The Yellowstone National Park region provides Bozeman visitors with a plethora of activities to choose from; perfect for families and adventure seekers.
What are the best day trip destinations between Bozeman and Yellowstone?
The best day trips from Bozeman to Yellowstone are:
- Grand Prismatic Spring
- Old Faithful Geyser
- Lamar Valley
- Yellowstone Grand Canyon
- Chico Hot Springs
- Mammoth Hot Springs
- Yellowstone Grand Loop
After extensively researching the Yellowstone National Park region, I have gathered enough information to create a detailed guide for activities in the area. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the best day trips from Bozeman to Yellowstone to help you plan your vacation.
Best Day Trips from Bozeman to Yellowstone
Yellowstone National Park is one of the most iconic and beautiful sights in the United States, and for many Americans, it’s at the top of their bucket lists.
This 3,500-square-mile park was founded in 1872 and it stretches across Southwest Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.
One of the best places to stay on your trip to Yellowstone is Bozeman, Montana.
This bustling and vibrant Montana college town is the ultimate hub for a Yellowstone retreat, with just a 78-mile drive to the northeast entrance of the park and very easy access via the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport.
Yellowstone National Park and its surroundings are full of stunning landscapes, wildlife, and outdoor activities such as fly fishing, hiking, and world-class skiing, making it stand out among national parks in the United States.
Grand Prismatic Spring
The Grand Prismatic Spring is roughly 114 miles from Bozeman and is one of Yellowstone’s must-see sights.
This jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring spring is often a calling for visitors to come to Yellowstone, as it’s often referenced in brochures and advertisements for the park.
Visitors can enjoy a wonderful day trip from Bozeman to the Grand Prismatic Spring, as it takes just a few hours to get there, and you have the bulk of the day to enjoy the rest of the Midway Geyser Basin.
If you are going during the peak summer months, every day is a busy day and you can expect the parking lot to get quite full and for there to be a lot of crowds.
I recommend leaving early in the morning from Bozeman for this day trip, so you can visit the Grand Prismatic Spring before it gets busy.
You can head onto Highway 89 or take the back way along Route 540, as these are the scenic routes with some of the best spots for seeing wildlife and mountains along the way.
Old Faithful Geyser
You can’t come to Yellowstone National Park without visiting the Old Faithful Geyser. The drive to Old Faithful is 120 miles, which should take you about 2 to 3 hours coming from Bozeman.
This iconic geyser erupts roughly every 90 minutes, so you have all day to visit Old Faithful without having to worry about trip planning.
Old Faithful lets out 3,700–8,400 gallons of boiling water which reaches heights that are upwards of 184 feet, with the show generally lasting around 1.5 minutes.
While you are at Old Faithful, be sure to ask the visitor center for information about the other 5 geysers that might blow.
Although most tourists come to see the famous Old Faithful, there are actually a number of geysers right next to it that erupt occasionally.
The wait for Old Faithful to erupt can get tedious. If you want to pass the time until the geyser erupts, enjoy a nice walk around the boardwalk, which is surrounded by mountains and stunning landscapes. In addition, there are plenty of places to grab food, coffee, and ice cream within arm’s reach of the Old Faithful Geyser.
Yellowstone is a safari park in so many ways, with wildlife sightseeing being the highlight for a lot of visitors.
If you are interested in seeing bison, bears, coyotes, wolves and so much more, you should keep Lamar Valley at the top of your list when choosing a day trip from Bozeman.
Lamar Valley is one of the most reliable places in the park to get a glimpse of undisturbed wildlife. The 115-mile drive from Bozeman takes about 3 hours and offers visitors incredible landscapes from start to finish.
You can join one of the many tours leaving from Bozeman each day to Lamar Valley, as this allows you to sit back and enjoy the scenery without driving.
However, I find the most reliable way to see wildlife in Lamar Valley is to leave as early as possible, and by early, I mean heading out of Bozeman before the sun is up.
This is one of the best spots for seeing wildlife, but you need to keep in mind that animals in Yellowstone are most active in the morning, and can often become weary of hot spots in the park once the crowds arrive.
If you want to increase your chances of seeing the best wildlife that the park has to offer, head to Lamar Valley from Bozeman as early as possible.
Yellowstone Grand Canyon
The Yellowstone Grand Canyon is just a short drive away from Bozeman, with most visitors driving the 78-mile journey from the north entrance of the park in just an hour and a half. If you want to change up the scenery on your way back, the north entrance route is 89 miles and offers equally stunning sights along the way.
Once you arrive, the 4,000 ft wide canyon will be an impressive sight, to say the least. This is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the entire national park, and you don’t want to miss it on your trip to Yellowstone.
This is a great destination given that you can either spend most of your day wandering around the canyon or just an hour or two to soak in the sights.
There are a couple of scenic trails that are definitely worth visiting, which take you around different vantage points of the canyon.
However, what every tourist really wants to see here is the Artist Point lookout which gives you the best view of the Lower Falls. The spectacular vista points combined with the lovely day hikes such as the Uncle Tom Trail make the Yellowstone Grand Canyon a top contender for day trips from Bozeman.
The Chico Hot Springs is one of the best-kept secrets in the area, and they are located just outside of Yellowstone National Park. Bozeman visitors who need a day to unwind and relax between trips to the park should not overlook the Chico Hot Springs as a great way to spend the day.
The hot springs are conveniently located just 48 miles from Bozeman, and you can get there in less than an hour. Visitors have enjoyed bathing in the Chico Hot Springs for over 120 years, with many people considering this to be one of the highlights of their trip.
You can easily spend the whole day enjoying food and drinks by one of Chico’s two hot pools.
The larger kid-friendly pool is warm in temperature, and the smaller pool can probably boil an egg. Surrounding the Chico Hot Springs are spectacular mountain views and classic Montana scenery, meaning that nature is still within sight while you bathe.
While travelers with a short window to enjoy Yellowstone may feel less inclined to visit the Chico Hot Springs, the location is conveniently just 35 miles from the north entrance of the park.
Implying that Chico is just a short drive away if you wanted to combine the hot springs with other day trip activities.
Mammoth Hot Springs
Before you get any wild ideas, these are not the kind of hot springs you want to swim in. The Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park offer visitors some of the most stunning sights in the region.
Located roughly 83 miles from Bozeman, this is a great day trip activity that is often underrated by a lot of tourists. The springs don’t erupt like Old Faithful, but they are unique and absolutely stunning to look at.
Stunning mineral structures that are vibrant in color display the geothermal activity that Yellowstone is most famous for.
The Mammoth Hot Springs feature two sections, the Upper Mammoth Terraces, and Lower Mammoth Terraces. A wooden platform takes you along the springs so you can get a glimpse of the action up close.
Spending at least one or two hours at the Mammoth Hot Springs is highly recommended as there is a lot to see. Keep in mind that swimming is strictly prohibited in the Mammoth Hot Springs for your safety and the protection of the pools.
Yellowstone Grand Loop
If you are pressed for time and want to get an overview of the park, there is no better way to do it than the Yellowstone Grand Loop.
There are a number of loops within the park that are worth checking out but the Grand Loop tends to offer visitors a bit of everything.
This is a great way to get a taste of the park before you dive into specific areas or you can try to cram as many activities into a single-day trip while you do the loop if you only have a day or two in Yellowstone.
The loop is very easy to access from Bozeman, as it can be reached from any of the park’s 5 entrances. Coming from Bozeman, you will pass through Big Sky, Montana, and West Yellowstone to get onto Highway 89.
The Yellowstone Grand Loop is connected to U.S. Highways 14, 16, 20, 89, 191, 212, and 287 and can be seen as a figure eight on a map.
If you want to do the loop in a single day, I recommend leaving as early as possible. It should take you roughly 4 to 7 hours to do the whole loop depending on how much you stop. With that said, many visitors find that even 7 hours isn’t enough to fully soak in the sights of Yellowstone while driving the loop.
My advice is to leave Bozeman as early as possible so that you are more flexible with time.
- The best day trips from Bozeman to Yellowstone are the Grand Prismatic Spring, Old Faithful Geyser, Lamar Valley, Yellowstone Grand Canyon, Chico Hot Springs, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Yellowstone Grand Loop.
- The must-see sights of Yellowstone are the Grand Prismatic Spring and Old Faithful Geyser.
- The north entrance is just 78 miles away from Bozeman, Montana, and is the best way to enter Yellowstone.