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Yellowstone National Park Family Vacation

Hayden And Lamar Valleys

Yellowstone Learning Vacations National Park

Lamar Valley, sometimes called the Serengeti of the United States, and Hayden Valley is the place for an almost guaranteed bison sighting .

Generally, the best time for wildlife viewing is at dawn when the animals are most active. Thats when we saw the wolves on my first visit. Get the kids a at one of the park visitor centers. It includes animal-spotting activities.

Other animals to look for in this area of the park:

SheBuysTravel Tip: Bring binoculars to increase the chances of spotting animals in the distance. Stop at all of the bear jams what they call traffic jams on the park roads in Yellowstone and ask what the people are looking at. Some will have super high-powered telescopes trained on the animals. I have always found them willing to let a stranger have a look, if you ask nicely and handle these expensive scopes with care.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Are you a nature lover? This parks biological diversity sets it apart from others in the United States. Scientists have documented some 17,000 species of animals and plants but estimate theres 30,000 to 80,000 different kinds of plants and wildlife living in the parks 800 square miles in southern Appalachia.

There are also recreation choices galore in this national park. Bicycling, camping, and hiking are among the most common activities.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park sees more annual visitors than any other national park. This is a testament to its beauty as well as ease of access. The park is within easy driving distance of several cities, making it a simple family road trip, especially if you live in the eastern United States.

Early Morning At Hayden Valley

For your second morning, get up very early and head to Hayden Valley. Youll want to aim to be there shortly before sunrise for the best chance of seeing animals.

Lots of bigger and smaller animals frequent this area, and its absolutely breathtaking seeing them in the morning light. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to spot them, and the mornings tend to be much less crowded!

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Plan Ahead To Avoid Large Crowds

As mentioned earlier in this Guide To Yellowstone National Park With Kids, the park is extremely popular and crowded in the summer months. Know this ahead of time and plan accordingly. Not only is it necessary to reserve lodging in advance, but also consider that parking spaces may be hard to find. When you simply want to escape crowds and soak in the nature youve come to experience, seek out the lesser-known spots. Of course, youll want to see Old Faithful, but the park is big and full of much beauty including other geysers. While its not well-known, the cone-shaped Lone Star Geyser is a quieter addition to your itinerary. Another less crowded spot with a fascinating landscape is Sheepeater Cliff which is a unique place to picnic. Heres a secret tip: Sheepeater Cliff has a small family-friendly trail if you head to the right along the Gardner River.

Where To Stay Outside The Park

Yellowstone National Park: A Family Adventure with Once in a Lifetime ...

Whether you are unable to find a room within Yellowstone National Park, or you simply prefer to have easy access to other area attractions, stay outside of the park. If thats your situation, then consider staying in popular West Yellowstone which has all the choices from luxury to budget accommodations. One hotel we recommend in West Yellowstone is Kelly Inn. When you stay there, youll have easy access to parks and be within walking distance of restaurants. Also, families appreciate the kid-friendly accommodations here, with bunk beds. A couple of other hotels our traveling families recommend in West Yellowstone include Bar N Ranch, the Explorer Cabins at West Yellowstone, and the familiar Holiday Inn West Yellowstone. In addition to hotels, many families choose to stay at an AIRBNB in the area for a more secluded experience.

*Due to COVID-19, some of the activities, hotels, and restaurants listed on this Guide to Yellowstone National Park with Kids may also be closed or may be offering reduced services. Please ensure availability before making your decision.

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.

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Canyon Lodge & Cabins

This sprawling facility is the largest in Yellowstone with more than 500 rooms and cabins. Located on the east side of the park near the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, Canyon Lodge is open from the beginning of June through early October. Accommodations options include 2-bedroom suites for larger families.

Yellowstone Itinerary Recommendations For Families

Once you know where you want to stay, you can plan your Yellowstone National Park family vacation itinerary. With unique hot springs and geysers, including Old Faithful, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, theres surely a lot to see. Decide what adventures you want an official guide for, options include fly fishing, wildlife watching, rafting, horseback riding, mountain climbing, or skiing .

For example, for a vintage-inspired perspective, take a Yellowstone Yellow Bus Tour. After booking your preferred guide, plan the rest of your trip around those activities. Grab a family-friendly hiking guidebook or peruse the parks website for easy adventures you can do on your own. Kids can enjoy participating in the ranger program, featuring talks, tours, and Junior Ranger activities. Dont forget to pencil in time for some great food on your Yellowstone National Park family vacation. We recommend Old Faithful Lodge Cafeteria & Bake Shop and the Canyon Lodge Eatery.

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Where To Eat Inside The Park

While foodie experiences may not be the reason you come to Yellowstone National Park, you will need to keep your energy up while at the park. Sometimes, finding places to eat is a challenge when youre outdoors. So, when youre at Yellowstone, know that there are a variety of restaurants, snack shops, and even ice cream counters to choose from. One option to sit and have a fantastic meal is the Old Faithful Inn Dining Room. At Canyon Lodge Eatery, youll also find a number of restaurants including a family-friendly food court-style restaurant. If youre looking to eat local specialties, be sure to try everything huckleberry, including a huckleberry latte! Because youre at Yellowstone to enjoy the outdoors, plan to pick up food, and have a picnic. There is a picnic area at Anglers Bluff that is a great choice for families.

Become A Yellowstone Junior Ranger

CAMPING IN YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK! BEST FAMILY VACATION EVER!

Children ages 4 and up can earn a Junior Ranger badge after completing an official activities booklet that cover different aspects of the park like wildlife and geology. Adults you can earn a badge, too! There is no age limit ????. The well-loved Junior Ranger program provides a wonderful introduction to the natural wonders of Yellowstone and how each individual can play a role in preserving it for the future.

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The Lodges Of East Yellowstone

“Another geyser? Can’t we just go swimming?” Does this sound like your kid on vacation? That’s the beauty of the Junior Ranger Program. It gives kids of all ages something to work towards. They’ll be itching to see everything in the park just to get their Junior Ranger Badge.

If the kids are still complaining, you really can just take them swimming. A designated area along the Firehole River is packed with kids and families on hot summer days.

Guided ActivitiesJust outside the park’s borders, kids will love spending the day whitewater rafting, horseback riding, or on a wilderness adventures like llama tours.

One of the best things about visiting a National Park is camping. Whether your kids are experienced campers or have never slept under the stars, Yellowstone is a great place to introduce them to this amazing activity.

Boardwalk HikesOne of the great things about Yellowstone is that most of its hiking trails are short and easy. Almost every geothermal attraction can be enjoyed from a boardwalk trail.

Catch A Rainbow At The Grand Canyon Of The Yellowstone

There is a big variety of hiking trails at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, but with young kids, many of them arent really an option. Dont despair, because you can easily explore the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone with kids.

There are several parking lots and viewpoints along the South Rim as well as along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, allowing you to see the best places without having to hike for hours.

These are our three favorite places you have to see at the Yellowstone Canyon:

  • Uncle Toms Trail
  • Brink of the Upper Falls

While Artist Point and the Upper Falls are each just a short walk from the car parking, Uncle Toms Trail is a steep stairway descent of more than 300 steps. Its a great trail for families with active kids who like climbing and dont mind some stairs. Our kids loved this hike and we had difficulties keeping up with them.

TIP: At certain times in the morning, you can see a rainbow at the Lower Falls from Uncle Toms trail and also from the Artist Point. We were lucky to see both. We read that you could see a rainbow over the waterfall from the Artist Point at around 9.45-10 AM every morning , and so we timed our visit for that.

At Uncle Toms trail, we were just lucky to be there at the right time . There was approximately 40 min. between the two rainbows, it was enough time to climb the Uncle Toms staircase back up, take the car to the Artist Point, and see the rainbow there.

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History Of Yellowstone National Park

The bubbling caldron of Yellowstone was created by three super volcanoes over the past 2 million years. The spewing geysers, simmering hot springs and smoldering mud pots are signs the hot magma still lurks below the surface.

It was explorers letters home telling of the strange bubbling pools and spouting geysers that first drew attention to the geothermal wonders of the area that would become Yellowstone. And it was the foresight of the US Congress and President Ulysses S. Grant who took steps to protect the natural wonders.

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, a partnership between the US Geological Survey, National Park Service, University of Utah, University of Wyoming, University NAVSTAR Consortium and State Geological Surveys of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, created in 2011, continues to monitor volcanic and earthquake activity in the Yellowstone National Park region.

If Your Kids Need A Break

Salty Lashes

Yellowstone is a huge park and the days can get long! When you and your family need a little downtime, we recommend enjoying some relaxing scenic drives at places like Firehole Canyon Drive. Located just after the Madison Junction, Firehole Canyon is a beautiful drive along the Firehole River. A waterfall and popular swim hole are just some of the stops before this side trip meets back up with the Grand Loop Road.

If you need some time out of the car, stop by a Visitor Information Centerour favorites include the Albright Visitor Center in Mammoth Hot Springs and the Canyon Visitor Education Center in Canyon Villageand spend some time learning about fascinating natural wonders in the park through interactive displays. Finally, it never hurts to stop by one of the many soda fountains at the park villages and grab some ice cream!

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How Big Is Yellowstone National Park

As previously stated, Yellowstone National Park is massive. It is over 2.2 MILLION acres which is about 3,472 square miles. To give you some context, Yellowstone is larger than both Rhode Island or Delaware. Thus, you can not expect to visit the park in one day and see everything that needs to be seen.

Activity Level And Qualifications

This trip is rated Moderate . Daily hikes typically range between 27 miles in length with elevation gains/losses of up to 1,400′. One hike will take us to the summit of a 10,000-ft peak. Cycling and rafting are suitable for beginners all gear will be provided. All activities are optional and our guides will brief trip members on the vigorousness of each prior to setting out.

Spend six family-filled days exploring Americas first national park.

Yellowstone National Park is home to a wide range of otherworldly landscapes. The park draws visitors from around the world for its impressive display of erupting geysers, incredible rainbow-colored hot springs and gurgling mud pits. But the surrounding areastowering mountains, dense forests and craggy canyonsare equally jaw-dropping. This convergence of iconic North American landscapes and wildlife make the park a fantastic, family-friendly destination.

Kids get an REI day pack Kids traveling on our Family Adventures will receive an REI day pack for their adventure! Kids age 8-17 will receive the REI Flash 18 Pack . Learn more about REI Family Adventures.

Not travelling with kids under 18? Check out our Yellowstone & Grand Teton Hiking & Camping trip.

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Pack For A Range Of Weather Conditions

When it comes to packing, keep in mind that weather in Yellowstone and elsewhere in the intermountain west can be unpredictable. In the summer, expect daytime temperatures around 70oF and significantly cooler nightstemperatures may drop below freezing at higher elevations. Afternoon thunderstorms are common. Check out this handy packing list from our friends at Yellowstone National Park Lodges for tips on what to bring to make sure youre comfortable during your stay.

Best Things To Do In Yellowstone With Kids

Too Busy to Edit! Family First at Bryce Canyon National Park.

Yellowstone National Park , the perfect Wyoming vacation is all too often a bucket list destination! People have heard about, read about or seen in a nature documentary.

It is often put on a bucket list for when the kids have flown the nest. Im here to tell you that you shouldnt do that, because Yellowstone with kids can be awesome.

I havent visit anywhere you can experience raw nature of earth while combining it with wildlife in stunningly beautiful landscapes.

Nowhere else can you see wildlife treading carefully and negotiating their way around hot springs and erupting geysers. Nowhere else do you stop your car along a river to let a herd of bison cross and do so willingly.

Yellowstone is somewhere you simply have to visit to appreciate. And you need to visit Yellowstone park with your kids.

How much time you spend in Yellowstone Park very much depends on whether you want to visit Yellowstone itself, or incorporate it into a USA road trip. Why do one, when you can do both?

And thats exactly what my husband and I did last year with our then three-year-old son. We took on a two-week USA road trip visiting Yellowstone, parts of Montana and Portland.

We spent three and a half days exploring all the wonders of Yellowstone and in this post, Im going to tell you how you can see the best of Yellowstone with kids in three days. Note that this itinerary starts each day from the West Yellowstone Gate in Montana.

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Best Things To Do In Yellowstone With Kids + Essential Tips For Visiting

One of the vacations my kids talk about the most is Yellowstone National Park. They love talking about watching the geysers and all the wildlife we saw in the park. They are constantly planning our next trip back. There are so many fun things to do in Yellowstone with kids.

Yellowstone Park with kids and toddlers is a great vacation with plenty to see and do. There are some important things to know when preparing to visit Yellowstone and weve outlined the best things to do as well as important tips for visiting to make your vacation go as smoothly as possible.

It is important to consider when the best time to visit Yellowstone is for your family based on vacation availability and weather. The best weather in the park is from May through early fall. Outside of these months, there is lots of precipitation and cold temperatures.

May through September is when most people visit the park, so you need to be prepared for crowds and traffic jams. However, you can help avoid the crowds by visiting popular attractions first thing in the early morning and later in the evening.

Yellowstone National Park With Kids: A Year

Yellowstone National Park encompasses 2.2 million acres of wild and unrivaled natural beauty. With canyons, gushing geysers, hot springs, lush forests, and a plethora of wildlife, there is no better place for children to learn about nature and watch the buffalo roam.

As a parent, it can be daunting to plan a trip that’s “out in the wild.” To help you, we’ve created this handy guide to visiting Yellowstone National Park with kids in any season. No matter when you visit, you’ll see breathtaking natural wonders and plenty of animals, so don’t forget your camera and binoculars, as well as sturdy shoes for hiking.

If your family’s been bitten by the national park bug, see our guide to visiting Acadia National Park with kids. And be sure to visit our Family Travel Guide for more family vacation ideas.

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