Best hikes in yellowstone

10 Best Day Hiking Trails in Yellowstone

Hiking is one of the best outdoor activities you can enjoy, especially in Yellowstone National Park.

It is a good idea to take a long hike through Yellowstone’s wildlife-filled wilderness.

With more than a dozen hiking trails within sight of each other, many hikers wonder what the best day hiking trails in Yellowstone National Park are?

And you too, Right?

When you visit Yellowstone National Park, Montana, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer size of America’s first national park.

There are over 2 million acres of land to explore and enjoy! To help narrow down your hiking options, we have compiled a list of our favorite ten best day hiking trails in Yellowstone National Park.

These hikes range in difficulty level from moderate to challenging, so there is something for everyone!

If you plan on visiting Yellowstone National Park anytime soon, be sure to check out this blog post for some great ideas on where to hike once you get there! Happy Hiking!


A Brief Overview of Yellowstone National Park

best day hiking trails in Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park is located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, and it spans nearly 3,500 square miles of land.

It is one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions and one of the most visited National Parks in the United States.

It attracts more than 3 million visitors each year, and that number grows every year.

With so many things to do in Yellowstone national park, it is easy to understand why this place continues to become a top destination for tourists from all over the world.

The park includes mountains and various wildlife, including bears, wolves, bison, and moose.

There are also many lakes with fishing opportunities for those who want to take on some freshwater action!

It’s home to the world’s most extensive collection of geysers and hot springs, it covers parts of three states, and its diverse ecosystems include lush meadows, high mountain peaks, and unspoiled forests. In short, Yellowstone has something for everyone to enjoy.

With all these features coupled with its rich history as the country’s first national park and its present-day designation as an International Biosphere Reserve – you know that this place is worth visiting!


1. Bunsen Peak Trail

Bunsen Peak Trail

FAST FACTS

  • Trail Features – Outstanding Views · Wildlife
  • Trail Location – Mammoth
  • Distance – 4.3 Miles, Out and back
  • Elevation gain – 1300 Feet
  • Time – 2-4 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate

Hikes in Yellowstone Montana National Park also includes a challenging trail that leads hikers to the famous Bunsen Peak.

Located in the park’s northwest corner, the bunsen peak trail begins with a challenging ascend towards Bunsen Peak.

This trail offers a variety of terrain and views. It is also one of the most popular trails in Montana Yellowstone National Park!

This might be your best option if you are looking for an easy hike without too many elevation changes.

The first two miles to Bunsen Peak Summit Trail will take about five hours on average, with plenty of opportunities to stop and enjoy the scenery.

This hike provides excellent views of Mount Washburn, Bunsen Peak Summit Trail, Steamboat Point Fire Lookout Tower, West Thumb Geyser Basin, and more! You can also take advantage of nearby fishing spots to catch your lunch or dinner for this trail.

There are many opportunities for wildlife sightings with elk, moose, bears, and even wolves in the area.


2. Mammoth Lakes Trail

Mammoth Lakes Trail

FAST FACTS

  • Trail Features Birding · Wildlife Viewing
  • Trail Location Mammoth Lakes, Mono County
  • Distance 1.1 to 22.1 Miles
  • Elevation Gain 6800 to 11580 Feet
  • Time 3-4 Hours
  • Difficulty Moderate

Mammoth Lakes Trail starts as a short trail that heads into the trees and is pretty tricky at the start to get over the sheer amount of rocks that are in front of you.

This trail is popular among first-time visitors because it offers sweeping views of Yellowstone Lake.

The easiest way to reach the extensive lakeshore is by taking a short drive from Mammoth Airport Road or a leisurely hike on the Swift Creek Trail and then down through some old-growth forest to one of Yellowstone’s most scenic spots-the waterfalls.

If you are looking for a longer hike, this trail is also connected to the other trails in Yellowstone National Park.

You can expect to see plenty of bison, elk, or deer along your way and at least one wolf pack as well!

Viewpoints like Inspiration Point offer stunning panoramic views over the lake and across the mountains.


3. North Rim Trail

North Rim Trail

FAST FACTS

  • Trail Features – Magnificent Views · Waterfalls
  • Trail Location – Canyon Village
  • Distance – 8.2 Miles · Point to Point
  • Elevation Gain – 1500 Feet
  • Time – 12 to 15 Hours
  • Difficulty – Hard

As the name would suggest, this is a hike that goes over Yellowstone’s North Rim.

This trail can be found just off Old Faithful Road on your way out from Lamar Valley.

North Rim Trail is not a challenging trail, but it will reward you with excellent views of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Montana. It offers glimpses into some other parts of the park too!

If you are looking for beautiful scenery without so much effort, this might be your best option.

The North Rim Trail winds through old woodland and meadows before leading to a viewpoint at the edge of the Grand Canyon. You will also have access to some backcountry campsites along your way if you are looking for camping options.

Take in all the sights from this trail, and then enjoy an excellent sunset or sunrise!

This is one of our favorite best hikes in Yellowstone National Park because it’s not a challenging hike yet offers a variety of scenery.

It offers some of the most incredible views in all of Yellowstone National Park and includes excellent photo opportunities for those looking to capture their adventure!

North Rim Trail hikes are not challenging, but they require some physical stamina and hiking skills, which is why many first-time hikers choose to head to the Grand Canyon instead.


4. Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring

Fast Facts

  • Trail Features – Views · Hot springs
  • Trail Location – Midway Geyser Basin
  • Distance – 1.6 Miles · Out & Back
  • Elevation gain – 200 Feet
  • Time – 1 to 2 Hours
  • Difficulty – Easy

The Grand Prismatic Spring is a geothermal spurt located at the confluence of the Snake River and West Fork Snake Creek in Yellowstone National Park.

The Grand Prismatic Spring is considered to be one of the greatest natural wonders of the country.

Grand Prismatic Spring is the most photographed hot spring in the world, one of our favorite best day hikes in Yellowstone because it’s so beautiful!

This geothermal area offers a variety of colors and temperatures.

With its high temperature, the bright blue water is at the center of this sizeable rainbow-colored pool. You can take an easy hike to the spring and take a dip if you want.

If you are looking for something with a lot of activity, this is not your best bet! But it is one of our favorite hikes in Yellowstone National Park because it’s so beautiful.

This geothermal area offers bright pools that change colors depending on the time of year, so this hike is sure to be different every time.


5. Mount Washburn

Mount Washburn

Fast Facts

  • Trail Features – Excellent views · Wildflowers · Wildlife · Family Friendly
  • Trail Location – Canyon Village
  • Distance – 6.2 Miles · Out & Back
  • Elevation gain – 1390 Feet
  • Time – 3 to 6 Hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate

If you love hiking, camping, and outdoor adventures, you definitely should try hiking in Mount Washburn Yellowstone National Park.

The place is lovely, especially the famous Mount Washburn viewpoint, where you can look directly into the heart of Yellowstone, Montana.

This is the perfect hike for those of you who want a challenge!

The views from Mount Washburn are some of the best in Yellowstone National Park.

It’s also one of our favorite hikes because it offers an excellent workout with elevation changes and steep terrain.

You can expect to see plenty of wildlife on this trail as well-everything from elk to bison and even wolves!

This hike is also a favorite among photographers for the picturesque scenery.

You will enjoy beautiful views of both Yellowstone Lake and Mount Washburn, along with colorful autumn leaves in the fall.

The 360-degree view at the top provides excellent opportunities for photography as well.

If you plan to go on a backpacking trip in the region, you should plan and pack your food and equipment. Because Mount Washburn is such a popular park, reservations are always taken up fast, leaving many spaces open.


6. Mystic Falls

Mystic Falls

Fast Facts

  • Trail Features – Waterfalls · Thermal Features
  • Trail Location – Old Faithful Area
  • Distance – 2.6 Miles · Out & Back
  • Elevation gain – 225 Feet
  • Time – 2 to 4 Hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate

This is a popular hike for those of you looking to take in the most spectacular falls in Yellowstone National Park.

The Mystic Falls Trail starts with a leisurely walk through some open meadows and then takes visitors up steep switchbacks into the mature old-growth forest before reaching this breathtaking waterfall.

The trail can be completed as a day hike or as an overnight backpacking trip to one of the campsites along the way.



Mystic Falls is a great hike for those looking for something beautiful and different because this is one of the most spectacular falls in Yellowstone National Park.


7. South Rim of the Canyon

South Rim of the Canyon

Fast Facts

  • Trail Features – Oustanding Views · Waterfalls
  • Trail Location – Canyon Village
  • Distance – 8 Miles
  • Elevation gain – 430 Feet
  • Time – 1.5 to 2 Hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate

South Rim is filled with plenty of hiking opportunities, adventure destinations, and beautiful roadside views to distract you while exploring the many scenic Yellowstone trails.

This is our favorite hike in Yellowstone National Park because it provides a variety of scenery and includes viewpoints for those looking to take pictures.

If you are looking for a challenging hike, this is the one to take!

The South Rim of the Canyon Hike offers incredible panoramic views along with plenty of wildlife and beautiful waterfalls.

This trail starts at Sylvan Pass with some easy hiking before becoming steep in many places. The last part up to the viewpoint can be challenging, but it’s worth it for the fantastic views!

The South Rim Trail offers views from both sides–you can enjoy the beauty of Norris Canyon on one side while also taking in the stunning reflections off the water below on the other side. There are also opportunities to see wildlife along the way.

This is an excellent hike for those of you looking for something challenging but still want some beautiful scenery as well!

We recommend this hike if you’re looking for an all-around good time because it provides views, excellent pictures, and plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife.


8. Avalanche Peak

Avalanche Peak

Fast Facts

  • Trail Features – Wonderful View
  • Trail Location – East Entrance Road
  • Distance – 4.7 Miles · Out & Back
  • Elevation gain – 2100 Feet
  • Time – 3-4 Hours
  • Difficulty -Hard

Avalanche Peak is a ten-574-foot high peak located within the Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, and it is a part of the Absaroka Range found west of Jackson, Wyoming.

Avalanche Peak is the highest point in Yellowstone National Park.

This trail will take you closer to the summit than any other trail.

You can choose from an easy or difficult hike-both lead to Avalanche Peak with incredible views. The steep trails are not appropriate for those who have difficulty hiking or for children.

This mountain has a reputation for being extremely difficult, but that reputation is well-deserved.

Avalanche Peak is a great trail because it offers so many different things-beautiful views, wildflowers in the spring, and a challenging hike as well!

It is considered an “easy” peak because it climbs quickly and does not have much side-wall climbing, allowing for plenty of time for rests between strenuous hikes.

This hike offers a challenging but rewarding experience with incredible views and plenty of wildlife along the way, including bison, elk, deer-you name it!

You will also have access to some backcountry campsites along your way if you are looking for camping options.

This scenic trail should not be attempted without proper equipment. Be sure to bring plenty of water, food, and proper clothing.

Before you begin your adventure on the mountain, it is crucial to plan carefully.


9. Ribbon Lake Trail

Clear Lake - Ribbon Lake

Fast Facts

  • Trail Features – Birding · Hot Spring · Lake · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
  • Trail Location – Canyon Village
  • Distance – 5.8 Miles · Out & Back
  • Elevation gain – 580 Feet
  • Time – 3 to 4 Hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate

The ribbon lake trail is a moderate hike for those of you who are looking for an adventure.

This is a challenging trail for those looking for an adventure while still having lots of moments with fantastic scenery.

The Ribbon Lake Trail begins in the forest and follows along the shoreline before climbing to a panoramic viewpoint over Yellowstone Lake, nearby mountains, and expansive meadows below.

It’s also one of our favorite hikes because it offers a complete variety-from forests to the meadow, from volcanic springs to open views.

Take in the view at the top of this challenging hike, and then take a dip in one of Yellowstone’s most famous lakes!

Clear Lake offers excellent fishing opportunities, so be sure to bring your fly rod or your bait and tackle.

It also offers some great photo opportunities, so it’s sure to be one of your favorite hikes in Yellowstone National Park!


10. Upper Geyser Basin

Upper Geyser Basin

Fast Facts

  • Trail Features – Walking · Running · Nature Trips · Bird Watching
  • Trail Location – Old Faithful
  • Distance – 5 Miles · Loop
  • Elevation gain – 360 Feet
  • Time – 2 to 3 Hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate

Upper Geyser Basin is in the heart of North America’s National Park System, the Yellowstone, Montana region.

You will be walking over 60 miles through a network of meadows, forests, lakes, and waterfalls.

Upper Geyser Basin Hiking will be delightful for you if you enjoy long-distance hiking.

Most Upper Geyser Basin Hiking tours include a campsite at Medicine Hat River where you can relax, cook, eat and climb to your vehicle.

The geysers burst with a heady spray of fizzy cool water and spectacular fireworks during the night.

This geyser basin has been a popular hiking destination for years.

When the ice melts in the spring, it creates a picturesque melting lake.

Some Upper Geyser Hiking trips include trips to the historic Black River.

Black River is considered one of the nine wonders of the world because of its extraordinary geysers, enormous waterfalls, abundant wildlife, and historic caves.

The Upper Geyser Hiking Trail follows a path that travels west across a field and then takes you on a short hike into the forest.


Suggested Packing List

  1. Bear spray
  2. 2-3 liters of water
  3. Salty, calorie-rich snacks
  4. Lunch
  5. Backpack
  6. Trekking poles
  7. Wide-brimmed hat
  8. Sunscreen, sunglasses
  9. Bug spray
  10. Non-cotton hiking shirt
  11. Rain jacket (Men, Women)
  12. Warm non-cotton layer
  13. First-aid kit

Additional Resources

  1. Yellowstone National Park Website
  2. Yellowstone National Park Map
  3. Operating Hours & Seasons
  4. Yellowstone National Park Permits & Reservations
  5. Yellowstone National Park Current Conditions

FAQ on Yellowstone Hiking


Q. How many days do you need in Yellowstone National Park?

Ten? Twenty? A hundred or more? The Yellowstone Backcountry Office recommends that you plan on at least two days to hike in the park, with five being much better.

It is a vast space, and many of the longer trails remotely require a full day for travel from trailhead to pass through the camp and back again.

Q. What is the best time of year to go to Yellowstone Park?

The Best Time to go to Yellowstone Park is in Mid-June when the weather is warm and fewer crowds.

The prime time for viewing wildlife is June through October. Yellowstone’s winter season, from mid-December to mid-March, is snowy and cold.

Q. How long does it take to drive the loop in Yellowstone?

The loop is 265 miles around the perimeter of Yellowstone, covering both Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks. It’s a long day trip, and you should plan on being out there for 12 hours or more.

Q. In what states is Yellowstone National Park?

Yellowstone National Park is located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.

The park spans nearly 3,500 square miles of land.

Q. How much does it cost to go to Yellowstone?

The entrance fee to Yellowstone National Park is $25 per vehicle, which includes passengers.

This is a pass that can be used for the duration of your visit, and no additional fees are required. An annual pass costs $60, and a motorcycle pass costs $20. Government fees are also included in all these rates.

Q. In what year was Yellowstone established as a national park?

On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses Grant signed a bill that created Yellowstone National Park; it was America’s first national park!


Conclusion

Yellowstone National Park is an outdoor adventurer’s dream. There are so many different options to explore and activities for all skill levels, that it can be hard to figure out what you want to do first.

Hiking in Yellowstone National Park offers a great way to get away from the hustle of everyday life while exploring some beautiful scenery at the same time!

If you have never hiked before or want more information on hiking safety tips, check out this blog post about the best things to do in Yellowstone National Park. Let us know what your favorite thing about hiking has been by leaving a comment below!

Before You Go, Get an updated trail condition on the National Park Service Website.


What do you think are the best day hiking trails in Yellowstone national park. Let us know in the comment section below