Are you planning to go to Yellowstone, but aren’t sure how many days to spend in Yellowstone National Park? The park has a lot to offer, but planning a trip there can be overwhelming. Deciding how long to spend in Yellowstone is one of the first steps.
This guide is here to help you decide exactly how many days you need in Yellowstone to see and do all you want to do.
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How many days do you need in Yellowstone?
If you’re asking yourself “how many days should I spend in Yellowstone?”, you are not alone. It is one of the most common questions people have when planning their trip. The answer is not straightforward, as it will depend on what your interests are and, to some extent, on how much time you have available. However, I can help you decide.
I recommend at least four days to see all of the main highlights. Yellowstone is a large park with an incredible variety of things to see and do.
But let’s take a more detailed look at what is possible for different lengths of time.
One day in Yellowstone National Park
Can you visit Yellowstone National Park in one day? Yes. Seeing Yellowstone in a day is not ideal, as you will miss most of the park. However, if you have only one day at Yellowstone, you can see the two most famous areas.
Perhaps the most famous place in the entire park is Old Faithful. The geyser faithfully erupts several times a day, so you will almost certainly be able to see it in all its glory. You will have enough time to do a short walk around some of the other colored hot springs and geysers nearby while waiting for it to erupt. You can also squeeze in a quick stop to see the sensational Grand Prismatic Spring from the overlook.
On your one day in Yellowstone Park, you will also be able to see Yellowstone Falls and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The falls are split into two waterfalls, the 109-foot Upper Yellowstone Falls and the dramatic 308-foot Lower Yellowstone Falls. Read more about the top waterfalls to see in Yellowstone here.
You may have enough time to squeeze in a quick visit to Hayden Valley, where you have a good chance of seeing bison.
Although you’ll be able to see the top two highlights of Yellowstone National Park in a day, you’ll miss out on a lot of other amazing things in the park, and will almost certainly have to deal with crowds.
If you have just 1 day in Yellowstone National Park, I recommend getting my one-day Yellowstone itinerary for an hour-by-hour schedule to make the most of your day.
Two days in Yellowstone National Park
Is 2 days enough in Yellowstone? If you have 2 days in Yellowstone Park, you can see all of the above, but will have a little more time to see some of the other geysers and hot springs near Old Faithful. You will also have time for a couple of other highlights.
There are a few options for what to see at Yellowstone in two days, but my top choices for places you must see in Yellowstone in 2 days are Lamar Valley and Mammoth Hot Springs.
Lamar Valley is generally considered the most common place to see wildlife in Yellowstone. Herds of bison and packs of wolves roam the large valley, along with dozens of other animal species. You can drive the valley, stopping off when you see wildlife, or even go on a short hike or two. (You can read about hikes you can do in Yellowstone here).
Mammoth Hot Springs has incredible travertine terraces that are not found anywhere else in the park. You can send a couple of hours walking on the boardwalks around the lower terraces and driving a scenic road around the upper terraces.
Your time will still be kind of rushed and you will miss some other awesome parts of the park, but you will definitely get to see many of the major highlights in the park.
The best way to see Yellowstone in 2 days is to have a very clear plan. Get my detailed two-day Yellowstone itinerary to make sure you maximize your time in the park. If you aren’t sure how to see Yellowstone in 2 days, this will take all the guess work out of your trip planning.
3 days in Yellowstone National Park
If you have three days in Yellowstone, you can see all the main highlights and some other really awesome parts of the park as well.
In addition to the places that you can see in two days, other things you must see in Yellowstone in 3 days are the unique pools and geysers in Norris Geyser Basin. Not only is the basin home to the largest geyser in the park, the pools here have a milky, opalesque coloring found nowhere else in the park.
You will also have time to see some more geysers and pools and take a more leisurely drive along the scenic Firehole Canyon Drive.
Wondering how to see Yellowstone in 3 days? The best way to see Yellowstone in 3 days is to have a plan. I have created a detailed, hour-by-hour itinerary (with flexibility built in, of course), to make sure you maximize your time in the park and are in the right place at the right time to avoid the crowds and see the highlights at their best. Get a detailed 3-day Yellowstone itinerary here.
4 days in Yellowstone National Park
Do you have more time available, but aren’t sure what to see in Yellowstone in 4 days? With four days in Yellowstone National Park, you can see everything included in three-day visit, plus have time to go the Yellowstone Lake area.
Yellowstone Lake is the largest high elevation lake in North America. There are some easy hikes to take around and near the lake, and an historic lodge with lovely views.
Not sure how to see Yellowstone in 4 days? Well, just as for shorter trips, the best way to see Yellowstone in 4 days is to have a plan. Yellowstone is the second most popular park in the country, and its season is fairly short. It’s also large, with lots to see and do. Four days may seem a lot, but having a plan (with built in flexibility) will help ensure you get the most out of each day there. Get a detailed four-day Yellowstone itinerary here.
5 days in Yellowstone National Park
With extra time, you can take a more leisurely pace, do more hikes, spend more time seeing wildlife, chase waterfalls, or do some extra activities like horseback riding or kayaking around Yellowstone Lake.
No matter how many days in Yellowstone Park you have, I promise you that you will never be bored.
How many days to see Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks?
Most people visit both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park on the same trip. This makes total sense, as the parks are only eight miles apart!
So, how many days for Yellowstone and Grand Teton combined? In general, I recommend four days in Yellowstone and three days in Grand Teton National Park.
However, if you’re planning to go to Grand Teton National Park as well and don’t have this much time available, you can definitely spend less time and still have a great trip.
Read my guide on how much time to spend in Grand Teton National Park to work out how many days to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton in total. And pick up one of my Grand Teton itineraries to help you plan your trip.
Travel Insurance for Yellowstone
In addition to deciding how many days to spend at Yellowstone, you will also need get travel insurance for your trip. Whether it is for unexpected trip cancelation, emergency repatriation or medial help, or to replace something lost or stolen, having travel insurance will give you piece of mind and help you when you need it.
A great insurance option is Travelex. It has coverage for all you’ll need. You can compare Travel Insurance plans here or get a quote right now:
What did you decide? How many days in Yellowstone is enough for your trip?? I’d love to hear. Join my private Facebook group National Parks Collectors and comment and let me know (you can also pick up extra planning tips, share your photos and stories with other national park lovers and more).
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James Ian is a national park, camping and hiking expert.
He has dedicated his life to travel, visiting more than 80 countries, all 7 continents and all of the main national parks in the United States. With over 35 years experience in the travel industry, James has worked on cruise ships, at resorts and hotels, and as a travel planner who’s helped hundreds of people plan successful trips to US national parks.
Based on his experience visiting our national parks multiple times, in-depth research and expertise as a travel planner, James has published detailed itineraries for most of the major national parks in the US. These itineraries, as well as in-depth park guides, comprehensive camping and hiking gear reviews and buying guides, and helpful packing lists and gift guides will help you have your own incredible trip to US national parks without stress and hassle.
As a national park expert, James has contributed to many publications, including Time Business News, Savoteur, Best Trip, and Wired.
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