What to do with 24 hours in Yellowstone?

Kim Weaver

Posted on June 26 2018

by Morgan Davies - Montana Scene Bozeman Manager 

People from all over the world travel to Yellowstone National Park each year. For those lucky enough to live in Bozeman the park is easily accessible. From The Montana Scene storefront in downtown Bozeman it will take you an hour and 15 minutes to get to the East Entrance of the park in Gardiner.

Gardiner is guaranteed to have some wildlife action whether its deer, bison, or antelope. It is here that you will also find the Roosevelt Arch! (Great photo op!)

roosevelt arch Yellowstone National Park

l Roosevelt Arch at the Yellowstone National Park entrance in Gardiner l

I recently did this trip and spent exactly 24 hours in the park, and although you can spend days on end in Yellowstone, in my short 24 hours I was able to hit all the most popular sights.

Now, it may sound crazy, but I actually left Bozeman at 4pm on a Saturday with my camping gear and a cooler ready to take on the chilly rainy night.

Old Faithful Yellowstone National Park

l On the way to Old Faithful rocking the Bison Unisex Ring Tee l

I decided that since I would be getting to the park in the evening I might as well head right to Old Faithful. The drive from the East Entrance to Old Faithful is a little bit longer than if you went through the West Yellowstone Entrance, but I think the drive is worth it!

Old Faithful Yellowstone National Park Old Faithful Yellowstone National Park

l Left: Old Faithful - Right: Hot Springs Geyser at Old Faithful l

You get to see Mammoth Hot Springs and Fort Yellowstone about 10 minutes into the park and it’s worth a stop.

Once you get your fill of the first geothermal site continue on towards Old Faithful! This drive will fall nothing short of spectacular with views of the Madison Mountain Range and gorgeous alpine lakes!

When you start seeing steam you will know you are getting close. This part of the park is known as the Firehole Canyon. The name comes from all the steam rising from the Geysers and Hot Springs. It looks like the hillside is on fire!

It will be tempting to stop at the Lower Geyser Basin, and the Grand Prismatic Springs, but remember you have 24 hours!

Shortly you will arrive at Old Faithful. Give or take every 90 minutes the geyser will go off and it is pretty awesome. Around Old Faithful is boardwalks surrounding other geysers. Walk along this while you are waiting for the next Old Faithful eruption.

Fun fact: Old Faithful will shoot water into the air between 140 and 160 feet!

Now considering I got to Old Faithful at 7 pm I had to think about camping and dinner.

So there are a few campsites near Old Faithful. There is the Madison Campground along the river and then Grant Village which is near Yellowstone Lake.

For dinner there are dining halls and restaurants at Old Faithful or you can venture out of the park to West Yellowstone and hit my favorite place The Slippery Otter. (They are famous for their French Onion Soup)

If camping isn’t your style there is lodging in the park at Old Faithful and in Grant Village.

The next morning start out back to Firehole Canyon. First stop is the artist fountain paint pots. Here you’ll learn about the constantly boiling mud. There are also a few hot springs on this walk so be prepared for steam.

Fountain Artist Pots Yellowstone National Park

l Fountain Artist Pots in Yellowstone National Park l 

Next stop is the Grand Prismatic Spring. Take a second to appreciate everything happening at this stop. This is the multi colored spring you see in pictures of Yellowstone. There is a boardwalk around it, but if you want to get a birds eye view head to the Fairy Falls Hike.

Grand Prismic Yellowstone

l Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park sporting the Bison Unisex Ring Tee l

Throughout this area there is also a herd of Bison and a lot of mamas with their calves! They are so cute, but remember to stay at least 25 yards away!

Yellowstone National Park Bison

Your next stop will be Yellowstone Lake. Head to West Thumb, where you will see the caldera of the Lake. This part is SO cool. There are cones on the shore of the lake and geysers everywhere. Seeing this part of the park makes you realize the volcanic activity happening there, which I think is awesome.

West Thumb Yellowstone National Park

l West Thumb in Yellowstone National Park l 

After West Thumb continue on the shore of the lake to Bay Bridge. This is where the marina for Yellowstone Lake is located. For $18 you can take a scenic tour of the lake. The boat tour lasts about an hour and 15 minutes.

Up next you will hit the Fishing Bridge. This is where the Yellowstone River starts. The Fishing Bridge used to be a very popular spot for fisherman until it was determined that the area was a popular fish spawning area. So, fishing is no longer permitted, but you can still take in the  spectacular views.

After this stop you will head back into a completely different part of the park. The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. You will drive along the Yellowstone River, and there will be bison, elk, bears, and otters. I promise. I also recommend hiking Tower Falls. It’s a pretty easy hike with some great views of the canyon.

Yellowstone National Park Bison

l Bison in Yellowstone National Park - Read up on animal safety in the park here l 

Finally you are on the road back to Gardiner. You will start to see the Absaroka Mountain Range. When you can pull over and take a minute to soak in the park and the journey you just took.

Before you know it you’re leaving the park and starving. Stop at The Wonderland Cafe for some dinner! Their burgers are excellent!

And you have done it! You covered most of Yellowstone in just a short amount of time! In my opinion no matter how much you fit in during your time going to the park is always a special experience!

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