Glacier Park, Yellowstone Park and Grand Teton Park Vacation Tip: Get Up Early!

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Glacier Park, Yellowstone Park and Grand Teton Park Vacation Tip:  Get Up Early!
Whether you’re planning on taking one of the many Glacier Park hikes, Yellowstone Park hikes or Grand Teton hikes, or you’re planning a drive to look for wildlife or heading for a geyser basin, we strongly recommend that you get up early to maximize your enjoyment.

The reason I felt compelled to write this article is because Shannon and I notice that a fair number of park visitors get rolling about 10 o’clock in the morning, whether it be for day hikes, or heading up the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier Park, or visiting the geyser basins in “Geyser Row” in Yellowstone Park, or enjoying the
Highway 89 Overlooks in Grand Teton National Park or whatever else they have planned for the day.

Now of course it’s your vacation and you’re free to do whatever you want to do and however you want to do it.  If you want to sleep in and then enjoy a nice breakfast at one of the lodges, that’s great.  In fact, sometimes nothing sounds better than that… after all, vacations are for relaxing with no schedules.  However, we have found that mornings are the most magical and beautiful time of the day, and you are missing out on all this by getting a late start.  Below are several more reasons you may want to consider getting an earlier start in the morning……

1. Wildlife Viewing
The best time to see wildlife is early in the morning and late in the evening.  This is when animals are out feeding in the open before the heat of the day sets in.  About 90% of our wildlife photos are taken before 8 o’clock in the morning!  So if you want to see animals such as bears, wolves, elk, moose and many of the other incredible animals in Glacier Park, Yellowstone Park and Grand Teton National Park, you might want to consider getting rolling around day break.

2. The “Golden” Hours
From the moment the sun rises until about 10 a.m., the sky is a vivid blue, the trees and grass are a vivid green, and the mountain lakes are usually completely calm displaying perfect reflections of the mountains surrounding them.  This time is known as the “Golden Hours”, and are a dream for not only taking incredible photos but also to simply enjoy the most visually beautiful time of day.  EVERYTHING IS MORE BEAUTIFUL IN THE MORNING!

Of course the scenery in Glacier Park, Yellowstone Park and Grand Teton Park amazingly breathtaking no matter what time of day it is, but after about 10 am, the scenery may not appear as colorful because the high sun begins to “washout” the colors.

3. Cooler Temperatures
Obviously the temperature in the morning is much cooler than any other time of day, and it’s a great time begin your Glacier Park hikes, Yellowstone Park hikes or Grand Teton hikes.  In fact, we feel the earlier the better.  By hiking in cooler temperatures, your hike will be far more enjoyable and you will need far less water.  Once the sun gets high in the sky, the heat can really take its toll on you.

4. Less Smoke During the Fire Season
During the August fire season in the west, the forest fires that are either buring inside Glacier Park, Yellowstone Park or Grand Teton National Park or in the surrounding areas, calm down significantly at night.  The flames really go down and the amount of smoke lessons dramatically.  Then as the temperature of the day begins to rise, so do the flames as well as the smoke.  By mid-day, the smoke can really interfere at times with the view of the landscape, even if the fires are in Oregon, Washington or British Columbia.  So to better enjoy the scenery, we recommend that you get up early before the smoke begins to interfere with your view.  Now please keep in mind that many times the wind is blowing in the right direction and the smoke is not a factor… but when the wind is wrong, getting up early really helps.

5. Less Busy Roads and Hiking Trails
As we said, many visitors enjoying Glacier Park, Yellowstone Park and  Grand Teton National Park start rolling about 10 a.m.  If you get up earlier, you’ll “beat the rush” to places like Logan Pass along the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier National Park.  This parking lot can fill up by 10 or 11 a.m., so by getting there early, you’ll have no problem finding a parking spot.

Also, the hiking trails have far less traffic early in the morning, so by getting up early, you’ll avoid the “rush” at the most popular Glacier Park hikes, Yellowstone Park hikes and Grand Teton hikes.

As I said before, if you want to sleep in a little, and then enjoy a nice breakfast before you head out on your national park adventure for the day, that’s great!  In fact, sometimes nothing sounds better!  But keep in mind, these amazing parks are the most “magical” in the morning, and you are missing this special “window” as you’re sleeping or eating breakfast.  I think you’d be amazed at what goes in the wild before 8 a.m., and you’d be shocked at just how beautiful the landscape is during these “golden hours”.  Plus, you’ll “beat the rush” to some the most popular places in Yellowstone Park, Glacier Park and Grand Teton National Park.

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