Epic Day Hiking Road Trip to Yellowstone & Grand Tetons!

Epic Day Hiking Road Trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks! Photos are: Top Row (L-R) Wildflowers in Teton Canyon; Castle Geyser and Old Faithful Geyser; Garnet Canyon; Hidden Falls; Lakeshore Trail. Middle Row: Lakeshore Trail; Porcelain Basin; String Lake Outlet on the Jenny Lake Trail. Bottom Row: Morning Glory Pool at sunset; Riverside Geyser; view from near Grand View Point; wildflowers along the Huckleberry Trail; Lower Yellowstone Falls from Lookout Point.

Epic Day Hiking Road Trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks! Photos are, L-R: Top Row: Wildflowers in Teton Canyon; Castle Geyser and Old Faithful Geyser; Middle Teton from Garnet Canyon; Hidden Falls; beach on the Lakeshore Trail. Middle Row: Mt. Moran from the Lakeshore Trail; Fumaroles in Porcelain Basin; String Lake Outlet on the Jenny Lake Trail. Bottom Row: Morning Glory Pool at sunset; Riverside Geyser; view from near Grand View Point; wildflowers along the Huckleberry Trail; Lower Yellowstone Falls from Lookout Point.

Yellowstone and Grand Tetons are a concentration of epic views and fascinating phenomena.  In Yellowstone, water boils out of the ground to create colorful pools, waterfalls race with thousands of gallons per minute, steaming water spouts into the air, and a canyon “rusts” in pretty colors.  Further south, Grand Teton offers pristine alpine lakes, spiky peaks, waterfalls, and scenic canyons.  Simply said, the two parks are a great place to spend a few days.

Sawmill Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Sawmill Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin

I’ve put together two itineraries – a 3 day trip for a long weekend, and a 7 day adventure for those with a bit more time on their hands.  Both are pretty fast-paced, but you get to see a whole lot, too!

 

 

Map of the 3 day itinerary for an epic day hiking road trip to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Map of the 3 day itinerary

3 Day Itinerary for a Day Hiking Road Trip in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

Lower Yellowstone Falls from Lookout Point in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Lower Yellowstone Falls from Lookout Point

Day 1 – Yellowstone National Park

See Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, visiting the viewpoints on the North Rim (Lookout Point, Grand View Point, and Inspiration Point) and taking Uncle Tom’s Trail on the south rim.

 

Explore Norris Geyser Basin (Porcelain Basin and Black Basin).  The drive between Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the Norris Geyser Basin is approximately 30 minutes.

 

If time allows, drive the hour (each way) up to Mammoth Hot Springs and see Pallette Spring

 

Day 1 Total Hiking Miles: 3.25 miles + 1.5 miles at Mammoth Hot Springs

 

Spend the night near Norris, Madison, West Yellowstone, Old Faithful, or West Thumb.

Morning Glory Pool in the Upper Geyser Basin less than an hour before sunset, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Morning Glory Pool in the Upper Geyser Basin less than an hour before sunset

Day 2 – Yellowstone National Park

Visit Midway Geyser Basin (including the Grand Prismatic Spring)

 

Explore the Upper Geyser Basin – be sure to catch an eruption of Old Faithful and other geysers. Explore as time, energy, and interest allow.  The drive between Midway Geyser Basin and the Upper Geyser Basin is about 15 minutes.

 

Drive south to Grand Teton National Park.

 

Day 2 Total Hiking Miles: Up to 8.3 miles (mostly dependent on how much hiking you do in the Upper Geyser Basin)

 

Stay in any campground between Yellowstone and Colter Village (preferred)

Mt. Moran from the Lakeshore Trail in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Mt. Moran from the Lakeshore Trail

Day 3 – Grand Teton National Park

Hike the Lakeshore Trail

Take the ferry shuttle ($$) across Jenny Lake to Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point, and Cascade Canyon.  If you do not want to pay for the shuttle, hike in from the String Lake / Paintbrush Divide Trailhead and add 1.2 miles RT.

 

Day 3 Total Hiking Miles: 4.8 miles for the Lakeshore Trail & trail to Inspiration Point; with Cascade Canyon, up to 12.6 miles

 

 

Map of the 7 day itinerary for an epic day hiking road trip to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Map of the 7 day itinerary

7 Day Itinerary for a Day Hiking Road Trip in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

Lower Yellowstone Falls from the Uncle Tom's Trail in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Lower Yellowstone Falls from the Uncle Tom’s Trail

Day 1 – Yellowstone National Park

Walk the North Rim of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone from Inspiration Point to Lookout Point, then descend to Red Rock Point and return to your vehicle

Total Miles on the North Rim: 4.1

 

Drive to the South Rim of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

 

From Uncle Tom’s Trail parking area, walk left (upriver) along the South Rim Trail to Upper Falls View, then take the Uncle Tom’s Trail down along the Lower Falls. Drive or walk the South Rim Trail (extra 0.7 each way) to the Artist Parking area and stroll out to Artist Point.

Total Miles on the South Rim miles: 1.5

 

Day 1 Total Hiking Miles: 5.6 miles

 

Stay in Canyon area (if planning to hike Avalanche Peak, stay in Canyon or near Fishing Bridge)

Fumaroles in Porcelain Basin in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Fumaroles in Porcelain Basin

Day 2 – Yellowstone National Park

Hike Mt. Washburn OR Avalanche Peak

 

Walk around Norris Geyser Basin (Porcelain Basin and Black Basin; if you only have time for one, do Porcelain for beauty and Black for famous geysers.  Travel time between Mt. Washburn and Norris is approximately 45 minutes; between Avalanche Peak and Norris, about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

 

Day 2 Total Hiking Miles: 8.05 (Mt. Washburn option) or 6.85 (Avalanche Peak option)

 

Stay in the Madison area if possible or Norris area

Beehive Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Beehive Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin

Day 3 – Yellowstone National Park

Walk the Midway Geyser Basin (if desired; views are better from the overlook).

 

Hike to the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook. Travel time between Midway and Fairy Falls Parking Area is negligible.

 

Explore the Upper Geyser Basin – be sure to catch an eruption of Old Faithful and other geysers. Explore as time, energy, and interest allow.  The drive between Midway Geyser Basin and the Upper Geyser Basin is about 15 minutes.

 

Total Miles for Day 3: Up to 9.5 miles (mostly dependent on how much hiking you do in the Upper Geyser Basin)

 

Drive toward Grand Teton National Park and stay in any campground between Yellowstone and Colter Village (the closer to Colter Village, the better, because views of the Tetons are better in the morning, so you’ll want to get an early start).

Views from near Grand View Point in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Views from near Grand View Point

Day 4 – Grand Teton National Park

Hike to Grand View Point

 

Walk the Lakeshore Trail. Travel time between Grand View Point and the Lakeshore Trail is about 15 mintues.

 

If time and energy allow, hike Heron Pond / Swan Pond (extra 3.2 miles).

 

Total Miles for Day 4: 5.0 miles, or 8.2 miles with the ponds

 

Stay in Jenny Lake (preferred; tents only), Signal Mountain, or Jackson Lake.

Hiking up Cascade Canyon in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Hiking up Cascade Canyon. Photo credit dvs

Day 5 – Grand Teton National Park

Hike Cascade Canyon.  Take the shuttle across Jenny Lake (10.0 miles RT), or walk in from the Paintbrush Divide Parking Area for a 11.2 mile hike.  En route (if you take the shuttle) take in Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point.  If walking in from the Paintbrush Divide Trailhead, bypass the Horse Trail to visit Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls on the way back, then loop back past the boat dock and back around Jenny Lake to the Paintbrush Divide Trailhead (adds 1.7 miles to the total hike; see this post).

 

Total Miles for Day 5: 10.0-12.9 miles

 

Stay in Jenny Lake (preferred; tents only), Signal Mountain, or Jackson Lake

String Lake outlet on the String Lake Loop in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

String Lake outlet on the String Lake Loop

Day 6 – Grand Teton National Park

Hike to Leigh Lake. Take it easy by resting beside the lake for a bit on one of the multiple beaches on its eastern shore, or hike all the way to the lake’s northern beach by an old patrol cabin.

 

If desired, loop back via String Lake Loop, adding 3.2 miles overall

 

Total Miles for Day 6 – Up to 7.6 miles (Up to 10.8 miles with String Lake Loop)

 

Stay in Jenny Lake (preferred; tents only), Signal Mountain, or Jackson Lake

Hiking up Garnet Canyon in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Hiking up Garnet Canyon

Day 7 – Grand Teton National Park

Hike Garnet Canyon to the Meadows below Middle Teton.

 

From here, you can call it a day (8.4 miles) or hike to one of the following: Lower Saddle (12.6 miles total; you must pass through Garnet Canyon to reach the Saddle) or Amphitheatre Lake (12.2 miles total with Garnet Canyon spur; 10.2 miles on its own).

 

Total Miles for Day 7: 8.4-12.6 miles

 

Notes and Warnings

Days do not include time to get to Yellowstone or return from Grand Teton

 

Time does not include going to a restaurant for meals – I’m assuming you’ll be roughing it.

 

If you need to stock up on supplies / gas along the way, try West Yellowstone, Canyon Village, Old Faithful, or West Thumb in Yellowstone; in Grand Teton, some services are available in Colter Bay Village, Jackson Lake Lodge, and Single Mountain Lodge; more services are available in Jackson Hole.

 

Always take plenty of snacks and water on trails – and use them!

 

Yellowstone is more or less accessible spring through fall, although some roads may be closed October to mid-May; Grand Teton’s higher trails are still snowed in into the summer months, but are often open by the middle of June.


Zoom map in to browse individual hikes around Yellowstone & Grand Teton