West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

Two days in Yellowstone National Park (gluten free): Day one

During our week in Big Sky, Montana, we spent two full days in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is well worth a visit. There’s so much to see, and the scenery changes quickly. I recommend getting an early start each day to beat the crowds.

The park is easy to navigate. It’s essentially two loops that sit atop one another. On our first day, we concentrated on the lower loop. Below I share our favorite stops — the ones we’d do again. (You can see our day two itinerary here.)

Day one:

It takes about an hour to drive from Big Sky to West Yellowstone, where we entered the park. Plan to do a lot of driving. The park is huge, and it takes a while to travel between sites. Our first stop was the iconic Old Faithful geyser. Signs show what time it’s expected to erupt. We were lucky and caught it twice: right after we arrived and again after we explored the Old Faithful Inn and got coffee. (This is a good area to shop for souvenirs.)

Old Faithful

Our next stop was one of my favorite places in the park: West Thumb Geyser Basin, a series of hot springs set against the backdrop of Yellowstone Lake. (The parking lot gets crowded, so try to arrive early.)

West Thumb Geyser Basin

West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

The first hike of the day was the Storm Point Trail. It’s a beautiful 2.1-mile loop, and I highly recommend it. You start in a meadow, then reach the shores of Yellowstone Lake. If you complete the loop like we did, the second half is in the woods. Or, you can turn around and come back the way you came. Make sure to bring bear spray, and watch out for wildlife. We only saw a few other people, but we did see several bison resting in the meadow when we came out of the woods and were sure to give them lots of space.

Storm Point Trail, Yellowstone National Park

We stopped for lunch at the Fishing Bridge picnic area. Then, we headed to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. We did two hikes in this area: Uncle Tom’s trail and the South Rim to Artist Point. We took in the Upper Falls Viewpoint, and some elk nearby, before Uncle Tom’s Trail, a short but steep hike — .7 miles round trip and 300+ stairs each way — with views of the lower falls. Watch for rainbows.

Uncle Tom's Trail, Yellowstone National Park

Uncle Tom's Trail, Yellowstone National Park

Winded, we took a short break before continuing along the South Rim to Artist Point, where you see the famous view of the canyon (map). It’s about 2.5 miles out and back. We enjoyed both hikes, but, if you’re tired or short on time, you could skip one or drive to the Artist Point parking lot instead.

Artist Pointl, Yellowstone National Park

We completed the lower loop by driving back to West Yellowstone and then on to Big Sky. We cleaned up at the house and then got dinner at Lone Peak Brewery in Meadow Village. I had the lemon pepper mahi mahi rice bowl, which was great. There are several gluten-free items on the menu. (Click here to see our day two itinerary.)

The itinerary:

Stay:

See:

Eat:

Other options:

For more planning info, I’d recommend checking out Dirt in My Shoes, a blog by a former park ranger.

(Disclaimer: I’m not a dietitian. I’m describing my experiences in hopes of helping with your trip planning, but you’ll need to decide what feels comfortable and safe for you.)