things to do in yellowstone

10 Best Things to do in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is one of the USA’s oldest and most famous national parks.

The park attracts over three million visitors each year, making it America’s third most-visited national park behind the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Grand Canyon National Park.

“Yellowstone National Park is a place of extremes. It’s home to the tallest, largest, and oldest living things on earth.

It has some of the world’s most dramatic scenery, and it contains three active volcanoes. The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is one of its many breathtaking sights.”

With so many people coming to visit this natural wonderland, we thought it might be helpful for you to know the best things to do in Yellowstone National Park while you’re there!

It’s an adventure waiting for you! So grab your gear and head out west!

The Yellowstone National Park is a nature lover’s paradise.

Thousands of acres of beautiful wilderness await you, and the number one thing to do in Yellowstone National Park is to explore it. Here are some great things you can do during your visit


Visit Campgrounds

Visit Campgrounds at Yellowstone

The campgrounds at Yellowstone National Park offer everything from basic tent sites to RV hookups.

Campsites in the more popular areas can fill up fast, so plan and give yourself plenty of time for a camping adventure!

If you’re looking for something closer to home, take advantage of one of many backcountry campsites that are available on a first-come-first-serve basis.

The “primitive” campsites have no running water or toilets nearby. Still, they provide incredible views and wildlife watching opportunities (make sure not to leave food out as bears might be attracted!).

There is an assortment of fully serviced campgrounds that include hot showers and flush toilets – some even have laundry facilities for those who want all the comforts-of fewer crowds.


Hike a Trail

Hike a Trail at Yellowstone

There are more than 500 miles of trails at Yellowstone, and these hikes range from easy to strenuous. For the best views without too much climbing, try one of these routes:

  • The Boiling River Trail is an 11-mile loop that starts near the North Entrance Road (to see wildlife like Bison and Elk) but ends by a serene creek where you can take a dip in some natural hot springs.
  • Be aware that this trail has unpredictable weather conditions, so make sure to bring water!
  • Try starting on the Grand Loop Road out of West Thumb Junction for a scenic 12-mile hike across rivers, through meadows with wildflowers in season, and over forested mountainsides. With several points of interest along the way, this is a great hike for people of all abilities.
  • The Geyser Hill Trail starts at Fountain Paint Pot and ends about two miles later near Old Faithful with views from Artist Point that are perfect for Instagram photos!
  • If you’re not up for hiking so far, try starting your hike at Echinus Geyser in Norris Area to see some bubbling blue pools before ending by Grand Prismatic Spring – arguably our most famous hot spring.

Check our 10 Best Hikes in Yellowstone National Park for more information about Hikes.


Watch Wildlife

Watch Wildlife at Yellowstone

There is no better way to experience Yellowstone than by watching the wildlife.

This park has some of the most diverse and exciting animals that can be found anywhere in North America, so it’s not hard to understand why this is one of our favorite things about visiting Yellowstone National Park.

The list includes every animal from bison and elk up through grizzly bears and wolves, but there are plenty more as well!

The best place for wildlife viewing in Yellowstone may be at Lamar Valley, where you will come across many different animals, including pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, coyotes, wapiti (aka Elk), cougars, oh yeah–and a whole bunch more!

You’ll also find some of the best places for viewing wildlife at Yellowstone National Park on this list as well.

The Wildlife Watching Station is one option, but you’ll also find many great opportunities to see animals in their natural habitat by taking advantage of all the hikes available throughout Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

The most famous hike would have to be Old Faithful Hike which features many different hiking trails that will lead visitors right up close with some pretty cool landmarks like Morning Glory Pool or Giant Geyser!

You can even head out horseback riding if you want to get away from it all when exploring what’s going on in these two extraordinary national parks!

There are plenty of other options for getting closer to nature while visiting Yellowstone National Park, so make sure to give this list a look and get ready for some wild experiences!


Fishing, Boating & Soaking

Fishing at Yellowstone
  • Fishing

In Hot Springs, You can travel by boat to one of the largest freshwater lakes in America, Lake Yellowstone.

This is an excellent place for fishing and boating, with rentals available at several nearby marinas. Fishing licenses are also required if you want to try your hand at catching dinner.

If you prefer soaking rather than fishing, there are plenty of hot springs around the park for that too!

The easiest way to find them is to ask someone near Bozeman or West Yellowstone where their favorite spot is.

You’ll have no trouble finding an accommodating host as long as you’re respectful while bathing nude in natural waters (bring soap).

It’s important not to wear any perfume when visiting these sites, so be sure it doesn’t get on your clothes, or it will contaminate the water.


Boating in Yellowstone
  • Boating

Boating at Yellowstone is a popular activity.

You can rent kayaks, rowboats, and paddle boats from the Grant Village Marina on Lake Yellowstone, or you can hop into one of their guided rafts that take care of all the paddling for you.

The Snake River also has boat tours available seasonally to see wildlife up close like bison, elk, bears, and geese.


Soaking at Yellowstone
  • Soaking

At the edge of Yellowstone Lake, geothermal water heats up and bubbles to the surface.

The warm springs are perfect for soaking your weary bones or taking a dip in calm waters.

There’s also plenty of opportunities for swimming at various lakes around the park, including Lewis Lake, Pelican Creek, and Jenny Lake (to name a few).

These picturesque spots offer clear blue waters that make you feel like you’re floating on air.

And if these aren’t enough, there’s always Boiling River just outside West Yellowstone where people can enjoy some natural river bathing!

Visit this site is an experience not to be missed out on its very unique thermal features that will fascinate anyone who visits it whether they’re young or old!

Note: Soaking in hot springs is prohibited.

Horse Riding

Horse Riding at Yellowstone

Horseback riding is one of the best ways to experience Yellowstone’s vast, untouched wilderness.

A horse ride through the woods and hills near Old Faithful offers a much closer view than you can get from your car. You’ll catch sights of birds and wildlife that most visitors never know to exist in this national park.

Pick up some trail mix or other snacks for your trip back at any concession area before you saddle up!

Some restrictions apply: Riding may not be permitted on trails with bears, bison, elk herds; check ahead if uncertain. Adults should have prior equestrian experience before attempting a guided tour.

Bike in Park

Bike in Park at Yellowstone

The best way to see the park is by bicycle. You can use a bike for one day or rent it for an extended time, after which you return it at the end of your trip.

Yellowstone Bike & Skis offers rentals and guided tours with various skill levels available, including biking through geysers like Old Faithful without stopping!

Bikes are great because they aren’t limited to roads so that visitors can explore off-road trails as well as paved paths.

The Gateway Geyser Basin has a beautiful mountain bike trail that weaves in between hot springs, fumaroles, and bubbling mud pots.

This area also features some breathtaking views from high elevation overlooks (including Great Fountain Geyser) – all you need is your bike and a water bottle to start exploring!


Explore Winter

Explore Winter at Yellowstone

Winter in Yellowstone National Park is a great time to explore the park.

With fewer crowds, shorter hikes, and more wildlife viewing opportunities for kids, it’s a beautiful choice of the season! Here are some tips on how you can make your winter trip memorable.

  • Hike the snow-covered trails to Artist Point in Grand Teton National Park. The view of Mt. Moran and Jackson Lake is breathtaking, especially when you are looking from a perspective high on top of an icy cliff!
  • Visit Yellowstone’s winter museum with over 50 interactive exhibits that explore what it was like for early explorers who traveled west during America’s frontier period. You will learn how they lived day by day as they explored this vast region and share their stories through maps, artifacts, manuscripts, and sketches.
  • Enjoy horseback riding deep inside Yellowstone, where you can go on guided rides into some of the park’s most remote regions, including Otter Creek or Slough Creek Trail Rides, which offer several hours of riding. In the winter, you might get lucky enough to see elk or buffalo!
  • Take a winter snowshoeing tour. You can choose from a variety of trails that vary in length, difficulty, and scenery. The park offers tours daily throughout the season, so check with the visitor center for more information.

Have a Picnic

Picnic in Yellowstone

One of the most popular things to do at Yellowstone has a picnic.

There are plenty of options for those who want some time with family and friends but don’t know where to start.

The best place for picnics in the park is along Yellowstone Lake as there are many different types of scenic views and areas that visitors can choose from- not to mention it’s one of the only places on site that has both; freshwater fishing spots!

Families especially love Pack Creek Picnic Area, which offers fantastic views overlooking a creek situated below impressive geysers (remember this spot does fill up).

For those looking for fewer crowds during peak season or wanting something more off the beaten path – head down Route 89 towards Dunraven Pass near Tower Junction.

This is a popular spot for day packers who want to enjoy the peace of Yellowstone away from other tourists, but be prepared with plenty of snacks as there’s no food available along this route!

Take a Photographs

Take a Photographs in Yellowstone

There are many beautiful photo opportunities at Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone is the first national park in America and one of the most well-known parks in the world.

Tower Falls: In Tower Fall’s picturesque setting, you can take great photographs with its turquoise waters flowing into a pool surrounded by green trees on all sides.

Even though it might be crowded during peak season, this lovely spot will not disappoint your camera lens or eyes for beauty. 

Beaver Ponds: Beavers make their homes here with massive sticks used as dams to create ponds that would otherwise flood overdue to runoff from surrounding mountainsides.

The pond leads down a small creek that then flows under another large stick dam.

The Old Faithful Geyser: The most famous natural geothermal wonder in Yellowstone National Park and arguably one of the world’s best-known geysers as well.

It is located just over ¾ mile from its namesake hotel.

This majestic spout can shoot water out to a height of up to 130 feet for two minutes at intervals between five and eight hours, with some variation due to factors like wind direction or earthquakes that hit nearby.

Halcyon Point: A popular spot that offers visitors great views of the falls on both sides—the Lower Fall (or Horsetail Falls) and Upper Fall (or Bridal Veil Falls).

Close by are also gorgeous overlooks where you can take in views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and hear the roar of one of America’s largest waterfalls.

Mud Volcano: A small but interesting site where you can take a walk to see bubbling mud pots with steam coming out, which has created this unique oasis near Tower Falls.

Pelican Creek: This is another good spot for photographers who want to capture scenic shots on their camera before continuing their journey onward around Yellowstone National Park.

The Lamar Valley region also offers excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing as well as photography.

Ranger Program

Ranger Program at Yellowstone

The Junior Ranger program is an excellent way for kids aged four to 12 to get involved in the park.

This free, fun, and educational activity can take up to two hours of their time.

Kids will learn about Yellowstone’s natural history, culture, plants, and animals while earning badges as they go from station to station throughout the day.

There are also more than 20 challenging activities that require hands-on participation, like wildlife tracking with binoculars or building toy boats and rafts out of recycled materials at the Discovery Center.

They will earn patches by completing these tasks, which can be sewn onto their ranger vest after getting sworn into service!
After finishing all six stations, junior rangers receive an official certificate recognizing them as special park ambassadors.

They also have a chance to visit the Museum of the National Park Ranger and see firsthand how rangers protect America’s natural treasures!


Conclusion

We hope this article has provided you with some helpful tips for your upcoming trip to Yellowstone. The park is fantastic in the winter, so be sure and plan a visit during that time of year if possible.

If you have any feedback on our post or would like us to cover something specific about Yellowstone National Park, please leave it in the comments below!