One-Week Best of Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary

From spouting geysers to toothy mountains, this Yellowstone and Grand Teton itinerary takes you on a week-long romp through the two national parks and wraps up with a smash-bang ending in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Yellowstone in Three Days

view of steaming terraces at Canary Springs
Canary Springs at Mammoth Hot Springs. Photo © Becky Lomax.

Day 1

From the North Entrance in Gardiner, drive through the Roosevelt Arch to enter Yellowstone National Park. Cross the 45th Parallel into the steaming landscape at Mammoth Hot Springs and stop to stroll the boardwalk through colorful travertine terraces. Back in the car, drive south through the Golden Gate to Swan Lake, a high plateau with elk and bison. Continuing south, pull over at Roaring Mountain to see, hear, and smell the volcanic action, then stop at Norris Geyser Basin to tour the hottest and fastest-changing geothermals in the park. From Norris, head east on the park road toward Canyon Village, where you’ll spend three nights (book accommodations or campsites one year in advance).

Day 2

In the morning, drive to Artist Point and park (get there before 10am to snag a spot), then hit the South Rim Trail along the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, following the scenic path down to the Upper Falls Overlook. Climb down (then back up) the steel steps of Uncle Tom’s Trail to get wet in the mist from the Lower Falls.

After lunch in Canyon Village, drive north over Dunraven Pass and gaze up at Mt. Washburn, the highest peak in the park. Just south of Tower Junction, pull over to view Tower Fall as it spills into the Yellowstone River. Continue down the curvy descent to Tower-Roosevelt, then turn northeast into the Lamar Valley for wildlife-watching. Look for elk, antelope, bison, bears, and wolves, and bring binoculars to spy bighorn sheep and mountain goats on the flanks of the Absaroka Mountains. Return to Canyon Village for the night.

a geyser spewing steam into the air in Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful Geyser. Photo © Steve Byland/Dreamstime.

Day 3

Today, explore the steaming geothermal features of Yellowstone’s caldera. From Canyon, head west toward Norris, then drive south past Madison to drop into the crater’s geyser basin. Park at Old Faithful and make a beeline for Old Faithful Visitor Education Center. Time your day based on the center’s geyser eruption predictions. Follow the Upper Geyser Basin boardwalks north to see colorful Morning Glory Pool while waiting for famous Old Faithful to blow.

After reveling in the majesty of Old Faithful, return to the park road and drive north to tour the other nearby geyser basins. Don’t miss Midway Geyser Basin, which features the radiant Grand Prismatic Spring. In the Lower Geyser Basin, drive along Firehole Lake Drive to Fountain Paint Pots, which contains four types of geothermal features. Once you’ve had your fill of geysers, return to Canyon Village.

Day 4

It’s your last day in Yellowstone—and your first day in Grand Teton. Begin by driving south through Hayden Valley, keeping an eye out for bison and trumpeter swans. Stop to walk the lower loop of Mud Volcano amid the sputtering, growling geothermals. At Yellowstone Lake, tour historic Lake Yellowstone Hotel and the West Thumb Geyser Basin, known for its crystal-blue hot pools, cone geysers, and paint pots. Just before exiting Yellowstone, the Lewis River descends to join the Snake River, Grand Teton’s iconic river.

At the South Entrance, you’ll enter Grand Teton National Park on Highway 89/191/287. Continuing south, the road passes through the remains of the 2016 Berry Fire as it nears the Flagg Ranch Information Station. Just before reaching the north shore of Jackson Lake, look west for the first view of the jagged Teton Mountains. Stop at Jackson Lake Lodge, where you’ll spend the next two nights.

Grand Teton in Two Days

woman walking on a trail next to a lake in Wyoming
Enjoy an easy walk on Colter Bay’s Lakeshore Trail. Photo © Becky Lomax.

Day 5

In the morning, sign up for a two-hour horseback ride at Jackson Lake Lodge for fantastic views of the Teton Range. Back at the lodge, enjoy lunch in the Mural Room, then drive north to Colter Bay to walk the two-mile loop along the Lakeshore Trail. Return to Jackson Lake Lodge for the evening.

Day 6

Get an early start for the drive south along Teton Park Road to Jenny Lake, where you’ll park and hop aboard the boat shuttle to cross the lake. Once on the shore’s terra firma, follow the Jenny Lake Loop to 200-foot Hidden Falls. Continue on a ledge that cuts through a rock cliff to Inspiration Point with views overlooking Jenny Lake and Jackson Hole.

After soaking in the scenery, either hike back or take the boat shuttle across the lake to return to the Jenny Lake Visitor Center where you left your car. Back on the road, drive south to Moose and tour the exhibits at the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center. Take a sunset drive to Mormon Row for history and wildlife-watching before returning to Jackson Lake Lodge.

Jackson Hole in One Day

antler archway in Wyoming
Four elk antler arches mark each corner of the Town Square at Jackson. Photo © Becky Lomax.

Day 7

Exit the park and head south to Jackson for the final day. Wander through the National Museum of Wildlife Art, walk through the antler archways in Jackson Town Square, and dance the night away in the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.

If You Have More Time

Before hitting Jackson, take an early-morning drive south on the Moose-Wilson Road, stopping at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve. Continue south, keeping your eyes peeled for wildlife, then turn east to visit Teton Village. Climb aboard Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s Aerial Tram to be whisked to 10,450 feet atop Rendezvous Mountain to survey the Tetons and Jackson Hole. Enjoy a late brunch of waffles at Corbet’s Cabin before descending to Jackson.

Becky Lomax

About the Author

As a professional travel writer, Andrew Hempstead spends as much time as possible on the road, traveling incognito, experiencing the many and varied delights of each destination just as his readers do. He looks forward to spending every second summer at home in the Canadian Rockies, traveling mountain highways and hiking trails, exploring new places, and updating old favorites.

Since the early 1990s, Andrew has authored and updated more than 60 guidebooks, and supplied content for regional and national clients like Expedia and KLM. His photography has appeared in a wide variety of media, ranging from international golf magazines to a Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum.
Andrew and his wife, Dianne, own Summerthought Publishing, a Canadian regional publisher of nonfiction books. He is a member of The Diners Club World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy. Andrew has also spoken on travel writing to a national audience and has contributed to a university-level travel writing textbook. He and his family live in Banff, Alberta.

Becky Lomax was three years old when her parents first took her to stay with friends who worked as rangers at Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park. During college, Becky worked two summers in the historic Glacier Park Lodge, an easy hop to Two Medicine. She spent her days off hiking, backpacking, and climbing throughout the park.

After teaching high school writing and speech outside Seattle, she and her husband moved to Whitefish for quick access to Glacier. She worked in the park for a decade as a hiking and backpacking guide, leading many first-time visitors to Gunsight Pass, Fifty Mountain, and Iceberg Lake. She also served on staff at Granite Park Chalet, spotting wolverines and bagging nearby peaks in her off time.

Today, Becky maintains her strong link with Glacier by using her full-time writing career as an excuse to keep hiking in the park. In magazine stories, she lauds the park’s trails, historic lodges, scenic drives, wildlife, and wildflowers. She tags along with biologists in the field to radio-collar bighorn sheep and grizzly bears. She also treks annually to Grinnell Glacier to write about how climate change is melting the park’s ice fields.

Becky serves as the western writer for On the Snow, a website that provides snow reports for ski resorts. She also writes stories for regional newspapers and national magazines such as Smithsonian and Backpacker, and is the author of the bestselling Moon USA National Parks.

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