Yellowstone National Park: The Ultimate Family Guide

Yellowstone national park family kids

Planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park? Yellowstone is an incredibly kid-friendly park with something to offer even the hardest to please. We’ve rounded up our top seven favorites below.

Courtesy of the National Park Service

Yellowstone with Kids Tip #1: The Yellowstone Junior Park Ranger Program

Mini explorers, unite! Visit one of the many Yellowstone visitor centers to enroll your child (age 4 and up) in the Junior Park Ranger program. For just $3, kids are invited to complete a self-guided booklet with age-appropriate games and activities (think: coloring, word search, journaling, listening to a Ranger program) as they explore the park. At the end of your visit simply turn the booklet in at any Ranger Station and receive an exclusive Junior Park Ranger badge.

Yellowstone National Park Favorite #2: Norris Geyser Basin

The Norris Geyser Basin is home to a number of otherworldly geothermal features. The trails stretch over 2 miles and cover the Norris Museum, Green Dragon Spring, Steamboat Geyser and more. Many of these features are acidic, so warn young children to stay away. And (bonus!): the flat boardwalks weaving through most of Norris Geyser Basin are perfect for your stroller and/or beginning hikers.

Visiting Yellowstone Must See #3: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is a breathtaking view worth stopping for as you make your way through the park. The Canyon itself is bookended by the Upper Falls to the Tower Falls area. There are a number of trails and walkways that lead to a handful of overlooks.

Grand Prismatic Spring, Photo Credit: @zulalife

Yellowstone Park Tip #4: Grand Prismatic Spring

The largest hot spring in the United States, Grand Prismatic Spring showcases a striking rainbow of colors unlike anything you’ve seen. A well-kept boardwalk leads you to a gentle incline up and around the spring with plenty of Instagram photo opportunities. And, since we know they’ll ask… read up on what causes the spring’s bright coloration in Smithsonian Magazine’s article, “The Science Behind Yellowstone’s Rainbow Hot Spring” so you can wow your kids with #science.

Our #5 Tip for Visiting: Old Faithful

Erupting every 90 minutes or so, Old Faithful is perhaps Yellowstone’s most recognizable attraction. Since timing is everything with kids, be sure to visit the Old Faithful website. That way you can plan your stop without having to wait long with a wiggling toddler. While you’re there, grab lunch or ice cream at the Old Faithful Inn to experience one of the country’s oldest log hotels.

#6 On The Yellowstone National Park Bucket List: The Upper Geyser Basin

Directly near Old Faithful sits The Upper Geyser Basin, featuring a number of impressive geysers including Grand Geyser, Riverside Geyser, and Solitary Geyser. Parents, rejoice: Much of the viewing area for these geysers is built on a stroller-friendly boardwalk, so you can strap your kiddos in and roll safely along at your own pace. And we do recommend strapping little ones into a stroller or carrier; many of the geysers and geothermal pools are close enough for tiny hands to touch.

Yellowstone National Park Tip #7: Wildlife watching

Let’s be honest, if you are traveling with toddlers you’re awake at the crack of dawn anyway… so make it worth your while! Animals in the park are most active at dawn and dusk. Visit the Lamar Valley for a chance at spotting wolves at sunrise or Hayden Valley to see black bear, bison and more. And be on the lookout while driving: bison are notorious for crossing the road, oblivious to humans. We loved this handy visual guide to animal spotting as an active way to search for animals while driving and identify animals once spotted.

Bonus: Grand Teton National Park

There are a lot of fun activities near Yellowstone National Park, too! Continue to drive south into Wyoming to visit Grand Teton National Park, featuring over 200 miles of trails (and more moose than you can count).

Visit Jenny Lake (about 7.5 miles from Moose Junction) and walk down to the Jenny Lake Boating boat dock to hitch a ride across the water ($18 round trip for adults, $10 round trip for children over 2. Babies and folks over 80 are free!). The boat shuttle is well worth the cost. Not only will you save yourself a long walk around the lake, you’ll see stunning views of the Tetons as you fly across the water. Your kids will love the thrill! From the dock, you will be able to easily access hiking trails like Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point off the Cascade Canyon Trail trailhead.

The hike to Hidden Falls from the arrival boat dock is only about 1.3 miles. Although it is rocky (not stroller-friendly!) it’s a gentle elevation gain for little hikers.

For families looking for a bit more advanced hiking, try Inspiration Point. Offering panoramic views and waterfall photo ops, Inspiration Point is 2.2 miles from the Cascade Canyon Trailhead (which is right where you’re dropped off by the boats).

Are you planning to visit Yellowstone National Park? Let us know your favorite hikes, meals, and wildlife viewing spots using the hashtag #GetFamilyApp on social media!

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