One Day in Yellowstone
The three most popular attractions in Yellowstone are Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. One could easily spend a full day in each of these areas, but it is possible to make quick visits to all three while circling through the park.
The following itinerary assumes you are coming in from West Yellowstone. Get an early start on the day, since you’ll need to cover a lot of ground and the park speed limit is only 45 miles an hour.
Old Faithful: Your first stop will be the world’s best-known geyser, which erupts approximately every 90 minutes. Drop by the visitor center to see the next predicted eruption and to learn about the natural world. Paved paths lead to nearby geysers, hot springs, and other features. Several interesting buildings are in the area, most notably Old Faithful Inn, built more than a century ago and still one of the largest log structures in the world.
Mammoth Hot Springs: Drive north from Old Faithful Geyser, stopping briefly to see the colorful bubbling mud and active small geysers at Fountain Paint Pot. You might also have time for fascinating Norris Geyser Basin, the hottest such basin in North America. When you reach Mammoth Hot Springs, take a quick tour of Albright Visitor Center, then turn your car east for the drive to Tower Fall, where a steep trail leads 0.5 mile downhill to the base of this pretty waterfall.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: The road south from Tower Fall crosses 8,859-foot Dunraven Pass before dropping to this spectacular canyon. The most famous vista point (don’t miss this one) is Artist Point on the south side, but others on both sides provide more options, including a steep trail that leads to the top of Lower Falls (twice the height of Niagara Falls).
Now it’s time to circle back to your starting point. If it’s already late in the day, drive directly back to West Yellowstone via Norris and Madison, but if there are still a couple of hours of daylight, continue south to Lake Yellowstone for a big dinner or sunset drink at historic Lake Yellowstone Hotel before continuing on to the town of West Yellowstone.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Yellowstone & Grand Teton, 5th Edition