Yellowstone has wonderful things to offer for every type of traveler and if you are visiting Yellowstone, you should plan for at least five days. Here is an extensive Yellowstone itinerary that covers everything you need to do.
Located in the Northwest corner of Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park can be easily reached between 2 to 5 hours in a flight from most U.S. cities. The closest airport is Jackson Hole Airport to the south entrance and Yellowstone Airport to the western entrance.
The Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is 90 miles from the north and west entrances. You will need a vehicle to visit the park and you can rent cars for the same.
The 3,500 sq mile park spreads into parts of Idaho and Montana. You will get an opportunity to see canyons, forests, alpine rivers, geysers, and hot springs. The park has so much to offer for every visitor. It is home to many animal species including antelopes, bison, wolves, elk, and bear.
A visit to the park will introduce you to different aspects of nature and will give you a chance to explore the same at your pace and convenience.
Yellowstone National Park is a favorite tourist destination and is frequented by many tourists throughout the year. It is a must-visit for all and is one the top of the bucket list of many travelers.
Want to Travel the World for Less?
- Scott's Cheap Flights: Get cheap flights emailed directly to your inbox for free. Try Now for Free
- GetYourGuide: See more of every city by taking local tours and experiences. Find a Cheap Tour
- Kayak: Home to the original hacker fare. Find the lowest price for anything, including flights, cars, hotels and more. Search Now
If you are wondering how many days do you need in Yellowstone, this 5-day itinerary will get you to all the absolute must-see places in Yellowstone National Park.
Table of Contents
5-Day Yellowstone Itinerary
Let’s get into this epic Yellowstone itinerary.
Day 1 -Southwest Section
The best way to start your Yellowstone national park itinerary is by exploring the largest active volcano system in the world. Not many are aware of the fact that the entire park sits on top of a supervolcano.
Start your Yellowstone itinerary on the southwest side of the park. Start your day as early as you can and do visit the Old Faithful.
It is usually filled with tourists and is very popular. If you arrive early, you can avoid the crowd. Start your day by 7:30 am and make the first stop at the Visitor Center. You will be able to find out the exact eruption time and plan accordingly.
It usually blows every 90 minutes and if you have time on hand, catch the short film in the theater which introduces the park.
After the explosion, walk the Upper Geyser Basin. It is home to some of the largest active geysers in the world. Walk past the hot spring and bubbling geysers just a few inches away from your feet.
After you are done with the Geyser Basin Walk, walk to the Old Faithful Inn. It was built in the 1900s and is known as the largest log structure in the world. You will notice the huge stone fireplace, iron clock, and pine railings inside. It is elegant and rustic, a delight for architecture lovers.
The Old Faithful Inn is the crown jewel of Yellowstone and is the jewel of the entire National Park System as a whole. It is a must in your Yellowstone itinerary.
The famous geyser is well known across the world and it shoots over 200 feet in the air. The geyser erupts every 90 minutes.
You will find a crowd here whenever you visit. The crowd is here for a reason, to watch an incredible sight in the entire United States.
The eruption times will be called out on signs around the parking lot and the hiking trails. You will see the geyser starts bubbling before the eruption and it is a sight that you will remember for the rest of your life.
You will never be disappointed here and you will have a story to tell when you head home.
Day 2- Central and South Section
Start your second day of Yellowstone itinerary at the park with West Thumb Geyser Basin. You will notice a broad walk that runs along the lake and has spouts bubbling underneath the lake. The lake has crystal clear water and bright colors showing off sporadically.
There are 80 different geysers and Hot Spring pools here. Each pool has a different color ranging from blue to red to white and green. You will see awesome geysers here like the Bluebell pool, the Fishing Cone geyser, and the Black pool.
With a 1 mile drive to the Lake Butte Overlook, you will see stunning views of the Lake Yellowstone. After this, start to explore the central part of the park.
There is a 1200 foot deep canyon that is cut in the rocks and it is picture-perfect. This place is a must-visit and can only be experienced in person. No amount of pictures or words can do justice to its beauty. After this, take a 24-mile drive along the river and stop off at the seven overlooks to get the best view of the Upper and Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
A lot of the scenic viewpoints can be reached on foot but the walks can be slightly steep. It can be about seven miles of total walking. If you want to have lunch, there are several picnic areas you can choose from.
Take a detour to the Mud Volcano, also known as the smelliest part of Yellowstone. You will notice that the air is reeking of sulphur here. Take a short trek to the Dragon’s Mouth Spring. It is a hot spring with a cavernous mouth, which is why it is named Dragon’s Mouth Spring.
You will notice the water rhythmically sloshing in and out of the cavern which gives an impression of a large overflow but the actual discharge is much smaller.
Carry your binoculars with you throughout the day. Head to the Hayden Valley which is between the upper and lower falls and is one of the best areas to see in Yellowstone. It has the best wildlife and you will find yourself taking pictures of packs of wolves, bison, grizzly bear, and more.
Day 3- Hiking
Explore the beautiful park on foot today. You can take fantastic hikes in Yellowstone. Choose from the below-mentioned hiking options:
- Mount Washburn Trail– The 6.4-mile round trip has excellent panoramic views at the lookout. It is one of the most popular day hikes in the park. There is 1,400 feet of moderate climb and you will be able to enjoy open views along the way with diverse plant life. The 10,243-foot summit gives an endless panorama of the Yellowstone and the peak has a fire lookout tower with an enclosed deck.
- Purple Mountain Trail– It is a 6-mile trail with moderate difficulty and has wonderful views of the valley. You will climb 1,500 feet to a panoramic view of rivers. The trail is slightly strenuous and not ideal for those with heart problems.
- Fairy Falls Trail– The 5-mile trek is easy and will take you to a cascading waterfall. It is Yellowstone’s tallest waterfall and you can combine the hike to the falls with the Grand Prismatic Spring overlook.
- Avalanche Peak Trail– Another 5-mile trek. It is a steep hike along the ridgeline. The trail is heavily trafficked out and features a lake. This trail is rated as difficult and there are many activity options available here from May to September.
If you are not keen on hiking, you can head over to the Grand Teton National Park. It is located at a distance of 10 miles south of Yellowstone National Park.
The national park includes several major peaks of the Teton Range and the Northern section of the Jackson Hole. It is an ideal destination for hiking, mountaineering, fishing, and many other forms of recreation. You have an opportunity to drive in more than 1000 campsites of hiking trails that give access to camping areas.
Day 4- Northwest Section
Spot the best of wildlife at the Northwest part of Yellowstone. You will get a chance to see some of the most elusive wildlife like wolves, and grizzlies. Lamar Valley is the main location. Make sure to start your day early and keep the binoculars handy.
There is a chance you will see bald eagles, badgers, bison, pronghorn, coyotes, or deer. There are more than 100 bison roaming here and you will notice many species that you might not be able to recognize. Lamar Valley is a must-do on your Yellowstone trip itinerary.
Drive to the Tower Fall from here. It is the most popular waterfall in Yellowstone and a must in your Yellowstone itinerary map. Head to the base of the fall on a half-mile hike or take in the views from an overlook.
It is a 132-foot waterfall that falls on a huge cliffside and flows into the river. It is not a huge hike down and is recommended to all. You will see an exposed cliff side of the sulfuric rock which is a shade of yellow and probably the reason why Yellowstone is known as the Yellowstone National Park.
See Related: Best National Parks to Visit in November
Day 5- Northwest section
On the fifth day of the best Yellowstone itinerary head to the Hot Springs. The area is usually packed with tourists and remains congested. Hence, get up early and head out. Your drive to Mammoth will be different with big boulders on each side of the road to guide you to the area.
Once you reach, take the boardwalk to the Terraces. It has uniquely layered calcium deposits that are leftover from the hot springs. Many of the Mammoth Hot Springs are different shades of yellow, red, and orange. You will notice a splendid contrast in their color counterparts. The smell, sight, and sounds will take your breath away when you walk through the boardwalk.
You can also hike near Mammoth Springs. Head over to Boiling River near Mammoth as it is one hot spring where you are allowed to swim in.
There is a 1-mile short hike at Wraith falls and a 4.6-mile moderate round trip hike at Bunsen Peak. It has a 1,300-foot climb. You will find the tallest active geyser at Norris Geyser Basin.
The Steamboat Geyser is very popular amongst tourists. Its eruptions are few and far between but you will see some gurgling. This valley has some of the hottest and oldest pools in the park.
On the last day of the Yellowstone national park itinerary 5 days, take a detour outside the park. The Beartooth Highway is considered to be one of the most scenic drives in the United States and it is right outside the Northwest gate.
This is one of the most comprehensive itineraries for Yellowstone for you to plan your trip. It includes everything you must do when you are at this beautiful destination. Before you head to Yellowstone, plan your days and include every must-see and must-do. You do not want to miss out on anything at this beautiful destination.
Yellowstone National Park has something to offer to every traveler personality and you will never get bored here. Whether you are an adventure enthusiast or a wildlife lover, there is something for you at this unique destination.
No amount of time is enough at Yellowstone but it is best to start with 5 days in order to cover every part of the park. Take your time and explore the various hot springs and rivers in the park. Start planning your holiday keeping the Yellowstone itinerary in mind.
Via Travelers is a modern travel blog providing the best tips, hacks, and itineraries to ensure you have an amazing adventure.