Yellowstone National Park is one of Wyoming’s most popular attractions for travelers, as it boasts almost 3,500 square miles of wilderness. The park is filled with amazing animals, recreational areas, campsites, lakes, hot springs, and much more. No matter what time of year you visit, there’s always something to do, from whitewater rafting down the Yellowstone River during the summer months, to snowshoeing along the hiking trails during the winter months.
If you’re planning a visit to Yellowstone with your kids, the little ones are sure to enjoy the amazing views of Old Faithful, as well as becoming “Junior Rangers” at the park. That said, find the perfect Yellowstone vacation rentals in the city of West Yellowstone and the surrounding gateway towns. These properties are conveniently situated just minutes away from all the fun. Here are some of the most popular family-friendly things to do at Yellowstone National Park.
1. Visit Old Faithful
Start your Yellowstone adventure with a visit to Old Faithful, one of the 7 Modern Wonders of the World. Watch in amazement as the natural geyser erupts to 106 feet, and be sure to bring a rain hat so you don’t get soaked. The geyser was first discovered in 1870 and got its name for its clockwork eruptions. Since 2000, Old Faithful has erupted every 45 to 125 minutes.
2. Take a Family Hike
Whether you’re up for a challenging hike or simply feel like taking a relaxing walk through the forest, Yellowstone Park has over 900 miles of walking trails to choose from. Pack some water and snacks and take the mile-long hike along Trout Lake, or opt for an exciting back country adventure along the 4.8 mile Lone Star Geyser Trail.
3. Go Horseback Riding
For a fun and scenic adventure, sign up for a horseback riding excursion with Yellowstone Park’s concessionaire Xanterra. The rides take place along the canyon areas, and kids eight years old and up are welcome. Xanterra also offers “Old West Dinner Cookout Rides,” where you can ride horses or take a covered wagon to an old-fashioned steak cookout, complete with singing cowboys who serve the grub.
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4. Join the Junior Rangers Program
If your kids are interested in learning more about the park itself, sign them up for a Junior Ranger course. The program is open to kids four years old and up, and the course takes place over a single day. During the course, kids are led by an official park ranger through the forests and nature areas, and they receive an activity booklet to note their adventures. When the day ends, all participants receive their own official “Junior Park Ranger” service patch.
5. Take a Scenic Boat Cruise
For some amazing views of the waters of Yellowstone Park combined a little education, sign up for a scenic boat cruise at Cody, Wyoming. Xanterra offers a one-hour cruise on Yellowstone Lake and Lake Queen. During the journey, a skilled guide provides information about the history of the park and points out wildlife in their natural habitats. Make sure to bring your camera or have your phone handy, as you don’t want to miss out on some amazing photos of bison and eagles.
6. Go Whitewater Rafting
If you’ve got a family of thrill seekers, sign up for an ultimate whitewater rafting adventure down the Yellowstone River. Wyoming River Trips offers family trips that start five miles outside of Yellowstone in the Shoshone National Forest. Make sure to take in every moment as you sail along the rapids of Mormon Creek, where you may even spot a few bighorn sheep along the water’s edge. When the journey ends, all guests are served sandwiches, fruit, and drinks to refuel after a fun day.
7. Camp Out For the Night
If you’re hoping to check out the views of Yellowstone Park after the sun sets, pack up some camping gear and pitch a tent for the night at one of the park’s 12 campgrounds. Visit with fellow campers and enjoy the fresh outdoor air, then finish the evening by making some homemade s’mores over the campfire.
8. Go Fishing
Yellowstone Park offers several options when it comes to reeling in some tasty fish for a grill out at your vacation rental. Load up your fishing gear and head over to Gardner River for some rainbow trout, or set yourself up at Yellowstone Lake and try your hand at landing some native cutthroat trout. No matter where you decide to fish for the day, the surrounding scenery creates the perfect backdrop for some amazing outdoor family fun.
9. Check Out the Grand Prismatic Spring
The Grand Prismatic Spring is another incredible sight that must be seen to be believed. This gorgeous hot spring was first discovered in 1871 and features a rainbow of colors caused by microbes in the water. Sometimes referred to as the “boiling lake,” this eye-catching attraction bubbles continuously and discharges around 560 gallons of water per minute. Pay a visit to this popular natural wonder and watch in awe as the colors come to life before your eyes.
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