Our first National Trip! This classic trip is fantastic for the whole family and May is the best time to avoid the crowds and see baby animals.
Directions: West Yellowstone 5 1/2 hr from Provo
Activities: Hiking, hot springs, wildlife viewing, geysers
The ULTIMATE National Park and the first! Only 5 hrs driving can get you to this beautiful iconic park. May is the best time to visit for baby wildlife (bison, elk, bears, and wolves) and the crowds are much less than the summer. It is cooler than summer and may have snow in the higher areas (keep that in mind if you will be camping). Best bet for wildlife viewing may simply be driving the roads of the park and stopping when you see someone with a scope or any group of people. Also, dusk and dawn are more active times for animals. The geysers are classic as well, fueled by a massive underground volcano system. This itinerary includes the classic geysers as well as some easy to moderate hikes for getting out there and seeing wildlife and the beautiful landscapes of Yellowstone. *There may be unforseen closures due to construction and bear activity. In 2021 all Visitor Centers were closed due to COVID.
Gear (4 days): Underwear/socks, T-shirts, long sleeve shirts, fleece jacket, light waterproof jacket, puffy coat, hiking pants/shorts, gloves, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, camelback or regular back pack, 2 Liters water bladder or water bottles, snacks, hiking shoes/boots, swimming suit, cooler, Parks Pass, headlamp/flashlight, camera, spotting scope/binoculars
Day 1 - Drive and Old Faithful Area
2 pm - Old Faithful (erupts every 90 min)
Hike boardwalk from Old Faithful to Morning Glory Pool 1.5 mi. (easy)
Optional hike: Fairy Falls - 4.8 mi round trip to 200 ft waterfall. Includes the Grand
Prismatic Overlook (moderate)
Optional Short Scenic Drive (on way back to West Yellowstone):
Firehole River Canyon Drive to Waterfall - (canyon/waterfalls)- 2 mi.one
way road off the Grand Loop south of Madison, Firehole Falls Overlook at the
stop sign as you exit Firehole Drive. Can swim in this area in the summer.
Day 2 - Norris/Canyon Village Area
Optional Car Pull Over (on the way to Norris/Canyon Village Area):
Gibbons Falls (waterfalls) - 10 min before Artist Paint Pots
10 am - Artist Paint Pots - 1 mi loop (easy)
Lunch - Waipiti Lake Trailhead parking lot (has picnic benches)
2 pm - Artist Point/Grand Cyn - 0.2 mi round trip (easy)
Optional hike: South Rim Trail - 1.8 mi one way (easy) from Waipiti Lake
Trailhead to Artist Point (set up shuttle) follows edge of the gorge with closer
views of the water falls.
Optional hike: Brink of Lower Falls - 0.7 mi RT (moderate - switch backs) view
Lower Falls from above
Optional hike: Brink of Upper Falls - 0.3 mi RT (easy) view Upper Falls from
4pm - Norris Geyser Basin - 2.9 mi loop (easy) - many geysers on a boardwalk/path Optional short scenic drive (on way back to West Yellowstone) :
Virginia Cascades (waterfalls)
Day 3 - Mammoth Springs Area
Optional Car Pull Overs (10-15 miles before arriving at Mammoth):
Rustic Falls (waterfall) on rt side
Hoo Doos aka Silver Gate (grey stone, fun to climb) Quick wander on left side
10 am - Mammoth Springs/Upper Terrace Drive/Hike - 1 to 3.5 mi loop, but set it up
as a shuttle from the Upper Terrace parking area to the Lower Terrace parking
area and hike it downhill. Much easier, shorter, and funner.
Lunch - eat on any of the lawns with picnic tables. Bathrooms close to the Lower
Terrace parking lot (great place for seeing elk, especially in the fall)
2 pm - Mammoth Hot springs (Boiling River) - 1 mi round trip (easy) only in the
summer - check if it's open
Optional Relax/soak in private hot springs: Yellowstone Hot Springs, Gardiner MT
Cost: $18-Adult, $5-0-12yrs, $10-13-18yrs., $16-Seniors 62+. All day pass.
Showers & Restrooms. Admission is all day, come and go as please. No pool
toys but arm/waist floats for children ok. Use of hot pool by children under 2
not recommended. Towels NOT provided. Constantly flowing fresh mineral
water in all pools.
Optional hike: Undine Upper Falls & Wraith Falls - Udine is a pullout on the left;
Wraith Falls - 0.9 RT (easy) to waterfalls
4 pm - Lamar Valley Drive - Drive from Mammoth (Grand Loop Rd left on NE
Entrance Rd) to end of Lamar Valley (Pebble Creek Campground -
Optional hike: Lamar Valley Trail - 7.1 mi round trip but hike as far as you want
(easy - Pack BEAR SPRAY)
Optional hike: Amethyst Mountain and Specimen Ridge - 8 mi round trip to mt
summit and views over Lamar Valley (moderate - Pack BEAR SPRAY)
Day 4 - Yellowstone Lake Area/Drive Home (most people just drive home or go shopping)
Optional park: Yellowstone Bear World, 5 mi south Rexburg - great if you missed
bears and wolves on your trip. Adults $24, Kids $12
Optional Hikes at Yellowstone Lake:
West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake (lake view)/lunch (+1 hour) free walk no trail
Natural Bridge Trail - 3.1 mi round trip (easy/mod) hike to a grey stone
medium sized natural bridge.
Pelican Creek Nature Trail - 0.8 mi round trip (easy) hike along shore of
Optional Hike in Grand Teton:
String and Leigh Lakes (Grand Teton NP) - 2.6 mi out and back view of three
-West Yellowstone Entrance to Salt Lake/Provo: 5-6 hrs.
-West Yellowstone Entrance to South Yellowstone Entrance to Salt Lake/Provo: 8-9 hrs.
-West Yellowstone Entrance to South Yellowstone Entrance to Grand Tetons to SLC/Provo:
Prismatic Spring and Old Faithful
Artist Point and Artist Paint Pots
Mammoth Springs and Lamar Valley
West Yellowstone and Stuff