At 142 miles long, the Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone National Park is one of America’s best drives. Set up in a serpentine, figure eight that circles the center of the park, the road is the conduit connecting all of Yellowstone’s most popular sights. Given its exceptional length, however, and the wealth of places to stop, trying to drive the road once day can make for a stressful visit. Instead, since the road is broken into two different parts—the aptly named Upper and Lower Loop—break the drive up over two days, and if possible stay in two different places to experience different corners of the park. On the Upper Loop, main attractions include Mammoth Hot Springs and the Norris Geyser Basin, which houses the tallest geyser in the world—the 400 ft. Steamboat Geyser. On the eastern side of the Upper Loop is the trail leading up Mt. Washburn, as well as the turnoff for visiting the Lamar Valley for the chance to see bison and wolves. The Lower Loop, on the other hand, is more heavily concentrated with sights, which include Old Faithful, Yellowstone Lake, and Grand Prismatic Spring. This is also the road to Hayden Valley and Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, which can also be seen on a drive of the Upper Loop since it’s right where the two loops connect.
The Grand Loop Road of Yellowstone National Park is only open in summer, with the exception of the segment between the north and northeastern entrances which stays open throughout the year. Parts of the road begin opening in April, and the entire road is usually open by about the third week in May. The speed limit on the road is 45mph, though wildlife on the road and construction crews can bring the traffic to a halt. The Grand Loop Road is accessible from all five of the park’s different entrances, with the west entrance and the north entrance being the closest and most convenient.