Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Sample Yellowstone National Park vacation itinerary

August 10, 2009, 6:54 am
Whether you are staying for one day or seven, Yellowstone National Park is worth the trip but with so many sites, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Here's some ideas on how to spend your days when visiting this monstrous national park.

Day 1: Since the average elevation of Yellowstone is around 8,000 feet, you will want to stay on lower-level ground in order to get acclimated. Remember to bring your rain gear, boots, tank tops and shorts to be prepared for weather changes. You'll also probably want to get an early start to be able to get the most out of your day.

If you only have one day to spend in Yellowstone, the best, and most popular, attraction to see is Old Faithful/Upper Geyser. Each eruption lasts from 1.5 minutes to 5 minutes. After seeing the eruption, take some time to walk around the boardwalks in the area, including the walk to Morning Glory Pool, which has an assortment of beautiful colors.

Don't forget to stop by the Old Faithful Inn. Even if you are not staying there, or even eating there, you will want to take a walk around the building and examine its stunning structure. While wildlife is not too abundant here, you can sometimes see bison and elk. When hunger strikes, you can stop in the cafeteria at Old Faithful Lodge. If you have a little more time and money to spend, make a reservation at Old Faithful Snow Lodge Restaurant or the Old Faithful Inn Dining Room.

Next, go to West Thumb Geyser Basin and Grant Village, which is towards the south end of the park. It's about a 17-mile drive from Old Faithful to West Thumb on the Grand Loop Road. Visitors can hike West Thumb, which is 1/2 miles around the outer boardwalk loop and 1/4 miles around the inner loop to see Lake Yellowstone. At least two pools exist, along with the Thumb Paint Pots, so visitors must allot a couple hours to see the wonders at West Thumb.

Day 2: Hit up the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. There are a number of trails to go on, including Uncle Tom's trail -- it descends into the canyon with more than 300 concrete steps and paved inclines, descending about 500 feet into the canyon. Artist Point is another trail that's recommended.

Eat lunch before leaving canyon to go on a hike. Visitors can drive north from the canyon over Dunraven Pass to hike Mt. Washburn using the Dunraven trail, not Chittenden. Estimated time: three hours in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, four hours hiking.