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Yellowstone in 4 Days: Park Guide & Itinerary That Doesn’t Suck

Feb 14, 2022

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Post Summary: This blog is meant to act as your complete guide to Yellowstone National Park! We’ll also discuss my tips for how to see Yellowstone in 4 days, the best photo spots, and more!

Yellowstone in 4 Days: Complete Park Guide & Unforgettable Itinerary

Oh, hayyyyyyyy there, friend. If you’re new here, welcome. My name is Dani, and people know me as Dani The Explorer. My site is where I talk about all my favorite travel and lifestyle sh*t. 

Welcome to My Yellowstone in 4 Days Blog & Park Guide!

Throwing it back to 2019 for a sec here, ya know, before the world was shut down by a virus; I was living out of a campervan with my boyfriend!

One of our favorite things to do was plan trips to US National Parks. To this day, I love visiting National Parks when I can. They can just be so… dreamy. Ahhhhhhh. 

*Cue some whimsical jazz music*

We went all around the United States during our van trip, and I can honestly say that Montana and Wyoming stole my heart. I don’t think I’ve ever seen mountainscapes so big! 

Needless to say, when we pulled into Yellowstone National Park, my jaw dropped. I mean, bison were roaming free; we saw WOLVES, mountains that looked like paintings. 

Seriously, and here I was thinking my reflection was the most beautiful thing in the world (kidding, kidding).

The Purpose of My Yellowstone in 4 Days Guide

Anyhow, if you’re here, I imagine you have also heard about the wonders that are Yellowstone National Park, and now you’ve found yourself wondering, “Hmmm, I wish I knew how to spend 4 days in Yellowstone – that’s the dream.”

Well lucky you! I will give you all the Yellowstone National Park deets in this blog. There’s a lot to see in the park, which to me can make figuring out how to spend 4 days in Yellowstone National Park a bit overwhelming. 

I’m writing this guide to provide you with as much information as possible to plan the best trip for you. 

Also, I’ll just be upfront with you, I think things in Yellowstone National Park are worth skipping. There, I said it. People tend to make every single attraction at everyyyy National Park sound like a “MUST SEE OR YOU WEREN’T THERE” sort of thing. But I have never found that to be true. 

Sometimes attractions can be…lame? I don’t know how else to say it, lmao. 

So I’ll be sure to let you know my honest opinion on any things to do in Yellowstone National Park that I mention in this blog. 

Okay, you’ve been patient enough. Let’s get into planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park, then we can discuss my tips for how to see Yellowstone in 4 days.

Four Days in Yellowstone Disclaimer

Hey, boo. I need your attention for a second. This Yellowstone in 4 days blog contains affiliate links which means when you use my links to shop, I earn a small percentage of every purchase at no additional cost to you. 

Please also note that I only recommend products I know and trust! If you’re looking to shop, I’d appreciate it if you used my links since they help support my business – no pressure at all, though! I completely understand why people wouldn’t want to (but for the record, I don’t have cooties, I promise). Kidding, in all seriousness, I appreciate your support for this Yellowstone National Park itinerary 4 days edition!

Thank you!

Upper Geyser Basin Trail of Yellowstone National Park

Plan a Trip to Yellowstone National Park – Before You Go

Before you even think about following a 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary of sorts, you’ll wanna know a bit more about the park. So let’s get into the planning now!

Where is Yellowstone National Park?

Yellowstone National Park is primarily located in Wyoming. However, parts of the park spread to southern Montana and eastern Idaho. Yellowstone National Park is the oldest US National Park and one of the largest, spanning almost 3,500 square miles. 

IT’S A BIG BOI.

Yellowstone National Park Fun Fact

Yellowstone sits on top of a supervolcano that is still active. Ash from an eruption would cover just about the entire western half of the USA! 

Yellowstone National Park was also the first US National Park established in 1872.

Best Time to Visit Yellowstone National Park

You can visit Yellowstone National Park just about any time of the year! However, the most popular months for visiting are June, July, and August. 

We’ll discuss more about each season in a bit. 

We visited Yellowstone in September, which is a great time to go! It’s not as hot as summer, but you don’t have to deal with the snow that comes with winter. That means you can still go on a ton of hikes and wildlife spotting. PLUS PLUS PLUS, you’ll beat all of the crazy summer crowds and have time to enjoy 4 days in Yellowstone National Park.

Not convinced? Here’s what you need to know about the seasons of Yellowstone!

Winter

Winter can also be a lot of fun in Yellowstone, but you need to come prepared. Activities like snowmobiling can be an exciting way to see the park if you decide to go then. 

Expect low visitation and some park services to be closed. You may have limited park access as well.

Spring

Spring, on the other hand, is a great time in Yellowstone. If you visit in spring, you’ll see the most wildlife, gushing waterfalls, and blooming wildflowers. 

All roads to Yellowstone National Park open around Memorial Day weekend. This might be an excellent time to plan your 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary if you need to plan around holiday PTO.

Summer

Again, summer is the most popular time to see Yellowstone National Park, but it offers the most park access. 

Summer in Yellowstone offers access to wildlife sightings and plenty of hiking if that’s what you’re going for.

Fall

In early fall, you can beat most of the summer crowds but still enjoy most of Yellowstone’s attractions! However, Yellowstone campgrounds can begin to close in September and October, which is something to keep in mind when planning to see Yellowstone in 4 days. 

Snow can start falling as early as November (even sooner, depending on the season).

If you’d like a month-to-month breakdown of what to expect in the park, I recommend visiting the Yellowstone National Park Service website!

How Many Days to Spend in Yellowstone

My recommendation for the length of your trip to Yellowstone would be at least 48 hours. This is because 48 hours will give you a lot of time to explore the park and see its most famous sites. 

So Do You Need a Yellowstone 4 Day Itinerary?

If you’re into backpacking, want to do some major wildlife spotting, or want to see the whole park, opt to spend 4 days in Yellowstone. 

This will give you time to relax during your trip too.

But here is my last thing on this, when thinking about how many days in Yellowstone National Park you need, you have to consider what kind of trip you want to have. For instance, if you think you’ll be hopping over to some other National Parks like Grand Teton National Park or Glacier National Park, a Yellowstone 3 day itinerary might be sufficient for you.

In this blog, we will get into the best way to see Yellowstone in 4 days, but as a bonus, I’ve provided a 3 day Yellowstone National Park itinerary as well.

Getting to Yellowstone National Park 

Getting to Yellowstone National Park isn’t difficult, and it will be easier if you rent a car. Let’s start with what airports to fly into. Depending on how you get there, these can impact your 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary!

The airports/ cities closest to Yellowstone National Park are: 

  • Yellowstone Airport – WYS (closest)
  • Jackson Hole Airport (next closest)
  • Bozeman and Billings (Montana)
  • Idaho Falls

Yellowstone Airport WYS

  • Located in Montana and primarily runs from May to Mid October.
  • Visitors can fly into this airport from Salt Lake City.
  • It is closest to West Yellowstone!

Jackson Hole Airport

  • This airport is about a 1.5hr drive to Yellowstone National Park.
  • If you fly into Jackson Hole, you can make a trip to Yellowstone then explore Grand Teton National Park!
  • The Jackson Hole Airport runs all year. 

Cody Airport

  • This airport is much smaller but runs all year. 
  • It’s located in Wyoming and is about a 2hr drive from Yellowstone.
  • I’m mainly adding it in here as an option.

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport

  • About a 3hr drive to Yellowstone National Park.
  • It is serviced all year round and might offer some more reasonable flight prices considering it is an international airport. 
  • Not THAT close, but Glacier National Park is about a 5hr drive north of Bozeman, so you can always “send it” up there if you really want to explore that park too!

Idaho Falls Regional Airport

  • About a 3.5hr drive to Yellowstone National Park.
  • When you fly into Idaho Falls, you will pass through Jackson Hole, WY. 
  • Therefore this can be a great option if you’d like to explore a little bit of ID, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park.

Billings-Logan International Airport

  • About a 4hr drive to Yellowstone National Park.
  • Another good option if you need to take advantage of the cost savings of a large airport.
Grand Prismatic Spring
Grand Prismatic Spring

Yellowstone National Park Entrances

There are five entrances to Yellowstone National Park. I went ahead and listed them below. 

The entrances are important to note now because of the sheer amount of land Yellowstone National Park takes up. Driving from North to South can be about 2hrs, which means you’ll need to plan your 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary accordingly!

  • North Entrance – Considered the “gateway” to the park and close to Mammoth Hot Springs.
  • Northeast Entrance – Puts you closer to park wildlife areas.
  • West Entrance – Closest to Old Faithful and has the most dining and hotel options.
  • South Entrance – The entrance used to get to and from Grand Teton National Park.
  • East Entrance – About 15 miles from the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and brings you close to Yellowstone Lake.

FYI: If you visit in winter, you’re going to have to plan because several of those entrances will be closed to commercial vehicles! 

Yellowstone National Park Entrance Fee

Like all US National Parks, you will have to pay an entrance fee to get into Yellowstone National Park. This applies at all 5 entrance points.

$35 – Private, non-commercial vehicle; $30 – Motorcycle or snowmobile (winter) $20 – Visitors 16 and older entering by foot, bike, ski, etc. You can learn more about Yellowstone National Park fees by visiting the NPS website.

If you can, I recommend getting an America The Beautiful Pass so you can get into all the national parks in the future. This is my preferred option. 

Plus, if you think you’ll tack on another park to your Yellowstone 4 day itinerary (like Grand Teton), you’ll want to save money by getting an America The Beautiful Pass, avoiding another $35 fee.

Where to Stay During Your Yellowstone National Park 4 Day Itinerary

Now that we’ve discussed getting to Yellowstone National Park and a bit about the entrances, we can talk about where to stay. 

Obviously, if it takes around 2hrs to drive from one end of the park to another, you’ll want to stay somewhere reasonable that’ll put you in a decent hub to travel to and from. 

For your visit to Yellowstone National Park, you have a couple of ways you can go about staying in the park. I’ll get into the camping sitch first, then the hotels and rentals that are close to the best things to do in Yellowstone National Park!

Camping for 4 Days in Yellowstone National Park

Camping in Yellowstone National Park might give you some of the best flexibility for enjoying your Yellowstone 4 day itinerary. Here’s what you have to know about camping in the park. 

  • Yellowstone has 12 official campgrounds and over a hundred backcountry campsites. 
  • They also have RV parks for those traveling to the park that way. 
  • Some campgrounds require a reservation while others are first-come, first-serve.

This is where things get confusing. While there are 12 campgrounds in the park and over 2,000 sites, the Yellowstone National Park Lodges manage 5 of the campground sites. 

The National Park Service manages the remaining 7 campground sites. 

Therefore, in order to camp in Yellowstone National Park, you will need to make reservations using the correct management website. Like I said, confusing, lol. 

No worries, though. I recommend pulling up a map of the park and looking at the Yellowstone National Park Lodge Campgrounds then the National Park Service managed campgrounds

Yellowstone National Park Lodge Managed Campgrounds
  • Canyon Campground is more central to the park and in a wooded setting. It is a mix of RV and tent camping that includes public restrooms, pay showers and coin laundry.
  • Madison Campground is near Old Faithful, which people tend to like. It offers similar amenities to Canyon Campground.
NPS Managed Campgrounds
  • Mammoth Campground is close to Mammoth Hot Springs, making it an excellent location for fishers and hikers. It has some cell reception and public restrooms. No showers, though.
Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone
Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone

Lodging in Yellowstone National Park

In Yellowstone National Park, there are nine lodges with a mix of luxury rooms and cabins that you can stay at during your trip. 

However, they’re pretty expensive and you must must must look at the reviews. Some of the lodges are better than others. I would also like to caution you and say that you shouldn’t expect to have the most amazing internet service ever in the park. 

It’s kind of crap everywhere, even in some of the lodges. So plan your trip accordingly.

But if you can swing it, the Yellowstone National Park lodges are beautiful and a bit cozier. This is especially true in the winter when camping is primarily nonexistent in the park!

Yellowstone Lodges

Some lodges have live music, places to eat, coffee, showers with their own signature scented toiletries, and much more. If you’re not into camping, booking a lodge for your 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary may be your best option.

Check them out below!

PS: Only two of the lodges operate in winter – Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel.

Canyon Lodge and Cabins 
  • 100+ cabins and a ton of guest rooms. 
  • People in reviews complain that the dinner lines can be 2+ hours, and they had trouble booking through 3rd party sites. 
  • It might be a good idea to skip this option and spend your money elsewhere.
Grant Village Lodge  
  • Quiet place to stay but a bit expensive, and the food options aren’t great. 
  • The rooms are a bit outdated as well.
Lake Lodge Cabins  
  • Cute location with a nice view. 
  • The food is okay but not the best, based on reviews! 
  • Rooms seem to be clean and comfortable, though.
Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cottages  
  • Historic hotel with lakefront views, and the lobby is pretty boujee! 
  • Pretty expensive, but people who want a luxury feel about their trip stay here.
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins 
  • Right by Mammoth Hot Springs, making it a popular choice for folks staying in the park. 
  • Also newly renovated!
Old Faithful Inn  
  • Hotel room-style accommodations. 
  • I would probably book a stay here out of all the other lodging options, just for the experience! 
  • Like the other options, pretty expensive, but I do love the rustic vibes.
Old Faithful Lodge  
  • Charming cabin accommodations in the park. 
  • The rooms seem a bit outdated, but the location is great if you’re looking to be close to the popular things to do in Yellowstone. 
Old Faithful Snow Lodge 
  • This is another cute option for Yellowstone lodging! 
  • It’s a popular choice for winter. 
  • There are hotel-style rooms and cabins available.
Roosevelt Lodge  
  • Cabins located near Lamar Valley. 
  • This is a good option if you want to be near wildlife! 
  • Cabins are pretty rustic and a bit bare-bones, but still a popular lodging choice within the park.

Hotels for Your Yellowstone 4 Day Itinerary

Wow. Now that we just did a deep dive into Yellowstone National Park lodging, let’s take a second to discuss some alternatives – AKA hotels not associated with the park!

  • Under Canvas Yellowstone – A Glamping experience in Yellowstone National Park that’ll make you go, “Why do I even own a tent?”
  • Elkhorn Cabins and Inn – Another motel that’s great for budget travelers. It’s also 5 minutes from the west entrance of the park!
  • The Aspen Condos – If hotels aren’t your thing, you can rent some beautiful and cozy condos in West Yellowstone.

Staying in Jackson, WY for Your Yellowstone Itinerary 4 Days

So if this were my Yellowstone 4 day itinerary coming up, I would consider doing everything from Jackson, WY. I would fly into Jackson, drive up to Yellowstone, camp, lodge (it doesn’t matter). And when I’m done with Yellowstone, I would loop back down and explore Grand Teton National Park before departing from Jackson!

Plus, at the prices of the Yellowstone National Park lodges, you can totally get a boujee place in Jackson. So maybe save some money and camp during your entire Yellowstone trip (assuming it’s not winter), then splurge on a nice @$$ place in Jackson.

Of course, you don’t have to do this at all, but I think it could make for a fun road trip! If you fly into Jackson, you’ll end up passing Grand Teton National Park on your way back anyway, so why not check that park out too?

*PS: If you wanted to just take a day trip to Yellowstone, you could book a Yellowstone day trip from Jackson. They provide the transportation you need too!

Lodging Options in Jackson, WY

Just to give you an idea of what we’re looking at here, I have listed just a few lodging options in Jackson, WY.

  • $$$$ – Luxury Condo in Jackson – This luxury condo is about .2mi away from Jackson Town Square. It features floor-to-ceiling windows and will make you feel boujee.
  • $$$$ – 3BR Condo with a View – You want a view of the Tetons? You got it. I seriously don’t think I’d ever leave the patio of this 3BR condo!
  • $$$ – Adorable Townhome Near Town Square – UGH. I wish I owned this townhome, haha. It has everything you need for a comfortable stay in Jackson and is right by the hustle and bustle of Town Square.
  • $$ – Alpine Cottage Studio – If you want more of a cabin vibe during your stay, this is the rental for you! It’s a little studio cabin nestled in the mountains and an ideal distance from Grand Teton.

Hotels in Jackson Hole

Here are a few hotel properties that you can splurge on!

  • Teton Mountain Lodge and Spa – VERY luxurious and expensive, but my gosh, it’s so beautiful! 
  • Hotel Jackson – Another highly rated luxury hotel property. If you stay here, try to book a room with a view!
  • Jenny Lake Lodge – Cabin vibes that will make you never want to leave WY!
  • Antler Inn – Great little motel in Jackson, WY that’s perfect for budget travelers.

How to Get Around Yellowstone National Park

It’s essential to have a car when visiting so that you can have access to all the best things to do in the park and complete your Yellowstone National Park 4 day itinerary. 

Yellowstone is a pretty massive park, so without a vehicle, you’re going to have a hard time getting around! 

There is no public transportation within the park, but if you book a tour of Yellowstone National Park, the tour company will typically provide transportation for you.

PS: Wondering how I make money to travel? Check out my guide on how to make money as a content creator!

Yellowstone in 4 Days Itinerary

Okay. We have discussed quite a bit of information, so now we will get into our Yellowstone 4 day itinerary. 

FYI, I wrote this itinerary to begin North, then work down from there. However, if you’re traveling from Jackson, WY, you can totally do this itinerary in reverse! Tailor it to fit your travel needs.

Yellowstone Itinerary 4 Days – Day 1 – Arrive in the Park, Boiling River, Mammoth Hot Springs

We’re going to start our adventure at the North Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. The first thing you’ll explore is the Boiling River. 

After a long day of driving, I don’t usually feel like doing much, which I’ll assume you’re on the same page. That’s why a dip in some water upon arriving in the park sounds fantastic to me!

I’ll just be completely transparent here; the one thing I don’t enjoy about Yellowstone is that it can get pretty redundant. There are multiple geysers in the park, and in my opinion, you really don’t need to see all of them. 

So even if you don’t do this on day 1, I recommend breaking up our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary with a dip in the Boiling River at some point! This is a popular destination for swimmers who want to spend some time in a hot spring rather than look at them all day.

Boiling River Hot Springs

Ahhhhh, a hot spring we can take a dip in. And yes, this is the ONLY hot spring in the park you can swim in. The others will literally bake you alive.

You can make a whole picnic out of this by bringing in some food to enjoy by the spring!

FYI, this natural spring can get pretty popular and gets to almost 114 degrees.

To get to the river, you will have to hike 1.25 miles round trip near the Mammoth Hot Springs area. The Boiling River varies in temperature throughout the year. Sometimes the park closes the site entirely, so plan your trip accordingly. Oh, and make sure to pack a towel.

You can pretty much spend most of the day in the Boiling River area. But, if you’re in the mood for a sunset, check out Mammoth Hot Springs next.

Mammoth Hot Springs

No, you can’t take a dip in these hot springs, BUT their textures are impressive! Many people love to go here to capture the springs in all their colorful glory for sunrise or sunset.

What makes them unique is their cascading terraces. The “terraces” are made up of two parts: lower and upper. 

You can access the Lower Terrace from Grand Loop Road. The Upper Terrace can be accessed through Upper Terrace Drive. The boardwalk around the terraces is about 1.75 miles with approximately 300ft in elevation gain. 

This is a great way to start the trip because it requires minimal effort to explore, which I prefer after driving to a location. 

We’ll call this an early night because tomorrow we’ll be enjoying a sunrise!

Yellowstone Itinerary 4 Days – Day 2 – Lamar Valley, Trout Lake

On day two of our Yellowstone 4 day itinerary, we’ll head east! Start the day off with sunrise at Lamar Valley. 

Lamar Valley

Sunrise over Lamar Valley
Sunrise over Lamar Valley

Okay, sooooooo, Lamar Valley was the first place to blow me away in Yellowstone National Park. 

I couldn’t believe how beautifully the sun settled between the mountains during sunrise. Ummm, okay, but also, THERE ARE A TON OF BISON HERE. So if you’re hoping to spot some Bison in Yellowstone National Park, go here!

Scott and I had a good laugh watching these giant animals walk around. We got some great pictures of them too. 

Do you want to know what else we saw in Lamar Valley? WOLVES. I couldn’t believe it, honestly. So, if you only have a couple of days, add this to the top of your list of things to do in Yellowstone National Park!

A Note About Wildlife

All this wildlife talk reminds me: please stay away from the animals! Do not approach or feed them. Not only can you get hurt, but if wild animals get accustomed to coming to humans for food, they’re more likely to attack later when they’re refused food. Wild animals also have sensitive guts that can rapidly change with our food, so they won’t digest their own food later.

Bison in Yellowstone National Park
Bison in Lamar Valley

Trout Lake Trail

Trout Lake is the perfect little stop after you explore Lamar Valley. The Trout Lake Trail will take you around a forest lake in about 1-2hrs depending on how quickly you can walk the 1.2mi trail. I think this is an excellent photo spot as well because of the valley mountain views you get along the trail.

Tower Fall

To cap things off, while you’re in the area, you can explore Tower Fall. It’s a waterfall that drops 132ft into Yellowstone National Park! The viewpoint can be accessed near Tower Junction. 

Dinner at Lake Yellowstone Hotel Dining Room

If you’d rather watch the sunrise, hike, then chill for the rest of the day, you could always book dinner at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel Dining Room.

It’s a bit fancier than most dining options in the park. But, you can get a beautiful view of the lake here! 

Reservations are required for dinner. I recommend booking a table close to sunset. The menu changes, but in the past they’ve had everything from lamb sliders to lentil soup.

Wylie’s Canteen at Lake Lodge is another option. Once you’re there, you’ll have floor-to-ceiling views of Yellowstone Lake. 

Same as the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, I suggest getting a table right before sunset so you can enjoy said sunset during your meal! What a great way to cap off day 2 of our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary.

Yellowstone Itinerary 4 Days – Day 3 – Helicopter Tour, West Yellowstone

Yes, today we’re doing something a bit different and exploring Yellowstone National Park from above!

Helicopter Tour

From the WYS airport, you can hop on a Yellowstone Helicopter tour that will take you on an adventure from above. 

Ummmm, if you book this, can you take me, lol? The Yellowstone Helicopters company has tours ranging from 10min to 60min. It all depends on what you want to see when you get there! The 45 minute and 60 minute tours seem to provide the best value and offer you the chance to see plenty of Yellowstone’s beauty from above.

After your helicopter tour, I recommend exploring some of West Yellowstone. 

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic in Yellowstone National Park
Grand Prismatic Spring from Fairy Falls Trailhead

From the Fairy Falls Trailhead, you can hike to the Grand Prismatic Overlook giving you a view of this thermal pool from above. The trail will climb just about 100ft in .6 miles, but it’s worth the climb. 

And FYI, Grand Prismatic is the largest hot spring in Yellowstone National Park! However, that doesn’t mean you can swim in it. If you tried, you’d quite literally melt away. 

If you don’t feel like getting a view of Grand Prismatic Spring from above, opt to explore the Midway Geyser Basin! Midway Geyser Basin includes a short boardwalk loop that will allow you to explore Grand Prismatic and other nearby ground-level pools.

Next up, we’ll take the Upper Geyser Basin Trail and get a peep at Old Faithful and Morning Glory Pool – two of the more popular park attractions in Yellowstone.

Upper Geyser Basin Trail

Upper Geyser Basin Trail of Yellowstone National Park
Upper Geyser Basin Trail

The Upper Geyser Basin Trail is the same trail you’ll take to get to Morning Glory Pool, BUT what you might not know about it is that there are sooooo many other thermal pools and small geysers to see along the trail.

Not to mention, the entire trail is a boardwalk, which I think makes it super photogenic. I suggest starting your hike by watching Old Faithful, then jumping on the path to get to Morning Glory and back.

Morning Glory Pool

Morning Glory Pool in Yellowstone National Park
Morning Glory Pool

Now, when you see Morning Glory Pool, I KNOW you’re going to be blown away. This thermal pool sports a bright yellow and teal color that’s quite the sight for the eyes. It ended up being one of my favorite things to see Yellowstone National Park!

However, people have thrown garbage and rocks into the pool over the years to see if they can make it into the center. PLEASE refrain from doing this. This causes the pool to cool down.

Over time, the pool has lost so much of its vibrant color because it’s continuing to cool down. Let’s not contribute to this color loss anymore and leave places better than we found them.

West Thumb Geyser Basin

When you’re done exploring those attractions, you can keep driving towards Yellowstone Lake and explore West Thumb Geyser Basin! 

I would describe West Thumb Geyser Basin as similar to Upper Geyser Basin in the sense that you can walk a small trail and see a variety of geysers and geothermal pools. 

Some of the main attractions here include Fishing Cone and Thumb Geyser. But if you’re “geysered out” for the day, then skip and maybe opt to just hang out by the lake instead.

Yellowstone Itinerary 4 Days – Day 4 – Hayden Valley, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Depart

Woohoo! Let’s end these 4 days in Yellowstone with a bang. 

Hayden Valley

Sunrise in Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park
Sunrise in Hayden Valley

Your day will start at Hayden Valley. This is a beautiful sunrise spot, and you might be able to spot some wildlife here too! Some short trails allow you to explore a bit more of the valley, but while here, I found myself just admiring the view. 

What I loved most about Hayden Valley was the river flowing through it. There are also hills in the area you can climb up to get a better perspective of the valley. Some folks choose to do this to spot wolves or bears in distant regions. 

When visiting for a sunrise mission, keep an eye out for pull-out parking areas where you can enjoy the view! Again, if you choose to come to Hayden Valley for sunrise, please keep a safe distance from the animals! 

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River

Our next stop will be short and sweet. You can admire the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone from Artist Point and Upper Falls Point. I loved both!

Why go to Arizona when you can see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone? Haha! Say hello to another one of the most popular things to do in Yellowstone National Park – for a good reason too! The canyon stretches 20 miles and goes down 1,000 feet in depth. Scientists think it can be anywhere from 140,000 to 160,000 years old. 

In my opinion, the canyon is best viewed early in the morning or at sunset. Adjust your 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary accordingly. During these times, you’ll see colors in the canyon rocks that you may not be able to see otherwise!

You can also take Uncle Tom’s Trail and do a short hike to the falls if you’re up for a bit more of an adventure.

OR if you want to hike with a group and eat some food, book a Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone rim and loop hike tour – lunch included! Obviously, this tour would make more sense to book if you were maybe spending more time in the park or doing this itinerary in reverse :).

Quick Stop at Canyon Village

Canyon Village is where the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River sits. Canyon Village is also where you’ll find some shops, Hayden Valley, and hiking trails (Uncle Tom’s Trail, Observation Peak). 

So before you leave, you can use this as a quick pit-stop!

Depart

And while departing sounds sad, you can now make your way to Grand Teton National Park if you want to! 

Yellowstone in 4 Days in Sum

Here is a quick round-up of our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary:

4 Days in Yellowstone Itinerary – Day 1

  • Arrive North
  • Boiling River
  • Mammoth Hot Spring

4 Days in Yellowstone Itinerary – Day 2

  • Lamar Valley sunrise
  • Trout Lake Trail
  • Tower Fall
  • Dinner with a sunset

4 Days in Yellowstone Itinerary – Day 3

  • Helicopter Tour
  • Grand Prismatic Spring
  • Upper Geyser Basin Trail
  • West Thumb Geyser Basin

4 Days in Yellowstone Itinerary – Day 4

  • Hayden Valley sunrise
  • Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River
  • Canyon Village

Yellowstone 3 Day Itinerary

Only have 3 days in Yellowstone National Park? I would follow days 2 through 4 on our 4 day itinerary. 

It’s worth mentioning that, in my opinion, you don’t need to do things like sitting around and waiting for Old Faithful to go off. People seem to spend a lot of time sitting and waiting when they could be exploring the park. For example, I walked the Upper Geyser Basin Trail and saw Old Faithful shoot just fine! 

I’m only mentioning this because I want you to get the most out of your park experience! I guess sitting for long periods just bores me, lol.

I’m rambling now, but here’s what my 3 days would look like:

3 Days in Yellowstone

Day 1

  • Lamar Valley Sunrise
  • Boiling River day trip
  • Mammoth Hot Springs sunset

Day 2

  • Yellowstone Helicopter Tour
  • Upper Geyser Basin Trail – Old Faithful, Morning Glory, etc.

Day 3

  • Hayden Valley sunrise
  • Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
  • Depart
Yellowstone in 4 Days by Dani The Explorer

Yellowstone in 4 Days Map

Below is a map you can use during your Yellowstone itinerary 4 days edition! I didn’t talk much about food in this Yellowstone National Park guide, but I included some of the better rated places in the map. FYI, most of the dining halls aren’t rated well, so you might want to pack in food!

Yellowstone Itinerary 4 Days – Additional Attractions

We discussed our itineraries already, but I wanted to provide you with some details on Yellowstone attractions! You can add some of these to your itinerary, spend more time exploring them, etc.

Watch Old Faithful Geyser in All Its Greatness

Since Yellowstone National Park sits right on top of a volcanic hotbed of activity, there are plenty of chances for you to watch the geysers erupt. Old Faithful is the most famous geyser in the park, which got its name in 1870.

It erupts anywhere from 106 to 185 feet every 35 to 120 minutes. If you want to watch it go, make sure you grab your seat at the Old Faithful visitor center early – it gets packed since it’s one of the most popular things to do in Yellowstone National Park!

*Like I just said earlier, this is cool and all, but I can’t imagine sitting 30 to 120 minutes waiting for a geyser to go offer. However, I can understand why people do it!*

Have an Old West Dinner Cookout

This looks SO effing fun. You can book an Old West Dinner Cookout that’ll take place in the Yellowstone National Park backcountry! This is a great way to explore with a group of people and experience some of the old west history Yellowstone is known for. 

The horse-drawn wagons will take you on a 60 to 90 minute trail ride where your cookout will take place!

Go Horseback Riding

This is a huge hit with families. But, if you want to do something a bit different, book a Yellowstone horseback riding tour

This particular horseback riding tour will take you along the Continental Divide trail, giving you views of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana.

Drive Grand Loop Road

Bison in Yellowstone National Park Lamar Valley
Bison in Yellowstone National Park Lamar Valley

Grand Loop Road makes up the primary road system in Yellowstone. It opened in 1915 and is completely paved! Grand Loop Road stretches 142mi in more of a figure-8 shape. 

If you want to add a mini road trip itinerary to your 4 day Yellowstone itinerary, drive Grand Loop Road!

Believe it or not, driving the entire road takes about 4 to 7 hours. Therefore, it really warrants a whole day’s worth of exploring. The best part about the road is that it passes through just about every main attraction in Yellowstone National Park!

*PS: Grand Loop Road is closed December through April, so plan accordingly!*

Norris Geyser Basin

Another Basin? Yes, lol. Norris Geyser Basin is near North Yellowstone. It includes a variety of geothermal pools and geysers you can explore. For example, there’s Swiss Cheese Pool, Bear Den Geyser, and a whole bunch of others that have clever names. 

I’m adding this in here as a 4 day Yellowstone itinerary add-on because if you choose to drive Grand Loop Road, you’ll pass by Norris Geyser Basin anyways!

Jump on a Rafting Trip

If you’re a water baby, there are plenty of activities for you in Yellowstone as well! You can go paddling on Yellowstone Lake (the largest (132 sq. mi.) and highest altitude lake (7,732′) in North America!). 

You can also choose to go rafting on one of the various rivers by the entrances to the park. If this sounds fun to you, I suggest booking a Yellowstone rafting tour.

Get Up Close and Personal with Yellowstone Lower Falls

Yellowstone’s Lower Falls has been described as one of the most beautiful sights in the park! Many people come here to photograph or paint the falls. 

A great way to get close to the waterfall is by doing a hike to Artist Point. Artist Point will take you to a cliff where you can witness some of the most fantastic pastel colors you have ever seen in your life. 

The hike takes place on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and is only .2 miles.

Kayak Around

Now, this is MY kind of adventure! If you’re interested in seeing Yellowstone from a different perspective, I suggest making some time during your four days in Yellowstone to book a kayaking trip

You can kayak around Yellowstone Lake, which gives you a closer look at some smaller geysers. 

Fish at Lewis Lake

Lewis Lake is pretty impressive! However, what I love most about Lewis Lake are the massive mountains sitting casually on the shoreline. 

This lake is an excellent option for kayakers, hiking, and fishing. If you like camping, well, lucky you! You can stay at the Lewis Lake Campground.

Hike Uncle Tom’s Trail

We’ve discussed Uncle Tom’s a bit, but just to reiterate: similar to Artist Point, Uncle Tom’s will take you to a view of the Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. What makes this view different, though, is that it’s from the side of the waterfall. The trail is .7 miles long.

Backpack Electric Peak

Want to go on a longer hike? Then Electric Peak is for you! This is a 20.3mi out and back hike that features some of the best views in Yellowstone National Park. 

This trail is pretty steep and challenging, but when you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with an overlook of Yellowstone.

Trek to Union Falls

So you’ve seen Upper Falls, but what other waterfalls does Yellowstone National Park have? Well, lemme tell you about Union Falls. Union Falls is a giant 250-foot waterfall that cascades deep in the lush forests of Yellowstone. 

Getting there is no joke! You’ll be required to hike a 15.4-mile trail if you want to visit this beautiful wonder! The benefit of hiking this trail, though, is that you’ll have fewer crowds than you would have at Upper Falls.

Walk Fountain Paint Pot Trail

Fountain Paint Pot Trail
Fountain Paint Pot Trail

Fountain Paint Pot Trail is short and sweet! It’s a great place to see some thermal pools and should only take about 30min max to complete. I found it to be a great photo spot as well. BUT what I did not like was the stinky feet/ egg smell that constantly seeps out of the pools.

I lowkey felt like I smelled like a fart after walking around here, lmao. Just saying! 

This is an excellent location to come mid-day if you need something to do to pass the time.

Best Sunrise Spots in Yellowstone National Park

Below is a list of the best sunrise spots in Yellowstone National Park! Use this when you’re there. Remember, you can always switch things around in our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary to make it unique to you!

  • Lamar Valley
  • Hayden Valley
  • Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
  • West Thumb Geyser Basin
  • Yellowstone Lake (watch from the west shore)
  • Mammoth Hot Springs
Sunrise in Lamar Valley

Best Sunset Spots in Yellowstone National Park

So what are the best sunset spots in Yellowstone National Park? Truthfully I found that most of the sunrise locations can work for sunset. However, here’s still a bulleted list of sunset locations for your Yellowstone National Park itinerary!

  • Lake Butte Overlook
  • Mammoth Hot Springs
  • Old Faithful Geyser 

Pets in Yellowstone National Park

Bringing a pet to Yellowstone National Park will leave you pretty limited, in my opinion. They’re not allowed on trails or boardwalks, so you might want to consider leaving them out of this trip!

If you’re traveling from Jackson, WY, there are some doggy daycare options available. At the time of writing this, DogJax is a highly recommended daycare!

Other Nearby National Parks

If you want to take your 4 day Yellowstone itinerary to the next level, I suggest making a stop at one of these US National Parks!

Yellowstone in 4 Days FAQ

 Now that we’ve wrapped up our trip to Yellowstone in 4 days let’s get into some frequently asked questions about Yellowstone National Park!

What State is Yellowstone National Park in?

A majority of Yellowstone National Park is in Wyoming; however, a small percentage is in Montana. AND a tiny part of it touches Idaho. The park stretches 63 miles north to south and 54 miles east to west.

What’s so Special About Yellowstone National Park?

Aside from it being the first national park in the US, Yellowstone is nearly 3,500 sq-miles of National Forest sitting right on top of a volcanic hotspot. This gives it a unique edge over other National Parks in the US.

What is the Best Time to Go To Yellowstone National Park?

The best time to visit Yellowstone National Park is early spring and late summer/ fall. More specifically, April to May and September to October. I visited in September and can highly recommend it.

Most folks will visit in the summer, but I find the weather to be a little too hot. Try a different time of year, so you’re not crisping away in the sun!

How Much Does it Cost to Visit Yellowstone National Park?

$35 – Private, non-commercial vehicle; $30 – Motorcycle or snowmobile (winter) $20 – Visitors 16 and older entering by foot, bike, ski, etc. You can view the Yellowstone park fees on the NPS site.

Yellowstone in 4 Days – My Final Thoughts

Well, this blog on the best way to see Yellowstone in 4 days was pretty lengthy, so THANK YOU if you stuck around until the end.

I loved exploring Yellowstone National Park, and I think you will too! I hope you enjoyed learning about the park and enjoyed the Yellowstone itineraries I provided. 

If you have questions, leave them in the comments! See you in the next blog :).

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  1. Excellent blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any ideas? Thanks!

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I'm a burrito loving explorer who got fired from corporate America and turned that into my dream career as a photographer and blogger. Now I'm here to help you explore life's magic. Thanks for stopping by!