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How to Spend 3 Days in Yellowstone National Park

How to Spend 3 Days in Yellowstone National Park

With three days to spend, you can enjoy all that Yellowstone National Park has to offer. Tour the park's natural sights, including lakes, rivers, and hydrothermal features, and dine on locally sourced cuisine in the park's historic lodges. Here's what you need to know to enjoy three days in Yellowstone.

Day 1: Park Sightseeing

On your first day in Yellowstone National Park, discover the park's must-see attractions on a guided tour. Whether you opt for a private or group tour, expect to visit Mammoth Hot Springs, the colorful mud pots in the Lower Geyser Basin, and the soaring waterfalls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Along the way, use your binoculars to spot local wildlife, such as elk and bison. If you're lucky, you might even sight a pack of wolves when exploring Lamar Valley, in the Northern Range of the park. End your first day back at your hotel—most tours include hassle-free hotel drop-off—or book a 2-day excursion to stay overnight in the park. 

Day 2: Outdoor Adventure

After a day taking in the park's top sights, spend your second day enjoying an adventure on the water. Thrill seekers can head out on the Yellowstone River for a guided whitewater-rafting adventure, while adventurous travelers shouldn't miss an overnight rafting expedition complete with stargazing free of light pollution. Those who like a slower pace might opt for a daylong kayak excursion on Yellowstone Lake, taking in the rugged landscape and spotting wildlife along the shore. Winter visitors can opt for a thrilling snowmobile adventure, traversing miles of snow-covered forest and seeing top park sights with fewer people than in peak summer months. 

Day 3: Panoramic Views and Historic Dining

Finish your time in the park with a day hiking up Mount Washburn, taking in views of the snow-capped mountains and expansive valleys from the lookout at the top. This popular day-hike destination is the perfect place to start your day—or enjoy a postlunch excursion. Alternatively, head to the Tower area of the park for a hike among the petrified forests. After a day of hiking, refuel with a meal at one of the park's historic lodges. The Old Faithful Inn Dining Room is a standout for its exposed wood and stately stone fireplace, while Lake Yellowstone Hotel, on the north side of the lake, is the perfect place for white-tablecloth dining and regional ingredients, such as Montana lamb and local Wagyu beef.

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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