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How to Spend 1 Day in Yellowstone National Park

How to Spend 1 Day in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is celebrated for its untouched environment, plentiful wildlife, and must-see natural features, including geysers, waterfalls, and windswept mountain peaks. With so much to see, here's what you need to know to make the most out of one day in Yellowstone.

Morning: Adventure on the Water

To start your day in scenic Yellowstone National Park off on the right foot, don't miss a thrilling morning rafting on the Yellowstone River. Most river-rafting adventures are beginner-friendly, with a guide to lead the way. Rip through Class II and III rapids, and enjoy the chance to take a swim as you pass through calm sections of the river. If you're not up for the rapids, try a guided kayak excursion on Yellowstone Lake. Take in the views at a relaxed pace, and expect to spot some local wildlife, such as elk and bison, as you paddle. 

Afternoon: Geysers and Mountain Hikes

After your time on the water, take the guesswork out of getting around with a guided sightseeing tour or wildlife tour. If you want to explore independently, head to the West Thumb and Grant Village area, known for views of Yellowstone Lake, numerous geyser basins, and hydrothermal features. It's a great place to stroll a boardwalk trail and see the lake and mountain vistas. Another ideal afternoon destination is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, where you find the towering Upper and Lower falls. And if you're an outdoor-sports enthusiast, prioritize a hike up Mount Washburn—one of the park's most popular destinations for day hiking.

Night: Old Faithful and Historic Dining

After so much outdoor adventuring, end your day with a calming stop at one of the most celebrated features in Yellowstone park: Old Faithful. If you're patient, you can see this geyser erupt over 100 feet (30 meters) into the air, which it does reliably every 35 to 120 minutes. After taking in this natural wonder, cruise through the Upper Geyser Basin area, and visit the historic Old Faithful Inn Dining Room for a sit-down dinner. Don't miss the buffet for a great value and a taste of fantastic local flavors such as huckleberry (in dishes sweet and savory) and freshwater trout.

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Kayak Day Paddle on Yellowstone Lake
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Kayak Day Paddle on Yellowstone Lake

Explore the rocky shores and tranquil waters of Yellowstone Lake on a 6-hour kayak tour with a professional guide. Climb into either a single or double kayak and then set out to discover the beauty of Yellowstone Lake at a relaxed pace. Scour the rugged shores for native wildlife like elk, moose and bison; watch otters frolic in the warm waters of the lake; appease your appetite with a delicious picnic lunch; and paddle beside the West Thumb Geyser Basin to see incredible geothermic features. No previous kayaking experience is necessary for this enjoyable excursion.
  • 5 hours