The southern region of Yellowstone park is the geyser and geothermal rich areas. It’s known to some as “geyser country”.
Where is Yellowstone park exactly? If you look at a Yellowstone map, you’ll see that it is made up of three different states: Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. So, when you explore all of the park, you get to visit three states during your Yellowstone vacation.
Since the park is surrounded by three states, there are many flights to Yellowstone from different airports to choose from. A very popular option is to travel from Jackson Hole to Yellowstone.
The purpose of this post is to highlight the southern portion of the grand loop. We’ll cover where to stay in Yellowstone, things to do in Yellowstone, and of course, discuss our personal recommendation on the best way to see the famous Yellowstone geyser, Old Faithful.
Be sure to also check out our north Yellowstone planning guide. When you put the two together, it makes the ultimate Yellowstone grand loop itinerary.
If you intend to road trip throughout the park, then this Yellowstone travel guide is for you. If you’re interested in visiting Yellowstone in winter or doing one of the Yellowstone guided tours, you might want to checkout a few of these best Yellowstone tours.
Geyser country is absolutely stunning. The southern part of Yellowstone is made up of gorgeous hot springs, bubbling mud pots, and many of Yellowstone geothermal features.
The southern loop is also home to multiple Yellowstone lodging choices. We’ll fill you in on our stay at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, so you can know what to expect when you book your Yellowstone accommodations.
Okay, let’s get to planning your Yellowstone trip!
When planning a trip to Yellowstone, you have a variety of places to stay. Especially in the lower loop area.
If you’re looking for Yellowstone cabins, Yellowstone RV sites, or any of the Yellowstone hotels, I will say this: The best way to see Yellowstone is by staying in the park!
Driving in Yellowstone can get incredibly crazy! On a map, it might appear like a short distance.
However, when you factor in the speed limits, the wild animal traffic jams, and thousands of other visitors trying to take in the Yellowstone sites, it’ll take longer than you think to get from point A to point B.
Although Yellowstone National Park lodging may cost you a little more, it’s worth it!
Staying in the hotels inside Yellowstone park actually buys you more time, it’s less stressful, and you’ll have more opportunities (mornings and evenings) to explore the park when most visitors haven’t arrived or have already left.
Overall, staying in one of the Yellowstone park accommodations will enhance your experience in the park and should be highly considered.
Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins
Booking a stay at Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins needs to be added to your Yellowstone park trip. The location of this property is perfectly located for exploring the lower loop.
Here are a few reasons why you should book your Yellowstone park lodging at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins:
The hotel location can’t beat for exploring Old Faithful, the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center, and a massive gift shop. (We might have left with a few Yellowstone gifts!)
You can literally walk to Old Faithful in a matter of minutes and this alone makes this hotel a prime Yellowstone location.
We’ll talk about this more when we discuss visiting Old Faithful, but just know…if you stay here, you have the best opportunity to see the most famous geyser without the crowds!
The lobby to this Yellowstone park hotel is so inviting. In the evenings, you see folks gathered around the massive fire place with glasses of wine and relaxing. (It was us…we were those folks!)
Throughout the lobby there are plenty of tables and chairs. We noticed people making new friends with others visiting Yellowstone. Since there are no TVs in the room, most people spend their evenings in the lobby.
On the second floor, there’s an area for board games and additional seating that overlooks the downstairs lobby.
Open in the Winter:
Although you the hotel is only accessible via snowcoaches, it is open in the winter. Old Faithful Snow Lodge is open for Yellowstone winter tours. Here and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel are the two Yellowstone winter lodging options.
Hotel Room or Cabin:
You can book a regular hotel room or one of their cabins in Yellowstone park. There are different cabins to choose from and they’re all around the hotel for easy accessibility.
I found the rooms to be clean and comfortable. I LOVED the little bear soap that was included and the lotion was AMAZING!
A lot of folks love the soaps and lotion, because they sell them as Yellowstone souvenirs.
Here’s a video of our Old Faithful Snow Lodge hotel room tour.
Y’all. I’m giving it to you straight here….the WiFi is almost nonexistent. We were able to text, but social media was just not happening. Although, we didn’t mind the social media break.
This was not a deal breaker for us, as we were looking forward to a Yellowstone family vacation without distractions.
It was mentioned that Verizon has the best cell phone coverage in Yellowstone.
Although it’s not as well-known for its wildlife as Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, wildlife still finds their way around here. The folks working the desk told us that a momma bear and a cub was seen on the property within days of us being there.
Nearby, we saw bison and the famous Yellowstone elk.
One evening while waiting for Old Faithful to erupt, we heard a pack of wolves howling! Click here to hear the Yellowstone wolves howling.
Old Faithful Snow Lodge Obsidian Dining Room offers some of THE best food in Yellowstone!
My number one piece of advice for dining in Yellowstone is to order the bison or beef. They know what they’re doing and everything we ordered was cooked perfectly. The bison short ribs are a must!
Do yourself a favor and order the huckleberry lemonade and white chocolate and huckleberry cheesecake. You’ll thank me later.
This is one of the best places to stay in Yellowstone! Our favorite thing about staying here was having Old Faithful to ourselves at night! How many people get to say that?!
So, no more looking for where to stay during your Yellowstone National Park vacation. The Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins will make for the perfect home away from home.
Scroll through the photos below to see for yourself.
Helpful Hint: I mentioned this in our north Yellowstone post too, but there are no TVs in the Yellowstone National Park hotels. If this is important to you, download your shows and movies BEFORE heading to the park so you have access to them later.
Southern Yellowstone Sightseeing
Between Old Faithful, other geysers, vibrant hot springs and pools, steaming Earth vents, and the cool bubbling mud pots, you’ll have so much to see in this Yellowstone area.
To avoid the most crowded times of the day and to not feel rushed, I recommend at least two days to explore these Yellowstone destinations.
Simply put, geysers are just hot springs that erupt. Did you know that most folks who come to Yellowstone just to see Old Faithful erupt and then leave?!
We saw Old Faithful erupt the last day we were in the park, and to be honest, I thought it was rather underwhelming when you compare what the rest of the park offers.
While waiting for Old Faithful to erupt, we could see Beehive and Daisy erupting, and they were actually more entertaining and you can get closer.
So…do I think you should travel to Yellowstone and NOT see it? No. However, I’d see it and then explore more wonders of the park that are listed below.
If you stay near Old Faithful, in one of the best Yellowstone hotels, then you have quick access to the boardwalk trails that seem to go on forever. I wish I had seem these sooner, because we didn’t explore more of the trails.
This is where taking one of the Yellowstone park tours could be against your benefit, because those Yellowstone bus tours come and go so quickly.
If you drive to Yellowstone, plan on some time to explore the trails that start around the Old Faithful area along with the visitors center.
Helpful Hint: To avoid the iconic crowds around Old Faithful, I highly recommend two things: 1) Stay at a nearby hotel where you can easily walk to the Old Faithful geyser. 2) Visit the famous geyser at night! It’s absolutely incredible. Or catch it before or right at sunrise.
Hot Springs and Pools
Y’all! The hot springs and pools are my favorite part of the southern loop of Yellowstone. The colors are bright and they’re so clear that you can see far down.
Our favorite pools are located in West Thumb Yellowstone. We loved being able to get close to the Abyss Pool. The boardwalk in this area goes along the Yellowstone Lake, so the views are incredible.
The Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in Yellowstone and the third largest in the world. However, IF you visit when it’s colder, you might have a difficult time seeing the spring as the steam covers it a good bit. (You can see in the photo below if you swipe through.)
Overall, the hot springs and pools make for some amazing Yellowstone photos.
Mud Pots and Steam Vents
We can’t create a Yellowstone guide without mentioning the amazing mud pots and steam vents throughout the park. The mud pots can’t be missed.
There are two areas where you can find the most iconic mud pots: The Artist Paint Pots and the Fountain Paint Pots are two places that should be added to your Yellowstone vacation planner.
You can find this amazing steam vent in Yellowstone on the trail to the overlook at Artist Paint Pots.
The Artist Paint Pots (first photo below) is a little tougher of a “hike”, but it has amazing views and some of the best mud pots.
The second place, the Fountain Paint Pots, is a simple and flat boardwalk that gets you up close to mud pots, steam vents, and geysers! There are bathrooms at both locations.
Did you know that Yellowstone has over 40 waterfalls in the park?! 45 to be exact. Chasing waterfalls leads you to some of the best Yellowstone hikes. However, there are some you can easily see from the road.
Some of the best Yellowstone pictures are ones that show the mountains, evergreens, and the gorgeous waterfalls of Yellowstone.
If you’re short on time, Gibbon Falls and the Lower Yellowstone River Falls are two easy waterfalls to see. They’re probably two of the most popular as well.
The trail that leads you closer to the Lower Yellowstone River Falls was closed when we were there, so I HIGHLY recommend you walk that if it’s open during your visit.
Additional Yellowstone National Park Information
Also, it’s so important to be safe when visiting the park. National parks are not zoos. The parks are the animals homes and they roam freely. They can and will hurt you if you get too close.
When visiting Yellowstone park, please don’t throw trash on the ground. That includes cigarette butts. Leave the park the way you found it, if not better.
Yellowstone National Park Jobs
The park is always open to hiring new folks. They try to get everyone hired before the busy season, so if you are interested, apply before March. For more information on jobs in Yellowstone National Park and even volunteer opportunities, follow this link.
Before you head out to Yellowstone, and really, any other national park, read over the Yellowstone Pledge. In short, it’s acknowledging park safety, keeping the park clean, and minding the rules that the park has posted throughout the grounds.
This should be a no-brainer, but we saw folks testing animals, parents allowing their kids to walk off the boardwalks, and not being careful when driving.
Y’all! Rules are in place for a reason, and people have died at Yellowstone for not obeying them. Teach your kids the value of following the rules. Not only does it keep them safe, but it teaches them respect for others’ property.
Also, don’t assume that because you’re on a populated trail that you won’t run into wildlife. Be prepared at all times. You’re not silly for buying and carrying bear spray. You’re being smart.
Yellowstone Trip Planner
You’re ready to start planning out your lower Yellowstone trip itinerary! You now know where to see the prettiest hot springs, the amazing geysers, and the famous Yellowstone mud pots!
Have a wonderful time planning out your Yellowstone National Park itinerary.
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