Below is our 2 day itinerary for Yellowstone National Park. We rented a car, and toured the park at our own pace.
While it’s easy to spend more time in the park, severe weather in early October forced us to head to Grand Teton National Park a little earlier than we were hoping. If you’re visiting during the fall, winter or early spring, you should always check to the weather conditions and which roads are open on YNP’s website.
Day 1 – North Yellowstone
Gibbons Falls Overlook..
It’s a popular quick stop that we did on our way to the ‘Grand Canyon.’ There’s a walking path with a view of the wide falls.
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
Apart from Old Faithful, this was one of the busiest spots we visited at the park. A popular spot is Artist Point, a lookout at the south rim of the canyon, offering views of the the lower falls. Other great viewing points are Inspiration Point, Brink of Upper Falls and Lower Falls. Another good spot to admire the Lower Falls is on Uncle Toms Trail. It has lots of steps but good for lower falls viewing.
An area in north east part of Yellowstone that is known for the abundance of wildlife. Since it’s far from many of the other main sites, it tends to be overlooked in favor of Hayden Valley. If you have the time, I wholly recommend adding this to your itinerary. We spotted plenty of bison, a baby pronghorn and some elk.
Mammoth Hot Springs.
Located in the northern part of Yellowstone, its main highlights are Minerva Terrace, Palette Spring, Liberty Cap and Canary Spring. All of the hot springs are accessible by boardwalks. Nearby is Boiling River, a natural hot spring that you’re able to take a dip in, and the historic Roosevelt Arch.
Day 2 – South Yellowstone
We stopped at this large blue geyser on our way to the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring. On the day we went, it was so windy that when we walked through we were steam blasted and our clothes felt soaked. Go early in the morning if you want to beat the rush of tour busses.
Grand Prismatic Hot Spring.
The technicolored hot spring boasts its colors from thermofiles (bacteria that are attracted to heat). While it’s the world’s third largest hot spring, it’s the largest in the United States.
No trip to Yellowstone would be complete without seeing Old Faithful erupt. There is a sign in the visitor center with when it is expected to go off. Although we had to wait around to watch it erupt, we went into the lodge and the Visitor Center. The lodge is the oldest, largest log cabin in the United States. We were able to grab a spot on the bench before the geyser erupted.
West Thumb Geyser Basin.
This was one of my favorite places in the park because the vibrant colors of the basins and it overlooks Yellowstone Lake. It felt so serene, and was relatively quiet since it was later in the day and there weren’t many tourists. While on the walkways, we even saw an elk grazing. At the edge of the lake were Fishing Cones. These were used for years by the fishermen at the lake for cooking, but this practice became illegal.
Mud Volcano and its surrounding areas.
We hadn’t heard of this until we were at the park. It didn’t seem to be a popular spot, but it was interesting, informative and the smell was horrendously potent. The landscape had changed recently due to an earthquake that exposed even more volcanic activity. It was a quick walk around the boardwalks to see the various cauldrons. In the same area, are hills in the distance that were created from magma pushing up from below.
As previously mentioned, the day we went was relatively disappointing. Unlike other parts of the national park, we only saw a few bison, but no additional wildlife.
We absolutely loved our trip to Yellowstone National Park, and I would recommend it to anyone seeking the wild side of the United States.