October Yellowstone Vacation
July 22, 2008 7:21 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I would like to travel to Yellowstone/Grand Tetons for first week and half in October - we'd like MeFi's recommendations for cheap and excellent lodging, must-see sights and things to do - please help? We'd love to find somewhere with a kitchenette.
posted by mctsonic to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The late Charles Kurault referred to Beartooth Highway as "the most beautiful highway in America." Situated between Yellowstone's northeast entrance and Red Lodge, Montana (a truly charming and chic western resort) the drive is breathtaking -- and should not be missed. Just outside of Red Lodge, I stayed at the Rock Creek Resort which was lovely, complete with balcony overhanging rushing water and a spectacular view. No kitchenette - but the area abounds with options that meet your requirements. In town, gourmet dining along with fine, fun shops. Lots of opportunities for outdoor recreation await as well.
posted by peace_love_hope at 7:52 PM on July 22, 2008

Kurault is correct.

If you are going to stay in Yellowstone, especially in October, plan to stay in the Old Faithful Inn. The National Park lodges are historic, gorgeous and not to be missed.
posted by caddis at 7:57 PM on July 22, 2008

You'll be at the very tail end of Beartooth Pass being open for the season, so just be sure to have alternate plans. It is a fantastic drive (only a couple hours from me) but the high elevation gets snowed in by mid-October. If you are able to go over the Beartooth, you will end up in Red Lodge, Montana, a quaint and friendly little town with good restaurants and interesting shops.

West Yellowstone, Montana has some good places to stay, plus some touristy stuff, and you don't have to go over the Beartooth Pass to get to it. It also has an Imax theater that shows Yellowstone and other nature related films.

Cody, Wyoming is east of Yellowstone Park, and features the famous Buffalo Bill Historical Center. One admission price gets you into the museum for 2 days. It's so vast that many people indeed go back the next day, but you can prioritize your interests and stay for as short or long a time as you want.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 8:10 PM on July 22, 2008

You'll be at teh tail end of the fall color up there, too...lucky you! Make absolutely damn sure to see sunrise over Mormon Row in the Tetons. It's a classic mountain/barn picture, but to see it in person is a treat.

Frankly, and I say this to everyone who goes out west, get up for every damn sunrise possible. Nap at noon, if necessary, to make this possible. The light, and the silence, and the fading stars out West are the closest this agnostic comes to a spiritual experience.

Plus, most people don't bother, so you get the sights all to yourself.
posted by notsnot at 8:16 PM on July 22, 2008

Some notes about Yellowstone itself. Don't rely on just seeing the attractions closest to the road. For example, Old Faithful is surrounded by parking lots and a cafeteria and a lodge. But take the time to walk from Old Faithful to the Morning Glory Pool. It's about a mile, but the path is paved and there are several other fascinating thermal features on the way there. And since you will be there in a cool time of year, the mornings can be especially dramatic as the thermal features throw off a ton of water vapor, making some of your walks absolutely otherworldly.

But don't ignore the signs! Stay on the boardwalks and designated paths around thermal areas! People have stepped off and fallen through what appears to be solid ground! Also heed all other warnings. Yes, the bison can hurt or kill you, even though they look tame, and may be within feet of your vehicle.

Also, I forgot to mention, if you do go to Cody, check out the Buffalo Bill Dam. You probably won't be able to get to where I took that photo (perk of employment) but you can walk across the top and take a self-guided tour with a provided CD.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 8:26 PM on July 22, 2008

Old Faithful erupting by moonlight is one of the most beautiful sights ever. We stayed in tent cabins in Grand Teton; they had tiny pot-bellied stoves and were cozy.
posted by theora55 at 9:08 PM on July 22, 2008

For Yellowstone, I can recommend Shoshone Lodge. Four generations of my family have stayed there. I don't recall there being kitchenettes in the little cabins, though you'd be able to eat in the main lodge area.
posted by jquinby at 7:44 AM on July 23, 2008

The National Elk Refuge outside of Jackson is really great. There is a small museum, and then they take you out into (on to?) the refuge. We saw lots of wildlife, including bald eagles.

And Jackson itself is a pretty cool - check out the town square with arches made of antlers.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:34 AM on July 23, 2008

We always stay at least one night at the Old Faithful Inn. They have the best breakfast buffet I've ever seen. I pretty sure that God lives in the Yellowstone/Teton area, because that's where I feel His presence the most.
posted by RussHy at 8:43 AM on July 23, 2008

Bozeman is 90 miles north of West Yellowstone and it's a gorgeous drive up 191. The main street downtown is a little touristy but still fun and there are some great restaurants. There is definitely a cheap motel with kitchenettes on 23rd and Main but I can't remember what it's called. Stop in Big Sky on your way to Bozeman for the richy-rich touristy stuff, but there is also an authentic cowboy bar in Gallatin Gateway (prepare to get sneered at for being non-local).

It might be too late in the year for rodeos but they are definitely worth checking out if you can. Cody WY has them almost every night.
posted by desjardins at 10:30 AM on July 23, 2008

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