One Day In Yellowstone National Park
One Day In Yellowstone National Park
How to make the most of one day in Yellowstone National Park!

One day in Yellowstone national park

If you only have one day to spend in Yellowstone National Park, it’s important to understand how much this park is spread out. You will not have time to visit all areas, so I suggest the following sites (if you are entering from the south side of the park from Grand Teton NP):


Old Faithful, Upper Geyser Basin, Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook, Mud Volcano Thermal Area, Brink of the Lower Falls Trail, Artist Point, Dinner at Yellowstone Lake Hotel, and Sunset at Hayden Valley

Old Faithful

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Old Faithful is an iconic destination for anyone visiting Yellowstone. Even though it's known to be a very popular stop in the park, the size of the viewing deck shocked me. We visited in September, which is considered to be the start of the shoulder season, but I couldn't believe how many people were waiting on the geyser to erupt!

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Having visited Iceland and seen geysers even closer than you are able to view Old Faithful, the eruption was a little underwhelming for us. After watching it erupt a couple times, we learned that each performance can be drastically different in height and length (sometimes significantly more impressive than others). Old Faithful is still absolutely worth seeing, but if you have visited they geysers in Iceland, Geysir takes the cake for performance between the two!

Be sure to explore Old Faithful Inn, but save your money and do not eat here for dinner. 

Upper Geyser Basin

The Upper Geyser Basin is home to over 150 geothermal features, each with its own unique properties. The trail is an easy 3 mile loop that will leave you feeling like you have just visited another planet!

You can take this trail all the way to the famous Morning Glory pool, which offers a unique vantage point of being able to see much further into the geothermal feature than the others along the trail. Although the colors aren't as vibrant as they supposedly once were due to vandalism and dropping coins and other objects into the pool, I still think it's worth the stop. 

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Grand Prismatic Spring

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This hike was short and steep, but the reward versus effort ratio was very high! The distance round trip from the Fairy Falls parking lot is 1.2 miles, and climbs about 105ft of elevation on the way to the overlook. The colors are most vivid in the summer during the middle of the day. 

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After completing the overlook trail, we parked at the Midway Geyser Basin (we waited a long time for a parking spot) in order to walk the 0.8 mile boardwalk trail that visits several geothermal features, including the Grand Prismatic Spring. Being that close to the largest hot spring in the U.S. was surreal. This trail gave us a perspective of its magnitude that the overlook couldn't.

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If you are trying to decide between one of the Grand Prismatic Spring views, I recommend the overlook trail instead of the Midway Geyser Basin boardwalk trail since it's harder to see the colors when you are that close. I highly recommend both stops if you have time because it's neat to see the colors from afar, yet the vastness of the size up close. The steam made it difficult to see the colors when we were up close, so I was glad we had the opportunity to experience both vantage points.

Mud Volcano Thermal Area

The heavy morning fog made it difficult to see much in front of us, so this hike felt kind of eerie. We have visited numerous volcanic destinations, but this trail provided unique perspectives to a large quantity of mud pits that we haven't witnessed anywhere else. As long as you can manage the pungent smell of sulfur, this trail is quite intriguing and has something different around every corner.

Brink Of The Lower Falls Trail

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This hike is short, but steep. The trail is 0.8 miles round trip, but gains 600ft of elevation on your way back up. It's well worth the views - it ended up being one of my favorite stops in the park! The quantity of water spilling over the falls was astounding! The views of the canyon and the perspective of the waterfall from the platform are absolutely stellar. 

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Artist Point

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Artist point has one of the best views in the park, and the hike to get there is only 0.2 miles from the parking lot. This is a must see in Yellowstone and barely requires any effort to get there!

Dinner At Lake Yellowstone Hotel

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Our dinner here was a significant improvement over the sub par dinner at Old Faithful Inn. If you want to eat dinner inside the park I highly recommend dining here! 

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Sunset at Hayden Valley

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Many of the animals that live in Yellowstone are most active at dawn and dusk. Hayden Valley is a great place for animal watching during that time, especially if you are coming from dinner at Lake Yellowstone Hotel. 
TIP: Make sure you have binoculars for wildlife viewing! We met some kind people who allowed us to share theirs, but without them we wouldn't have been able to see much. 

View the stars

We were fortunate enough to experience stargazing with a new moon. That was the first time either of us had ever seen the Milky Way. It was an incredible moment that we will cherish forever!


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