8 Days in Yellowstone and Grand Teton
Yellowstone and Grand Teton are conveniently located right next to each other, so it would be a shame to see one without the other! I spent 8 days here on the heels of a visit to Glacier national park, so if you feel like you want to add that in, check out my 4-day itinerary for Glacier. You’d need an extra day to get from Glacier to Yellowstone – about a 6-hour drive.
How to Get There
This is a point-to-point itinerary, starting at the north end of Yellowstone and going south. This will save driving time but if you’re renting a car, beware of extra fees for dropping it off in a different location. If you’re flying, the closest airport to the north end of Yellowstone is in Bozeman, MT, about 90 minutes away from the north entrance.
At the other end, you’ll be closest to Jackson Hole, WY. During peak seasons, Jackson Hole has nonstop airline service from 13 destinations throughout the United States. If you’re visiting in shoulder season, you will have to connect through Salt Lake City, Denver or Dallas.
Where to Stay
I stayed in lodges within the two parks on my visit there, and I highly recommend that to reduce your driving time. If you want to stay outside the park, your choices are Gardiner, MT at the north end of Yellowstone, the aptly named West Yellowstone, and Jackson Hole, WY just south of Grand Teton. Both parks are big, so I recommend splitting your lodging between the two parks.
Day 1: Arrival; Mammoth Hot Springs
Exploring the north end of the park on your first day is an easy way to get introduced to Yellowstone. There is a visitor center at this end, worth a stop. Then, explore the limestone terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs.
Day 2: Old Faithful and Geyser Basins
Spend your day exploring the Geyser Basin section of the park. A visit to Old Faithful is a must, of course, but there are many other geysers, too! Some geothermal features not to miss the Grand Prismatic and Morning Glory.
Day 3: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and North Basin
Yellowstone has its own Grand Canyon! The Yellowstone River carved the 20-mile canyon 1000 ft deep and 3/4 mile wide. Trails and roads flank both sides of the canyon. Trails and overlooks allow access to the 109-foot Upper Falls and 308-foot Lower Falls (tallest in the park), and a couple of platforms even allow you to get up-close to the top of each. There are some trails here if you want to get a hike in! If you have time and stamina, also visit the North Basin area for more geothermal features.
Day 4: West Yellowstone – Artist Paint Pots & Mud Volcano
This is going to be a less busy day, so take the time to enjoy it! Head out to Artist Paint Pots and Mud Volcano geothermal areas. You will be driving by Hayden Valley on the way so you can stop at various scenic pullouts and look for wildlife!
Day 5: Mt. Washburn hike & optional horse back ride
Time for a hike! Climb up to Mt Washburn, the tallest point in Yellowstone. Keep in mind there may be snow on the trail well into July and carry at least hiking poles. We also did a horseback ride on that day – there are stables on park grounds!
Day 6: West Thumb area; drive to Grand Teton and explore Jackson Hole
This is the day you move to Grand Teton national park. On your way out of Yellowstone, explore the small West Thumb area. Jackson Hole is also worth a visit before you settle into your new lodging. I recommend the Aerial Tram to top of Rendezvous Mountain and a drink at the Million Dollar Cowboy bar.
Day 7: Scenic Drive & boat across Jenny Lake to Inspiration Point
Start your day with a scenic drive along Teton Park road. Don’t miss the drive up the Signal Mountain for a great view of the Tetons! Afterwards, make your way to Jenny Lake. You can walk along the lake or take the boat to the other side, where you can go up to Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls. To extend this hike even more, continue on the Cascade Canyon Trail from here for as long as you want.
Day 8: Rafting on the Snake river
You can always do another hike but we chose to take it easy that day and did a scenic rafting trip on the Snake River. It was a nice way to end our trip!
What do you think of this itinerary? Let me know in the comments!