If you are dreaming about a National Parks vacation but feeling overwhelmed planning the itinerary for a trip out west, take a peek at our Sample Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary from Bozeman Montana. With simple planning, it’s easy to see both Yellowstone and Grand Teton in one vacation as the parks literally back up next to each other.
This summer we took a week long trip to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park and this is the itinerary we created. Check out our Sample Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary from Bozeman Montana to see if it helps you plan your dream Yellowstone Country vacation.
For activity ideas on what to do in Yellowstone, check out our post on 8 Best Things to Do in Yellowstone. Hopefully our Sample Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary from Bozeman Montana will help you coordinate your own plans!
Sample Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary from Bozeman Montana
Bozeman is a fantastic town, geographically close to Yellowstone Country, and is often more affordable for flights. We chose Bozeman, Montana as our launch pad for our vacation since we could fly direct to Bozeman from Philadelphia for only $220 roundtrip!
People always ask us for our vacation advice or tips on planning family vacations to Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park since we’ve been out west a handful of times. I promise it’s easy to plan your own trip and adjust to your interests by taking a look at sample itineraries. Although we started and ended our trip in Bozeman, you could also start a similar itinerary from Jackson, Wyoming or using Gardiner, Montana or West Yellowstone as a gateway town for your adventure.
All the details are below but this is the trip in a snapshot:
- Day 1 Arrive Bozeman and Drive to Big Sky
- Day 2 Explore Big Sky
- Day 3 Depart Big Sky to Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Park
- Day 4 Explore Grand Teton National Park & Jackson
- Day 5 Hike Cascade Canyon to Lake Solitude
- Day 6 Drive through the Tetons & Yellowstone to arrive in Gardiner Montana
- Day 7 Yellowstone National Park & Whitewater Rafting
- Day 8 Explore Lamar Valley in for Wildlife
- Day 9 Departure for Home
Download the Gypsy Guide for Audio Tours
We highly recommend downloading the Gypsy Guide for the Yellowstone and Grand Teton Audio Tour. We randomly heard about this app and opted to try it out. It surpassed all our expectations!
It is only $15 and works via GPS. Gypsy provides a narrated audio driving tour with lots of tidbits, facts about the science, geography, and landscape, plus gives tips on Must Do’s and some hidden spots to stop at too!
This service was AMAZING for us and we literally felt like we had a tour guide on our trip with us. We have done expensive TAUCK tour and ADVENTURES BY DISNEY vacations with guides and the facts and info shared by our Gypsy App were fantastic!
8 Day Sample Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary from Bozeman Montana
Take a peek at all of our details below. We basically made a giant loop from Bozeman down to Yellowstone, then the Tetons and Jackson and then back up through Yellowstone
I’ve tried to include a lot of smaller details like hikes we took, restaurants we ate at, and some of the time it took to drive from place to place. The big message to remember when you are driving in Yellowstone is that everything is very spread out and the park is GIGANTIC so allow for more driving time than you think it might take based on the mileage.
The scenery is stunning so you won’t mind the driving as it seems to pass quickly given the surroundings. Unexpected buffalo traffic jams definitely frequently occur too!
We actually loved our buffalo jams as it was exciting to see all the bison. We traveled in August which was mating season and apparently the most active time of year for the Bison which made it all the more incredible!
Day 1 Arrive Bozeman and Drive to Big Sky
This was our arrival day. We spent our 2 nights at a hotel in the Big Sky resort area. Since we’ve been to Bozeman before, we chose to maximize more of our time in the National Parks and explore the Big Sky area of Montana rather than spending a night in Bozeman for this trip.
- Arrive at Bozeman airport 2:30 PM – Pick up rental car
- Eat quick meal on the road & Stop at Walmart for stop at local Walmart for supplies. (bear spray, water, gatorade, pretzels, snacks, )
- 5pm: Hike at Ousel Falls Park Ousel Falls Rd, Gallatin Gateway, MT 59730
Day 2 Explore Big Sky
This was an amazing day and great kick off to our vacation. We rode the tram to the very top of Lone Peak and took an incredible 6.5 mile round trip hike at Beehive Basin.
- 7:30 am Breakfast
- 8:45 am Lone Peak Expedition at Big Sky Resort
- 1:00 pm – Hike Beehive Basin
- 5:30 pm Dinner at Ousel & Spur Pizza Company – outdoor patio dining option in Big Sky
- 6:30 Explore Farmer’s Market in Big Sky Town Center
Day 3 Depart Big Sky to Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Park
We planned to depart our Big Sky Hotel bright early as we knew this would be a big day full of driving and sight-seeing in Yellowstone. We wanted to be sure to allow for lots of time for us to enjoy the sights, take small walks, and soak up the beauty of Yellowstone.
Highlights of course included seeing Old Faithful, the Grand Priasmatic Spring and many other unexpected geysers, smoking fumaroles, bubbling mud pots and more!
- 6:30 AM Drive through Yellowstone – About 1 hour and 40 mins to 1st stop
- 8:15 am: Hike Fountain Paint Pot Trail (22 miles from park entrance) 0.6 Mile Loop, Easy
- 8:45 am: Watch the Great Fountain Geyser Erupt – Access this area about 1/4 mile down the road on the left from Paint Pot Trail area.
- 9:15 am: Hike Grand Prismatic Spring
- 11:00 am: Arrive Old Faithful (6 miles from Priasmatic Spring) 12 min ride
- 1:30 pm – Depart Old Faithful area for West Thumb 35 min ride
- 2:00 pm – West Thumb Geyser Basin – (19 miles from Old Faithful)
- 3:15 pm – Grand Teton National Park entrance (28 miles from West Thumb)
- 4:00 pm – Leeks Marina Lunch or Dinner for Pizza with a view
Grand Priasmatic Spring is beautiful. The colors are brilliant!
A view of the Great Fountain Geyser at the end of it’s 45 minute grand show. This was INCREDIBLE and we really lucked out timing this right as it was like a private viewing of a mini Old Faithful. This geyser has 45-60 minute eruptions about every 10-14 hours. If you can make the timing work out for your itinerary, I highly recommend it. So much less crowded than Old Faithful but quite spectacular.
Isn’t this awesome?!
Shortly after entering Grand Teton National Park, we stopped at Leeks Marina on Jackson Lake for a stunning view of the Tetons and a pizza meal by the water. Leeks Marina sells gluten free pizza so since Kyle has celiac disease this was a perfect stop for an early dinner.
Day 4 Explore Grand Teton National Park & Jackson
Grand Teton National Park is much smaller than Yellowstone. This makes it an easy park to see in 1-2 days. If you want to hike and take park in outdoor activities, obviously spending more time in the Tetons is recommended. Many people can see the highlights of the Tetons in less than 1 day!
We planned for this to be a day to explore Grand Teton National Park to see all the major sights. It turned out the weather was a bit rainy and not ideal for a giant hike, so our plan to drive the Grand Teton Loop and explore the town center in Jackson for lunch worked out perfectly. This gave us an easier day of rest before taking our big 15 mile hike into the Tetons on Day 5.
- Drive the Grand Teton Loop
- Stop at lots of look out points including: String Lake, Jenny Lake, and more.
- Visit Museum
- Continue on the scenic ride on Teton Road to Jackson town center for lunch.
- Quick run after lunch in Grand Teton National Park.
- Visit Mormon Row
- See Snake River Overlook
- Continue on to Hatchett Resort
Driving the Grand Teton Loop road is a must do! The loop is 42 miles long, and depending on how many points of interest you chose to explore, plan for at least a one to two hour drive. I admit during out 2 nights and 2.5-3 days in the Tetons we drove back and forth on this loop many times! It is stunning!
It’s an easy 20-30 minute ride from the Teton loop area along the shores of any of the Lakes to get into the Town of Jackson. We had a great lunch in town and did some souvenir shopping too.
Our main focus on this day was driving the Grand Teton Loopo. The loop is 42 miles long, and enjoyed many points of interest on the loop to take in the mountain vistas, beautiful lake views and more.
Day 5 Hike Cascade Canyon to Lake Solitude
What a day! We hiked through Cascade Canyon to Lake Solitude. This was 15 miles round trip and one of the absolute highlights of our trip. We even saw 4 Moose during our hike! The mountains are SPECTACULAR!
The walk through the canyon is mostly flat along a creek in the canyon valley between the mountains. It’s beautiful and full of wildlife!
We highly recommend this hike. Even if you aren’t up for going all the way to Lake Solitude, it is definitely worth hiking another 1/2 mile towards Lake Solitude into the Canyon so you can really see the mountains!
We had a more foggy walk early in the morning and as the day went on the visibility got better hour by hour.
- 7:15 am: Arrive at Jenny Lake early before the 1st 7:30 am ferry boat departs
- 7:45am – 5:00 pm Hike Cascade Canyon to Lake Solitude. This was a round trip 15 mile hike. AMAZING!
- 5:00 Take Jenny Lake Ferry across the lake to end our adventure
- Relax post hike with take out dinner in our hotel room!
We originally planned for a 9 mile round trip hike into Cascade Canyon, but we didn’t realize we could go just a few more miles to hit Lake Solitude. Once we realized the option to continue to Lake Solitude during after chatting with other hikers on the trail, we continued on and are so glad we did.
Day 6 Drive through the Tetons & Yellowstone to arrive in Gardiner Montana by evening
Before leaving the Tetons, we decided to take one more easy hike on our way out of the park as we heard the Taggart Lake Hike is an absolute must do and an easy 3 mile hike with beautiful views of the Tetons.
This hike is a very easy and beautiful hike. Make this a must do on your Teton vacation. The vistas are beautiful! Even the littlest travelers or fit grandparents could manage this hike as it is basically flat on a very well maintained trail.
If you only hike to Lake Taggert it’s a mostly flat 3 mile round trip excursion. We decided to do both lakes which made our hike more of a 6-7 mile round trip adventure. However, after our giant 15 mile hike the day before, this felt like super easy as there was no real elevation gains and the terrain was very easy.
- 9:00 AM Hike Lake Taggert & Bradley Lake in Grand Teton National Park
- 11:30 AM – Picnic lunch in the car
- 12:00 PM Start drive to leave Tetons and head to Yellowstone & Gardiner, MT.
- 12:30 PM Drive up Signal Mountain in Teton National Park – Gorgeous views!
- 2:00 Yellowstone Lake
- 3:00 Stop at various Mud Spots, Geysers, and geological wonders
- 4:00 Hayden Valley – Buffalo Sightings everywhere in this region
- 5:00 Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone – Enjoyed vistas and parked at several areas.
- 7:00 pm Arrive in Gardiner – ate dinner by the Roosevelt Arch with takeout pizza
We had a longer than normal ride to Gardiner coming up from the south, as the road in the park was closed for construction from Canyon-Tower to Roosevelt. You can see the smoke in the sky from all the wildfires out west. Luckily most of our trip and stay in Yellowstone had good visibility considering the amount of wildfires happening in the Western part of the United States during our trip.
Day 7 Yellowstone National Park & Whitewater Rafting
This was a fabulous day! We explored the north end of Yellowstone National Park in the morning including Mammoth Hot Spring and the West Norris Geyser Basin. Then in the afternoon we went Whitewater Rafting on the Yellowstone River. AMAZING!
Mammoth Hot Spring is an easy quick stop and includes lots of climbing stairs to peek at all the terraces.
Whitewater rafting was so much fun! Being out on the water really makes you appreciate the beautiful surroundings. I highly recommend booking kayaking or whitewater rafting. We’ve done both on our trips to Yellowstone and it’s always a highlight!
- 7:45 am: Breakfast Tumbleweed Bookstore & Cafe
- 8:30am Hike Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park
- 9-11:00 am Hike West Norris Geyser Basin
- 12:30 Lunch at Grizzly Grille by Yellowstone
- 4:00 Montana White Water Rafting – Private Boat –Yellowstone River Half Day Paradise Private Raft Trip, 2-3 Hour small boat adventure
- Dinner at Grizzly Grille by Yellowstone & Follow Yer Nose BBQ Food Trucks
Day 8 Explore Lamar Valley for Wildlife
Relax! Do whatever else we want or haven’t yet seen! We built this day in as an “Extra” day for our vacation to give us more time to enjoy Gardiner’s small town charm and to make the time for drive into the Lamar Valley to spot wildlife.
We saw buffalo galore in the Lamar Valley.
We are SO happy we added this extra day to our trip. Lamar Valley turned out to be an absolute MUST DO and highlight of our entire vacation. We literally saw THOUSANDS of buffalo!!!!!! We also spotted a coyote and Mama bear with 2 cubs during our time in the Lamar Valley too, but watching the herds of bison was incredible and something we’ll never forget.
At times buffalo were surrounding our car and walking along the street beside us. Crossing the road in front of us and crossing behind us too! Hundreds and hundreds of bison as we saw multiple herds!
After our awesome drive out to Roosevelt Lodge and the Lamar Valley, we came back to Gardiner for another easy, fresh and healthy quick lunch from the Grizzly Grille by Yellowstone & Follow Yer Nose BBQ food trucks.
In the afternoon, we took a run along the Yellowstone River and checked out some of the tiny stores in Gardiner to do some souvenir shopping. After a busy week of traveling and hiking we were happy to have an easy afternoon and evening to relax, pack and soak up the beauty of Gardiner.
We ate an easy “takeout” dinner from Yellowstone Pizza while enjoying the gorgeous views of the Roosevelt Arch. After dinner we got ice cream from a small food truck and spent some time watching the abundant wildlife surrounding the Arch and the area by the Gardiner High School.
We watched the sunset, saw this stunning Pronghorn and of course enjoyed the countless elk that seem to call the Gardiner High School track their home.
Day 9 – Departure Day
This itinerary worked great for our needs and included the types of activities we love to enjoy as a family. We felt it was a good balance of hiking, sight-seeing, running in the outdoors, and a taste of adventure with our whitewater rafting and Tram ride to the top of Lone Peak in Big Sky.
Hopefully our Sample Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary from Bozeman Montana will inspire your vacation plans to visit Yellowstone Country and the Tetons!
- Morning Run in Gardiner along Yellowstone River
- Breakfast at Tumbleweed Cafe
- Depart for Bozeman at 10 AM
- Direct Flight to Philadelphia at 1:54 pm – 8:10 pm via Bozeman International Airport
Let us know what you think of our Sample Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary from Bozeman Montana if you’ve done a similar trip or after you come back from your own adventure!