An Amazing 3-Day Yellowstone National Park Itinerary For Your Next Visit
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Have you ever wanted to experience the wild beauty of Yellowstone National Park, but weren’t sure where to begin? Look no further! This 3-Day Yellowstone National Park Itinerary is designed to help you make the most out of your visit to one of America’s greatest natural wonders.
From thrilling geysers and bubbling hot springs to picturesque canyons and stunning wilderness trails – this itinerary has it all! Let’s take a look at all the amazing things you’ll get to experience on your trip to Yellowstone National Park.
Safety Tips For Yellowsone National Park
Before heading out for a hike at Yellowstone National Park, make sure you have a few things in your pack:
- Appropriate clothing and a layer of extra clothing as there is often a day and night difference
- Plenty of water and snacks – pack as much water as you think you need, then add some more.
- Sunscreen and sunglasses – I am testing out this new mineral powder sunscreen, you will learn more soon!
- Insect repellent – pack wipes or bands if you can’t take canisters on a plane
- Swimming attire (if needed) – ONLY use the marked SAFE for swimming areas.
- A small first-aid kit – that includes snake bite tools
- Proper footwear – skip the flip flops
- A map of the area – a paper one unless you have it downloaded on your phone
- Solar tech charger
- Binoculars or other optics
- Your camera or phone – you might not have a signal to make calls, but you can take stunning pictures
ALWAYS let someone know your plans for the day – the route you will be taking, and when to roughly expect you back.
Start your trip to Yellowstone National Park with a morning stroll through Mammoth Hot Springs.
Mammoth Hot Springs
I think Mammoth Hot Springs is one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders in Yellowstone National Park. It’s formed by a large caldera, which contains dozens of steaming hot springs and terraces made up of travertine rock.
These eye-catching structures grow year after year due to the minerals like calcium carbonate that are continuously deposited from the hot spring water and build up. The spectacular colors range from blues and greens to oranges and yellows, making it one of the most photographed spots in Yellowstone National Park.
Give yourself time to just wander around and marvel at the various interesting formations while taking in the stunning views of this surreal landscape.
Don’t forget to stop by Upper Terrace Drive, which offers some of the most amazing views of the terraces!
After taking in this natural wonder, enjoy lunch at one of the restaurants in the area before heading out to explore more of what Yellowstone has to offer.
Restaurants to look at:
Here are a few of our favorites, and why.
Mammoth General Store
315A Grand Loop Rd, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
It has wheelchair access and is pretty much fast food. It is about as budget-friendly as you can get for Yellowstone. Think the grab-and-go type of stuff with a microwave to heat things up. Fresh and tasty sandwiches and snacks, nothing very complex. Great ice cream and it has a water refill station.
Mammoth Hotel Dining Room
Just an FYI – You might want to skip this place. Between labor shortage issues, etc the reviews lately have been less than stellar. It pops up on a lot of lists and I simply wanted to address it.
Mammoth Terrace Grill
305B Albright Avenue, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
Try the bison bratwurst! Think of burgers, chicken tenders, fries, etc when you eat here. The location makes it very handy.
Grant Village Cafeteria
315A Grand Loop Rd, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
For quick counter service, this place earns a spot on our short list. You may be challenged to find a place to sit over peak mealtime, but think burgers, salads, and a decent kid’s menu.
Pro tip: On the 2nd level, up just 5-6 steps, there’s a huge stuffed moose that makes for great photo ops with people of all ages.
711 Scott St, Gardiner, MT 59030-7775
Just a tad over 4 miles away, this is a great place to hit. It is a cute place with mostly outdoor seating, has large and yummy burgers, and has craft beer. (milkshakes for the kids?) You may even see elk walking down the road in front of you!
208 Park St, Gardiner, MT 59030-7735
Bison tacos, huckleberry milkshakes, and the list goes on! If you are a coffee lover, try the expresso. This is also a great place to get gifts/souvenirs!
In the afternoon, take a drive along Grand Loop Road, passing by several hot springs and geysers such as Morning Glory Pool and Castle Geyser on your way.
Morning Glory Pool
The Morning Glory Pool is a natural hot spring located in the Midway Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park. It’s a breathtaking spot, featuring brilliant colors that range from blue to emerald green and yellow, depending on the time of day and changes in temperature.
This pool was popularized by explorers and travelers during the 19th century, and it remains one of Yellowstone’s most iconic attractions to this day. Visitors can take advantage of boardwalks situated around the pool for better views and photo opportunities.
Castle Geyser is a cone geyser located in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park near Old Faithful. It erupts every 10 to 12 hours, shooting hot water and steam up to 90 feet into the air. Its spectacular display has made it one of the most popular attractions in Yellowstone.
The area around Castle Geyser also features other geothermal features such as Rainbow Pool and Opal Pool, with their stunning displays of green and blue hues. Visitors can enjoy trails that wind through this magical area for even better views.
Wrap it up
End your day with a peaceful hike around Artist Paint Pots or Black Sand Basin – both featuring bubbling mud pots and colorful hot springs that make for an unforgettable experience. Make sure you have your camera ready!
Wake up early and head towards Old Faithful Geyser first thing in the morning. Watch as it erupts every 30-90 minutes and be amazed at its powerful display of nature’s force.
Old Faithful Geyser
Old Faithful Geyser is one of the most famous and popular geysers in the world. It’s located in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park and has been erupting since at least 1870. Its average eruption lasts about two minutes and sends water up to 130 feet into the air, reaching temperatures as high as 204 degrees Fahrenheit (96 Celsius). The length and duration of these eruptions can be predicted with a remarkable degree of accuracy.
After that, take a short drive to Midway Geyser Basin.
Midway Geyser Basin
The Midway Geyser Basin is located in Yellowstone National Park and is home to some of the most spectacular hot springs, mud pots, and geysers. It is like an otherworldly landscape filled with vividly colored hot springs that seem like they were taken straight out of a fairytale world!
It features the impressive Grand Prismatic Spring, a dazzling rainbow-colored hot spring that is the largest in the United States and the third largest in the world. The Grand Prismatic Spring is definitely worth seeing here – spanning almost 250 feet wide and featuring spectacular rainbow hues surrounded by lush green meadows!
Excelsior Geyser Crater
Formerly known as Excelsior Geyser, the Excelsior Geyser Crater is located in the Midway Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park. It is a dormant fountain-type geyser that used to erupt frequently with some eruptions reaching heights of over 300 feet.
However, its internal plumbing system has been damaged due to its powerful eruptions and it now discharges 15,100 – 17,000 liters of water at 93 degrees Celsius into the Firehole River every minute.
The Grand Prismatic Spring
The Grand Prismatic Spring is definitely worth seeing here – as the largest hot spring in the US and spans almost 250 feet wide and features spectacular rainbow hues surrounded by lush green meadows!
The magical lure of the pool comes from a beautiful and intricate combination of colors, not only in its depths but also around its edges. The microbial mats produce an ever-changing palette ranging from orange to red during summer months, transitioning into dark green hues as winter approaches.
At the same time, deep blue water radiates from the center due to sterility and depth – creating an alluring atmosphere that will captivate onlookers’ attention.
In one word: Stunning.
Firehole Canyon Drive
To finish off Day 2 visit Firehole Canyon Drive – which offers impressive volcanic views as you drive along its winding road.
Make sure to get out at Madison Falls viewpoint for an unforgettable view of this gorgeous waterfall cascading down into the Firehole River below.
Spend your last day exploring Yellowstone’s great outdoors!
Get up early and hike Mount Washburn for stunning vistas of nearby peaks and valleys; don’t forget to bring your binoculars so you can catch glimpses of wildlife such as bison or coyotes among other creatures!
From its lofty perch of 10,219 feet in the Washburn Range of Yellowstone National Park stands Mount Washburn – a proud monument to memory and courage. This mighty peak commemorates Henry D. Washburn who bravely led the first government-sponsored expedition through this spectacular landscape over 150 years ago, marking him as a true pioneer among adventurers.
The range itself is one of two mountain ranges totally contained within national park boundaries – just another testament to its majesty and grandeur that has been so carefully preserved for all these generations to enjoy.
West Thumb Geyser Basin
Afterward, head down to West Thumb Geyser Basin. Spanning a comparatively tiny area in comparison to its gargantuan volcanic neighbor, Yellowstone Lake’s West Thumb Geyser Basin packs quite a punch.
Sitting at 44°25’07″N and 110°34′23″W amid the boundless Wyomingian wilderness lies what could be described as an all-natural cauldron of heat — thanks to thermal features sourced from only 3,000 meters beneath the surface! Within this impressive geothermal arena is Potts Basin and even within it sits another caldera, making for three layers of natural spectacle unlike anything else on Earth.
Named by Chief Park Naturalist Clyde M. Bauer to pay homage to Lieutenant G.C Doane’s description of a mysterious spring in the area, Abyss Pool is an alluring sight – one 19th-century visitor even went so far as describing it as “a great pure sparkling sapphire rippling with heat”.
With depths stretching 53 feet below its surface, this pool has also proved itself unpredictable over time; twice eruption events were recorded between 1987 and 1992 releasing fountains that could reach up to 100ft high!
Immerse yourself in the exciting tales of mountain men and their experiences at Fishing Cone, a hot spring found in the West Thumb Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park. This area was renowned for eruptions reaching up to 40 feet high during the early 20th century; however, it is now submerged under water due to its rising levels come springtime.
According to legend, you could catch a fish from this lake and cook it on your hook – no time wasted! Thankfully, that is not a practice that is allowed today – those poor fish! Eek!
Here are a few places we would recommend:
Hamilton Stores Fountain
Near Old Faithful Inn Northside Old Faithful Village Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
The place has a rustic feel to it and it is the best place to sit back and have a grilled ham and cheese sandwich in Yellowstone. Go with a hamburger instead of a bison burger (they were a tad too dry) and you get a choice of fries, or… fries with your sandwiches, LOL.
Old Faithful Inn Bear Paw Deli
1001 Old Faithful Rd Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
Try the Huckleberry flavor and I highly recommend it, it is a unique flavor, close to blueberry and very popular in this area. It is very creamy and thick like a good quality churned ice cream…which was a nice change from all the frozen custard of the midest!
According to our tour guide this is one of the oldest ice cream parlors, the inn itself is the largest cabin in the US and is 150 years old. I am not saying the employees are that old, just usually sealing with a smaller staff means there may be a wait to wrap your toungue around your frozen treat.
It’s really more of a grab and go kind of place for breakfast sandwiches and even burgers – but you want the ice cream. Trust me.
Old Faithful Snow Lodge Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
Yellowstone, home to Old Faithful and a plethora of wonders, provided the perfect backdrop for an extraordinary dining experience. Midday brought us to this cozy spot just steps away from the famous geyser – finding a table was simple and service speedy!
I’m so glad I ordered their delectable trout special; it was hands down one of my favorite meals on-site.
We also tried the Wild Game Bolognese, Bison Short Ribs, and the Yellowstone Caldera. The Bolognese could use more sauce or a few less noodles – it didn’t “math” out on the plate. The Bison Short Ribs and the mashed potatoes were pretty tasty.
We liked the Yellowstone Caldera, it was like a molted chocolate cake, a great end to our meal.
1000 Old Faithful Rd Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
I suggest you pass this one by – the latest reviews haven’t been kind with phrases like “whithering hotdogs’ and “burgers are cold and bland” – it kind of makes you want to pack in your own meal!
Seriously, if something else is open, go there.
Sulfur Cauldron Trail
Home to fascinating yellow, red, and grey rocks formed by volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago – check it out for even more geological features before leaving Yellowstone National Park!
Need somewhere to stay?
A trip to Yellowstone National Park is a great way to experience nature and its wild beauty. With this 3-Day Itinerary, you can explore the amazing geologic features of the park, such as hot springs and geysers, while also taking in nature’s grandeur on breathtaking hikes and drives through the park.
Whether you are looking for a thrilling adventure or just a peaceful getaway, Yellowstone National Park has something special for everyone. Don’t miss your chance to check out America’s incredible natural wonder – book your trip today!
Can you think of something we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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