Yellowstone, America's first national park, is a particularly attractive vacation destination for families during the summer months. The long, winding drives, larger-than-life landscapes and recreational opportunities provide enjoyment for people of any age. But of all the activities available throughout the park, these ten things to do in Yellowstone National Park are sure to get the family closer together.
Explore Yellowstone National Park With These 10 Family Activities
1. See the geysers
It’s not just anywhere you can watch superheated water shoot up into the sky. At the Upper Geyser Basin, brightly colored hot springs, hissing steam vents and boiling mudpots add to the spectacle of Yellowstone National Park. Kids will be able to handle the short walks between each sight, and the entire family can share the bonding experience of seeing the infamous Old Faithful, Firehole River and tons of other geysers and hot springs.
2. Become a ranger for a day
If anyone can drum up excitement about being in the thick of nature, it’s a Yellowstone park ranger. The national park features tons of events, activities and programs for kids all year round. If you’ve got a little one reluctant about spending time in the woods, check out the park’s Junior Ranger and Young Scientist programs, as well as their Calendar of Events for special programs for kids.
3. Whitewater rafting
Nothing will get your adrenaline pumping than whitewater rafting through the wild. And what better way to bond with family than by sharing the thrill that comes with the ride? The Yellowstone, Gallatin, Madison and Snake Rivers offer a variety of course options, ranging from quiet floats to high intensity adventures. If the adrenaline junkie of the family still isn’t satisfied after the ride, many whitewater rafting operators also run ziplines.
Teton Whitewater LLC, 260 N Cache, Jackson, WY 83001
228 West Park Street, Gardiner, Montana 59030
Toasting marshmallows by the fire, pitching tents at the campsite, trading spooky stories by firelight – there’s just something about the camping experience that brings family and friends together. Yellowstone has 12 developed campgrounds, with over 2,000 sites throughout the grounds. There are both first come, first serve options, as well as those that accept reservations. Norris, Madison Junction and Bridge Bay campgrounds are well-reviewed campsites within the park. Some camping grounds even offer evening activities.
5. Wildlife viewing
Watching wildlife at Yellowstone could prove to be an immense learning (or teaching) experience for families. The park claims to have more wild animals than almost anywhere else in the United States, with a few you might have never even heard of! Spotting the more recognizable animals may prove easy, but you may come across tons of exotic creatures as well. It’s a chance to learn about the various life forms in the park, and a chance to teach family members about the ecosystem. Head to the Lamar Valley, Tower-Roosevelt, and Geyser Basins for some particularly spectacular scenery.
6. Fishing on the Yellowstone River
Even if the fish aren’t biting, fishing at Yellowstone could prove to be a valuable bonding moment for family members. Not only is fishing a character-building pastime, teaching qualities such as patience, but it’s also a chance for people to talk. Fishing season typically runs from the end of May to the beginning of November. Be sure to check out which areas are off limits as part of the park’s preservation efforts.
7. Horseback riding
The park offers one and two hour horseback riding tours for people at least 8 years of age. The park’s open plains and peaceful forests are ideal for riding, with horseback riding trails for both beginner and expert riders. If you sign up for the Old West Dinner Cookout, the entire family can ride horses, or a covered wagon, and eat an outdoor steak dinner served by singing cowboys.
Roosevelt Lodge Corral, Tower-Roosevelt Junction, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
8. Hike to see the sunrise or sunset
9. See the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is considered one of the most breathtaking sights inside the park. The canyon is about 20 miles long, and up to 1,200 feet deep in some places. Visitors can see the Lower and Upper Falls plunging into the canyon, and marvel at the pink and yellow colors of the canyon’s walls. It’ll be a sight that give even the little ones pause for appreciation.
10.Take a scenic boat tour
Grand Loop Road, Between Fishing Bridge and Grant Village, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
This article was written by Hanna Choi.