Are you planning a trip to Montana, Wyoming, or even Idaho? Then you will want to make sure to add in a visit to Yellowstone National Park.
Planning a vacation can be so overwhelming, especially when it comes to National Parks. Yellowstone has so much to offer, so I am going to help break it down for you!
In this article, I am going to give you a complete Yellowstone 2 day itinerary that will blow your mind! This Yellowstone itinerary will be jam-packed with things you won’t want to miss!
My husband and I just returned from a 9 day RV adventure through Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. We were in awe of the amazing geothermal activity going on in Yellowstone and that is why I HAVE to share this 2 day itinerary with YOU.
At the end of this article, I will also give you three, four, and five day Yellowstone itinerary options as well in case you have more time to spend in the park.
HOW TO GET TO YELLOWSTONE
There are a couple ways to get to Yellowstone, but the fastest route would be by flying to a nearby airport.
If you want to enter Yellowstone from the south entrance then you can fly into the small and expensive airport called Jackson Hole. Or you can enter the park from the North entrance and fly into Bozeman.
Regardless of which airport you choose, you will need to drive about 1.5 hours to make it to the main entrance of Yellowstone.
Personally, I recommend flying into Bozeman, Montana and driving to the North Entrance to begin your adventure.
THE HISTORY OF YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
Yellowstone National Park is so huge that it is bigger than 2 states (Rhode Island and Delaware). It sits at over 2.2 million acres and is known as the very first National Park.
This park is actually spread across three different states it is that big. The main portion of the park site in Wyoming, but there are a few portions in Montana and Idaho as well.
Make sure you check the opening and closing dates of this park as it tends to close down in the winter due to the amounts of snow it receives.
In 1872, Yellowstone was established as the first National Park and in 1978 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are over 10,000 thermal hot springs within the parks boundaries and tons of protected wildlife. You can expect to see Bison, Elk, Swans, Bears and much more on your trip through Yellowstone.
There is way too much information regarding the history of Yellowstone to include in this blog post, so I recommend you download the driving tour app ______ and use it as you drive through the park.
It does cost $20, but I HIGHLY recommend it. (Not sponsored at all)
My husband and I used this app and it made the drive 10x more fun. We got to hear all about the different parts of the park including the history of the fires, volcanos, hot springs and more!
THE ULTIMATE YELLOWSTONE 2 DAY ITINERARY
Visiting Yellowstone for 2 days gives you just the perfect amount of time to see all the highlights, see some cool animals and yet not feel like you missed out on too much.
Yes, this is a jam-packed 2 day Yellowstone itinerary, but you will get to see all the main attractions plus more!
So, let’s get planning!
First off, you should plan to visit either in the spring, summer or fall time due to closures in the winter. (I personally recommend the fall, as the trees were vibrant and beautiful yellows).
Yellowstone National Park has a few different entrances to the park, but they will all lead you through the same route eventually. Otherwise known as, the Grand Loop Road.
The Grand Loop Road is essentially one giant circle that gets you through the entire park. Well, it is actually more like a figure 8. It is about 142 miles long and is the route we chose to follow.
Lastly, before we get into this itinerary you should check out this ultimate list of Yellowstone travel tips.
DAY 1 IN YELLOWSTONE
So for day 1 of your two-day Yellowstone adventure plan to start out at the North entrance.
I recommend starting your two day in Yellowstone bright and early for a few reasons.
- There are less crowds the earlier you go
- It will allow for you to have more time in the park
- The best photos are during that Golden hour
You will begin your adventure by going under the Roosevelt Arch. This arch was built in 1903 as the Grand Entrance to the north side of the park.
It is no longer the main entrance, but it is not a far detour from the main entrance.
Plan to make your first sunrise stop at Mammoth Hot Springs.
This place is nothing like you have ever seen before. It is a large complex of hot springs running over travertine. There are a series of connecting boardwalks that allow you to walk by multiple different hot springs.
The hot springs are constantly changing, so don’t expect to see the same things I saw.
You can even get Mammoth Hot Springs all to yourself with these tips and tricks.
You can also find a visitor’s center located just before the hot springs if you are looking for more information.
Insider’s tip! If you visit this area early in the morning you may just see tons of elk wandering around.
***Another popular spot to stop at is the Boiling River Hot Springs. This was not open during our visit, but if it was then we would have stopped.
If you are like my husband and I and forget something at your campsite from the night before and have to go back and get it. Then do yourself a favor and make a pitstop for coffee at Wonderland Cafe and Lodge just outside the park.
It will boost your mood.
Ok, back to the itinerary! Moving on from Mammoth Hot Springs and begin your drive along the Grand Loop Road towards The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
There are many lookouts along the way. I recommend stopping at the Nymph Lake Lookout overlooking many geothermal pools that are quite colorful.
We also stopped at Swan Lake along the way, but I would say it was NOT worth the stop.
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone was discovered in 1869 and is about 40 miles long and 1,200 feet deep! Here you will find a roaring waterfall.
There are quite a few vantage points for both the upper and lower waterfalls along the North and South rim of the canyon.
I recommend starting at the Lookout and Red Rocks Point Trailhead. Personally, this was the coolest view of the lower waterfall to me. And it was less crowded.
It is a steep but short hike down, meaning a steep hike back up.
This is a great interactive map of the different viewpoints in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
Next up! Head towards Artist Point!
This is a very popular lookout spot to see the Yellowstone river waterfall plunge itself over 300 feet.
Prior to making it to Artist point you can stop and do the infamous Uncle Tom’s trail, but it was closed when we went.
We opted for hiking down the sunset viewpoint trail and still got some pretty cool views.
As you leave the valley, head west and drive through Hayden Valley to see bison and elk.
You will finish your night by driving all the way to West Yellowstone to camp, unless you have secured a different campground within the parks borders.
Along the way you can make short stops to see the Mud Volcano and the Dragon’s Mouth Spring.
Drive along the Yellowstone Lake for some beautiful views. Once you reach the end of Yellowstone Lake make a pitstop at the West Thumb Geyser Basin.
Continue on your drive to complete day one of your two days in Yellowstone.
We stayed at the Wagon Wheel Campground in West Yellowstone. It was perfect for RVs. It had full hook-ups, clean bathrooms, warm showers and we felt safe.
Don’t have enough time for two days in Yellowstone? No problem! This is a great one day guided tour through Yellowstone!
DAY 2 IN YELLOWSTONE
I hope this Yellowstone 2 day itinerary has been helpful so far! Now let’s get into day two of your trip!
This day you can plan to explore the south ring road.
We began our day doing the Grand Prismatic Spring boardwalk for sunrise.
Insider’s tip: I do not recommend doing this for sunrise. Because it was so cold out the boardwalk was icy and slippery. It was also so cold that the steam from the hot springs completely filled the air and we were unable to even see the Grand Prismatic Spring.
Ultimately, we ended up heading back to our RV and enjoying a nice warm breakfast and coffee.
After breakfast, head out to hike Fairy Falls. You will begin by parking at the Fairy Falls parking lot. This is also the same trailhead to the Grand Prismatic Overlook (different and better than the boardwalk)
Note: RVs are not allowed in this parking lot, but you can park on the street.
To get to the Fairy Falls trail you will pass the Grand Prismatic Overlook trail on your way.. If you are doing this hike in the morning then I recommend hiking to Fairy Falls first and stopping at the Grand Prismatic Overlook on your way back.
Now it is time to see the biggest thing Yellowstone is known for! Old Faithful! Drive on over to Old Faithful and prepare to potentially spend at least two hours there.
The parking lot is huge. In our guided tour app, they said they built it like a football stadium parking lot. On arrival, there are lots of things to see and do. There is a visitors center, restaurants, you can check out the Old Faithful Inn, and then of course watch the geyser go off.
You will find placards everywhere telling you the next estimated rupture time!
Finish your day off, by stopping at Lewis Falls. This is a gorgeous waterfall, especially in the Fall season when all the yellow colors are popping.
OTHER OPTIONAL YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK ITINERARY IDEAS
I recommend spending at least two days in this National Park. If you look at a map of the park you will notice how many stops you could make. So, if you have more time, then by all means add more days in.
Below, I have given some additional Yellostone itineraries for three, four and five days.
Pick and choose what you would like to see and make your plan from there!
YELLOWSTONE ITINERARY 3 DAYS
If you plan to add a 3rd day into your adventure then I recommend heading over to Lamar Valley between day one and day two from the itinerary above.
Lamar Valley is known for seeing ALL the animals-especially Bison.
Unfortunately, my husband and I were not able to make it over to Lamar Valley during our trip, but I really wish we had. Thankfully, we were still able to see wildlife throughout our trip.
After visiting Lamar Valley, I would recommend looking into doing a hike. There are tons of options for hiking in this park as it is so huge.
However, I have heard that the Mount Washburn trail has some epic overlooks at the end.
Continue onto the south ring road for your final day.
YELLOWSTONE ITINERARY 4 DAYS
If you have four days to spend in the park, then make sure you hit all the highlight locations I have mentioned above. You now have a little extra time to maybe choose a fun activity.
I would recommend looking into going fishing for the day or doing a horseback ride. Fly fishing is a super popular sport in Wyoming!
FIVE DAYS IN YELLOWSTONE
If you have five days to spend in Yellowstone then I recommend doing things a little bit slower plus adding in some more parks.
As you have now seen, the park is huge and has a lot to offer. Download the app I recommended and follow his lead when he recommends taking turnouts.
The app will guide you on these turnouts and he will give you the history once you make those “side turns.”
If you have done all of the above and still have time, then I recommend you head to the Grand Teton National Park. This park is extremely close and is another place you would not want to miss!
-When is the best time to visit?
The most popular months to visit are June through August, so it all depends on whether or not you want to avoid crowds.
-How do I avoid crowds?
This is a great question and my answer for this is go in the off-seasons (so September is a good time) and wake up early to do and see things! Also, stay late in the park! Most families are eating dinner before sunset, so the later you stay the quieter it will get!
-How many days should I plan for Yellowstone?
The park is huge, but in order to see the main highlights, I recommend spending at least two full days in the park.
-Are dogs allowed?
No dogs are not allowed on the trails in Yellowstone
-Where can I stay if I am camping or RV?
This depends on whether or not you want to stay in the park. The campgrounds in the park tend to fill up extremely quick-like months in advance. There are some first come first serve campgrounds, but you need to be in line by at least 7am to get one of those spots. We chose to stay over night in Gardiner one night and West Yellowstone the second night.
There are also plenty of hotels just outside of Yellowstone.
These are the 12 most popular campgrounds in Yellowstone. Make sure to check which ones are open when you go. When we visited Yellowstone only four of the campgrounds were open.
- Bridge Bay Campground (Yellowstone Lake)
- Canyon Campground (Grand Canyon Of The Yellowstone)
- Fishing Bridge RV Park (Yellowstone Lake)
- Grand Village Campground (West Thumb Geyser Basin)
- Indian Creek Campground (Mammoth Hot Springs)
- Lewis Lake Campground (Lewis Falls)
- Madison Campground (Grand Prismatic – Midway Geyser Basin)
- Mammoth Campground (Mammoth Hot Springs)
- Norris Campground (Norris Geyser Basin)
- Pebble Creek Campground (Lamar Valley)
- Slough Creek Campground (Lamar Valley)
- Tower Fall Campground (Tower Fall, Lamar Valley)
-Eating and Museums in Yellowstone
A note on Coronavirus: a lot of the museums and restaurants are closed currently due to the coronavirus. Plan to brings snacks or stand in long lines as they are only doing take out and allowing limited amounts of people in the shops at a certain time.
-Will I see wildlife?
Although I can;t guarantee it you are more than likely going to see wildlife. The best chances for you to see animals though would be during sunrise and then an hour before and after sunset as this is the time they come out to eat.
FINAL THOUGHTS FROM YOUR OUTDOOR LOVING GIRL
Pheww! Wow what a long post! You made it to the end-thanks for sticking with me! I hope this breakdown of things to do in Yellowstone really helps you plan your next adventure.
My goal was to give you the ultimate 2 day Yellowstone itinerary, but I wanted to make sure to include all the options for you!
Now go plan your trip and tag me on Instagram with your fun adventures you take in Yellowstone!
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