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 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.

Note that these are all summer itineraries only. In winter most of the roads in Yellowstone are closed and you can only visit the Old Faithful and the Mammoth Springs areas.

Below you can find 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. You may want to check our guide to the best accommodation options in and near Yellowstone National Park.

Update: Since so many of our readers asked for suggestions on how to best combine Yellowstone NP with Grand Teton NP, we have now published a post about the best things to do in Grand Teton National Park in just one day. Check it out!

Old Faithful Inn and Geyser in Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful Inn

 

TIP: Don’t underestimate driving distances in Yellowstone. The park is big and 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 landmarks of Yellowstone, but it’s those unplanned experiences and unexpected encounters that will make your trip more memorable.

How much time do you need in Yellowstone National Park

When I was researching our American road trip itinerary, I quickly realised that one or two days are simply not enough for Yellowstone. Not only is Yellowstone the oldest National Park in the world, it’s also one of biggest and most diverse National Parks we ever visited. After thorough research we decided to dedicate four full days to 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 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!

Best Yellowstone itinerary for any trip

One Day in Yellowstone National Park

If you only have one day in Yellowstone visit the Old Faithful area, Grand Prismatic Spring, and drive at least part of the scenic loop road. If you are short on time I suggest to drive the lower loop passing the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (stop by Artist Point), Hayden Valley, and the Yellowstone Lake.

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

TIP: If you only have one day in Yellowstone, it might be wise to join an organised 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 one of the best Yellowstone day trips (departing from Jackson or Teton Village) that I was able to find.

Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone

Old Faithful geyser is a must in Yellowstone!

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.

Day 1: Old Faithful Geyser, Old Faithful Inn, and the Morning Glory Pool. Grand Prismatic. Mammoth Hot Springs.
Day 2: Lamar Valley. Dunraven Pass. Yellowstone Grand Canyon. Hayden Valley. Yellowstone Lake.

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).

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.

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 travellers 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 focus on wildlife (departs from Jackson, WY).

Here is a map indicating each of the suggested places from our 4-day Yellowstone itinerary.

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 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 day itinerary) – 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 (that would require separate articles), so if you have any specific questions feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll try to help.

You may also want to read our tips on what to pack for Yellowstone in summer.

If you found this post useful, bookmark it for future reference and share with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin this image!

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
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Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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).

  4. 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. 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.

  5. 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?

    Thanks!

    Muskan

    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.

  6. 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! 🙂

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

      Thanks,
      Christi

      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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

    Thanks

  16. 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

  17. 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!

  18. 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. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

  22. 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.

  23. 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).

  24. 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?
    Thanks,
    Doug

    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.

  25. 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).

  26. 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!

  27. 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?

  28. 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!

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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 !

  32. 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!

  33. 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.

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