A frequently asked question: how many days does a visit to the giant Yellowstone National Park requires?

Obviously this depends highly on your personal preferences and available time. One thing’s for sure: there is a lot to see and to do in Yellowstone. If you ask us, you visit Yellowstone especially for its amazing natural phenomena, such as the famous and fascinating geysers and the colorful hot springs. One by one breathtaking natural wonders, which must be on your bucket list!

If we want to discover the wilderness for a challenging hike with extensive views, we prefer the nearby Grand Teton National Park. Don’t get us wrong: Yellowstone certainly covers beautiful trails, away from the crowds, which are worth the effort. But as always, time is limited – unfortunately! – and you have to make choices.

That’s why three days was perfect for us to enjoy this legendary and beautiful natural park. Below we would like to share our ideal 3-day program for a visit to the world’s oldest national park: Yellowstone!

Day 1 – Arrival

The first day is of course a travel day. Let’s not cram it right away, so you don’t have to rush if the previous destination has just taken a little longer than planned.

Grant Village

The ideal base for this 3-day program is Grant Village. There is a lodge, but we prefer a tent site in Grant Campground. The campground is only open during the summer and is provided with all necessary facilities such as toilets, showers, laundry services, … Please note that accommodation inside the park must be booked far in advance! Both the lodges and the campgrounds are quickly fully booked, often months in advance. Both can be booked through this website, where you can also consult all the necessary information.

Checked in and all set? You are ready to explore the beautiful Yellowstone!

Hayden Valley

Whoever says Yellowstone, says wildlife! Hayden Valley is one of the best places to look for the most photogenic wildlife. By planning this in the late afternoon, you also increase your chances of success! Just before sunset, wildlife’s getting more active.

Hayden Valley is a vast rolling grassland and an excellent living environment for various wild animals. Keep your eyes open for bison, moose, elk, grizzly bears, black bears, wolves and countless birds. The Yellowstone River provides the perfect setting for your most beautiful photos.

In addition to the wildlife, you can also enjoy beautiful panoramas over the green valley. Perfect to peacefully finish this travel day.

Day 2 AM – Upper Geyser Basin

Set your alarm bright and early! The world’s best-known geyser, Old Faithful, is preparing for a new spectacle.

Not the biggest geyser in the park, but the most reliable! Every 1 to 1.5 hours, Old Faithful gives the best of itself. If you arrive before 8 am, you would hardly believe that this is the absolute highlight of Yellowstone NP. You can simply choose your seat for the most beautiful view of what will come. You can’t compare this with the crowds an hour later!

Now just impatiently wait for… WOW!

Next, follow the trail around the various geysers and hot springs. These’ll keep you busy for some hours! The Castle Geyser, Grotto Geyser and Morning Glory Pool are definitely some highlights not to be missed.

Day 2 PM – Midway Geyser Basin

Bigger, more colorful and even more impressive!

Although the colorful pools in Upper Geyser Basin are undeniably beautiful, these are basically just a warm-up. In the Midway Geyser Basin you will find the most beautiful hot spring of Yellowstone NP and probably from all over the world. The Grand Prismatic Spring is truly dazzling. A breathtaking bright blue lake embraced by a radiant circular rainbow. This combination of intense colors makes it almost unreal. For us, the absolute highlight of the park, something you should have seen at least once in your life!

The splendor of colors is – strange but true – created by various bacteria. At the center of the spring, the water temperature continuously reaches about 185°F (85°C). This is too hot for almost all bacteria and therefore the center has the familiar blue color. The further from the center, the lower the temperature. Suddenly, the water turns into an ideal living environment for bacteria. Depending on the temperature, there are certain bacteria that each create their own certain color tone. Together they’re responsible for the beautiful color transition that makes the Grand Prismatic Spring so special. It’s strange to say, but still: Thank you, bacteria!

Day 3 AM – Hayden Valley

We know that you can’t get enough of capturing those special animals on the perfect picture. Good news: We’ll passing through Hayden Valley again today.

Also at sunrise, the chance of spotting wildlife is a bit bigger. Probably a dozen of bison and elk are on your camera by now, but maybe you’ll spot a grizzly bear this time?! We’ll keep our fingers crossed for you!

Day 3 PM – Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Whoever thought Yellowstone is all and just about geysers, hot springs and wildlife, you thought wrong. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone offers a complete different image of what you already saw. The vast green grasslands make way for rugged rust-colored rocks.

The 100-foot Lower Fall dominates this landscape. A giant mass of water smashes down in the yellow gaping canyon. The best way to admire this spectacle is the short but steep Uncle Tom’s trail. After 328 steps and 150 altimeters deep into the canyon you’ll be rewarded with an impressive view of the waterfall. Unfortunately, you have to go up again… But with a new experience to keep for life!

For a stunning view of the entire canyon, Artist’s Point is the place to be! You can combine both – Artist’s Point and Uncle Tom’s trail – through the South Rim Trail. Recommended!

After these 3 days filled with wonderful surprises in the legendary Yellowstone National Park, you’re ready for a new adventure. Need some advice? Head to the Wind River Range!