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Starting that early definitely has many advantages — more chance to see wildlife and almost no people in the first hours of the day, also better light for photography… If you are up for it and can do really early days, my suggestion would be to go to the busiest places first thing in the morning and then do some hiking or visit less known places during the day.
We were there with three young kids and so we would just wake up when the kids were up usually at around 7am , then quietly get ready, have breakfast… I think we hardly ever started sightseeing before 9 am and it was ok. The hours before Even at the Old Faithful, where it was really crowded by the geyser, it was so much quieter on the boardwalks just min walking from there. Hayden Valley is another crazy busy place, but we just made the best of being stuck in the bison traffic jam and took many pictures of them instead of getting frustrated about not being able to move.
So make the best of it! We are staying north in Gardiner already booked. We have three days and a basic itinerary… however our trip home has not been planned. I was going to skip on GT bc of the insanity of trying to navigate there with the 35ft. Is it even worth it? Most main roads road were quite straight and easy to drive and we saw quite some campers there.
Hope this helps. Your itinerary for 3 days to Yellowstone National Park is very informative. FYI We are staying at canyon lodge and cabins for 3 nights.
Hi Meghna, it depends where you come from. If you come from the south, visit Lake of Yellowstone and the West Thumb Geyser Basin on the first day before heading to your accommodation. From my research, I remember that Going to the Sun road is not to be missed. Where do you suggest staying for nights? We were thinking of staying in West Yellowstone for the 1st night from airport , but really have no idea!
Hi Maureen, here you can find our suggestions on where to stay in Yellowstone. We are coming in August for a trip. We want to incorporate as much as possible with a touch of hiking. If possible, we would also like to incorporate the Chuck Wagon Dinner. Here is a route I am considering. Is it too much! Hi Chris, I think your itinerary is quite packed, but should be doable. Day 1 and day 4 will be very long. It would be better to just stay there if you can find accommodations. I have some suggestions on GTNP in this post.
There are so many ways to do this, a lot depends on accommodations. If you need guidance on where to stay, you can find more info here: where to stay in and near Yellowstone. Happy planning! I am planning to follow your 2 day itinerary. We are going June and will be tent camping. If we follow your 2-day itinerary, where does it make sense to plant ourselves for the night? Would we enter, go south, then go back up north and stay by Mammoth so we could continue the other direction heading South the next day?
Then camp in the south somewhere that night? Thank you! Just as all Yellowstone accommodation, campings are usually fully booked. If you do, I think you need to be there very early in the morning to try to get a spot. Here you can find more information about camping in Yellowstone. Have a great time in Yellowstone! My son now 21 and in college has wanted to make this a family trip and it is on our plan for this year. What itinerary would you suggest for 2 parents and 2ea — 21 year old young adults?
When is the best time of year to come? We are totally flexible on how many days that we stay and would like to see GTNP as well…? Hi Melinda, if you are not obliged to come during school holidays, then I would say beginning to mid-September after Labor Day Weekend would probably best. The weather is still nice enough, everything is open, and there will be much fewer tourists than in July or August.
As for how many days to spend in Yellowstone, I think that 3 is an absolute minimum, ideally 4 or 5. If you are planning to also visit GTNP, you could add a day or two there. It really depends on what you want to do — just see the highlights, or also do some hiking or other activities like rafting or similar. Here you can find more information about where to stay in Yellowstone. We started planning a last minute road trip for this summer to Yellowstone with my 11 and 14 year old.
I realized after reading that most people plan this a year in advance but was able to find a hotel in West Yellowstone. We will arrive late afternoon on July 2nd stay in West Yellowstone for 4 nights 3 full days and check out on July 6th. We will have July 6th for sightseeing as well since we are just staying in Bozeman that night. You mentioned West Yellowstone is pretty centrally located for all the sights. When I looked at mileage it might be about the same whether we leave from the north or the west entrance.
Hi Jessica, glad to hear you find it helpful! Just maybe leave the Northern part of the park that we described on day 3 Mammoth and Lamar valley for the last day. End your day with a relaxing swim at the Boling River. This is just a suggestion, of course. This is a great resource! We are aiming for the 4 day itinerary and staying at Canyon Village BUT entering the park via West Yellowstone on day 1 and exiting south on day 4. Hi Kirsten, if you have 4 days in Yellowstone, I suggest you do our 4-day itinerary as described above, but change days 1 and 4, so start with the Midway Geyser Basin and the Old Faithful area and then leave the Yellowstone Lake area for the last day.
We have much more information on Yellowstone on our blog — take a look here. First trip and with kids ages 10 and Spending 3 nights in park. Aldready staying 1 night mammoth and planning to also make our way to Lamar valley during that time. Is it worth moving from Canyon 1 night to Old Faithful inn 1 night or stay in Canyon 2 nights. Lol Thank you so much in advance for your opinion! Still, I enjoyed being able to see the Old Faithful area without having to rush, see the geyser go multiple times during the day, at night, and early morning. OF is more about the authentic lodge, but you can see it without staying at the hotel as well.
The rooms in the lodge are quite dated we had one of the most expensive ones, with a view over OF, and it was quite poor.
Probably not helping, I know. Maybe you can do two nights in Canyon and one at the OF, instead of Mammoth? You can easily visit Lamar Valley from Canyon area as well. Thank you for your quick reply!
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After talking with family we decided to stay at CL to have more time to visit the valleys and canyon and will get up early to take advantage of OF and surroundings! Thanks again! I want to know about accomodation. U said u stayed at canyon lodge, do thy have airconditioners? And do u really need it at night? No, as far as I know none of the Yellowstone accommodations have air conditioning. While the days can get really warm in summer, it cools down at night; we never really missed it. Thank You for the very detailed itinerary. I am planning to visit late April and planning for the 4 or 5 YT itinerary.
Since none of the in-park accommodations are open as yet, I will need to stay outside the park. We are planning to visit Grand Teton before heading back home. Should we do Grand Teton in the beginning or at end of our trip? Also, independent of using Gardiner or West YT as our base, is it still OK to follow the 4 or 5 itinerary you have shared? Hi Akshay, end of April is just about the earliest that you can visit some parts of Yellowstone; the roads are now closed for the winter.
Most roads are scheduled to reopen on April 19 only this might change, depending on the weather — here you can find up-to-date info on Yellowstone road closures. So — basically — a lot depends on how the situation is and where you can or cannot drive at that moment. North entrance is the only one that is also open in winter, so you could in any case start there. Maybe stay in Gardiner for a day or two and then move on down to West Yellowstone, which is in any case much better located for most other parts of the park. Hi there!
I just wanted to say thank you! We are traveling from Chicago with our 3 kids and driving first to the badlands and then to Yellowstone. We have decided to stay near the Lamar Valley for 3 nights based on what I read on your site! Your itinerary ideas are great and are really helping us plan what to do to make the most of our time there!! I look forward to reading your ideas and planning our July National Park trip! Thank you so much!!! Glad to hear you found this useful, Casey.
If you can still amend your bookings, I think I would do just one night near Lamar and then 2 nights in West Yellowstone. For more ideas on where to go and what to see, please also check our guide to Yellowstone with kids. Hi, thanks for the reply! I appreciate the advice! Trying to find a location to see it all! Your blog is super helpful!! Hi Casey, I think the owner of the place is seriously exaggerating — no way you can get from Cook City to the Old Faithful in 1,5 hrs.
I just checked Google Maps departing in July and it shows me 2h30 — 2h Take a look at the map here. Great article. Do you know much about campgrounds and how to incorporate that into your itinerary? Appreciate any info you may have to share. These are both open end of May so depends a bit on when exactly you are going and they are both pretty centrally located so that you can probably just stay at one campground for the whole trip.
Make sure to book in advance. I have been checking out the campgrounds. Appreciate people like you providing guidance and suggestions on your blogs. Glad to help, Lisa. Planning a trip is a lot of work, so I understand that people charge for it. But Yellowstone is really quite simple to visit and yes, you can definitely do it from one place. When are you going? Hello Jurga, I will echo others and thank you for sharing your experience in such a terrific blog. We plan to go mid-July and dedicate 4 full days. We also plan to camp tent ideally in the park.
Entering from the North, we will add a 5th day for Grand Teton. I guess I can figure out all the rest with all you shared itinerary etc…. Thank you again. Hi Sabine, I just checked the map and Madison Campground seems to have a great location. Just make sure to book it asap. When we were in Yellowstone in summer, all the accommodations including campgrounds inside the park were fully booked. Planning a family vacation this summer Either end of June or end of July. No idea where to begin on planning hotel accommodations….
Did you stay in one place all week or move around? Where do you suggest flying into? We are coming from Illinois. Hi Jen, please also check our related articles on Yellowstone, where you can find more information. This article covers the best places to stay in and near Yellowstone NP ; you can also read about our personal experience. Anyway, check the article for suggestions where to stay.
Please also check the following posts: Best things to do in Yellowstone with kids. Boiling River — a real hidden gem in the park. Also, what to pack for Yellowstone in summer. Hope this helps! In regards to your 4 day itinerary for Yellowstone, Day 1 seems to go in order locationwise, but Day 2 does not.
Am I reading this wrong? We first visited the Canyon area, then went to Norris Geyser Basin since we had a few hours left and that area is quite big and needs more time to explore. Firehole river is nice to relax at the end if you still have time over after all the sightseeing. The reason for this is that Midway Geyser Basin the one with the Grand Prismatic Spring gets crazy busy during the day.
So it might be wise to go there first thing in the morning. You can shuffle the days and the locations around the way it makes most sense for you. These itineraries are just here to help you to get a better idea of what you can do in any given day. Hi Jurga, Like many have said previously, your website is terrific.
Thank you for all of the outstanding information. One question- if we have 2 full days 8AM-8PM for Yellowstone and are staying in West Yellowstone, would it be possible to do the northern loop one day, and the southern loop the other?
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Is this approach realistic and practical? Try to concentrate on the main landmarks and make just short photo stops along the other places. Is it the best way to see Yellowstone? No, 2 days are definitely not enough. So yes, you definitely need a car for Yellowstone. Thank you for the helpful information. My family is planning to travel to Yellowstone, flying into SLC and staying night 1 and 2 in Jackson, then driving on day 2 to West Yellowstone. We have five days before we fly home out of Bozeman. My question is whether we should stay in West Yellowstone three days and somewhere north looking at Gardnier for two night?
Or stay in West Yellowstone for four nights and Gardiner for 1? Any help is much appreciated. On the other hand, you have 5 nights in total which is plenty of time to see all the main places, so depends on how you plan your itinerary, I think that both options would work well. Maybe see which hotel you like more or which place fits your budget better and decide based on that?
Please check this guide to Yellowstone accommodatio n, I have some of the best options listed there. Any suggestions on best plan of attack for lodging and hitting Yellowstone park from the Southern entrance, we have 4 nights outside of Jackson before leaving from Jackson Hole airport again on the 31st…thank you for your time and great site!!!
Please check this post for best Yellowstone lodging suggestions in and near the park. You could definitely stay in Grand Teton NP for nights for visiting that park — here are some ideas on what to see in Grand Teton NP in a day and also suggestions on where to stay there. Thank you so much for all the info! We are planning a trip to Yellowstone in May !
May June 1. We are flying in and out of Bozeman airport. Can you tell me what you think of the following layout? June 1: Leave to fly back home. Hi Erika, your plan looks ok to me at first sight. Gardiner is probably the best option. What a great blog post! We are going toward end of September Flying into Bozeman and driving to Grand Tetons first for 4 nights and then on to Yellowstone for 4 nights. Will your 4 day itenerary work, or are we too far away from the areas you suggest to do everything you listed? Hi Laurel, yes, Yellowstone Lake is also a great location to stay in Yellowstone.
Planning an early May and your blog has been a huge help! Will definitely go through your itineraries and suggested hikes. My son is a huge dinosaur buff and am looking for an easy tack-on trip for a dig site or museum or both as my wife and daughter would not be as happy spending the extra driving time. BTW not so familiar with mid-western geography! Many thanks! Hi Allen, we actually visited a dinosaur place on this same trip — Dinosaur National Monument , on Vernal,UT side — here you can see our trip itinerary.
It was really interesting, not just for the children. We stayed in Vernal on our way from Moab to Jackson Hole, and only then we moved on to Yellowstone, which meant less driving per day. Thanks for all the great info! So glad I found this site! I do have a couple of questions. My wife and I will flying in from California. Do you have any lodging locations you would recommend for the Jenny Lake area and Jackson Hole?
Here you can find our recommendations on what to do in Grand Teton NP in one day. As for accommodations, for Yellowstone please read this Yellowstone accommodation guide. In Jackson Hole we stayed at The Lexington. Another really nice option seems to be Wyoming Inn , just a bit outside of town. Here you can find more accommodation options in Jackson Hole — the choice is quite big there. Your blog is beyond amazing!
Thank You for taking the time to not only provide a day by day itinerary but for providing the interactive map as well!
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That said, I do have just a few questions. Was the pace doable for your younger children? About how long were your days? I realize this will vary based on the amount of time we spend at each site; however, a general idea of the amount of time you spent would be helpful in finalizing our lodging. Hi Carrie, thank you for your kind feedback. Happy to hear this helped you with the planning of your trip to Yellowstone.
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To answer your questions, your Yellowstone itinerary can be as relaxing as you choose to, but yes, all the suggestions in this post are based on our trip with our three children 5, 5, and 7 at that time. We never felt rushed and there was plenty of time for the kids to rest in the car when driving in between places. The days were nicely filled with so many great activities in the park, we went swimming in the Boiling River one day, then played by the river building dams the other day — it really felt as a vacation and kids enjoyed it just as much as we did.
In the evening we were usually back at our accommodation around 6 or 7pm, and then went out for dinner, and the kids were in bed somewhere around 8. However, if you have more time in Yellowstone and are there for holidays and not just sightseeing, you could of course take it easy and make your sightseeing days shorter.
Do you think everything will be back open during that time? Hi Leslie, you can check Yellowstone NP official website for information in regards to road closures. From what I see, some roads that are closed in winter are scheduled to reopen mid April April West Entrance to Madison Junction, Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful, Norris to Canyon Village , but quite some other roads will only reopen in May you can see all the details on the website. So it looks like you can visit Yellowstone late April, but plan your itinerary and accommodations based on which roads are open.
Hi thanks for the detailed plan. We are planning to visit during November for a day trip. Please let know if all spots will be open or snow mobile can be used to see all places. Hello, no, you cannot reach many places in Yellowstone in winter and many roads are closed. I have no experience with winter travel in Yellowstone and encourage you to contact park authorities for more information.
Thank you so much for this itinerary! Such a help at the park. We modified slightly, but overall great! We are planning a trip next June and are looking into hotels. Stay at the Lake for sightseeing in the southern part of the park and then move to Canyon for the northern part. Thanks for all the info. We will not be doing any strenuous hiking but are fine with mostly level walking.
Hi Janice, sorry for a late reply. I really have no time to look into specific itinerary for you, but with 5 nights in Yellowstone I think you can do pretty much everything from this itinerary and possibly even more. Please also check this post for the best things to do in Yellowstone , and I really recommend going for a dip in the Boiling River.
As for the Tetons, we also stayed 2 nights there. Here you can find our suggestions: Jenny Lake day trip in Grand Teto n. Hope this helps a bit. Thank you for your post. We are going to Yellowstone in late September for 5 days. This helped tremendously. What would the best itinerary look like. Hi Kayla, sorry for a late reply. As for the Tetons, here you can find our suggestions on the best way to spend a day in Grand Teton NP. We are planning to go there in a months time and we have around days. Will definitely use your tips and itinerary,. Do you know how we can plan it better if we enter and leave from Bozeman North.
Are you staying in Bozeman the whole time? Try to pick one area per day and explore it to the fullest and then visit another area each day. Try to focus on the highlights first and then see how much time you have for the rest. Have a nice trip! Thank you so much Jurga. Landed at Bozeman Friday night. Stayed here over nigh Day 1 — old faithful and grand prismatic stayed night at west yellow stone Day 2 — Hayden valley , yellow stone lake and canyon village stayed at gardiner Day 3 — Lamar valley and mammoth hot springs stayed at gardiner.
It was the perfect itinerary without stressing much and we had plenty of time to relax at the same time covering all the must dos. We were two couple with one kid each. So this worked out best for us. Good to hear you had a nice trip and it all worked well, Vinaya. Happy travels! This brings back so many memories!
I just love Yellowstone and the tip about not underestimating the time to get around is excellent! We stayed for one full week -taking a side trip as well to the Tetons which I recommend too — and I wished that we booked two separate campgrounds: one in the north and one in the south. It would have been a pain to take the trailer and set up twice we borrowed a pop up for this trip but it would have been worth it to save on time.
We wished we would have planned an extra day or two to drive the whole length of Beartooth Highway — said to be the most scenic drives in America — on the trip. We drove half of it and it is pick-your-jaw-up-from-the-floor beautiful! Thanks for sharing your experiences about Yellowstone, Angela. I agree with you about taking your time to explore Yellowstone and staying more centrally. In fact, you could have probably stayed in once campground if you had chosen one in the middle of the park. My research showed that Canyon area is one of the best locations to stay in Yellowstone and I can only confirm this after our trip.
Thank you so much for sharing all of this information!
It is super-helpful! I keep getting an error message for the 4-day map. Any way you could send me a link or re-post the map? In the meantime, please try this link , hope it works. Thank you so much for all this helpful information! We will be spending 6 nights in the park this summer. Our first time there and we are quite excited. I was wondering if you have a guidebook recommendation for the park? Check this post, there I have more suggestions on what to see and do in Yellowstone ; there are some guidebook suggestions for if you want to do some hiking, but not for Yellowstone in general.
I MUST start by saying you are an absolute saint for sharing all of this information, and so thoroughly responding to the many questions asked. As a teacher, Summer is the only time I can really travel, but I have already moved onto Summer , and will combine your 4 day itinerary with a few days in Grand Teton as well. Hi Jennifer, thank you for your kind words. Appreciate it. Also, really glad to hear our blog helps you to plan your trips. Enjoy Yellowstone and Grand Teton, both beautiful places to visit. Happy travels and greetings from Tirol in Austria our last stop of a 3-week trip visiting some of the most stunning mountain destinations in Europe.
We can only see your map for the one day visit. The map underneath the four day itinerary is for the one day. Anyway, here is the link to the itinerary map. Hope you can see it this way. Thank you so much for all this helpful information. We will be travelling from South Georgia to Montana on July 31st for 5 days. My son will be proposing to his fiancee while we are there.
We will probably only get to spend one day in Yellowstone and who knows that might be when the big moment happens?? Do you have any tips for us? Hi Renn, please check our 1 day itinerary for our best tips for what to see in Yellowstone if you only have one day. So day 1 we will get half day and Day 2 and day 3 at Lake lodge and next 2 days at mammoth.
So what can I cover on evening of first day and 2 full days when I am at Lake Lodge. Any Suggestions? For more details — please check the itineraries in this post. Thank you so much for this awesome post! Thanks again for this super, informative site! Hi, a lot depends on your flight, i. Then if you still have time, visit the Norris Geyser Basin. The nearby Artists Paintpot is nice if you have more time, but not a must. There is also a side road next to Firehole river with swimming possibilities there although much more difficult to park your car and much busier than the Boiling River.
And there is also a nice short walk at Harlequin Lake, close to the West entrance of Yellowstone. This should keep you more than busy the first day. Have a wonderful trip! Thank you so much for this detailed, prompt answer! One thing I think my boys would enjoy is a horseback ride. We are shooting for 4 full days and hopefully staying at Canyon Village. Do you have any advice on where to squeeze that in, or what to remove in lieu of that?
Many Thanks! Hi Kirsten, from what I see there are two areas where you can do horse riding inside Yellowstone NP : Canyon and Roosevelt there are more options outside the park. It only takes an hour or two, so I think you could do it any day, e. We thought that by staying in Cody we would be closest to the East entrance of Yellowstone. We are, but we are staying there four days before driving to Jackson to go to Grand Teton for three days. Then we are driving to Billings to fly back to Florida. So each night we would be driving back to the Cody Hotel.
Could you possible suggest a 4 day itinerary…we realize that it is about 54 miles to the East entrance and a three hour drive to the North Entrance? Any help would definitely be appreciated. Thanks, Phylis and Rob. Hi Phylis, my first reaction would be to see if you can cancel your hotel in Cody and check if by any chance there are any last-minute cancelations in Yellowstone, or look for a hotel in West Yellowstone check our Yellowstone accommodation guide for best suggestions. So try to leave very early in the morning and take advantage of daylight. Thank you so very much we are heeding your advice and the advice of others and changing our accommodations and itinerary….
I so appreciate your time and response…thank you again!
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I am interested to see how your trip goes. We are also from Florida and are planning a trip in I would like to spend about 2 weeks on this trip. We are interested in seeing as much as wee can without rushing to much. We would also like to go in a least busy season May or September. Will you be flying or driving from Florida? Better plan a nice trip itinerary around Yellowstone and fly to the airport that makes most sense for that itinerary. This is so helpful! I love the 4 day itinerary you posted. We are planning to fly into SLC and drive to Yellowstone that same day. Based on that how would you adjust your 4 day itinerary or can I follow it the way it is?
This is such great infromation! Hi Kathleen, use this itinerary just as suggestion, not exactly as it is :. Depending on where you stay, how the weather or your mood is, it might make more sense to shuffle the days around a bit. So in your case it might be better to leave this area for the last day, so that you can continue to Grand Teton afterwards, and save some driving. I liike ur ideas on the 4 day! What enterence did you guys go in and where did you stay thanks.
Hi Elizabeth, we arrived in Yellowstone from the South Grand Teton and then left the same way after our visit. If interested, here you can find our US trip itinerary. Here you can also read more about our short visit to Grand Teton. As for accommodation, we stayed inside the park, at the Canyon Lodge and also at the Old Faithful Inn. You have to either book a year in advance if traveling in high season or be lucky that someone cancels.
Here you can find more tips on the best places to stay in and near Yellowstone. Check also this post for some of our favourite things to do in Yellowstone. We are headed west later this month! So excited. Thank you for this useful guide. Would love your take on the following itinerary: Day 1: Flight to Denver — land late, stay near airport Day 2: Drive to Thermopolis, WY — dip in the hot springs there Day 3: Drive to Cody — go to the rodeo! Back to Lake stay in Lake Lodge. Too much driving??
Day 5: Deciding on which direction to go here. We need to make our way back to stay at OF Inn and for dinner at Late day drive to Grand Teton. Horseback ride with cookout for dinner. Or one day to just chill. Dinner in Jackson. Stay in SML again- or should we stay in Jackson? Day 9 — Long drive headed back. Any pointers?
Thanks for your feedback! But I know that we also do that on some trips, trying to make the best of the time we have. I assume your flights and accommodations are already set? Otherwise you could consider flying to Jackson or Bozeman instead and try to stay a bit longer in Yellowstone. Maybe there are good flights from Denver? It would save you all those driving days.
It would make so much more sense, also for the next day if you want to go North. If you are tired of too much driving by that point, you could explore Southern parts of the park instead. Otherwise if you prefer more action and bigger choice of activities, then Jackson is a better place for that. Or maybe you can add a day extra in Yellowstone instead, either at the Canyon or OF — that would give you more relaxed time to get to the Northern part of the park.
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Alternatively, you could stay in West Yellowstone check our accommodation guide. There are beautiful areas and the trip on Jenny Lake with a hike to the Inspiration Point is nice to do. If you want to escape the crowds, then rent a kayak on one of the lakes of Grand Teton. Have a great trip! The itinerary was borne out of doing this piecemeal over a year with what reservations were available. Your response inspired me to take a second look and we were able to book a pretty cheap flight to Bozeman on Day 1!