Chicago – Glacier National Park, Montana Road Trip Day 6
Distance: 321 miles
Driving Time: 7 hours, 30 mins (including all attractions)
Cost for Day: $450 (gas + attraction fee + hotel + food)
Main Attractions: Old Faithful, West Thumb, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Mammoths
Time at Attractions: Old Faithful (30 mins), West Thumb (30 mins), Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (15 mins), Mammoths (15 mins)
Cost of attraction: Yellowstone and Teton pass without annual pass costs $25.
Budget Tip: To book a cheaper hotel, pick west Yellowstone outside the park. And, be prepared to spend additional 30 minutes each way getting in and out of the park.
Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights;
it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent,
in the ideas of living.
Mary Ritter Beard
Drive to Yellowstone National Park! It takes about 2 1/2 hours to west Yellowstone, from where a narrow but long road takes you into the vast interior of the FIRST national park of America (formed in 1872). It is also ranked number 1 in america in terms of number of visitors each year. In your GPS drive to the Old Faithful. Yellowstone is on top of a super volcano and plan ahead for stopping respectfully when wildlife makes an appearance (and tourists become the untamed paparazzi stopping traffic for a not-so-quick photo shoot.) Attractions along the way…
Fountain Geyser Area
Check in advance the times of the fountain geyser..this is the geyser that erupts less frequently compared to its competitors like old faithful. You will notice the smell of acid and the color orange along the roadside as you drive to the old faithful.
Old Faithful is a cone shaped geyser that is most popular amongst tourists and it puts on a show every 30 minutes to the loud roar of the crowd that surrounds it. It is 30 miles from west Yellowstone and about an hour drive in heavy traffic. With stops plan to see the above recommended stops en route to old faithful in about an hour and half. Also, check out the visitor center here and check in to our hotel recommendation in the park – Old Faithful cabins. Book these well ahead of time. They tend to fill up fast and expect to shell out at least $300 bucks this night. You could try the West Yellowstone (outside park) for cheaper options. This area tends to be crowded but is centrally located. Have lunch here at the inn.
Post lunch, drive to west thumb, (30 mins east) for a breathtaking stroll featuring more hot pools, and great views of the lake. The lake is evidence that this super volcano has erupted in the past (crater in which the lake resides). TIP: If you need to lighten this day by taking one thing out, take the stop at west thumb out, and check it out first thing, on next day – Day 7.
From west thumb head north to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (an hour north). En route you will check out the Mud Volcano, and upper falls.
Post the “Grand Canyon of Yellowstone” as evening sets in, this is perfect time to head north when the bears come down to eat. Here is a clickable map of yellow stone.
From the canyon, drive north to Tower Falls (35 mins) – look out for more wildlife.
The drive next (1 hour) to Mammoth Springs via Fort Yellowstone will be stunning. My favorite are the lower mammoth falls. This will be last stop of the day.
Upper Mammoth Springs
Grab a bite to eat at Mammoth Hot Springs. Drive back to your cabin at Old Faithful which is 1 hour and 20 mins away. If possible and still lit stop at: Gibbon Falls right off of the roadside on the way back…
Congratulation you just circled the entire Yellowstone National Park!