The main sights of America’s first national park, are best visited by car and can be easily explored in two days by following a rough figure of eight pattern, when approached from the northern tip of the park, heading in from Montana.
I stayed overnight in Livingstone and drove the 50 miles south to the North Entrance of the park early the first morning to start my 2 days in Yellowstone National Park.
2 Days in Yellowstone National Park: Day 1
The first day of my Yellowstone itinerary includes checking out some of the sights along the northern tip of the national park.
Mammoth Hot Springs
A short 5 mile drive from the entrance and you arrive at the surreal Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. Heat, Water, Limestone and Rock combine to create the most amazing landscape of off-white glistening terraces, bubbling water and steam rising to the surface. It is hard to describe just how spectacular the area is, but the descriptions of some of the Hot Springs may give you some idea – Opal Terrace, Jupiter Terrace and White Elephant Back Terrace are just a few of the areas open to discovery.
Next head back on the road and journey 18 miles East to Tower Junction. A great spot to admire vast views of the park and definitely spot some wildlife, maybe some Elk or Bison. The main attraction here is Tower Waterfall, a 132 foot waterfall, but also visit Roosevelt Lodge, named because President Roosevelt used to love visiting the area and often went hunting here. More hot springs are located around Calsite Springs, and definitely don’t miss the surreal Petrified Trees of the Fossil Forrest.
Continue on the road south about 19 miles to the Canyon Area. Its no surprise that this is where the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is located, stretching some 20 miles long. There is also a great visitors centre here, where transient exhibitions can be found. There are places to rest and eat too and all manner of hiking trails start here, from a quick 20 minute walk to much more strenuous hikes.
Loop West on the road about 12 miles, till you arrive at the Norris Geyser Basin. It is the hottest and most changeable area in the whole of the Yellowstone National Park and most cannot be missed. There is a 3.6 km trail, but you can walk a shortened route too, as you pass through pungent smells, hot steam and strange, almost magical colours. Highlights include Whales Mouth, Crackling Lake, Emerald Spring and the Porcelain Terrace Overlook.
Depending on time, you can always stop off here for some more hiking trails and stay overnight in one of the campgrounds, but I drove west out of the park, and straight into West Yellowstone town. There are plenty of cheap motels, shops, and restaurants here and it is a great place to rest overnight.
2 Days in Yellowstone National Park: Day 2
Two days in Yellowstone National Park won’t be complete without visiting Old Faithful, which is what we got up to on day two.
Head back into Yellowstone from the West Yellowstone entrance, but this time head South when you arrive back at Madison.
You may of heard of this place? Located in the Upper Geyser Basin, it is the largest concentration of Geysers in the world. The main attraction here is of course the famous cone geyser Old Faithful, so named, not because it is the most spectacular or largest geyser in the park, but the most reliable. With plenty of places to sit, wait and watch, check the clock for estimated eruption times, and have your camera ready!
Continue heading South on the main road about 16 miles to one of the smallest concentrations of geysers in the park, but by no means less spectacular. Also located here are mud pools, fumaroles and hot springs. There is also the amazing Abyss Pool, the deepest pool in the whole park.
Now start to head East again, and follow the edge of the Yellowstone Lake. You can stop off along the way to enjoy the scenary or take a rest and gets something to eat at the Bay Bridge Campground. There is a marina here, and places to fish, boat and raft, if you plan to stay longer than 2 days of course.
When you reach the top end of the Lake, take a quick detour to the Fishing Bridge Museum. As well as being a popular place for visitors to fish, there is a landmark museum here made of rock and stone which reflects the beauty of the surrounding area and provides more information about the park. With all the main sights done, its a picturesque 37 mile drive back up the West side of the park up to the North Entrance.
Again, with plenty of stop-off points to admire and soak up the remaining scenery. You will no doubt have to stop at least once to let bison pass you by, and that alone is worth making the trip for.
I have travelled extensively in the USA, but Yellowstone National Park, is by far one of the highlights and should be on everyone’s list to go experience for themselves. Joshua Tree National Park is another great park in the US.