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Yellowstone Itinerary Ideas from 1 to 5 Days (+Map & Planning Tips)

Yellowstone Itinerary Ideas from 1 to 5 Days (+Map & Planning Tips)

Planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park and wondering how much time you need to visit the park, how to plan your trip, or what’s the best Yellowstone itinerary for your vacation?

In this post, we share our experience-based advice for visiting Yellowstone National Park, essential tips for planning your trip, and a suggested Yellowstone itinerary for one to five days. Find out!

These planning tips, Yellowstone itinerary for 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 days, and handy maps will help you get the most out 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.

TIP: If you want to visit Yellowstone, but are overwhelmed with all the planning, you can also easily see 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.

Yellowstone itinerary and trip planning tips
Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone

Below, you can find a detailed day-to-day itinerary for Yellowstone. I also included a map for each recommended Yellowstone trip itinerary. That way you have a better idea of where all those places are and how to best plan your time when visiting Yellowstone.

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.

TIP: You can jump straight to our Yellowstone trip itinerary suggestions. However, before going into the details of your Yellowstone itinerary and starting to plan your trip, there are some important things you should know! So I suggest that you read that information first. Take a look!

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

Important Info for Planning a Trip to Yellowstone

ACCOMMODATION: Your Yellowstone itinerary will depend so much on the location of your accommodation. Price-quality-location-wise, West Yellowstone is one of the best places to stay near Yellowstone. You can also see what’s available in this area for your travel dates via the map below.

Alternatively, check our detailed guide to the best places to stay in and near Yellowstone via the links below.

Where to Stay In Yellowstone National Park
Best Hotels & Cabins Near Yellowstone

TIP: Using the map below, you can find the best deals for your stay. Simply insert your travel dates and group size, and you’ll see all the best deals for accommodation near Yellowstone.


DRIVING DISTANCES & TRAFFIC: 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.

Important!!! Please always check the official website for up-to-date information on any road closures or planned works in the park when planning your trip! Also, things can change before your trip, so it’s always a good idea to check it again a few days before your trip.

HOW TO ESCAPE THE CROWDS: 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.

WHEN TO VISIT: If you are not sure when to go to Yellowstone, 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.

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 or four days is enough. You can also see a lot with just a day or two, especially if you plan your time well and focus on the ‘musts’ – our itinerary suggestions below will help you do just that!

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.

TIP: If you only visit for a day, you can also opt for this day tour that includes all the fees. Also this popular 4-day tour includes entrance fee, so you don’t have to worry about any of that.

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

See the best of Yellowstone with the best itinerary suggestions from one to five days #Yellowstone

Here are our Yellowstone itinerary suggestions for any trip duration:

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 lower 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.

One Day Yellowstone Itinerary:

  • Old Faithful & Upper Geyser Basin
  • Grand Prismatic Spring
  • Grand Prismatic Overlook Trail (optional)
  • Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
  • Hayden Valley
  • Yellowstone Lake
  • West Thumb Geyser Basin

For more details and information for this Yellowstone itinerary, please see our 1-day itinerary via the link below.

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 tour (departing from Jackson Hole or Teton Village) that I was able to find. And here is a one-day tour from West Yellowstone.

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

How to use this map: Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the index. Click the star next to the map’s title to add it to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’. If you want to print the map or see it in a bigger window, click on ‘View larger map’ in the top right corner.

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

2 Days in Yellowstone

This is our 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!

Two Days Yellowstone Itinerary:

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.

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.

You can find our detailed 2-day Yellowstone itinerary and tips for your trip via the link below.

LEARN 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. The places indicated in red are described in the 1-day itinerary above, purple – day 2.

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

Yellowstone Itinerary for 3 Days

If you have three days in Yellowstone, you can explore all the main areas at a more relaxed pace. In addition, you’ll have some time for some lesser-known places that will make your Yellowstone trip even more special. Below is our suggested itinerary.

Three Days Yellowstone 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. Undine Falls. Wraith Falls. Petrified Tree (not a must). 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.

TIP: If you’d like to do some hiking in Yellowstone, on day 3, you could go hiking along the rims of the Yellowstone Canyon. There’s also a very highly-rated hiking tour with a local guide that you can join in this area.

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. Places indicated in red are the ones described on day 1 of this itinerary, purple on day 2, and yellow – on day 3.

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

4 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 :).

Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park
Scenic road – Lamar Valley to Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone

Four Days Yellowstone Itinerary:

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. Undine Falls. Wraith Falls. Petrified Tree (optional). Lamar Valley. Tower Fall. Dunraven Pass.

Day 4: Midway Geyser Basin (Grand Prismatic). You can also hike to the Grand Prismatic Overlook. 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 out this beautiful 4-day/ 3 night Yellowstone and Grand Teton trip with a focus on wildlife (departs from Jackson, WY).

Below is a map indicating each of the suggested places from our 4-day Yellowstone itinerary. Places indicated in red are the ones described on day 1 of this itinerary, purple – day 2, yellow – day 3, and green – day 4. The blue dots are the places that we mention in the 5-days Yellowstone itinerary further below.

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

5 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.

Another nice option on foot or by bike is Lone Star Geyser. It’s located about 3 miles south of the Old Faithful area and can be reached via a hiking/biking trail from there. It erupts every 3 hours.

Otherwise, you can find plenty of other nice hikes, go for a boat ride on Yellowstone Lake, go for a scenic float or rafting nearby, join a hiking tour, etc.

Take a look at the map above (4 days in Yellowstone) – the blue dot next to Dunraven Pass is Mount Washburn, and the blue dot south of the Old Faithful is the Lone Star Geyser.

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

So, these are my suggestions for the best way to plan your Yellowstone trip and see the main landmarks of Yellowstone. None of these itineraries are very detailed as they 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 every trip and itinerary will be somewhat different because so much depends on the location of your accommodation. 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 planning your trip to Yellowstone:

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Planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park: itinerary and info
Best Yellowstone itinerary for any trip from 1 to 5 days
Yellowstone itinerary ideas for one, two, three, four, and five days #Yellowstone

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Tracy Hughes

Tuesday 17th of October 2023

What airport did you fly into? Also, how far was the drive from the airport to Canyon Lodge?


Wednesday 18th of October 2023

Hi Tracy, Yellowstone was just part of a much bigger road trip for us. We flew out of Salt Lake City after we left the park. That was like 6 hrs drive. But there are plenty of smaller airports nearby (1-3 hrs). You can find this information in our Yellowstone travel guide.


Tuesday 19th of September 2023

We just returned from Yellowstone and I wanted to thank you for all the information on your website. It was invaluable for our trip. We could have never seen this much without your tips. THANK YOU!


Thursday 21st of September 2023

Glad to help, Muryel.

Brent D.

Friday 11th of August 2023

Hi Jurga, I'm planning a camping trip to Yellowstone NP for my family in early Sept 2024. We'll be pulling a 30' camper. I like your 4-5 day Yellowstone itinerary and was wondering if you stayed at one particular camp site or did you move to different camp sites to cut drive times? Which one(s) would you recommend? Thank you so much for your help! Brent D.


Sunday 13th of August 2023

Hi Brent, we do not camp so we stayed at the hotels - Canyon Lodge most of the time, plus the Old Faithful Lodge for a night. You can find more info about Yellowstone campsites here.


Monday 24th of July 2023

hi jurga i am thinking to come in oct end and thinking where ot fly from NY and with best price in mind where to stay and how to plan for 4-6 days total .


Tuesday 25th of July 2023

Hi Claudia, first, keep in mind that most roads in Yellowstone close for the winter season on November 1. End of October can also already be quite cold and snowy, so you have to be prepared for some uncertainty. Check the official site for the road conditions and planned closures. For the rest, if you do indeed go in October, you should be able to visit most places as described in our itinerary suggestions, so please check our article for how you could plan your time. As for where to stay, many accommodations inside the park will also be already closed for the season. Only Mammoth Hotel and OF Snowlodge remain open somewhat longer in October, but also not the entire month. So the best places to stay are likely West Yellowstone and/or Gardiner. Please take a look at this article for more information on the best hotels near Yellowstone. Having said all this, if you can plan your trip somewhat earlier, even if just a few weeks, it will make a big difference. End of October is really the very end of the main season. Hope this helps. Have a great trip!


Sunday 14th of May 2023

We’re booked for 7 nights at Grizzly RV park in mid July. This will be our first trip to Yellowstone! We’re traveling in an RV with a tow vehicle, so we’ll have transportation for traveling around. Any thoughts? I’ve been looking at itineraries and it almost seems like we should have tried to stay in a couple of different places. We’re heading to Lava Hot Springs after that and making our way to Salt Lake City. Thanks!


Monday 15th of May 2023

Hi Mindy, this RV park is located in West Yellowstone which is really one of the best locations to stay for Yellowstone if you can't find a place inside the park. My best recommendations would be to focus on different area each day so that you can explore deeper and drive a bit less. But yes, it's quite inevitable that you will have to cover big distances on some days, for example, if driving to Lamar Valley. So yes, with a week, ideally, you would split your stay between several different areas in the park, but if you can't change your bookings anymore, just make the most of it. With good planning and early start (to avoid the long queues at the park entrance), you can see all the best places using West Yellowstone as your base location. Have a great trip!

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