For the new year we are kicking off another Best Trip Activities Series, this one focusing on our ten picks for best family activities at Yellowstone National Park when visiting with teens and tweens. Today we’ll give some general planning tips for visiting Yellowstone and set out the Top 10 list. Check back for follow-on postings that will provide more details and pictures for each activity
Yellowstone is Big, Plan Accordingly
Yellowstone was the nation’s first National Park, established in 1872. It is located in the northwestern corner of Wyoming with some land in Montana and Idaho as well. The Park contains over 300 geysers and over 10,000 thermal features along with thousands of buffalo, elk, bear, wolves and other animals. It covers over 3,400 sq miles, roughly the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined. The roads throughout the park are scenic and winding and are not built for highway speed driving. Over the course of a six day visit we explored most of the Park. Believe us when we say everyone should visit Yellowstone at least once. It is a very special place.
Top 10 Yellowstone Activities for Families with Teens and Tweens
There are a myraid of choices and things to see and do at Yellowstone, here are the 10 top that kept our teen and tween busy. Keep checking back for links as we post detailed discussions and pictures on each activity:
- The Upper Geyser Basin Trail
- Firehole Falls swimming hole
- Beaver Pond Loop Hike
- Fishing on Lake Yellowstone
- The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
- Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces at Twilight
- Wildlife watching
- Hanging out at Old Faithful Inn and Geyser
- Mud Volcano Trail
- Giant Prismatic Spring at Midway Geyser Basin
Staying Inside the Park is Worth the Money
The one piece of advice we feel most strongly about giving to anyone going to Yellowstone is to stay inside the Park. Although it may seem cheaper to stay outside the Park in one of the gateway towns like Jackson Hole, WY, West Yellowstone, MT or Gardiner, MT, we think the extra drive time negates any possible cost savings. We planned a 6 night visit to the Park in order to explore it all. Staying at lodges inside the park provided a real sense of history and adventure. And of course, camping is always an option too.
It was great to wake up and look out our window at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel to see elk on the lawn or to sip a drink on the deck of the Old Faithful Inn and watch the geyser erupt at sunset. The National Park Lodge reservations system for Yellowstone takes reservations at least a year in advance and it is well worth making reservations as far ahead as possible during busy times, although last minute offerings in the off season or due to cancellations can appear. The lodges do not have pools but we were so busy that was OK. Beyond the campgrounds, there are a range of options from cabins to motel rooms to deluxe suites so you should be able to find something to fit your budget.