Julie United States 32 Comments

If you only have one day in Yellowstone National Park, what should you do?

Yellowstone National Park is massive. It’s the largest national park in the United States outside of Alaska. With thousands of acres of land, five entrances, numerous canyons and geyser basins to visit, plus a drive through valleys filled with bison and elk, there’s no way you will get to everything with just one day.

However, with one day in Yellowstone, you have just enough time to see the highlights.

Since Yellowstone is so big, we have several different itineraries to choose from. If you only have one day, most likely you are on a road trip through the USA. Your perfect itinerary will really depend on where you are coming from and where you are going next.

Overview of Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the United States. In 2018, it was 5th on the list of “most visited parks.” In July and August, crowds can be huge, so if you will also be visiting during these months, be prepared for traffic jams, difficulty finding parking spots, and high crowds.

Grand Loop Road is the main road in Yellowstone. It is here that you will find the most of the must-see sights.

Best Things to do with One Day in Yellowstone:
  • Old Faithful
  • Grand Prismatic Spring
  • Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
  • See the wildlife in Hayden Valley or Lamar Valley

These itineraries are for the months of May through October. From early November through mid-April, many of the park roads will be closed due to snowfall. It’s still possible to visit the park in the winter, but you will get around by snowmobile or snow coach, which of course will be a much different experience than the summer months.

Important Update for 2021: There are planned road closures on Grand Loop Road between Tower-Roosevelt and Canyon Junction. Get the full details on the national park service website. During this time, you will have to modify the driving route for several of these itineraries.

One Day in Yellowstone

Here are six sample itineraries for how to spend one day in Yellowstone. Pick the one that most closely fits your planned route through the park. If you have any questions about these itineraries, or if you don’t see your option listed, let us know in the comment section below.

Since you only have one day in Yellowstone, it will be a long, busy day. I recommend that you start as early as possible, not only to give yourself as much time as possible, but to also see one or two sights with low crowds. We typically hit the road no later than 7 am.

Grand Teton National Park to Gardiner, Montana

Start: Grand Teton National Park or Jackson, Wyoming
End: Gardiner, Montana or Mammoth Hot Springs

One Day in Yellowstone Map

Grand Teton National Park sits just south of Yellowstone. Combining these two national parks on a road trip through the USA is a brilliant idea. In fact, it’s exactly what we did, starting in Grand Teton, then Yellowstone, and ending at Glacier National Park.

For a full list of things to do in Grand Teton, check out our article Best Things to do in Grand Teton National Park.

From Grand Teton National Park and Jackson, Wyoming, you will drive north on the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Highway to Yellowstone. The south entrance of Yellowstone is located north of Jackson Lake. To get to this entrance from Jackson, it is a 60 mile drive and takes one hour and fifteen minutes.

Optional: West Thumb Geyser Basin

This is the first sight you will see once you enter Yellowstone. If you got an early start and are doing good on time, you could consider getting out here to stretch your legs. At this small geyser basin you can see brilliant blue hot springs and wonderful views of Yellowstone Lake. A visit here is quick, taking most people 30 to 45 minutes. However, there is a lot to do today, so you could skip this and go directly to Old Faithful.

West Thumb

Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin

Old Faithful is the world’s most famous geyser. It erupts on a very reliable schedule, erupting roughly every hour and a half, give or take ten minutes. Get the next predicted eruption time here.

To watch the eruption, you can either grab a seat on the very crowded boardwalk or hike up to Observation Point for a bird’s eye view (1 mile round trip).

Old Faithful

The view from Observation Point

While you are here, you can also explore the Upper Geyser Basin, which is one of the best places in the park to see hot springs, more geysers, and brilliantly colored thermal pools.

A visit to Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin usually lasts about two hours, with time to watch the eruption and walk the boardwalk trails.

Grand Prismatic Spring

From Old Faithful, it’s just a short drive to the Grand Prismatic Spring.

There are two ways to see the Grand Prismatic Spring and I recommend doing both of them. That also means that you will have to park in two separate parking lots.

As you drive here from Old Faithful, you will first arrive at the parking lot for the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook. Park at the large, gravel parking lot for Fairy Falls (RV’s, buses, and trailers are not allowed in this parking lot). From here, it is a 1.6 mile round trip hike to the overlook and it’s worth it! Here is the view.

One Day in Yellowstone

To walk the boardwalk trails and get up close to the Grand Prismatic Spring (called the Midway Geyser Basin), hop back in your car and drive a mile and a half up the road to the Grand Prismatic Spring parking lot. This lot is tiny for the number of visitors this place gets so most likely you will have to park along the road. Walk the 0.8 mile boardwalk trail past Grand Prismatic Spring and several other hot springs.

Grand Prismatic Spring

Hayden Valley

To get to Hayden Valley, you will have to do some backtracking. Drive past Old Faithful and the West Thumb Geyser Basin to Hayden Valley.

Hayden Valley is one of the best places in Yellowstone to see bison. If you are lucky, there will be a large herd on the roadside so you can get up close with these animals.

Hayden Valley

Bison in Yellowstone

Traffic jams in Hayden Valley are common. The bison tend to stop smack in the middle of the road, blocking traffic in both directions.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

For thousands of years the Yellowstone River has been carving out this canyon. You can visit both rims of the canyon, either driving or hiking to the overlooks. If you have the time, it’s worth it to see both sides of the canyon.

On the north rim, our favorite experiences were hiking down the the Brink of the Lower Falls and taking in the view from Lookout Point.

Brink of the Lower Falls

Brink of the Lower Falls


Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Lookout Point

On the south rim, walk Uncle Tom’s Trail and visit Artist Point. Artist Point is the iconic view of the waterfall and one of the most popular sights in Yellowstone (it is also the cover photo for this article).

If you visit both rims of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, a visit here can take between 2 and 4 hours, depending on traffic and how much you choose to do.

Optional: Mammoth Hot Springs

From Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, drive north towards Gardiner. You can either drive past Norris Geyser Basin and up Route 89 (this route is shorter and faster) or drive up Grand Loop Road, over Dunraven Pass, to Tower and then to Mammoth (this route is longer but more scenic).

If you still have time and energy left, you can visit Mammoth Hot Springs. It takes an hour to walk all the trails here, but with 15 minutes, you can park and see the Liberty Cap, one of the prettiest of the hot springs at Mammoth.

Mammoth Hot Springs

End your day in Mammoth or Gardiner, Montana.

Mammoth Hot Springs to Grand Teton National Park

Start: Mammoth Hot Springs or Gardiner, Montana
End: Grand Teton National Park or Jackson, Wyoming

Important Update for 2021 & 2022: There are planned road closures on Grand Loop Road between Tower-Roosevelt and Canyon Junction. Get the full details on the national park service website. During this time, skip this itinerary (do the first itinerary that I have listed above instead). 

One Day in Yellowstone Map

This is the above itinerary, just in the opposite order. However, I have a recommended detour.

You have the option to make a quick visit to Mammoth Hot Springs.

To get to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, drive towards Tower. Before arriving at Tower, there will be a turn-off for Blacktail Plateau Drive. This is a one-way dirt road that runs parallel to Grand Loop Road. It’s a scenic drive and along the way you have the chance to spot bear, elk, deer, and other wildlife. It adds a small amount of time on to the drive but it’s worth it if you are looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience in Yellowstone.

Blacktail Plateau Drive

Then, visit Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, keep your fingers crossed that you’ll see bison in Hayden Valley, and visit the Grand Prismatic Spring and Old Faithful before driving south to Grand Teton National Park.

Grand Teton National Park to the Northeast Entrance

Start: Grand Teton National Park or Jackson, Wyoming
End: Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone

One Day in Yellowstone Map

From Grand Teton National Park and Jackson, Wyoming, you will drive north on the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Highway to Yellowstone. The south entrance of Yellowstone is located north of Jackson Lake. To get to this entrance from Jackson, it is a 60 mile drive and takes one hour and fifteen minutes.

You have the option to visit the West Thumb Geyser Basin once you enter Yellowstone National Park.

Watch the eruption at Old Faithful, walk the boardwalk trails around the Upper Geyser Basin, and then visit both the Grand Prismatic Spring overlook and the boardwalk trails of the Midway Geyser Basin.

From here drive north towards the Norris Geyser Basin (but don’t stop here) and continue east to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Visit both the north and south rims if you have time.

From the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, drive north over Dunraven Pass. Once you are in Tower, turn right onto Route 212 and head into Lamar Valley. Lamar Valley is the best place in Yellowstone to see wildlife. Elk, bison, deer, bear, coyotes, and wolves can all make appearances here.

New Route for 2021 & 2022 due to the road closure: After visiting the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, backtrack to the Norris Geyser Basin, take route 89 north to Mammoth, and then take Grand Loop Road east to Lamar Valley.

Lamar Valley


Exit the park at the northeast entrance.

OPTIONAL: It is possible to do this itinerary and end in Gardiner or Mammoth. Just be aware that it is a long drive from Lamar Valley to Mammoth (33 miles, 1 hour) but it’s worth it if animal sightings are at the top of your list.

West Yellowstone to Grand Teton National Park

Start: West Yellowstone
End: Grand Teton National Park or Jackson, Wyoming

One Day in Yellowstone Map

West Yellowstone is located in Montana, just outside of the park. This is a great place to stay, with lots of hotel options and restaurants to choose from. We spent one night here at the Kelly Inn. If you are looking for good spot for dinner and like Spanish food and tapas, try Cafe Madriz.

From West Yellowstone, drive directly to Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. This is a great place to visit in the morning, since the roads and parking lots will still be relatively empty. It will be easy to drive from overlook to overlook on the North Rim this time of day. Visit the North Rim first and end on the South Rim.

Drive through Hayden Valley, see Old Faithful and walk through the Upper Geyser Basin, and then visit the overlook and the boardwalk trails at the Grand Prismatic Spring.

End your day in Grand Teton National Park or Jackson, Wyoming.

East Entrance to Grand Teton National Park

Start: East Entrance (Cody, Wyoming)
End: Grand Teton National Park or Jackson, Wyoming

The closest town to the east entrance is Cody, Wyoming. To get into Yellowstone, it is a 53 mile drive through a rugged, mountainous landscape.

Once inside the park, drive north through Hayden Valley, visit the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Grand Prismatic Spring, and then Old Faithful. Before exiting the park, you also have the option to add on the West Thumb Geyser Basin.

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake

East Entrance to Mammoth

Start: East Entrance (Cody, Wyoming)
End: Mammoth or Gardiner, Montana

If you want to see wildlife, I recommend either visiting Hayden Valley right after you enter Yellowstone or saving Lamar Valley for the end of the day (although doing this will make your day very long).

Once inside the park, drive right to Hayden Valley, if you chose this option. Then, visit Old Faithful, the Grand Prismatic Spring, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Drive north over the Dunraven Pass on Grand Loop Road. Then, drive to Mammoth or turn right and go to Lamar Valley, if you prefer to see the wildlife here.

New Route for 2021 & 2022 due to the road closure: Most likely you will have to skip Lamar Valley. After visiting the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, take route 89 north to Mammoth. If you still have a lot of daylight, you can drive out to Lamar Valley, but it will be a very long day. 

Grand Loop Road

More Itinerary Ideas

I know that I did not include every possible route through the park. The above itineraries are for the most common routes through Yellowstone. If you don’t see your route listed and have questions, let us know in the comment section below.

Yellowstone Day Trip from Grand Teton

Visiting Yellowstone on a day trip from Grand Teton National Park works very well. We have a detailed day trip itinerary from Jackson, Wyoming, the perfect way to spend one day in Yellowstone if you will be visiting Grand Teton National Park. 

The Perfect Yellowstone Day Trip from Grand Teton National Park

With More Time in Yellowstone

If you have more than one day in Yellowstone, don’t miss our article Yellowstone Itinerary: How to Spend 1 to 5 days in Yellowstone. 

Tips to Have the Best Experience

Get an early start. This will give you more time for sightseeing and let you visit at least one sight with low crowds.

Consider visiting Yellowstone in May or at the end of September into October if you want to have lower crowds and a more pleasant experience.

In July and August, be prepared for large crowds, traffic jams, and difficulty finding a parking space at most sights.

Visit the Grand Prismatic Spring midday. Yes, this is the most crowded time to be here but it’s also the best time to see the spring. Midday, the mist has burned off and the colors are vibrant, especially on a sunny day. Early in the morning, the spring is covered with mist and it can be a disappointing experience. For more information on how to visit the Grand Prismatic Spring, and add on the hike to Fairy Falls, read this.

Take a look at our Yellowstone article for more ideas of things to do. There is a lot more information about each sight in this article, plus, you might see something else on this list that really interests you.

More Information for Your Trip to Yellowstone:

For more information about Yellowstone National Park, click here to read our Guide to Yellowstone National Park. Get important travel planning tips, sample itineraries, advice on when to go, where to stay, and more.

If you are planning to spend one day in Yellowstone and have any questions, let us know in the comment section below.


Where Are You Going Next?

If your visit to Yellowstone is part of a bigger road trip through the USA, here are more ideas about nearby destinations.

Read all of our articles about the USA in our United States Travel Guide.

Yellowstone One Day Itinerary


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Comments 32

  1. Great help as we are going the end of the month and first week of June. Have helped with better planning of what to do and where to see wildlife.

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  2. Thank you so much for the helpful hints and information! My husband and I are going to Jackson Hole at the end of June and only have a limited amount of time. This site has been SUPER helpful with our planning!!!

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  3. We are planning a day in Jackson/Grand Tetons, day 2 will be in Yellowstone and then head up towards Glacier National
    Park. What route do you suggest from Tetons through Yellowstone to see the most and exit so we are headed towards Glacier and not back towards the Tetons.
    I love this site. Thank you so much.

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      You’re welcome! I have the perfect article for you…our 10 day itinerary that starts in Grand Teton, goes through Yellowstone, and ends in Glacier National Park. Here is the link. Let me know if you have any more questions. Cheers, Julie

  4. Hello! All your sample itineraries are super helpful. I’m visiting Yellowstone and Grand Tetons for 5 days in late June. I’ll begin staying in West Yellowstone two days, then Jackson Lake two days, then Jackson.

    Any samples itineraries that I may have missed (sorry) that you’d recommend starting from West Yellowstone?

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      I don’t have a one-day itinerary written out that starts and ends in West Yellowstone. However, we have a Yellowstone itinerary that covers 5 days in the park which would be useful for you if you plan to visit Yellowstone with more than one day. Based on the fact that you have two nights in West Yellowstone, I am assuming you have about 1.5 days in the park before you head to Jackson. On day 1, I recommend visiting Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in the morning, then Norris Geyser Basin, then Mammoth Hot Springs, with the option to visit Lamar Valley. Just know that adding on Lamar Valley will make this day super long and you will have a long drive back to West Yellowstone. On day 2, visit Old Faithful and Upper Geyser Basin first, then Grand Prismatic Spring and Midway Geyser Basin midday, and then drive to Jackson. If you have more time, or less time, and need another suggestion, let me know. Cheers, Julie

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  5. Thank you for all of the great information. We will be traveling to Yellowstone at the end of August and staying between Cody and the East Entrance. We have 2 days for Yellowstone and one day at the Grand Tetons. With the road closures in mind, what would be the best itinerary entering at the east entrance?

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      On your first day, visit Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Norris Geyser Basin, and Mammoth Hot Springs. Because of the road closure, it doesn’t make sense for you to visit Lamar Valley. A rough estimate would be about 1.5 to 2 hours of driving, one way, to get from the east entrance to Lamar Valley.

      On day two, drive through Hayden Valley in the morning and keep your fingers crossed that the bison are hanging out along the road. Then visit Old Faithful and the geyser here, and continue to Grand Prismatic Spring. Then drive back towards West Thumb Geyser Basin and see this if you are doing good on time. And then continue to Grand Teton (if you are staying near Grand Teton). If you plan to visit GTNP as a day trip from the east entrance, just note that it will be between a 2 and 3 hour drive one-way to get to GTNP.

      Have a great trip! Cheers, Julie

  6. Thank you for your these amazing itineraries! I noticed that the park doesn’t open til 8am. If I’m camping in the park, can I get an early start (6 or 7am) through Lamar Valley? What if I’m not camping in the park? I’m looking to begin at the northeast entrance, go through Lamar Valley, then Boiling River then down to Grand Prismatic and Old Faithful and finally exiting through the west entrance to check into an RV park. Will be traveling in our motorhome. Also, where can we park our 35ft motorhome if I’m looking to go to the observation deck of Grand Prismatic? Thanks in advance.

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      Hello Cam. Actually, the park is open 24 hours a day. It’s the visitor center that doesn’t open until 8 am. So yes, you can go to Lamar Valley at 6 am, or even earlier, if you want to. The entrance booths have set hours but usually before 7 am they are “unmanned” so you can drive into the park for free. But there is no gate so you won’t have any issues getting into the park.

      There are some pull outs along Grand Loop Road, near the Fairy Falls parking lot, where you can park an RV. The challenge will be if there are any available spots. You can look at the parking lots and the road in this area with satellite view on Google Maps. However, their images are not updated. The Fairy Falls parking lot has been expanded and that does not yet appear on Google Maps. When we were in Yellowstone in November 2020, if I remember correctly, I saw RV’s parked in a very small parking lot across the street from the Fairy Falls trailhead parking lot. But it is an issue that the NPS needs to address they just don’t have enough funding.

      I hope you have a great trip to Yellowstone. Cheers, Julie

  7. Hi! We are coming from Boise to visit family in Ryegate, Montana. We will arrive in the late evening and plan to stay a night close to the park but aren’t sure which entrance would be best, south or west. We can spend the whole next day at the park. But we aren’t sure what we should visit and where to stay that evening before heading to Ryegate next morning. On our way back from Ryegate we have 2-3 days we could spend at the park before heading home to Boise. But again I’m not sure which route to take and where to stay the first night and the night before we head home. We prefer to stay outside of the park if possible. We will have small children with us as well. Any suggestions?

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      For your first day in Yellowstone, I recommend a modified version of the first itinerary in this post. Sleep near the southern entrance, in eastern Idaho (I don’t know about lodging in these towns but you could try Ashton or St. Anthony). Follow the Grand Teton to Gardiner itinerary but skip Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Spring and do everything else we mention. Then, when you return to the park, you can visit everything else. If you can get lodging in the park at Canyon Village that’s ideal because of its relatively central location. If not, you could spend 1 to 2 nights in Mammoth or Gardiner, concentrating on the north part of the park (don’t miss Lamar Valley late in the day!) and then stay in West Yellowstone or at Old Faithful for the remainder of your time, and visit the southern spots from here. The night before you head home, you could stay in West Yellowstone, Old Faithful, or in eastern Idaho (where you stayed the first night). Hope this helps! Cheers, Julie

  8. Hello! Your site is magnificent with wonderful information. Thank you. My husband and I are staying in Teton Village end of September and are wanting to visit Yellowstone for one day maybe 2….. but it seems to be a lot of driving back and forth. I understand the closest entrance will be the South Entrance…. any suggestions because we will have to go back out of the South Entrance as well and are not staying in Yellowstone….but rather in Teton Village. Would you suggest south entrance to Lamar valley and then just drive back through everything in reverse? Hope this makes sense!

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      Hello Carlyn. I’m glad you like our site! I read your email too and later this year I plan on adding a National Parks page to our website because, like you, we are trying to visit all of the national parks. So keep checking back. 😉

      You are looking at a LOT of driving to go out and back to the Lamar Valley. One way, it’s about 5 hours of driving and 200 miles, which puts you in the car for 10 hours, and that does not include the detour to Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. But I’m not saying it can’t be done, it will just be a very long day.

      There are a few variations you could consider that would shorten your day. (1) You could skip Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Yes, it’s nice and it’s an icon, but you could skip it to save time. (2) Lamar Valley is awesome, but rather than driving that far north, you could keep your fingers crossed that the bison will be roadside in Hayden Valley. Then, you can see the Grand Canyon and just drive the southern loop of the park, saving you the big drive to Lamar Valley. (3) One final option is to spend one night in just outside the NE entrance or in Mammoth or Gardiner, since both Lamar Valley and the Grand Canyon are high on your list…and you could do the drive back to Teton Village the following day.

      Driving through the park looks like the quickest option. Hopefully in September crowds won’t be too bad or add delays. If I were to do this, I would pack some meals, to save time. You can buy food in Mammoth, at Old Faithful, and at Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. But this will add a little time. Kara and I bought a cooler at the grocery store in Jackson and would make picnic lunches and eat these, to save time while visiting the parks. It worked so well we now do this on lots of our road trips, especially the busier days.

      Cheers, Julie

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          It’s a 2 hour drive if you go clockwise around the southern loop, visiting Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Spring on the way (just driving time…the 2 hours does not include time at OF or GPS). Cheers!!

  9. We are traveling from CO to WA in mid/late September. We plan to stay over night in Cody and get an early start to do your 1 day drive through itinerary to Mammoth. It sounds perfect!

    1. Would this drive through be possible pulling a 26ft travel trailer? Are there large parking areas at the spots you recommended?

    2. How long do you think the drive will take (I know this will depend on many things including how long we stay at each spot)?

    3. Do we have to worry about snow/ice in late September?

    Thank you!

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      I have not traveled with a trailer, so I am not familiar with all of the rules. I think you should be fine on the main roads in Yellowstone, but I recommend checking the national park website for any possible restrictions. The drive from Cody to Mammoth, going up route 89 rather than through Tower, takes 4 hours without stops. You should expect extra delays around Old Faithful because they recently had to reroute traffic due to bridge construction (this is also on the NPS website). With stops, it will be a full day to see everything. And in September snow and ice should not be an issue.There is parking for the trailer at Old Faithful and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. At Grand Prismatic Spring, there is a small, designated parking lot near the Fairy Falls parking lot for trailers/RV’s. You will have to do some extra walking here. Hopefully, crowds will be low at the end of September, which should help you out with parking. We were in Yellowstone exactly one year ago and we had lots of trouble midday finding a spot for our SUV.

      We just flew home from our road trip through CO and WA (yesterday!) and I will be writing a lot about the national parks in these states so keep checking back if you are interested.

      Cheers, Julie

  10. Great right up. As a local, we love day trips and 2 days in the parks.

    A point of clarification for those looking for West Yellowstone in Idaho, it’s actually in Montana. We’d love to claim it and annex it in, but you’re not going to find the quaint shops in Idaho.

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  11. Hi!
    This is impressive. We are planning to do a day trip to Yellowstone from California then from there proceed to Mt Rushmore. Do you have tips/recommendations for us to maximize our visit? We will be traveling with kids between 6-13 yrs old.
    Thank you!

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      The bison in Hayden Valley and Lamar Valley are really great to see, especially for kids, I think. Grand Prismatic Spring is amazing. Walk along Upper Geyser Basin after Old Faithful, and hopefully you will get lucky and see a few more geysers go off. If you don’t mind a stair climb, walk the Uncle Tom’s Trail at Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. I wouldn’t add any other geyser basins, because that might get repetitive. They are great to see but you will get your fill with Old Faithful, Upper Geyser Basin, and Grand Prismatic Spring. Cheers, Julie

  12. Love this!! We are driving from Seattle to Detroit next week. The idea was to leave Seattle and get to Spring Hill Idaho …. then drive around and through the park enroute to Sioux Falls.

    What do you suggest to see as much as we can??


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      Hello Jonah. I’m glad we can help! Do you plan to drive from Spring Hill and through Yellowstone all in one day? It looks like it is a 4.5 hour drive to get to West Yellowstone from Spring Hill. If you plan to see Yellowstone in just one day, I recommend staying as close to the park as you can (near West Yellowstone). With one day, enter from West Yellowstone. Drive the south loop clockwise. Go directly to Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and visit both sides of the rim (first thing in the morning crowds will be low and you can drive to many of the viewpoints, which will save a lot of time). Drive south through Hayden Valley, maybe stop at West Thumb, see Old Faithful and walk the boardwalk trails here, then go to Grand Prismatic Spring. It will be crowded but the afternoon is a great time to see it lit up by the sun. Then, if you still have time, you could visit Norris Geyser Basin. You could spend a second night in West Yellowstone, or exit from the east entrance or northeast entrance, so you don’t have to drive through the park again the next day (to continue to Sioux Falls). The reason I wouldn’t recommend driving counterclockwise, starting at GPS, is because in the morning it can be covered with mist and can be disappointing. It’s better midday and in the afternoon. If you have more time, you can see a 2-day itinerary here. Cheers, Julie

  13. Special tips for 2020? Any special tips since we are not sure we can stay overnight anywhere in the park this summer? Starting in Jackson Hole and making our way to Mammoth/Gardiner looks like a one day trip. I like your itinerary. 1) Any changes you would make due to 2020 restrictions? 2) If we make it through the park in one day and end up in Gardiner, would you venture back in the following day? If so, what would you alter for a 2-day or 1 1/2 day trip?


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      Hello Katy. There is the road closure between Canyon Village and Tower. But if you follow the first itinerary on this list you won’t be impacted by the road closure. Here is the information on the NPS website about coronavirus. It looks as if everything is open, other than the road closure, which was already planned for 2020 and 2021. If you did this itinerary over 2 days, I would recommend GPS first, maybe driving north to the Fountain Paint Pot Trail and Artist Paint Pots, seeing Old Faithful, Hayden Valley, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and Norris Geyser Basin (basically, the lower loop). On day 2, visit Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Falls, and then Lamar Valley. It will be a busy two days but you would see all of the highlights of Yellowstone. Have a great trip! Cheers, Julie

  14. Hi, we are taking a road trip with 5 kids – ages 17, 15, 12, 9, and 2 to Denver Colorado From Portland Oregon. We are leaving Portland the afternoon of 3/24 expecting to arrive to Denver 3/26 evening. We had thought about taking a slight detour and going through Yellowstone but realistically only have 5-6 hours of time. Knowing that what would you recommend seeing based on our timeframe?

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      I’m not sure you can visit Yellowstone in March and have it be worth it. Right now, most park roads are closed due to snow. Check conditions before you go on the Yellowstone website. However, if they open in the next few weeks, you could enter through the west entrance, see Grand Prismatic Spring and Old Faithful, drive through Hayden Valley to see the bison, and exit through the east or south entrance. But according to the Yellowstone website, roads are predicted to be closed through mid-April. Good luck! Cheers, Julie

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