Yellowstone National park was added to my bucket list since I was living in the Midwest. I thought to do a road trip and cover Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore and Salt lake city in one single trip. Though it didn’t work out somehow and couldn’t make that trip happen. Last month my husband was browsing on the internet and found cheaper flights to salt lake city and decided to book it. As the ticket was cheaper next hustle is figure out the itinerary. Yellowstone National Park has very unique landscapes. You will find mountains, valley, wildlife, lake, and the most important are geysers. The Yellowstone is very famous for its thermal pools, and that’s why it stands out from other parks. I will suggest you at least spare 3 days to explore Yellowstone and take the best out of it. I know people visit for a day or two, but it offers a lot more than that. Here is your perfect 3-day itinerary for Yellowstone National Park.
Things you should consider before you plan your itinerary
I have already shared how to prepare the ultimate itinerary. This will help you to plan not just this, but any trip.
Perfect 3-day itinerary for Yellowstone National Park
The Yellowstone National Park has four different entrances from all four sides. We stayed at Idaho Falls previous night so we took the west entrance. Once you enter into the park be careful while driving because the speed limit is less and you will see hikers and bikers in the park, sharing the road. Although the distance is less it will take more time to reach from one place to another. Also, traffic and road work will increase the traveling time.
We started our driving from Idaho Falls towards the west entrance of the Yellowstone National Park. We head directly to Madison information center. The view from the center is magnificent. After collecting all the information we head to Mammoth Springs. We stop by at Gibbon Falls and roaring mountain on our way to Mammoth Upper Terrace area. Finding parking at Upper Terrace area is challenging. Now head to Mammoth Hot springs park the car at the nearest parking to save the time. You can also fill up your gas tank and food supplies in the Mammoth town. Keep continuing on the Grand Loop road till tower junction and take the NE entrance road to Lamar Valley. It is a great place to view wildlife and I was there to see Bison. Once I saw Bison, we made a U-turn from there and head to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. We did North Rim Drive first and stop by at the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, Lookout point and Grand view. This road is one way so you will exit at Canyon Village. Follow the same road and make a left turn at South Rim Drive. In the south rim, Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River and artist point are worth stopping by. We lost some time in traffic and to find parking in a few spots, hence we had to rush for south rim drive so we can finish it before daylight goes off. That’s it for the day 1 we head to Pahaska Tepee Resort, which was quite a long drive through winding lake road.
Here is your link to Google Map:- Yellowstone itinerary Day 1
From Pahaska it was almost 2 hours drive to Old Faithful. Old Faithful and Upper geyser basin need at least half a day, including the old faithful eruption, Upper geyser basin trail, and the old faithful inn. After lunch, we head to Grand Prismatic Spring and Midway Geyser Basin. Due to rain, we have to wait in a car, but worth waiting for. With all the rain and cloudy weather we skipped hiking to grand prismatic overlook and head to Biscuit Basin. On our way to West thumb, we stopped at a Black sand basin. It was almost sunset time, so we head to Yellowstone Lake road to view the sunset and have dinner at one of the eateries. The view of the sunset was amazing, but 2 hours waiting in the dining room so we had to leave without eating. We finally had dinner at Pahaska Tepee Resort.
Here is your link to Google Map:- Yellowstone itinerary Day 2
We suppose to do Norris Geyser Basin and Lower Geyser Basin today those were the only left in the list. But as I mentioned earlier, we skipped hiking to Grand Prismatic overlook point due to the rain. Hence, I choose to hike for a view of Grand prismatic over other 2 Geyser because your trip to Yellowstone can’t complete without Grand Prismatic and Old faithful. By the time we finish the hike, it was almost lunchtime. Hence, we went to Old Faithful and grab burgers to go. We head towards the south entrance and stop by at Lewis Lake and Lewis Falls before exiting the park.
Here is your link to Google Map:- Yellowstone itinerary Day 3
During this 3 day trip, we did only easy hikes. Most of the Geyser trials have a paved path or a boardwalk. These trails are easily accessible for wheelchair or stroller. The park has lots of hiking trails and you can pick whichever interests you. You can spend a minimum one day or up to 10 days in Yellowstone. Besides hiking, you can enjoy wildlife viewing, camping, climbing, photography, ranger activities, etc.
If I get a chance in the future, I would love to go camping and view fall colors in Yellowstone National Park. I hope this itinerary will help you to plan your trip to Yellowstone. Share your thoughts and questions in the comments.