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Short loop advice

Seattle, Washington
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26 posts
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Short loop advice

We will come from Missoula on May 15 and have reservations at OF Inn for 1 night. Suggestions on this drive, or how long it will likely take us? I think mileage wise it would be about 7 hours, but not sure how the drive is and pace, etc. We'll have the remainder of this day, plus the next day to visit what we can in Yellowstone and land ourselves either somewhere around Billings (exit north) or Sheridan (exit east) to set our sights on the Badlands then the following day.

So, I'm wondering what your recommendations are for seeing what we can in this limited stay. What loop would you recommend we drive? Given the east entrance just opened, are we better off going out the north exit? I'd love to get a sampling of the incredible natural features, but also would love to have a route where we are likely to see bison and maybe bear.

Thanks for all your wisdom, insights and time.

3 replies to this topic
Tacoma, Washington
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for Road Trips
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1. Re: Short loop advice

Missoula to west Yellowstone is about 4.5 hrs wheels turning. about the same to Gardiner entrance in the north to old faithful would be ana hr from west yell and about 1.5 from Garinder+ lines at gate admission

Given this is mid May you need to check on what roads are even open and then work around that.

N. Idaho
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for Yellowstone National Park
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2. Re: Short loop advice

Coming from Missoula, it is slightly shorter time-wise to go to West Yellowstone. I drive across I90 from N. Idaho when I come to the park and have tried every permutation of route.

This one's the fastest:

Exit I90 at Cardwell (#256). At the intersection follow MT359 and take it to US287. Follow 287 to West Yellowstone and enter the West entrance to get to OF.

You can see some of the thermal basins and walk the Upper Geyser Basin in this area this afternoon.

For your next day, first check on road conditions. Go to this NPS website to see what is listed here and also call the road line on the number listed on the page. They generally record the messages there around 430A so you'll know if the East entrance road is open this AM.


Once you've decided which exit (east or north), finish up at OF, then head over to Canyon. Do the overlooks you can on the north and south rim drives, then

-either drive south thru Hayden Valley (wildlife watching), Mud Volcano, Fishing Bridge (road construction will start in this area this year, but I think not until June 1) area then out the east entrance road.

-or drive back to Norris, walk Norris Back Basin and Porcelain Basin, then head north to Mammoth (there is road construction in this area). Drive the Upper Terrace drive (should be open), walk the Lower Terraces. Exit the North entrance seeing the Roosevelt Arch and on up to join I90 at Livingston.


Spery, Iowa
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3. Re: Short loop advice

Do keep in mind, that if the east entrance is open in the morning, it may not be in the afternoon. They do close it because of avalanche danger when the snow warms up in the afternoon sun, so check again before leaving Canyon, although even that is not a guarantee it will not close before you get there.

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