP is very well suited for DIY. Any section of the park is full of incredible sights to see and streams full of fish To catch. Its almost as simple as finding your lodging for the evening and then setting out to explore , hike, and fish that next day. Break the park into quarters and whatever quarter you are able to get a nights lodging near spend the day or two in that quadrant. There are no shortages of opportunities to see in each of the 4 quarters. IMO, besides the planning needed to arrange for lodging ahead of time the rest is ideal for a free spirited and unscheduled approach. Load up on a few maps and guidebooks and go have a special one of a kind trip with your son. You guys are very lucky to have this in your future......enjoy

kev
Wholly agree with this. What really matters is you’ll be getting out with your son. Some of the best days I’ve ever had on the water have been getting skunked with the kids.
 

ts47

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Todd, as to your latest question let me offer my opinion. I sense from your posts that you are stressing out a bit about the planning. YNP is very well suited for DIY. Any section of the park is full of incredible sights to see and streams full of fish To catch. Its almost as simple as finding your lodging for the evening and then setting out to explore , hike, and fish that next day. Break the park into quarters and whatever quarter you are able to get a nights lodging near spend the day or two in that quadrant. There are no shortages of opportunities to see in each of the 4 quarters. IMO, besides the planning needed to arrange for lodging ahead of time the rest is ideal for a free spirited and unscheduled approach. Load up on a few maps and guidebooks and go have a special one of a kind trip with your son. You guys are very lucky to have this in your future......enjoy

kev
Hi Kev,

No stress about the trip. It's good to see your comments on the DIY thing. I really think that's what my son and I would both prefer to do. You guys are making this trip planning much easier on me than it would otherwise be. I really appreciate all the help and advice everyone has offered. My son and I are both very excited! Given that I'm the dad, I may be a little more excited because it's not just a cool vacation, but quality time with my son. :)

The reason you likely see some stress in my wording (and I hadn't noticed it until you mentioned something) comes from my current schedule. I have a lot of job security right now and work 6-7 days a week. In addition, I've got a large remodel project going on at my house. If that wasn't already enough, my son is in the project planning phase of his Eagle Project for Boy Scouts and only has until August to finish everything and one more merit badge.

While it's all good stuff, it only leaves me with little snippets of time to sneak things in like research on this trip or giving a proper response to a piece of advice that one of you have offered. My apologies for that.
 

osseous

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Get there...and talk to the Rangers for their double secret spots to see. They are an underutilized resource-

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Redrock

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For those who haven’t visited the American west I think it is difficult to comprehend just how vast an area it is. For a 9 day trip I would focus on doing things within a 100 mile area.

For example, I would base out of Jackson, WY. You can drive up into either of the Parks or explore around Jackson. I would fish the South Fork over the Snake. The upper Green is also a possibility. You could book a raft trip on the Snake, hike up one of big hills, buy him a cool pair of western boots, eat at the Silver Dollar, stay at the White Buffalo or Wort, etc. All of this can be accomplished in nice easy day trips. Days are long in August. I find that if I pack too much in a day, I run from spot to spot without fully embracing or enjoying each distinct spot. l winter on a bridge-less, barrier island in Florida and summer on a rural ranch in Montana, so I’m not a good person to listen to about traffic. But, damn, the YNP and Grand Teton NP traffic is horrific.

I gave the above advice based on your stated preference to see Yellowstone. I’ve done Yellowstone, and I believe it will be a wonderful trip for you. But, I personally would prefer a 10 day trip split between Jackson. WY and Pinedale, WY over 10 solid days in the Yellowstone area. In addition to what I wrote about the Jackson area, the Wind River Range is stunning. Pinedale is an authentic, old style western town. The fishing on the Green and New Fork will be memorable. No traffic, no crowds, nice folks, lots of stuff to do and most importantly a relaxed atmosphere in which to bond with your son before you send him off to begin the adventure of adulthood.

Or, you guys could come over to my part of Montana and hang out on the Beav, Big Hole and Ruby. I settled in Dell for a reason, just saying!
 

Monello

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I'm a bit late to this topic.

I'd 2nd the idea of doing a float on the Snake River. Once you are on the water, the size of the park's crowd isn't an issue.

If you do several days in Yellowstone and are looking for something different here's a suggestion. In 2012 I hiked back to Grebe lake and was able to catch a few arctic grayling in addition to rainbow trout. There aren't a lot of opportunities of catching grayling in the US. It's an easy less than 2 mile hike back. If you go, bear spray would be beneficial.

If you end up in Arizona, I fished Lee's Ferry 2 years ago. Here's forum post I did about that trip. Greetings from Flagstaff! | Page 3 | Southern Maryland Community Forums (somd.com)

This is slightly off topic. If your son enjoys Yellowstone NP, he can get a seasonal job out that way in between his college years. Each year they hire 3,000 seasonal employees. Most of the jobs are in retail, food service and hospitality. Since nobody commutes to work there, they put you up and feed you. It's a great way to work, travel and make a few bucks. Plus you wake up every day in a national park. I spent 3 months working there in 2012. I did a lot of fishing and caught several 5-6 pound cutthroats in addition to grayling, lakers, rainbows and brown trout.
 

ts47

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I'm getting ready to make reservations. For those of you that know Yellowstone and the activities available there (outside of fly fishing), where would you stay and for how many days in each spot? Based on comments you guys have made, I think staying in two different spots (or more if you recommend) is a great idea that would reduce drive times and allow us to explore more of the park. We plan to stay inside the park and have up to 8 days that my son and I could use to explore.
 
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