We just finished up a several day camping trip at Yellowstone National Park and loved it! We met up with family and it was so great to see everyone after being home for so long. We of course followed all COVID safety precautions, and still had a really great time.
The park was crowded in some spots (Old Faithful), but less so in other locations (Petrified Wood) so it’s good to scout out your must-see spots in order to be prepared.
This was our 3rd time going to Yellowstone with kids and we continue to love bringing them here! Below our our top 10 spots to visit with kids in Yellowstone.
- Old Faithful I feel like one can’t visit Yellowstone National Park without seeing Old Faithful. It’s such an iconic spot and a good place to guarantee seeing a geyser erupt. When we went this last time, it was still very crowded, so it’s definitely something to keep in mind and make sure to bring your masks. 🙂 It erupts every 60-110 minutes, so check in with a ranger when you arrive to get an estimate. Either before or after you watch Old Faithful, make sure to check out the boardwalk and/or take a hike to Observation Peak to get away from the crowds.
- Fairy Falls Trail to Grand Prismatic Overlook – This was one of my favorites! Fairy Falls Trail is a somewhat popular hike near Grand Prismatic Spring that can be up to about a 5 mile round trip that takes you past 2 geysers and a waterfall. We only went part of the way though to Grand Prismatic Overlook (in the future, I’d love to try the entire hike). The overlook is only a little over 1 mile round trip and offers breathtaking views of Grand Prismatic Springs. It’s a great place to take pictures!
- Mammoth Hot Springs – This was our first time checking out Mammoth Hot Springs and we were totally amazed by it! There are two boardwalks to check out, the upper and lower and both are fairly short and easy to do with little ones. We experienced snow while we were here (in July!) so make sure to bring layers!
- Norris Geyser Basin – Another great easy walk along different boardwalks. While there are rarely handrails (make sure you hold onto very young children) at Norris Geyser Basin, the boardwalk is stroller friendly and it’s an excellent place to check out some geysers and springs.
- Dragon’s Mouth Spring – This is a great little walk with a fun name that will get kids excited! Dragon’s Mouth Spring is a short walk near Mud Volcano and is definitely worth stopping for. It was pretty awesome and easy to imagine a real dragon inside the cavern blowing out the hot steam. On our last visit, a few years back, we had to reassure our oldest that there wasn’t an actual dragon in there a couple of times.
- Lost Lake Trail – We did a segment of this 2.8 mile hike starting at Petrified Tree and took it down to the lake. In my opinion, the petrified tree wasn’t much to stop and look at, but the trail to Lost Lake (across the parking lot) was well worth the visit! We hiked along a mostly flat area through a beautiful meadow and even saw a bison in the distance! It was very pleasant and we saw barely any other people the entire walk.
- Artist Paintpots – This was our last stop this visit and a great way to end our trip at Yellowstone with our kids. Artist Paintpots is a little over a mile long loop and has several neat sights. The Artist Paintpots themselves are a lot of fun to watch bubble. Our girls really enjoyed watching them for quite awhile! There are also several pots along the path that are vibrantly colored.
- Grand Canyon of Yellowstone – There’s plenty to see at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and most of it is pretty easily accessible. Along the North Rim drive, there are several viewpoints and even a couple of day hikes.
- Virginia Cascade Drive – This is a short, scenic one-way road that takes you past Virginia Cascades. The drive itself is very pretty and towards the end is a great picnic area with a great grassy meadow for kids to run around a bit in. From the meadow, one can walk down to the river itself and overall it’s a nice quiet stop for families. We really enjoyed having our picnic lunch here on our last day.
- Go for a drive and see animals – One of the coolest things about visiting Yellowstone with kids is the opportunity to see all sorts of animals! We’ve seen tons of Bison, coyote, elk, bald eagles, and we’ve had family even spot a bear or two. There are several great drives that you can go on around the park. Both Hayden Valley and Lamar Valley are popular spots to see herds of Bison and potentially black bears. We had the best luck spotting animals animals when we went in early May, but even this last time at the height of tourist season (July), we still saw plenty of Bison, a coyote, and one elk.
Where to Stay
There are several campsites in the park, including one RV park (closed for 2020). We camped at Madison and felt like it was a great spot! From our site, we could walk down to Madison River and it was ideally situated in the park near the West Yellowstone entrance and not too far from Old Faithful.
There are also several lodges inside the park that offer comfort as well as proximity to all the major sights.
When to Visit
Parts of Yellowstone National Park are open year round, but most entrances open the beginning of May. Mid-summer will definitely be the busiest (with the nicest weather), while the shoulder seasons (late spring, early fall) will be far less busy, but with potentially unpredictable weather. Personally, we’ve been twice in the summer and once in early May. I prefered the park in early May – it was practically empty and we saw a ton of animals (including baby bison!), but some roads were closed due to snow and we definitely needed layers depending on where we were in the park. It just depends on what you prefer- really anytime one can visit is going to be great! Someday, I’d love to come to the park in the fall. 🙂
Overall, Yellowstone National Park is amazing and definitely worth a visit!
Have you taken your kids to Yellowstone before? What were some of your family’s favorite sights?