The 10 Best Things to do in Yellowstone National Park With Kids

With more than 4 million yearly visitors, Yellowstone National Park is known around the world as a place for outdoor family activities. There are hundreds of things to do there. This article explores the 10 best things to do in Yellowstone with kids so that everybody is happy, including the kids.

All of your activities with the kids should take their necessities into account. While you can’t plan a 20-mile hike with them, you can still explore the raw natural beauty Yellowstone has to offer.

Table of Contents

10. Take a walk to the Mud Volcano

Image: Flickr / Bernt Rostad

From the days they take their first steps, kids are fascinated by mud. No matter how much parents try to keep them away from their messy play plans, children love playing in the mud. Yellowstone takes their passion to new heights as they can see the Mud Vulcano.

Kids can’t play here but they can watch the boiling mud themselves. There’s even a cave to photograph that is the place of this messy boiling clay. Furthermore, you can have fun with your kids about the smell of the mud. The area is known for its smell of eggs, mainly due to the Sulphur from the ground.

9. Bathe in the Boiling River

Just next to the Northern entrance to the park you can find the Mammoth Hot Springs Area which creates a unique bathing spot (one of only 2 in the entire park). The shallow waters of the Boiling River are perfect for a quick bath after a sweaty trek with the kids.

Since there are only 2 places to bathe in the park, your kids are also likely to make new friends here at this popular location. The best part is they can enter the shallow water with their hiking shoes, mainly for safety purposes given the slippery rocks at the bottom of the riverbed.

8. Teach your kids how to use a map

Modern navigation has been a blessing for both adults and kids. But the new generation rarely knows how to use an old-school map these days. Given GPS outages are frequent, your child can truly benefit from using a paper-based map.

Reading such maps is based on local topography and scales. You can even find Yellowstone maps at the entry to the park. Together with your kids, you can look for your next destination on the map guided by marked trails.

7. Learn bushcraft

Bushcraft is complex and it involves mastering all types of survival skills. You can enjoy your time out in the park by teaching your kids the ropes of outdoor survival. First, they need to know how to find a source of water and how to purify it before drinking. Building a basic shelter is another family-orientated activity with deep educational roots.

Starting a fire is also a skill most people should learn in early childhood. But your time out in the park with children is also the best moment to teach kids more about first aid and its importance, especially when traveling to remote locations.

6. Uncle Tom’s Trail and Artist Point – Canyon Village

Beeld: Flickr / Roy Luck

While in Yellowstone Canyon, you can explore Uncle Tom’s Trail with its hundreds of steps. There’s a steep descent made with metal stairs you need to follow along the trail. You can even see the Lower Falls here up close.

Most tourists just end up in this area as part of their Yellowstone itinerary. But if you want your kids to see real rainbows, you are just in the right place. Just before 10 AM on summer days, there’s at least one rainbow to see at the base of the waterfall here.

5. Consider a picnic next to Warm Creek

Picnics are the best when your kids are around. It seems the little ones could it anything while outdoors. There are a few designated picnic areas in Yellowstone. The designated Warm Creek Picnic Area is a top spot to stop for food.

Situated next to an amazing valley, the picnic area is shaded by high trees. But most importantly, the area might even provide the food for the picnic. You can fish trout nearby, which makes this type of picnic the right combination of activities if you don’t want to walk long distances.

4. Take photos at the Old Faithful

The Old Faithful got its name by its very specific eruption times. You can visit this popular area and know exactly when the hot water erupts. It goes up in the air every 78 minutes which should allow you to plan your photos specifically.

While waiting for the water to erupt, you can visit the Old Faithful Inn to get some treats for your kids. Since its close-by, you can even enjoy your snacks on the deck of the inn while watching the Old Faithful erupt.

3. Hike the trails less traveled

It’s a given that the Upper Geyser Basin Boardwalk might be too overcrowded during the day. But there are other areas you can visit where you don’t have to rub shoulders with other tourists.

For example, the DeLacy Creek Trail west of the Basin is a great trek option. It takes you to Shoshone Lake and back. The trail is also only 5.8 miles long.

2. Drive and stop to take photos

Driving around Yellowstone is another way of seeing a small part of this natural treasure. There are 5 entrances you can count on and a few roads you can take. It takes up to 7 hours to drive the Grand Loop when you take stopping for photos into account. You should also be aware there’s a 45mph speed limit on the roads here.

1. Take photos at the West Thumb Geyser Basin

The West Thumb Geyser Basin offers an incredible experience for kids. They get to see a real geyser with its hydrothermal action and a hole that looks out of this world. The ground hole water erupts from is visible here as waters are always clean. The boardwalk to the geyser shouldn’t be an issue even when visiting with young children.