Yellowstone National Park Weekend Trip

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Did you know West Yellowstone is only 4.5 hours from Salt Lake City?! If you are looking for a quick weekend trip (something other than Southern Utah or Bear Lake) then consider Yellowstone National Park!

It would take a couple of years to see everything Yellowstone has to offer, but this itinerary is a good start! Yellowstone is truly one of the most beautiful and wondrous places this planet has to offer. So without further ado…

Yellowstone National Park Weekend Trip Itinerary:

Day One (Friday): Drive down to West Yellowstone and check into lodging. (This should take you about 4.5 hours from Salt Lake City.) 

Tip: A springtime visit will allow you to see baby buffalo and a fall visit will help you avoid the crowds. There will be lots of crowds in the summer. 

Where to stay: Zach and I love staying at airbnb locations! If you sign up for a free account through the image below, you can get $40 free travel credit! 

Day Two (Saturday): If you only have one day in Yellowstone, I suggest staying in the Madison to Old Faithful area and completing a small hike to Mystic Falls (a 2.5 mile rt, family friendly hike that starts at Biscuit Basin).

Below you can see the entire Lower Grand Loop of Yellowstone with the West Yellowstone park entrance (that is the entrance you will be driving to). You will be focusing on the Madison to Old Faithful area zoomed in on the second map. 

Lower Grand Loop of Yellowstone National Park
Lower Grand Loop of Yellowstone National Park
madison to old faithful with firehole
Madison to Old Faithful Section of Grand Loop

It may look like you are not seeing much, but trust me – that little section will fill up your whole day and it is jam packed with the best of Yellowstone! Plus, you will be taking extra time to hike to Mystic Falls!

When we went last fall, we also took a side trip up to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, but that is just too much to fit in one day. (We ended up getting stuck in the dreaded traffic jam for a couple of hours on the way out.)

Tip: The one big flaw to Yellowstone is the traffic jams at the end of the day. Don’t cram so much into your day that you can’t leave before 3pm. Otherwise, you will get stuck in one-lane traffic for 2-4 hours. Not joking. It is terrible. Wake up early if you have to.

If you have a long weekend (with an extra day), then go ahead and add the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone or the Firehole swimming area to your itinerary! 

For a list of other great day hikes in Yellowstone (like Uncle Tom’s Trail or Fairy Falls) go here. 

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone Falls Viewpoint
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone Falls Viewpoint

Day Three (Sunday): We just drove home Sunday, but you could add some more site seeing (like the two mentioned above) or another hike in Yellowstone if you want. (Keep in mind you will be driving in Yellowstone to site-see then heading back to Utah…that could end up being a very long day.)

What to Wear/Pack: 

Tennis shoes for hiking

Hiking carrier for the hike if you have kids 

Stroller (we used our stroller on the boardwalk trails around the hot pots while our kid was sleeping)

Water bottle and snacks (they have limited dining options in Yellowstone so plan on packing your food for the day)

Light jacket

DVD player or books (for the kids, in case you get stuck in traffic or behind some buffalo)



Binoculars (for wildlife viewing)

Want to road trip to Southern California beaches & Disneyland? I wrote a post on that trip report here. 

Safety: A lot of tourists make the big mistake of approaching the bison or bears in Yellowstone and end up dead or seriously injured. Stay away! The bison look gentle, but they gored multiple selfie-happy tourists last year alone! 

Also, the hot pots and boiling waterfalls are no joke in Yellowstone. Stay on the path and keep your kid in your arms, stroller or attached to your hand at all times. There are no railings to prevent mischievous kids from bolting off the path. 

Did I miss anything? For more info on Yellowstone National Park visit their page here.

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Did you know Yellowstone is only 4.5 hours from SLC?! What?! Here is how to do Yellowstone for a weekend trip!