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Should you visit Yellowstone vs Grand Canyon? – Find out which National Park is the best

Yellowstone and Grand Canyon are world-renowned natural wonders for their unique natural features. 

Each park offers visitors a one-of-a-kind experience and an opportunity to witness nature in its purest form.

Yellowstone, located primarily in Wyoming, is known for its geothermal features, including the Old Faithful geyser, hot springs, and mud pots.

On the other hand, the Grand Canyon, located in Arizona, is known for its massive size and stunning vistas carved by the Colorado River over millions of years. 

Both parks host over 3 million visitors annually, and it is often difficult to choose between them!

In this article, we compare the two natural wonders to help make it easier for you to choose- Yellowstone vs Grand Canyon.

Things to do in Grand Canyon

Get your backpacks ready for

Grand Canyon National Park

Location

Yellowstone National Park and Grand Canyon are two of the most famous landmarks in the United States. 

Yellowstone is located in the western part of the United States, mainly in the northwest corner of Wyoming, but it also extends into Montana and Idaho.

The Grand Canyon is located in Arizona, in the southwestern United States.

Grand Canyon to Yellowstone

Grand Canyon to Yellowstone
Image: Nps.gov

The distance between Yellowstone National Park and Grand Canyon is approximately 560-800 miles (900-1290 kilometers), depending on where you travel from. 

Driving from Grand Canyon to Yellowstone may take around 9 to 14 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions. 

Remoteness- Yellowstone National Park vs Grand Canyon

Both Yellowstone and Grand Canyon are located in remote areas of the United States.

However, the level of remoteness may vary depending on the specific location within the parks!

Though small towns are located on the periphery of the Yellowstone National park, the interiors are still quite remote and largely undeveloped. 

The Grand Canyon though relatively remote, is accessible by car, bus or plane and has a visitor center, lodges and other amenities. 

Opening time

When visiting Yellowstone National Park or Grand Canyon, know that they are open all year round, but the opening hours for various facilities depend on the season. 

Here are the different entry timings for Yellowstone:

  • North Entrance: Open 24 hours a day, year-round
  • West Entrance: Open 24 hours a day, year-round
  • South Entrance: Open 24 hours a day, year-round
  • East Entrance: Open from early May through mid-November, weather permitting.

Here are the opening timings of the various parts of the Grand Canyon:

  • South Rim Visitor Center: Opens daily from 9 am to 5 pm 
  • North Rim Visitor Center: Open from mid-May through mid-October from 10 am to 4 pm
  • West Rim: Open from 7 am to 6 pm, with extended hours during the summer months
  • East Rim: Open 24 hours a day

Know more about Grand Canyon Opening hours here.

Climate – Yellowstone vs Grand Canyon 

Climate of Yellowstone
Image: Nps.gov

Yellowstone and Grand Canyon are very different in climate due to their geological differences and elevations.

Yellowstone National Park has a subarctic climate located primarily in Wyoming with cold winters and mild summers.

During the winter, the average temperature is around 0°F (-18°C), and the average temperature in the summer is around 70°F (21°C). 

The park is also known for its unpredictable weather patterns, including sudden changes in temperature and unexpected snowstorms, even during the summer months.

In Grand Canyon maximum temperatures of around 100°F(37°C) is recorded.

The region also faces heavy monsoons with thunderstorms and snowfall during the winters. 

The North Rim of Grand Canyon remains closed during winter due to rough winter and unfavorable climatic conditions.

Features- Grand Canyon vs Yellowstone

The Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park are stunning natural wonders with unique features and experiences. 

This section lays out the best features of Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon! 

Features of Grand Canyon 

The Grand Canyon is a spectacular creation of  the Colorado River. 

It is 277 miles (446 km) in length, 18 miles (29 km) wide and a mile (1.6 km) deep. 

The varied geographical feature of the Grand Canyon offers the opportunity to try various activities. 

Grand Canyon houses several campgrounds, like the Mather Campground, Trailer Village and Desert View, for the best camping experience. 

The Grand Canyon campgrounds have RV hookups, dump stations and many other amenities. 

You can witness the famed rock formations in shades of reds, oranges, and purples.

The rock formations are almost 2 billion years old and come in fascinating shapes. 

The myriad of colors on the layers range from deep red to orange to purple and look brilliant during the sunset and sunrise.

The Grand Canyon hiking trails like the Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, and North Kaibab Trail offer the best chance to experience hiking. 

The South Rim hiking trails are well-maintained and are even beginner friendly. 

If you are looking for once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, then the mighty Colorado River has a lot of exciting activities like white water rafting and kayaking. 

The Grand Canyon also features observatory decks, view points and highly developed amenities for an overnight stay. 

Features of Yellowstone 

Features of Yellowstone
Image: Nps.gov

Yellowstone is a world-renowned national park exhibiting a few of nature’s best assets! 

Yellowstone is home to several geothermal features and has numerous geysers, hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles.

These geothermal features are caused due to the location of the park atop a massive volcanic hotspot- this leads to the underground thermal activity that causes these features! 

Yellowstone is also home to diverse fauna, including grizzly bears, wolves, bison, elk, and many other species.

To make your visit to Yellowstone National Park, we recommend you check these tours out!

Yellowstone vs Grand Canyon – which national park has the best features?

Comparing both Yellowstone and Grand Canyon isn’t easy, for they both have equally awe-inspiring features and offer different experiences to their visitors. 

Grand Canyon is known for its massive size and layered rock formations, while Yellowstone offers a wide range of geological and biological features.

Making the Yellowstone vs Grand Canyon choice depends on your preferences and what you wish to experience!

Things to do 

Grand Canyon and Yellowstone are two of the most iconic natural wonders in the United States, and there is so much to see and do in both places!

In this section, we will touch upon a few things you must do, whether visiting Yellowstone National Park or Grand Canyon!

Things to do in Grand Canyon 

The Grand Canyon has many things to do, and there is something for everyone!

Hiking: It is known for its hiking trails, such as the Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, and North Kaibab Trail, ranging from easy walks to strenuous hikes. 

River Rafting: White water rafting through the Grand Canyon in the mighty Colorado River is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Helicopter Tours: Enjoy a luxurious helicopter tour and view the canyon hundreds of feet above. 

Camping: Visitors can try tent camping, RV camping or backcountry camping in one of the several campgrounds for unique camping experiences

Scenic Drives: Desert View Drive is one of the most scenic driveways in the South Rim. 

It has marked viewpoints to enjoy views of the Grand Canyon. 

You can do many more activities on your visit to the Grand Canyon, such as museum visits, wildlife watching, stargazing, and photography.

Things to do in Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park is famed for its geological features and the recreational activities it offers!

You can watch the Old Faithful, one of Yellowstone’s must-see famous geysers, which, true to its name, erupts regularly. 

One of the largest high-altitude lakes in North America, Yellowstone lake, offers beautiful scenery and plenty of water activities for you to do!

Yellowstone is home to Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in the park and is famous for its bright colors.

You could visit Yellowstone’s museums and visitor centers to learn about the park’s history, geology, and wildlife.

There are many more things to do within Yellowstone National Park, such as wildlife watching, hiking the numerous trails, fishing, horseback riding, camping, etc.

Things to do – Yellowstone vs Grand Canyon

It’s hardly fair to compare Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, both of which are iconic natural wonders and chart toppers on must-see lists!

Whether Yellowstone or Grand Canyon, both are well known for their recreational activities!

If you want to see and enjoy lots of geological and biological formations and enjoy them at ease, you must visit Yellowstone National Park. 

The Grand Canyon is mainly known for its scenic hiking trails, adventurous white water rafting and camping!

We recommend you do both!

Yellowstone or Grand Canyon – which tour is the best?

Yellowstone and Grand Canyon are popular tourist destinations in the United States of America, offering unique experiences to their tourists. 

Private tours are an option for those seeking a personalized and intimate experience with a dedicated tour guide. 

You can visit Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon on a day trip if you are short of time or on a multiday trip for a leisurely experience. 

Several guided tours, including bus, helicopter, and hiking tours, are available. 

Grand Canyon tours

The Grand Canyon offers a variety of tours to choose like guided tours, helicopter tours, day tours and camping tours. 

We suggest you book your ticket online in advance due to limited availability, especially during peak season. 

Here are a few tour options we recommend:
Grand Canyon South Rim Guided Tour
Helicopter Ride and Optional Hummer Tour
Grand Canyon Tour with Lunch & Pickup
Grand Canyon Railway Round Trip 

Yellowstone tours 

Yellowstone National Park hosts over 3 million visitors from around the world each year to explore the geological and biological wonders!

Several tour options are available for those looking to visit Yellowstone National Park.

Here are a few of the best deals we found:
Yellowstone park tour with a local guide
Yellowstone National Park Half-day guided hike
2-Day Yellowstone National Park Tour with lunches
Old Faithful Waterfall and wildlife day tour

Expected crowd

At the Grand Canyon, you can expect large crowds during the summer (June to August) and national holidays like Labour Day, Memorial Day, etc. 

The crowds thin out during spring (March to May) and fall (September to November).

The busiest months at Yellowstone National Park are June, July, and August when the weather is warmer.

The park can be crowded during these months, with long lines at popular attractions like Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

Consider visiting during the shoulder season (May, September, and October) when crowds are lighter and the weather is still pleasant.

How to choose between Grand Canyon and Yellowstone

Making the Yellowstone vs Grand Canyon choice isn’t easy, especially when both are equally stunning natural wonders. 

But, one must consider your personal preferences and travel goal when choosing!

The Grand Canyon is a massive canyon formed by the Colorado River and known for its colorful rock formations and sweeping vistas. 

Yellowstone National Park is a geothermal wonderland with diverse flora, fauna, and natural geological features!

Both parks offer a wide range of activities, but they are different. 

The Grand Canyon is known for hiking, camping and rafting, while Yellowstone is known for hiking, wildlife-watching, and geothermal features.

Also, it is essential to note that Yellowstone and Grand Canyon cover large areas, so visiting with a few days on your hands is advisable!

Grand Canyon vs Yellowstone – FAQs

1. Is Yellowstone or Grand Canyon better?

The Yellowstone vs Grand Canyon will always be challenging as both natural wonders have iconic features.

Yellowstone is known for its geothermal features and diverse wildlife, while Grand Canyon is a massive gorge carved by the Colorado River and is known for its colorful rock formations!

These natural wonders offer their visitors different experiences and should be on everyone’s must-visit lists!

2. Is Yellowstone bigger than the Grand Canyon?

Yellowstone National Park is larger than Grand Canyon National Park in land area.

Yellowstone National Park is located primarily in Wyoming and covers an area of 2.2 million acres or 3,472 square miles.

On the other hand, Grand Canyon National Park is located in Arizona and covers an area of approximately 1,900 square miles or 1.2 million acres. 

3. What is the difference between Yellowstone and Grand Canyon?

Yellowstone National Park and Grand Canyon National Park are famous national parks in the United States but differ in their geography, ecology, and attractions.

Yellowstone National Park is renowned for its geothermal features, colorful hot springs and bubbling mud spots.  

On the other hand, Grand Canyon National Park is a magnificent canyon carved by the Colorado River, exhibits colorful layered rock formations- and is known for its thrilling outdoor activities.

To conclude, Yellowstone National Park is known for its geothermal features and wildlife, while Grand Canyon National Park is known for its iconic canyon and outdoor activities.

4. Is Yellowstone close to Grand Canyon?

No, Yellowstone is not close to the Grand Canyon; they are located several hundred miles apart in different states. 

Yellowstone National Park is located in the northwest corner of Wyoming and extends into Montana and Idaho. 

The Grand Canyon is located in northern Arizona, about 800 miles south of Yellowstone. 

The driving distance between the two locations is approximately 9 to 14 hours, depending on the route.

5. How many days from Yellowstone to Grand Canyon?

Depending on your transportation mode and route, it may take approximately 9 to 14 hours from Grand Canyon to Yellowstone. 

6. How far apart are Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon?

Yellowstone National Park and Grand Canyon are approximately 560-800 miles apart (900-1290 kilometers), depending on which part you travel from and to.

It may take around 9 to 14 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions to drive to Yellowstone from Grand Canyon. 

Featured Image: Fox17.com,Tripadvisor.in

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