Julie United States 159 Comments

Yellowstone and Grand Teton are two of the most popular national parks in the USA. These two parks sit by side and together they create an incredible vacation destination. Hike into the Tetons, explore the geyser basins and hot springs in Yellowstone, and spot elk, bison and bear as you tour the parks.

If you are planning your Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary, we have lots of valuable information to share with you.

Over the past three years, we have visited Yellowstone and Grand Teton multiple times. On this website, we already have a detailed itinerary for Yellowstone National Park and very popular road trip itinerary for Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks.

We frequently get emails and comments about planning a trip to this region, so many that we decided to write this guide.

In this guide, we cover how to plan a trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton, followed by several itineraries, depending on your travel style and the amount of time you have.

While in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.

Overview of Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is the second largest US national park outside of Alaska. Its land mass tops out over 2 million acres. With five entrances and 251 miles of roads, this is a BIG park to explore.

Yellowstone is primarily located in Wyoming, although a small part of the park crosses the border into Idaho and Montana.

This park is so big that there are several “villages” inside the park, each with lodging, campsites, and food services. And sitting just outside of the park are small towns, such as Gardiner and West Yellowstone, that also make great places to stay.

There is a long list of things to do in Yellowstone, but the top experiences include:

  • Old Faithful
  • Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
  • Grand Prismatic Spring
  • Lamar Valley
  • Hayden Valley
  • Mammoth Hot Springs
  • Wildlife Viewing

Just outside of Yellowstone is Beartooth Highway. This road is one of the best scenic drives in the USA. It starts near the northeast corner of Yellowstone and ends in Red Lodge, Montana. If you like scenic drives, this is worth adding on to your Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary.

To do everything on this list, you need a minimum of three days, and even then, they will be very busy days.

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers. You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

Overview of Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park sits to the south of Yellowstone. To get from one park to the other, it only takes an hour of driving.

Grand Teton looks vastly different from Yellowstone. This park is named for the Teton Range, a jagged, rocky mountain range that runs through the heart of the park. Numerous lakes are located along this mountain range, as well as some of the most thrilling hiking trails in the national park system.

Grand Teton National Park is not quite as popular as Yellowstone, and it is much smaller, so this park needs less time. UNLESS you like hiking. If so, you could very easily spend a week here, hiking a different trail every day. We know, we’ve done it, and it was awesome.

Here is a list of the top things to do in Grand Teton National Park:

  • Jenny Lake
  • Inspiration Point & Hidden Falls
  • Cascade Canyon
  • Oxbow Bend
  • Mormon Row Historic District
  • Schwabacher Landing
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve
  • Long list of great hiking trails

It is possible to visit Grand Teton in one day. Every additional day you can add gives you more time to either go hiking or explore off-the-beaten-path places.

Combining Yellowstone and Grand Teton into One Trip

Since they sit side-by-side, it’s easy to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton together.

If you are on a road trip through the USA, you can travel point-to-point through these parks. They can be visited in either order, depending on the route that you are traveling through the country.

Many people visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton on a 5 to 10-day trip. This can be done one-way, traveling from Bozeman to Jackson, or done as a loop from one of the airports in the area. Both options have advantages and disadvantages, which I discuss later in this guide.

How to Visit Yellowstone

Grand Prismatic Spring | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

How Much Time Do You Need?

The bare minimum amount of time you need to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton is two days. That gives you one day in each park. It will be a whirlwind tour, but it is doable. In order to do this, plan on spending one day in each park, and in between these visits, stay in either southern Yellowstone or in Grand Teton National Park to reduce the amount of driving.

Much more time is better, especially if you want to truly experience what both parks have to offer.

7 to 8 days is the perfect amount of time, since that gives you three days in Yellowstone, two days in Grand Teton, and travel time to and from the area.

Best Time to Visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton

The best time to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton is from June through October. This is the time when all of the park roads are open.

From early November through late-May, many roads in Yellowstone are closed. Roads begin opening in mid-April, but it takes until the end of May for all the park roads in Yellowstone to be open. Teton Park Road in Grand Teton National Park usually does not open until early-May. You can still visit both parks in the winter, but you will get around by snowmobile or on cross-country skis, which will be a much different experience than the summer months.

Crowds are enormous during the summer months, peaking in July and August. Expect major difficulties finding a parking space midday and be prepared to share hiking trails with many other visitors.

To avoid the crowds, plan your visit for mid-September through mid-October. The end of September is our favorite time to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Grand Teton is ablaze in fall colors and crowds are lower in Yellowstone. It can be chilly, and it might even snow, but it is a lovely time to be here.

Grand Teton in September

Grand Teton in September | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

How to Get to Yellowstone and Grand Teton

Where to start your trip is one of the biggest decisions you will make. Scattered around Yellowstone and Grand Teton are several airports that make great starting points.

Airports near Yellowstone Map

Airports near Yellowstone and Grand Teton | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport

This is the second largest airport on this list. For a point-to-point Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary, Bozeman makes a great starting or ending point. With lots of daily flights and rental car options, it also is a great starting point for a round-trip itinerary. You can also fly in and out of Bozeman, if you don’t mind a long drive the final day of your trip to get to the airport. We have an itinerary for this later in this guide.

From Bozeman, it takes 90 minutes to drive to the north entrance of Yellowstone.

Jackson Hole Airport

This airport is the most convenient on this list because of its location. It is located inside of Grand Teton National Park and it takes 90 minutes to get to Yellowstone.

This is another great choice for either a point-to-point or round-trip itinerary. However, it is a small airport and both flight and rental car options will be more limited than at Bozeman International Airport.

Regional Airports

Idaho Falls Regional Airport, Yellowstone Regional Airport in Cody, Wyoming, and Yellowstone Airport at the West Entrance of Yellowstone are also worth a quick search.

Since these are regional airports, there will be a limited number of flights, but you might get lucky. Just be aware that rental car options are usually limited at a regional airport and you might not be able to rent a car here and drop it at a different location.

Salt Lake City International Airport

This airport is the largest airport on this list and it is located 5 hours from Yellowstone and Grand Teton. I’m mentioning it because this is the airport we use. We are usually able to get cheap, direct flights into this airport. Since it is a large facility, it is generally cheaper to rent a car and take it on a point-to-point trip.

So, if you can’t find any good options with the airports closer to Yellowstone and Grand Teton, give SLC a try. It’s more time on the road but that could be worth saving the money or finding a rental car company with cheaper prices.

Old Faithful

Old Faithful | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary: Do it as a Loop or One-Way?

The answer to this question is mainly going to depend on two factors: how much time you have and the rental car drop fees.

I wish I could tell you what to expect for rental car prices and drop fees. These fees vary a lot from month to month and year to year.

How far in advance you are planning your trip can also affect rental car prices (if you are planning a trip at the last minute, expect to pay a lot for your rental car…and keep your fingers crossed that you can even get one).

But as a very rough estimate, rental car prices can range from $100 to $200 per day and a rental car drop fee can cost you several hundred dollars. In helping people plan their trip to Yellowstone, we have heard of rental car drop fees getting up to $1000!

Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary: As a Loop

Visiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton as a loop from one airport will most likely be the cheapest way to plan your itinerary. Not only will you book a round-trip flight to one airport, but you also avoid rental car drop fees.

The disadvantage is that you will spend more time in your car. If you visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton from Bozeman, it is a 5-hour drive to get from Jackson to Bozeman Yellowstone Airport. So, this adds on about a half day of driving time to return to your starting location. But it could be worth it, because the savings can be huge.

Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary: One-Way

If money was not an issue, this is the best way to plan your trip. Traveling point-to-point (for example, from Bozeman through Yellowstone and Grand Teton, ending in Jackson) saves you time, since you don’t have to drive back to your starting point. This is a great option for those with limited time.

However, you will have a rental car drop fee. This can be very expensive, particularly if you are flying in or out of a smaller regional airport.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: Before booking your flights, research rental car prices and availability. We have heard horror stories from people who booked their flights and hotels and then could not rent a car.

Yellowstone Entrance

Roosevelt Arch, the main entrance into Yellowstone when it first opened.

How to Plan Your Trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton

Taking into account everything that I mentioned above, here is a step-by-step guide for how to plan your trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

1. Determine how many days you can travel.

2. Can you be flexible with that time? For example, if you are planning a one week trip, do you need to go Saturday to Saturday or can you go Tuesday to Tuesday? Sometimes, shifting travel days to the weekdays lowers flight costs and gives you more flight options, particularly if you are planning your trip at the last minute.

3. If you will be flying to these parks, research flight costs. Look into Bozeman, Jackson, the smaller regional airports, and Salt Lake City. Get costs for round trip flights to these airports and how much it would cost if you went point-to-point from Bozeman to Jackson.

4. Once you have flights narrowed down, research rental car costs from the airports you chose. Note: if you plan a point-to-point trip, you will have an additional rental car drop fee. If the fee is too expensive, consider planning your trip as a round trip to avoid this extra fee.

5. Now that you have flights and rental car prices, plan your itinerary using one of the suggestions below (or if you leave a comment below, Tim and I can help you with your plans).

6. Once you have a basic itinerary, check hotel prices and availability. This is good to do BEFORE locking in flights and rental cars, to avoid any unfortunate surprises.

7. Make your flight, rental car, and hotel/lodging/campsite reservations.

8. Sign up for any tours you plan to take.

9. Make dinner reservations one to two weeks in advance.

10. Have fun exploring Yellowstone and Grand Teton!

US National Parks Guide

Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary Suggestions

Below are several different ways to plan your Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary.

The first one I list is an 8-day Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary that can be done point-to-point or as a loop.

Why 8 days? Because it can be done in one week (it can be done Saturday to Saturday). It’s long enough that you won’t feel rushed but short enough that you don’t have to take off too much time from work.

The second itinerary is an 8-Day Grand Teton and Yellowstone itinerary (this itinerary starts with Grand Teton and ends with Yellowstone). Basically, it is the reverse of the Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary.

The remaining itineraries give you suggestions if you have less or more time.

8 Day Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

This itinerary can be done one-way, starting in northern Yellowstone and ending in Jackson, Wyoming, or as a loop from Bozeman. The suggestions for Yellowstone are taken from our 5-Day Yellowstone itinerary.

Day 1: Arrive in Yellowstone
Day 2: Yellowstone: Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin & Lamar Valley
Day 3: Yellowstone: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone & Hayden Valley
Day 4: Yellowstone: Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring & Geyser Basins
Day 5: Drive to Grand Teton National Park
Day 6: Grand Teton: Jenny Lake, Inspiration Point, Cascade Canyon
Day 7: Grand Teton: Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, Phelps Lake, Jackson
Day 8: Fly home

Bozeman to Jackson Map

Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary Map

Day 1: Arrive in Yellowstone

The ideal starting point for this itinerary is Bozeman Yellowstone Airport. Since it is a larger airport, there are numerous flight options and rental car facilities. As a second option, you can fly into Yellowstone Airport in West Yellowstone or Idaho Falls Regional Airport.

Tonight, get settled in your hotel. The best areas to stay tonight are Gardiner, Montana and Mammoth Hot Springs. If you need lodging recommendations, take a look at our Yellowstone Lodging Guide.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: To minimize driving in Yellowstone, I recommend staying in at least two different areas during your visit. This really cuts down on the amount of driving you will do. I know it’s a hassle to pack and unpack, but you will save more time by road tripping through the park.

Day 2: Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin & Lamar Valley

Morning: Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs is a large complex of hot springs in north Yellowstone. Hot, steaming water spills out over travertine terraces, making this one of the most unique geothermal areas in the park.

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

A visit here can be quick, with a short walk to one or two viewpoints. Or, you can spend two hours walking the boardwalk trails past each of the viewpoints.

Before heading to Norris Geyser Basin, grab lunch at the Mammoth General Store or Mammoth Terrace Grill.

Midday: Norris Geyser Basin

Two basins make up Norris Geyser Basin: Back Basin and Porcelain Basin.

Steamboat Geyser, which is in Back Basin, is the world’s tallest active geyser but you have to be very lucky to see it in action (eruptions are very unpredictable). We like Porcelain Basin more than Back Basin, with its loud fumaroles and light blue thermal pools.

It takes 1.5 to 2 hours to visit all of Norris Geyser Basin.

Porcelain Basin

Porcelain Basin at Norris Geyser Basin | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Afternoon: Lamar Valley

Lamar Valley is one of the best spots in Yellowstone to spot wildlife. Every time we drive through here, we see several herds of bison. Elk, bear, coyotes, wolves, and pronghorn also make appearances.

To get to Lamar Valley from Norris Geyser Basin, it’s a bit of a drive. But along way keep an eye out for wildlife. It is possible to spot wildlife from all of the roads in Yellowstone.

The best way to get to Lamar Valley is by taking Grand Loop Road past Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone to Tower. 

Spend the afternoon in Lamar Valley. The afternoon and early evening is prime time to be here for wildlife spotting.

Lamar Valley Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary

Lamar Valley in August. There are lots of bison in this photo (they are tiny specks in the grassland) and as you drive farther into the valley, there is a good chance you will drive past (or even through) several herds of bison.

 Bison Lamar Valley

Lamar Valley at the beginning of October. Yellowstone is very green during the summer months and by mid-September, the leaves begin to change and the grasses turn brown. But wildlife sightings are just as good.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: If you spot wildlife along the road or in the distance, pull off the road in a safe area. Please do not stop in the middle of the road. And do not approach bison or other wildlife. Bison might look slow, but they can run a lot faster than you and they have been known to charge at people.

In the evening, return to your hotel. Tonight, the best places to stay are Canyon Village, Mammoth Hot Springs, or Gardiner, Montana.

OPTIONAL DETOUR: If you want to drive Beartooth Highway, skip Norris Geyser Basin. Visit Mammoth Hot Springs early in the morning and then drive Grand Loop Road east to Lamar Valley and continue to the Northeast Entrance. Beartooth Highway starts just outside of the park and runs to Red Lodge, Montana. You can go the full distance (this will take the full day) or turn around at Rock Creek Vista.

Beartooth Highway

Beartooth Highway | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Day 3: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone & Hayden Valley with an Optional Detour on the Wild Bill Cody Scenic Byway

Morning: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

The best time to visit Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is in the morning, before it gets crowded.

We have a guide to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which has a map, more information about how to visit this area, and many more photos, but here are few essential tips and things to do.

  • Get here by 8 am (or earlier) to beat the crowds.
  • Start on the North Rim. You can drive to each viewpoint, which saves a lot of time and energy. The advantage of getting here early is that you can get a parking space at each overlook…later in the day you might not be so lucky.
  • North Rim Drive is a one-way loop to the viewpoints listed below.
Here is an overview of the North Rim viewpoints as you will get to them on North Rim Road:

Brink of the Lower Falls: This short, strenuous hike (0.6 miles out-and-back with a 600 foot hike back UP to the rim) takes you to a viewpoint perched on top of Lower Falls.

Brink of the Lower Falls Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary

Brink of the Lower Falls | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Lookout Point: Easy walk to one of the best viewpoints of Lower Falls.

Yellowstone Lower Falls

Lookout Point | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Red Rock Point: Like Brink of the Lower Falls, you will hike and walk down several long staircases for another view of Lower Falls (0.6 miles out-and-back and 260 feet of elevation gain).

Red Rock Point

Red Rock Point | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Grand View: OK views of the canyon (skippable if you are short on time).

Inspiration Point: From here, you are very far away from Lower Falls (skippable if you are short on time).

PRO TRAVEL TIP: If you only want to see the highlights, hike Brink of the Lower Falls Trail, visit Lookout Point, and hike to Red Rock Point. Skip Grand View Point, Inspiration Point, and Seven Mile Hole Trail, and then move on to the South Rim.

Brink of the Upper Falls is a separate section of the Grand Canyon. It’s just OK and you don’t miss a whole lot by skipping it. It takes 30 to 45 minutes to visit this area.

The South Rim, however, is well worth the time.

South Rim Road is two-way so you can visit the viewpoints in any order you like:

Canyon Rim Overlook: Short walk to a view of Upper Falls.

Sunset Point: Easy, 0.6-mile round trip walk to another view of Upper Falls.

Uncle Tom’s Trail: Massive staircase down to a great view of Lower Falls (0.6 miles one-way with 500 feet of stairs to get back up to the rim). It’s worth it if it’s open (it has been closed for over 4 years with no sign of it reopening).

Artist Point: It’s a short, easy walk to this iconic view of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Artist Point Yellowstone

Artist Point | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Point Sublime: 3-mile round-trip hike that heads into the canyon, away from Upper and Lower Falls.

Midday: Lunch

A visit to the Grand Canyon Yellowstone will take most of the morning. For lunch, you can have a picnic lunch or go to one of the restaurants/general stores in Canyon Village.

Optional: Mount Washburn

Mount Washburn is one of the most popular hikes in Yellowstone. This hike is 5 to 6.2 miles round-trip, depending on the route you choose, and takes you to the top of Mount Washburn for views over the park. The hiking trailheads are located on Grand Loop Road just north of Canyon Village. 

Mt Washburn

Mt. Washburn and Grand Loop Road | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Early Afternoon: Hayden Valley

Drive through Hayden Valley to spot bison and other wildlife. We have driven through this area many times over the years, at all times of the day, and the time of day does not seem to matter much here for spotting wildlife (unlike Lamar Valley). Bison are frequently seen, sometimes halting vehicle traffic, and other times they are tiny specks off in the distance.

Hayden Valley

Bison in Hayden Valley | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary


Bison Traffic Jam Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary

Bison Traffic Jam in Hayden Valley | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Mid-Afternoon/Evening: Take Your Pick

Yellowstone Lake and West Thumb Geyser Basin

Continue south on Grand Loop Road. The road runs along beautiful Yellowstone Lake before arriving at West Thumb Geyser Basin. This is a small geyser basin and it only takes about 30 minutes to walk through all of it. The highlight is Abyss Pool, a brilliantly blue hot spring, but it is also very cool to see geothermal activity right along the edge of the lake.

Yellowstone Geyser Basin Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary

West Thumb Geyser Basin | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

If you choose this option, the best places to stay tonight are Old Faithful Village, Canyon Village, Yellowstone Lake, or West Yellowstone.

Cody, Wyoming

This is a big detour out of the park, but the drive is very scenic and you can end the day with dinner in town. Just be aware that this will add a lot of driving on to the day and it is only worth it if you spend the night in Cody.

In my opinion, the amount of extra driving you will do is not worth it for many people. However, we frequently get emails and comments about how to add this on to a trip to Yellowstone, so I am including it here.

From Hayden Valley, it takes 2 hours (85 miles) to drive to Cody. Most of this drive will be on the Wild Bill Cody Scenic Byway. Once you get to Cody, have dinner in town and check into your hotel. We stayed at The Cody and highly recommend it.

If you choose to stay in Cody, it will take two and a half hours to drive to Old Faithful (the first stop on tomorrow’s itinerary).

Driving to Cody Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary

Wild Bill Cody Scenic Byway | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Day 4: Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring & Geyser Basins

Morning: Old Faithful & Upper Geyser Basin

Old Faithful gets its name because of its reliable eruption schedule. It’s so reliable that you can download an app to get predicted eruption times.

Old Faithful erupts every 60 to 110 minutes, which is about 16 to 17 times per day.

There are three places to watch the eruption:

  • From the Boardwalk: Grab a seat on the boardwalk and watch the show. This is the most popular place to watch an eruption, so plan to get here 20 to 30 minutes early if you want a seat.
  • From Observation Point: It’s a 1.1-mile out-and-back hike to this viewpoint over Old Faithful. This is our favorite place to watch an eruption.
  • From the Old Faithful Inn: The Old Faithful Inn has a viewing deck with a view of Old Faithful.

Best Place to Watch Old Faithful

The view from Observation Point | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Old Faithful is part of the Upper Geyser Basin, where 150 geothermal features are packed into 1 square mile. This is where you will see Morning Glory Pool, Castle Geyser, Solitary Geyser, and Grotto Geyser.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: It takes about two hours to walk the boardwalk trails in the Upper Geyser Basin and hike to Geyser Hill, if you thoroughly explore the area. A visit here, combined with watching Old Faithful erupt, can last from two to four hours.

Early Lunch

Get lunch in Old Faithful Village before moving on. We usually grab a quick bite to eat at the Old Faithful General Store.

Black Sand Basin

As you drive up Grand Loop Road towards Grand Prismatic Spring, it’s worth the quick detour to Black Sand Basin.

Early Afternoon: Grand Prismatic Spring

From Old Faithful, it is a short drive to Grand Prismatic Spring.

To visit the Grand Prismatic Spring overlook, park in the Fairy Falls parking lot. From here, it is a 1.6-mile out-and-back walk to the viewpoint. This takes 45 to 60 minutes. Here is the awesome view:

Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook

OPTIONAL: Hike to Fairy Falls. If you like hiking, you can combine the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook trail with Fairy Falls. It is an easy 5.4 mile out-and-back hike with a viewpoint of the waterfall. We did it and it’s nice, but I think your time is better spent in the other geyser basins mentioned next.

Fairy Falls Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary

Fairy Falls | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Mid-Afternoon: Midway Geyser Basin

Grand Prismatic Spring is located in Midway Geyser Basin. The overlook is just one part of fully exploring this area. From the Fairy Falls parking lot, drive up the road to the Midway Geyser Basin parking lot (or park along the road).

Walk the 0.8-mile boardwalk trail to get up close to the Grand Prismatic Spring. Along the way, you will also get to see a few smaller hot springs, such as Excelsior Geyser Crater, Opal Pool, and Turquoise Pool. The boardwalk trail is one-way only. A visit here lasts about 45 minutes to one hour.

Midway Geyser Basin Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary

The view of Grand Prismatic Spring from the Midway Geyser boardwalk trail. If you look closely, you can see people at the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook.

Late Afternoon: Take Your Pick

There are several more geyser basins in the area. Here is a list in order as you drive north on Grand Loop Road:

  • Biscuit Basin: This geyser basin is part of Upper Geyser Basin. The highlight here is Sapphire Pool, aptly named for its deep blue color.
  • Lower Geyser Basin: Lower Geyser Basin contains about 100 geothermal features located across five square miles. You can see most of these geysers, hot springs, and fumaroles along Firehole Lake Drive, a one-way road that is just over 3 miles long. We really like the Fountain Paint Pot Trail.
  • Artist Paintpots: This small area contains several hot springs and mud pots. It is about a half-mile walk one-way to get here but it’s worth it. We love the view from the upper boardwalk trail and the bubbling mud pots.

Artist Paintpots Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary

Artist Paintpots | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Where to Stay

Tonight, the best place to stay in the park is Old Faithful (Canyon Village and Lake Yellowstone are also good options). Outside of the park, I recommend West Yellowstone.

Day 5: Drive to Grand Teton National Park

Morning: Drive to Grand Teton National Park

In the morning, head south to Grand Teton National Park. Depending on where you stay, this drive will take 1 to 2 hours.

As you approach Grand Teton, take in the view from Jackson Lake Overlook and make a pitstop in Colter Bay Village. The Lakeshore Trail is a short, easy hike/walk with great views across Jackson Lake to the Teton Range. Colter Bay Village is also a good place to refill your gas tank and grab a bite to eat.

Jackson Lake

The view of Jackson Lake and the Teton Range from the Lakeshore Trail.

Midday: Oxbow Bend and Signal Mountain Summit Road

Once you officially enter the park, make a quick detour to Oxbow Bend. This is one of the best areas of Grand Teton to spot wildlife.

Oxbow Bend Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary

Oxbow Bend just after sunrise | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

The best time to be here is dawn and dusk, so most likely you won’t get to see any moose or elk if you are here midday (I’ve been here all times of the day and have never seen any animals here). However, it’s still a lovely spot to visit and seeing it now saves you a lot of driving later in this itinerary.

Drive down Teton Park Road to Jenny Lake, and if you want another nice view of the park, drive Signal Mountain Summit Road to Jackson Lake Overlook.

Signal Mountain Grand Teton

The view from Signal Mountain Summit Road | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Afternoon: String Lake or Taggart Lake

This afternoon, take your pick between two hikes.

String Lake

Distance: 1.8 miles out-and-back | Time: 1 to 2 hours | Difficulty: Easy | Total Ascent: Minimal

This lovely little hike takes you out-and-back along String Lake and has a viewpoint of Leigh Lake. It’s flat, it’s easy, and it’s great for all ages and ability levels. If you want to go farther, you can walk the loop around String Lake or continue along Leigh Lake.

String Lake Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary

String Lake | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Taggart & Bradley Lakes

Distance: 5.5 miles | Time: 2 to 3 hours | Difficulty: Easy to moderate | Total Ascent: 560 feet

Taggart and Bradley Lakes are two beautiful lakes with spectacular views of the Teton Range. Because of stunning views and the easy nature of this hike, this is an extremely popular hike in Grand Teton National Park.

From the trailhead, it is an easy, uphill walk through a forest of evergreen trees and past horse corrals. Hike to Bradley Lake first and enjoy the view of Grand Teton, Middle Teton, and Teewinot Mountain from across the lake. On the hike back to the parking lot, take the trail to Taggart Lake, where similar views await.

Taggart Lake Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary

Taggart Lake | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Where to Stay

You can stay inside the park at one of the lodges or campsites.

When we visit Grand Teton National Park, we stay in Jackson, because we love hiking and exploring the park in the morning and having dinner in town at night. We have had great experiences at the Wyoming Inn and The Lodge at Jackson Hole, but the Wort Hotel and Cowboy Village Resort both get great reviews.

You will stay in Jackson or Grand Teton National Park for the remainder of this itinerary (no more packing and unpacking).

For dinner in Jackson, the Gun Barrel Steak & Game House is a popular spot. Our favorite restaurant in Jackson is Local Restaurant & Bar. Miazga’s has a wide range of food. Persephone’s Bakery is an awesome breakfast/brunch spot in town. Other great restaurants include Café Genevieve, Bin22, Liberty Burger, and Blue Lion.

Day 6: Mormon Row, Jenny Lake & Cascade Canyon

Sunrise at Mormon Row & Schwabacher Landing

Mormon Row is one of the most photographed spots in Grand Teton National Park. The best time to be here is at sunrise, when the sunlight illuminates the historic barns and the Teton Range.

There are two barns to visit, and photograph, if you are interested. There is the historic barn on Mormon Row (in the photograph below) and the T. A. Moulton Barn located on Gros Ventre Road, across Antelope Flats Road.

Mormon Row Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary


From Mormon Row, it is a short drive to one of our favorite places in Grand Teton: Schwabacher Landing. This is another top spot to visit for spectacular views (and photos) of the Teton Range. A visit here lasts 15 minutes to an hour.

Schwabacher Landing in August

Schwabacher Landing | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Mid-Morning to Mid-Afternoon: Jenny Lake & Cascade Canyon

Drive to the Jenny Lake Visitor Center. Ride the Jenny Lake Shuttle across the lake to the trailhead for the Cascade Canyon Trail.

Here, you can several hiking options.

Hidden Falls & Inspiration Point

This is the most popular hike in Grand Teton National Park. It is 2-miles out-and-back, takes an hour or two, has 420 feet of elevation gain, and leads up to a wonderful view over Jenny Lake.

Inspiration Point Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary

Inspiration Point | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Cascade Canyon

If you want to go farther into the Teton Range, hike to Inspiration Point and then continue on the Cascade Canyon Trail into Cascade Canyon.

Not only are you treated to gorgeous views of the Cascade Canyon Creek, but moose and black bears are frequently spotted here.

Cascade Canyon Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary

Cascade Canyon | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

If you hike the to the end of Cascade Canyon, the entire hike is 10 miles out-and-back and takes 5 to 7 hours (this includes Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point). However, you can turn around at any point. Some of the best scenery is in the first mile of Cascade Canyon, so really, you don’t have to go far.

Mid to Late-Afternoon: Aerial Tram in Teton Village

If you skipped the hike into Cascade Canyon (or if you are a fast hiker), you still have a lot of free time today. A great way to spend this time and get one of the best views on this entire Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary, is to ride the Aerial Tram to Rendezvous Peak.

The Aerial Tram is in Teton Village. It takes you up to Rendezvous Peak and at an altitude of 10,450 feet, it’s one of the highest viewpoints in the area.

Yellowstone and Grand Teton Guide

From here, you can ride the tram back down to Jackson Hole or hike to one of the other chairlifts or gondolas on the mountains. We hiked the Cirque Trail, a 1.8 mile mostly downhill trail to Bridger Gondola and then rode this back into town.

IMPORTANT: In 2023, Moose Wilson Road will have closures or delays between the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve and the Granite Entrance Station (learn more here). To get to Teton Village from the Jenny Lake area, you will have to drive through Jackson and then take Moose Wilson Road north from Highway 22 (Teton Pass Highway). This drive takes 40 minutes. In my opinion, it’s still worth going to Rendezvous Peak since the views are so great.

Tonight, have dinner in Teton Village or Jackson.

Day 7: Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, Phelps Lake & Jackson

Early Morning: Moose Wilson Road

Moose Wilson Road is one of the best places in the area to see moose. And, in our experience, the best place to see moose is on Moose Wilson Road is between Phelps Lake and Teton Park Road (the northern end of the road). Check the Moose Wilson Road construction status for the best way to get here. This is one of the best spots to see moose.

Moose along Moose Wilson Road

Moose along Moose Wilson Road | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Morning: Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve and the Phelps Lake Loop

The Rockefellers once owned over 3,000 acres of land near the southern end of the park. Over the years, this land was donated to the national park service. In 2001, the final 1,106 acres was donated to the park and became the Preserve.

Limited parking at the Preserve helps keep crowds to a minimum. It’s still possible to hike to Phelps Lake from other parts of the park, but for a lake hike, the traffic on this trail is relatively low. To get a parking space, you need to get early: I recommend getting here by 8 am or earlier.

Phelps Lake Loop

Distance: 7 miles | Time: 3 to 4 hours | Difficulty: Moderate | Total Ascent: 800 feet

To do this as a loop, I recommend taking the Woodland Trail to Phelps Lake, walking counter-clockwise around the lake, and coming back to the Visitor Center on the Lake Creek Trail. Along the way, don’t miss the huge boulder that serves as a diving board in the summer months (on the east side of the lake) and Huckleberry Point for its view over the lake (on the west side of the lake). There is even a beach at the far end of the hike.

Phelps Lake Grand Teton

Phelps Lake | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Optional Detour: Phelps Lake Overlook & Death Canyon

When you are hiking around the far end of the lake, you can take a detour to Phelps Lake Overlook and/or Death Canyon.

Phelps Lake Overlook is a great viewpoint of Phelps Lake. From the Phelps Lake Trail, it’s an uphill, 0.8 mile walk to get here.

Phelps Lake Overlook

Phelps Lake Overlook | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

You also have the option to hike into Death Canyon. This is like Cascade Canyon but much better, in my opinion. Not only are crowds lower on this trail, but you have an excellent chance to spot moose and other wildlife. Go as far as you like on this trail and then turn around when you are ready.

Moose in Grand Teton Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary

Moose on the Death Canyon Trail.


Death Canyon Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary

Death Canyon | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Afternoon: Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Visitor Center

After your hike, take a few minutes to visit the visitor center. The visitor center is beautiful and it was the first property in Wyoming to be certified in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the highest accolade for environmentally friendly building practices.

Laurance S Rockefeller Visitor Center Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary

Laurance S. Rockefeller Visitor Center | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

Late Afternoon & Evening: Jackson

Spend the rest of your time in Jackson. Go shopping and have dinner. If you need to return to Bozeman (for example, if your flight is tomorrow morning or midday), you can start the drive mid-afternoon (it takes about 5 hours to drive to Bozeman from Grand Teton National Park). 

Day 8: Fly home

Today you will fly home. If your flight is not until late in the day (and you are flying out of Jackson), you can spend the morning canoeing on Jenny Lake or hiking another trail in Grand Teton.

If your flight is out of Bozeman, in the morning, drive to Bozeman (4.5 hours, 220 miles) and in the afternoon fly home.

US National Parks List

8 Day Grand Teton and Yellowstone Itinerary

If you want to do the above itinerary in the opposite direction, this is what it would look like:

Day 1: Arrive in Jackson
Day 2: Grand Teton: follow day #6 above
Day 3: Grand Teton: follow day #7 above
Day 4: Drive to Yellowstone: follow day #5 above, reversing the order of the sights
Day 5: Yellowstone: follow day #4 above
Day 6: Yellowstone: follow day #3 above
Day 7: Yellowstone: follow day #2 above
Day 8: Fly home

Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary: With Less Time

If you only have 7 days, eliminate a day from Grand Teton.

If you only have 6 days, in Yellowstone combine the Grand Canyon, Old Faithful, and the Grand Prismatic Spring into one day (removing the other geyser basins, Mount Washburn, and the detour to Cody).

If you only have five days, spend all of your time in Yellowstone and day trip to Grand Teton. Here is the itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive in Yellowstone
Day 2: Yellowstone
Day 3: Yellowstone
Day 4: Grand Teton day trip from Yellowstone
Day 5: Fly home

Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary: With More Time

If you have more than 8 days, there are several things you can do with the extra time.

  • Hike more of the trails in Grand Teton
  • Spend the day on Beartooth Highway and spend the night in Red Lodge, Montana
  • Go white water rafting near Jackson
  • Visit the St. Anthony Sand Dunes in Idaho

If you have 10 days, you can even add on Glacier National Park. This is an awesome road trip and so far, we have done it twice. Learn more in our Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier National Park Itinerary.

Lake Yellowstone Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary

Yellowstone Lake | Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

National Park Fees

  • Yellowstone: $35, valid for 7 days
  • Grand Teton: $35, vaild for 7 days

America the Beautiful Pass

This annual park pass costs $80 and is valid for one year. It does not save you money on this trip but if you have plans to visit any other national park sites within 365 days of purchasing this pass, then you can save money.

Important Links

Here are the links to both national park websites. Check park conditions and road closures as you are planning your trip and again just before you go.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I stay in one location to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton?

Even though these parks are located close together, they are both quite large, and there is not one good location to stay in to visit both parks. For the best experience, plan on staying in at least two locations: one in Yellowstone and one in Grand Teton. However, it is possible to stay in Old Faithful Village, at Yellowstone Lake, or even Coulter Bay Village in Grand Teton, to visit both parks, but you will do A LOT of driving.

Can I do this trip in an RV?

Absolutely. Both of these parks are popular road trip destinations for those traveling by RV. One thing to be aware of is that finding a parking space midday can be a challenge. It’s hard enough in a car, but spots for RV’s are very limited. If this is something you are planning to do, check out this post. 

Can I Bring My Dog?

Pets are only allowed in developed areas (basically, in parking lots and campgrounds). They are not permitted on hiking trails or inside of the visitor centers. You are also not permitted to leave them in a car while you go hiking. At all times, your dog must be on a leash and owners must dispose of pet waste. 

More Information for Your Trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton:

NATIONAL PARKS: In our Guide to the US National Parks, get the full list of national parks with important travel planning information, such as things to do in the parks and sample itineraries. You can also learn more about the national parks and get a FREE printable checklist in our US National Parks Checklist.

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK: Read our Yellowstone National Park Travel Guide for important travel information, sample itineraries, and how to plan your visit

PLACES TO GO IN YELLOWSTONE: In our detailed guides, learn how to visit Old Faithful, find out where to get best view of Grand Prismatic Spring, learn about the geyser basins in Yellowstone, and find out where to get the best views of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK: Check out our Grand Teton National Park Travel Guide for important travel information, sample itineraries, and how to plan your visit. For a list of must-have experiences, read our article Best Things to Do in Grand Teton National Park.

ROAD TRIP ITINERARY: Learn how to put together Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks into one amazing 10 day road trip.

SCENIC DRIVES IN WYOMING: Beartooth Highway is located along the border of Montana and Wyoming, near Yellowstone, and is one of the most scenic drives in the USA. If you have plans to drive between Yellowstone and Devils Tower or Mount Rushmore, take your pick between Cloud Peak Skyway and Bighorn Scenic Byway.

USA TRAVEL INSPIRATION: For more great ideas on where to go in the United States, check out our article Best USA Road Trips, which has 18 sample itineraries for your next big adventure. You can also see more travel itineraries on our Travel Itineraries page and our National Park Itineraries.

If you have any questions about how to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton, let us know in the comment section below.

Read all of our articles about the United States in our United States Travel Guide. We also have important planning information and travel ideas in our Wyoming Travel Guide.


Best Itinerary for Yellowstone Grand Teton

Yellowstone Grand Teton Itinerary Travel Guide

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Comments 159

  1. Avatar for Janet McCollum
    Janet McCollum

    Hi -Love your site- great info!
    Would love to get your advice. Flying into SLC at noon on May 10. Flying out of BZN Morning May 19. We live in SC and Have not visited this area yet. My husband and I are in our 60’s (but hike regularly ) and will have our daughter and her boyfriend (20’s) with us the last 4 days of the trip. Have reservations for may 12-19 at Lake Condominiums at Big Sky -(1500 Turkey leg Rd) soooo would like recommendation for must see sites ( for this time of year) in Grand Tetons and Yellowstone as well as places to see and stay on our drive from SLC may 10 and may11.
    Thanks for your help!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Janet. We usually fly into SLC as well and just head directly for Jackson/Grand Teton. It is a scenic drive but I really don’t know of places to stop and visit along the drive, since we have always driven straight through to Jackson (arriving in Jackson on the night of that first day). It looks like you will have one day in Grand Teton before moving north to Yellowstone. You can get recommendations for the must see sights in our One Day in Grand Teton itinerary. I believe that Teton Park Road will be open. And from Big Sky, you are looking at a 1 hour drive to get to Yellowstone, so to get to places like Lamar Valley and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, you will do a lot of driving (just something good to know in advance). However, you have plenty of time in Yellowstone and you can follow the itinerary listed here, just add extra driving time because of your hotel location. Most park roads should be open at that point but you can get updates on the National Park Service website. Have a great trip! Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Mairon

    Hello! Avid follower! Love you guys!!
    Starting to plan our trip for last week of August 2024… Flying into Bozeman – trying to do a loop. Could I do Yellowstone (North) drive to Grant Tetons then loop on the other side of Yellowstone back to Bozeman? Was thinking Mammoth Hot Springs, Lamar Valley, Canyon Village going south to the Southern Entrance and then going to Grant Tetons. Then after that, going back to Yellowstone on the West side. That’s what I was hoping to do. However, I am having hard time with seeing roads- lol- if they are highways or roads in the park? Just looking for insight!
    Thank you!!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Marion. Yes, that would work. To see the roads on Google Maps, set the “Leave Now” tab for a date in July. Then you can see driving routes in the summer (right now there are still road closures which is why you may not be able to see all the roads/routes on Google Maps). But there are roads that make a big loop through Yellowstone but you could also drive down one side and up the other. Cheers, Julie

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