Canyon Itinerary #1

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Cabins at Canyon
This itinerary is heading to see wildlife early in the morning.  Out at dawn.  You can sleep in when you get home.  OK, I realize you might be staying other places as well as Canyon but this itinerary is starting with wildlife.  This itinerary is based on seeing several things without spending an inordinate amount of time at any one.  If you spend a lot of time someplace, just adjust as you go.  This itinerary is intended to be a guide, not a rulebook.

Early morning in Hayden Valley.  Use back button to return here from picture.Up at dawn.  Don't worry about breakfast.  Get moving out to the road and turn left.  Head south into Hayden Valley.  Its about 16 miles and you never really know what you'll see.  Pay attention all around.  When you get to the turn for Fishing Bridge, take it to the left.

The area around the bridge is very pretty.  Walk down with your camera and get some early morning scenes.  When you tire of this, go back up to the road and turn left towards Lake Hotel.

Head into the area around Lake.  You may be able to find coffee at the hotel or lodge.  I'd skip breakfast still and worry about it later. 
Grizzly and cub at Trout Creek.  Use back button to return from picture.
After Lake, its back north through Hayden Valley.  Again go slow and watch.  Watch the flat areas and along the river.  Stop at some of the turnouts and use your binoculars.  Stop anywhere you see a crowd.  The turnout at Trout Creek seems to frequently have bears in the distance.

Lower Falls from Artists Point.  Use browser back button to return to this page.When you get to the turnout for Upper and Lower Falls, take it.  It may still be a little dark in the Canyon but its still very pretty.  Stop and look at both falls.  When you arrive at the Brink of the Upper Falls, take the turn and check it out too.  Its pretty impressive and doesn't take long.

After all this, back to the car and head north.  Hard to tell what time it is now.  7:30 or 8:00 would be a good guess if you got out of bed when you should have.  You can grab breakfast at Canyon and waste sightseeing time or keep heading north.   We usually eat breakfast out of our ice chest and can do that anywhere.  There's several picnic areas and you can eat at a turnout in Lamar while watching wildlife.

When you head north, you'll be climbing toward Dunraven Pass.  In the spring, it closes sometimes due to snow.  For this discussion, its open.  At the top of Dunraven, you can park and hike to Mt. Washburn.  We haven't done that yet and don't suggest you make the hike on a real short visit to the park.    After the parking lot, you wind across the top before heading down.  Pay attention all the way.  When you get to a horseshoe turn, you'll be heading down the north side.  In 2007, we saw several bears along the hill side near the road.  In 2008, we saw none there.  Pay attention in any event.  If you see people looking out, probably not much to see.  If they are looking down, there might be a critter fairly near.  Pay attention all the way because this is black bear country too.

Scene from Chittenden Road.  Use browser back button to returnRight before the horseshoe turn was a dirt road to the right.  This is Chittenden Road and leads to a parking lot with good views.  Its also a place to park when hiking the north side to Mt. Washburn.  Note where it is but save it for later.

When you get to Calcite Springs, turn in and take a look.  Its a short walk and very pretty.  You can also check it on the way back.  If you want, you can also stop at Tower Fall.  Also a short walk and can get crowded later in the day.

Back to the car heading north.  You'll come to Roosevelt Lodge and a right turnSlough Creek and an antelope.  Use browser back button to return here. to Lamar Valley.  Take the turn to the right.  Pay attention all the way.  You never know what will be on or near the road.  After 5 miles or so, you'll see a turn to the left and there's toilets.  Take the turn.  Not for the toilet, but to see if the Slough ("slew") Creek wolf pack is still denning in that area.  If there's cars around, you might see something interesting.  They're usually there for a reason.  We saw a black wolf, a grizzly sow with two cubs and an elk in the same shot through the scope.  You're a little late in the morning but stop anyway.

When you tire of that, head back to the road and go further into Lamar Valley.  Stop at any of the turnouts that look interesting especially if there's a crowd there.  Keep going until you get to a turnout on the right that has a toilet in the parking lot (hitching post is the name I think).  Then go to the next turnout (Footbridge I think) and park.  We saw grizzlies and a wolf there in June and it seemed like there was usually a lot of action.  When you're finished, head back to Tower Junction.  Again, stop for anything that looks worthy.

Table in Yellowstone Picnic Area.  Use browser back button to return.Difficult again to be sure what time it might be.  It will depend on how long you hung out in Lamar Valley.  If you haven't done so, stop and eat breakfast, lunch or whatever.  We frequently have done this by 10:30 if we didn't see much in Lamar.  Yellowstone Picnic area works well in the west end of Lamar.  There's one just north of Canyon too.  There's picnic areas all over.  (Use browser back button to return here from the map.)

OK.  Its time for geysers.  They erupt all day while wildlife is most easily seen in the morning and evening.  From TowerGrizzly near Dunraven Junction, head to Old Faithful.  Go by way of Dunraven Pass to Canyon by turning left at Roosevelt Lodge and then across to Norris from Canyon.  Alternatively, you could go from Tower to Mammoth and south to Norris from there.  Personally, I'd rather head back through bear country.  From Norris, head south until you get to Old Faithful.  Check out the lodge.  See an eruption by Old Faithful.  Walk the Upper Geyser Basin Trail.

Old Faithful InnBy now its probably between 2:30 and 3:30 or a little later.  Head back to Canyon.  You can go through Madison and Norris again or head south and go by Lake.  That has the advantage of going through Hayden Valley again at a different time of day.  No matter how you go, stop at Lower Falls to see it in that light.

There you have a full day in Yellowstone.  If you start late or eat a long breakfast, you'll have trouble getting it all done.  It doesn't matter because you'll have a great day no matter what.  Remember this is your trip and you should enjoy it however you want.