With over 2 million acres of land, an active super volcano, over 300 geysers and a rich ecosystem that supports animals like grizzly bears, elks and bisons, it’s no wonder that Yellowstone National park is a must visit place for all nature lovers. There is so much to do in the park that it overwhelms visitors. Here is how we recommend first time visitors to spend their 5 days to make the most out of their visit.

grand prismatic spring, yellow stone np
Fun facts
  • Yellowstone National Park is the world’s first National Park.
  • The park is contained in three states: 96% in Wyoming, 3% in Montana, and 1% in Idaho.
  • Yellowstone is larger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.
  • Old Faithful, a world-famous geyser, erupts every 92 minutes on average.
Travel tips
  • If you want to stay within Yellowstone National Park, in one of the lodges or campgrounds, you need to make your reservation a year in advance.
  • You can use America the beautiful interagency pass to visit the park instead of paying fee to enter.
  • If you aren’t able to reserve lodges in the park, camping within the park (Tent or RV) is the best way to experience the park. You could chose to stay out of the park for cheaper lodging but you’ll end up driving more.
  • You’ll walk a lot in this trip, so pack a pair of sturdy hiking boots.
  • Do not approach animals. Don’t honk at bisons or other animals if they are on the road, wait until they pass.
  • Cell service will be spotty to non existent, download offline maps or carry satellite enabled navigation and communication devices.
  • Carry bear spray when hiking in the wilderness.

Recommended daily itinerary

Estimated cost: $560-$1800 per person

Day 1

First day of the trip, fly in, get settled and get acquainted with the park.

  • Fly into Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport and make your way to North entrance of the park.
  • Check in to Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins. The hotel features its signature Map Room containing a large wooden map of the United States constructed of 15 different kinds of wood from nine countries. Guests enjoy a variety of in-park accommodations as well as the chance of spotting elk grazing outside the hotel.
  • Visit the albright visitor center to gather park information, orient yourself to the rest of the park, explore exhibits to learn more about the wildlife and history of Yellowstone or acquire a permit for fishing. Grab a free map to help you navigate the park.
  • Take a relaxing swim at Boiling River Hot spring, a naturally occurring hot spring that is located near Roosevelt Arch and Mammoth.
  • Enjoy your dinner at Mammoth hotel dining room.
Day 2

Norris Geyser Basin and Mammoth hot springs.

Norris Geyser Basin is the hottest, oldest, and most dynamic of Yellowstone’s thermal areas. Mammoth Hot Springs is a large complex of hot springs on a hill of travertine.

  • Enjoy your breakfast at Mammoth Terrace Grill.
  • Make your way to Norris Museum. The museum houses exhibits relating to the origins of the geothermal features found at the basin. Two loop trails leave from here that provide route for viewing the Porcelain Basin and Back Basin. Porcelain Basin is open terrain with hundreds of densely packed geothermal features; in contrast, Back Basin is forested and its features are more scattered and isolated. Explore both trails making stops along the way to popular view points like Steamboat Geyser, Norris Porcelain Basin, Cistern Spring, Green Dragon Spring and more.
  • Enjoy your lunch at Mammoth Terrace Grill.
  • Make your way to Opal Terrace to start your tour of Mammoth Hot springs. You can take the boardwalk to the terraces, uniquely layered calcium deposits left over from the hot springs. Explore lower terraces first and then upper terraces. There are approximately 50 hot springs in this area.
  • Enjoy your dinner at Mammoth hotel dining room.
Day 3

Bunsen Peak Trail and Lamar Valley

Bunsen Peak, named for German chemist Robert Bunsen who studied geysers and invented the Bunsen Burner. The summit offers panoramic views of the Blacktail Deer Plateau, Swan Lake Flat, Gallatin Mountain Range, and the Yellowstone River Valley. The Lamar Valley, along the Lamar River is often called America’s Serengeti for its large and easy-to-see populations of large animals.

  • Enjoy your breakfast at Mammoth Terrace Grill.
  • Pack your lunch and make your way to Grand loop road. Park in the gravel lot south of Golden gate. Climb 1300 feet through forest and meadow to the summit of Bunsen peak. Grizzly bears frequent this area so carry bear spray and follow bear safety instructions provided by your park ranger. Enjoy the views and your picnic lunch.
  • Take Grand Loop Road east past Tower-Roosevelt, then continue on the Northeast Entrance road to make your way to Lamar Valley. Make sure your have packed your binoculars or spotting scopes. This is a prime location to spot grizzlies, wolves, badgers, pronghorn, bald eagles, osprey deer, bison, and coyotes. Stop at one of the many pullouts and overlooks along the park road to scope for wildlife. Look for groups of people pulled over—chances are good someone has spotted some animals.
  • Enjoy your dinner at Mammoth hotel dining room.
Day 4

Grand canyon of the yellowstone, Upper geyser basin and grand prismatic spring.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is roughly 20 miles long, measured from the Upper Falls to the Tower Fall area. The canyon was formed by erosion as Yellowstone River flowed over progressively softer, less resistant rock. Yellowstone National Park has approximately half of the world’s geysers—and most of them are located at the Upper Geyser Basin. One square mile contains at least 150 of these hydrothermal wonders, making this area the most densely concentrated geyser region in the world. Old Faithful is one of nearly 500 geysers in Yellowstone and one of six that park rangers currently predict. It is uncommon to be able to predict geyser eruptions with regularity and Old Faithful has lived up to its name, only lengthening the time between eruptions by about 30 minutes in the last 30 years. Watching Old Faithful Geyser erupt is a Yellowstone National Park tradition.

Grand Prismatic Spring is one of the most iconic features of Yellowstone National Park. The spring is the third largest hot spring in the world. The brilliant blue water of the spring is ringed by colorful algae that surrounds the spring in vibrant greens, yellows, and oranges.

  • Enjoy your breakfast at Mammoth Terrace Grill.
  • Checkout from your hotel and make your way to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Hike along the north rim trail which stretches 3.8 miles over a paved and unpaved path. The trail offers numerous memorable views of the canyon.
  • Head back to canyon village and checkin to canyon lodge. A sprawling facility, featuring the most accommodations in Yellowstone with more than 500 rooms and cabins.
  • Enjoy your lunch at Canyon Lodge Eatery. You can customize your meals with fresh sustainable ingredients.
  • Make your way to Old Faithful Visitor Center. Here you can get prediction times for the predicted geysers. Plan your exploration around the predicted geysers. Remember that Old Faithful is fairly frequent and predictable. You can always come back to see it later. Take your time and wait for some of the geysers to erupt. Try to take a ranger led walk. Explore the basin leisurely. After this make your way to Midway Geyser Basin and take the boardwalk to Grand Prismatic Spring.
  • Enjoy buffet dinner at Old Faithful Inn Dining Room. You might need reservation for dinner.
Day 5

Last day of the trip

  • Enjoy your breakfast at Canyon Lodge Falls Cafe.
  • Visit nearby attractions like mud volcano, hayden valley or west thumb geyser if you have time before your flight.
  • Checkout from your hotel and make your way back to the airport. You can now tick off Yellowstone national park from your bucket list.

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