The Best Yellowstone National Park Tours

Will Beck
Last Updated: March 4th, 2023

Yellowstone National Park is an amazing expanse of outdoor natural beauty. It is most commonly associated with Montana, although it does touch Wyoming and Idaho at various points.

Nature lovers and outdoor types from the world over make the journey to Yellowstone National Park to experience its rugged vastness and impressive scenery which includes rivers, lakes, hot springs, mountain terrain, and pristine pine forests.

Any visitor to Yellowstone would be hard-pressed to cover all the main attractions in the space of time that a vacation or short trip often allows. So it pays to have some idea beforehand about how to make the most of a trip to this breathtaking area of terrain.

The Grand Loop is a well-known trail that allows visitors to take in some of the most popular attractions and landscapes in the park. Then there are other landmarks like the ‘Old Faithful’ geyser, one of the best-known among the many that are most-visited due to the size of and consistency of their eruptions.

So whether you are an active outdoor type, or simply a lover of scenic nature and wildlife, Yellowstone is one of those places that will definitely leave its mark on you, especially if you take a tour or trip that best fits your itinerary. So hopefully this list of some of the best Yellowstone National Park tours will give you some insights on how to do that.

Ten of the Best Tours in Yellowstone National Park

  1. Grand Canyon Rim Hike
  2. Day Trip from Cody
  3. West Yellowstone Lower Loop Tour
  4. Lower Loop Tour
  5. Upper and Lower Loop Tour
  6. Yellowstone Lake Kayak Tour
  7. Yellowstone Rafting Tour
  8. Yellowstone/Grand Teton 4-day, 3-Night Wildlife Adventure
  9. Lamar Valley Safari Hike
  10. Private Lewis Lake Fishing Trip

1. Grand Canyon Rim Hike

grand canyon rim hike

The Yellowstone Grand Canyon is considered one of the best hiking spots in the park. This guided day hike covers the canyon rim and its surrounding forests and meadows, taking in a few lakes and hydrothermal features of the terrain.

The hike covers six miles in total and includes various gradients of moderate difficulty. The guided hike begins on the Grand Canyon’s southern rim, allowing views of both Yellowstone’s upper and lower falls. You’ll pass other attractions like Artist Point and Ribbon Lake, and you’ll also get to take in mud pots and various thermal features as well as a variety of wildlife. Morning snacks and a picnic lunch are included, as well as various trekking accessories.

2. Day Trip from Cody

day trip from cody

This is a tour that comes in from the Northwest Wyoming side of Yellowstone Park named after “Buffalo Bill” Cody. With the help of both a nature expert and a professional photographer, you’ll get some real insights into what Yellowstone National Park has to offer in a day.

The tour takes 12 hours in all, accommodates groups up to 7, and includes stops at prime wildlife viewing areas and a few other popular Yellowstone Park attractions like the Upper Geyser Basin, where you may get to witness the power of ‘Old Faithful’. Round-trip transportation from hotels in Cody is included along with breakfast and various other snacks and stop-offs.

3. Lower Loop Tour from West Yellowstone

lower loop tour from west yellowstone

Here is another one-day tour of the Lower Loop region of the fantastic national park that departs from the West Yellowstone and enters the park through the West Gate. The tour is a manageable 8 hours in all, occurring between 8.30 am and 5.30 pm, with all transportation for the round trip included.

This is a great chance to get a glimpse of some of the main attractions and take in some impressive views of the park by way of its geology and wildlife while picking up interesting historical tips from your seasoned guide. The tour includes a picnic-style lunch and takes the Lower Loop route with stop-offs at various points of interest like the Geyser Basins and Old Faithful.

Many of the park’s popular and well-known focal points are included in this short tour such as the Grand Prismatic Spring, Artist Point, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and Hayden Valley.

4. Jackson, Wyoming: Full-Day Yellowstone Lower Loop Tour

full-day yellowstone lower loop tour

This is another Lower Loop day trip, this time departing from Jackson, in the Teton County region of Wyoming. The road-based tour heads off through Grand Teton National Park in a northern direction on its route to Yellowstone.

The interpretive, fully guided tour follows the Lower Loop and makes various stop-offs at all the usual points of interest such as the ‘Old Faithful’ Upper Geyser Basin area, the Midway Geyser Basin, the Firehole Lake Loop, the Fountain Paint Pots, the Yellowstone Canyon region, and Hayden Valley, to name a few. This is a small-group tour that can accommodate up to 8 people. The professional and experienced guides conduct the tour from modern, clean, and safe vehicles.

There are various stop-offs that allow the opportunity for a short hike around the geyser basins and a few of the waterfalls, check out the impressive scenery, spot some of the wildlife, and enjoy an included picnic-style lunch. You’ll get to see the Gibbon Falls, the Virginia Cascades, the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, Lake Yellowstone, the Sulphur Cauldron, and the Mud Volcano area – all in a day!

5. 2-Day Guided Tour: Upper and Lower Loop Tour

upper and lower loop tour

If you think a single-day tour won’t give you all the insights you need into Yellowstone National Park then maybe this is more your thing.

This is a 2-day guided tour that covers both the Upper and Lower Loops and starts from Jackson, Wyoming. The first day heads north through Yellowstone and covers about half of the park. You can spend the night either at the Chico Hot Springs Resort in the north of the park or at a hotel in Gardiner. The second day of the tours covers the rest of Yellowstone, heading south and back in the direction of Jackson, arriving back around evening time.

This is the chance to cover all the main points of interest in the park at something of a less hurried pace, with opportunities for reasonably short hikes around the Geyser Basins and the Yellowstone Grand Canyon regions. The Upper Geyser Basin and Old Faithful will be covered on this tour, along with the Midway Geyser Basin, Norris Geyser Basin, Firehole Lake Loop, and River Canyon, the Fountain Paint Pots, Gibbon Falls, the Artist Paint Pots, Roaring Mountain, Gardiner’s Hole, the Golden Gate, the Hoodoos, Mammoth Hot Springs…and much more!

6. Yellowstone Lake Kayak Tour

yellowstone lake kayak tour

If you are more interested in the water features of Yellowstone, then why not consider a Lake Kayak Tour. This 6-hour affair takes you off to explore the tranquil waters of Yellowstone Lake with a professional guide. Whether you want to go it alone in a single kayak or double up with a partner, this is one great way to experience the natural beauty of one of the main water features in the park, and a picnic lunch is included in the tour.

The meeting point is inside the park at the Grant Marina, and you don’t need to be a kayaking expert to get involved with this tour. Even participants with no previous experience are welcome. A professional and experienced guide will ensure that you are more than able to paddle your way past various geothermal attractions such as the West Thumb Geyser Basin and the Potts Geyser Basin. You’ll get an introduction to paddling techniques and the Yellowstone area in general, and the tour proceeds at a reasonable pace. This allows you to get close to the lake’s shores and check out some of the native wildlife such as elk, moose, and bison, as you paddle alongside picturesque scenery.

7. Yellowstone Rafting Tour

yellowstone rafting tour

Here is another water-themed tour starting out from Jackson, this time with the main feature being a raft. Your guide will liaise with you at the meeting point and will also drop you back there where you are done. You travel by minibus to Snake River, and after collecting lifejackets at the boat ramp, tour participants board the raft.

All you have to do on this Snake River rafting tour is sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery and views of the Tetons and the Snake River Range, and see if you can spot any wildlife. The experienced guide takes care of the navigation, from an oar frame located in the center of the raft. The guide interprets the sights and sounds of the river, along with a few other interesting historical facts about the Snake River and Jackson Hole.

8. Yellowstone/Grand Teton 4-day, 3-Night Wildlife Adventure

night wildlife adventure

This is a slightly more extensive 4 day / 3-night tour of both the Grand Teton and Yellowstone region that will give participants a more leisurely pace to enjoy the amazing Rocky Mountains region than a one or two-day tour allows.

The guided tour takes you through both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and is led by a naturalist guide who will interpret the expansive terrain. You will get more than a glimpse of the unforgettable mountain ranges, geysers, and wildlife on this tour. You will get to experience the vast landscapes of Hayden, Lamar Valley, and such like, and take in Oxbow Bend, Yellowstone Lake, Old Faithful Inn, and Mormon Row.

There’ll be plenty of Geyser opportunities along the boardwalks at the hydrothermal regions like those containing Old Faithful Geyser and Mammoth Hot Springs You’ll also be able to spot your fair share of wildlife that often includes grizzly and black bears, bison, elk, moose, deer, wolves, and eagles. As this tour is a bit more extensive you won’t run short on either hiking or photographic opportunities.

9. Lamar Valley Safari Hike

lamar valley safari hike

This guided tour is focused around Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley, heading out from the Lamar River Valley Trailhead. This is one of the best trails in the entire region from which to spot all kinds of local wildlife. Needless to say, the experienced guide brings along supplies of backpacks, trekking poles, binoculars, and spotting scope – not to mention some bear spray just in case.

Gazing out across the impressive Lamar Valley scenery will give you ample opportunity to spot bears, bison, elk, moose, wolves, and a few others native to this area. This is a region of Yellowstone with one of the highest concentrations of animals and other wildlife there is, and the reasonably-paced, six-mile walk will give you ample opportunity to check them out. A picnic lunch and a few other snacks are included on this hike.

10. Private Lewis Lake Fishing Trip

private lewis lake fishing trip

If you are staying in the region of Jackson or Teton Village, you can get picked up for this private fishing trip on Lewis Lake in Yellowstone National Park. This is all about top-quality trout fishing with experienced local guides who will usually steer you in the direction of Lewis Lake, although there is actually a chain of lakes in the region.

After the initial pick-up, there will be just over an hour’s drive north through the Grand Teton Park and then on to Yellowstone. Your fishing license will be collected on the way, and if you wish you can try a little hike further up the channel to indulge in a spot of wading to fish in some amazing water.

Fly, streamer, and spin cast fishing are all viable depending on your requirements, and the good thing is that all equipment is provided for you. Native trout have to be returned to the water alive, but you are allowed to keep any lake trout that you catch. Pick-up and return times are flexible to some degree, but the guides will usually aim to be back in Jackson by around 6 pm.

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About The Author

Will Beck

Will is a true digital nomad, taking his work on the road at every opportunity. His first love is coffee, with travel a close 2nd. He loves nothing more than hitting the road in his self-build campervan and visiting off-the-beaten-path places, away from popular tourist destinations.

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