Among the rust-colored mesas and spiky hoodoos of Canyonlands National Park find a host of outdoor adventures, scenic drives and breathtaking scenery. Here is our guide to getting the most out of Canyonlands National Park.

Canyonlands is one of the most underrated US National Parks. Just a stone’s throw from the much more popular Arches National Park, it has some of the best scenery you’ll see anywhere in the country.

Located in southeast Utah, the Green and Colorado Rivers have cut two mighty canyons in the sandstone of the Colorado Plateau. The result is a dramatic landscape of mesas, buttes and canyons towering above two winding rivers.

This grand scenery forms a stunning backdrop to a range of exciting things to do.

Drive a circuit of impressive viewpoints, hike amongst glorious scenery, or follow adventurous dirt tracks.

In this guide, we explain the layout of the park, the four distinct areas to visit and highlight all the best things to do in Canyonlands. 

Booking your trip via the links on this page (or on our book page) will earn us a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support – Paul & Mark.


Canyonland is well worth visiting and, in our opinion, it’s a must-see on any road trip around Utah.

What makes it truly special is the way the canyon falls in two stages. The first stage (outer canyon) drops from the top of the canyon rim 1,200 feet to a wide flat sandstone bench below.

The second stage (inner canyon) then drops a further 1,000 feet from the sandstone bench to the two rivers.

The result is a canyon within a canyon, a series of flat mesas, cone-shaped buttes and spiky hoodoos. It may only be half the depth of the Grand Canyon but is every bit as impressive, and a great destination for photographers and adventurers.


The Green and Colorado rivers naturally split Canyonlands National Park into three different districts – Island in the Sky, The Needles, and The Maze. In 1971 a fourth district – Horseshoe Canyon – was added to the park.

Each district offers a remarkably different experience for visitors. You need to choose which to visit as driving between them takes a long time.


The most popular section of the park, Island in the Skye is the place to go for amazing views of the canyon. Easily accessible from the town of Moab, a well-paved road winds around the top of the mesa with several parking lots along the way.

Most of the viewpoints are just a few minutes walk from the parking lots. The Islands in the Sky is marked in red on the map below.


Whereas Island of the Sky is set on the flat canyon rim, The Needles area is deep in the canyon. Coming here allows you to get up close to the buttes, mesas and multi-colored spiky hoodoos.

The views are less expansive than the Island of the Sky, but it’s the best area for hiking. The trails here are some of the best you’ll find anywhere. Shaded blue on the map below.


The Maze is a wild, remote, and rugged place – a true backcountry with almost no facilities. All roads are unpaved, and it requires a 4×4.

Hiking trails are primitive and can be difficult to follow. The maze is the place in Canyonlands for an exploration in the solitude of the desert. But you need to know what you are doing, and a permit is required. Shaded green on the map below.


Horseshoe Canyon was added to Canyonlands National Park because it contains a series of intriguing pictograph panels painted by Ancient Pueblo People. The highlight is the “Great Gallery” featuring life-sized figures and intricate designs.

It’s not easy to get to, but historical art buffs may want to make the effort. Shaded brown on the map below.


Our Canyonlands map includes all the areas listed above as well as the must-see attractions covered in this guide.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


The Islands in the Sky region of Canyonlands contain most of the park’s main attractions. Here are some of the best things to do.


The Island of the Sky sits on a broad mesa, and its rim has the best views of Canyonlands National Park. An easy-to-drive paved road winds around the edge of the cliffs with numerous parking lots offering excellent views.

There are too many to mention, but here are some of our favorites.

Shafer Canyon Viewpoint – This dramatic viewpoint overlooks the Shafer Canyon. On the opposite side, the dramatic switchbacks of the White Rim, descend the canyon walls to the sandstone bench below.

Mesa Arch – Mesa Arch has become an Instagram favorite. The arch frames wonderful views of the canyon and the scene is best at dawn. Come here about 30 minutes before sunrise to find your spot. Mesa Arch is a 0.6-mile round trip from the parking lot.

Green River Overlook – Nowhere else are the unique features of Canyonlands more apparent than at the Green River Overlook. The outer and inner canyon – two distinct levels of sandstone – descend to the Green River as it winds its way a few thousand feet below.

Buck Canyon Overlook – A great viewpoint where a jagged finger of the inner canyon stretches towards your feet.

Grand Viewpoint Overlook – Perched at the furthest end of Island of the Sky, this is the most expansive viewpoint in Canyonlands. Sweeping views of the Needles and the Maze can be seen in the distance. It’s an easy 1.8-mile round trip to the viewpoint from the parking lot.

White Rim Overlook – The view from the White Rim Overlook is similar to the Grand View, so you may decide not to make the 1.8-mile round trip to the official viewpoint. But the views from the promontory just a couple of minutes from the parking lot are excellent.

Visitor Centre Viewpoint – Don’t miss the view from the Visitors Centre, it’s quite different from all the others.


In general, the hiking in the Island of the Sky section of the park is not as good as The Needles. All the best views can be seen from viewpoints near the road and its hard work hiking down into the canyon with little reward.

However, there’s one short walk worth the effort – Upheaval Dome.

While most of Canyonlands are layers of sedimentary deposits laid down by ancient seas and shaped by rivers and wind, Upheaval Dome is different. Here the rocks have been pushed up into a circular structure forming a dome.

Geologists believe it may be the impact crater of a meteorite that landed some 60 million years ago.

Upheaval Dome Hike – It’s a short but steep walk to the two viewpoints overlooking the dome. Allow 1.5 hours for the 1.2-mile round-trip hike.

upheaval dome canyonlands utah
Upheaval Dome


Just next door to Island of the Sky is Dead Horse State Park. It is not officially in Canyonlands, but it’s worth exploring. The views from Dead Horse Point over a big bend in the Colorado River are magnificent.

Visitor Information – Dead Horse State Park is not a US National Park, but a Utah State Park. Neither the Canyonlands entrance permit nor the ’America is Beautiful’ pass is valid here.

Cost – Entry to Dead Horse State Park is $20 per vehicle for up to 8 passengers.


Dead Horse Point looks over the viewpoint where Thelma and Louise drove to their cinematic end in the 1991 classic film.


The most famous 4×4 route in Canyonlands is the White Rim Road.

Descending from the top of the Island of the Sky mesa, switchbacks contour the wall of Shafer Canyon to the flat sandstone bench below. Over the course of 100 miles, it follows the cliff edges of the inner canyon passing viewpoints of the Colorado and Green Rivers.

The journey is not for the faint-hearted, but it’s an exhilarating ride.

White Rim Road Requirements – You will need a high clearance 4×4 (not an AWD) and a backcountry permit from the park authorities.

How long does the White Rim Road take? – Allow 2 to 3 days to complete the trip. Mountain Bikers will find it even tougher requiring 3 to 5 days to complete the route.


If you don’t want to take on the White Rim Road, the next best option is the Shafer Canyon Road and Potash Roads between Canyonlands and Moab.

This is a great adventure which you can complete in a couple of hours, and it does not require a permit.

It starts by descending the Shafer Switchbacks then heads east past Gooseneck Overlook and Thelma and Louise Point to Moab.

Shafer Trail Requirements – The park authorities recommend a high-clearance 4×4 but in most conditions, a high-clearance AWD SUV should be fine. A permit is not required.

a 4x4 on the Shafter trail in canyonlands national park
Shafer Canyon Road


One of the easiest ways to see the backcountry is on an organized tour. This takes all the stress away from self-driving.  

Canyonlands Half Day 4×4 Tour – This well-rated tour includes the Shafer Switchbacks, Gooseneck Overlook and Thelma & Louise Point over an exciting half day.

Full Day Canyonlands & Arches Tour – This tour includes a small section of the White Rim Trail as well as Shafer Trail and Tower Arch.

cars on the potash road in canyonlands national park
Thelma & Louise Point


Exploring the unique scenery of Canyonlands, it can be easy to forget the rivers that formed it. Disappearing and reappearing behind canyon walls, the Green and Colorado rivers flicker amongst a sea of red rock.

The best way to get up close to them is to join a boating trip. There are many options from gentle rides along the river to multi-day white-water rafting adventures. The most exciting section is Cataract Canyon, a series of Class III and IV grade rapids set below the confluence of the two rivers.

Most tours leave from Moab or from the White Rim and Potash Roads in Island of the Sky.

Jet Boat Tour – This thrilling ride down the calm section of the Colorado River includes Dead Horse State Park, the Thelma and Louise location.

All-Day Tour – Spend the morning on a 4×4 excursion in Canyonlands and the afternoon rafting grade I and II rapids in the Fisher Towers section of the Colorado River (upstream from Canyonlands).

Multi-Day Rafting – Experience the Green and Colorado Rivers, including Cataract Canyon, on a 2–5-day rafting adventure.

rafting canyonlands
Rafting in Canyonlands


The Needles with its distinctive multicolored spires is another great part of Canyonlands. Here are some of our favorite things to do in the area.


The Needles section of Canyonlands is set below the canyon rim but above the two rivers.  It’s accessed using Route 211 – one of the finest drives in America – which heads beneath the outer canyon walls, past a series of needles, buttes and mesas.

The vistas all along the road are magnificent, but here are a few to check out.

Wooden Shoe Arch Overlook – The visually descriptive name of Wooden Shoe Arch is hard to miss. This overlook looks across to a unique rock formation that really does look like a wooden clog.

wooden shoe arch canyonlands
Wooden Shoe Arch

Big Spring Canyon Overlook – Set amongst rocky spires and white, pink, and red sandstone layers, a spring has enabled a slither of green in the otherwise desolate Big Spring Canyon.

Colorado Overlook – An outstanding viewpoint looking over the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers. It is one of the easier 4×4 drives in the area, but it still takes an hour to cover the 5.5 miles from the Visitor Center. The last 1.5 miles is the worse part of the road, so you can always park the car and walk from there.


The Needles section of Canyonlands National Park is a 75-mile drive from Moab and takes 90 minutes. It can also be visited as a detour between Moab and Monument Valley.


The best thing to do in the Needles is to undertake a day hike.

Walking along slick rock trails through red rock canyons and multi-colored hoodoos is a breathtaking experience. There are a host of hiking trails all of which are accessible by 2WD.

Here are the most popular.

Slickrock Trail – 2.4 miles | 1.5 hours | Start – Near Big Spring Canyon Overlook

A good short introduction to hiking in The Needles, this trail heads across slickrock and uneven surfaces while providing 360-degree views.

Chesler Park Loop – 10.7 miles | 6 – 7 hours | Start – Elephant Hill Trailhead

If you only do one hike in The Needles, make it the Chesler Park Loop. This wonderful day hike goes into the heart of needle country where multi-colored hoodoos rise above a wide flat meadow. Halfway round the path heads through the Joint Trail – a long narrow fracture between two towering rocks. The views in all directions are excellent.

Druid Arch – 10.8 miles | 6 – 7 hours | Start – Elephant Hill Trailhead

Ending at Druid Arch, one of the most impressive sights in the Needles, this hike initially follows the same route as the Chesler Park Trail before branching off and heading down the wash of Elephant Canyon. The last section is steep with one ladder and some scrambling.

Confluence Overlook – 11 miles | 5 – 6 hours | Start – Big Spring Canyon Overlook

This hike explores the open country to a cliff overlooking the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers. The walk is less interesting than the others but, when conditions are right, the views of the green and brown waters of the two rivers mixing is beautiful.

Tips for hiking in the Needles –

  • There are no facilities on the trails so take plenty of water and food for the day.
  • Avoid walking in high temperatures as there is limited shade.
  • Do not attempt to hike during or after rain as the slickrock trails can be dangerous.
  • Hiking maps and advice can be picked up from the Visitors Centre.


The Maze should only be visited by experienced backcountry travelers. This wild and rugged place needs high-clearance 4x4s and a knowledgeable driver just to get around.

Trips here take at least three days and you’ll need a backcountry permit and bags of determination. We didn’t make it this time, but hopefully on our next visit.


From the ground, it’s hard to appreciate the sheer magnitude of Canyonland’s 337,598 acres. With so much of the park beyond easy reach, the only way to see it all is on a scenic flight.

Only one provider is allowed to fly directly over Canyonlands National Park, and they offer a few different tours covering different sections.

Canyonlands Scenic Flight – 1-hour tour flying over Island of the Sky and The Needles sections.

Canyonlands and Arches Scenic Flight – 80-minute tour flying over Island of the Sky, The Maze, the Needles, and Arches National Park.

canyonlands grand viewpoint
on route to White Rim Overlook


Horseshoe Canyon includes some of the most significant rock art in North America.

Added to Canyonlands National Park in 1971, the Horseshoe contains a series of pictograph panels painted by Ancient Pueblo People. The highlight is the “The Great Gallery” featuring life-sized figures painted in red, white, and brown and surrounded by depictions of animals and birds.

However, seeing them involves a long drive and a long hike.


The trailhead is a 1-hour 30-minute drive along a dirt track south of the Green River (around 1 hour from Moab). The dirt track is 30 miles and it’s usually passable in a 2WD.

A more challenging 4×4 dirt track runs east from Hanksville but it’s slower going and takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes.

How long is the hike to the Great Gallery? – The hike from the trailhead to the Great Gallery is 3.6 miles each way taking about 5 to 6 hours for the return trip. Route information.

When to do the hike? – The Great Gallery trail should not be hiked in the summer months when temperatures often exceed 100°F. It’s best in spring and fall but be sure to take plenty of water.

Guided hikes – If you want to see the pictographs but don’t want to hike on your own, Ranger Guided hikes go most weekends April/May and September/October.



The national park is open 24 hours a day and each district has its own Visitor Centre with seasonal opening hours.


8am to 5pm Apr- Sep | 9am to 4pm Jan-Mar


8am to 5pm Apr – Sep | restricted hours in winter


Entrance admission is $30 for private vehicles and $25 for motorcycles. It is payable at the entrance booth for Island of the Sky and at the Visitor Center in The Needles. The entrance pass is good for seven days.


If you are visiting a number of National Parks, America the Beautiful annual national parks pass is excellent value.

canyonlands national park 2
On route to White Rim Overlook


For some activities, permits are required. Permits can be purchased through the website. The more popular activities are often very competitive, so it helps to book well in advance.

No permit is required to explore the top of the mesa in Island of the Sky, to drive the Shafer Switchbacks or Potash Road, or to undertake day trips and hikes in The Needles.

Day Permits – Day permits are required for driving the White Rim Road (very popular) and the rough 4×4 tracks in The Needles.

Overnight Permits – Overnight Permits are required for any overnight trips into the backcountry.

River Permits – River Permits are required for all-day or overnight trips on the rivers, although if you are taking a tour these will be taken care of by the tour company.

You can find a complete list of required permits on the National Park Service website.


The best time to visit Canyonlands is in spring and fall when temperatures range from 60°F to 80°F and nights are cool.

In summer temperatures can exceed 100°F bringing thunderstorms in the afternoon and making hiking difficult. In winter any snow or ice can quickly close the 4×4 trails making some sections inaccessible.

See the best of Canyonlands in 1 day

If you only have 1 day in Canyonlands, tour the viewpoints in Island of the Skye making sure to include Mesa Arch. Then either drive along the Shafer Canyon and Potash roads or join a tour.

But if you have 2 days

If you have 2 days to spend in Canyonlands National Park, complete day one as above. On the second day take a day trip on Route 211 to The Needles and do the Chesler Park Loop hike.

chesler park hike
Hiking in the Needles


The best place to stay to visit Canyonlands is Moab which is perfectly located and has plenty of facilities. From Moab it is a 40-minute drive to Island of the Sky and 1 hour and 30 minutes to The Needles.


An affordable and well-appointed hotel in the center of Moab, MainStay Suites has a pool, 24-hour fitness center and free parking. |


Wonderful bungalows and cabins just north of Moab. Moab Springs Ranch is well-equipped with a swimming pool, gardens and an onsite café. |

overlook green river canyonlands
Green River Overlook, Canyonlands


Great boutique hotel in the heart of Moab. The Radcliffe has a smart modern design with great facilities including an outdoor pool. It’s a short walk to the center of Moab. |


Luxury modern hotel with outdoor pool, full-service spa and an interior design paying homage to the surrounding Western landscape. |

white rim road 1
Shafer Switchbacks



We’ve been providing free travel content since 2017, helping our readers explore new and familiar destinations.

Following us on social media, using our resource page or buying us a coffee, helps keep Anywhere We Roam on the road.

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The picture-perfect Monument Valley is one of the most-filmed locations on earth, but it’s also a land rich in Navajo culture and breathtaking scenery. Here is our complete guide to visiting Monument Valley

Monument Valley is a red sand desert region on the Arizona-Utah border famous for towering sandstone formations. It’s an ancient and rugged land, formed into beautiful designs by the forces of erosion and uplift.

The Navajo Tribe were the first group of people to settle in Monument Valley and today they are custodians of the lands; providing a unique experience for travelers.

From the moment you first glimpse the iconic shapes of Monument Valley, surging from a red horizon, it’s easy to see why film producers have long since been seduced by the land of sandstone masterpieces.

But beyond the bewitching buttes and mesmerizing messas, there’s a host of rewarding things to do in Monument Valley.

Get the most out of this vast Navajo land with our guide to visiting Monument Valley.

Booking your trip via the links on this page (or on our book page) will earn us a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support – Paul & Mark.



This guide contains all you need to know about visiting Monument Valley, including important tourist information, the top attractions, plus other things to do in the area.

Use the index to navigate to each category, or scroll down to read all about the valley of sandstone giants.



Monument Valley straddles the Utah-Arizona border and is part of the massive Colorado Plateau. Formed by wind and rain erosion over millennia, a cluster of red sandstone buttes and spires reach up to 1,000 feet above the desert valley floor.


Mesas – The first stage of erosion, a mesa is a rock formation that looks like a table.

Butte – The second level of erosion, a butte is an isolated hill, smaller than a mesa, often with vertical sides and a flat top.

Spire – The final stage of erosion, a spire is a thin free-standing column of rock.

monument valley guide 3


Monument Valley (sometimes referred to as Oljato-Monument Valley) is situated within the Navajo Nation Reservation (also known as Navajoland).

In 1939 as its fame began to grow, the Navajo people set aside 92,000 acres of land to create the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. The park is the heart of Monument Valley and contains most of the distinctive mesas, buttes, and spires.  


Monument Valley became famous when its distinctive landscapes appeared in western classics such as John Wayne’s “Stagecoach” and “Rio Grande.” Since then, the park has been featured in several famous movies. Some of them include –

  • Forrest Gump
  • Mission Impossible II
  • Easy Rider
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Back to the Future III
  • National Lampoon’s Vacation
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • Thelma & Louise


Monument Valley Tribal Park has different summer and winter opening times.



April 1 – September 30 | 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM


October 1 – March 30 | 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM


$8 per person, per day

Cost to visit Monument Valley – Entrance to the park costs $8 per person per day and is paid at the entrance gate marked on the map below. Keep the receipt safe as you will need it to enter both the 17-mile Scenic Drive and Wildcat Trail.

Important note – Monument Valley tribal park is NOT a US National Park. US National Park passes, like America the Beautiful, are not valid.

view from the view hotel monument valley


The Monument Valley Tribal Park is on the Navajo Nation Reservation and follows Navajo laws, some of which are different to the rest of the US.

Time Zone – Monument Valley runs on Mountain Time Zone and observes daylight savings (even though Arizona in which most of the park is based, does not). In winter months Monument Valley is in the same time zone as both Utah and Arizona, but in summer months it’s the same as Utah, but one hour ahead of Arizona.

Alcohol – The Navajo Nation does not allow alcohol on the reservation. It is not served in restaurants or available to buy in shops.

Masks – Masks were compulsory on Navajo lands for much longer than the rest of the US. However, on January 20, 2023, the requirement to wear a mask was removed, so they are no longer needed when visiting Monument Valley.

monument valley guide 7


Monument Valley is an amazing place to visit any time of year, but the shoulder seasons are the best.

Summer (June – August) // Summer is the busiest time of year even though average temperatures are around 90°F (32°C) and the afternoons bring occasional thunderstorms. 

Fall (September – October) // Temperatures drop to around 70°F (21°C) during fall, the crowds thin out, and the weather is at its best. Both are great months to visit but September is slightly better as the park is open longer throughout the day.

Winter (November – March) // Daily temperatures are 30 °F to 40°F (-1°C to 4°C), with the odd dusting of snow, but crowds are fewer and accommodation cheaper.

Spring (April – May) // With average temperatures around 65°F (18°C) and crowds lower than in summer, Spring is a good time to visit, but periodic gusty winds mean Fall is usually better.


Oljato-Monument Valley is in a remote part of the Colorado Plateau and not particularly close to an airport.

The closest airports to Monument Valley are –

  • Phoenix Airport – 5 hours | 320 miles
  • Albuquerque Airport – 5 hours | 320 miles
  • Las Vegas Airport – 6 hours, 20 minutes | 400 miles
  • Salt Lake City Airport – 6 hours, 20 minutes | 380 miles

Most travelers visit Monument Valley as part of a road trip around the sights of Utah and Arizona. Some of the main attractions close to Monument Valley include –

Page (Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend)
1 hour 30 minutes | 120 miles

Canyon de Chelly
1 hour 30 minutes | 90 miles

Grand Canyon South Rim
2 hours 40 minutes | 160 miles

Moab (Arches & Canyonlands National Park)
2 hours 40 minutes | 150 miles

Route 66
2 hours 50 minutes | 170 miles

monument valley sunrise walk



Just after passing through the entrance gate to Monument Valley Tribal Park, there is a large parking lot in front of The View Hotel. The view from the terrace (accessible to everyone including non-guests) over the mesas, buttes, and spires of the valley is remarkable.

The three most striking features are the East and West Mittens and Merrick Butte. Together they create one of the iconic images of Monument Valley.

Getting to The View Hotel, Monument Valley – Although the tribal park is only open from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM in summer and 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM in winter, you can drive to the hotel at any time. It’s well worth making the effort to be there for sunrise or sunset.


The best way to properly explore Monument Valley is by doing the 17-mile Scenic Drive. This self-drive dirt trail goes past some of the most dramatic sections of the park and can be driven in a 4×4 or 2WD car.

Scenic Drive Duration – The loop leaves from next to The View Hotel. The speed limit is 15 miles per hour and it should take around 2 to 3 hours to complete.

Entrance to the Scenic Drive – Entrance is between 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM in summer (exiting by 7:00 PM) and 8:00 AM and 3:00 PM in winter (exiting by 5:00 PM). The circular section of the loop must be completed in a clockwise direction. The route can sometimes be impassable after heavy rain.

monument valley scenic drive
Monument Valley Scenic Drive

Along the way you can spot the following sights.

Mittens and Merrick Butte // The East and West Mittens look like hands rising out of the ground whereas Merrick Butte was named after a prospector searching for silver in the valley.

Elephant Butte // Elephant Butte resembles a gigantic elephant facing westwards over the desert.

The Three Sisters // Three spires of rock resembling a catholic nun facing her two pupils.

John Fords Point // Named after the director of some of John Wayne’s most famous films – The Searchers, Cheyenne Autumn & Stagecoach. It’s a great spot for some selfies.

The Hub Overlook // A good viewpoint over the southwestern section of the park where Wagon Wheel Butte rises above the desert and shrubs.

Sand Springs // At the furthest part of the loop, the thin spire of Totem Pole can be seen in the distance. To get closer you need to join a tour.

sand springs monument valley
Sand Springs

Navajo Code Talkers Outpost // Sometimes known as Artists’ Viewpoint overlook, this is a wonderful viewpoint over the Mittens, Merrick Butte, and the northern part of the park.

The Thumb & North Window Overlook // Park next to a large thumb-shaped spire and (if the path is not closed) take a short walk to the North Window Overlook for good views over the Mittens and Merrick Butte.


The only unguided hike you can do in Monument Valley Tribal Park is the Wildcat Trail. This 3.3-mile hike leaves from near the View Hotel and makes a circular loop around West Mitten. It’s a wonderful way to absorb the desert scenery and get up close to one of the most stunning buttes.

The trail is easy to follow, heading through a mix of sandy washes and shrub, and the views from the far side of the West Mitten are wonderful. 

Wild Cat Trail Duration – The 3.3-mile hike takes about 2 hours to complete.

Wild Cat Trail Entrance – Entrance is between 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM in summer (finishing by 7:00 PM) and 8:00 AM and 3:00 PM in winter (finishing by 5:00 PM).

Facilities – There are no facilities on route, except for four or five canopies with seats offering some shade from the sun. In summer months it can be very hot so avoid the warmest part of the day.

What to take – Take at least 1 liter of water and some snacks.


Many of the best sights in the tribal park can be seen on your own from either the 17-mile Scenic Drive or the Wildcat Trail, but there are three excellent reasons to take tours in Monument Valley.

Some sights are inaccessible without a guide

Back Country tours visit sights that you cannot get to on your own. These include the Ear of the Wind beautifully framed by a tree, Big Hogan Arch where Navajo regularly gather to sing, and the smooth sweeping rock of Moccasin Arch and Sun’s Eye.

The best views are not open for sunrise and sunset

While you can take in sunrise and sunset views from the View Hotel, access to the 17-mile drive and Wildcat Trail opens after sunrise and closes before sunset.

You’ll learn from the Navajo Guides

All tours are run by Navajo Guides and spending a few hours in their company offers a compelling insight into their culture, history, and deep connection with the land.


Tours start from the View Hotel and can last from two to three hours to all day. We highly recommend combining all the above and joining a sunrise or sunset tour. In the space of a few hours, you get to see the backcountry sights in the best light and learn about the Navajo way of life.

Sunrise Tour – A 3-hour tour that takes in the best sights of the loop and heads into the backcountry to see Big Hogan, the Sun’s Eye, and a Navajo Hogan – a primitive moveable structure that Navajo use to protect them against the sun.

Sunrise Photography Tour – Carl Phillips organizes sunrise photography tours that start by watching the sunrise behind Totem Pole before visiting other backcountry sights. There’s plenty of time for photos and some handy tips from Carl.

monument valley tours 8
Sunrise at Monument Valley

Sunset Tour – 3-hour tour that includes Moccasin Arch, Sun’s Eye, Totem Pole, and a traditional Navajo home.

All-day Tour – 6-hour tour covering much of the above as well as exploring nearby Mystery Valley and Anasazi ruins and petroglyphs.

Monument Valley Tour Tips –

  • The $8 park fee is not included in the tour price and must be paid upon entrance to the park.
  • It can get very hot during the day, so wear comfortable shoes and bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
  • The mornings can be very cold, so bring something warm to wear for the sunrise tour.
  • Remember in summer months, Monument Valley runs on Utah time (Arizona time + 1).


The View Hotel is the only hotel in the Monument Valley Tribal Park. Opened in 2008, it has been designed to blend into the landscape with its pink and red walls appearing to form another layer of rock.

It is not essential to stay in The View Hotel to see the park. There are other accommodation options just a short drive away. However, each room has a balcony with wonderful views over the Mittens and Merrick Butte.  

Booking Tip – The hotel can book up months in advance so it’s a good idea to book early. If you miss out it’s worth checking back, the hotel has lots of rooms and cancellations do crop up.


The Monument Valley Tribal Park is shaded in green on the below map, with each of the main attractions in a different color.

  • Brown – Monument Valley Tribal Park Entrance Gate and The View Hotel
  • Blue – 17-mile Scenic Drive
  • Red – Wildcat Hiking Trail
  • Purple – Backcountry guided tour destinations

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


There is plenty to do in the area surrounding Monument Valley. Take a 3 to 4-hour road trip north on Route 163 and you could visit all the sights listed below.


In 1920 Harry Goulding and his wife bought a plot of land in Oljato-Monument Valley and started trading food and handicraft items with the Navajo people out of tents.

Within several years they had constructed a Trading Post. Then, in the 1930s, they enticed Hollywood director John Ford to film Stagecoach in the area, making Monument Valley an icon of the west.

Facilities at Goulding’s Trading Post – Today, Goulding’s Resort has a restaurant, gas and convenience store, grocery store, laundromat, and museum. It’s a convenient place to stay and the onsite museum and trading post help visitors understand the Navajo way of life.   

monument valley from route 163
Route 163, Monument Valley


The views of Monument Valley from Route 163 are sensational. Drive along this road at any time and the dramatic mesas, buttes, and spires fly past your window.

The most iconic spot on the road was made famous when Tom Hanks ran along it in the film Forrest Gump. The pull-out for the view is 13 miles north of the entrance to Monument Valley on Route 163.

Forest Gump Highway Photo Tip – Get your camera low to the yellow lines on the road and capture Monument Valley behind – although make sure you have someone watching for traffic. Avoid coming here in the mid-afternoon when you’ll be shooting into the sun. Morning or just after sunset are ideal.

forest gump road monument valley
Forest Gump Highway, Monument Valley


Mexican Hat is a 30-minute drive north of Monument Valley. This strange, shaped rock that looks like a sombrero, peers over a tiny settlement of the same name.

Just north of Mexican Hat is the Valley of the Gods. It’s not as grand as Monument Valley but it’s not as busy either. Using a rather bumpy dirt track you can make a loop around the buttes and mesas. However, it’s not in the best condition so a 4×4 might be handy.


The Moki Dugway is a dramatic series of switchbacks carved into the cliffs. It’s only 3 miles long but the views over the Valley of the Gods are stunning.

The road is a gravel track and should not be attempted after heavy rain, but in most other conditions it’s perfectly manageable in a 2WD. The speed limit is only 5mph, but there is no need to go any faster as the views out the window are breathtaking.


Muley Point is 5 miles from the Moki Dugway along another dirt track. This viewpoint should be more famous than it is. There is a deep-cut valley resembling a small Grand Canyon with Monument Valley visible in the distance.

The sandy gravel track is 5 miles long and takes about 15 minutes to drive. In most conditions it is easily navigable in a 2WD but should be avoided when wet.


Driving from Monument Valley to Muley Point via Forrest Gump Viewpoint, Mexican Hat, and the Moki Dugway takes about 1 hour.

Allow about 3-4 hours for the return road trip giving you plenty of time to stop at the sights.


Oljato-Monument Valley is one of the must-see places in the United States. Accommodation is limited so book well in advance.


The only hotel in the tribal park, The View Hotel is designed to blend into the landscape and the views from the balconies are excellent There are hotel rooms, premium cabins, and a campground, all of which overlook the park.

check prices


Goulding’s Lodge is a 3-star property just a few minutes’ drive from the Monument Valley Tribal Park. There is a choice of hotel rooms, apartments, or villas. It has an indoor pool, sun terrace, and lots of conveniences. |


Located in Kayenta, a 30-minute drive from Monument Valley, the Hampton Inn is less convenient but a much cheaper option. The rooms are comfortable, clean, and spacious and the buffet breakfast is full of choices. There’s a shopping center nearby. |


In the town of Bluff, a 50-minute drive northeast of Monument Valley, Desert Rose Resort & Cabins is a great place to stop on a road trip through the area. They have modern and traditionally styled rooms, a wonderful terrace, an indoor pool, and a fitness center. |

route 163 monument valley 1
Monument Valley from Route 163



In half a day you can walk the Wildcat Trail, self-drive the 17-mile Scenic Drive and take in the views at The View Hotel and Forest Gump point.

But we highly recommend staying at least one night in the area so you can enjoy the scenery at dusk or dawn, preferably on a tour. Photographers may want to spend two nights.


The only section of the Monument Valley Tribal Park you can self-drive is the 17-mile Scenic Loop.

However, many of the mesas, buttes, and spires in the area can also be seen from US Route 163 including Forest Gump Point.


There are three sections of Monument Valley Tribal Park for which you do not need a guide: the 17-mile Scenic Drive, the Wildcat Trail, and the views from The View Hotel.

You can also see some great scenery from US Route 163 including Forest Gump Point. However, a guide is required to visit the backcountry.

We highly recommend taking a guided sunrise or sunset tour.

monument valley 2


We’ve been providing free travel content since 2017, helping our readers explore new and familiar destinations.

Following us on social media, using our resource page or buying us a coffee, helps keep Anywhere We Roam on the road.

Thanks for your support, Paul & Mark.




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From industrial hipster hangouts to cool local spaces and elegantly styled coffee houses, the Notting Hill café scene has a welcoming space for everyone and a great coffee to go with it. Here are our favourite Notting Hill cafes.

Being from Australia, it’s hard to visit a café without judging it based on their ability to construct a perfect flat white.

Fortunately for us as long-term residents, there are plenty of Notting Hill cafes that know how to pour the perfect brew, even if we need to overlook the current trend of using weird cups that London cafes seem to be adopting.  

But apart from the quality of the coffee, Notting Hill coffee shops also know how to create a desirable space.

Relax in a local joint hidden behind a pastel-hued terrace house, meet up with colleagues in an elegant space or grab a corner in a cool warehouse for one of the best coffees you’ll find in Notting Hill.

Booking your trip via the links on this page (or on our book page) will earn us a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support – Paul & Mark.



We’ve been Notting Hill residents for 18 years and these are some of the best cafes in the area. We’ll keep this guide updated, so keep checking back for new additions.


Set in a polished space in The Whiteley Gallery, Guillam is a Notting Hill café with regal stylings that also retains a cozy, neighbourhood living room vibe.

There’s spacious seating at small tables where you’re welcome to bring a laptop during the week, and stools at a bar if you’re just after a quick caffeine fix.

The large windows with a first-floor leafy outlook, give the café a bright open feel making it a great place to meet friends and colleagues or hang out solo.  

The attention to detail in the café is extended to the coffee where the rotation of ethically sourced beans from all over the world are brewed into a silky-smooth flavoursome cup.


location – 31 St Petersburgh Place, W2 4LA | nearest station – Bayswater | hours – 8 AM to 5 PM every day |


Kuro is a new café in Notting Hill inspired by Japanese design elements with clean lines and muted neutral tones. The enterprise is made up of a restaurant which serves one of the best brunches in Notting Hill, a café next door, and a bakery around the corner.

The café is a small space with just a couple of stools, but the bench out the front in a lovely part of Notting Hill is a great place to enjoy a takeaway

If there is space in the restaurant you can sit and have a coffee there and you’ll be in for a treat. It’s a superb brew.


location – 3 Hillgate Street, W8 7SP | nearest station – Notting Hill Gate | hours – Monday-Saturday 7 AM to 5 PM; Sunday 9 AM to 5 PM |

3 – LIFT

Lift is a cool urban space with a minimalist, industrial design split across several levels with interesting architectural features. There are several nooks to enjoy a well-prepared coffee, including a mezzanine floor and a tiny outdoor courtyard.

The focus is firmly on the coffee with a curated selection of independent roasters put to the test each week. They also sell coffee-related merchandise including beans, filter papers, and mugs.  

They have a few pastries on display, but Lift is about a quick catch-up in a cool Notting Hill café with nothing intended to outshine the well-prepared coffee.


location – 133 Kensington Church Street, W8 7LP | nearest station – Notting Hill Gate | hours – Monday to Friday 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM; Saturday 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM; Sunday 9 AM to 4 PM


The Coffee Project is an independent specialty coffee shop in Notting Hill Gate that put passion into every pour; serving a delicious, silky smooth, and compassionate cup.

They have an in-house roastery using fully traceable beans that change with the season. Each month they feature a different coffee grower from around the globe who they work with in ethical partnerships.

The Coffee Project donates 25p from every cup to Centre Point, a homeless youth charity, and invests in training programs that have a positive impact on the community.

The small, swish café has around 5 stools at a bar and uses only paper cups that are 100% plastic free. You can bring your own cup for a discount on any of their drinks.


location – 63 Notting Hill Gate, W11 3JS | nearest station – Notting Hill Gate | hours – Monday to Friday 7 AM – 5 PM; Weekends 8 AM – 6 PM |


Flying Horse Coffee is a small friendly café in Notting Hill on the vibrant Golborne Road. There are a few sofas inside around 2 large coffee tables and a couple of tables outside overlooking the Golborne Road market.

They have a mission to deliver the highest quality sustainably sourced coffee from around the world which is roasted seasonally in one of their other London locations.  

You can expect an expertly crafted brew at Flying Horse and one of the best coffees in Notting Hill. They also sell their beans to take home and use 100% non-plastic takeaway cups.

Flying Horse offers a 50p discount if you bring your own cup.    


location – 112 Golborne Road, W10 5PS | nearest stations – Westbourne Park, Ladbroke Grove | hours – Monday to Thursday 8 AM – 4 PM; Friday 8 AM – 5 PM; Saturday 9 AM – 5 PM; Sunday 9 AM – 4 PM |

6 – BEAM

Beam is a warm welcoming Notting Hill coffee shop with modern elegant furniture in a spacious setting. Exposed brick walls, burnt orange accents and hanging lights create the right atmosphere for a hearty Notting Hill breakfast or an excellent cup of coffee.

The coffee is by All Press and it’s prepared with expertise providing a smooth creamy cup of well-textured goodness.

There are a few lounge chairs in the window if you’re just looking for a coffee, or you can order a takeaway from the central bar.


location – 103 Westbourne Grove, W2 4UW | nearest stations – Bayswater, Queensway | hours – 8 AM to 6 PM every day |


Tab X Tab is a cool independent café in Notting Hill that does one of the best coffees on Westbourne Grove. You can expect a Melbourne-quality flat white crafted with style if you’re willing to overlook their weird cups.  

With polished concrete, brick, and metal finishes, Tab X Tab has a slick industrial feel with a relaxed yet decidedly cool vibe.

There’s good seating space inside for a catch-up as well as a counter looking out onto the street which is a great place to work while you have a coffee.

The beans are from Kiss The Hippo Roasters, whose production is certified as carbon-negative.


location – 14-16 Westbourne Grove, W2 5RH | nearest stations – Royal Oak, Bayswater, Queensway | hours – Monday to Friday 8 AM – 4 PM; Weekends 9 AM – 4 PM


Farm Girl is an Australian café with an emphasis on healthy living. The warehouse-style space fills up fast due to their excellent breakfast, but if you can time your visit outside busy periods, it’s one of the best cafes in Notting Hill.

Beans are supplied by the Roasting Party and their well-trained baristas know what they’re doing behind the machine.

In addition to one of the best coffees on Portobello Road, Farm Girl has also innovated a latte made with Rose Water.


location – 50a Portobello Road, W11 3DB | nearest stations – Notting Hill Gate | hours – Monday to Friday 9 AM – 5 PM; Saturday & Sunday 9 AM – 6 PM |

farm girl cafe in notting hill
Farm Girl Cafe, Notting Hill


Cable Co is a tiny café just off Portobello Road in Notting Hill which serves Climpson & Sons Coffee with all the skill and craft you’d expect from a café where the coffee is the priority.

Their flat white is strong and bold without a trace of bitterness and is one of the best you can find in the area. You can also grab a smoothie, shake, tea or juices.

There are just a few stools inside, so Cable Co is mostly a takeaway café. But it’s the perfect place to grab a coffee as you stroll around Portobello Road Market.


location – 15b Blenheim Crescent, W11 2EE | nearest stations – Westbourne Park, Notting Hill Gate | hours – Monday to Friday 7:30 AM – 4 PM; Saturday and Sunday 8:30 AM – 5 PM

Cable Co cafe notting Hill
Cable Co Caffe, Notting Hill


With exposed brick and red leather booths, Electric Diner is a cavernous hideout in Notting Hill. The Soho House-owned diner is best known for its French/American menu, but they also do a great coffee.

They serve their own blend, roasted for them by Grind and it’s a great cup done well. The Electric is a good Notting Hill café if you just want a quality coffee in a relaxed space.

It would be difficult to snare a booth if you’re just going for coffee, but grab a seat in the window, watch the world go by on Portobello Road and you’ll be enjoying one of the best coffee shops in Notting Hill.


location – 191 Portobello Road, W11 2ED | nearest station – Notting Hill Gate | hours – Monday to Wednesday 8 AM – 12 AM; Thursday 8 AM – 1 AM; Friday & Saturday 8 AM – 2 AM; Sunday 8 AM – 11 PM |

electric diner exterior, cafe in notting hill
Electric, Notting Hill



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With powdery white sand and a protected amphitheatre setting, you’d be forgiven for camping down on Porthcurno Beach and not leaving. But there’s plenty more to do in this idyllic slice of Cornwall.  

Located on the far reaches of Cornwall’s dreamy coast, Porthcurno Beach is one of the finest in the UK. With soft white sand underfoot, an amphitheatre of cliffs on both sides and turquoise water lapping at the shore, you could easily spend all day lazing around. But if you are feeling energised by the picture-perfect setting, there’s other great things to do as well.

Attend a theatre carved into the cliffs with the sea stretching out beyond, hike a snippet of the magnificent coastal path, or (most importantly) visit our favourite beach in the UK just a short walk away.

Furthermore, in 1870, a submarine telegraph cable was laid from the sandy shores of Porthcurno Beach, linking Europe with India, reducing the time it took to transmit messages from weeks to minutes. Porthcurno became a hub for global communications and today a museum stands proudly behind the beach.

It’s strangely fitting that this area now has no phone reception.  But there are worse places to go off-grid than Porthcurno, here’s how to see the best of it.

walking along a coastal path high above a sandy beach


Porthcurno beach is at the southern end of the Penwith Peninsula – the western point of Cornwall. It’s a glorious beach but being at the end of small country lanes in a remote part of the country, it can be a little tricky to get to.

Driving is by far the easiest way to get to Porthcurno, however reasonably regular buses run during summer months from Penzance.  


Porthcurno Car Park is a 25-minute drive from Penzance or 45 minutes from St Ives, and it’s just a short walk to the beach.

The car park is large, but it fills up quickly on peak weekends and sunny summer vacation days, so it’s a good idea to arrive early or late in the day.

How to pay for parking – The parking machines at Porthcurno Car Park only take coins, so bring plenty with you. The cost is £2.20 for up to 2 hours, £4.80 for up to 4 hours or £6.60 for up to 24 hours.

Car park facilities – The car park has toilets.

Additional parking at Porthcurno – If the car park is full, there is additional parking at Treen Car Park. It’s only a 5-minute drive away, but it will take about 25 minutes to walk along the Coastal Path to Porthcurno beach. Treen Car Park has toilets (20p, coin only) and takes cash and card (£2 for up to 2 hours, £4 all day).


During summer months, buses run roughly hourly during daylight hours from Penzance to Porthcurno (50 minutes), continuing on to Land’s End before returning on a circular route.

Porthcurno bush schedulecheck here in advance, as the schedule can change.

The bus stop is next to the car park which is only a short walk to the beach.


There are several beautiful beaches to explore in the Porthcurno area, making it one of the prettiest spots in the country.

If idyllic beaches and stunning scenery is not enough, there are theatres and museums a short walk from Porthcurno Beach.


Porthcurno Beach is a lovely triangle of sand hemmed in on two sides by high coastal cliffs, with shimmering turquoise water lapping at the edges. It’s a little wedge of paradise in the United Kingdom.

The sand is powder soft and perfect for sunbathing on a warm day. The sea, often protected from larger swells, is great for families.

Lifeguard service – Lifeguards operate from 10am to 6pm from mid-May to mid-September.

Facilities – There’s a café near the car park for coffee, beer, and a few basic snacks, but we would probably suggest bringing your own picnic.


At the western end of Porthcurno Beach, a series of steps cut into the cliff form the spectacular Minack Theatre. Following the natural contour of the bay, the views over the outdoor terrace theatre across the ocean provide a truly unique setting.

Visiting Minack Theatre – During the day you can pay £10 to look around in pre-booked timeslots between 10am to 4:30pm. However, it’s a much better experience to come and see a show. Tickets can be as little as £20 depending on the performance.

What to take to a performance – You’ll be sitting on a stone bench, so bring a cushion to sit on and a blanket for some extra warmth. If it looks like it’s going to rain, don’t forget to bring a raincoat.

Bar / Cafe – There’s a small bar where you can pick up snacks and drinks on the way in, but you can also take food and drinks in with you.

Check performances and book day visits on their website –


The Minack season runs from May to September, and performances will continue regardless of the weather (including rain) unless it’s dangerous.


Walking west from the Minack Theatre, you can enjoy a lovely section of the South-West Coast Path on the 10-minute walk to Porthchapel Cove.

There’s a short climb through a beautiful section of coastline before the path descends to the quiet cove, sheltered by granite cliffs.

At high tide, the beach is covered, but as it retreats, a fine slither of powdery sand is revealed.

Facilities at Porthchapel Beach – There are no facilities at Porthchapel Beach and the slightly remote location, means it’s never crowded.

More wild swimming – If you’re looking for out-of-the-way locations, read our guide to the best wild swimming in Cornwall.


Porthchapel Beach is a popular spot for seals who are often spotted just offshore, possibly enjoying the quiet beach as well.


A further 15-minute walk east along the coastal path from Porthcurno Beach will take you to Pedn Vounder. This mesmerising secret beach is possibly the most beautiful we’ve seen in the UK.

The beach is completely covered at high tide, but as the tide retreats, a golden sandbar rises out of the turquoise sea creating a shallow lagoon pool.

What time to visit Pedn Vounder? – The beach only begins to appear about 90 minutes after high tide, with the sandbar is visible for around 2 hours either side of low tide.

Getting to the beach – The descent onto the beach is a little tricky, but if you are sure on your feet it’s definitely worth the effort. If you don’t want to scramble down, the views of Pedn Vounder at low tide from the clifftop above are still staggering.

All the details are on our Pedn Vounder guide.


About 150 years ago, the first international telegraph cable connected Britain to the rest of the world. This cable reduced the time it took to get messages from Britain to India from 6 weeks to around 9 minutes.

The telegraph cable came ashore at Porthcurno and by the late Victorian era, Porthcurno Telegraph station (codename PK), had become the most important in the world.

Today PK Porthcurno houses the Global Communication Museum. Set back behind Porthcurno Beach car park, it explores the progress of communications from electricity and Morse Code through to fibre optics.

There is a café and toilets onsite.


Continue past Pedn Vounder on the coastal path and you quickly arrive at Logan Rock, an 80-ton rocking stone sitting on a dramatic wall of granite.

It used to be naturally balanced and sway back and forth when pushed. However, in 1824 a group of sailors moved it. It was later returned to its original position, but the move meant it now only rocks slightly.

The scenery on the walk from Pedn Vounder to Logan Rock is beautiful. The remains of Treryn Dias Iron Age Castle can also be found, although today they are little more than a few mounds.


If you are staying near Porthcurno, there are some other great things to do in the area that are just a short drive away. Here are a few suggestions.


The Logan Rock Inn is a 16th-century village pub that does everything a local pub should, including a good variety of real ales and home-cooked food.


Nanjizal Bay is a short drive west of Porthcurno Beach (or a 1 hour, 20-minute walk). It’s a wild and rugged part of the coastline best known for the ‘Song of the Sea’ – a towering arch carved by the forces of nature.

It can be seen at any time but is best at low tide when you can make your way through the narrow passageway under the arch.


Looking for somewhere cool for dinner? Try 45 Queen Street in Penzance – a cavernous warehouse with a young vibe in an age-old fishing town. The menu is simple, just individual items you select to create a tasting board, but the ambience makes it well worth the visit.  


The lovely fishing village of Mousehole (pronounce Mowzel) is only a 25-minute drive from Porthcurno Beach. Its tiny harbour surrounded by stone houses and packed with bobbling boats is a slice of old Cornish life. Don’t miss Rock Pool Café perched above a tidal pool overlooking the ocean.


Download the map below which includes all our top attractions around Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall, as well as helpful information like where to park.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


A holiday cottage is a great way to experience the best of the English countryside during your stay in this stunning part of Cornwall.

Classic Cottages have a wide selection of properties to suit all types of trips.

Here are some other recommendations from us.



The Pigsty is a beautifully appointed pad, ideal for a relaxing country getaway. The barn conversion is in a lovely rural setting, but with Porthcurno Beach just a few minutes’ drive away, you can spend the days soaking up the sun and the afternoons unwinding in the enclosed patio.



Set in a delightful field, Bluebell is a spacious safari tent with two bedrooms, a living area, bathroom and a well-appointed kitchen. Relax on the deck overlooking the fields, laze in the hot tub, or take a stroll on the nearby coastal path before finishing the day with a BBQ in the field.



In a prime position overlooking one of the top surfing beaches in Cornwall, Oystercatcher is an all-weather option. Head to the beach on sunny days or relax with stunning views as the waves pound under your doorstep.


// This guide was produced in partnership with Classic Cottages.


We’ve been providing free travel content since 2017, helping our readers explore new and familiar destinations.

Following us on social media, using our resource page or buying us a coffee, helps keep Anywhere We Roam on the road.

Thanks for your support, Paul & Mark.




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Yellowstone National Park is a natural wonderland of geothermal features, breathtaking landscapes and incredible wildlife spotting. Get the most out of this national treasure with our guide to the best things to do in Yellowstone.

Yellowstone is a super volcano. The world’s largest active volcano, it contains half the world’s hydrothermal features.  Its most spectacular eruption was 640,000 years ago when a vast chunk of land collapsed and left a large depression in the earth – the Yellowstone Caldera.

In 1872 it became the first national park in the world, cementing the value of preserving such a valuable landmark. Alongside its geysers and bubbling mud-pots there are savannah-like landscapes and mighty canyons hosting the highest concentration of mammals anywhere in the contiguous United States.

The sheer size of Yellowstone, the overwhelming magnitude of the attractions, the array of outdoor adventures and the number of fascinating places to visit make Yellowstone a national treasure.

Our guide to the best things to do in Yellowstone includes all the top attractions you won’t want to miss, the best places to visit as well as tips for getting the most out of Yellowstone National Park.  

Booking your trip via the links on this page (or on our book page) will earn us a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support – Paul & Mark.


The most famous and most predictable of all the geysers in the park, Old Faithful is an unmissable thing to see in Yellowstone. In a spectacular display, a plume of heated water is sent between 100 and 185 feet (30-56 metres) into the air.

Eruptions at Old Faithful are measured with impressive accuracy from one eruption to the next – the longer the eruption the longer the interval to the next.

Generally, eruptions take place anywhere between 60 to 110 minutes from each other – or around 20 times per day. Check the notice boards around the park for the next eruption time to help plan your visit.


There are 3 great locations to see the eruptions at Old Faithful –

  • The Boardwalk – Find a spot on the boardwalk surrounding the geyser and grab a ringside seat. This is the closest you can get to Old Faithful.
  • Observation Point – Take the 1.1-mile (1.7 kilometres) round-trip up to Observation Point. This gives you an elevated view of the whole area.
  • Old Faithful Inn – The outdoor terrace of the Old Faithful Inn gets you above the crowds, but is still quite close to the geyser. It’s a great viewing location.


Morning Glory Pool is a hot spring around 30 minutes’ walk from Old Faithful. It’s remarkable for the distinct colouration caused by bacteria that inhabit the water, resembling the flower of the same name.

Although too small to be seen by the naked eye, trillions of microorganisms group themselves by water temperature creating a spiral of colors where blue is hotter and yellow is cooler.

The result is a brightly colored pool with rings of yellow at the edge progressing to brilliant green at the deepest part in the centre. 

morning glory pool yellowstone
Morning Glory Pool, Yellowstone


Morning Glory Pool is 1 mile from Old Faithful. We suggest you see an eruption at Old Faithful, then walk to Morning Glory Pool via the other geysers in the Upper Geyser Basin.

Make your way back to Old Faithful for another eruption, this time from a different viewpoint.


On the way to Morning Glory Pool, you can also explore the geysers of the Upper Geyser Basin, the largest concentration of geysers in the world. There are over 150 of these sprouting geothermal pools in one square mile.

The following geysers erupt at predictable intervals.

Castle Geyser // Castle Geyser contains a 12-foot-high cone which resembles a turreted crater. It erupts every 9 – 11 hours with a maximum height of between 60 and 90 feet.

Grand Geyser // Grand is often the tallest and most dramatic of the Geysers in the Upper Geyser Basin. It reaches a height of between 150 – 180 feet, however, at an interval of 8-12 hours it can be tricky to catch.

Daisy Geyser // Daisey erupts every 90 to 110 minutes to a height of between 60 and 75 feet with a duration of 3 to 4 minutes. There is a smaller geyser near Daisy called Comet which is pretty much constantly active, although small.

Riverside Geyser // Riverside is a picturesque geyser that erupts every 5 – 7 hours at a height of 75 feet. A pool of water above the geyser begins to overflow into the river around 1.5 hours before the eruption.


Biscuit Basin is a collection of colorful thermal pools and small geysers located around 10 minutes’ drive from Old Faithful. It’s a great thing to do in Yellowstone with an accessible walkway around several cool thermal features.  

The geysers and thermal pools are much smaller than those around Old Faithful, so you’re able to get much closer to them.

It originally received its name due to the biscuit-like formations on the edge of its largest crater, Sapphire. After an earthquake in 1959, an eruption at Sapphire disrupted the formations leaving the interesting geothermal features you see today.   

Sapphire Pool at biscuit basin in yellowstone national park
Sapphire Pool at Biscuit Basin

Some of the highlights at Biscuit Basin include –

Rusty Geyser // A small geyser surrounded by a rusty-red basin that has a mini eruption every 2 to 3 minutes. The water temperature consistently above boiling could explain its frequent sprouting.

Jewel Geyser // Consistently erupting every 5 to 10 minutes, Jewel Geyser is named after the pearl-like beads which form around the vent. It’s one of the prettiest pools in Biscuit Basin.

Sapphire Pool // Sapphire Pool is named after its crystal-clear blue water with temperatures around 200°F (93°C). Since the earthquake that destroyed the biscuit-like crust, Sapphire boils and surges regularly but there are no eruptions.  


After exploring the geothermal area, you could also do the hike to Mystic Falls, a 70-foot cascade in a small but rugged canyon. It’s an easy hike with around 320 feet of elevation that should be fine for most children over the age of 5.

The 2.4-mile (3.8-kilometre) return trip should take just under 2 hours.


The Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the USA and one of the best places to go in Yellowstone.

The striking colors of the pool, matching those of a rainbow, are due to multiple layers of microorganisms around the edge of the mineral-rich water. Ranging from red to green on the edges, the centre is a brilliant blue due to the high temperatures, depth, and the fact that the water is sterile in the centre.

Hot water travels 121 feet from a crack in the earth to reach the surface of the spring. The vibrant colors, steaming atmosphere, and huge size makes Grand Prismatic Spring one of the most photographed locations in Yellowstone.


The best view of Grand Prismatic Spring is from the overlook on the Fairy Falls Trail.

The path to the overlook is 1.2 miles (1.9 kilometres) and leaves from the Fairy Falls Trail Parking Lot. The trail is well-marked, has an elevation of 105 feet, and takes around 30 minutes (one way).

Fairy Falls Trailhead parking lot is around 1.3 miles from the Grand Prismatic Spring parking lot – about a 3-minute drive.

grand prismatic spring from the Fairy Falls Trail overlook
Grand Prismatic Spring from the Fairy Falls Overlook


The parking lots at Grand Prismatic and Fairy Falls can both be very busy. If there are no spaces, you may be able to find somewhere on the side road and walk back, however, even these spaces fill up quickly.

These are both good places to see early in the day to avoid the crowds.


Fountain Paint Pot is another must-see geothermal area in Yellowstone. Named after the boiling mud pots in various shades of reds, yellows and browns, Fountain Paint Pot is accessible for people with all levels of ability via a 1/2 mile long circular loop over raised boardwalks.

While Fountain Paint Pot itself is an impressive mudpot with white bubbling mud surrounded by a pinkish-white dried crust, the highlight for us was Silex Spring.

The small pool in a brilliant shade of blue is framed with white silica and orange rippling edges.

Silex Spring at Foutain Paint Pot in Yellowstone
Silex Spring at Fountain Paint Pot


One of the most interesting aspects of Fountain Paint Pot is that it contains all four of the geothermal features found in Yellowstone – mudpots, geysers, hot springs and fumaroles.

Here are some of the interesting geysers to spot on the circular boardwalk loop at Fountain Paint Pot.

Clepsydra Geyser // Almost constantly erupting, Clepsydra Geyser shoots to a height of around 45 feet.

Fountain Geyser // As the dominant member of the group at Fountain Paint Pots, Fountain Geyser erupts every 4 to 6 hours with a spray reaching up to 80 feet.

Morning Geyser // Morning Geyser is the largest geyser at Fountain Paint Pot with successive jets exploding up to 200 feet in the air and around the same wide. Unfortunately, the last major eruption was in 2013, with some smaller activity in 2018.  


Firehole Canyon Drive – a lovely 2-mile one-way road off the Grand Loop – takes you to a beautiful swimming area which is one of the most fun things to do in Yellowstone.

On the drive, stop off at Firehole Falls, a 40-foot waterfall surging through a thick lava flow that formed the canyon of the walls. There is a small parking area near the falls, and several pull offs along the road.

Just past the waterfall, there’s a wonderful swimming area in the Firehole River. Despite the name, the water is not hot, in fact, it’s decidedly fresh.

Access is via a set of wooden stairs that lead down to a rocky beach area. There’s plenty of room on the beach to laze around, even if you don’t intend to go for a swim.

Facilities at Firehole River Swimming – There is no parking lot at the swimming area, but there are generally places to park on the side of the road. There’s a small changing room at the top of the stairs, but no other facilities.

Opening times – The beach is closed during high water in Spring and in Winter. Check at any of the visitor centres in the park for dates that swimming is allowed on your visit.


The only other possible swimming location in Yellowstone is Boiling River. A flood in June 2022, altered the mix of hot spring water and cold river water so that swimming is no longer possible. In addition, the boardwalks were washed away, and road access was cut off.

As a result, Boiling River is currently closed with no date yet available for when it will reopen.


Steamboat is the world’s tallest, currently active geyser and around eruption time it is one of the unmissable Yellowstone attractions.

Eruptions can last anywhere from 2 to 30 minutes where water is thrown more than 300 feet skyward. Curtains of water rush back down the slopes around Steamboat, dragging mud, sand, and rock back into the two vents to be shot back up into the air.

Trees have been dislodged and cars have been damaged during some of the more ferocious eruptions. The area surrounding Steamboat is a desolate landscape with dead trees, frozen in white from the spray.

steamboat yellowstone
Plume of steam 24 hours after a Steamboat eruption

Unfortunately, Steamboat is an unpredictable geyser. Recorded intervals between eruptions range from 3 days to 50 years. In 2020 there were around 48 eruptions, in 2021 around 19 and in 2022, there were 11.

On our visit, in 2021, it was erupting every 9 to 10 days.


Timing your visit for the eruption itself is difficult but for 24 hours after an eruption, there is a magnificent plume of surging steam which is well worth seeing.

If you hear (or see online) that Steamboat has erupted during your visit to Yellowstone, make your way there to see the steam aftermath.

steamboat steam eruption yellowstone national park


Norris Geyser Basin is the most volatile of all the geothermal areas in Yellowstone and it’s worth strolling around to explore the area washed in yellow and orange hues.

There are 2 main sections –

Porcelain Basin // Porcelain Basin is a barren landscape of hot springs and steaming vents in a colourful and compact space. There are no regular geysers, but it’s an interesting stroll over ground paths and raised boardwalks. The circuit is 0.75 miles (1.2 kilometres).

Back Basin // The Back Basin at Norris is a much larger area than Porcelain Basin with features spread across a partially wooded area. Don’t miss Emerald Springs, a beautiful green hot spring and Green Dragon Spring, a small pool partially covered in rock. Steamboat is also in the Back Basin. The circuit is 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometres).

norris basin yellowstone
Porcelain Basin, Norris.


Roaring Mountain is a thermal area containing several steam vents known as fumaroles which cascade up the side of the mountain.

As the hottest feature in Yellowstone, fumaroles have less water than hot springs or geysers, so the water is immediately converted to steam as it escapes.

The result is a mountain constantly smoking and hissing. Acid sulphate which also escapes from the vents has bleached the side of the mountain an eerie white.

Up until 1885, the fumaroles were much louder and more active, earning it the nickname Roaring Mountain.

The barren mountainside constantly shrouded in steam is an interesting stop on the Grand Loop Road.

Parking at Roaring Mountain – The pull-off is 5 miles north of the Norris Geyser Basin junction. There is generally plenty of parking, but as this is an overlook rather than a trailhead, if it’s full you should only need to wait around 5 minutes.

roaring mountain yellowstone


The Mammoth Hot Springs is a series of travertine terraces with shallow pools cascading down walls colored by algae. Containing over 50 hot springs plus numerous gas vents and the remnants of dormant thermal features, it’s one of the most fascinating and scenic things to do in Yellowstone.

The terraces are viewed via two connected boardwalk loops.


Hot water rises through small fissures in the earth where it interacts with hot gases forming a compound called carbonic acid. The acid dissolves limestone on its way up through layers of rock which reforms as the white chalky mineral which is deposited as travertine.

mammoth hot spring terraces Yellowstone national park
Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces


The Lower Terrace boardwalk is accessed from the Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces parking lot or the Grand Loop Road. The complete lower terrace loop is around 1 mile.

Some of the main features on the Lower Terrace are –

Liberty Cap // Liberty Cap is a 37-foot-high travertine cone formed when the now dormant hot spring had a continuous flow for around 100 years.

Minerva Spring // Minerva Spring is a large terrace with intricate travertine formations. It was completely dry until 1951 when the flow and color started returning.

Cleopatra Terrace // Cleopatra Terrace is a large orange and yellow mound, slightly off the trail near the edge of the forest.

Palette Spring // The most impressive feature at Mammoth Terraces, Palette Spring is a steep ridge of small pools and terraces with crisscrossing patterns in bright orange and brown.  


To visit the Upper Terrace, take the 1.5-mile Upper Terrace Drive which winds among several roadside hot springs before looping back. There is parking by the side of the road which offers access to the Upper Terraces without having to climb all the steps from the Lower Terraces.

Continuing along the loop be sure to stop at Orange Spring Mound, a huge travertine colored by algae and bacteria right by the side of the road.  


The great valleys of Yellowstone make an excellent habitat for wildlife. The Lamar Valley is one of the best places in the park to spot bears, elk, wolves, bison and several other species.

The Lamar Valley can get very busy during the day, so we’d recommend going just after sunrise or just before sunset. Wildlife spotting is best during these times, and the roads will be much quieter.  

There are plenty of pull-offs along the valley floor to stop and spot wildlife. But you’ll most likely need to stop for bison who regularly cross the road in large herds.

One of the best places to look for wildlife in the Lamar Valley is Slough Creek Road, a 2-mile dirt road that ends at a camping spot. As an unpaved road it’s generally much quieter than the main roads in the valley.

How to get there – Lamar Valley is in the north of the park, around 1 hours’ drive from Mammoth Terraces. You’ll need at least 2 hours to drive through the valley and back again, more if you want to drive down Slough Creek Road.


Located in the northeast of the park near Tower Junction, Tower Fall plunges 132 feet through a beautiful canyon of narrow spires.

Due to erosion, you can no longer walk to the bottom of the falls, however, a new parking lot and paved trail down to an overlook was built in 2021, making it an accessible attraction in Yellowstone. The path is around 150 yards from the parking lot.

You can also walk past the overlook point for around ¾ of a mile to see where the falls meet the Yellowstone River.

tower fall yellowstone


The Dunraven Pass is a high mountain pass on the Grand Loop Road between Tower and Canyon that reaches a height of 8,800 feet (2,700 metres). It’s the highest pass in the park and a wonderful thing to do in Yellowstone to capture excellent views from the seat of your car.

When is the Dunraven Pass Open? The Dunraven Pass is usually open from May through to October. It is always the first to close in fall as Yellowstone begins to wind down for winter.

Is the Dunraven Pass difficult to drive? No. Dunraven is fully paved so it’s accessible in any type of vehicle.


The Dunraven Pass provides access to one of the best hikes in Yellowstone – the Mount Washburn hike.

The Mount Washburn trailhead is located next to the summit parking lot. From the Dunraven Pass Trailhead, ascend Mount Washburn for spectacular 360° views over the Yellowstone valleys.

Keep a lookout for bighorn sheep and beautiful wildflowers. It is also one of the best places in Yellowstone to spot grizzly bears who are often found looking for whitebark pine nuts in the fall. As a result of this activity, hiking is not recommended in September and October.

Distance – 6-mile return loop from the parking lot

Duration – 3 to 6 hours

Difficulty – Strenuous

Facilities – There is a washroom and observation deck at the overlook.

dunraven pass yellowstone


The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is the most breathtaking place to visit in Yellowstone National Park.

The burnt orange canyon, carved from the Yellowstone River contains one of the park’s most recognisable landscape, the Lower Falls. Framed by pastel colors and steaming vents in rocky walls, it’s a magical sight.

The canyon is 4,000 feet wide and 1,200 feet deep and there are several great vantage points on the South and North Rim.


Artists Point // This is the best place to be for sunrise in Yellowstone with the finest view of Lower Falls. Here you can capture the iconic photograph of the falls between the yellow canyon walls. It’s a short walk to the overlook from the large parking lot.

Upper Falls Viewpoint // Upper Falls Viewpoint is an easy walk to an overlook from the Uncle Tom’s trailhead with great views over the falls.

Uncle Tom’s Trail (CLOSED) // From the Upper Falls parking lot, 328 steps lead down to the base of Lower Falls. Unfortunately, the trail has been closed since 2019 with no information as to when it will reopen. 

Sunset Point // Sunset Point is an easy ½ mile return hike with the best view of the Upper Falls.

South Rim + Clear Lake Loop // Starting at the Wapiti Lake Trailhead on the South Rim Drive, the Clear Lake Loop – a 5.1-mile round trip hike with an elevation of 438 feet – is one of the best day hikes in Yellowstone. The hike visits Lily Pad Lake, then Clear Lake before returning via a geothermal area.


The North Rim drive of the Yellowstone Grand Canyon collects the following viewpoints.

Brink of the lower falls // A steep ¾ mile downhill hike from the North Rim Drive parking lot that takes you to a viewing platform above the Lower Falls. It’s a short but strenuous hike using multiple switchbacks.

Lookout point // Lookout Point is an accessible overlook that provides one of the best views of the canyon and Lower Falls from the north rim. From the parking lot, it’s around ¼ mile to the lookout.

Red rock point // A ¾ mile trail that climbs down to one of the closest viewpoints of Lower Falls. The trail uses a combination of paved paths and wooden stairs to descend 260 feet.

Grand Viewpoint // An accessible viewpoint which is good for seeing the colors of the canyon and Yellowstone River. The falls are not visible from Grand Viewpoint.

Inspiration point // Inspiration Point accessible overlook with views both upstream and downstream of the Grand Canyon. It’s an easy hike from the parking lot, but the falls are not visible.

north rim viewpoint yellowston national park


The Hayden Valley is a vast open grassland – teeming with wildlife – centrally located within Yellowstone. Rolling hills, forested areas and the fertile valley make it a great destination for spotting bison, elk, bears, coyote and wolves.

There are several pull-offs along the road to stop and look for wildlife. It can be a busy area, so a good clue that there’s something worth stopping for is the number of cars crammed into a pull-out.

It’s more than likely that you’ll see a large herd of bison roaming through the valley, or even crossing the road.

The best time to spot wildlife is at dawn or dusk when the animals are most active.


Mud Volcano is a thermal area located near one of Yellowstone’s major volcanic vents. It’s a muddy expanse of bubbling pots and steaming hillsides; trees cooked by thermal activity, boiling cauldrons, and ominous-looking geysers.

Like the other major vent located near Old Faithful, Mud Volcano is a highly acidic area and a fascinating thing to do in Yellowstone.

Here are some of the things to see at Mud Volcano.  

Mud Cauldron // Mud Cauldron is a large area of mud and water heated by escaping steam. It’s on the pathway in front of the carpark with easy access.

Churning Cauldron // Up a short but steep section of the boardwalk, Churning Cauldron was a cold pool until the 1978 earthquakes dramatically increased the temperature. Today, it’s a bubbling pot which tosses muddy water into the air.

Mud Volcano // Mud Volcano was once a 30-foot cone, but one side was blown off in an eruption leaving a crater filled with bubbling mud.

Dragon’s Mouth Spring // The most interesting attraction at Mud Volcano, Dragon’s Mouth Spring is a small cave-like opening filled with boiling water and steam which billows out making bizarre noises. Just like the breath from a dragon’s mouth.


Located on the shores of Yellowstone Lake, West Thumb Geyser Basin is a geothermal area similar to Grand Prismatic, but smaller and without the crowds.

There are no dramatic geysers or particularly agitated mud pots bubbling to the surface. Instead, two circular boardwalks, totalling ¾ of a mile, pass a series of pretty pools of water colored by the bacteria that inhabit them. Behind sits the vast expanse of Yellowstone Lake, making it a particularly attractive place to visit in Yellowstone National Park.

Collapsing Pool // A hot spring with varying water levels, surrounded by collapsing ledges and grey rock.

Abyss Pool // With a depth of 53 feet, Abyss Pool is one of the deepest pools in Yellowstone. In the 1990s the pool erupted spectacularly but it’s been quiet since. The deep blue-green color makes it well worth a visit.

Black Pool // Black Pool used to be black from all the bacteria but after a dramatic temperature rise in 1991, it’s now crystal clear and a stunning blue.

Fishing Cone // A hot spring and sometime geyser where early visitors could cook fish by lowering it into the cone for a few minutes.

yellowstone lake


The Continental Divide is an invisible line that stretches from Alaska through the Canadian Rockies and down to Mexico. Water that falls on the west of the divide will make its way to rivers that reach the Pacific Ocean, while water on the east will end up in the Atlantic.

In some places, like the spine of the Rocky Mountains, the divide is obvious. In others, such as high up on Craig Pass in Yellowstone, it’s barely perceptible.

Isa Lake in Yellowstone – straddling the divide – does something that few other lakes in the world can achieve. Water from the lake drains into both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

There’s not a lot to see at the Continental Divide, but this interesting geological feature makes it a Yellowstone attraction worth visiting.

isa lake on the continential divide yellowstone


One of the most exciting things to do in Yellowstone is to search for bears.

Black bears are relatively common in Yellowstone, however, there are only around 150 grizzly bears in the park. While it’s possible to see bears in Yellowstone, the Grand Teton National Park has a much greater concentration and we had much better success spotting bears there.


  • Grizzly bears are primarily active at dawn, dusk and night.
  • Black bears are most active at dawn and dusk but also sometimes during the day.
  • The best time of year to see bears are in Spring and early Summer. 
  • In Spring they are most seen around Yellowstone Lake, Hayden Valley and Lamar Valley.
  • In mid-summer, they are most seen in the meadows between Tower-Roosevelt and Canyon and in Hayden and Lamar.
  • Look for black bears near the edge of forested areas.
  • Drive very slowly and keep your eye out for any movement.
things to do in yellowstone


Yellowstone National Park is located across Wyoming, Idaho and Montana with the vast majority of the park in the northwest corner of Wyoming. The map below contains all the best things to see in Yellowstone covered in this guide.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


We’ve been providing free travel content since 2017, helping our readers explore new and familiar destinations.

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Witness one of the most impressive landmarks in Italy at the Siena Cathedral. With a combination of Gothic and Romanesque architecture, and an ornate interior, the cathedral of Siena is one of the most important treasures in the city.

Officially the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the Cathedral of Siena is a remarkable Gothic building and one of the most fascinating cathedrals in Italy.

Completed in 1348, the greenish-black and white stripes which adorn both the facade and the interior are the symbol of Siena. Each face of the cathedral has distinct artwork, but the west face is by far the most impressive. Three portals and a bronze sun make a dramatic scene framing the main entrance to the cathedral.

The striking interior has several important works of art including stained-glass windows, a hexagonal dome and an intricately sculptured pulpit.

One of the highlights of the cathedral is the inlaid marble mosaic floor which is only displayed for 3 months of the year.

Here is all you need to know about visiting the Duomo di Siena including the key highlights and information on buying tickets.

Booking your trip via the links on this page (or on our book page) will earn us a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support – Paul & Mark.


The Cathedral of Siena complex is made up of several sites including the interior of the cathedral, a guided walking tour of the roof and several museums. Here are all the main attractions to see at the cathedral.


The façade of the cathedral dominates the medieval city of Siena. Alternating layers of black and white marble are interrupted with intricate statues and grand bronze doors.

The upper façades are covered in brilliant golden mosaics.

The exterior is free to admire from the Piazza del Duomo where you’ll find the best vantage points to photograph this gothic masterpiece.


The interior of the duomo is an unmissable thing to do in Siena. Even after 3 visits, we are still blown away by the scale and exquisite decoration of this beautiful building. It’s a magnificent combination of light and dark, with black and white pillars rising to star-studded ceilings.

The interior of the cathedral contains works by Donatello, Bernini, and Michelangelo, as well as an intricately carved pulpit by Nicola Pisano.

For just three months of the year (July and mid-Aug to mid-Oct), the marble mosaic inlay floors of the Duomo are uncovered. The 45 floor panels were laid from the 14th to 16th centuries and recount tales of the Old Testament. They are some of the most intricate inlaid floors in Italy, and it’s worth trying to align your visit to Siena to see them.


While the cathedral looks amazing from the ground, the views are even better from above. The 25-minute Gate of Heaven tour (Porta del Cielo) takes you up to the roof for stunning views over the city.

On the way up, the tour explores the backbone of the church, passing through rooms that were inaccessible to the public for centuries.

The highlight is the two walkways suspended high above the nave of the church. The view through the ornate windows provide a magical view of the ornate interior below.


The Cathedral’s Museum (Museo dell-opera del Duomo) is today housed in the unfinished nave of a new cathedral which was never completed.

The museum contains a range of works of art including the cathedral’s original statues delicately lit by a large circular stained glass window made in 1287.

The highlight is the Maestá of Duccio; an altarpiece of forty-three small scenes which tell the stories of the Life of the Virgin and the Life of Christ. It marks the beginning of the transition from Byzantine art towards the more realistic representation popular in the Renaissance.

siena cathedral museum


In 1339 a motion was approved to extend Siena Cathedral. However, building works halted in 1348 due to the economic recession triggered by the Black Death.

Most of the new cathedral was demolished except for the facade which still stands to this day.

From the second floor of the museum, a staircase winds up to the top of the unfinished nave. A narrow ledge (Panorama dal Facciatone) running along the top of the facade offers wonderful views over the city and the rest of the duomo.

The staircase consists of 131 tight spiral stairs and there’s not a lot of space at the top, but it’s still one of the best things to do in Siena.


The Piccolomini Library was commissioned around 1492 to honour the memory of Aeneas Dilvius Piccolomini, also known as Pope Pius II. It contains a rich collection of books and manuscripts that the pope collected over his lifetime.

Beautiful frescos line the walls of the library as a celebration of the life and works of the pope. With a combination of landscapes, mystical imagery and religious ceremony, the frescoes are a beautiful treasure in the cathedral of Siena.

The Picolomini Library is a classic example of Renaissance symbolism which combined scholarship with artistic expression.

piccolomini library siena cathedral italy


The Baptistery was built in the 14th century and contains a wealth of frescoes surrounding a grand marble, bronze, and enamel baptismal font.

The ceiling vaults represent the 12 articles of Christian faith and are considered some of the best examples of Sienese art anywhere.

The magnificent marble baptismal font was created by the best Sienese sculptures of the time through personal contributions between 1417 and 1431.

Don’t miss the six gilded bronze panels on the font telling the story of John the Baptist.

baptistery siena cathedral italy


The Crypt was only excavated in 1999 and contains some of the most important archaeological finds from the city. Frescoes from the 12th and 13th centuries are preserved in vibrant colour along with decorated pillars and geometric stone features.

You can also explore the structure of the cathedral dating back to the 12th century including highly decorated structural elements and the foundations of the church.

In some areas, the stonewalling which would have made up the original 12th-century building is still visible.


The Oratory of San Bernardino houses Sienese paintings from the 13th to the 18th centuries. Set across several adjacent rooms, the collection contains the Diocesan Museum of Religious Art as well as one of the best collections of Sienese artworks in the city.

The simple brick facade includes a travertine portal dating back to 1574 and the symbol of St Bernardino – a sun with 12 rays.

Inside, the most important pieces in the collection are in the upper oratory chapel which contains ornate frescoes by several prominent Sienese artists.

The Oratory of San Bernardino is a 10-minute walk from the Siena Cathedral.

siena cathedral san bernardino


We strongly advise you to book tickets for the Siena Cathedral online, several days before getting to Siena. There are 2 types of tickets you can purchase to see all the sites at the Cathedral.


The OPA Si Pass provides access to all the museums at the cathedral (except the Gate of Heaven) The ticket is valid for 3 days from the date of purchase. The museums included in the ticket are –

  • The Cathedral Interior – Entry only, tours not included.
  • The Museo dell’Opera (The Museum) – Entry plus access to the Panorama dal Facciatone.
  • Piccolomini Library
  • Baptistery of San Giovanni Battista
  • The Crypt
  • Oratory of San Bernardino

Purchase your Opa Si Pass online before your visit.


The Gate of Heaven (Porta del Cielo) ticket includes everything at the cathedral, which is the pass we recommend purchasing.

To buy this ticket, you need to select an entrance time which will be the beginning of the Gate of Heaven tour. The tour starts from inside the main entrance to the duomo, so arrive just before your selected timeslot and they will usher you into a little holding pen inside the cathedral.

At the end of the tour, you are left inside the duomo to explore the interior of the cathedral. Once you are finished inside, you can continue on to the museum, crypt, baptistery and the remaining sites at your leisure. Allow 3 hours to see everything.

siena new cathedral facade



We’ve been providing free travel content since 2017, helping our readers explore new and familiar destinations.

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Spend a day soaking up the moody atmosphere, exquisite architecture, and Italian culture in Siena; one of the most intriguing medieval cities in the world.

Siena is one of our favourite cities in Italy.

With a long history of battles against arch-enemy Florence, Siena rose to become one of the most powerful banking cities in medieval Europe. Vicious fighting between noble families caused them to build massive defensive buildings within the city walls.

The result is a city that, in some ways, couldn’t be more different from its Tuscan rival in the north.

Towering houses built on tightly packed lanes enclose streets so much that barely a ray of light reaches the worn cobbled stones beneath your feet. Huge defensive walls create a maze-like environment that is like being transported back to the Middle Ages.

Recognised as the “ideal embodiment of a medieval city” by UNESCO, Siena is dark and moody; mysterious and noble.

As you stroll the walled city of Siena, some truly remarkable sights are revealed. From art galleries to local delis; tiny squares to lively streets; Siena is Italy’s medieval masterpiece.

Here’s how to see Seina in one day.

Booking your trip via the links on this page (or on our book page) will earn us a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support – Paul & Mark.

things to do siena italy 27



There’s no better way to get under the skin of Siena, and Italian culture in general, than by starting the day sipping a coffee in a medieval square. There’s no shortage of atmospheric cafes in Siena, but here are our favourites.

Torrefazione Fiorella // This authentic Siena stable is a tiny café where you’ll find locals spilling out onto the street chatting excitedly while waiting for their morning coffee. There are two tables out the front but you’d be doing very well to get one.

Caffé A. Nannini // A vast patisserie with pastries and sweets available for inspection on a long bar. It’s far more touristy than Torrefazione Fiorella, but the coffee has got a bit more kick to it without losing any of the traditional Italian frenzy. Ordering at your seat incurs a hefty service fee, so order at the bar.

Bar Pinacoteca // For classic Italian service, friendly baristas and some of the best coffee in Siena, Bar Pinacoteca is a neighbourhood bar without the tourist surcharge that you might find elsewhere.


The Duomo di Siena is a remarkable Gothic cathedral and one of the grandest in Italy. The façade consists of alternating layers of black and white marble, with intricate statues and grand bronze doors.

The interior is a magnificent combination of light and dark, with black and white pillars rising to star-studded ceilings. Containing works by Donatello, Bernini, and Michelangelo, as well as an intricately carved pulpit by Nicola Pisano, the Siena Duomo is a living monument to the incredible contributions of Italian artists and an unmissable thing to do in Siena.

Don’t miss the ornately frescoed Piccolomini Library. More details are on our guide to visiting the Siena Cathedral.


In 1339, a massive extension to double the already huge Siena cathedral was planned. The work began, but the project was abandoned when money ran short. The Duomo’s Museum (Museo dell-opera del Duomo) is today housed in the unfinished nave.

The museum contains a range of works of art including the cathedral’s original statues delicately lit by a large circular stained glass window made in 1287.

The highlight is the Maestá of Duccio; an altarpiece of forty-three small scenes which tells the stories of the Life of the Virgin and the Life of Christ. It marks the beginning of the transition from Byzantine art towards the more realistic representation popular in the Renaissance.

From the second floor of the museum, a staircase winds up to the top of the unfinished nave. A narrow ledge (Panorama dal Facciatone) offers wonderful views over the city and the rest of the Duomo. The staircase consists of 131 tight spiral stairs and there’s not a lot of space at the top, but it’s a wonderful thing to do in Siena.


The final attraction to visit at the Siena Duomo is the Baptistery of San Giovanni Battista and the Crypt (separate accesses). The Baptistery was built in the 14th century and contains a wealth of frescoes surrounding a grand marble, bronze, and enamel baptismal font.

The ceiling vaults represent the 12 articles of Christian faith and are considered some of the best examples of Sienese art anywhere. Don’t miss the six gilded bronze panels telling the story of John the Baptist.

The Crypt was only excavated in 1999 and contains some of the most important archaeological finds from the city. Frescoes from the 12th and 13th centuries are preserved in vibrant colour along with decorated pillars and geometric stone features. You can also explore the structure of the cathedral dating back to the 12th century; hiding the secrets of medieval Siena in atmospheric worn decay.


Grabbing a slice of pizza and finding a spot on a medieval square for a casual lunch while watching the world go by is a wonderful thing to do in Siena. However, if you are looking for some quality Italian cooking in a hidden little corner of the city, we highly recommend Enoteca I Terzi.

Set in a medieval vaulted building, I Terzi is located at the junction of the three sub-divisions of Siena which were created by the ruling Nobel families to protect their interests.

It’s just a few minutes from Piazza del Campo, yet despite the central location, I Terzi remains off the regular tourist trail and the food is all the better for it. With a purely Tuscan menu, enjoy delicate handmade pastas with a masterful blend of flavours or traditional meat dishes including rabbit, venison and ox tongue.

The extensive wine list is all local to Tuscany and the few tables out the front are the best seats in the house.

things to do siena italy 7


One of the best things to do in Siena is to stroll the narrow laneways. There are three good areas to explore.

Wander northwest towards Basilica San Domenico. The church itself is rather plain but the little alleyways along the way have some great shops, delis, and cafes to explore. The views back up to the Duomo from the Basilica are some of the best in Siena.

On the eastern side of town, stroll down the buzzing Via dei Rossi towards Piazza San Francesco. The medieval street has developed into one of the most atmospheric strolls in Siena.

Finally, explore the area around Piazza Del Campo, the historic centre of Siena. Via La Citta has some wonderful little shops to pop into. Antica Drogheria Manganelli is a fantastic old pharmacy packed with tasty deli goods including pasta, olive oils, wines and chocolates. A few doors down, La Bottega Senese has a range of local wines and traditional sweets. On Wednesday morning, don’t miss the Siena market laid out across Piazza Mercato.


Piazza del Campo is one of the grandest squares in Europe. Built on the intersection of three roads where three antique hill towns came together, it was designed to be neutral ground to celebrate civic holidays.

The square is paved in red brick with a fishtail design split into 9 sections by 10 lines of white travertine stone. Each section represents one of ‘The Nine’ who governed Siena at the height of its medieval power from 1292-1355. The square is surrounded by harmonious red brick structures in adherence to the strict building guidelines set down in 1297.

On the southeast side stands the Palazzo Pubblico. Originally home of ‘The Nine’, the palace now houses the Civic Museum (Museo Civico). Nearly every room is packed with intricate frescoes; unusual at the time because they were commissioned by governors rather than the church. If the Duomo is Siena’s tribute to the divine power, the Museo Civico is the tribute to its secular leaders.

Don’t miss the three frescoes together called the Allegory of Good and Bad Government and the rather magnificently carved wooden choir seats in the chapel.


Right next to the Palazzo Pubblico, the Torre del Mangia is the second tallest secular tower in Italy (just ahead of the Asinelli Tower in Bologna) at 102 metres. Taking the 400 steps to the top is an excellent thing to do in Siena.

From the tower, tightly packed red-tiled houses disappear towards Tuscan hills and the Piazza del Campo is surrounded by grand houses. The gothic Duomo seems to float above it all. Try to be at the top of the tower as close to sunset as possible when the city will be looking its best.

Book tickets in person at the Palazzo Pubblico at the beginning of the day. Timed entrances occur every 45 minutes and allow for 45 minutes to get to the top, take in the view and get back down again.

The steps are tight and narrow and can be a little claustrophobic, but it’s a very rewarding activity to wind down a day in Siena.


Aperitivo is a pre-dinner drink and something of a cultural ritual in Italy. Usually between 6pm and 8pm, Aperitivo is a dry alcoholic drink designed to wake up the digestive system and get you ready for the meal ahead.

There are plenty of places to have an aperitivo in Italy and Siena is no exception.

Our favourite area is along Via Camollia, which has a strong selection of bars to try. We went to 53100 Street Food & Wine, a cosy unassuming bar with a great selection of Aperitivo drinks and snacks. The cold cuts are delicious, and they have an extensive wine list.


There are too many things to do in Siena to be squeezed into one day, but if you have extra time, here are some other suggestions.

Pinacoteca Nazionale // Siena’s Pinacoteca covers the grandmasters from the 13th to 18th centuries. Most of the famous stuff is on the top floor. Keep an eye out for Vasari’s Resurrection, the works of Il Sodoma and the cartoons that were used to design the inlaid marble floors in the Duomo.

Museo Santa Maria della Scala // Set in a medieval hospital, Santa Maria della Scala covers modern art installations through to Etruscan and Roman artefacts. The eerie crypts and strange mirror installations are also worth checking out.

Oratoria di San Bernardino // The Basilica of San Francesca has a towering red brick façade and moody gothic interiors. But the real reason to come here is the Oratorio di San Bernardino next door. Head upstairs to the upper oratory chapel to see a wealth of 16th-century frescoes.


01 – Entrance for the Civic Museum costs €10 and the Torre del Mangia another €10. But if you intend to do both you can buy a €15 joint ticket. For €20 you can also see the Santa Maria della Scala. A €40 family ticket covers them all for 2 adults and 2 children.

02 – We are not aware of any way to book Torre del Mangia tickets online in advance so make your way to Palazzo Pubblico to buy tickets in person as soon as you arrive in Siena. If you only want to go to the Museo Civico you can book in advance through Get Your Guide.

03 – If you are driving to Siena, park in the massive Parcheggio Il Campo car park. It’s a 10-minute walk from the Piazza del Campo but most importantly, it does not involve driving through any narrow medieval streets. It costs €2 an hour.

04 – If you are using public transport, the easiest day trip is from Florence where trains run hourly and take about 1 hour, 30 minutes. It’s a 15-minute walk from the train station to the northern end of the medieval old town.


We have included our list of the best things to do in Siena on the below map so you can plot your course while visiting the medieval heart of Tuscany and the soul of medieval Italy.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


Siena is a great year-round destination. The wealth of indoor sites and tightly packed outdoor lanes are as moody in winter as they are glorious in summer.

Peak Season // Temperatures can be hot and the tourist sites busy during the peak season of July and August. However, the Siena Duomo inlaid floors are usually uncovered during the month of July and from mid-August to mid-October, which is a great time to visit Siena.

Shoulder Season // The shoulder seasons of spring and fall bring the nicest weather. In particular, September to mid-October is a great time to come; it’s not too hot, the Duomo floors are uncovered, and the peak crowds have disappeared.

The Palio, Siena // The famous Siena horse race, The Palio, takes place on July 2 and August 16 every year. Ten horses and riders, dressed in the colours of their city ward, race around the Piazza del Campo. Tickets can be reserved online, but even if it’s fully booked it’s worth turning up the day before when many of the locals dress up and march around town preparing for the festival.



We’ve been providing free travel content since 2017, helping our readers explore new and familiar destinations.

Following us on social media, using our resource page or buying us a coffee, helps keep Anywhere We Roam on the road.

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Siena Italy is a medieval city in Tuscany and a stunning place to visit for a day. Spend a day in Siena soaking up gorgeous views, medieval Italian streets, exquisite architecture, and the best of Italian culture. | Siena Duomo | Siena Panorama | Siena Baptistry | Medieval Siena | Piazza del Campo Siena | Palazzo Publicco Siena | Torre del Mangia Siena | Visit Italy | Italy Travel | Tuscany Travel


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Unwind in traditional cabins with rooftop hot tubs overlooking superb scenery or pick a lodging close to the centre of the action. Get your rejuvenating vacation booked with our guide to staying in Grand Teton National Park.

The Grand Teton National Park has sublime scenery, outdoor activities for a nature-based recharge and cool wildlife spotting opportunities. It’s the perfect destination for a vacation firmly embedded in nature.

Unlike many of the US National Parks, Grand Teton is not that large. Driving from one end to the other takes less than 1 hour, but with several towns on the outskirts, there are plenty of choices when it comes to finding somewhere great to stay.

We have divided this guide into the 5 best areas around the Grand Teton National Park, each with their own benefits. Some are centrally located and great for sunrise photo runs, others have more facilities and restaurants.

Booking your trip via the links on this page (or on our book page) will earn us a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support – Paul & Mark.

mormon houses grand tetons


Grand Teton National Park is in the northwest corner of Wyoming. It takes only 1 hour to drive from the northern gate (just south of Yellowstone) to the southern gate (at the town of Moose).

Most of the best things to do in the Grand Tetons are in the central and southern sections of the park which includes the area around Jackson Lake Lodge, Jenny Lake, and the Moose-Wilson Road. All these areas are only a 45-minute drive from each other.

When visiting US National Parks, it is often best to stay within the park itself. But the compactness of the Grand Tetons means that you can easily stay just outside the park and drive in and out each day. Entrance to the park is open 24 hours.

There are 5 main areas in the Grand Teton National Park.

1 | Inside the park – There are 7 different lodges and campsites within the national park which are the most convenient places to stay in the Grand Tetons.

2 | Jackson – Just 20-minute drive south of the Moose entrance gate to the national park, this charming buzzy town has plenty of facilities including restaurants and cafes, shops and museums.

3 | Teton Village – Sitting at the base of Grand Tetons ski slopes, visitors flock to Teton Village in winter. It also remains open in summer and the Granite Canyon entrance to Grand Teton National Park is only a couple of miles away.

4 | Wilson – A quiet, relaxed town, Wilson is a great place to stay in Teton but it is further from the park. It takes 15 minutes to drive to the Granite Canyon entrance and 30 minutes to the Moose park entrance.

5 | Moran – A small settlement east of the national park, Moran has good access to Jackson Lodge and the more remote northern section of the park.


On the map below we have marked the three main areas of interest in the park (Jackson Lodge, Jenny Lake, & the Moose-Wilson road) in red.

The four entrance gates (Yellowstone Gate, Moran Gate, Moose Gate and Granite Canyon Gate) are in brown.

The hotels and lodges for each of the five different areas to stay are marked in a different color.

  • In the park – Purple
  • Jackson – Yellow
  • Teton Village – Orange
  • Wilson – Green
  • Moran – Blue

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


The best time to visit Grand Teton National Park is from mid-May to late September when all the scenic roads, visitor centres and walking trails are open. The weather is excellent during the summer months, but the area is busy during the school holidays making June and September ideal.

We recommend staying two to three days in the Grand Teton National Park. This is enough time to visit all the viewpoints, drive the most scenic roads, do a bit of wildlife spotting, and complete a couple of short hikes.

More information is on our guide to visiting the Grand Tetons.

grand teton national park wyoming



Best place to stay in Grand Teton for a central location surrounded by stunning views.

Pros // There are 7 different lodges across the national park and many are in enviable positions with magnificent views. The main attractions of the park are quick and easy to reach minimising driving time.

Cons // Lodging can be expensive and book up months in advance. Additionally, the season is short with most lodges only open from late May to early October.

HEADWATERS LODGE – June to October

The best accommodation for visiting both Yellowstone and Grand Tetons on day trips, this remote rustic lodge has no cell service or WiFi. But with horseback riding, great hiking and peaceful surroundings, you’ll appreciate the digital detox. The campground is open from mid-May. |


A sort of summer camp for the whole family, Colter Bay Village has a mix of cabins, tented cabins, and a campsite and RV park. With a choice of restaurants, a general store, and plenty of activities right on your doorstep, it has everything you need for a great stay. |


A luxury grand old lodge in the heart of the national park with superb views of the mountains from the rooms, the Jackson Lake Lodge has great facilities including 3 restaurants, a cocktail bar and an outdoor pool. |

JENNY LAKE LODGE – June to October

Jenny Lake Lodge has freestanding rustic wooden cabins nestled in a forest on the edge of a very scenic section of lake. It would be hard to find a location more central or more atmospheric than this one.


The only lakefront accommodation in the park, Signal Mountain Lodge is extremely well-located with single-room cabins through to units with kitchenettes. There’s a general store for grocery items, a restaurant, bar, and gift shop all on-site.

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TRIANGLE X RANCH – May to October & December to March

In the same family for 5 generations, this dude ranch offers horseback tours, ranch activities, and river adventures in the heart of the Grand Tetons. Lodging is in rustic cabins with their own porch. 1- to 4-bedroom cabins are available.

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The Grand Teton Climbers Ranch is a good budget option with dormitories, a communal library, cook shelter, a bathhouse, and bicycles. Bring your own sleeping pad and bag.

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Best place to stay in Grand Teton for a charming town packed with facilities

Pros // Jackson is a charming town that mixes western traditions with modern comforts and it’s a great option for combining the wilderness of the park with the facilities of a town. There are plenty of lodging options and it’s a good base in winter with some hotels offering shuttles to the slopes.

Cons // Staying in Jackson is cheaper than in the park but not as cheap as some of the smaller towns in the Tetons. You need to allow 20 minutes driving each morning and evening to get to Moose Entrance Gate.


A stylish B&B in the heart of Jackson, Huff House Inn offers a choice between traditional cabins or chic contemporary rooms. Outside there’s a hot tub, barbecue, fire pit, and lovely garden patio.


This 3-star hotel with rooms, studios, and apartments offers a generous buffet breakfast and facilities include a great indoor pool, hot tub, and a shuttle to the ski lifts. |


Four blocks from the centre of Jackson, this 3.5-star hotel is built in wood and stone and makes a friendly retreat after a day exploring the area. There’s a pool and hot tub, and in winter, shuttles run to the ski slopes. |


The Wort Hotel is a 4-star boutique property in Jackson that combines old-world charm with modern amenities. There is a free shuttle to Jackson Hole Mountain Ski throughout winter and the cafes of Jackson are on your doorstep. |

where to stay grand teton


Best place to stay in Grand Teton for luxury resorts right by the ski slopes

Pros // Located under the ski slopes, Teton Village resembles and alpine resort with après ski bars, a general store, and on-theme restaurants. The Jackson Hole Aerial Tram will whisk you straight up to the slopes and the Granite Canyon entrance to the park is only a couple of miles away.

Cons // Teton Village is more a collection of resorts rather than a real town, so it can feel a bit like you’re in one big resort. The prices at the luxury hotels can be sky high.


With ski-in, ski-out access to the slopes this 3-star boutique hotel has all the charm of an alpine chalet. Grab a massage after a day on the slopes or relax in the outdoor pool and hot tub. |


Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa is a 4.5-star property with a health spa, two swimming pools, a fitness centre and a rooftop spa with commanding views. In winter you can ski-in, ski-out straight to the lifts. |


The Four Seasons is a luxurious 5-star stay in the Grand Tetons. Ski right onto the slopes and then relax in the indoor and outdoor pools or the spa. There are a couple of restaurants and a nightclub.

best places to stay grand teton


Best places to stay in Grand Teton for seclusion in good value accommodation

Pros // The most remote of the five choices, Wilson is a relaxing place to stay in the Tetons. There are cabins tucked into the forest and charming B&Bs with helpful hosts. Further away from the park, Wilson often represents better value for money.  

Cons // There’s not much at Wilson so you’ll need to drive into Jackson or Teton Village (10 minutes) for shops and restaurants. The Granite Gate entrance is 15 minutes’ drive away and the Moose Gate is 30 minutes.


Wood-clad cabins, each individually styled, offer a touch of indulgence in this scenic part of the Tetons. The inviting lounge has a fireplace with board games and a grand piano. |


These sleek cabins come with decks, a fire pit and BBQ/grill – all the essentials for a secluded stay in the Tetons. The cabins are modern with ensuite bathrooms, kitchens and fireplaces. |


Set on a secluded hillside, this lovingly designed B&B with cosy and comfortable rooms offers a relaxing stay and a hearty breakfast. The deck is a lovely place to hang out on a sunny day. |

places to stay in grand teton national park


Best place to stay in Grand Teton for a quiet stay near the northern end of the park

Pros // If you are not staying in the national park itself, the lodges in Moran offer the best access to the northern part of the park at a lower cost. With most visitors staying further south, it’s also removed from the crowds and perfect for exploring Jackson Lake and Colter Bay.

Cons // Moran is a remote part of the Grand Tetons so unless the lodging has facilities, you’ll need to drive to some of the more central regions for essentials.


At this cool, budget-friendly lodging, choose from either a tipi or wagon for a fun stay in the Tetons. There’s an onsite café and it’s only a 5-minute drive to the Moran Gate entrance to the park. |


This atmospheric lodging has wooden huts, a traditional dining room, and a bar/lounge area that’s perfect for relaxing. The onsite grill will keep you satiated and it’s just 10 minutes to the Moran Gate. |

where to stay grand teton 2


Park Fees – Entrance to the Grand Teton National Park is valid for 7 days and prices are on the NPS website. The excellent value America the Beautiful pass is valid for one year and covers entrance fees at all US National Parks and many other wildlife and rural areas.

National Park Roads – The Grant Teton and Moose-Wilson roads are open to cars from the beginning of May to the end of October. In winter these roads are closed making some parts of the park inaccessible.

Yellowstone – Yellowstone National Park, just north of the Grand Teton National Park, can take 3 to 4 days to explore with plenty of driving involved. While you could explore both parks from one hotel, it’s better to stay centrally in each of them.

grand teton mountain range


We’ve been providing free travel content since 2017, helping our readers explore new and familiar destinations.

Following us on social media, using our resource page or buying us a coffee, helps keep Anywhere We Roam on the road.

Thanks for your support, Paul & Mark.




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The Grand Teton National Park is a beautiful wilderness area in Wyoming with jagged mountain ranges, lush meadows and interesting hiking trails. Here’s what to do in the Grand Tetons – the understated star of the US parks.

The summits of the Grand Teton mountains are a row of jagged pinnacles soaring towards the sky. Beneath them, canyons drop to emerald-green lakes surrounded by wildflowers, sagebrush meadows and swathes of forest.

The Grand Teton National Park accommodates a host of invigorating activities. Hike mountain passes, paraglide from rocky peaks and kayak in pristine lakes. 

Grand Teton is also one of the best places in the US to see wildlife. Bears and moose are far denser than they are in nearby Yellowstone, and bison, elk, and pronghorn deer are regular grazers on open plains.  

It’s one of our favourite parks in the US with sublime scenery and a relaxed, understated western vibe. The entire area deserves at least two to three days to explore, but if you are an avid hiker or wildlife watcher you could easily spend longer.

Read on for all the best things to do in Grand Teton National Park including when to visit and where to stay.

Booking your trip via the links on this page (or on our book page) will earn us a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support – Paul & Mark.

viewpoint in the grand teton national park


The Grand Teton National Park is located in the northwest of Wyoming. The park includes most of the Teton mountains and the Jackson Hole valley. It’s 10 miles south of Yellowstone National Park.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


The mountains of the Grand Tetons are a line of jagged peaks rising from a flat plain, with flower-strewn meadows in the foreground and several lakes enhancing the scene.

Drive the 42-mile loop between the town of Moose and Willow Flats using a combination of HWY 89 and the Teton Park Road that passes Jenny Lake, and you’ll see the best viewpoints in the Grand Tetons.

Here are our favorites which are all marked on the map at the top of this guide.

Willow Flats – A large grazing area with the best view of the Grand Teton mountains rising above it. Elk and moose can often be spotted here, especially at dawn, and the golden colors throughout the fall are wonderful.

Oxbow Bend – A sweeping bend in the Snake River offers great reflections of Mount Moran. On cold mornings, the mist lingers in the valley giving it a magical feel. Keep an eye out for river otters, bald eagles, and ospreys.

Signal Mountain Summit – A ten-minute detour from the 42-mile loop, the road climbs to the summit of Signal Mountain, where a 200-meter walk to a viewpoint allows you to look straight across at the Grand Teton mountains and the national park.

Mountain View Turnout – This lookout has a wild a rugged feel with the peaks of the Grand Tetons at their sharpest. The flats are abundant with sagebrush which contrasts with the jagged peaks.

Snake River Overlook – This viewpoint was made famous by the photographer Ansel Adams. A sweep of the Snake River cuts through sagebrush flats as the Grand Tetons rise behind. Today however, some trees obscure part of the view.

Schwabacher Landing – Another short detour off the 42-mile loop, this viewpoint gets right next to the river as it meanders between wood and willow. The mountains which rise in the background are beautifully reflected in the water on a still day.  


The Jenny Lake Scenic Drive skirts the eastern edge of Jenny Lake and offers scenic views across the water to the mountains.

Don’t miss the Jenny Lake Overlook for an easy but scenic view. Nearby, the Jenny Lake Lodge is a full-service resort with natural wood cabins that bring a taste of luxury to the idyllic setting.

The scenic drive is only 3 miles long and runs one way (from north to south). There are wide cycle lanes making it perfect for exploring the area on a bike.

jenny lake scenic drive grand tetons


One of the most popular things to do in Grand Teton National Park is to head onto the water at Jenny Lake. The Jenny Lake Visitors centre provides tours and equipment hire for your excursion.

Here are some of the options available.

Scenic Cruise – Two or 3 scenic cruises of Jenny Lake run each day from mid-May to the end of September. Reservations are recommended. Price – Adults $30 | Children $25.

Canoe & Kayaks – Canoes (up to 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 children) or kayaks (up to 2 people) can be rented from the dock where the scenic cruise departs between mid-June and mid-September. Price – $25 an hour | $100 for the day on a first come first served basis.


A great way to combine a boat trip on Jenny Lake and a short hike in the Grand Tetons is to head to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. Start at the Jenny Lake Visitors centre and get the shuttle boat across Jenny Lake to the West Shore Boat Dock which sits at the bottom of Cascade Canyon.

From the dock, a hiking trail slowly winds back and forth across Cascade Creek as it steadily climbs to Hidden Falls – a small cascade set in the woods. The path steepens and crosses a rocky ledge to arrive at Inspiration Point where views stretch out across the lake.

The hike is 1 mile each way and takes about 1 hour and thirty minutes to complete. The path climbs steadily, so it takes a bit of puff, but it’s a great way to get into the mountains.

Hardier hikers can continue the Cascade Canyon Trail, which keeps rising beyond Inspiration Point. Head up as far as you want before turning around.

Once back at the West Shore Boat Dock, either take the shuttle boat back across Jenny Lake or walk back on the southern end of the lake to the Visitor Centre via Moose Ponds (1 hour 30 minutes).

Jenny Lake Boat Shuttle – One-way ($12) or return trips ($20) are available. The shuttle runs every 10 to 15 minutes from the East Boat Dock next to the Jenny Lake Visitors Centre.


Moose Ponds are two small lakes tucked into a dell, south of Jenny Lake. These two beautiful ponds are excellent for spotting moose. On our trip, we saw a bull and three cows soaking themselves in the ponds and wandering through the reeds.

The trail to the ponds is beautiful with wildflowers and aspen marking the route as it clings to the edge of Jenny Lake.

From the Jenny Lake Visitors centre Moose Ponds is a 1-mile hike each way with very little elevation. Allow about 1 hour 15 minutes for the entire return walk or include it on a day trip to Cascade Canyon as mentioned above.

Once at the ponds there is an optional 1.7-mile loop around them.


Of all the lakes that sit under the Grand Tetons, String Lake is our favorite. Often sheltered and still, it shimmers a translucent green as the mighty Teton peaks rise above it.

After tiring yourself out exploring the national park, ending the day here is one of the best things to do in the Grand Tetons. Find a quiet stretch of beach, go for a swim in the (slightly chilly) waters and enjoy a picnic under the trees.

String Lake is right next to both the Leigh Lake Trailhead car park and the String Lake Trailhead car park. Be aware, there are often bears in the area so follow all the rules on the signs. In particular, don’t leave food lying about.


Another great way to end the day is at the Blue Heron Lounge. Tucked in a corner of the classy old-school Jackson Lake Lodge, this cool bar has massive windows offering fantastic views across to the mountains.

They have both indoor and outdoor tables, or you can pull up a stool around the circular bar. Cocktails are mixed to perfection, and they have several excellent local craft ales that are well worth trying.

The Blue Heron Lounge is a great place to watch the sun slowly drop behind the Tetons as the skies turn a burnt orange.

blue heron lounge grand tetons


The Grand Tetons is one of the best places in the USA to spot bears with a greater density than Yellowstone. While meeting bears on a hike in the mountains can be nerve-wracking, seeing them from the safety of your own car is downright exciting.

One of the best places to spot bear is along the Moose-Wilson Road.

Connecting the town of Moose with Teton Village, the Moose-Wilson road heads through forest and marshland, home to a wide array of wildlife. Moose are often spotted feeding on the willows, and you’ll also see beavers, herons and cranes.

While you can spot both black and brown bears from late spring to fall, the best chance to see them is mid-August to late September when they feed on the berries that line the edge of the road to fatten up for hibernation.

There are a couple of detours worth considering. Pull off at the turnout near the northern end of the road and look over the Snake River keeping an eye out for moose.

Alternatively, a bumpy, rocky track heads up to the Death Canyon Trailhead car park from where a 1-mile trail leads to the pretty Phelps Lake Overlook (30 minutes each way). The drive is usually doable in a 2WD, but the last five hundred metres might best be done on foot.

Finally, stop in at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve to learn about the conservation of the area.

The Moose-Wilson road is usually open from May to November. It was closed for much of 2022 but plans to reopen in May 2023.


In 1927 John D Rockefeller purchased much of the land that surrounds Jackson Hole. He gave the bulk of it to the Grand Teton National Park allowing the boundaries to expand but kept 3,100 acres as a family retreat and guest ranch.

Over the years more land was donated to the National Park on the proviso that the preserve remains a place where visitors can experience the area.

The Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Centre is a beautifully designed modern structure set in a sagebrush meadow. Inside there are visual and sound displays of the local wildlife and a cool library packed with a wonderful selection of nature books.

A series of trails leave from the centre to picturesque Phelps Lake (1.5 miles each way – 1 hours 30 minutes in total). From the lake, even more trails head off in different directions, going around the lake or up to Granite Canyon, Open Canyon, or Death Canyon.

If you are worried about bears on route, join a ranger lead program which runs from mid-June to late September.


The Jackson Hole Aerial Tram which runs from Teton Village offers incredible views of the Grand Tetons.

In 12 minutes, the tram glides skyward rising 4,139 feet to a 360-degree viewing platform overlooking the Tetons, Jackson Hole and the surrounding mountain ranges.

From the summit, a series of hiking trails crisscross the mountains with various level of difficulty for everyone to enjoy. The Top of the World is an easy half-mile round trip; the Rock Springs Loop is a more strenuous 3.5-mile hike, while the Cirque Trail traverses the summit of Rendezvous Mountain.

For a thrilling way down, paragliding in Jackson Hole will give you breathtaking vistas of the Snake River & Grand Teton National Park.


While moose and bear are often hidden in the trees, bison, elk, and pronghorn deer can often be spotted feeding on the grasses that line the road.

While they can be viewed anywhere in the park there are a few places that increase your chances.

Elk Ranch Turnout is good for elk and bison, and the meadows either side of the road from Jackson Dam South to Moose are good for bison and pronghorn.

Blacktail Ponds and Antelope Flats on the other side of the road is a popular spot for elk and bison who come during the cooler parts of the day.

bison on the plains in grand teton national park


Arriving in the 1890s Mormons built a cluster of 27 homesteads on a gentle sloping cove between Blacktail Butte and the Gros Ventre Mountains. Today only six homesteads survive, but together they form the Mormon Row Historic District, also known as Antelope Flats.

There are two particularly picturesque and historic barns. The Moulton Barns which took 30 years to build is an iconic image of the Tetons. The Chambers Homestead harnessed electricity from the windmill in 1946.

The old wooden structures set under a mountainous backdrop, in fields where bison often roam, is a great location for photography in the Tetons.

mormon row grand teton


One of the more educational things to do in the Grand Teton National Park is to join a ranger lead program. It’s a great way to learn more about how the area was formed and the ecosystems it contains.

Each year a different set of ranger programs are run, offering a variety of experiences.

  • Oxbow Bend Wildlife Watch – Spend an evening learning about wildlife in one of the most beautiful places in the park.
  • Hike to Moose Ponds – 2-hour 30-minute guided hike to Moose Pond.
  • An Evening at Jenny Lake – Engaging evening chat about the natural and cultural history of the park.
  • Hike to Phelps Lake – 2-hour 30-minute guided hike from the Laurance S. Rockefeller Centre to one of the prettiest lakes in the National Park.
grand teton mountain range


A 20-minute drive to the south of the Grand Teton National Park, the town of Jackson is a must-visit destination in the Tetons.

Situated in the valley called Jackson Hole, it was originally populated by Native American tribes such as Shoshoni, Crow, and Blackfeet. In the early 1800s trappers and mountain men came to the area and over the course of the next century news of the area’s beauty spread across the country.

Today Jackson is a charming town that lovingly combines old and new. Traditional western architecture sits side by side with modern boutiques and art galleries. Don’t miss the town square with its arch of elk antlers or the landscape photography in the Thomas Mangelsen gallery.

jackson city grand tetons


You can find more details on our where to stay in the Grand Tetons guide, but here are a few of our recommendations.

Jackson Lodge – A grand old lodge in the heart of the national park the views are superb, and the Blue Heron bar is a great place to end the day.

Jenny Lake Lodge – Quaint freestanding rustic wooden cabins nestled in a forest on the edge of the Jenny Lake Scenic Drive. Couldn’t be any more central or atmospheric.

Colter Bay Village – A sort of summer camp for the whole family, there are a mix of cabins and tented cabins, a couple of restaurants, a general store, and loads of national park activities right on your doorstep.

Huff House Inn – A stylish B&B in the heart of Jackson, choose between traditional cabins or chic contemporary rooms. Outside there’s a hot tub, barbecue, fire pit, and lovely garden patio.

Bentwood Inn – Wood clad cabins each individually styled offer a touch of indulgence in this scenic part of the world. The inviting lounge has a warming fireplace, board games and grand piano for those rainy days.

Elk Country Inn – Four blocks from the centre of Jackson, the Elk Inn is built in wood and stone and makes a friendly retreat at the end of the day. There’s a pool and hot tub, and in winter shuttles run to the ski slopes.

misty river in the grand tetons wyoming


The best time to visit Grand Teton National Park is from mid-May to late September when all the scenic roads, visitor centres and walking trails are open. The weather is excellent during the summer months, but the area is busy during the school holidays making June and September ideal.

Wildlife watchers may want to aim for mid-August to late September when the bears feed on the berries around the Moose-Wilson Road and elk begin to rut while the leaves are turning a wonderful golden yellow.

Hikers planning on hitting the high trails should aim for summer as snow takes a while to clear from the higher passes in spring and can arrive surprisingly early in fall.

Finally, although much of the park is closed in winter wildlife is still plentiful. Moose, coyotes, and wolves are often easier to spot and a steady trail of migrating elk head to the National Elf Refuge from late October to December. Skiers flock to the slopes above Teton Village from January to March.


We recommend two to three days in the Grand Teton National Park. This is enough time to visit all the viewpoints, drive the most scenic roads, do a bit of wildlife spotting, and complete a couple of short hikes.

Wildlife fanatics and avid hikers could stay longer. The animal density in Grand Tetons is excellent and there are loads of trails heading passed magnificent canyons, lakes and mountain peaks.


We’ve been providing free travel content since 2017, helping our readers explore new and familiar destinations.

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From sleek designer resorts to cheery budget-friendly boltholes, find the Sin City vacation you’re looking for with our guide to the best places to stay in Las Vegas.  

In a city whose reputation revolves around getting what you want, finding the best place to stay in Las Vegas involves a plethora of options.

Some Vegas stays are about locking yourself in a resort. Lazing around inviting oasis-style pools flanked by comfy cabanas while ordering cocktails from a smartly dressed waiter.

Others are about being in the centre of the action. Absorbing the beating pulse of Las Vegas in high-rolling casinos, adrenaline-charged performances or late-night cocktails.

Whatever you’re looking for, Las Vegas has an extensive range of hotels and resorts spanning a wide range of facilities and budgets.

Our guide to the best places to stay in Las Vegas includes a breakdown of each of the main areas, what they offer, plus some suggested hotels in each cost bracket.

For more tips on Sin City, read our guide to the best things to do in Las Vegas.

Booking your trip via the links on this page (or on our book page) will earn us a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support – Paul & Mark.

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Although The Strip is only 4.2 miles long, it’s important to think about where you want to base yourself in Las Vegas and what type of stay you are looking for. There are three main considerations:

1 | Hotel Facilities – The first consideration is the type of hotel you’re looking for. Do you want something packed with facilities including pools, restaurants, and a casino? Or will you be spending most of your time exploring outside your hotel.

2 | Location – Different parts of Las Vegas have a different feel. The Central Strip is the most visually stunning with grand hotels and the main tourist attractions. But other areas have their own drawcards including activities for kids or great local nightlife.

2 | Budget – Big resort-style hotels come with a hefty price tag, but there are still some bargains to be had. However, reducing the budget generally means moving further away from the central strip or selecting a hotel with fewer amenities.

We’ve split this guide into 5 different areas to help you decide where to stay. Each includes top-end, mid-range, and budget hotel recommendations.


Before deciding where to stay in Las Vegas it’s worth bearing a few things in mind.

  • Las Vegas Resort Fees – All Las Vegas hotels charge a resort fee which must be paid directly to the hotel on checkout. Both and include the resort fee in the advertised price, however, it’s excluded from the initial payment you make online. Resort fees are charged per room, per night and exclude taxes.
  • Be flexible on dates – It’s generally cheaper to stay in Las Vegas outside weekends and public holidays.
  • Check performance dates – If there is a show you really want to see, make sure performances are taking place during your visit.
  • Book early – Popular sporting events, shows and restaurants (particularly ones run by celebrities) can book out well in advance.
  • Check the weather – Las Vegas is in the middle of the desert, so if you plan on doing outdoor activities (except lazing by the pool) it’s a good idea to know what sort of temperatures to expect for the time of year you plant visit.
  • Know what’s going on – Las Vegas is the home of big conferences which often push up the prices of hotels. Try to avoid any big conferences if you can.  
  • Age limits – Hotels will only allow guests under 21 to stay with a parent or guardian and gambling and drinking is only permitted for those aged 21 and above.


The map below shows the hotels across the 5 different Las Vegas areas. Each area can be explored individually on foot, but getting between them involves a taxi, bus, or monorail trip. Most of the time this is not a problem, but on weekend evenings, taxi and bus rides can be slow.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


The central Las Vegas Strip is the heart of the city. This is where the grandest and most imposing hotels are located and many of the best things to do in Las Vegas are nearby.

The central Strip broadly runs between the intersection of East Desert Inn Road and East Flamingo Road, covering the Wynn Hotel down to Planet Hollywood. It includes the Eiffel Tower at Paris, the fountains at Bellagio, the shops in Caesar’s Palace, and the canals of the Venetian.

This is where to stay in Las Vegas if you want the best of the action on your doorstep.

Benefits // Being in the heart of the city means you can walk straight out of your room and explore central Vegas – an area that’s always buzzing with energy. For the most popular shopping, restaurants, nightlife and hotels, the central strip is where it’s at.

Disadvantages // Being in the most popular section of the strip means it’s often busy and crowded. The hotel costs are generally higher, however, there are a couple of older hotels that are often well-priced.

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Wynn Las Vegas

More elegant than over-the-top, Wynn Las Vegas is a luxurious resort packed with amenities including an 18-hole golf course, designer boutique shops and an oasis swimming pool. The guest rooms are a masterclass in style and comfort, powered by the latest tech.

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The Venetian

The grand lobby of the Venetian is the start of great things to come with a huge array of designer shops, several top-end restaurants and a 5-acre pool and garden. Each room is a suite making The Venetian one of the most romantic stays in Las Vegas.

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The richly decorated star of the Oceans 11 movie has well-equipped spacious rooms with sumptuous decor that will make you feel like a movie star. With an art gallery, 5 pools and a host of elegant restaurants, you’re in for a memorable stay in Las Vegas.

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As one of the most-famous themed hotels on the Strip, Paris delivers an immersive experience complete with cobblestone arcades, a world-renowned spa, and recently updated rooms in regal aesthetics. Off-season, Paris can be exceptional value.

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Caesar’s Palace

Although one of the grandest hotels on the Las Vegas strip, Caesars can deliver a reasonably priced stay starting with a small bolthole through to their lavish suites. With enough retail opportunities to satisfy the shopaholics and international acts in the Colosseum, Caesars is a memorable stay in Las Vegas.

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It’s all fabulous at Flamingos with a massive casino floor, a 15-acre pool, and a hotel bursting with character. The Wildlife Habitat has exotic birds and fish, and their Go or Fab rooms can be excellent value. One of the older hotels in the area means you get a central location without an eye-watering price.

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Treasure Island

With a whimsical deserted island feel, Treasure Island has family-friendly restaurants, an Avengers immersive experience and Fashion Show Mall – a whopping shopping mall – is just a 5-minute walk away. Large well-equipped rooms are often well-priced.

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Planet Hollywood

Edging towards the hip side of Vegas hotels, Planet Hollywood has contemporary features and a party atmosphere. With celebrity restaurants, plenty of shopping and outdoor hot tubs that overlook the Strip, Planet Hollywood is a movie-star stay in Las Vegas.

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The LINQ is the perfect place to stay in Las Vegas for great value accommodation in the heart of the action. The good-sized rooms have all the amenities you need, and the resort boasts multiple bars, celebrity restaurants, upscale shopping, and The High Roller – a 550-foot Ferris wheel.

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The southern Las Vegas Strip includes the area from Planet Hollywood down to Mandalay Bay. Although not as intoxicating as the Central Strip, it still packs a punch with several high-end hotels geared towards adults near the border of the Central and Southern sections, making it easy to move between both.

It also has plenty of family-friendly action. New York New York has a roller coaster, Excalibur relives a King Arthur theme and Mandalay Bay has a huge pool complex, a shark reef, and regular sporting events.

The Pinball Museum is a great alternative to the regular Las Vegas attractions.

Advantages // There are plenty of themed hotels in the southern part of the Strip with activities to keep the kids entertained. Many of the casinos have cheaper games than you’ll find on the central strip.

Disadvantages // It’s around a 45-minute walk, or a taxi ride, to go to the Central Strip which you’ll want to explore for at least some of your stay in Las Vegas.  

south strip las vegas hotels


Waldorf Astoria

If you’re not fussed about gambling the Waldorf Astoria is one of the best places to stay in Las Vegas for casino-free elegance. This ultra-stylish property is a calm oasis right in the centre of the Strip. The Sky Bar, sprawling pool deck and several rooms all offer panoramic views of Las Vegas.

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Four Seasons

The Four Seasons is a stylish property in a slightly hidden location on the southern end of the Strip. The rooms are elegantly decorated with wood panelling, marble finishes and plenty of facilities. Lazing by the landscaped pool after a treatment at the 5-star spa is a great way to detox in this luxurious resort without a casino.

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The Signature at MGM Grand

With access to all the facilities at the sibling property, the MGM Grand, The Signature is a swanky stay with breathtaking views over the Strip. Each of the rooms have top quality amenities including jetted baths and luxury linen. The nearby Monorail Station can whisk you up to Paris in 13 minutes.

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NoMad Las Vegas

NoMad Las Vegas is classic glamour meets the spirit of Vegas in an understated residential-style hotel that avoids any trace of gaudiness. Instead of a lavish lobby, the stylish registration room is a taste of things to come. The rooms, located on the top 4 floors of the Park MGM, are sophisticated yet lowkey.

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New York, New York

If you’re the type of traveller who will only stay at a hotel with an onsite roller coaster, New York is the place for you. It’s about as American as it gets with faithful replicas of famous NYC landmarks and several American-style restaurants. The Spa at the MGM Grand is available for New York, New York Guests.

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Mandalay Bay

Set in a tropical oasis, Mandalay Bay delivers Asian-inspired resort vibes with a shark aquarium, a huge beach with a wave pool and a wellness centre. The rooms are vibrantly decorated with floor-to-ceiling windows offering a panoramic view of the Strip.

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Park MGM

The Park MGM is gimmick-free with classic design features, tasteful interiors and unpretentious yet classy rooms. The lobby has a garden theme with an impressive tree root sculpture and the pool is a place of calm with swanky loungers and excellent service.

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Tropicana by Hilton

With nods to Havana’s art deco architecture, Tropicana is a bright breezy hotel in Las Vegas with spacious comfortable rooms which are often great value. With all the amenities you need including a spa, health club, 2 pools, a casino and plenty of nightlife, it’s a great budget place to stay in Las Vegas.

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As one of the most-famous themed hotels in Las Vegas, the Luxor is a great place to stay in Las Vegas if you’re prepared to immerse yourself in the concept. The rooms are a little dated, but the pyramid shape of the building gives them a cool loft-style vibe. In any case, the Luxor is one of the best-value hotels in Las Vegas.

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Fully committing to the King Arthur theme, Excalibur is a cheery hotel with daily performances, pyrotechnics, and whimsical architecture. Facilities include 9 restaurants, a fun year-round pool deck, a fitness centre and a huge casino. The rooms are modern and fresh and often great value.

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excalibur las vegas


The northern section of the strip doesn’t have the buzz of the central and southern areas, but it’s quieter and more relaxing. As the strip continues to march northwards, several new hotel resorts have appeared in this part of town.

There are outlet shopping malls in the area as well as the Area15 Immersive entertainment venue and the thrill-seeking rides at the top of the Strat.

Advantages // This is the cheapest part of the strip, and the casino floors are generally much quieter. The minimum bets at the casinos are lower, so if you’re new to gambling, it’s the best area to have a go in a friendly environment.

Disadvantages // Although the hotels have plenty of facilities, they tend to lack some of the buzzing Vegas atmosphere. They are also spread further apart from each other and it’s a 3-mile taxi ride into the central strip.

skypod strat las vegas 1


Conrad at Resorts World

The ultra-swish rooms at Conrad Las Vegas feature high-tech conveniences including wireless charging, smart TVs and digital entry across their premium rooms and deluxe suites. A classy atmosphere is extended to high-quality dining, a casino floor with traditional Vegas hospitality and big-ticket shows such as Celine Dion and Katy Perry.

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Hilton Grand Vacations Club

The Hilton Grand Vacations is a great place to stay in Vegas for a traditional poolside holiday with whirlpool tubs, a fitness centre and a relaxing spa. High-speed internet access is provided in all suites and there are plenty of on-site restaurants, so you’ll rarely need to leave.

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Circus, Circus

Circus, Circus is a great choice in Las Vegas for a family-friendly vacation. The star attractions are the Adventure Dome with thrill rides, gaming arcades and free circus performances. There’s an awesome pool with a 50-foot slide and plenty of other amenities to keep the whole family happy including shopping, bars and a casino.

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The STRAT is one of the best low-cost accommodation options in Las Vegas with plenty of facilities and entertainment to satisfy the whole family. The Skypod Bar offers the best views of Las Vegas with 3 high-altitude roller coasters to test the nerves. The casino floor is one of the friendliest in town.

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Sahara Las Vegas

With easy access to the central Strip via the monorail, Sahara is a great budget place to stay in Las Vegas. The resort-style pools have bookable cabanas so you can relax and unwind in peace. With 5 restaurants and 6 bars there are plenty of dining choices.

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Fremont is the centre of Downtown Las Vegas, just north of the Strip. As the original Las Vegas, Fremont has vintage casinos, old-school neon signs and the most authentic nightlife in Vegas. Containing the roots of the city, Fremont has remained the heart and soul of Las Vegas as development proceeded southbound.

The 5-block pedestrian area of the Fremont Experience contains some of the best non-gambling activities in Vegas. Every night free live music kicks off under the world’s largest digital light display and you can still find cheap drinks and affordable hotels.

Advantages // Fremont has excellent nightlife which doesn’t need to cost a lot, live music on the street and much cheaper hotels. The casinos have retained the old-school Las Vegas feel.  

Disadvantages // Fremont is 5 miles from the main Strip, so you’ll need to get a taxi if you want to visit any of the central Strip casinos or go to a show. It can also be lively so it’s not a part of Vegas where you’d come to unwind and relax.

fremont street experiences las vegas


Circa Resort & Casino

Circa is a mid-priced resort with a host of big features including the world’s largest sports bar, a huge pool with a whopping 60-foot TV screen and loud, upbeat casino floor. The hotel rooms include affordable singles up to glitzy premium suits, all styled in bold retro details.

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Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino

The Downtown Grand is an affordable hotel just a few minutes from Fremont Street. The relatively peaceful resort is a respite from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Vegas. Relax on the chic pool deck or unwind in one of their casual bars. The rooms have modern amenities in clean luxurious designs.

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Golden Nugget

Embrace the real Vegas at the Golden Nugget, just a few minutes from the heart of the Fremont area. There are 9 restaurants, 2 Starbucks, a waterslide that passes through a shark tank, and an adult-only pool called the Hideout. A recent refurb has kicked this nugget into a golden vacation in Las Vegas.

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golden nugget las vegas


Staying off the strip allows you to save some money on accommodation in Las Vegas; diverting those funds into other activities.

If you’ve been to Vegas before and you know your way around, this might be a good option. However, if it’s your first time in Vegas, staying off the strip is a bit like seeing your favourite headliner act and sitting in the very back row. Yes, you’re there, but it’s not quite the experience you want to get.

Advantages // The big benefit of staying off the strip in Las Vegas is cost. Most of the resorts and hotels will be much cheaper and much quieter. You may also get facilities like free off-street parking, kitchenettes, or common laundry facilities in many of the hotels.

Disadvantages // To get into the strip or to the downtown area where most of the nightlife takes place, you’ll need to get a taxi which can chew up time and money.   

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Club Wyndham Desert Blue

Around 1 mile from the Strip, Club Wyndham has everything you need for a desert vacation including outdoor pools with cabanas, hot tubs and poolside bars. Rooms come with a fridge and microwave, and some have kitchenettes so you can prepare your own meals. There is no casino onsite.

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Club Wyndham Grand Desert

The Clue Wyndham Grand Desert is an excellent family-friendly stay in Las Vegas with a kids’ club, children’s pool area and plenty of activities to keep them occupied. One or 2-bedroom suites are fully equipped with kitchens, washers, dryers, large bedrooms and plenty of storage. 

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Desert Paradise Resort

Owned by the Hilton group, Desert Paradise Resort is relaxed Vegas fun just 2 miles from the strip. The family pool with jacuzzi is open until midnight and there is a 24-hour fitness center. Accommodation includes 1 or 2-bedroom suites with full kitchens, dishwashers and laundry facilities.

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fremont street experiences las vegas


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