Summer of 2017, the parking lot at Tom's Trail is closed for renovation......that means everyone is going past to Artist Point and the parking is very limited. We travel by motorcycle and we can nudge in anywhere......However, if you're like most and in a car there are a couple of things you can do.
First, and this is true anywhere in the park......the early bird gets easy access. Get there before 8:30 AM, yes, it's vacation and you don't want to get up that early, but it works. After 10, everyone is in line at the gate and you'll lose 45 min to an hour and you will be in lines all day long.
Artist Point road is narrow and it will back-up from the lot as each car waits for one to leave.......you can easily sit here for another hour. The lot is a single loop but after you go around there is a re-entry......we saw open spaces on the far side of the loop, but cars didn't want to go around for fear of losing their place. Since you're already ahead of the cars in line, someone will let you reenter.....it takes great patience, but it's worth it.
I mean really just go early, tourists don't get moving before 9......don't be with them.
From the lot, it is a short walk, about 200 yards on a paved trail with a little decline and then one flight of stairs at the overlook. It's not a difficult walk. I rate this as one of the top 2 things to see in Yellowstone, this and Grand Prismatic Spring.