Get used to the idea right now: Yellowstone is a colossal park, and you’d never see everything here if you tried for a lifetime. Just embrace the fact that anything you choose to do while you’re here will be fascinating, wondrous, and 100 percent worth your time. Whether you go off in search of wolves and bears, tour the geyser basins, hike the trails, or cruise the park roads, Yellowstone is guaranteed to blow your mind.
Grand Loop Road, the 154-mile, figure-eight road looping through the heart of the park, connects most of the major and minor attractions, and you’re bound to spend some time cruising it. But stop frequently and get out of the car: Exploring the park’s highlights and, even better, getting out into the backcountry on a hiking trail will enrich your trip by leaps and bounds.
You could visit Yellowstone for a single day—and if that’s your only option, by all means, take it—but you need a minimum of 3 days to really get a feel for the place. A week or more is even better. Hit up the must-sees, such as Old Faithful, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Mammoth terraces, Lamar Valley, and Yellowstone Lake, but also check out some of the lesser-known but still incredible destinations. Attend a ranger-led program or sign up for a class with Yellowstone Forever for an in-depth experience. Consider spending a night under the stars, either in a drive-in park campground or deep in the backcountry. The farther you go from the road, the more solitude you’ll enjoy, and the more Yellowstone’s wild heart will be revealed to you.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.