Some way cool ideas

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 10:29:33 05/07/14

In Reply to: Off the beaten path posted by Chapman


First, I will comment on what Geri suggested. Chico Hot Springs is a real gem! Their dining room is one of the finest restaurants for a 100 mile radius. The pool is wonderful. The Grill offers classic burgers/pizza/salads, etc. cuisine at reasonable prices. I've never stayed there, because I lived within easy commute distance.

Now, for some other possibilities:

1.) How about a flightseeing tour of Yellowstone? Back in 2000, when I lived in Gardiner, right by the North Entrance, my ex-wife gave me a flightseeing tour of the park as a birthday present. She chartered a light aircraft that could take three passengers. She and a friend of ours joined us. It was incredible! If you are interested in this option, contact Bill Chapman, the manager of the little airport in Gardiner, and ask him for recommendations. (Maybe he's a long lost relative.)

2.) There is an abundance of amazing wildlife watching opportunities in early June. Bison babies are still quite young. Elk are calving. Predators are hunting elk and bison calves. Coyote and wolf pups are beginning to exit the den and wander around nearby, under the watchful eye of parents or "babysitters". You have a number of options to choose from, depending on availability and ability to pay. There is nothing like "local knowledge" to maximize the odds of success. My first bias would be a "super pro", like Dr. Jim Halfpenny, who is a subject matter expert on predators. The odds of him being available for a custom tour at that time of the year are rather long. Next choice would be something via the Yellowstone Association Institute. They offer everything from 3-5 day courses with very qualified instructors to customized single day experiences. YAI is likely getting booked up for that time of year, but there is still possibilities of getting into one of their offerings. If all else fails, you can always contact one of the local tour outfitters. There are a number of good ones that can provide a very special experience.

3.) If your parents are into fishing, consider a day with one of the local fishing guides. There are some excellent fishing guides operating out of both Gardiner and West Yellowstone.

4.) There are some excellent horse trip outfitters permitted by the NPS to provide horse trips in Yellowstone. We once chartered a day trip with an outfitter who was providing services to YAI for many of their horse-oriented trips. He took four of us out the Lamar River trail a few miles, then off-trail up the side of Mt. Norris to one of my favorite viewpoints. It was great! On another day, when I was not available, he took my ex and several of her girlfriends across the Lamar River to an area where they checked out a backcountry bear trap. I know there is an outfitter or two that take people down the Blacktail Deer Creek trail to the Yellowstone River and back as a half-day trip. We would see their groups going up and down from a variety of off-trail hikes we did on the Northern Range.

5.) There are some boating/fishing options on Yellowstone Lake, ranging from booking passage on a touristy tour boat with a bunch of other people to a customized fishing experience with guide. I'm not real knowledgeable on the fine points of these options.

Here are a couple dinner possibilities:
1.) The Lake Hotel dining room on a full moon night: You get fairly late reservations, like around 7:30 or 8:00 p.m., so its 9 or 9:30 p.m. by the time they finish dinner. Seeing Yellowstone Lake and the Absaroka Mountains in the background, with the full moon reflected in the shimmering waters of the lake, is an unforgettable and incredibly romantic experience!

2.) After a day of horsepacking or wildlife watching on the Northern Range, spring for dinner at Roosevelt Lodge. (If I had the dough, and chartered a customized trip with a guide, I would invite the guide along and buy them dinner.)

Some of the options may depend on where your parents are staying while in Yellowstone. Knowing that might be helpful to fine tune the suggestions.


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