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    Can I Do Yellowstone In a Day?

    By Visit Jackson Hole

    Yes, you can get an excellent Yellowstone experience from Jackson Hole in just one day. In fact, we've put together the full itinerary for you!

    Justin Walters, visitor services agent for the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, has been helping folks plan their trips to Jackson Hole for over 13 years. Not only that, he has been exploring the Tetons and surrounding mountains himself for over 20. So when we asked him the common question - can I do Yellowstone in a day? - he didn't just give us an answer. He laid out the perfect itinerary.

    Can I do Yellowstone in a day?

    “Yes,” Justin explains, “you can do the Southern Loop of Yellowstone from Jackson Hole, with stops at most major sites, in 12 hours.”

    This 12-hour day includes drive time from Jackson Hole to the Southern Entrance of Yellowstone (1.5 hours), stops at all major sites to get you the real Yellowstone experience, drive time around the Lower Loop with regular traffic, and drive time back to Jackson. “All in all, you’re looking at 6 hours in the car and 6 hours out exploring.”

    Where do I start? Justin suggests kicking off your Yellowstone adventure early, around 5 or 5:30 in the morning. This provides optimal opportunity for spotting wildlife on your way through Grand Teton National Park and helps avoid traffic during peak hours. “Pack food and water the night before to eliminate stops,” Justin hints.

    You’ll enter Yellowstone National Park through the Southern Entrance, then start your journey around the Lower Loop going clockwise, toward Old Faithful.

    Old Faithful – “If you do Old Faithful first, earlier in the morning, you’ll have a much better experience because it will be less crowded and you’ll avoid heavier traffic for the rest of the day,” says Justin.

    Old Faithful erupts every 90 minutes, give or take, so check the next eruption time first thing when you arrive. Then be sure to explore Norris Geyser Basin before or after witnessing Old Faithful. “This is your first introduction to thermal features in Yellowstone National Park.”

    Grand Prismatic – The famous, colorful, giant hot pool is well worth the stop. You have two options here: park at Midway Geyser Basin and walk the boardwalk for up-close views of Grand Prismatic or park at Fairy Falls and walk to the overlook to get a brids-eye view of the whole feature.

    “A bonus at Grand Prismatic is the short Fairy Falls hike that overlooks the rainbow hot spring. It’s perfect for anyone looking for a hike that’s not a boardwalk trek,” says Justin.

    Firehole Canyon Drive – This short drive allows for beautiful sight-seeing of Yellowstone’s natural landscapes. Stop at one of the picnic areas to finally enjoy that lunch you packed in nature’s living room. Just be sure that anything you bring in, you pack out!

    Hayden Valley – This is Yellowstone’s most famous section for wildlife viewing. Go slow and keep your eyes peeled! There are high chances of seeing bison, elk, moose, bear, and even wolves along this section of road.

    Canyon Village – Known as the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, this feature is jaw-dropping from any angle. Stop at Upper Falls to look down on the canyon or hike down to Lower Falls to get sprayed with the mist of the falls.

    Yellowstone Lake – If you started your day early and followed this itinerary, now is the time to reap the rewards! By the time you reach Yellowstone Lake, the road should be clear for picturesque views and liesurely stops at the overlooks if you wish.

    Bonus Questions

    Where Can We Eat In Yellowstone National Park?

    While it’s not Justin’s first suggestion because it eats up time, there are places to get a bite to eat inside the National Park. “A lot of people like to eat at Old Faithful Inn for the novelty of it,” Justin tells us. Other options include the general store at Madison and the dining hall at Lake Village.

    What If We Want To See the Entire Park?

    “If you want to do the Upper Loop as well, you have to stay in Gardiner or Cook City,” Justin plainly states. From Jackson Hole, the best way to see all of Yellowstone National Park is to go clockwise all the up the Western side on day one, stay the night in Gardiner or Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, then take the East side all the way back to Jackson on day two.