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Top 10 Things To Do In Yellowstone National Park

Whether visiting in the winter or summer, there are always things to do in Yellowstone National Park.

To get to the Northeast entrance, start your drive on Beartooth Highway, also known as the All-American Road. It rises 5,000 feet in elevation and weaves through 20 mountain peaks. The highways crosses some of the most extreme terrain in North America and will set you up for the adventure of a lifetime in Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone National Park Top 10

  1. Day hiking
  2. Ride a horse
  3. Spend the night camping
  4. Take a photography tour
  5. Fishing in the lakes and rivers
  6. Biking along the trails
  7. Wildlife safari
  8. Skiing in the winter
  9. Snowmobiling
  10. Visit the geysers
day hiking the grand canyon of the yellowstone
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Day Hiking

Yellowstone spans an impressive 2.2 million acres and offers over 900 miles of hiking trails. The routes range from short day trips to multi-day backpacking adventures.

Whether you’re looking for a flat kid-friendly trail or a secluded scramble, each path will lead you through the natural beauty of the wilderness.

Permits are not required for day hiking. Many trails rise 7,000 feet above sea level which will require you to make frequent stops to catch your breath. The best time of year to go hiking is late July, August, and September because the highest mountain peaks can retain snow well into the summer.

One of the most popular day hikes is the Fairy Falls Trail. It’s a 5.5 mile walk that weaves through lodgepole pine forests, and blossoming wildflowers. Along the way you’ll get the perfect birds-eye view of Grand Prismatic Spring and Excelsior Geyser. At the end of the trail you’ll find the tallest frontcountry waterfall in Yellowstone which cascades from over 200 feet high.

horseback riding in yellowstone national park

Horseback Riding

Because of Yellowstone’s massive size, horseback riding is one of the best ways to cover large areas of the park in a short period of time.

Many equestrians choose to bring their own horses, but guided tours are available to the general public as well.  Trails for horseback riding are usually open from the middle of June until November.

If you’re new to horseback riding, the Yellowstone National Park Lodge offers the Saddle Up Adventure. These are 1 and 2 hour tours ideal for families and beginners. These tours take off from Canyon and Tower-Roosevelt where you’ll get a chance to meander through meadows alongside Cascade Canyon, through sagebrush flats, and over Lost Creek.

At the end of the day you can re-fuel at the Old West Dinner Cookout.

camping in yellowstone national park is one of the many things to do near wildlife

Camping

12 established campgrounds with over 2,000 sites are available for those who wish to spend the night beneath the stars. Campsites in the lower loop of the park can be pre-booked, while the northern campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Canyon Campground is one of the most popular locations in the park because it’s located less than a mile from the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. This campground is nestled within a lodgepole pine forest and offers showers, laundry and restroom facilities.

For the most rugged adventurers, backcountry camping sites are available with a permit. This will give you the best chance to see wildlife and spend the night in a quiet, secluded location.

In the morning, you can wake up early and hit the trails before families of hikers begin overtaking the most popular footpaths.

photographer taking picture of a geyser eruption and other things in yellowstone national park

Photography Tours

One of the things that makes Yellowstone so special is the large variety of guided tours available. You can find tours for every area of interest which makes planning your trip a breeze.

Photography tours are especially attractive because of the never-ending list of features only available in Northeast Wyoming.

Wildlife, thermal streams, waterfalls, geysers, and expansive mountain ranges are just a few of the depictions that Yellowstone has to offer.

You can create your own photography tour by driving along one of Yellowstone’s scenic roadways or join a guided Photo Safari through Yellowstone National Park Lodges.

fly fishing in the Gibbon River in yellowstone national park
Fly Fishing in the Gibbon River

Fishing

Yellowstone is a top destination for fishermen across America with many visitors coming to the park just for the catch. Fishing season runs from the last weekend of May through the beginning of November.

Yellowstone Lake is the largest lake over 7,000 feet in North America which means you’ll get some gorgeous views of the mountains and encounter icy cold water. Cutthroat trout is the native species of the area, but you can also find Brown, Brook, and Rainbow Fish.

Fly fishing in the rivers and streams of Yellowstone is also a highly sought-after sport. August is the best time of year for fly fishing because the winter snow will be melted and insect hatches are at their peak.

During this time watch out for bears! Grizzlies frequent the area and they’re equally interested in the rivers full of fish.

biking trail that weaves through the mountains in yellowstone national park

Biking

Many locations throughout Yellowstone National Park are bike-friendly. Cyclists can ride both e-bikes and regular bikes throughout the park.

Aside from road-cycling, there are up to 49 miles of park terrain available to mountain bikers eager to ride through the wilderness. You can even bike through campgrounds as long as you are not in a backcountry area.

The Lone Star Geyser Bike Trail follows the Firehole River to Lone Star Geyser which erupts every three hours and shoots 30-45 feet in the air.

You can find gravel bike trails in the Mammoth Hot Springs Area, Old Faithful Area, Lake Village, and Canyon Areas.

grizzly bears and wildlife viewing in yellowstone national park

Wildlife Safari

One of the biggest attractions of Yellowstone National Park is the natural wildlife.

The National Park Service spends an incredible amount of time preserving the vegetation and animal life that live there. There are up to 3,000 miles of wildlife habitat. If you are patient and paying attention, you will likely get a great view of one of the many animals that have made the park their home.

Hayden Valley is the perfect place to get a glimpse of bison, wolves, elk, coyote, and grizzly bears.

The area features numerous pullouts and overlooks where you can grab your binoculars and observe the animals from a safe distance. Dawn and dusk are prime time for animal activity and the area is most accessible from spring until fall.

footpath to norris geyser basin in the snow
Norris Geyser Basin

Skiing

While summer activities are the most prominent, there are also plenty of things to do during the wintertime. Yellowstone has a lot of mountainous terrain, which makes for the perfect winter experience.

All trails within the park are open to cross country skiing and snowshoeing. There are also Snowcoach drop-offs available from the Old Faithful Snow Lodge where you can pack your gear and ski down the Divide or Fairy Falls Trails.

One of the more picturesque routes is the Yellowstone Canyon Rim Ski Trail. The path is 4.5 miles long and has only 200 feet of elevation gain which is perfect for intermediate skiers. The trail takes you along the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and weaves through a coniferous forest.

riding a snowmobile through yellowstone national park is one of the top things to do in winter

Snowmobiling

One of the most exhilarating activities in Yellowstone is cruising around the park in a snowmobile. The majority of park roads will close every year in November to prepare for the upcoming winter.

By the time December rolls around, most roads are open to “over-snow travel only.” That’s prime time for snowmobiling!

At this point, the only way to visit Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and other popular destinations throughout the park is by snowcoach or snowmobile.

Visitor attendance drops dramatically during the winter. That means you’ll have a lot less tourists to deal with plus you’ll get to experience the park under a thick dusting of snow which drastically changes the landscape.

gyser and hydrothermal pool in yellowstone national park

View the Geysers

Of course, no trip to the Yellowstone National Park would be complete without seeing its famous geysers.

More than half of the geysers in the world are in Yellowstone. And a round 500-700 of those geysers are active each year. Geysers and other hydrothermal features leave a visible map of how much they have changed over the years.

Many people from all across the world travel to see the geysers and hot springs of Yellowstone. There are hundreds and sometimes more than a thousand eruptions every year. Being able to see an eruption in person is a magical moment for everyone around.

Old Faithful is of course the most well-known. Out of all of the geysers in the park, this one is the most predictable erupting about every 90 minutes.

Upper Geyser Basin extends beyond Old Faithful and contains nearly 25% of active geysers in the world. While you’re in the area, look out for Daisy Geyser, Castle Geyser, and Grotto Geyser.

The West Thumb Geyser Basin and Norris Geyser Basin are two more areas that can’t be missed. They’re filled with steaming vents, bubbling geothermal features, and turquoise blue hot springs.

And while we’re on the subject of geothermal features, don’t forget to visit the Grand Prismatic Spring. It’s the largest hot spring in America and the most photographed landmark in the park.

That’s A Wrap!

There are many great attractions to see and adventures to experience in Yellowstone. From the beautiful scenery to the wide range of activities provided by the National Park. Whether you’re visiting in the summer or winter, the trails, geysers, and mountain landscapes are full of can’t miss things to do.

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Kate Moore

Kate is the lead content creator for ParkedInParadise.com and has spent over two years living in a camper van conversion. She has traveled through 48 US states and writes about van life, camping and RV living.

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