I am working on putting together a great list of posts of family-friendly vacation destinations. Some are places we have visited as a family, and others are places that are on our summer vacation “bucket list.” All of them are perfect places to spend with your family this summer. Most of these destinations you could spend an entire week or more visiting, or you could plan out a day or two to visit and choose which activities you will do. This week’s destination is Yellowstone.
I won’t just be featuring each of the places. Instead, I will be sharing an extensive list of fun activities that are sure to make for some amazing memories. Hopefully, this will help you to plan your family vacation and save money while doing so. Each of the lists will include both FREE activities as well as paid activities since not all of us have an endless amount of money to spend while on vacation.
For us, a family of 8, who usually travels with extra kiddos. I pick a couple of paid activities to do and then find other free activities to spend the rest of our trip spending our time doing.
Yellowstone is one of the most dreamed about places to visit in the United States. Located mostly in Wyoming but also in Idaho and Montana. It contains the largest hydrothermal system on the planet and the world’s largest collection of geysers. Yellowstone consists of 300 geysers (2/3 on the planet). As if that wasn’t enough you will be able to view amazing amounts of wildlife around the park. It has even been nicknamed the Serengeti of North America due to the high amounts of wildlife you will find here.
The park was established in 1872 and named a UNESCO Heritage Sites in 1988. You will find bears, deer, antelope, elk, mountain lions, wolves, eagles, coyotes, bison, countless amounts of birds, and much more wildlife. At over 3,000sq miles it will take you hours to drive from one side of the park to the other. If you plan to spend a family vacation in the park and would like to stay in the park make sure to book early, reservations are booked over a year in advance.
Due to the fact that first off the park is located at a higher elevation then most people are used to, know it may take you a couple of days to get used to being higher up th
Happy Children Means Happy Trip
Most places you will visit in the park with be quite a distance away from each other. Even if you may not think it will take you that long to get to your next destination, plan to add time due to frequent summer construction, traffic, and even stops for animal crossings.
Due to the fact that your car rides will be extended and many of the attractions require walk
Drive around The Park
As you can imagine the views when driving around Yellowstone are amazing! With it taking hours to drive from one part of the park to another part it can be difficult trying to figure out just where to take a scenic drive while in the park. Here are a few spots where you can sit back and enjoy the amazing drive. Make sure to schedule some time to be able to make stops and view the scenery. Beartooth Highway (US 212), Chief Joseph Scenic Hwy (Hwy 296), Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway (U.S
Yellowstone Zip Line Adventure Park
Looking to view the park from a whole different perspective? Well
This is one of the well-known places to visit while in Yellowstone. This also means during the summer it will be FULL of people so beware of this ahead of time. Plan on spending 1-2 hours here just to look at the spring. Plan more time if you would like to look at the overlook or hike any of the local trails. To top that off-plan on waiting 20-30 minutes just for a parking spot in the lot if you arrive anytime after 10:30 am. I highly suggest planning on going to the overlook area for a great view of the spring from higher up. Also, while walking the paths you will be able to see a few other springs that are along the way.
Lastly, if you want to see the colors as colorful and bright as possible there are a few things you should know. First off, the best times of the year for the most colorful display are May-September plan for the middle of a bright sunny day. If you go on a cloudy day or earlier or later in the day it just won’t be as colorful. If you go in the fall or winter it is more of a brown color and you cannot even see the different colors.
Uncle Tom’s Trail
Uncle Tom’s Trail is not exactly a trail, it is a place that consists of over 300 steel steps that lead to the bottom of the “Grand Canyon” of Yellowstone. You will get an amazing view of the Lower Falls, and if you’re lucky enough you might even be able to see a rainbow coming from the waterfalls. Climbing down may seem like a rather simple task, but it’s climbing up a 500
Imagine a waterfall that is twice the size of Niagara, not in terms of a waterfall just in the drop size which comes in at 308 feet (twice as high as Niagara). This is acclaimed as one of the absolute best views in the park, one you surely have to stop and see for yourself and perfect for families. To make it even better, it is a super easy to reach the view and any skill level will be able to witness this beautiful view.
Take Helicopter Ride Over Park
Helicopter or small airplane rides over an area give you an absolutely amazing perspective of beauty. The tours of the Yellowstone area give you some pristine views of nature and the beauty not otherwise seen due to the remote location of this giant national park.
Another iconic spot to visit in Yellowstone. One of the must-stop destinations inside the park. Old Faithful erupts on average of every 90 minutes, but really between every 30 minutes to 2 hours. The rangers can give you an estimate of when eruptions will take place, give or take a few minutes. Kids will absolutely love this cone geyser that shoots water over 100 feet in the air. The eruptions can last anywhere from 1 1/2 to 5 minutes. When visiting there are multiple hikes to different places around Yellowstone, so it’s best to plan on spending some time in this area.
Old Faithful Geyser Loop Trail
A very well known short and easy trail around Old Faithful. It is a simple enough trail for kids of all ages to take and offers beautiful views of Old Faithful erupting. You will get to see other geysers and hot springs along the way. This is a perfect trail to add into your day visiting Old Faithful.
There are many places you can see wildlife while visiting Yellowstone, I mean with 2.2 million acres there has to be wildlife everywhere you turn. You will find countless numbers of birds and fish, deer, antelope, bears, wolves, coyotes, Elk, bison, eagles, and much more. One of the well-known places to view a variety of wildlife is in Lamar Valley. It has been nicknamed the
The just over a 6-mile hike to the top of Mt. Washburn is considered a medium intensity hike. You will get unprecedented views of the surrounding areas which is why this is one the most favorite day hikes in the park. With an elevation of almost 11,000 feet, you will be able to see for 20-50 miles away. If you take this hike in July you will see that wildflowers carpet the ground. Along the path, you will also likely come across bighorn sheep.
Visit Grand Canyon Of Yellowstone
Rock walls in multiple hues of color over 1,000 feet deep lined with a giant waterfall twice the size of Niagara Falls. That is the “Grand Canyon” of Yellowstone you will find in Yellowstone. If you want to view this multi-colored beauty, you can do so by taking one of the multiple different hiking paths ranging from easy to strenuous. You could also head to one of the overlooks for a quick and simple way to view this beautiful place. Either way, this 20
Take A Swim
While there are many places that look like they may be a great place for a swim, not all of them really are. There are only a couple that it is recommended that you take a swim in. Boiling River is where
Lake Butte Overlook
The perfect spot to be for an amazing sunset view in Yellowstone in Lake Butte Overlook! You will see a beautiful view of Yellowstone Lake and geyser fields from this perfect lookout spot. There are also only a few spots in Yellowstone where you can view the Teton mountain range (which is 100 miles south), this being one of them.
Located in the Northeastern section of the park you will find one of the most popular waterfalls in Yellowstone, the beautiful Tower Falls. These falls have an amazing drop of 132 feet. There is a 3/4 mile hike down a path in order to see the falls. You used to be able to hike to the bottom and see the falls, however, erosion has since then worn away
Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs is one of the iconic places to stop while visiting Yellowstone. They are a large area of hot springs on a hill with underlying limestone allow a terrace to form above ground, making it quite a marvelous sight to see. Over the years calcium carbonate has collected around the hot springs making different colored layers, adding to the beauty of this natural wonder.
When arriving at the hot springs, you will park along the side of the road. While there is a boardwalk that will span the length of both the lower and upper springs, it is about 1.75 miles long, along a hot path. So if your not up for the hike, or have a bunch of little kids I suggest viewing the lower springs and then going back to the car and driving up to the upper springs. Be sure to stop by the Albright Visitors Center as well as grab some ice cream from the Terrace Grill close to the hotel.
Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center
For a small fee, you can visit the not-for-profit wildlife facility. While you are there you will get a chance to see both grizzly bears as well as wolves. All the animals living in this facility were given a second chance at life. They were all considered nuisance animals, injured animals, or taken
Old West Dinner Cookout
You will arrive at Pleasant Valley either by horse or covered wagon when enjoying the Old West Dinner Cookout. When you arrive you will get a chance to eat cowboy grub. Your meal will consist of coffee brewed over an open fire, steak, baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw, cornbread muffins, fruit crisp, and more. They do have a vegetarian option available for anyone wanting this instead. While you enjoy your delicious food, you will get a chance to hear some great western songs sung by none other than a cowboy. You will likely get a chance to see a variety of wildlife while on this cookout as on the way you will explore the area and because dinner is served at dusk when many animals come out.
Yellowstone, a fly-fishing paradise. Due to this reason, there is a lot of fishing that takes place inside Yellowstone. Due to the strict regulation on where you can fish, you need to do a little research before just going into the park and fishing where ever you want to. They have spots for beginners through
Take a short 1/4 mile hike to dragons mouth spring and what remains of Mud Volcano. It is a muddy hot spring that is no longer active, but once shot mud 30 feet into the air, even hitting the trees. While you are viewing Mud Volcano you will get a chance to see many other great sights there. One of which is the most sulfuric spring in the park. The PH Level of Sulfur Cauldron is as high as stomach acid, you will obviously smell the cauldron well before seeing it.
Hayden Valley is located in the central valley in Yellowstone and is a perfect spot for being able to view wildlife as it is a giant wide open area. Many people who have visited Yellowstone say that Hayden Valley is the absolute best spot for viewing wildlife and some even stated it was the highlight of their trip. There are many different pull-offs along this road, so you will get many chances to stop and view the wildlife. To get a real up
One of the ever-popular activities in the park that can range from a few hours long to multi-day long adventures. Due to the size of the park, there are obviously many different companies that offer horseback riding. HERE is a list of different companies. While on the tours you will walk along riversides, through
The fishing bridge was historically known as a super popular place for fishing in Yellowstone Lake. Since then, in 1973 fishing from the bridge was prohibited. So now people will stop along the bridge just to view the fish in the waters below. There is also now a campground, visitor center, store, and even a gas station. The campground fills up very quickly, often over a year in advance. So book ahead of time.
West Thumb Geyser Basin
The West Thumb Geyser Basin is essentially a caldera within a caldera. It is one of the only underwater active hydro-thermal features in the park. It consists of a dirt trail with several wooden boardwalks loop that is about 2/3 of a mile long. There is a second trail the loops along this trail for an even more in-depth look at the beautiful
Picnic Next To Lake
There are so many different lakes found inside Yellowstone. Make sure to pack a picnic lunch or dinner and a blanket so you can enjoy a relaxing picnic lunch next to one of these lakes. You never know what type of wildlife you will see while enjoying your picnic.
Hike Storm Point Trail
An easy but favorite one for children is hiking the Storm Point Trail. It may be due to the fact that during this hike you get a chance to see the adorable Marmot while out on this trail. The trail is about 2.4 miles long and is talked about as one of the best family-friendly trails in the park. You will also get an amazing view of the Grand Tetons along this path across Mary Bay as well as up-close encounters with wildlife. Check to make sure the path is open before heading out as it will occasionally close due to the fact it is prime grizzly bear area early in the season.
If you were to have visited this basin prior to the 1959 earthquake, this was a geyser that regularly erupted into the air 10-12 feet. Around the outside of the basin were
I cannot think of a better way to know you have entered such an amazing park as Yellowstone than to pass through the Roosevelt Arch. Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of this acclaimed arch. It can be found at the north entrance of the park. The arch stands a soaring 50 feet tall and the opening is a spacious 25 feet wide. Countless people stop to get their photos taken at the arch every year. The inscription at the top of the arch reads “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.”
Since 1964 audiences have been enjoying family-friendly live entertainment from the local Playmill Theater. Still today you can stop by and enjoy watching a performance that will surely lead to lasting life long memories. I can’t think of a better way to spend a relaxing evening after hiking through the park and enjoying the scenery.
Have you ever been to Yellowstone? If so what was your favorite thing to do or see? Any advise or tips on visiting the park? Leave a comment letting me know, I would love to hear from you!