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Yellowstone & Grand Teton: Itinerary for 2, 3, 4, or 5 days

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Yellowstone & Grand Teton: Itinerary for 2, 3, 4, or 5 days

Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks are both amazing destinations for outdoor lovers. If you love wildlife, vast landscapes, and incredible natural wonders, then you cannot go wrong with this combo of two of the most popular National Parks in the U.S.

But how to best plan your time and see the best of Yellowstone and Grand Teton in one trip?

In this article, we share the suggested Grand Teton and Yellowstone itinerary for any trip from 2 to 5 days. If you have time for a longer visit, it’s easy to expand on these itineraries as well. Take a look!

Good to know: One day is really too short to see both parks. That’s why our ‘combo’ itineraries foresee at least 2 days. So if you only have a day in the area, you’ll have to choose just one park. If you wonder which is better – Grand Teton or Yellowstone, our personal recommendation is to go to Yellowstone. It’s more diverse and the sights are truly unique.

Scenic road in Grand Teton National Park
Scenic road in Grand Teton National Park
 

Where to start your trip: For the sake of simplicity and because this is the most popular option, we assume that you start and end your trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone from the Jackson Hole area. So book a stay in Jackson, WY or Teton Village hotels for the first and the last nights of your trip. But you can easily adapt these itineraries depending on where you are arriving from.

TIP: Using the map below, you can also compare hotels and vacation rentals in the area and find the best deals for your travel dates. The map now shows Jackson accommodations and you can also zoom it out to see other places nearby. Check it out!

These accommodations are for the beginning/end of your trip. In the itinerary below, you’ll find our specific suggestions for where to stay every day during the road trip itself.

 

Important! This itinerary is for summer only, when the roads are open (from around mid-May to mid-October). It’s also essential to check road conditions and closures on the official website, to be sure that the roads you are planning to take are open. At the moment of writing, there are major works on the northeastern side of Yellowstone, between Canyon and Tower/Roosevelt areas, and that road (or parts of it) will remain closed until 2022.

Entrance fee. Yellowstone NP and Grand Teton NP both have an entrance fee. It costs 35 USD for one park, per private vehicle, and is valid for 7 days. So it will cost your family 70 USD to visit both parks. TIP: If you are planning to visit several U.S. National Parks over a period of one year, it’s better to get America the Beautiful Pass. It costs 80 USD for the whole family traveling in the same vehicle and is valid in all National Parks and 2,000 federal recreation sites across the United States for 12 months from the month of purchase.

Without a car: Staying in Jackson Hole also makes it possible to visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone with organized tours. In our itineraries below, you can find the best tour recommendations that cover the same places as we describe in the same amount of time. Alternatively, check our detailed guide to the best Yellowstone tours.

TIP: We recommend packing a picnic lunch for every day of your trip. This will give you more flexibility during the day and you’ll be able to explore more without having to waste your time looking for a place to eat.

Bison in Yellowstone National Park
Bison in Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park
 

Without further ado, here are our suggested itineraries for Yellowstone and Grand Teton:

Grand Teton & Yellowstone: 2 Days Itinerary

If you have a total of 2 days for Yellowstone and Grand Teton, we recommend spending a day in each park.

Here is the 2-day organized tour that you could join – it covers the highlights of both parks. And here is how your self-drive Yellowstone Grand Teton road trip itinerary could look like:

Day 1 – Grand Teton National Park

Start your day very early and drive to the Kelly area. One of the main highlights here is the Mormon Row Historic District with its picturesque historic barns and homesteads. Another place not to be missed is the scenic Antelope Flats Road.

This is a beautiful scenic area with amazing views of the entire Teton Range. It’s also one of the best places to see wildlife in Grand Teton. Coming here in the morning will highly increase your chances to see animals as they are most active at dawn and at dusk. If you can’t make it here first thing in the morning, come in the late afternoon!

A must for any Grand Teton visitor is a scenic boat ride on Jenny Lake. The scenery you get to see from the boat is worth a short trip in itself, but we highly recommend to also do some hiking on the other side of the lake. Boats run very frequently and you can easily take another boat back after your hike. Just try to come here early in the morning or it gets crowded!

The easiest and the most popular hike is that to the Hidden Falls. This family-friendly walk is just 1.3 miles round trip from the boat. After that, continue to Inspiration Point. This hike is about 2.2 miles round trip and requires some uphill climbing, but the views from the top are truly worth it. Our 5-year old kids could do this hike without any problems, so it’s really not as difficult as it might look at first sight.

Afterwards, take the boat back to Jenny Lake Visitor Center and explore more of the Grand Teton National Park. Here are some scenic spots that are worth checking out: Jackson Lake, String Lake, Oxbow Bend, and Schwabacher’s Landing.

Mormon Row Historic District in Grand Teton National Park
Mormon Row Historic District, Grand Teton National Park
 

Accommodation: There are several lodging options between Grand Teton and Yellowstone. Hotels near Moran have the best location for both parks and would fit this itinerary best. We recommend Jenny Lake Lodge, Jackson Lake Lodge, or Headwaters Lodge – all perfectly located for this itinerary. You could stay here for two nights, so also for exploring Yellowstone on the next day.

However, accommodation here is really limited and often booked-up months in advance. In that case, you may have to return to Jackson Hole where you started your trip, stay in Yellowstone, or drive all the way to West Yellowstone where you can find more accommodation options (it’s also closer to Yellowstone for the next day).

Tour suggestion: You can also visit Grand Teton National Park with this organized tour from Jackson Hole. The itinerary of this day tour is very similar to our recommendations above.

READ ALSO: One Day in Grand Teton National Park

Inspiration Point hike Grand Teton National Park
Inspiration Point hike, Grand Teton National Park
 

Day 2 – Yellowstone Lower Loop

Yellowstone National Park is huge and one day is not even enough to cover all the main landmarks of Yellowstone. However, if you plan well, you can see the most famous places in one day.

With just one day in Yellowstone, we recommend that you focus on the Lower Loop instead of trying to see it all. Even then, your day will be packed and you will only have the time to quickly check out most places.

Here is how your day in Yellowstone could look like:

MORE DETAILS FOR THIS DAY: One Day in Yellowstone

Accommodation: Same as previous night or back to Jackson Hole.

Tour suggestion: You can also visit Yellowstone for a day with an organized tour from Jackson Hole.

Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park
 

Yellowstone & Grand Teton Itinerary for 3 Days

If you have three days for Yellowstone and Grand Teton, we recommend spending one day in Grand Teton National Park and two days in Yellowstone. Here is how your trip could look like:

Day 1 – Grand Teton

See all the main highlights of Grand Teton National Park following our suggestions from the first day of the 2-day itinerary above.

Day 2 – Yellowstone West

Arriving from the south, we suggest that you concentrate on the west side of the Yellowstone Grand Loop on this day. So drive through the park all the way from south to the north, on the western side.

Here’s how your day could look like:

Accommodation: Stay in Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel (inside the park) or in Gardiner (just outside the park).

Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park
Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone
 

Day 3 – Yellowstone North & East

On your second day in Yellowstone, we recommend exploring North Yellowstone and the eastern side of the park. Here’s how your day could look like:

  • Short stop at Undine Falls
  • Drive through Lamar Valley (wildlife)
  • Short stop at Tower Fall
  • Drive via Dunraven Pass (if this road is closed, you’ll have a big detour to get to Canyon, so keep this in mind)
  • Visit the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
  • Drive through Hayden Valley (wildlife)
  • Short stop at Mud Volcano (optional)
  • Yellowstone Lake – West Thumb Geyser Basin

Accommodation: Drive back to Jackson Hole.

Good to know: At the moment, the road between Tower and Canyon via Dunraven Pass is closed. So you’ll have to adjust this itinerary if you want to go to Lamar Valley. For more details and alternative suggestions, see our detailed 2-day Yellowstone itinerary via the link below.

MORE DETAILS: Two Days in Yellowstone

Yellowstone Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River (Artist Point)
 

Yellowstone and Grand Teton: 4 Days Itinerary

With four days for Grand Teton and Yellowstone, we recommend spending one day in Grand Teton and three in Yellowstone National Park. With 3 days in Yellowstone, you can devote more time to each of the main areas of the park and explore them deeper.

If you find all the planning overwhelming, you can consider this highly-rated 4-day tour that covers both parks. Alternatively, here is our suggested itinerary for a self-drive Yellowstone and Grand Teton road trip in four days:

Day 1 – Grand Teton National Park

See the best places in Grand Teton National Park following our suggestions from day 1 of the 2-day itinerary above.

Day 2 – Yellowstone West Side

  • Visit the Old Faithful and explore the entire Upper Geyser Basin.
  • Visit Grand Prismatic and hike to the overlook
  • Explore both parts of the Norris Geyser Basin

Accommodation: Stay in Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel (inside the park) or in Gardiner (just outside the park). Alternatively, see if you can find accommodation at the Old Faithful Inn or West Yellowstone, which could both be ok for the next night as well.

Inspiration Point Grand Teton National Park
Inspiration Point, Grand Teton National Park
 

Day 3 – Yellowstone North Side

  • Visit Mammoth Hot Springs.
  • Go for a swim at the Boiling River (seasonal).
  • Udine Falls.
  • Short easy hike to Wraith Falls.
  • Drive to Lamar Valley.
  • Tower Fall.
  • Dunraven Pass.

Accommodation: The best place to stay would be Canyon Lodge. However, if it’s not available, or if the road between Canon and Tower areas is still closed, it might be better to stay in West Yellowstone or the above mentioned Old Faithful area.

Good to know: As long as the road between Tower and Canyon via Dunraven Pass remains closed (estimated until 2022), the drive from Lamar Valley to Canyon requires a big detour via the eastern side of the Upper Loop. So you’ll have to adjust this itinerary a bit, depending on where your accommodation is located.

Day 4 – Yellowstone East Side

  • Explore the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone River. Visit all the lookout points and do some hiking.
  • Hayden Valley.
  • Mud Volcano area.
  • Storm Point hike at Yellowstone Lake.
  • West Thumb area.
Hayden Valley bison in Yellowstone
Bison in Hayden Valley
 

5 Days in Yellowstone and Grand Teton

If you have five days for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, you could follow the 4-day itinerary above and add an extra day in Grand Teton. You can add this extra day either at the beginning or at the end of your trip, depending on what works best for you.

Grand Teton National Park has lots of hiking trails. Kayaking or rafting are also popular options. And – if you want to see more wildlife – there are lots of popular wildlife safari tours.

So with an extra day in the park, you could go for a safari ride in the morning and go for a nice hike in the afternoon. For example, the popular Taggart & Bradley Lakes loop hike takes just 2-3 hours (more info here). Or you could head to one of the lakes for some kayaking. Colter Bay Marina is a good place to rent a kayak.

Otherwise, book one of the scenic rafting trips on Snake River from Jackson. The river here is not too wild (class 2-3 rapids), but wild enough for a fun adventure. For most tours, kids from 6-7 years old can participate, but there is also a very popular easy rafting tour that can be done with a bit younger kids as well.

And – if you are looking for something truly special to end your Yellowstone Grand Teton trip, go for a hot air balloon ride!

Kayaking in Grand Teton National Park
Kayaking is very popular in Grand Teton National Park in summer
 

So, these are just some ideas on how your Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary could look like. If you have a week for this area, please check our Yellowstone itinerary for even more inspiration on places to see and how to plan your time. And also in Grand Teton and Jackson Hole you can find plenty of things to do (see activities and tours here).

For practical information and travel tips to the area, please check our Yellowstone travel guide. It contains an overview of all our articles about the area, such as the best time to visit Yellowstone, Yellowstone packing list, or Yellowstone tips that will help you make the most of your trip!

TIP: If your trip continues further north, please check our suggested itineraries for Glacier National Park.

READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Jackson Hole

Yellowstone – Grand Teton FAQ

Which is better Yellowstone or Grand Teton?

Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks are both very different and each is worth a trip. However, if you only have time to visit one park, then definitely go to Yellowstone! With active geysers and colorful geothermal areas, Yellowstone National Park offers a truly unique experience that can’t be compared to any other place on the planet.

How far is Grand Teton to Yellowstone?

Grand Teton and Yellowstone almost border each other. The two parks are connected by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. The distance between the two parks is a bit less than 7 miles, although the parkway itself extends into both parks for a total distance of 27 miles (43 km).

Drive from Yellowstone to Grand Teton?

Yes, you can easily drive from Yellowstone to Grand Teton. In summer season, when all the roads are open, simply take US Hwy 191 that stretches through both parks.

How much time do you need for Yellowstone and Grand Teton?

If you want to see two parks in one trip – Yellowstone and Grand Teton – two days is an absolute minimum. This will allow you to see just the main highlights of each National Park. We recommend at least 4-6 days in the area: 3-4 days in Yellowstone and 1-2 days in Grand Teton. But you can easily spend a week or two here and you’ll find plenty to do.

When is the best time to go to Yellowstone and Grand Teton?

The best time to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks is in summer, from around mid-May to October. That’s when all the roads are open in the area and you can explore both parks to the fullest.

READ ALSO: Yellowstone in Summer (What It’s Really Like & Essential Tips)

 

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Yellowstone Grand Teton itinerary
Grand Teton and Yellowstone itinerary for any trip of up to 5 days
 
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Anna

Saturday 1st of May 2021

Hi Jurga! Thank you for providing such a detailed itinerary! It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. We are planning to visit Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier over a 10 day period. I’ve read your suggested itinerary for all three parks and I cannot wait to visit. Due to flight prices (and rental car increases to return a car to a different airport) we will most likely be flying in and out of SLC. Jackson Hole was our first choice but not sure the price difference is worth it. Anyway, I was wondering if you had a route that you would recommend that accommodates all 3 parks and potentially any other cities or must-see places along the way. Not sure if it would make sense to visits west Yellowstone on the way up and east Yellowstone on the way back down? We open to any and all suggestions. Thanks again for an extremely helpful blog. Happy travels!

Jurga

Sunday 2nd of May 2021

Hi Anna, before you decide on the flights and the itinerary, consider the driving distance from SLC to Grand Teton, Yellowstone, to Glacier NP, and back to Salt Lake City. See the route on Google Maps - it's a drive of about 1500 miles and at least 24 hours of pure driving time, no sightseeing or any stops included. I think that if you count all the extra time you loose on the road, plus fuel and accommodations en-route, that it will still be wiser to pay a bit more for a flight from another airport... Did you consider starting in SLC and ending in Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell (or vice versa)? This alone would save you a day of driving (about 10hrs minimum between Glacier and SLC) and would give you more time for sightseeing. Another option would be Bozeman airport, north of Yellowstone. Even Billings, MT, would be less driving than Salt Lake City. With 10 days and if flying to and from SLC, you'll spend at least 3 days driving. Add to that the fact that your flight times might not be ideal, and you can lose 4-5 days of your trip on the road... So I highly recommend that you try to look if you can fly in/out of Glacier, in combination with flying in/out of one of the airports closer to Yellowstone (or SLC). As for car rental, once you found possible flights, take a look at this website for the best car rental deals. They usually have all the best options available. We also rented a car one-way and if I recall well, the one-way fee was just 100-150$. It was more than worth it for us. Good luck!

Bevely

Friday 30th of April 2021

We will arrive 6/3 and stay in Victor,ID for 2 days to explore the Tetons. Any suggestions & how long does it take to get to Tetons from Victor? Then leave Victor and stay at Island Park for 4 days for Yellowstone. I hope this will work think it is 45 min drive to west Entrance. Going to try and do you 4 day suggestions. Will this work with where we are coming from? Also we would like to do 1-2 mile hikes to see some of the sites. Any suggestions? Thank you.

Jurga

Friday 30th of April 2021

Hi Bevely, I didn't see this comment before I answered your previous ones. You can use Google Maps to check approximate driving times and distances. Grand Teton is big and so is Yellowstone, so you should check specific destinations when trying to plan your trip - that way you can better estimate how much time you need. Also, because many roads are closed now, you have to change 'leave now' to 'depart at' when using Google Maps and choose summer dates in order to see the correct routes and driving times. Anyway, I checked the distance between Victor and Jenny Lake in Grand Teton, and it tells me that it's just 45 miles, but typically takes 1.5-2 hours for this route (see map here). From Island Park to the entrance of Yellowstone isn't that far, but Yellowstone is huge. It takes about 1h40 to get to the Old Faithful from Island Park and over 2 hours to get to Hayden Valley or 3 hours to get to Lamar Valley (not counting traffic). So keep this in mind - you'll be driving A LOT every day if you stay at these locations. You can see our guide to Yellowstone accommodation for some suggestions on where to stay. As for the hikes, I already answered in my previous reply.

Holly Sklar

Thursday 29th of April 2021

I love the Tetons and want to do the Jenny Lake boat ride w/Inspiration Point hike, plus a mellow scenic river trip, at minimum. For Yellowstone, we especially want Hayden Valley for wildlife (unless Lamar is better?) + Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone + one of the thermal areas. Can we do these things in 4 days -- two in each park? What is the best Yellowstone itinerary to make sure we get some wildlife? Assuming we fly to Jackson, I assume this means 3 nights there, 2 nights in Yellowstone, and the last night back in Jackson before flying out, yes? One more question – accomodations are already looking hard to get in Yellowstone. Is it possible to stay in the Tetons somewhere and do two daytrips into Yellowstone, and have 2 days to explore the Tetons, without having to overnight in Yellowstone?

Holly Sklar

Friday 30th of April 2021

@Jurga, This is super helpful! Thank you.

Jurga

Friday 30th of April 2021

Hi Holly, indeed, your itinerary will depend A LOT on the location of your accommodation. If you haven't booked anything yet, it's more a matter of taking of what's still available for your travel dates. Please take a look at day 1 of the 2-day itinerary above - it has the best suggestions where to stay between Grand Teton and Yellowstone. Or simply see this accommodation map on Booking.com - as you can see, not a lot of choice in this area. TIP: You can also use the accommodation map at the top of this article to see what's still available in the area for the days when you travel - it shows hotels and also short-term rentals. If you zoom it out, you can check the areas that are closer to Yellowstone - the map now shows Jackson Hole. Otherwise, yes, you can make it work with two days in each park. Normally, you should be able to do everything you want at Grand Teton in just 1 day as well, but - once again - it will depend on where you are staying. In Yellowstone, in two days you can see the main landmarks, but it will be rushed. Having three days would give you more time to enjoy it all. You can find some suggestions on how to do it in our 2 days in Yellowstone guide. As for wildlife, it remains wild so you never know where and when you'll see animals. We saw just as many bison in Hayden Valley as in Lamar. Other animals are more of a gamble and you really can't plan for that. The best way to maximize your chances to see wildlife is by going to the park very early in the morning. Also at around sunset, many animals are more active. Hope this helps and try to secure your accommodations asap. Once you have that, it's easier to plan your itinerary.

Cindy Baxter

Wednesday 21st of April 2021

We are thinking about flying into Bozeman. The rental car companies at the airport are unreasonable. Any suggestions. It is 6 of us if needed we can rent two cars but I don't want to pay $4000.00 a week based on the companies I have seen. Any recommendations?

Jurga

Friday 23rd of April 2021

Hi Cindy, did you try the RentalCars website? They usually have the best deals for car hire for pretty much anywhere in the world. I can't even remember when we booked our car anywhere else anymore - every time I check, they offer the best rates and the booking process is so easy (+ we always take insurance offered by them which is much cheaper than what you pay at the counter). Check it out! I don't know your travel dates, but I just checked some random dates in July this summer, and I get rates from about 330$ for a regular car for 7 days, and up to about 950$ for the biggest cars (I checked for Bozeman airport). However, on some days, it shows no available cars at all which is strange and makes me think there's some glitch on their site today. However, I also didn't see any cars for more than 5 people for the dates when I looked. It might be different for your travel dates and otherwise, indeed, rent two cars at the lower rates. Give it a try and hope you find something suitable! TIP - be sure to also search car hire locations in the city and not just at the airport. Sometimes, you get better deals if you pick up your car in the city office. Always worth checking.

Karen in North Carolina

Sunday 18th of April 2021

My husband, myself (early 70's) are planning to take our 9 yr grandson the last week of June and would like to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton. I do have some knee problems so not lots of hiking for me. I'm not sure where to even start on planning (air flights, accommodations, which park first, etc..) Can you make suggestions. Sincerely appreciated.

Jurga

Tuesday 20th of April 2021

Hi Karen, if you want to visit this June, you should make your travel arrangements asap. It's the peak season in that area. For hiking, in Yellowstone, it's not an issue at all since most of the main landmarks don't require any hiking at all. There are many boardwalks and it's mostly easy walks close to the car parking. You can see a lot without walking much. In Grand Teton, you can take a boat on Jenny Lake, a wildlife safari ride to see animals, or simply drive around and enjoy the scenery. As for where to fly and how to plan the trip, you can find a lot of info in our Yellowstone travel guide. You could, for example, fly to Bozeman and out of Jackson Hole Airport, or vice versa, or in and out of one of these airports. Depending on that, you can then create an itinerary that makes the most sense and saves you driving. At this point, it's very unlikely to find any accommodation inside Yellowstone or Grand Teton, so you could potentially stay in Jackson Hole for visiting Grand Teton and in West Yellowstone and/or in Gardiner for visiting Yellowstone. With a week in the area, you could spend 3 nights in Jackson Hole, and 3-4 in West Yellowstone (or spilt this stay to also include Gardiner if you don't mind changing hotels as it will be a bit easier to visit north Yellowstone from there). Hope this helps. Once again, be sure to book everything asap if you want to make it happen this summer. All the best!

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