Are you camping, or lodging?

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Posted by Granite Head ( on 13:41:44 08/21/19

In Reply to: lodging posted by Ram

To give you better advice, I need some idea of whether you're camping or thinking of a cabin/lodge/motel to bunk in. There's a lot likely to be available - especially if you reserve ahead - in Yellowstone's gateway towns. Which do not really include Wapiti - a bit too far for quick access to the park, although it is quite do-able, with the road construction caveat below.

There are two Big Springs - one in Idaho, and one in Wyoming - neither is very close to the park. You don't want to set yourself up to spend all your Yellowstone time driving to and from the park entrances. The park itself is huge, traffic is slow, and drive times can be massively inflated if you find yourself in a bison jam or construction zone.

It would also help me provide better information if you could tell me what your priorities are for your visit. Different gateway towns offer quicker access to different features. For example, if you're most interested in the thermal areas, like Old Faithful and the other wonderful geysers and hot springs on the west side of the park, West Yellowstone would be the place for you. If you're most interested in wildlife of Lamar or Hayden Valley, or the scenery of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Gardiner, Silver Gate, or Cooke City would be good choices. Check out a map and you'll see what I mean. Good hiking is available in most parts of the park. If that's what you're after, be sure you know what the bear situation is before you set out.

Having said all that, Wapiti is on the way to Yellowstone's East Entrance, but once you get in the park, there's construction around the Fishing Bridge area - the historic bridge that crosses the Yellowstone River just before east entrance road intersects with the Grand Loop Road as you head west. You may have to wait, in theory, up to a half hour each time you go through there - coming and going.

If you do stay in Wapiti, the commute to the entrance is beautiful, but beware of wildlife along the road - bighorn sheep, moose, the occasional grizzly or black bear - so keep an eye out for critters, and watch your speed. I haven't done that drive in the last few years, but I think it will take you maybe a half hour just to get to the park entrance from Wapiti.

Depending on the kind of accommodations you want, the closest lodging to East Entrance would be Pahasaka Tepee.

Just as an example: Photo of Grand Prismatic Spring, April 2018 (hence, the remnant snow) Note the bison tracks in the bacteria mat - they're allowed to walk off the boardwalk, people are not! It is in an area called Midway Geyser Basin; Old Faithful and dozens and dozens of other thermal features are in the Upper and Lower geyser basins. Upper refers to elevation, and is actually south of Midway. There are myriad other thermal areas on that side of the park as well, the biggest and hottest of them, Norris Geyser Basin. The closest park entrance to all that is West Entrance at West Yellowstone, Montana.

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