5 Family Friendly Hikes- Yellowstone

Last week’s guest post by Debi Huang on hiking with kids in Yosemite was so popular that I thought I would keep the spirit of National Park exploration alive and give Trekaroo families some incredible trails to take in Yellowstone as well.   Yellowstone is a massive park and these hikes were chosen in part for there amazing scenery and family friendly level of difficulty, but also to show off the incredible diversity that the park holds.

Best Hike to Find Your Kids Hypnotized by Bubbling Mud- Artist Paint Pots, Norris Area

It may sound a bit odd to those who haven’t experienced it, but there is something mesmerizing about the splitter splatter of hot bubbling mud.  The 1 mile hike starts out on a boardwalk that leads you through a burn area from the fires of 1988, and then heads over to the pots of gloppity goop.  The sound of the popping and sputtering coming from the mud pots, along with bubbling spectacle that they create, entranced my three year olds.  My husband literally had to drag the three of us away from the area.  Sometimes the mud pots get a little over zealous during their splatter filled show and specks of mud fly up onto the boardwalk. I had a couple wild specks land on my shorts and gladly wore them as a badge of pride for the rest of the trip.

Best Hike to find Geothermal Zen- Upper Geyser Basin to Morning Glory Pool, Old Faithful Area

Join the crowds and complete a Yellowstone right of passage by watchng the predicatable eruption of Old Faithful, then head out on one  of the trails that loop around the Upper Geyser Basin towards Morning Glory Pool.  The Geyser Hill (1.3 miles RT)  and Observation Point Loop Trails (1.1 miles RT) will get your family up close and personal with pristine geothermal pools and the grandest of geysers.  Some geysers erupt at fairly regular intervals such as Daisy, Castle, or my personal favorite, Riverside; while others tend to go off with no predictable timetable.  Make sure to keep your children on the trail.  The pools may be stunningly beautiful but many of them are also boiling hot!

Best Hike With an All Encompassing View- The Peak of Mt Washburn, Tower- Roosevelt Area

Photo Courtesy NPS

Make no mistake, the hike to the top of Mt Washburn is no tip toe through the tulips. The hike is 6 miles roundtrip and gains over 1300 feet in elevation on the way up, but the rewards are well worth the hike.  During the summer Mt Washburn is a wildflower wonderland, with over 50 different types of wildlfowers growing along the mountainside.  Bighorn sheep frequent the upper regions of the trail along with marmots, bears, deer, and the elusive pika.   The view from the trail is incredible.  On a clear days hikers can see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Yellowstone Lake, the Grand Tetons, and even an eruption of Old Faithful.

Best Place to Fully Appreciate the Wonders of Calcium Carbonate: Mammoth Hot Springs Boardwalk,  Mammoth Area

Most people have never given calcium carbonate much thought, let alone any appreciation.  After your family spends a couple hours touring the boardwalks traversing Mammoth Hot Springs, I have a feeling you will be all singing calcium carbonate’s praises. Almost 2 tons of the stuff comes spewing out of  approximately 50 hot springs which make up Mammoth Hot Springs, creating gorgeous travertine terraces in the process.  The scenery around Mammoth Hot Springs reminded me of a cross between an ancient Grecian palace and an alien planet.  The travertine itself is stark white but the algae living in the pools have tinted it shades of orange, brown, and red in places.  My kids had a blast climbing up and down stairs and running around the baordwalk (total walking distance 1-2 miles depending on your route) to get a better look at the different travertine formations around Mammoth Hot Springs.  I can almost guarantee yours will as well!

Best Place to be Amazed by Both Gravity and Water- Lower Yellowstone Falls Overlook, Canyon Area

Yes, you can get an amazing view of both Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls from Artist Point or Lookout Point, but to truly be amazed by the sheer amount of water flowing over the falls on a daily basis, head down the Brink of the Lower Falls Trail (a short but steep 2/3 mile RT) and be blown away.  This trail is nothing more than a series of switchbacks leading down to an observation platform at the brink of the falls, but watching the rushing Yellowstone River plunge 308 feet over the edge certainly took my breath away!  Need help encouraging your kids to make the climb back up?  Have them count the switchbacks and tell them if a two year can do it, so can they!

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–Sharlene Earnshaw (aka doubleadventure) is Blogger-in-chief for Trekaroo and the blogger behind Double the Adventure.

Travel with kids to: CA | CO | DC | FL | HI | IL | MA | NC | NY | PA | TN | TX | VA | WA


Featured photo by: Shutterstock

About the author

Sharlene Earnshaw is Trekaroo’s Editor in Chief. She lives in sunny Orange County, CA, with her husband and 10-year-old son and daughter (twins!). She is a self-proclaimed National Park junkie and has the goal of visiting each and every one with her kids. When she isn't traveling to places like Norway, Peru, Disney World, and Hawaii with her family, she enjoys hiking, beach days, obsessively rooting for the San Francisco 49ers, and planning her brood's next trip.
4 Responses
  1. Michelle Brennan

    I have been looking for some inof on hikes with kids in Yellowstone!!! Thanks… how about Glacier!!!

  2. Is it possible to hike Coyote Falls Goulch UT with a 5 year old? Going to West Yellowstone and beyond this August. Crowd haters looking for breathtaking views and experiences to remember.

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