The Best Yellowstone National Park One Day Itinerary (2024)

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Want to know the best Yellowstone National Park one day itinerary? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know!

This Yellowstone National Park one day itinerary will show you all the highlights that make it the most popular National Park in the US.

From Old Faithful to the Grand Prismatic Spring and seeing wildlife, Yellowstone makes for a great vacation destination, even if you only have one day to visit.

You can see our full experience at Yellowstone in this video on our YouTube Channel.

Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park

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Yellowstone National Park One Day Itinerary

With only one day to visit, you have to be cognizant of how you’re spending your time and pay attention to how long it takes to get from place to place.

You’ll want to map out the highlights in the park, place them on a map, and find the most optimized route to make the most of your day.

If you’re driving in from the North or East side of Yellowstone, then this is the perfect itinerary to follow.

But if you’re driving from the West or South of Yellowstone, you could just reverse the route.

1. Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

This is a great starting point because you’ll go to the furthest point and work your way back throughout the day.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone has a North Rim Drive and a South Rim Drive.

We did the North Rim Drive with the intention of doing both, but decided to move on to our next stop instead of also completing the South Rim Drive.

This drive was nice because there were several places to stop along the way where there was actually parking and you just have to walk out to the lookout.

It didn’t require any hiking which makes it a very accessible area.

I think we stopped at 3 different spots along the way.

It took us about 30 minutes total to do the whole drive.

2. Lamar Valley

Lamar Valley is known for being a popular hangout for bison and other wild animals that roam Yellowstone National Park.

In the YouTube video at the top of this blog post we have a bunch of video footage of a massive bison traffic jam when we were driving through.

bison in Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park

3. Mammoth Hot Spring

Another great spot along the northern side of Yellowstone National Park is Mammoth Hot Spring.

There is a scenic drive through here that takes you through the type of scenery seen below where you’ll occasionally see some hot springs flowing out from the ground.

4. Grand Prismatic Spring

As we drove up here we noticed there was no parking up ahead in the designated parking lot.

All of the cars were just parking on the side of the road.

We drove until we saw an empty spot and took about a 10 minute walk on the side of the road until we reached the actual Grand Prismatic Spring parking lot.

The traffic in this area was crazy because of this and I’m so glad I was not the one driving.

This place was super awesome though.

I didn’t know that there would be other springs here.

The Blue Spring was so pretty and I swear had every shade of blue humanly possible.

5. Lunch At Old Faithful Lodge

Our next stop was Old Faithful.

There was a lot of traffic just outside of the entrance and some construction which made it worse, but it was only a few minutes away.

The parking lot is huge and cars were everywhere, but we didn’t have an issue finding a spot.

We walked out to the geyser to try to see when the next predicted time was and we had about 30 or so minutes, so we decided to go into the lodge to get lunch while we waited.

For lunch we decided to try these rice and noodle bowls.

We got one with chicken and the other with beef.

It sounded promising and sounded so good but something about them just wasn’t good.

Something with the sauce was just not right.

Also the rice was complete mush which just was not appetizing.

We shared a side salad which was good.

It was the same as you would get anywhere else.

We also shared a slice of carrot cake for dessert and that was pretty good too.

The dessert was really the redeeming quality of our meal.

6. Old Faithful Geyser

Just after 1:30 pm Old Faithful started to erupt and it was really cool to watch.

It was funny that once it started to die down everyone just left.

They didn’t even wait for it to stop completely, they just left after it peaked.

We decided to wait it out for awhile after, but even that didn’t help with the traffic to get out.

Old Faithful - Yellowstone National Park

After this, we drove back to our campground for the rest of the evening.


Where To Stay When You Visit Yellowstone: Yellowstone Park/West Gate KOA

This KOA is one of the holiday KOAs meaning it’s more like a resort than just a place to stay.

Yellowstone KOA campsite

We decided to cook dinner here with our one burner stove, which I highly recommend having when camping.

Great American Road Trip - West Yellowstone KOA

For dinner we treated ourselves to Velveeta Shells & Cheese and it really is the perfect campsite dinner.

It doesn’t need to be refrigerated, it only requires water, and it is pretty inexpensive.

The KOA store also had these really yummy looking Chocolate Chip Cookies from Big Sky, Montana, so we bought those for dessert.


Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Yellowstone National Park In One Day

These are the most frequently asked questions we get about visiting Yellowstone National Park

☑️ Where Should I Go For The First Time In Yellowstone?

Essentially everything listed above is perfect for first time visitors.

But at the very least, you want to see the Old Faithful Geyser and Grand Prismatic Spring.

Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park

☑️ Can You Just Drive Through Yellowstone?

You definitely can do this!

There are several scenic drives throughout Yellowstone like Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone North and South Rim drives, Lamar Valley, and Mammoth Hot Spring.

You’ll be able to get a glimpse of Grand Prismatic Spring from the road, but you won’t get any good views of Old Faithful.

driving through Mammoth Hot Spring in Yellowstone National Park

☑️ Can You Do The Lower Loop Of Yellowstone In One Day?

Yes, it is possible to do the Lower Loop in Yellowstone in one day.

However, you will need to be strategic about your time and make sure to hit the highlights.

Here is a suggested itinerary for a one-day Lower Loop tour:

Start your day early. 

The park gets crowded, so it’s best to get an early start to avoid the crowds.

Head to Old Faithful. 

This is one of the most popular attractions in Yellowstone, so it’s important to time your visit so that you can see the geyser erupt.

You can check the eruption schedule online or at the Old Faithful Visitor Center.

After Old Faithful, visit Grand Prismatic Spring. 

This is the largest hot spring in the United States, and it’s a must-see for any visitor to Yellowstone.

You can hike to the Grand Prismatic Overlook for stunning views of the spring.

Continue to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. 

This is one of the most impressive natural wonders in the park, and it’s worth spending some time exploring the canyon and its waterfalls.

Head to Hayden Valley. 

This is a great place to see wildlife, including bison, elk, and bears.

Finish your day at West Thumb Geyser Basin. 

This is a beautiful geothermal area located on the shores of Yellowstone Lake.

This is just a suggested itinerary, and you can customize it to fit your interests and time constraints.

If you have more time, you can also visit some of the other attractions on the Lower Loop, such as Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin, and the Gibbon Falls.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone at Yellowstone National Park

☑️ How Long Does It Take To Drive The Loop In Yellowstone?

The Grand Loop in Yellowstone National Park is a figure-eight shaped road that takes about 4 to 7 hours to drive in full.

The length of the drive will depend on how many stops you make, as there are many interesting things to see and do along the way.

Here is a breakdown of the driving times for each section of the Grand Loop:

  • Upper Loop: 3.5 to 4.5 hours
  • Lower Loop: 3 to 4 hours
  • Between the Loops: 1 to 1.5 hours

If you are planning on driving the Grand Loop, I recommend allowing at least 5 hours for the drive so that you have time to stop and explore some of the attractions.


Resources For Planning A Trip To Yellowstone National Park

If you need help planning your trip to Yellowstone National Park, check out our Tips For Planning A Trip To Anywhere (A Step-By-Step Guide) and our guide on How To Plan A National Park Trip.

Read our Best Tips For Staying Safe When Traveling During Extreme Weather if you’re traveling during the extreme heat in Summer or the snow in Winter.

Also check out our Best Tips For Staying Well While You Travel if you’re prone to getting colds or have allergies when you travel or have other ailments.

Lastly, if you’re traveling on a budget, read up on our Best Tips For Traveling On A Budget: Your Guide To Planning An Affordable Trip.


More Fun Places To Visit In Wyoming

Wyoming is an outdoor lover’s dream.

We’ve visited several destinations throughout the state and these are the places we recommend the most.

?️ Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton is practically attached to Yellowstone on the south end.

It’s a vastly different landscape and experience.

We personally had a much better time in Grand Teton than we did in Yellowstone as it was much less crowded and had less traffic.

Grand Teton National Park

?️ Devils Tower National Monument

Devils Tower is on the eastern side of Wyoming, but it’s definitely worth adding in to a road trip to this area of the country.

Even better, if you can get a reservation at the KOA campground at the foot of Devils Tower, it’ll really enhance your experience here.

Devils Tower National Monument

More Fun National Parks and Monuments To Visit Out West

We’ve visited well over half of the National Parks in the US already and these are the best ones you could reasonably add to a road trip itinerary out West since these are all in states that neighbor Wyoming.

Idaho:

? Craters of the Moon National Monument

Montana:

? Little Bighorn Battlefield

South Dakota:

?Badlands National Park One Day Itinerary

?Best Things To Do In The Black Hills Of South Dakota

Utah:

?The Best Arches and Canyonlands National Parks Two Day Itinerary

?Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks One Day Itinerary

?Hiking The Narrows At Zion National Park: Ultimate Guide

?The Best Zion National Park One Day Summer Itinerary

?The Best Zion National Park One Day Winter Itinerary


Conclusion: Yellowstone National Park One Day Itinerary

This Yellowstone National Park one day itinerary takes you to all the must see attractions all throughout the park.

Hopefully you’ll see the wildlife too!