Yellowstone: America’s first national park attracts millions of visitors every year. But what’s the hype? Is it worth it to bring your whole family just to see Old Faithful? Well, if that’s all you do in Yellowstone, it may be a tad underwhelming.
Fortunately, there are so many activities you can enjoy while visiting the park. Here are our seven favorite activities to help you plan your ultimate Yellowstone family vacation this year.
1 – CAMPING
There are few things as special as waking up in a cozy sleeping bag and unzipping your tent to find yourself surrounded by breathtaking vistas. When you camp in Yellowstone, this kind of experience comes in spades. But where are the best camping spots? Here are some of our recommendations:
Norris Campground: Situated near the Museum of the National Park Ranger and Norris Geyser Basin, this campground puts you in the northwest corner of the park. Other notable surroundings include Gibbon Falls, Bijah Spring, and the Virginia Cascades.
Mammoth Campground: While this camping spot is in an area that’s a little more developed, there’s still plenty to enjoy, like the Mammoth Hot Springs and the Boiling River.
Canyon Campground: Want to be surrounded by the soothing scent of pine? Canyon Campground is the place for you. This campground has plenty of space, so you can bring the big tent and not accidentally roll on top of your kids for once.
There are hundreds of other campgrounds you may want to try. If you want to see every campground in the park, check out the National Park Service’s Yellowstone Backcountry Trails & Campsites.
2 – FLY FISHING
With all the rushing rivers and seeping lakes dotted around the park, you’re bound to find quality fishing spots anywhere you look. And while you’re wading waist-deep in the water, you can find some beautiful scenery to keep you and the family company.
While you can find excellent fishing just about anywhere, some ideal fishing spots include:
If you’d rather be guided to the best fishing holes, you can sign up for a Yellowstone fly fishing trip that takes you on drift boats or leads you through a walk-wade experience.
3 – HIKING AND BACKPACKING
There are so many magnificent viewpoints you can take in just by pulling your car off to the side of the road or taking an easy walk along a boardwalk. But if you and the family really want to embrace the mountaineering side of the Mountain West, a challenging day hike or a backpacking trip is what you’re looking for. Let’s look at some hikes and backpacking routes of varying skill levels.
Easy – Fairy Falls Trail: This flat, scenic path has a lot to enjoy. It can be a quick jaunt back and forth to the waterfall. Or, if you’re up for a five-miler, you can take this path all the way to a volcanic pool.
Moderate – Yellowstone Falls/Crystal Falls: A must-see feature of the park, this loop guides you to two waterfalls and up to Inspiration Point, where you’ll be treated to truly expansive vistas.
Challenging – Avalanche Peak Trail: An out-and-back rocky trail that brings you up to a view of the rolling Rocky Mountains
Easy – Bacon Rind Creek Trail: A quaint, forested area that is filled with mountain wildflowers in the summer.
Moderate – Lamar Valley Trail: This out-and-back backpacking trail thrusts you into a world of beautiful flowers and wildlife while offering a mild challenge for you and your family.
Challenging – Seven Mile Hole Trail: This nearly 10-mile route is uphill both ways, but you’ll be rewarded with a dip in some hot spring at the end of it all. Maybe just bring the older kids with you for this one.
You and the family can also sign up for a guided hike or backpacking experience, which is an excellent option if you don’t have space to pack all of the gear or food you’d like to bring.
4 – HORSEBACK RIDING
Horseback riding is a great way for the aspiring cowboys and equestrians in your family to live out their fantasies. The easiest way to organize a ride is to sign up through a reputable outdoor experience organization, like Wild West Rafting.
Our horseback riding packages include one- to two-hour rides, combined with a cowboy-style cookout in the wilderness or a fly-fishing trip. All gear is provided by Wild West Rafting, so all you have to do is show up and be excited for an adventure.
5 – KAYAKING
Yellowstone allows people to paddle on most of its lakes, meaning you can take your kayaks and leisurely glide through placid water all day. If you paddle on Yellowstone Lake, you can even get to West Thumb Geyser Basin and see a myriad of exciting hydrothermal wonders, a sight that is completely inaccessible otherwise. And can you really call it a Yellowstone family vacation if you don’t see at least one hydrothermal feature? We don’t think so.
If you and the family want a more exhilarating kayaking experience, Wild West Rafting will take you down Yellowstone River and guide you through whitewater rapids for the ride of a lifetime.
6 – WHITEWATER RAFTING
While kayaking down the Yellowstone River can be a blast, it’s a tad limiting for most families—you can’t get nearly as many people in a large kayak compared to a raft. That’s why Wild West Rafting also offers a Yellowstone family vacation package that takes you and the kids on an adrenaline-pumping rafting adventure. Most of our rafting packages go through lower-class rapids, making it enjoyable and safe for everyone in the family.
You may also be interested in our overnight rafting package, which combines your rafting adventure and a camping trip with provided camping gear. We’ll also bring the food; you just have to bring your excitement!
7 – WILDLIFE TOURING
After a long week of outdoor adventure, it’s nice to sit back, relax and enjoy scenes of nature. Wildlife tours let your family stay in your car and drive through some of the densest wildlife areas in the park. You’ll see bears, bison, coyotes, foxes, and bald eagles if you’re lucky.
Feel free to take matters into your own hands and drive through any valley you can find. Or, you can go with Wild West Rafting on one of our wildlife expeditions. We’ll take you to the areas we’ve seen the most wildlife activity, so you can experience some awesome bear and wolf sightings while you’re here.
PLAN YOUR FAMILY TRIP TO YELLOWSTONE TODAY
Ready to give your kids the best family trip to Yellowstone they’ll ever experience? With our family packages, you can enjoy more of the park in less time while still getting the outdoor experience you crave in the summer. Contact us today to learn more about our activity offerings.