Tourists who have never been to Yellowstone National Park before are always wondering how much time is needed to visit the park. I remember the first time I was planning my visit to Yellowstone I was wondering the same thing. I was wondering, “Is it possible to see Yellowstone in 3 days? Two days? Just how long does it take to see everything?”
Yellowstone is Huge
The truth is that you could spend weeks in the park and still not see the whole thing. Yellowstone National Park is over 3,400 square miles of wilderness, most of which isn’t accessible by roads and most people don’t have the kind of time that it would take to see the entire park. There is however what people refer to as the “grand loop.”
The Grand Loop
Yellowstone’s “Grand Loop” is the main road that makes its way around the park. The road system is just over 140 miles in total and it provides access to all of the main attractions of the park. It originated from early wagon trails that would follow lake shores and valleys from one attraction to the next. There is also a short section of road call the “Norris Cutoff” that essentially makes the loop into a giant figure eight. It was built back in the 1880s to provide a way for people to access the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone from the West side of the park. Being a loop, the “Grand Loop” has no real beginning or end but you can access the grand loop from any of the parks 5 entrances.
The 5 Enterances into Yellowstone
The North entrance is just south of Bozeman, MT and used to be the parks only entrance back when people traveled to Yellowstone by train and toured by horse and carriage.
The Northeast entrance can be accessed by heading West from Red Lodge, MT and will take you through Lamar Valley on your way to the grand loop. If you are hoping to see some wolves during your visit to Yellowstone this area is your best bet.
The East entrance is located about an hour’s drive west of Cody, Wyoming and will take you past Yellowstone Lake.
During the summer months Cody is where you will find the “Cody Nite Rodeo.” It’s the only rodeo that takes place every single night throughout the whole summer! (It’s part of our Yellowstone Tours at Destination West).
Yellowstone National Park’s West entrance enters the park from West Yellowstone, Montana. This entrance is a great option if you are coming from the west or northwest through Idaho. West Yellowstone’s location just outside the parks western boundary makes it a good alternative for lodging if the hotels inside the park are full.
The South entrance can be accessed by coming up north out of Jackson, WY and going through Grand Teton National Park. Grand Teton National Park is without a doubt worth a detour if you aren’t already coming from the south. It’s not as large as Yellowstone National park but it is one of the most scenic national parks in the world.
The entrance that you choose to use will just depend on which direction that you are coming from. Destination West’s Luxury Yellowstone tours begin in Jackson, Wyoming so we go up through Grand Teton National Park and enter Yellowstone through the South Entrance. We see Yellowstone in 3 days even though the entire tour lasts a total of 5 days. To see what else in included in our Luxury Yellowstone Tour package please check out our tours page.
How We See Yellowstone in 3 Days
The Destination West Luxury Yellowstone Tour isn’t actually limited to Yellowstone National Park, although that is the main attraction. The tour actually starts in Jackson, Wyoming with our guests arriving in Jackson on the first day and enjoying a spa treatment and doing some star gazing. On the second day after some hot air ballooning and some rafting down the Snake River our guests ride in our private stretch Hummer limousine up through the south entrance of Yellowstone National Park.
To see Yellowstone in 3 days the main attractions must be divided into 3 parts that will take approximately the same amount of time to explore. The first day isn’t actually a whole day because of the activities that we have planned in Jackson and the drive time from Jackson. But the majority of the time in the park on the first day is spent at West Thumb Geyser Basin and Old Faithful Geyser Basin. Our guests stay at the Old Faithful Lodge so they have ample time to explore the Old Faithful Geyser Basin. This is the geyser basin that you should try to allow the most time fore because it is extremely large.
The second day of our tour through Yellowstone National park is our biggest day of sightseeing. Of course, it begins at Yellowstone Geyser Basin and continues north and includes stops at:
- Black Sand Basin
- Upper Geyser Basin
- Midway Geyser Basin
- Great Fountain Geyser
- Lower Geyser Basin
- Terrace Springs
- Gibbon Falls
- Monument Geyser Basin
- Washburn Hot Springs Overlook
- Undine Falls
- Mammoth Hot Springs
The final stop for the day is in Mammoth Hot Springs where our guests will stay for the evening. This is a full day so it’s important that you don’t accidentally spend too much time in one particular area. It’s very easy to do because it seems like there is so much to see but it’s important that you budget your time.
On the third day in Yellowstone we begin by heading south from Mammoth Hot springs and make our way through the East Entrance of the park to arrive in Cody in time for the Cody Nite Rodeo (I know, that’s just they way they spell it).
The stops in the park that we will make along the way include:
- Sheepeater Cliff
- Norris Geyser Basin
- Virginian Cascade
- Lower Falls
- Upper Falls
- Sulphur Cauldron
- Mud Volcano
The Tour isn’t Finished
So, that’s how we see Yellowstone in 3 days but on a Luxury Tour with Destination West the tour isn’t finished yet! After arriving in Cody and enjoying a chuckwagon dinner our touring guests will attend the Cody Nite Rodeo. In the morning our guests will visit the Buffalo Bill Center of the west, which is actually 5 different museums in one: Buffalo Bill Museum, Whitney Western Art Museum, Plains Indian Museum, Cody Firearms Museum, and Draper Natural History Museum.
After the exploring the museums our guests will then tour in the Hummer limousine back to Jackson, Wyoming through Yellowstone traveling around Yellowstone Lake and then back down through Teton National Park.
For more information about the Luxury Yellowstone Tours that Destination West offers or to inquire about a custom tour please visit our homepage.