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Suggested 1 Day Tours

To see Yellowstone Park in one, two, or even three days requires a lot of driving, some patience, and a risk of sensory or memory overload (and this goes for cameras too). Still, many people visit Yellowstone on a tight schedule and understandably want to optimize the time spent in the park. Here are two suggestions for a one-day stint, each based on the assumption that the visit is either the first, or it was a long time since the last visit to Yellowstone. People with more Yellowstone experience or who have particular interests are probably better served by making an itinerary from scratch.

The itineraries focus on driving the Grand Loop Road; the starting point could be almost anywhere, from a motel in West Yellowstone to a campground in Slough Creek. This is particularly true for the one-day tours, the goal being to finish one or both of the loops of the Grand Loop Road.

Estimates for driving include time for loading and parking. Your timing will vary. Weather, traffic congestion, and animal jams are common causes for delay. The general park speed limit is 45 mph, but the average speed will be closer to 35 mph.

One Day Itinerary


Suggested Itinerary #1: “Must See” Highlights, southern loop only

(Drive to Grand Loop Road)  ?
(Drive — Madison Jct. to Lower Geyser Basin, 6 mi) 15 min.
Lower Geyser Basin, Fountain Paint Pot Walk 45 min.
(Drive — Midway Geyser Basin, 5 mi.) 10 min.
Midway Geyser Basin Walk 30 min.
(Drive – Old Faithful area, 6 mi.) 10 min.
Old Faithful (to see an eruption usually requires a wait) 90 min.
Old Faithful Inn (could be seen while waiting for an eruption) 15 min.
Lunch 30 min.
(Drive — West Thumb, 17 mi.) 20 min.
West Thumb Geyser Basin Walk, Yellowstone Lake 30 min.
(Drive — Canyon area via Fishing Bridge, 35 mi.) 60 min.
Canyon Area: South Rim Drive, Artist Point 20 min.
Canyon Area: Canyon Village, Canyon Visitor Center 30 min.
(Drive — Norris Geyser Basin, 12 mi.) 20 min.
Norris Geyser Basin, Porcelain Basin Walk 30 min.
(Drive — Norris to Madison Jct., 14 mi.) 30 min.
Approximate Total Time 8 hours
(Return Drive) ?

Suggested Itinerary #2: Complete Grand Loop Tour

(Drive to Grand Loop Road) ?
(Drive — Madison Jct. to Lower Geyser Basin, 6 mi) 10 min.
Lower Geyser Basin, Fountain Paint Pot Walk 30 min.
(Drive — Midway Geyser Basin, 5 mi.) 10 min.
Midway Geyser Basin Walk 30 min.
(Drive – Old Faithful area, 6 mi.) 10 min.
Old Faithful (to see an eruption usually requires a wait) 90 min.
Old Faithful Inn (could be seen while waiting for an eruption) 15 min.
Lunch 30 min.
(Drive — West Thumb Geyser Basin, 17 mi.) 25 min.
West Thumb Geyser Basin Walk, Yellowstone Lake 30 min.
(Drive — Fishing Bridge, Canyon: Artist Point, 35 mi.) 60 min.
Canyon Area: South Rim Drive, Artist Point 20 min.
(Drive — Canyon to Mammoth Hot Springs, 40 mi.) 40 min.
Mammoth Hot Springs: Upper Terrace Drive 30 min.
(Drive – Mammoth, Norris Jct., Madison Jct., 35 mi.) 60 min.
Approximate Total Time 10 hours
(Return Drive) ?

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