Treeclimber, all my restaurant information is out of date. My late partner and I visited Yellowstone in 1982 and cooked in camp much of the time. I remember the dining room at Canyon Village to be tasty and reasonable, and that there was a restaurant in Tetons NP that was excellent. Still, while I can’t blame you for soliciting advice here, after reading so many suggestions which leave me thinking people spent little time in Yellowstone, I want to address that.
I certainly didn’t go to Yellowstone to seek out good food. After spending 4 days in the Tetons, we spent 8 days at the Yellowstone Lake campground. When I told a (now retired) NPS ranger friend who had been stationed at Yellowstone the length of our stay there, she told me about all the people that would approach her and say, "We have half a day to see this park," to which she would respond, "That’s about how long it will take you to drive across the park without stopping." I saw people park near Old Faithful, look at the schedule (that’s why the call it "Old Faithful, after all!), and turn back to their cars, unwilling to wait 40 minutes to see a geyser. The ranger, who had just become my supervisor as a volunteer docent, suddenly understood why I’m so good at what I do. "We were there 8 days, and we barely scratched the surface."
In 1991 my late partner and I returned to Yellowstone, but only for 2 days, and with one goal in mind. At the very far edge of what’s called The Porcelain Basin, a geothermal activity area, is the Echinus geyser. It’s small, so you can sit within about 15 yards. We’d enjoyed it 9 years earlier, Glen wanted to see the fire damage, and see Echinus one last time. Echinus cycles every 15-20 minutes, and we sat there about 3 hours. After a while, the ranger came over to chat with us. "Every eruption is different," I commented. She wasn’t surprised I noticed that. Now I tell visitors to the Point Bonita Lighthouse in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in and near San Francisco that if they want to see the marine mammals, they will have to slow down and watch. "Harbor seals operate on their schedule–not yours," I gently tell them.
When their children are older, my retired ranger friend will return to NPS service as a seasonal, summer ranger at Yellowstone. One day my present partner and I will join the ranger and her family for a day at Echinus. Of course, she knew which geyser I meant, and agrees there’d be a great reward in spending an entire day there, with a big picnic lunch and plenty of videotape running through a camera on a tripod all day.
Maybe I have more patience than others, but let me assure you that with Yellowstone, as well as other National Parks, you will be rewarded by slowing down and taking ample time to become one with the beauty of the landscape.