After visiting Yellowstone National Park, I can see why nearly 4 million visitors come from all over the world to visit the unique geothermal features Yellowstone has to offer. Yellowstone National Park is one of the few places in America where everyone must visit at least once in their lifetime. From waterfalls and geysers to hot springs and sub-alpine forests, Yellowstone National Park has it all. Amongst all the natural wonders of Yellowstone, here’s a recommended 2-day itinerary to see the best of the best in Yellowstone.
We started our trip from Bozeman, Idaho. A flight from Las Vegas to Bozeman was only $40 one way. From Bozeman it’s about a 1.5 hour drive to get to the northeast entrance of the park. Your first stop should be Mammoth Hot Springs from the northeast entrance. Just past the Beaver Ponds Trail, there is a small parking lot for Mammoth Hot Springs. If this area is full, try your luck in the Upper Terrance, which is on the Upper Terrance Loop Drive. The loop is a one-way road, so veering to the right will take you to the first parking lot, which is where the trail head will lead you throughout Upper and Lower terrace as well as Mammoth Hot Springs. Explore and admire the unique landscape and scenery of Mammoth Hot Springs. From the Upper Terrace, you’ll get an amazing view of the valley below. Once finished, continue driving the one-way loop and make sure to stop at the beautiful Orange Spring Mound along Upper Terrance Loops Drive. Do not be alarmed by the foul smell of rotten eggs. This is just the sulfur emitting from the steam of the hot spring.
Once you’re back on the Grand Loop Road head East towards Tower Junction. The Tower Falls is worth a quick stop. I wouldn’t spend more than 15 minutes here. Continue on Grand Loop Road, pass North Rim Drive and make a left at South Rim Drive instead. Because the North Rim Drive is a one-way road and takes you back to Canyon Junction, you’ll want to do the South Rim Drive first. First, stop at Uncle Tom’s Point. You’re going to want to take the Uncle Tom’s Trail to get the most spectacular views of the lower falls. This short hike consists of 328 steps. Although it may seem intimidating at first (due to height), this short hike is well worth conquering your fear of heights, if you have one. Next, drive to Artist Point. This will be your first good look of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. With 270 degrees of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, you’ll be in awe of the amazing colors from the sheer cliffs formed by the running river.
Driving back out to Grand Loop Road, take a right towards the Brink of Lower Falls. This viewpoint allows you to see the falls from above, giving you a different perspective of the magnitude of the Lower Falls. Exiting back Grand Loop Road, you’ll want to take the next right onto North Rim Road. The three view points you’ll want to stop at are: Lookout Point, Grand View, and Inspiration Point. If you’re not too tired from your first hike down Uncle Tom’s, then I highly recommend doing the Red Rock trail from Lookout Point. This trail takes you to the bottom of the Lower Falls. Once you’ve completed the loop, you’ll notice that you’re back at the Canyon Junction.
North Rim Drive turns into Norris Canyon Road. From here, you’ll want to continue straight until you’ve reached Norris Geyser Basin. Once you’ve parked, you’ll follow the trail towards a bookstore. Pass the bookstore and make a right at the fork. You will pass the museum and continue walking along the boardwalk. You’ll want to make the entire loop around Norris Geyser Basin. You’ll find yourself amazed at every corner you turn. The colors of greens, reds, and blues are abundant on this short trail. We highly recommend not skipping this one.
Continuing on the Grand Loop Road, now heading South, you’ll want to make a small detour through the Firehole Canyon Road. This road will take you alone side many hot springs and geysers that are visible from the road. Once you’ve exited Firehole Canyon, continue heading south on Grand Loop Road. You’re going to want to stop at Fountain Paint Pot. This short nature trail leads you to some of the most bazaar sights you’ll ever see. Imagine seeing boiling mud or clay, gargling and bubbling like a witches pot. That’s what the Fountain Paint Pot resembles.
Again, continuing to head south will lead you to the Grand Prismatic Spring. You’re going to want to come here on a sunny day. The sun really brings out the colorful rainbow of the hot spring. You’ll see reds, oranges, yellow, green, and blues when the steam is not fogging up your sunglasses or camera lens. The key is timing. Wait for the wind to blow West to get the best photo of this ground level shot of the Grand Prismatic Spring. To get a better view of the Grand Prismatic Spring, will require a little bit more work. Get back in your car, and head towards Fairy Falls. You’ll want to get here early if you plan on parking in the parking lot, otherwise, you’ll have to park on the main road and walk to the trail head. Make your way up to the trail. You’ll know once you’ve reached the Grand Prismatic Spring from the steam and fog emitting from the boiling water. From here, you’ll want to look to your left. There are a few hills with trails that you can take to get a better of the hot spring. Try ascending at a few spots, and I’m sure you’ll find a good view of the hot spring. There will be signs telling you to keep out, but there are also a few trails that do not have signs. Proceed with caution, and try to avoid letting others see you ascend to the top. The last thing you want is a mob of visitors blocking your view of the hot spring due to the small space available at the top of the hill.
Lastly, you’ll want to visit Old Faithful. Continue South on Grand Loop Road. If you get a change, stay the Old Faithful Lodge or Old Faithful Inn. Find parking and heads towards the boardwalk towards Old Faithful. Go inside the lodge or inn and look for signs posting as to when the Geyser will erupt. If the geyser is not erupting for at least 2 hours, take a stroll along Loop Trail to the end of the trail. This will lead you to Morning Glory Pool and many other geysers along the way. If you’re lucky like we were, you’ll see the Riverside Geyser erupt shooting water over 80 feet in the air.