Yellowstone itinerary suggestions

Yellowstone Itinerary Ideas from 1 to 5 Days

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Traveling to Yellowstone and wondering what are the main highlights of Yellowstone, how much time you need to visit the park, and what’s the best itinerary to follow? In this post, I am sharing our experience-based suggestions for visiting Yellowstone and Yellowstone itinerary ideas for one to five days.

These tips will help you get the most of your trip to Yellowstone, no matter how much time you have.

Good to know: Note that these are all summer itineraries only (approx. mid-May to mid-October). That’s the period when all the roads are open and you can explore Yellowstone to the fullest. In winter, most of the roads in Yellowstone are closed and you can only visit the Old Faithful and the Mammoth Springs areas.

If you are not sure when to visit, please check our guide for the best time to travel to Yellowstone. If you are planning to visit in the peak season, please check out our experience-based tips for visiting Yellowstone in July and in August.

TIP: If you want to visit Yellowstone, but are overwhelmed with all the planning, you can also easily visit the park with an organized tour. There are day trips or multi-day tours available. Here you can find our selection of the best Yellowstone tours.

Below you can find the detailed day to day itineraries for 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 days in Yellowstone. I also included a map for each of the itineraries. That way you have a better idea of where all those places are. 

Of course, you don’t have to follow these itineraries precisely, but it gives you a good idea of the main landmarks and the time you need to see them.

Your Yellowstone itinerary will also be influenced a lot by the location of your accommodation.

READ MORE: Best Accommodation in and Near Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful Inn and Geyser in Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful Inn

Good to know: Don’t underestimate driving distances in Yellowstone. The park is big and the traffic is busy in summer. On top of that, you may experience delays due to road works and wildlife traffic jams. Furthermore, parking spots at the most popular landmarks are scarce, so you may need some extra time and patience.

All that being said, we visited Yellowstone end of July, the busiest season of the year. It was only busy around the most popular attractions. Actually, it’s quite easy to escape the crowds in Yellowstone if you want to – just go for a walk.

I read somewhere that around 80% of Yellowstone visitors never walk further than 10-15 minutes from their car. We could definitely confirm that from our experience. Don’t be one of those tourists! If you have some time to spare and are physically capable, make sure to make at least several short walks in Yellowstone.

Of course, you have to see the main landmarks and attractions of Yellowstone, but it’s those unplanned experiences, hidden gems, and unexpected encounters that will make your trip more memorable.

Colorful geothermal lake of West Thumb Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park
Colorful geothermal features of West Thumb Geyser Basin – one of the less visited places in Yellowstone

How much time do you need in Yellowstone National Park

When I was researching our American road trip itinerary, I quickly realized that one or two days are simply not enough for visiting Yellowstone. Not only is Yellowstone the oldest National Park in the world, it’s also one of the biggest and most diverse National Parks we ever visited.

After thorough research, we decided to spend four full days in Yellowstone. It gave us just enough time to see all the main highlights without having to rush. We did quite some hiking, went for a swim, spent time driving the scenic loop road and looking for wildlife…

Yellowstone is so big and so diverse that you could easily spend a week or two here and never get bored. However, if you just want to see the main landmarks of Yellowstone, three days is enough. 

TIP: Don’t pack your days too much and leave some space for unexpected wildlife encounters, bison traffic jams, a beautiful hike, a soak in the warm river, etc. Yellowstone is so much more than just the most famous landmarks!

LEARN MORE: Tips for Your First Trip to Yellowstone

Yellowstone Entrance Fee

You’ll need an entrance pass for Yellowstone. It costs 35 USD per private vehicle and is valid for 7 days. You can buy it at any entrance gate of the park.

However, if you are visiting several National Parks in the same year, it’s better to get an annual National Parks Pass. It’s called America the Beautiful Pass and costs 80 USD for the whole family traveling in the same vehicle. It is valid in all National Parks and 2,000 federal recreation sites across the United States for one year from the month of purchase.

And now that you know all the practicalities, below, you can find our Yellowstone itinerary suggestions. Take a look!

Best Yellowstone itinerary for any trip from 1 to 5 days

One Day in Yellowstone National Park

If you only have one day in Yellowstone visit the Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin, Grand Prismatic Spring, and drive at least part of the scenic loop road.

If you are short on time when visiting Yellowstone, I suggest driving the lower loop passing the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (stop by Artist Point), Hayden Valley, and Yellowstone Lake.

Below is a map indicating all the main landmarks that you should be able to see in Yellowstone in one day.

READ MORE: One Day in Yellowstone

TIP: If you only have one day in Yellowstone, it might be wise to join an organized day trip rather than go on your own. Experienced local guides will make sure that you get the most out of your very short stay in Yellowstone. Here’s the best Yellowstone day trip (departing from Jackson or Teton Village) that I was able to find.

How to Use This Map: Use your computer mouse to zoom in or out. Click on the icons on the map to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the left top corner for the index. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu button and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’.

Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone
Old Faithful geyser is a must in any Yellowstone itinerary!
Colorful Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park
Grand Prismatic Spring is not to be missed

How to see the best of Yellowstone in two days

This is my suggested two day itinerary for the best of Yellowstone. Please note that to see all of this in just two days you will need to start really early and you won’t have much extra time to explore deeper.

This itinerary will make sure you get to see the very best of Yellowstone in 2 days. Take a look!

Day 1: Old Faithful Geyser, Old Faithful Inn, and the Morning Glory Pool (Upper Geyser Basin). Grand Prismatic Spring. Norris Geyser Basin. Mammoth Hot Springs. Boiling River.

Day 2: Undine Falls and/or Wraith Falls. Lamar Valley. Tower Fall. Dunraven Pass. Yellowstone Grand Canyon. Hayden Valley. Mud Volcano. Yellowstone Lake. West Thumb Geyser Basin.

READ MORE: Two Days in Yellowstone

TIP: If you have 2 days in Yellowstone and want to see the very best of the park without having to do much planning, consider joining this highly-rated and very complete Yellowstone 2-day/1 night tour (departs from Jackson, WY).

Below is the map illustrating the 2-day itinerary suggestions for Yellowstone. You can also download this map here.

Bison in Yellowstone
Bison in Lamar Valley
Lower Falls of the Yellowstone Grand Canyon
Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

What to do in Yellowstone in three days

If you have three days in Yellowstone, I suggest the following itinerary:

Day 1: Old Faithful and the Geyser Loop Trail (don’t miss the Morning Glory Pool). Grand Prismatic. Norris Geyser Basin.

Day 2: Mammoth Hot Springs. Boiling River (swimming). Lamar Valley. Tower Fall. Dunraven Pass.

Day 3: The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone river (Artist Point, Uncle Tom’s Trail, Lower Falls). Hayden Valley. Yellowstone Lake.

This Yellowstone itinerary for three days includes pretty much all the main landmarks that you really have to see in the park.

Below is the map showing suggestions for things to see when visiting Yellowstone in 3 days. If you can’t see it, please try this link.

Minerva Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone
Mammoth Hot Springs
Morning Glory Pool - Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park
Morning Glory Pool
Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone
Norris Geyser Basin

Four days in Yellowstone

We stayed four full days in Yellowstone with kids, but our trip itinerary can be used by all types of Yellowstone visitors. More adventurous travelers might want to do a bit more hiking, but if you want to see all the main highlights of Yellowstone without having to rush – this is it.

Here is my suggested four-day itinerary for Yellowstone based on our experience. We visited the Grand Prismatic and the Old Faithful area at the end of our trip and I think it was a good decision. It’s often better to leave the most impressive places for last; that way you appreciate the rest more.

We also spread the visit of three thermal areas (West Thumb Basin, Norris Geyser Basin, and the Grand Prismatic/ Old Faithful areas) over separate days. That way you have more diversity every day. Otherwise, it’s easy to get ‘geysered out’ in Yellowstone :).

Day 1: Lewis Falls. West Thumb Basin. Yellowstone Lake. Storm Point hike. Mud Volcano area. Hayden Valley.

Day 2: Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (Artist Point, Uncle Tom’s Trail, Lower Falls). Norris Geyser Basin. Firehole River (swimming).

Day 3: Mammoth Hot Springs. Go swimming in the Boiling River. Lamar Valley. Tower Fall. Dunraven Pass.

Day 4: Midway Geyser Basin (Grand Prismatic). Lower Geyser Basin. Upper Geyser Basin (the Old Faithful Geyser, Old Faithful Inn, and the Geyser Loop Trail), also Biscuit Basin and/or Black Sand Basin.

TIP: If you are looking for the best guided-tour option check this beautiful 4-day/ 3 night Yellowstone and Grand Teton highlights trip with a focus on wildlife (departs from Jackson, WY).

Here is a map indicating each of the suggested places from our 4-day Yellowstone itinerary. Once again, if Google Maps don’t work, please click this link to see the map.

Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park
Scenic road – Lamar Valley to Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone
Colorful thermal features of the West Thumb Geyser Basin in Yellowstone
West Thumb Geyser Basin
American bison in Yellowstone National Park
Bison in Lamar Valley
Ice Lake in Yellowstone National Park
Tiny Ice Lake is worth a short walk

Five days in Yellowstone

If you have five days in Yellowstone, make sure you see all the main landmarks and highlights described in the four day Yellowstone itinerary.

In addition, you could hike to Mount Washburn. It’s a long hike (6-7 miles (10-12km) depending on the route you choose) and requires a good part of the day.

Take a look at the map above (4 days in Yellowstone) – the blue dot next to Dunraven Pass is Mount Washburn.

Dunraven Pass at Mount Washburn in Yellowstone National Park
Dunraven Pass at Mount Washburn

So, these are my suggestions for the best way to see the main landmarks of Yellowstone based on our experience. None of these itineraries are very detailed as that would require separate articles, such as the ones for 1 and 2 days that we linked to above. So if you have any specific questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll try to help.

Please note that I cannot help you to create individual itineraries, however. We have lots of information and detailed guides for visiting Yellowstone, so please check those articles for more suggestions on how to plan your Yellowstone trip.

Update: Since so many of our readers asked for suggestions on how to best combine Yellowstone NP with Grand Teton NP, Glacier NP, and also with visiting Mount Rushmore, we have now published dedicated articles for those places. Take a look below!

More information for your trip to Yellowstone:

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See the best of Yellowstone with the best itinerary suggestions from one to five days #Yellowstone
Yellowstone itinerary ideas for one, two, three, four, and five days #Yellowstone


  1. I love your tips and I also love that you respond to people’s comments and give suggestions. We will be entering from the Cody Entrance. We have 1 night reservation at OF and then 2 nights at Canyon and will be exiting to the south . Since we will be coming from Cody, should we explore the OF area that first day before checking in and then maybe the mammoth area after checking out of OF. We will be checking into Canyon that 2nd night. Trying to make it all flow since we will be exiting south. Thank you!

  2. We would be coming from Texas in May 2021, so we would enter the south entrance. I plan on following your 4 day itinerary; where do you sleep on each night? Is there lodging nearby for each night?

    1. Author

      Hi Monica, you can find all the information in our guide to the best places to stay in and near Yellowstone. You also have to see what’s open on your travel dates as some places inside the park are just starting to open up in May.
      Ideally, you stay somewhat centrally (Yellowstone Canyon, OF area, or outside the park – West Yellowstone) and travel around from there, but if you prefer, you can also stay at a different hotel every night and make a road trip, but that means more hassle with the bookings and hotel reservations.
      Hope this helps.

  3. Hello!
    This has been Helpful! I have some questions. We live in Utah and I have heard that it is best to drive a little bit and stay and then drive a little bit more and stay. We probably have about 4-5 days and thinking we might go over Memorial Day. I know we for sure want to go to Jackson Hole, but how would you suggest we do it? I don’t even know where to start planning it.

    1. Author

      Hi Jenn, we also drove to Jackson Hole from Utah. We were in Moab, UT and made a stop half-way in Vernal to break the drive. You can find more details in this itinerary, starting from day 8.
      From Jackson Hole, you can drive to Yellowstone and continue your trip, staying in or near Yellowstone for a few days.
      Alternatively, you can book a day tour to Yellowstone and a day tour to Grand Teton if you find all the planning overwhelming. There is also a very nice 4 days/3 nights tour from Jackson that covers the main places of Yellowstone and Grand Teton. It’s a good option if you want to see all the best places without having to plan much yourself.
      Hope this helps.

  4. Hi Jurga,
    We are a family of 5 adults and planning to finalize our stay/visit and itinerary for West Yellowstone so that we can visit most of the places. I like your 4-day plan and think we can see the most. Our plan is to reach there Thursday evening and leave Tuesday morning sometime around May 13-17 2021 which could be 5 nights and 4 days. My question is how do we plan our stay so we do not waste a lot of time driving in the hills and forests. Do not want to waste time in traffic jams. I am thinking to divide our 5 night stay into 3 nights in one place and move out to another place for the remaining 2 nights. In this way we do not waste time in travelling and maximize sightseeing. Please let me know what would be the two places to stay you could recommend me. May be 3 nights at Canyon Village and 2 nights at Mammoth/Gardiner? Would appreciate your response very much!
    Salil Mishra

    1. Author

      Hi Salil, a few things. It’s hard for me to advise on accommodation not knowing where you’re coming from and going after visiting Yellowstone. In general, the Canyon area is one of the most centrally-located places to stay in the park, so if you can get accommodation there, it’s always a good choice. As for Mammoth, it might be ok if that’s the direction where you have to drive afterward. Otherwise, try the Olf Faithful area or West Yellowstone. See also our guide on where to stay in Yellowstone for more details and hotel suggestions.
      All this being said, you might need to do a bit more planning and also keep some flexibility because of your travel dates. Some roads aren’t open that time of the year yet or are just about to reopen (weather permitting).
      Here’s what the road opening schedule looks like in Yellowstone for 2021 (source):
      Conditions permitting roads will open at 8 am on the following dates:
      April 16: West Entrance to Madison Junction, Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful, Norris to Canyon Village.
      May 7: East Entrance to Lake Village (Sylvan Pass), Canyon Village to Lake Village.
      May 7: Tower Junction to Calcite Springs.
      May 14: South Entrance to West Thumb, Lake Village to West Thumb, West Thumb to Old Faithful (Craig Pass), Tower Junction to Tower Fall.
      May 28: Beartooth Highway

  5. Just got back from a last-minute trip to Yellowstone, and all of your content was so helpful! I used your site to do some quick planning, and was able to see everything I wanted in two days without feeling rushed. The drive to Lamar Valley was totally worth it, even though the road between Tower and the Canyon was closed. Bison, elk, wolves, bears, mountain goats, pronghorn, coyote…wow!

    1. Author

      Wow, seems like you were lucky to see a lot of wildlife! Glad to hear that you had a great time in Yellowstone, Luke, and thank you so much for taking the time to leave this feedback.
      Happy travels!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your valuable tips! I do have a silly question. I have never been to Yellowstone before and was wondering how are the restroom situations? Are they abundant in different areas?

    1. Author

      Hi Annie, it’s not a silly question at all.
      There are good facilities in all the major areas in Yellowstone, such as the Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, Canyon, Lake Village, and Grant Village. So there you’ll find everything – tourist info, shops, dining options, and also bathrooms. In addition, there are bathroom facilities in many other areas of Yellowstone. You can download this map of Yellowstone for more details. Bathrooms are not indicated on it, but you can see picnic facilities. Big majority of picnic facilities also have restrooms. Usually, they are quite well maintained. I can’t remember any bad experience.
      Hope this helps.

      1. Thank you so much for the map! Will have to download it before our trip.

  7. If I’m going to stay in West Yellowstone at a Hotel outside the park, and am going for only 3 days. Of the Itineries listed which should I start at?

    1. Author

      Hi Vida, if you have 3 full days, try our 3-day itinerary as listed above. You may have to adjust it a bit depending on where exactly you’re staying. If you have 2 full days and a bit, you can also check our 2-day Yellowstone itinerary – there, you’ll find many more details for each place that we suggest visiting. So it’s probably worth checking it anyway.
      Hope this helps. Have a great trip.

  8. I was wondering what you did about food each day. I know there are places you can get grab and go food and wondered if they were nearby all the places you visited each day.

    1. Author

      Hi Cortney, we like to take a picnic with us for lunch and in the evenings, we just dined at the restaurants close to our accommodation. There are plenty of options, although it might be busy at peak times and sometimes you might have to wait a bit to be seated.
      You can find a bit more info and some other tips in our Yellowstone travel tips article.

  9. Hi Jurga! First and foremost, thank you so much for all the information you have included regarding traveling to Yellowstone! We are headed there in late July for a near 2-week RV trip. I have a couple of questions, we plan to spend 4-5 days in Yellowstone, then 3 days in Grand Teton.
    1. Do you have recommendations for RV parks?
    2. In regards to your 4-day itinerary, would it make sense to switch days around so we do day 1 itinerary last, and then head south towards Grand Teton?
    Thank you so much! All your information, links, and information are MUCH appreciated for those of us who are headed to Yellowstone!

    1. Author

      Hi Yonnie, glad to hear you found this useful. Please also check our other Yellowstone blog posts for more info and tips.
      To answer your questions:
      1. No, I do not have any personal recommendations or experience with RV parks. Except that if you want to stay inside the park, you really should book in advance or – where it’s first come, first served, arrive as early as possible and hope you find a spot. When we visited in July, all the campings were full. Please check the official NPS website for more info about Yellowstone campgrounds.
      2. Yes, sure, you can easily switch the days around. These tips are just to give you an idea of what’s possible and how to plan your time. If you are heading to Grand Teton NP after Yellowstone, then yes, definitely, you can visit that side of the park last. There is just one thing (I think I mentioned it somewhere in this article) – some places in that side of the park are less impressive than let’s say the Grand Prismatic Spring or the Upper Geyser Basin, so you may not appreciate them the same way after seeing the WOW-places first. But for the rest, it’s really your choice how to structure your days. A lot depends on where you are staying too.
      Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!

  10. Hi Jurga, if we have just one day in Yellowstone arriving from the Grand Teton and sleeping in Gardiner, how do you recommend to plan our day? Thanks!

    1. Author

      Hi Tara, this one is a bit tough. I guess you could choose one of the following options for a day in Yellowstone:
      Option 1 – A quick stop at the Yellowstone Lake, drive through the Hayden Valley, visit the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. Then head to the Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring. After that, drive to Mammoth Hot Springs and on to Gardiner.
      Option 2 – Head straight to the Old Faithful area, then visit the Grand Prismatic Spring. From there head to the Canyon Area. Then drive to Lamar Valley and from there – via Mammoth Hot Springs – to Gardiner.
      Somehow I think that the first option would be better, but it’s really up to you. If you don’t want to try to squeeze all the highlights, you can also just visit the Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic, and Mammoth Hot Springs area – that would be much more relaxing, but you’d have to skip the Canyon and the Hayden Valley, which is amazing for viewing bison…
      P.S. Whatever you decide, make sure to start your day early! Enjoy your short trip. Yellowstone is amazing, even if only for a day!

  11. Hi

    I have no idea if this will make sense but we are planning on going to Yellowstone early this summer but wanted to also see Glacier National Park while we were there. Is this a crazy idea? Do you have any recommendations on the best way to see both parks? Is there an middle city that is close to an airport?

    Thanks in advance for any advice

    1. Author

      Hi Renea, it’s not a crazy idea at all – many people do this and some people even drive between Yellowstone and Glacier National Park in one day. It’s about 6hrs drive non-stop, so doable.
      That being said, you could potentially fly to Jackson Hole (JAC airport) or Bozeman (BZN), visit Yellowstone, then drive to Glacier NP, visit there, and fly out of Glacier Park International Airport (FCA). It’s located in Kalispell, West Glacier area.
      P.S. If you are looking for ideas on where exactly to go, please check our suggestions for Glacier National Park itinerary.
      Good luck with the planning and make sure to do it asap, because accommodations at both parks are really hard to find for the summer.

  12. Would love your thoughts on adapting your 4 day plan as follows, given half way through will be to Jackson Hole, then back to Yellowstone , and that I’ve booked lodging.

    Day 1 – arrive in Bozeman, stay night
    Day 2 – up early enter West Yellowstone : Midway Geyser Basin (Grand Prismatic). Lower Geyser Basin. Upper Geyser Basin (the Old Faithful Geyser, Old Faithful Inn, and the Geyser Loop Trail), also Biscuit Basin and/or Black Sand Basin – (stay night at Snow Cabins)
    Day 3 – Mammoth Hot Springs. Go swimming in the Boiling River. Lamar Valley. Tower Fall. Dunraven Pass. – (stay night at Snow Lodge Cabins)
    Day 4 – up early for GT for three nights
    Day 7 – leave GT – back to Yellowstone Lewis Falls. West Thumb Basin. Yellowstone Lake. Storm Point hike. Mud Volcano area. Hayden Valley. (stay in Roosevelt Cabins)
    Day 8 – Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (Artist Point, Uncle Tom’s Trail, Lower Falls). Norris Geyser Basin. Firehole River (swimming). (stay in Roosevelt Cabins)
    Day 9 – drive to East Glacier

    1. Author

      Hi Martha, it looks ok at first sight, but looking at your accommodations, it might be better to switch days 3 and 8 around. So visit the Canyon area and the Norris Geyser Basin when you’re staying at the Snow Cabins and visit Mammoth and Lamar Valley when you’re staying at Roosevelt. This should save you quite some driving and will allow you to either start or end your day at the Lamar Valley (animals are most active early morning and around sunset) without having to drive for hours.
      Enjoy your trip!

  13. Great post! How much driving is required for each day on the 5 day itinerary? Thank you so much for the great information!!

    1. Author

      Hi Amanda, driving times and distances will depend on where you are staying. Please check our guide on where to stay in and near Yellowstone for more information.
      I think we usually drove 3-5 hrs each day (total), but with so many stops in between, it never felt like much driving.

  14. The north park entrance at Gardiner Montana stays open most of the year. West Yellowstone entrance tends to open in April. East, south and northeast entrances open in the second week of May. Apart from the highlights mentioned, Abyss Pool in West Thumb Geyser Basin and Sapphire Pool in Biscuit Basin are fantastic. Apart from wildlife and beautiful scenes, Yellowstone and Grand Teton Parks have histories related to tectonic earth movements and glaciation which took place ages ago.

    1. Author

      Thanks for sharing this, Moses. I’m sure it will be very useful to our readers. As for Abyss Pool and Sapphire Poom, they’re nice, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for them unless people are passing these areas anyway.

  15. Jurga, you are a God-send. Thank you. I am a seasoned trip planner but the scope of all there is to see on our Yellowstone trip had my eyes glazed over. You have brought clarity.

    We are a family of 5, three teenage children. We are driving up from Jackson and plan to start day one of your itinerary on our way in from Jackson to Canyon Lodge. First night at Canyon Lodge, then check out and do day 2 of your itinerary, making our way up to Mammoth Cabins. Second-fourth nights at Mammoth Cabins. We will have to backtrack to do the itinerary for day 4, but that’s okay.

    My question is if we want an “OFI experience,” would you recommend having lunch or dinner there on day 4, knowing we will be driving back to Mammoth Cabins that night?

    I appreciate your help so much and no rush in responding. Our trip is June 2020.


    1. Author

      Hi Lesli, glad to hear that you found this useful!
      As for the Old Faithful, we stayed there and had breakfast and lunch at the OF Inn, and I honestly, haven’t found dining there that special. I don’t really know why they make such a big fuss about it. I mean, it’s a nice hotel and a big old dining room, but you don’t see the geyser from there. For that, we recommend the bar on the 1st floor where you’ll find some benches overlooking the Old Faithful. To us, that was much more special than eating at the restaurant.
      So to sum up, I wouldn’t go out of my way for dinner at the OF Inn and if lunch fits your itinerary better, I don’t see why it would be any lesser experience than dinner… If not, just get a drink at the bar and you can also take a free guided tour of the OF Inn if you are interested.
      Happy travels!

  16. We celebrated my in-law’s 50th Anniversary at the end of July with a trip to Yellowstone. Our group of 14 used your 4 day itenarary for our trip. I wanted to let you know how very helpful it was to have your guidance. Thank you so much for all the research and thought you put into this post. We had a great trip and saw so much beautiful nature and wildlife because of you.

    1. Author

      Thank you so much for taking the time to come back to our blog and leave this feedback, Erin. I’m really glad to hear that you had such a great time in Yellowstone!
      Happy travels!

    2. I’m sorry if I missed or but food you say you started out in Jackson everyday?

      1. Author

        Ho Joshua, no, we stayed inside the park. We stayed in Jackson first, then Canyon Lodge in Yellowstone for a few nights and then the Old Faithful Lodge for one night before going back south to the Grand Teton NP for a few nights. Jackson is ok if you are only doing a day trip to Yellowstone or Grand Teton and that’s it, but for daily commuting to Yellowstone and back, it’s really much too far.
        In our Yellowstone accommodation guide, you can find more info and advice on where to stay.
        If you are interested in our whole trip itinerary that Yellowstone was part of, you can find it here.

  17. Hi Jurga: this is excellent information! thanks so much for posting it.
    We are thinking of doing the 4-day trip. Do you recommend staying in one hotel for the entire time, or switching along the way? If so, any specific suggestions as to where and when? thanks!

    1. Author

      Hi Wayne, here you can find our suggestions for Yellowstone accommodation. If you are booking long in advance and have the choice, I recommend splitting the stay between the Canyon Lodge and the Old Faithful area, as we did. If Yellowstone accommodations aren’t available, then West Yellowstone is a good alternative and is also cheaper.
      PS Book your accommodations asap!

  18. Hi Jurga,
    Thanks for sharing lot of details and information on your website which is really helpful.
    I am planning to visit Yellowstone in the month of late September 2019 (last week) through West Gate for 3 days and will be travelling with my wife and 2 kids (1 & 5 yrs old). Flying to SLC and then driving to West Yellowstone will be a good option or any flight to any other airport will be good. I’ll be flying from PIT. Your 3day itinerary is very helpful in getting the details, but it will be great if you help me in planning out the itinerary which can be achievable with 1yr old too either in 2-3 days itinerary.
    We’ll not be opting for hiking option but a walk & stroller ride will be fine. Mainly looking for drive option with hop on hop off.
    Secondly, which can be the good option for accommodation with family and more exploration to the park. Should we plan to take some accommodation inside the park or looks outside. If you have any recommendations on it then please suggest.
    Third, we are vegetarians and is the options for vegetarian food or restaurants available in/outside the park.

    1. Hi Jurga,
      I have gone through your blog and others also, looks like flying to BZN will be a good option. Can you suggest whether we should accommodate in North or West Entrance

      I am planning for 2day as :-

      Norris Geyser Basin
      Artist Paint Pots
      Madison Area
      Lower Geyser Basin
      Midway Geyser Basin
      Upper Geyser Basin
      Old Faithful

      Mammoth Hot Springs
      Blacktail Plateau Drive
      Lamar Valley
      Grand Canyon of Yellowston
      Hayden Valley

      Do you feel this can be achievable with kids (1 & 5yr) to cover these in 2 days or should I divide them into 3days. If yes, please suggest how can it be divided into 3 days. We’ll not be opting for hiking option but a walk & stroller ride will be fine. Mainly looking for drive option with hop on hop off.


      1. Author

        Hi Vikrant, I think this looks like too much for two days, with or without the kids, so if you can, make it at least 3 days. Please check our recommendations for a 3-day itinerary on how to best plan your time.
        As for where to stay, I think that West Yellowstone is better located for most places, but maybe you could spend the first or the last night at the North Entrance if that suits your trip better. Here you can find our suggestions for where to stay in and near Yellowstone.

    2. Author

      Hi again, I just saw now that you left two similar comments. Hope my other post answered your questions.
      As for vegetarian food, I really have no idea, but there are so many dining options in Yellowstone that I would think it shouldn’t be a problem.

  19. Excellent !! This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you sooooo much.

    1. Author

      Glad to help. Enjoy your trip to Yellowstone!

  20. This was super helpful thank you!!

    1. Author

      Glad to hear that, Natalia. Enjoy your trip!

  21. I would llike to confirm that the interactive 4 day map will work while driving in Yellowstone. Will poor cell connectivity be a problem?
    Thank you

    1. Author

      Hi Catherine, you can best download Yellowstone map offline if you want to use it, but even then it’s not certain it will work. Yellowstone has very poor cell coverage if I recall well and we had no internet connection there at all. Why not just print it out to, to be on the safe side.
      Enjoy your trip.

  22. Thank you so much for your clear and useful information! I used the Google Maps you created also! Really appreciate your insight!

    1. Author

      Glad to hear that, Alyssa. Enjoy your trip to Yellowstone!

  23. Hello Jurga,
    Thank you so much for all your articles on YP and GTNP I’ve downloaded and printed all of them. i am using your 4 day itinerary to help figure out where we should go in YP. We are driving in from South Entrance and leaving from South entrance as we will be spending two nights in GTNP upon arrival from Jac airport and then spending 4 nights in YP and then doing three more nights in GTNP area. We are spending two nights in OF and two nights at Canyon lodge, in that order. Based on your 4 day itinerary should we stick with the order you have everything or should we switch things around? Thank you so much. Your blog is amazing and so helpful!

    1. Author

      Hi Vandana, it seems that you have it all very well planned. I don’t really have the time to suggest any other itinerary for you, so please just take a look at the suggestions on the blog and at all the maps that we have, and I’m sure you’ll figure out the best way to do it. Enjoy your trip!

  24. Hi jurga thanks for putting this together. We are going to YS park July 19-24. Flying in and out of Bozeman. We get half a day on our first day there. We also thought to do GT on 23rd. Staying at OF inn. With 2 kids and elderly mother. Do you think seeing GT in 1 day gets us good exposure to both parks or we might be rushing it? Thanks for your help.

    1. Author

      Hi, we also spent just one day at the Grand Teton NP and it was enough for us. I mean, you can always see more and hike more, but somehow it didn’t left the same impression on us as Yellowstone and we thought one day was enough.
      Here you can find our suggestions for the best way to spend one day in Grand Teton NP.

  25. Hi Jurga,
    Great suggestions.. thank you !
    based on your suggestions, I have come up with following itinery for 3.5 days in Yellowstone. Could you please take a look and suggest if doable. We can skip few to make it more relaxing –

    Day 1:
    Start by 7 after having breakfast
    Mammoth Hot Springs.
    Boiling River (swimming).
    Lamar Valley.
    Tower Fall.
    Dunraven Pass.
    Norris Geyser Basin.
    Checkin OF, night stay

    Day 2:
    Old Faithful and the Geyser Loop Trail
    Lower Geyser Basin
    Midway Geyser Basin /Grand Prismatic.
    Old Faithful Geyser
    Upper Geyser Basin
    Morning Glory Pool
    Biscuit Basin
    Black Sand Basin

    Return to OF for night stay

    Day 3:
    Check out from OF
    The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone river
    Artist Point,
    Uncle Tom’s Trail,
    Brink of Lower Falls
    Inspiration Point

    Hayden Valley
    Yellowstone Lake

    Check in to Grant Village for night stay

    Day 4:
    Checkout from Grant village
    West Thumb gyeser basin
    Lewis Falls
    Drive thru grand teton np
    arrive at SLC by 6:0/6:30 PM

    1. Author

      Hi, I have no time to check it into detail, so just a few observations.
      Day 1 – looks like it would be too much for a day, but then you can decide to spend less time at Norris Geyser Basin (it’s huge and you can spend half a day just exploring it).
      Day 2 – ok
      Day 3 – ok if you don’t do too much hiking at the canyon
      Day 4 – ok
      Enjoy your trip!

  26. we are from Colombia and plan to visit Yellowstone for 5 day, could any of you advise us where is the best town to stay in?

    1. Author

      Hi Jhony, we have a whole article explaining the best places to stay in Yellowstone and near the park. It really depends when you travel, however. If it’s this summer, you won’t find anything inside the park anymore, so in that case, the best town to stay nearby is West Yellowstone.
      If you still find anything for your travel dates, book asap!

  27. Jurga,

    We are visiting Yellowstone for 4 night 5 days this Aug and staying at the Canyon Lodge. My group includes kids 7- 11 years old and grandparents and visitors from overseas. I am also thinking whether spend an extra days in Jackson hole or Salt Lake City. My kids would love fishing. My visitors would enjoy natural beauty. We will be traveling from San Francisco (Bay Area). What is the best airport to fly into? I am not a big fan of small airplane. How should I plan the entire itinerary. Where should I start? Your thoughts are great appreciate.


    1. Author

      Hi Jasmine, the best airports for Yellowstone are Bozeman or Jackson. I think it’s high time to book your flights for August, and also a rental car and all the rest. It’s going to be very busy in that area.
      As for the itinerary, we have all our suggestions on the blog. As much as I’d like to help every single one hundreds of thousands of people who read our blog every month, I just don’t have the time for personalized itineraries… I think that you should try to stay in Grand Teton NP for a few days as well – plenty of natural beauty and fishing should also be possible. Once again, it’s very busy there in summer, so trying to find accommodation at this point won’t be easy. You can find more information and accommodation suggestions in our post about visiting Grand Teton.
      Good luck with the planning and enjoy your trip!

  28. Hi! Your blog is the most helpful travel blog I have found!! I have been looking for a Yellowstone itinerary and these are perfect! I was wondering if you have a Glacier National Park itinerary anywhere? I couldn’t find it on your blog but saw it listed as one of the best parks for families. We are planning to visit Yellowstone and Glacier Parks on our trip and I’m trying to figure out how many days to set aside for Glacier. Do you have any advice on that? Thank you so much for all your help!!!

    1. Author

      Hi Summer, thank you for the kind feedback. Unfortunately, we ourselves haven’t been to Glacier Park. We considered it, but it was just such a long drive from Yellowstone and there was a major fire there just as we were booking our trip, so we decided to pass on it.
      One thing I remember from my research is that you really have to drive the Going To The Sun Road. I think I was planning on 2 full days there for the main highlights, but I’m sure you could spend more time too. Enjoy your trip!

      UPDATE: We found someone who’s been to Glacier NP multiple times and they wrote a very detailed post with suggested Glacier National Park itinerary. Take a look!

      1. Thank you, Jurga! You are SO HELPFUL!! We are flying into JAC late one night so we are just going to stay the night there and hit the road the next morning toward Yellowstone. We’ll have that day and 2 more full days before we head to Glacier. Would you recommend we drive through Grand Tetons on our way from JAC to Yellowstone and have less time in Yellowstone, or should we just go straight to Yellowstone so we can have about 3 full days there? Thank you again!!!

        1. Author

          If you take the I-191 from Jackson to Yellowstone (see map), you’ll pass Grand Teton NP. The scenery is really nice, so at least you can enjoy that. If you want a more scenic option, take the road that passes by Jenny Lake (see this map), but note that this short detour will add 1,5hrs to your driving time AND it’s actually more scenic in the other direction, so you’d have to look backwards for the best views.
          But in general, yes, if you only have 2,5 days in Yellowstone, I would rather just go to Yellowstone and explore there to the fullest.
          Enjoy your trip!

    2. Great article! We plan on using the 4 day itinerary. We are from San Diego and will be coming from Park City late at night(due to my daughters soccer tournament), staying in West Yellowstone. Afterward Yellowstone, we plan on going to GT for 1 day then towards Rexburg, ID. Should I still plan on doing the same 4 day itinerary or plan it out differently?

      1. Author

        Hi Stephanie, I suggest you take a look at the map (use Google maps for driving times and distances) to figure out what to do on which day and what makes most sense for where you’re staying. You can easily switch the suggested itinerary days in the way that suits you best.
        Enjoy the trip!

  29. hi Jugra,
    I love your article on Yellowstone. It is marvelous. We are also plan to visit with two family at the same time as yours. What is the good time to start the day in Yellowstone everyday. Some people said you need to start by 6 AM. Let me know your opinion and experience around this.

    1. Author

      Hi Ritesh, I suppose any time is good, as long as it fits your travel style and expectations. Starting that early definitely has many advantages – more chance to see wildlife and almost no people in the first hours of the day, also better light for photography… If you are up for it and can do really early days, my suggestion would be to go to the busiest places first thing in the morning and then do some hiking or visit less known places during the day.
      That being said, that’s not what we did. We were there with three young kids and so we would just wake up when the kids were up (usually at around 7am), then quietly get ready, have breakfast… I think we hardly ever started sightseeing before 9 am and it was ok. The hours before 10.30am or so are still quiet at most places, but we never really felt that a place would be annoyingly busy. Even at the Old Faithful, where it was really crowded by the geyser, it was so much quieter on the boardwalks just 10-15min walking from there. Hayden Valley is another crazy busy place, but we just made the best of being stuck in the bison traffic jam and took many pictures of them instead of getting frustrated about not being able to move.
      It’s not about the hours of the day, more about your own expectations and reactions to what you experience. So make the best of it!

      1. Hi Jurga,

        How long did you typically spend in the park? If you started at 9 when what time did you end?

        1. Author

          Hi Kayleigh, I had to check my pictures to see what time it was 🙂 Indeed, we usually started at around 9 AM sometimes at 8.15-8.30 AM (waking up at around 7-7.30 am, having quiet breakfast, etc.). We were back at the hotel at around 7-8 PM. One day it was past 9 PM, but the next day the kids were already in bed at 9 PM, so it really depends on what we visited each day.
          Also, because we stayed inside the park and usually went to the most popular places first thing in the morning, even starting at 9 AM usually gave us at least an hour of quiet time to explore before it got too busy.

    2. Very nice article and useful.. thanks much…

      1. Author

        Glad to hear that. Enjoy your trip to Yellowstone!

  30. I know you mentioned not knowing much about camping, so this may be out of your wheelhouse, but I assumed I’d ask… We are coming through with a travel trailer. We are staying north in Gardiner (already booked). Because we have the trailer and can’t stay inside the park we have to return north every time. We have three days and a basic itinerary… however our trip home has not been planned. I was going to skip on GT bc of the insanity of trying to navigate there with the 35ft. camper… but we’re all the way there from the NE that it seems a shame. Any idea of “easy” ways to get from Gardiner with the camper to GT and then head back East? Is it even worth it?

    1. Author

      Hi Amanda, yes indeed, I don’t have any experience with campers. But I can imagine that being so close to the Grand Teton National Park, you’d like to visit it as well.
      On the website of the National Parks service website you can find more info on Grand Teton NP camping. I assume that the main roads will be ok with a camper, but – once again – I don’t know. Most main roads (road #191) were quite straight and easy to drive and we saw quite some campers there.
      If you go to GTNP just for one day, I suggest you visit Jenny Lake area.
      Hope this helps.

  31. Your itinerary for 3 days to Yellowstone National Park is very informative .FYI We are staying at canyon lodge and cabins for 3 nights. we are reaching on May 25th afternoon so what would you suggest on that day from your itinerary considering our location?
    Also please suggest how we can spend 1 & 1/2 day in Glacier national park ?

    1. Author

      Hi Meghna, it depends where you come from. If you come from the south, visit Lake of Yellowstone and the West Thumb Geyser Basin on the first day before heading to your accommodation. That way you won’t have to return there.
      Just note that you’ll have to pass Hayden valley, so plan for possible delays due to bison on the road.
      We haven’t been to Glacier NP, but you can find some info in this post: Best National Parks in the USA. From my research, I remember that Going to the Sun road is not to be missed.
      Hope this helps.

  32. Jurga,
    I’m loving the three day Yellowstone itinerary. Where do you suggest staying for 2-3 nights? (We were thinking of staying in West Yellowstone for the 1st night (from airport), but really have no idea!)

  33. Good Afternoon Jurga,

    Thank you doing this, it’s a great service for us YNP novices.

    We are coming in August 2020 for a trip. We want to incorporate as much as possible with a touch of hiking. If possible, we would also like to incorporate the Chuck Wagon Dinner. Here is a route I am considering. Is it too much!

    Day 1 – From Cody, WY do the SE Quadrant ending at the OFI.

    Day 2 – OF area ending in Canyon.

    Day 3 – Canyon to Lamar Valley (Chuck Wagon Dinner) end in Mammoth.

    Day 4 – Mammoth to Jackson

    We also plan to hit GT for 1.5 Days.

    It’s just a bit overwhelming. It makes Disney seem like child’s play

    1. Author

      Hi Chris, I think your itinerary is quite packed, but should be doable. Day 1 and day 4 will be very long. Also, why are you driving to Jackson if you are planning to visit Grand Teton NP as well. It would be better to just stay there if you can find accommodations. I have some suggestions on GTNP in this post.
      There are so many ways to do this, a lot depends on accommodations. But you are nicely on time for next year, so I’m sure you can make it work. If you need guidance on where to stay, you can find more info here: where to stay in and near Yellowstone.
      Happy planning!

    2. Jurga,

      Thank you very much. I appreciate your response.


  34. Hello! I am planning to follow your 2 day itinerary. We are going June 18-20 and will be tent camping. We will enter from West Yellowstone and exit out the south to go to Grand Teton NP. I am wondering where you think we should try to camp to eliminate all the driving/backtracking. If we follow your 2-day itinerary, where does it make sense to plant ourselves for the night? Would we enter, go south, then go back up north and stay by Mammoth so we could continue the other direction heading South the next day? Then camp in the south somewhere that night? Thank you!

    1. Author

      Hi Rachel, I’m not really familiar enough with camping locations in Yellowstone to help you much. I think it’s more a matter of where you can still find a place at this time.
      Just as all Yellowstone accommodation, campings are usually fully booked. I know, they allow some people on first come first serve basis, but I wouldn’t count on that. If you do, I think you need to be there very early in the morning to try to get a spot.
      Here you can find more information about camping in Yellowstone.
      Hope this helps. Have a great time in Yellowstone!

  35. My son (now 21 and in college) has wanted to make this a family trip and it is on our plan for this year. What itinerary would you suggest for 2 parents and 2ea – 21 year old young adults? When is the best time of year to come? We are totally flexible on how many days that we stay and would like to see GTNP as well…?

    1. Author

      Hi Melinda, if you are not obliged to come during school holidays, then I would say beginning to mid-September (after Labor Day Weekend) would probably best. The weather is still nice enough, everything is open, and there will be much fewer tourists than in July or August.
      As for how many days to spend in Yellowstone, I think that 3 is an absolute minimum, ideally 4 or 5. If you are planning to also visit GTNP, you could add a day or two there. It really depends on what you want to do – just see the highlights, or also do some hiking or other activities like rafting or similar. I have this post about visiting Jenny Lake in Grand Teton NP, maybe it’s helpful as well.
      One thing to consider is that it’s really late to book accommodations for this season, so depending on when you travel, Yellowstone lodging might not be available. There are some nice alternatives outside the park, but even there I’d advise to book asap. Here you can find more information about where to stay in Yellowstone.

  36. So much GREAT information!! I’ve been reading through everything for the last two days. We started planning a last minute road trip for this summer to Yellowstone with my 11 and 14 year old. I realized after reading that most people plan this a year in advance but was able to find a hotel in West Yellowstone. We will arrive late afternoon on July 2nd stay in West Yellowstone for 4 nights (3 full days) and check out on July 6th. We will have July 6th for sightseeing as well since we are just staying in Bozeman that night. You mentioned West Yellowstone is pretty centrally located for all the sights. Looking at your map would it make sense to keep the order similar if we are leaving towards Bozeman on that 4th day/night? When I looked at mileage it might be about the same whether we leave from the north or the west entrance.
    I’m just super grateful you put this together 🙂 saves me a lot of stress!

    1. Author

      Hi Jessica, glad to hear you find it helpful!
      If you have 4 days including your last day when you’re driving to Bozeman, I think you can use our 4-day itinerary. Just maybe leave the Northern part of the park that we described on day 3 (Mammoth and Lamar valley) for the last day. I’d say start your last day with the drive to the Lamar Valley (via Dunraven Pass) and then work your way back to Mammoth Hot Springs. End your day with a relaxing swim at the Boling River. From there it’s just 1,5 hrs to Bozeman.
      This is just a suggestion, of course. Enjoy your trip!

  37. This is a great resource! We will be traveling this summer with our kids 8/10. We are aiming for the 4 day itinerary and staying at Canyon Village BUT entering the park via West Yellowstone on day 1 and exiting south on day 4. Which of the day’s itineraries do you recommend we begin and end with?

    1. Author

      Hi Kirsten, if you have 4 days in Yellowstone, I suggest you do our 4-day itinerary as described above, but change days 1 and 4, so start with the Midway Geyser Basin and the Old Faithful area and then leave the Yellowstone Lake area for the last day.
      This means, however, that you’ll be starting with some of the most impressive natural features first, so some other geothermal areas might look somewhat less impressive to you afterwards…
      But this is the most logical way to do it that also means less driving.
      PS if you are visiting Yellowstone with kids, you may want to check out the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone first. We have much more information on Yellowstone on our blog – take a look here.
      Enjoy your trip!

  38. First trip and with kids ages 10 and 14. Spending 3 nights in park. Aldready staying 1 night mammoth and planning to also make our way to Lamar valley during that time. Is it worth moving from Canyon (1 night) to Old Faithful inn (1 night) or stay in Canyon 2 nights. We have to opportunity to switch and get a room last night in OF, not sure it’s the best idea but would save drive time for sure. Also wouldn’t mind staying in CL 2 nights and not having to move! Lol Thank you so much in advance for your opinion!

    1. Author

      Hi Charissa, it’s really your personal preference I suppose. We really liked Canyon Lodge, because it’s very recent, the rooms are beautiful, and the location is good for sightseeing. Still, I enjoyed being able to see the Old Faithful area without having to rush, see the geyser go multiple times during the day, at night, and early morning. OF is more about the authentic lodge, but you can see it without staying at the hotel as well. The rooms in the lodge are quite dated (we had one of the most expensive ones, with a view over OF, and it was quite poor).
      Probably not helping, I know. For us it was more a matter of ticking the bucket list I think, so I know I would have regretted if we haven’t stayed at the OF Inn for that one night, but purely for accommodation – Canyon Lodge wins all the way. Maybe you can do two nights in Canyon and one at the OF, instead of Mammoth? You can easily visit Lamar Valley from Canyon area as well.

      1. Thank you for your quick reply! After talking with family we decided to stay at CL to have more time to visit the valleys and canyon and will get up early to take advantage of OF and surroundings! Thanks again! Charissa

  39. Hi

    I want to know about accomodation. U said u stayed at canyon lodge, do thy have airconditioners? And do u really need it at night?

    1. Author

      No, as far as I know none of the Yellowstone accommodations have air conditioning. While the days can get really warm in summer, it cools down at night; we never really missed it.

  40. Thank You for the very detailed itinerary. I am planning to visit late April and planning for the 4 or 5 YT itinerary. If coming from Bozeman, would you advise I use Gardiner or West YT as my base? Since none of the in-park accommodations are open as yet, I will need to stay outside the park. We are planning to visit Grand Teton before heading back home. Should we do Grand Teton in the beginning or at end of our trip? Also, independent of using Gardiner or West YT as our base, is it still OK to follow the 4 or 5 itinerary you have shared?

    1. Author

      Hi Akshay, end of April is just about the earliest that you can visit some parts of Yellowstone; the roads are now closed for the winter. Most roads are scheduled to reopen on April 19 only (this might change, depending on the weather – here you can find up-to-date info on Yellowstone road closures). So – basically – a lot depends on how the situation is and where you can or cannot drive at that moment.
      North entrance is the only one that is also open in winter, so you could in any case start there. Maybe stay in Gardiner for a day or two and then move on down to West Yellowstone, which is in any case much better located for most other parts of the park.
      As for itinerary, I really don’t know – what you can or can’t see will depend on the roads.
      Hope this helps.

  41. Hi there! I just wanted to say thank you! We are traveling from Chicago with our 3 kids and driving first to the badlands and then to Yellowstone. We have decided to stay near the Lamar Valley for 3 nights based on what I read on your site! Your itinerary ideas are great and are really helping us plan what to do to make the most of our time there!! I look forward to reading your ideas and planning our July National Park trip! Thank you so much!!!

    1. Author

      Glad to hear you found this useful, Casey. I’m just not sure about staying near the Lamar Valley… You mean, outside the park? It’s going to be a really long drive to most places. It’s fine for some parts of the park, but if you have to do it every day, you are going to be driving a lot…
      Not sure if you have seen it, but you may want to check our Yellowstone accommodation guide. I know it’s hardly impossible to find accommodations inside the park for July, but there are better options nearby. If you can still amend your bookings, I think I would do just one night near Lamar and then 2 nights in West Yellowstone.
      For more ideas on where to go and what to see, please also check our guide to Yellowstone with kids.
      Enjoy your trip!

      1. Hi, thanks for the reply! Finding travel times in the winter is almost impossible which makes planning this trip to a place we’ve never been a little challenging! I appreciate the advice! This is something I should’ve planned last year so finding lodging has become difficult, we do have a cabin reserved in Cooke city, for the 3 nights, but I might make changes. The owner said it’s a 1.5 hour drive to old faithful and some of other other attractions! We really just want to see some wildlife, go on hikes and I’d like to visit the Prismatic Springs, and waterfalls! Trying to find a location to see it all! Your blog is super helpful!! Thank you!

        1. Author

          Hi Casey, I think the owner of the place is seriously exaggerating – no way you can get from Cook City to the Old Faithful in 1,5 hrs. I just checked Google Maps (departing in July) and it shows me 2h30 – 2h50. Take a look at the map here. It’s about 1,5hrs to Canyon Village or Mammoth Hot Springs. Which still means at least 3hrs driving (+ bison traffic jams) just to get there and back.
          When using Google Maps for directions for another season, you can find a place where it says ‘Leave now’ – there you can change the date by clicking ‘depart at’ and then input July to see the real situation for the summer months.
          Hope this helps.

  42. Hi there! Great article. I am going to GTNP and Yellowstone for 6 nights in a camper van at the end of May. Do you know much about campgrounds and how to incorporate that into your itinerary? Appreciate any info you may have to share.
    Thank you!

    1. Author

      Hi Lisa, we don’t have experience with campgrounds, but you can find all the information here, on the official Yellowstone NP website. If available, I’d choose either camping at Madison or at the Canyon. These are both open end of May (so depends a bit on when exactly you are going) and they are both pretty centrally located so that you can probably just stay at one campground for the whole trip.
      Make sure to book in advance. Maybe May isn’t that busy, but still – better be sure.
      Hope this helps.

      1. Thank you! I have been checking out the campgrounds. That’s helpful information – I was assuming I should stay somewhere different each night. Appreciate people like you providing guidance and suggestions on your blogs. The van rental place charges $100/day, not including reservations at sites, to help with planning. I don’t have an extra $600 for that service. Happy to pay for some help, but that’s a little out of my league:)

        1. Author

          Glad to help, Lisa. Planning a trip is a lot of work, so I understand that people charge for it. But Yellowstone is really quite simple to visit and yes, you can definitely do it from one place. No need to stay at different campgrounds, unless you don’t like driving back to the same place and rather stay somewhere else for a change…
          PS I have just created a printable top-10 list of places to see in Yellowstone. If you’re interested, you can get a copy by filling up one of the forms inserted in the article.
          Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!

    2. Hi Lisa!

      We are heading to GTNP & Yellowstone as well, in a Class A motorhome in early-mid June. We are staying a couple of nights in GTNP then 3 more nights near the West entrance to the park. When are you going?

      Lisa (yep, I’m also a Lisa!)

  43. Hello Jurga,
    I will echo others and thank you for sharing your experience in such a terrific blog. We’ve been thinking to visit yellowstone as a family (road) trip for years and decided 2019 will be the year (summer). We plan to go mid-July and dedicate 4 full days. We also plan to camp (tent) ideally in the park. Entering from the North, we will add a 5th day for Grand Teton. I’m looking at the campground in Madison (West). Do you think it’s ok to stay all nights in Madison being centered North/South and do the 8 loop in 4 days or would you recommend to change campground (I’m not keen on dismantling the tent every morning). Thank you for your help/answer. I guess I can figure out all the rest with all you shared (itinerary etc…). Thank you again.

    1. Author

      Hi Sabine, I just checked the map and Madison Campground seems to have a great location. I think it’s central enough that you don’t have to worry about moving around and can easily make day trips from there.
      Just make sure to book it asap. When we were in Yellowstone in summer, all the accommodations (including campgrounds) inside the park were fully booked.

  44. Planning a family vacation this summer 2019. Either end of June or end of July. No idea where to begin on planning hotel accommodations…. your information is helpful. Did you stay in one place all week or move around? Where do you suggest flying into? We are coming from Illinois.

    1. Author

      Hi Jen, please also check our related articles on Yellowstone, where you can find more information. This article covers the best places to stay in and near Yellowstone NP; you can also read about our personal experience.
      The problem will be at this point to find any accommodation inside the park for this summer (it’s usually fully booked moer than a year in advance). Anyway, check the article for suggestions where to stay.

      Best airports for Yellowstone are probably Bozeman (BZN) or Jackso Hole (JAC). If you read other people’s comments on this post, I think you’ll find plenty ideas where to fly and how to best plan your trip.

      Please also check the following posts: Best things to do in Yellowstone with kids. Boiling River – a real hidden gem in the park. Also, what to pack for Yellowstone in summer. And, if you are planning to visit Grand Tetons, you may find some inspiration here – Jenny Lake and other places to visit in GTNP in one day.
      Hope this helps!

  45. In regards to your 4 day itinerary for Yellowstone, Day 1 seems to go in order locationwise, but Day 2 does not. Am I reading this wrong?

    1. Author

      Hi Melanie, I don’t see anything strange on day 2. We first visited the Canyon area, then went to Norris Geyser Basin since we had a few hours left and that area is quite big and needs more time to explore. Firehole river is nice to relax at the end if you still have time over after all the sightseeing.
      Do you maybe mean that on day 4 I listed Midway Geyser Basin before the Lower Geyser Basin which is more to the north, then heading back down south to the Upper Geyser Basin?
      The reason for this is that Midway Geyser Basin (the one with the Grand Prismatic Spring) gets crazy busy during the day. So it might be wise to go there first thing in the morning. The distances between these three areas aren’t big, so it’s not like you are wasting too much time driving up and down.
      But in the end it really doesn’t matter in which order you do it. You can shuffle the days and the locations around the way it makes most sense for you. These itineraries are just here to help you to get a better idea of what you can do in any given day.
      Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!

  46. Hi Jurga,
    Like many have said previously, your website is terrific. Thank you for all of the outstanding information. One question- if we have 2 full days (8AM-8PM) for Yellowstone and are staying in West Yellowstone, would it be possible to do the northern loop one day, and the southern loop the other? We would anticipate briefly stopping at most sites for 15-30 minutes, with time for a “longer” stop (30-60 minutes) at 1 or 2 key landmarks. Is this approach realistic and practical?
    Thank you!

    1. Author

      Hi Mike, yes, I think you can definitely do the whole ‘8’ loop in 2 days, especially if you are prepared for such long days of sightseeing. Try to concentrate on the main landmarks and make just short photo stops along the other places.
      Is it the best way to see Yellowstone? No, 2 days are definitely not enough. But if that’s all you have, I’m sure you can turn it into a great experience and make the best of it. It’s good to plan in advance indeed, so that you know where you need more time and which places are ok to skip.
      Enjoy your trip!

  47. if you are staying 3 days in the park do you need your own car to get around in the park or are their shuttles?

    1. Author

      Hi Rebecca, I really don’t know how you could visit Yellowstone without a car, unless you’d join one of the organised multi-day tours.
      There are some local day tours inside the park here and there, but you’d still need to get to the starting point of them somehow. So yes, you definitely need a car for Yellowstone. It’s a huge park!

  48. Thank you for the helpful information. My family is planning to travel to Yellowstone, flying into SLC and staying night 1 and 2 in Jackson, then driving on day 2 to West Yellowstone. We have five days before we fly home out of Bozeman. My question is whether we should stay in West Yellowstone three days and somewhere north (looking at Gardnier) for two night? Or stay in West Yellowstone for four nights and Gardiner for 1? Any help is much appreciated.

    1. Author

      Hi Emily, I think that West Yellowstone is a bit better located for most main landmarks of Yellowstone than Gardiner. On the other hand, you have 5 nights in total which is plenty of time to see all the main places, so depends on how you plan your itinerary, I think that both options would work well. Maybe see which hotel you like more or which place fits your budget better and decide based on that?
      If I’m not mistaken, West Yellowstone has many more accommodation/ dining options. Please check this guide to Yellowstone accommodation, I have some of the best options listed there.

  49. This is a great site – thank you…this will be my 7th trip to Yellowstone, but most have been as a young kid, now I’m taking my girls – 13 and 11 in July of 2019…we have a friends time share for a week – July 20th to the 27th in Jackson Hole and plan on spending a few days exploring the Tetons and Southern Yellowstone from there,..

    Any suggestions on best plan of attack for lodging and hitting Yellowstone park from the Southern entrance, we have 4 nights outside of Jackson before leaving from Jackson Hole airport again on the 31st…thank you for your time and great site!!!

    1. Author

      Hi Jason, I’m afraid it’s already much too late to try and book something inside the park for July, so your best option is probably staying in West Yellowstone. Please check this post for best Yellowstone lodging suggestions in and near the park.
      You could definitely stay in Grand Teton NP for 1-2 nights for visiting that park – here are some ideas on what to see in Grand Teton NP in a day and also suggestions on where to stay there.
      In any case, I’d not stay in Jackson or in Grand Teton NP for visiting Yellowstone as it’s much too far and would result in more driving that sightseeing, but I think you realise it yourself already.
      Hope this helps.

  50. Thank you so much for all the info! We are planning a trip to Yellowstone in May 2019! (May 26-June 1). We are flying in and out of Bozeman airport. Can you tell me what you think of the following layout? We are planning to start at the West Entrance and staying in the Explorer Cabins right outside the West Entrance.

    Arrive late on May 26th- Possibly just stay in Bozeman this night
    May 27 & May 28: Stay in the Explorer Cabins outside the West Entrance.
    May 29 & May 30: Stay in Canyon Lodge
    May 31: Is there anywhere up north you recommend to stay?
    June 1: Leave to fly back home

    We are still very open. So feel free to make any suggestions you think would be best!

    1. Author

      Hi Erika, your plan looks ok to me at first sight. If you are flying out of Bozeman, then indeed it’s probably best to stay north of Yellowstone the last night. Gardiner is probably the best option. It allows you to still spend the whole last day in Yellowstone and from there it’s just 1,5hrs to Bozeman. You could also stay in Mammoth inside the park, but I don’t think it’s worth the price difference for that last night.
      Hope this helps

  51. What a great blog post! We are going toward end of September 2019. Flying into Bozeman and driving to Grand Tetons first for 4 nights and then on to Yellowstone for 4 nights. We’re staying at Lake Hotel Sandpiper Lodge all4 nights. Will your 4 day itenerary work, or are we too far away from the areas you suggest to do everything you listed?

    1. Author

      Hi Laurel, yes, Yellowstone Lake is also a great location to stay in Yellowstone. The only thing you’ll have to deal a bit more with are the bison of Hayden Valley that you’ll have to pass when driving north. But if you keep that in mind and are prepared for some bison traffic jams, I’m sure you can do everything I suggested in the 4 day itinerary, maybe even more if you’re willing to get up early and fill your days.
      Enjoy your trip!

  52. HI Jurga,

    Planning an early May 2019 and your blog has been a huge help! We’re staying at Old Faithful Inn as none of the other places are open when we arrive. Will definitely go through your itineraries and suggested hikes.

    My son is a huge dinosaur buff and am looking for an easy tack-on trip for a dig site or museum (or both) as my wife and daughter would not be as happy spending the extra driving time. Would you have an idea if we’d be able to fly in/out of an accessible airport and stop by before or after for say a Montana or Utah or Wyoming dinosaur-centric site? BTW not so familiar with mid-western geography! Many thanks!

    1. Author

      Hi Allen, we actually visited a dinosaur place on this same trip – Dinosaur National Monument, on Vernal,UT side – here you can see our trip itinerary. It was really interesting, not just for the children.
      However, it’s 7hrs drive from Old Faithful Inn, so it’s really far to just go there ‘on the side’. We stayed in Vernal on our way from Moab to Jackson Hole, and only then we moved on to Yellowstone, which meant less driving per day.
      I’m not familiar enough with the area so I don’t know if there are any other dinosaur places closer to Yellowstone, sorry. You’d have to google it all, to see if there is something closer by…
      Good luck!

  53. Thanks for all the great info! So glad I found this site!
    I do have a couple of questions.
    My wife and I will flying in from California. We plan on doing your 4 day Yellowstone itinerary plus a day at Jenny Lake in GTNP and a day in Jackson Hole to go river rafting on the Snake River. Which airport should we fly into and in what order would you go to the three locations – Yellowstone, GTNP (Jenny Lake), and Jackson Hole?
    Do you have any lodging locations you would recommend for the Jenny Lake area and Jackson Hole?

    1. Author

      Hi David, I think you can either fly in and out of Jackson Hole airport (JAC), or fly into Bozeman airport (BZN) and leave from Jackson (or vice versa).
      Here you can find our recommendations on what to do in Grand Teton NP in one day.
      As for accommodations, for Yellowstone please read this Yellowstone accommodation guide. For GTNP: the nicest lodges are Jackson Lake Lodge and Jenny Lake Lodge (probably the nicest location). In Jackson Hole we stayed at The Lexington. Another really nice option seems to be Wyoming Inn, just a bit outside of town. Here you can find more accommodation options in Jackson Hole – the choice is quite big there.

  54. Your blog is beyond amazing! Thank You for taking the time to not only provide a day by day itinerary but for providing the interactive map as well! It has made planning the Yellowstone/Teton portion of our NP 2019 trip so much easier! That said, I do have just a few questions. 1. Was the pace doable for your younger children? 2. About how long were your days? (start at 8 end at 5, etc.) I realize this will vary based on the amount of time we spend at each site; however, a general idea of the amount of time you spent would be helpful in finalizing our lodging. (i.e. will our lodge/hotel/cabin need a pool or other nearby activities to keep the kids busy in the evening, etc.)

    Thanks Again!

    1. Author

      Hi Carrie, thank you for your kind feedback. Happy to hear this helped you with the planning of your trip to Yellowstone. If you haven’t seen it yet, read also our post about the best things to do in Yellowstone with kids.
      To answer your questions, your Yellowstone itinerary can be as relaxing as you choose to, but yes, all the suggestions in this post are based on our trip with our three children (5, 5, and 7 at that time).
      We didn’t do any long hikes, just a few shorter ones, and they were all relatively flat and easy, nothing the kids couldn’t handle. We never felt rushed and there was plenty of time for the kids to rest in the car when driving in between places. The days were nicely filled with so many great activities in the park, we went swimming in the Boiling River one day, then played by the river building dams the other day – it really felt as a vacation and kids enjoyed it just as much as we did.
      As for how long our days were, I don’t even remember for sure, but I can tell you – we never left the hotel at 8am. That’s probably about the time we would start to think about going for breakfast. In the evening we were usually back at our accommodation around 6 or 7pm, and then went out for dinner, and the kids were in bed somewhere around 8.30-9pm.
      We stayed inside the park, so no pools or playgrounds to keep the kids busy, but we didn’t really miss any of that, also because we just filled our days with activities, rather than head back to the hotel at 4 or 5pm. However, if you have more time in Yellowstone and are there for holidays and not just sightseeing, you could of course take it easy and make your sightseeing days shorter. I’m sure the kids would love a plunge in the pool (or one of the warm river of Yellowstone) in the afternoon.

  55. My family and I are planning to drive to Yellowstone from South Carolina late April 2019. Do you think everything will be back open during that time? It is my son’s spring break. Thanks.

    1. Author

      Hi Leslie, you can check Yellowstone NP official website for information in regards to road closures. From what I see, some roads that are closed in winter are scheduled to reopen mid April (April 19: West Entrance to Madison Junction, Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful, Norris to Canyon Village), but quite some other roads will only reopen in May (you can see all the details on the website).
      So it looks like you can visit Yellowstone late April, but plan your itinerary and accommodations based on which roads are open.

  56. Hi thanks for the detailed plan . We are planning to visit during November for a day trip. Please let know if all spots will be open or snow mobile can be used to see all places .

    1. Author

      Hello, no, you cannot reach many places in Yellowstone in winter and many roads are closed. However, I don’t know what exactly is accessible and how to travel around. I have no experience with winter travel in Yellowstone and encourage you to contact park authorities for more information.

  57. Thank you so much for this itinerary! Such a help at the park. We modified slightly, but overall great!

  58. We are planning a trip next June and are looking into hotels. I was leaning towards the lake Hotel lodges since they are about $100 cheaper per night. Is Canyon lodge worth the extra $$?

    1. Author

      Hi Cindy, I really cannot say because we only stayed at the Canyon Lodge and at the Old Faithful Inn. The reason we chose Canyon Lodge was because of its really central location for sightseeing (but of course it’s nice to stay in a newly built accommodation with the best comfort in Yellowstone, so that’s just a bonus). Even if the distance between Canyon and Lake Yellowstone doesn’t look like much, you need to drive through Hayden Valley, which can take a loooong time if bisons are hanging out on the road, and you may need to do it twice each day…
      What you can do, is split your stay and spend a few nights in both places. Stay at the Lake for sightseeing in the southern part of the park and then move to Canyon for the northern part.

  59. Thanks for all the info. We are flying into SLC on August 28th (1 night) drive to Tetons (2 nights) at Colter Bay, then 3 nights at OF Snow Lodge, 2 nights West Yellowstone and then return to SLC. We have looked at your 4/5 day itinerary but want to know of any suggestions for the Tetons and if you would have a different itinerary considering our lodging location and days. We will not be doing any strenuous hiking but are fine with mostly level walking.

    Thanks in advance.
    Hope this is not too close to travel time – we just found you!!!!

    1. Author

      Hi Janice, sorry for a late reply. We are just back from a trip and I’m catching up on all the comments.
      I really have no time to look into specific itinerary for you, but with 5 nights in Yellowstone I think you can do pretty much everything from this itinerary and possibly even more. Please also check this post for the best things to do in Yellowstone, and I really recommend going for a dip in the Boiling River.
      We didn’t do much hiking either, just a few short walks. It’s great to get a bit off the beaten path in Yellowstone as there are more opportunities to see wildlife (maybe pack a bear bell or bear spray just in case – see our Yellowstone packing suggestions).
      As for the Tetons, we also stayed 2 nights there. Here you can find our suggestions: Jenny Lake day trip in Grand Teton. Even if you don’t want to hike to Inspiration Point, at least take a boat and walk to the waterfall.
      Hope this helps a bit. Enjoy your trip!

  60. Thank you for your post. We are going to Yellowstone in late September for 5 days. This helped tremendously.

    1. Author

      Glad to hear that, Allison. Enjoy your trip to Yellowstone!

  61. Going to Yellowstone October 1st the first night we’re in Cody, night 2 lake Yellowstone, night 3-4 West Yellowstone and night 5 mammoth springs then we go down to the Tetons for two nights. What would the best itinerary look like.


    1. Author

      Hi Kayla, sorry for a late reply. We’ve been traveling a lot and I have no time to look into specific itinerary recommendations for your trip. I’m sure you can make your own itinerary based on all the information provided in this post, just shuffle the days around to fit your accommodation. Try to identify one specific area that makes most sense to visit location-wise for each day, then pick 2-3 highlights that you really don’t want to miss, and then add a few other places if you see that you have more time left. As for the Tetons, here you can find our suggestions on the best way to spend a day in Grand Teton NP.
      Enjoy your trip!

  62. Hi Jurga,

    Loved your post, Very detailed and helpful.

    We are planning to go there in a months time and we have around 3-4 days. Will definitely use your tips and itinerary,.
    Do you know how we can plan it better if we enter and leave from Bozeman ( North).

    Thanks in advance,

    1. Author

      Hi Vinaya, it’s not that much where you enter or leave the park that determines the best itinerary for Yellowstone, but where you are staying during your visit. Are you staying in Bozeman the whole time? Then you’ll be driving a lot. Try to pick one area per day and explore it to the fullest and then visit another area each day. So let’s say one day Mammoth, Tower area, and Lamar Valley; one day Canyon area and Hayden Valley, maybe even up to the Yellowstone Lake; and one day the Old Faithful/ Grand Prismatic areas. Try to focus on the highlights first and then see how much time you have for the rest.
      Hope this helps. Have a nice trip!

      1. Thank you so much Jurga . We went there over he log weekend and we did exactly as you mentioned 🙂 .
        Landed at Bozeman Friday night . Stayed here over nigh
        Day 1 – old faithful and grand prismatic ( stayed night at west yellow stone)
        Day 2 – Hayden valley , yellow stone lake and canyon village ( stayed at gardiner)
        Day 3 – Lamar valley and mammoth hot springs ( stayed at gardiner)

        It was the perfect itinerary without stressing much and we had plenty of time to relax at the same time covering all the must dos. We were two couple with one kid each. So this worked out best for us.

        Thanks again !

        We landed at Bozeman

        1. Author

          Good to hear you had a nice trip and it all worked well, Vinaya. Thanks for sharing your experience – I’m sure it will be helpful to our readers.
          Happy travels!

  63. This brings back so many memories! I just love Yellowstone and the tip about not underestimating the time to get around is excellent! We stayed for one full week -taking a side trip as well to the Tetons which I recommend too – and I wished that we booked two separate campgrounds: one in the north and one in the south. It would have been a pain to take the trailer and set up twice (we borrowed a pop up for this trip) but it would have been worth it to save on time. We wished we would have planned an extra day or two to drive the whole length of Beartooth Highway – said to be the most scenic drives in America – on the trip. We drove half of it and it is pick-your-jaw-up-from-the-floor beautiful!

    1. Author

      Thanks for sharing your experiences about Yellowstone, Angela. I agree with you about taking your time to explore Yellowstone and staying more centrally. In fact, you could have probably stayed in once campground if you had chosen one in the middle of the park. My research showed that Canyon area is one of the best locations to stay in Yellowstone and I can only confirm this after our trip. Good planning is so important for every trip, isn’t it?

  64. Thank you so much for sharing all of this information! It is super-helpful! I keep getting an error message for the 4-day map. Any way you could send me a link or re-post the map?

    1. Author

      Hi Laura, sorry to hear that you can’t see the map. It’s the second time someone says this… Will have to check if I can somehow correct it when I get back to my desk. In the meantime, please try this link, hope it works.

  65. Thank you so much for all this helpful information! We will be spending 6 nights in the park this summer. Our first time there and we are quite excited. I was wondering if you have a guidebook recommendation for the park?

    1. Author

      Hi Laura, no, I don’t really have any specific guidebook recommendations. Check this post, there I have more suggestions on what to see and do in Yellowstone; there are some guidebook suggestions for if you want to do some hiking, but not for Yellowstone in general.
      Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!

  66. I MUST start by saying you are an absolute saint for sharing all of this information, and so thoroughly responding to the many questions asked. You have more patience than any blog I have ever read, and I can’t thank you enough for freely sharing your adventures and helping so many others plan theirs!

    I just had an amazing adventure in an RV to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Arches, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion this past June, and I have been officially bitten by the National Park bug! As a teacher, Summer is the only time I can really travel, but I have already moved onto Summer 2019, and will combine your 4 day itinerary with a few days in Grand Teton as well.

    Thank you again for such great information!

    1. Author

      Hi Jennifer, thank you for your kind words. Appreciate it. Also, really glad to hear our blog helps you to plan your trips. Enjoy Yellowstone and Grand Teton, both beautiful places to visit.
      Happy travels and greetings from Tirol in Austria (our last stop of a 3-week trip visiting some of the most stunning mountain destinations in Europe).

  67. Love your blog and thanks for such an informative post.

    We can only see your map for the one day visit. The map underneath the four day itinerary is for the one day.

    Any chance we can please see your four day itinerary map?

    1. Author

      That’s really strange Jo, I guess it depends on the browser or the computer that you use. Anyway, here is the link to the itinerary map. Hope you can see it this way.

      1. I can, thank you so very much!

      2. Thank you so much for all this helpful information. We will be travelling from South Georgia to Montana on July 31st for 5 days. My son will be proposing to his fiancee while we are there. We will probably only get to spend one day in Yellowstone and who knows that might be when the big moment happens?? Do you have any tips for us?

        1. Author

          Hi Renn, please check our 1 day itinerary for our best tips for what to see in Yellowstone if you only have one day.

  68. Thanks for the Post!

    We are staying 3 nights at Lake Lodge Cabin and 2 nights at Mammoth Cabin. So day 1 we will get half day and Day 2 and day 3 at Lake lodge and next 2 days at mammoth. So what can I cover on evening of first day and 2 full days when I am at Lake Lodge. Any Suggestions?



    1. Author

      Hi Muskan, I’d say explore the Yellowstone Lake area on the half day. Then spend one day at the OF/ Grand Prismatic area and one at the Canyon/ Hayden Valley. Once you move North, visit Noris Basin and Mammoth area one day and Tower/ Roosevelt – Lamar Valley on the next. For more details – please check the itineraries in this post.

      1. Thank you for your suggestion 😊

  69. Thank you so much for this awesome post! Upon your recommendation, I tried getting reservations at Canyon Lodge and was able to get 3 consecutive nights for the end of July/beginning August. That’s only one month away, but like you said, seems that there are cancellations.
    We hope to fly into Bozeman and will spend the first night (which we couldn’t get at Canyon Lodge) in West Yellowstone. We’ll be arriving late morning and I’m wondering whether to come in from the West entrance and head straight south to explore the Old Faithful area before retiring for the night in West Yellowstone (and then I think we’ll be done with the southern area of the park), or rather come in through Gardiner to see the Mammoth Hot Springs area before heading out through the west entrance for the night…
    In either case, we hope to get to see both places, (as well as the Canyon area and Hayden Valley once we’re settled in the Canyon Lodge), but I’m just trying to figure out the smartest way to plan our first day. We’ll have to leave very early in the morning for our flight out of Bozeman, so we won’t get to stop anywhere on our way back to the airport.
    Thanks again for this super, informative site!

    1. Author

      Hi, a lot depends on your flight, i.e. how much time you have the first day, but the most logical route would be to enter through the Northern Entrance near Gardinier I think. You can visit the Mammoth Hot Springs area, maybe get a soak in the Boiling River after the flight. Then if you still have time, visit the Norris Geyser Basin. The nearby Artists Paintpot is nice if you have more time, but not a must. There is also a side road next to Firehole river with swimming possibilities there (although much more difficult to park your car and much busier than the Boiling River). And there is also a nice short walk at Harlequin Lake, close to the West entrance of Yellowstone. This should keep you more than busy the first day.
      I’d leave the geysers of the OF area and the Grand Prismatic Spring for one of the last days in the park. It’s really impressive so it’s nice if you can explore it without having to rush, and as it often goes it’s better to keep the best for last. Otherwise you risk not enjoying the other beautiful places just as much because you’ll be comparing with what you already saw.
      Have a wonderful trip!

      1. Thank you so much for this detailed, prompt answer! I’m copying this information for my itinerary. You’re awesome! 🙂

  70. This is so informative and perfect for what I’m trying to research for next year. One thing I think my boys would enjoy is a horseback ride. We are shooting for 4 full days (and hopefully staying at Canyon Village). Do you have any advice on where to squeeze that in, or what to remove in lieu of that? Many Thanks! kf

    1. Author

      Hi Kirsten, from what I see there are two areas where you can do horse riding inside Yellowstone NP: Canyon and Roosevelt (there are more options outside the park). So if you are staying at the Canyon Lodge, it’s probably best to do it there. It only takes an hour or two, so I think you could do it any day, e.g. in the morning before you even do any other activities.

  71. Hi Jurga:
    I don’t know what we read but we made reservations a year ago and we are flying out on July 10th. We thought that by staying in Cody we would be closest to the East entrance of Yellowstone. We are, but we are staying there four days before driving to Jackson to go to Grand Teton for three days. Then we are driving to Billings to fly back to Florida. So each night we would be driving back to the Cody Hotel. Could you possible suggest a 4 day itinerary…we realize that it is about 54 miles to the East entrance and a three hour drive to the North Entrance? Any help would definitely be appreciated. Thanks, Phylis and Rob

    1. Author

      Hi Phylis, my first reaction would be to see if you can cancel your hotel in Cody and check if by any chance there are any last-minute cancelations in Yellowstone, or look for a hotel in West Yellowstone (check our Yellowstone accommodation guide for best suggestions). Even if you could stay closer for just one or two nights, it would save you so much driving…
      If it’s impossible to change accommodations, then try to make the best of the time that you have. You could try and visit Midway and Lower Geyser basins on day 1, Yellowstone Canyon + Hayden Valley on day 2, Lamar Valley and Mammoth Springs on day 3 (drive to the Northeast entrance straight from Cody for these areas), and maybe keep the closest, Yellowstone Lake area, for the last day (4).
      Just keep in mind that you’ll need to cross Hayden Valley and Lamar Valley several times, so count some extra driving time for the bison jams. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll have very long days if commuting from Cody. So maybe try to see the areas that are a must to you first, so that if you get tired after a day or two, you don’t regret not seeing the Old Faithful geyser or the Grand Prismatic Spring… If it gets too much, just take a day ‘off’ – sometimes seeing fewer places is better than rushing from one place to another…
      Also, driving in the dark isn’t safe in Yellowstone or Grand Teton areas, as there are many animals on the roads. So try to leave very early in the morning and take advantage of daylight.

      1. Thank you so very much we are heeding your advice and the advice of others and changing our accommodations and itinerary….I so appreciate your time and response…thank you again!

    2. Phylis,

      I am interested to see how your trip goes. We are also from Florida and are planning a trip in 2021. I would like to spend about 2 weeks on this trip. We are interested in seeing as much as wee can without rushing to much. We would also like to go in a least busy season (May or September). Will you be flying or driving from Florida?


      1. Author

        Hi Christi, I think the chances are low that Phylis will answer you as these comments don’t work like forums and readers don’t get notification when somebody answers to their reply.
        I’d definitely not drive from Florida or you’ll waste all your vacation time on the road. Better plan a nice trip itinerary around Yellowstone and fly to the airport that makes most sense for that itinerary. There are airports in Jackson, WY; Bozeman, MT; also Salt Lake City, UT is doable from Yellowstone… Hope this helps.

  72. This is so helpful! I love the 4 day itinerary you posted. We are planning to fly into SLC and drive to Yellowstone that same day.

    Day 1 – Fly to SLC/Drive to Yellowstone for lodging
    Day 2/3/4 – Yellowstone
    Day 5 – Yellowstone – drive to jackson late afternoon
    Day 6/7 – Jackson/Grand Tetons
    Day 8 – Morning – jackson Drive to SLC in afternoon
    Day 9 – Fly home

    Based on that how would you adjust your 4 day itinerary or can I follow it the way it is? This is such great infromation!

    1. Author

      Hi Kathleen, use this itinerary just as suggestion, not exactly as it is :). Depending on where you stay, how the weather or your mood is, it might make more sense to shuffle the days around a bit. We did Lewis Falls, West Thumb Basin, Yellowstone Lake, Storm Point hike, Mud Volcano area, and Hayden Valley on day 1 because we were arriving from Jackson that morning. So in your case it might be better to leave this area for the last day, so that you can continue to Grand Teton afterwards, and save some driving.
      P.S. In case you didn’t see it, we just published a blog post about our day in Grand Teton NP – visiting Jenny Lake and hiking in that area. Check it out!

  73. Hello,
    I’m just starting to research Yellowstone! I liike ur ideas on the 4 day! What enterence did you guys go in and where did you stay thanks

    1. Author

      Hi Elizabeth, we arrived in Yellowstone from the South (Grand Teton) and then left the same way after our visit. If interested, here you can find our US trip itinerary. Here you can also read more about our short visit to Grand Teton.
      As for accommodation, we stayed inside the park, at the Canyon Lodge and also at the Old Faithful Inn. You have to either book a year in advance if traveling in high season or be lucky that someone cancels. Here you can find more tips on the best places to stay in and near Yellowstone.
      Check also this post for some of our favourite things to do in Yellowstone.

  74. Hi there-

    We are headed west later this month! So excited. Thank you for this useful guide. There’s so much to see that it is hard to prioritize.

    Would love your take on the following itinerary:
    Day 1: Flight to Denver – land late, stay near airport
    Day 2: Drive to Thermopolis, WY – dip in the hot springs there
    Day 3: Drive to Cody – go to the rodeo!
    Day 4: Get up super early, drive into park to visit Grand Canyon area, Artists Point, Uncle Tom’s Trail, Lower Falls. Back to Lake stay in Lake Lodge. (Too much driving??)
    Day 5: Deciding on which direction to go here. Maybe Make it up to Mammoth HS and your Day 2 itinerary (of 3-day). We need to make our way back to stay at OF Inn and for dinner at 7:30.
    Day 6: Explore Geyser Loop Trail and other Geysers in that area. Late day drive to Grand Teton. Stay in Signal Mountain Lodge
    Day 7 – Jenny Lake, Inspiration Point. Horseback ride with cookout for dinner. Continued stay in SML
    Day 8 – Open day – possible white water rafting on Snake River. Or one day to just chill. Dinner in Jackson. Stay in SML again- or should we stay in Jackson?
    Day 9 – Long drive headed back. Stay in Cheyenne, WY
    Day 10 – last leg to Denver and fly home.

    Any pointers? I know you aren’t too keen on Grand Teton, but I thought I might be done with the crowds and cars by the end and want to get away. Thanks for your feedback!

    1. Author

      Hi Elle, my first impression is that it’s a lot of driving, almost every day. But I know that we also do that on some trips, trying to make the best of the time we have. I assume your flights and accommodations are already set? Otherwise you could consider flying to Jackson or Bozeman instead and try to stay a bit longer in Yellowstone. Maybe there are good flights from Denver? It would save you all those driving days.
      Anyway, back to Yellowstone:
      Day4 – if you get up very early and don’t encounter bad traffic and too many bison jams in Hayden valley, it should be feasible. You probably won’t have much time to hike in the Canyon area, but you should be able to see the main viewpoints. It will be a very long day… Can’t you change your hotel to Canyon Lodge instead of the Lake? It would make so much more sense, also for the next day if you want to go North.
      Day5 – Again, it’s a far drive to Mammoth area from Yellowstone Lake. Doable, but you’ll spend lots of time in the car instead of sightseeing. If you are tired of too much driving by that point, you could explore Southern parts of the park instead. Maybe go up to Norris Basin and Grand Prismatic area and make your way back to OF in time for dinner.
      Day6 – See all the geysers near the OF and time permitting maybe some other areas nearby that you didn’t see the previous day.
      Day 7 – sounds about right 😉
      Day 8 – Depends on what you like to do. There isn’t that much to do at the Signal Mountain Lodge, but there is a lake, so if you like water activities and a quiet day doing nothing, then you could stay there. Otherwise if you prefer more action and bigger choice of activities, then Jackson is a better place for that. Or maybe you can add a day extra in Yellowstone instead, either at the Canyon or OF – that would give you more relaxed time to get to the Northern part of the park. But I know that finding accommodations inside the park isn’t easy. Alternatively, you could stay in West Yellowstone (check our accommodation guide). But then again, I don’t know what you already booked and how much flexibility you have.

      It’s not that we aren’t keen on Grand Teton, but after Yellowstone (and many other beautiful mountains we had seen all over the world) it just didn’t impress us as much as we expected. There are beautiful areas and the trip on Jenny Lake with a hike to the Inspiration Point is nice to do. But in no way is it quieter than Yellowstone – make sure you get there early or you don’t even find a parking spot for your car. If you want to escape the crowds, then rent a kayak on one of the lakes of Grand Teton. Or spend more time in Yellowstone and go to the Lamar Valley or make some short hikes – there are hardly any people doing that and most of the time you’re pretty much alone.

      In the end, it’s your vacation and you have to feel good about it. If you start to feel overwhelmed with driving, then try to slow down; it’s better to see fewer places and enjoy them than just tick boxes to say you’ve done it all. Have a great trip!

      1. Thank you! The itinerary was borne out of doing this piecemeal over a year with what reservations were available. Your response inspired me to take a second look and we were able to book a pretty cheap flight to Bozeman on Day 1! That gives us two whole more days in Yellowstone. Not only that, but I was able to get rooms at the Canyon Lodge for those nights. So lucky with only 3 weeks until we go! Now we can spend come from the north and can really explore. D1 – Mammoth Hot Springs and Lamar Valley, D2- Canyon area to Norris Basin. D3 Hayden Valley to Yellowstone Lake. Stay in Lake Lodge. D4 Scoot over to West Thumb Basin and then start exploring all the geysers in that area. Stay in OF. D5 Whatever we didn’t get to in that region and then go south. We now have two nights at Grand Teton and one in Jackson which now seems just right. Thanks for this. I’ll let you know how it worked out!

        1. Author

          Wow, that’s really well done, Elle. Your itinerary looks completely different now. I also heard that often Yellowstone accommodations free up as the date gets closer as many people who booked over a year ago cannot come for some reason and cancel last minute. So sometimes it can really work out well. Lucky for you! The way it looks now you’ll have plenty of time to explore Yellowstone to the fullest without having to rush. You may even have the time for a boat ride on the lake or a scenic floating trip, or just a really long soak in the Boiling River…
          Enjoy your trip! And if you have a minute to come back and share your experience here, it would be great! I know that many people read not just our blog posts, but also all the comments when planning their trips, so it may help others who are thinking of making a similar trip.
          PS Your questions about Grand Teton inspired me to finally write about our experience there. So I’m working on a new blog post as we speak.
          Update: here you can read about our day in Grand Teton: Jenny Lake boat ride and hike to Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point, and Cascade Canyon.

  75. Jurga, what great information, thank you for sharing! We are flying into Bozeman and spending two nights in MHS, then driving down to Old Faithful Inn for two more nights, then Signal Mountain Lodge for the last two nights, flying out of JH the next day.

    Do you have any suggestions on how to maximize and enjoy our time in each location? It sounds so wonderful! We are arriving in Bozeman on June 14, so any suggestions for clothing, etc., are also much appreciated! Thanks!

    1. Author

      Hi Sue, sounds like a nice trip! I’d suggest to stay in Yellowstone as long as you can. So if you have 2 days at the Signal Mount Lodge, maybe stay in Yellowstone till late afternoon and only then drive there. In Grand Teton you can go on a boat ride to the other side of Jenny Lake, make a hike to the Inspiration Point (and possibly further), and then either hike or take a boat back.
      As for Yellowstone itself, when you are in Mammoth, try to see that side of the park first, go for a swim in the Boiling River, make sure to drive to Lamar Valley. Then when you move down towards OF, you can visit the Canyon Area and the Hayden Valley from there. And maybe leave the Yellowstone Lake area for the last day, on your way to Grand Teton. I guess a lot depends on how much time you spend at each place…
      For some more ideas on what to see in Yellowstone, check this post: best things to do in Yellowstone with kids (but also for adults of course).
      As for clothing, here you can find our Yellowstone summer packing list. June is probably much colder than what we had in July, so just to be on the safe side make sure you have a sweater and a rain jacket as well.
      Have a nice trip!

  76. There are so many great ideas in this post! Thank you for taking the time to write them up.

    Many people just stop to see Old Faithful, but to us that was such a small part of the enjoyment in Yellowstone National Park. We especially loved hiking around the falls and the Upper Geyser Basin, as well as Mammoth Hot Springs.

  77. Thank you for the great iterary suggestions!
    We will be coming to Yellowstone during the 2018 Labor Day weekend.
    I was wondering if you could help me with the best route when pulling a 30 foot travel trailer. We will be coming from Custer State Park in South Dakota and will be staying at Fishing Bridge.

    We are thinking of entering the park through the north entrance. Would you advise this? I am concerned about the road grades and tight turns on this route. Would this be our best choice? We have a limited amount of days and the South entrance seems like a better route but will take an additional day of travel to reach.
    I would appreciate any suggestions.
    Thank you!

    1. Author

      Hi Lori, unfortunately I really can’t tell you anything about driving in Yellowstone with a trailer. None of the roads struck as being very steep or difficult to drive, but then we were driving in a minivan and not a trailer. Maybe check the official Yellowstone website for the road information. If they don’t say that it’s forbidden, then it’s probably ok.

  78. Hi Jurga,

    We are planning a family vacation to Yellowstone from June 22 to June 30. We are driving an RV and parking for 3 days in an RV park right outside the east entrance and then moving to the west entrance for a few days and then back to the east for our final 3 days. We are renting a car from Cody, WY and will be driving that through the park. We are trying to decide the best hikes and sights to see while making the most of our time. We are planning to drive up to Lewis and Clark Caverns one day and White Water rafting one day. What would be your suggestions.


    1. Author

      Hi Daisy, in more than a week you can see much more of Yellowstone of course. Please check this post for more ideas on what to do, hikes to take, etc. – best things to see and do in Yellowstone with kids (but it really applies to everyone, not just families with kids of course, and I listed some hikes there as well).

  79. Hello. I am traveling from NC, where do we fly into? You said it’s about a 3 hour ride, so do you usually drive right to the hotel? Did you stay at the Canyon Lodge for the first 3 nights and the Old Faithful Inn the last night?
    Thank you for your help.

    1. Author

      Hi Nadine, the closest airport to Yellowstone is probably in Jackson (JAC) or Bozeman (BZN) which seems to have more flights. From Bozeman to the Northern gates of Yellowstone is just 1,5hrs drive. Afterwards, it depends on where you are staying. Check Google Maps for driving distances and times.
      Ans yes, we stayed at the Canyon Lodge and also one night at the Old Faithful Inn.
      Hope this helps

  80. This is an awesome post! My girlfriend and I planned a last minute trip to Yellowstone/Grand Teton/Jackson Hole from May 23-28. We are flying into Salt Lake City, and unfortunately have to make the long drive back to fly out. Do you have any suggestions as to how to best allocate our time between all three places? We are looking to spend the most time in Yellowstone. Thanks.

    1. Author

      Hi Dylan, depending on your flight times here’s what I’d suggest. On the first day (23/5) drive to Jackson Hole area (it’s some 5hrs drive from SLC) and stay there. Then the next 3 full days (24-26/5) you could visit Yellowstone (see Yellowstone accommodation guide here). The next day (27/5) you could come back to visit Grand Teton. The most popular day trip there is taking a boat on Jenny Lake and then hiking to the Inspiration Point. It’s a half day trip, so you could afterwards drive to Salt Lake City for your flight out the next day. There is plenty to see and do in Salt Lake City to fill a few hours of your time. If your flight is late on the last day you could opt to spend a bit more time in Yellowstone or Grand Teton and then drive straight to SLC from there. Hopefully this gives you some ideas on how to plan your time in the area. Enjoy your trip!

  81. Thanks for the great itinerary and tips. Appreciated.

    We’re planning a mid-Sept 2018 trip to Yellowstone, arriving in Salt Lake City, then onto Grand Teton NP( 1 day) – then 4 days in Yellowstone NP and then leave from Billings MT / Bozeman MT. So, starting south and then traveling north till departure airport.

    This allows us to avoid a long drive back to Salt Lake City for the return.

    With this in mind, would you still recommend staying in Canyon Lodge area (3 nights) and Old Faithful area (1 night), if we want to follow your 4-day itinerary? Should we make any changes to your 4-day itinerary?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Author

      Hi Gary, yes, you can use pretty much the same itinerary as we did, maybe just switch some days around to better fit your accommodations. You could start at the OF (if you find accommodation, alternatively stay at West Yellowstone for that area) and then move to the Canyon area (again, assuming you can find accommodation there, otherwise West Yellowstone or Mammoth area might be good alternatives), then finally go North to Billings. Depending on your flight time, it might be best to stay in Billings the last night – it will definitely be cheaper than staying in Yellowstone, and you can leave Tower/ Mount Washburn/ Lemar Valley area for this last day.
      Please also check our Yellowstone accommodation guide for suggestions on where to stay if Canyon Lodge and the OF turn out to be fully booked.

      1. Thanks for the feedback. Appreciated !

      2. UPDATE: We’ve decided to make it a round trip from SLC.
        Our itinerary currently –
        Day 1 – From SLC, drive to Grand Teton, Reach late afternoon/evening. Stay in Grand Teton. NP.
        Day 2 – Jenny Lake and Inspiration Point. Stay in same place.
        Day 3 – Drive into Yellowstone NP. Staying 3 nights in Canyon Lodge.
        Day 6 – Staying in West Yellowstone. This is so that I could save some time on my return drive to SLC.

        Sightseeing Itinerary is open as of now for days 3,4,5,6. Thinking of following your 4-day itinerary suggestions.

        Question –
        1. For Day 1 and 2, I’m staying in Moran,WY, around two hours from OF, but I’ve Grant Village accommodation availability also on Day 2. Considering the relatively short distance to OF from Moran and no need to check out, should I ignore Grant Village for Day 2? Or will traffic be bad that I’d be better off staying in Grant Village on Day 2? Part of the appeal is that the accommodation option(Signal Mountain) is better in Moran compared to Grant.

        Any suggestions/comments will be appreciated. Thanks.

        1. Author

          Hi Gary, this looks ok to me. One thing – you really don’t need the whole day for Jenny Lake and Inspiration Point. Unless you do some other hiking or plan to do something else, or are ok with a very relaxed day. We also stayed 2 nights at Signal Hill and felt that we had too much time with not much to do. So maybe prepare another hike or something else (kayaking?) to keep yourself busy. OR indeed drive to Yellowstone in the afternoon. If you do the Jenny Lake trip early, you’ll have the whole afternoon free. So I would even say that you could go all the way up to the Canyon Lodge and stay there 4 nights instead of 3, or try if you can get 1 night at the Old Faithful (this is all based on availability of course). I don’t assume traffic will be that bad (even in July it was ok). You may have some bison jam in the Hayden Valley though, so count some extra time for that. All in all, if you can get out of Grand Teton by 2-3PM I think you can easily get to the OF or Canyon area that same day.

  82. This post is immensely helpful!! Thanks so much – We’re planning a trip mid to late June – and yes, I’m unfortunately doing the late planning and haven’t booked lodging yet. Hoping to get something via airbnb if possible at this late date. Is staying outside the park doable? We are driving up from Salt Lake City and planned to work our way up from Grand Teton (maybe just an afternoon because we want to devote most of our time to Yellowstone) and Yellowstone and fly out of Bozeman MT, We have 4 1/2 days total for sightseeing and your itinerary is perfect so I’m definitely going to use it for our planning purposes. So, since we’re driving from SLC, we had planned to stop at Teton first and spend the night in Jackson. From there I suppose we will work our way up and stay somewhere near the west entrance before finally ending up the last night at the north entrance.. Does that sound reasonable?

    thanks Lisa!!

    1. Author

      Yes, Lisa, it should be doable. Please also check my guide to Yellowstone accommodation for the best suggestions on where to stay near the park.
      In Grand Teton you could just take a boat on Jenny Lake and maybe hike to Inspiration Point from there – that’s about half a day indeed. You could try and look for accommodation closer to Yellowstone (Grand Teton area) instead of driving back to Jackson for that one night, but indeed it’s a bit last minute.

  83. Hi jurga,
    I saw your itinerary and we are planning to go on may 28,29,30 just for long weekend trip. can you suggest any hotels and do we need to rent a car or else can i fly there, and is there any local transportation from one place to another to travel.

    As we are planning to go in may, is it a good time to go to see all types of animals and lakes and other stuff.

    1. Author

      Hi Manu, Yellowstone is all about nature, so yes, any time is good to see the animals and stunning landscapes. Keep in mind that it’s a huge national park so indeed you do need a car to get around (unless you join a tour). It’s actually really last minute for hotel bookings for May, but it’s not yet high season, so I guess you’ll be able to find something. Check this post for all Yellowstone accommodation suggestions.
      The closest airport as far as I know is in Jackson Hole and you can rent a car from there. It takes another 2-3hrs to drive to Yellowstone through Grand Teton (I assume that road is open end of May, but maybe best to check ahead).
      If you don’t know where to start with all the preparations for this trip, it might be well worth looking into booking a tour, e.g. this highly rated 2day trip from Jackson Hole.
      Hope this helps. If I were you I’d start making the arrangements asap.

  84. We have planned our trip for July this summer, I have been reading as many blogs as I can but yours is the first to be so helpful about an itinerary, thank you. I booked reservations in West Yellowstone for the week but wondered if we should split the week and stay some of it near the north gate. I think we are planning to fly in and out of Bozeman Mt. My basic plan because it is high season is get up early drive to farthest point of the days itinerary and work backwards ( I am hoping this alleviates some traffic and crowd congestion. Also did you do any hiking, all I keep reading about is bears. Again thank you for the info, it’s greatly appreciated.

    1. Author

      Hi Nancy and thanks a lot for your feedback. I think West Yellowstone is in general one of the best places to stay near Yellowstone. Mammoth Springs area might be indeed a bit easier for the Northern part of the park and maybe also for Lamar Valley. Here you can find more information and tips for Yellowstone accommodation.
      It’s a good idea to start early in the morning. I’d go to the most popular places first and do the quieter areas and hiking during the day.
      As for hiking, we did some hiking and didn’t run into any bears. But we are hiking with three kids, so make plenty of noise to scare all the wildlife away :). You may want to buy a bear spray and a bear bell if you plan to do longer hikes where fewer people come. You can also rent a bear spray in the park (just two locations), but it’s a hassle and not that cheap. Here you can find more tips for what to pack for Yellowstone.
      Here you can find some of the hikes we did and other tips for places to visit in Yellowstone. It’s a guide to exploring Yellowstone with kids, but most places and hikes will appeal to everyone.
      Hope this helps. Have a great time in Yellowstone!

      1. Hello Jurga, I very much appreciate the time you have invested in posting your experiences and the itineraries. My daughter and I are planning a trip to Yellowstone (West Entrance) over Columbus Day weekend. The trip is 2.5 days. Arrive Sat., 10/11 Bozeman @ 12:15 p.m., drive to Yellowstone. I want to follow your 2 day itinerary (Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Springs, Lamar Valley, Monmouth Springs, etc.). Our return trip is Tuesday morning 10/13 at 8:30 a.m. My questions are: 1. Lodging – where do I stay? Do we travel to a central location to accomplish the itinerary? Or do we spend one night in two different hotels? Also would you suggest I travel to Bozeman on MOnday night to catch the early flight on Tuesday? We could have a full day on Monday in the park and head to the airport at 5 or 6 pm. Also we can do the trip ourselves or would you recommend a tour?

        1. Author

          Hi Anna, that’s a really short trip or something isn’t correct with your days. Maybe you meant 10/10 Saturday?
          Anyway, if you have 2.5 days in Yellowstone, you can indeed best follow our 2-day itinerary as it will bring you to all the main highlights. And I think you better opt for a self-drive trip as it will not be easy to find a tour that fits your schedule exactly. Also because mid-October is already the end of the season in Yellowstone. Here you can find the best deals for car rental.
          Keep in mind that you probably won’t be able to do that much on day 1 of your trip – by the time you get your rental car and drive to Yellowstone, it will be quite late already. If you stay in Gardiner, maybe you could visit Mammoth Hot Springs on your first day.
          Also, keep in mind that the days are shorter in October, so plan your days well. Also, make sure to check the most up-to-date information about the road conditions. In principle, everything is still open at that time of the year, but I see that there are some long-term road closures between Tower Junction and Canyon and between Canyon and Yellowstone Lake. That makes some things a bit more complicated so you’ll have to change your itinerary accordingly.
          If you are coming and departing from Bozeman, you may want to simply stay in either West Yellowstone or Gardiner for 2 nights and head back to Bozeman on the last evening. Or you can stay in Gardiner and West Yellowstone (1 night each), and then Bozeman at the end. In any case, I would definitely drive back to Bozeman for the last night and stay close to the airport. Your flight is really early and it will be much more relaxing that way. Here you can find the best deals for Bozeman accommodation. And check out this Holiday Inn just next to the airport; from what I understand they have a free shuttle to the airport and you could probably return your rental car earlier if you want to.
          Hope this helps. Dress warm and enjoy your trip!

  85. Thank you for the itineraries, we will be going in mid September and plan to spend three days there.
    We wil also be going to Grand Teton and Jackson Hole.

    1. Author

      Have a great time in Yellowstone, Rebekah! In Grand Teton take a bot on Jenny Lake (go early) and you can make a nice hike to Inspiration Point (or even a bit further) on the other side of the lake. It makes for a nice day trip.

      1. Thank you for the advise.
        I am wondering what your thoughts are about taking tours in Yellowstone? I want to see all the things you mentioned, but curious if it’s best to do it on our own or book something.
        Thanks again

        1. Author

          I have mixed feelings with tours, Rebekah. Some are great, some – less. In general, our rule is to take tours to places that you can’t visit on your own (boat trips, activities like glacier hiking, winter tours where driving would be too dangerous, etc). You can easily visit Yellowstone on your own and if you have three days, you can see a lot. On the other hand, I know that many people are averse to planning their own trip and they would be stressed the whole time, so the individual trip would be a nightmare for people like that. Or if you go to a place where you only have one day and you want to make the very best of it, then taking a tour might be the best solution as you can benefit of all the experience and knowledge of the tour guides.
          It’s really up to you to decide what works best for you, but once again – in three days you can see a lot in Yellowstone also on your own. Thus these itinerary suggestions – to make sure you see the very best of Yellowstone in the time that you have.

          1. Thank you for the feedback, I think we will just do it on our own, that way we can stop when we want and for how long we want. My husband isn’t a hiker, so we won’t be doing any hiking, although I would love to.
            Thanks again for the feedback.

          2. Hello I have one more question, we are staying in West Yellowstone. I’m wondering if that will be a good place to stay and still be able to do all the things in 3 days, or will that be too much driving?

          3. Author

            Hi Rebekah, I think that West Yellowstone is one of the best places to stay at for exploring Yellowstone outside the park. It’s pretty central to everything, so if you plan well and start your day early you should be able to see and do a lot. No matter where you stay, there is always quite some driving involved as Yellowstone is really big. So try to concentrate on one or two areas every day.

  86. Hi there – this is really helpful…thanks! I am travelling to the area with my teenage son from the 25th May – 4th June but we’re flying to and from Denver (from England) and hiring an RV…so we probably have about 5 days in Grand Teton & YNP. My son is really keen to visit Shoshone National Forest too (he loves the video game Firewatch). Any suggestions on must-see places and hikes would be fabulous.

    At the moment we are thinking of driving from Denver via Dubois into Shoshone and then over to Grand Teton and up to Yellowsone…then back via the Red Desert to Denver…sound reasonable?

    1. Author

      Hi Colin, I have to admit that I don’t know these places at all, so I’m afraid I can’t help you. We also flew to Denver (and out of Salt Lake City), but made a very different trip. Here you can find our American trip itinerary, maybe you’ll find some inspiration in there (but then again, very different route).

  87. Jurga
    We are hoping to visit Yellowstone this next Summer. Relieved to find your suggestions.
    We’re looking at the 4 day.
    Regarding housing….we’ve been looking at Airbnb in Cody.
    How difficult or is it feasible to base out of Cody and accomplish your itinerary?
    Or should we base somewhere else?

    1. Author

      Hi Doug, you could stay in Cody just before and/or after visiting Yellowstone, but it’s really too far to commute every day. Yellowstone is huge and in summer it’s really busy in the park, so you will quickly get frustrated having to spend so much time in the car. Here you can find our suggestions for the best accommodation options in and near Yellowstone NP. Keep in mind that most places inside the park will probably already be booked, the best alternative in that case is West Yellowstone.

  88. Hi! First of all thank you for taking the time to research and post this. It is saving me so much time and headache.

    I have a question on getting into the park. What are the pass requirements? Do you buy a day pass each day or is there a week pass? Where do you have to present your pass? Just once to get inside then you are good till you leave? Any info you have about this would be so very helpful. Thank you again!

    1. Author

      Hi Amie, you can buy the pass at any entrance gate to the park. That’s where they check them when re-entering too. It’s usually valid for a week, per car, for all people in it. You can enter and leave as many times as you want.
      Tip: If you are visiting more National Parks in one year, consider buying a yearly pass for all parks – it’s just 80USD for the whole family (in one car) all parks, valid the whole year. You can buy this pass at any entrance station of any national park, no need to buy in advance.
      Here you can find more info about Yellowstone park pass and here about America The Beautiful Pass (annual pass for all parks).

  89. Thank you for this itineray suggestion! We plan to visit Yellowstone with kids and your post weel resume the highlights. This plan will help us to organize our days… Thank you so much!

    1. Author

      Good to hear that, Isabelle. Enjoy your trip to Yellowstone.

      1. Absolutely! 🙂

  90. Hi this is a great itinerary. We are planning on visiting Yellowstone next September. Can you please let me know where you stayed? Was it all at the same place?

  91. Great tips! I grew up not too far from Yellowstone, but sadly never spent nearly enough time there. I definitely hope to visit again next time I go home!

  92. We did the exact same thing as you suggested, spending 4 days in Yellowstone. So agree with not packing too much in a day because you will have moments of unexpected amazing encounters. It is by far my favorite National Park because of the incredible diversity you get to see in the park. Beautiful photos 🙂

    1. Author

      Thank you, Richa. It’s one of my favourite National Parks too – every part of Yellowstone is unique in its own way.

  93. This post is insanely useful. Thanks for providing multiple itineraries. Taking the time to visit the more remote areas in the park is worth it

    1. Author

      Absolutely, Carol! The main landmarks are not to be missed of course, but we really loved going a bit off the beaten path – you are completely on your own then and it’s a totally different way to experience Yellowstone.

  94. Your Guide is top notch and the photography .. just wow !!!

    I’ve never been .. Yosemite I have but not here! Now I really wanna go !

  95. I went to Yellowstone a long time ago with my family but I don’t remember much. Guess it’s time to go again! This was definitely helpful!

  96. Love your pictures! Great idea to make custom maps too. Will pin for a later visit ❤️

  97. Yellowstone is such a goal in 2018! I love your images

  98. Your photos are unreal! Love them!

      1. Loved your tips! We are retired couple traveling to Yellowstone in fall, want to see “color”. Like getting off beaten path & seeing little known spots. Time is not an issue but easy accessibility is. (husband not a big walker) Any area you didn’t get to but wish you had or where would you have allowed more time?

        1. Author

          Hi Marcia, one place I wish we had more time was the Lamar Valley. For the rest, if you don’t like much walking, maybe spend more time by Yellowstone Lake. You can take boat trips from there as well, or some short walks.
          One place we didn’t visit and many people say is nice to see is Grizzly and Wolf discovery center in West Yellowstone (outside the park), so maybe something if you have more time. I have some info about it in best things to do in Yellowstone article.
          Enjoy your trip.

  99. Very useful, clear and detailed post. Thanks for this. We are headed to SFO next summer, still figuring what else to do from there for a week to 10 days.

    1. Author

      Yellowstone is always a good idea! If you go that way, definitely plan at least 3 days in the park.

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