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30 Best Things To Do In Yellowstone National Park

30 Best Things To Do In Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is a unique landscape loaded with extraordinary geothermal features, steaming geysers, boiling hot springs, bubbling mud pots, stunning meadows and spectacular canyons. We’re going to show you 30 of the very best things to do in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

Planning a vacation to Yellowstone for the first, second or even third time can feel overwhelming. Why? Because there is just so much to see and do inside the park but you don’t want to miss any of the best bits.

You know Yellowstone is going to deliver on geysers, hot springs and waterfalls. But the best chance at spotting wildlife and hitting the park’s top hiking trails requires a little more research on your part.

In this guide, we’re not only going to show you the best things to do, but also give you our best tips for making the most of your trip. Yellowstone is a true bucket list USA vacation spot and we want you to leave feeling like you can put a great big tick in that box!

So, let’s get stuck into the 30 best things to do in Yellowstone National Park.

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Best Geysers And Hot Springs To See In Yellowstone

Best Things To Do In Yellowstone National Park Geysers and Hot Springs Grand Prismatic Spring vibrant and unique colors in lines leading to a light blue pool with steam billowing and mountains in background

1. Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth is one of the major hubs for visitors to Yellowstone. It has a hotel and lodges, plus it is the only place open to vehicles year round.

You can explore roughly 50 hot springs via two easy walkways at Mammoth Hot Springs – upper and lower terrace boardwalks.

Mammoth Hot Springs are popular because they are unique within Yellowstone. Geology and weather combine to create white chalky mineral terraces. When water runs across the chalk it reveals beautifully vibrant colors.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Mammoth Hot Springs is located close to Gardiner, MT at the North entrance.
  • Mammoth is much quieter than the more famous areas of Yellowstone.
  • There are often elk and sometimes bison walking around Mammoth village.
  • Sunrise is stunning the upper hot springs terrace.
  • Black bear sightings are common near the upper terrace.

2. Norris Geyser Basin

Walking around the amazing thermal areas at Norris Geyser Basin is one of the best things to do in Yellowstone.

There are two distinctly separate areas at Norris – Porcelain Basin and Back Basin.

Along Porcelain Basin all of your senses will be heightened with acidic smells, bubbling sounds and eye catching colors. Back Basin is the longer loop along which you will see the two most popular Norris geysers – Steamboat Geyser and Echinus Geyser.

Steamboat is the tallest geyser in the world and Echinus is the largest acid geyser in the world with a PH around 3.5.

Norris is home to the hottest and oldest recorded thermal features in the entire park and can’t be missed on a visit to Yellowstone.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Norris Geyser Basin is located close to the West entrance, where the road to Canyon begins.
  • It doesn’t matter which basin you start with, both have loop boardwalks.
  • Geysers here don’t erupt on schedule so you might want to hang around for a while.
  • Norris offers some of the best bang for your buck – plenty of geysers with very little walking.

3. Artist Paint Pots

Artist paint pots is one of our top ‘hidden gem’ best things to do in Yellowstone.

A short 1 mile roundtrip trail through forest leads to a colorful geothermal oasis, with small but incredibly vibrant pools and grey bubbling mud cauldrons.

Walk around the colorful pools that look as though they are on an artists pallet, climb up a short hill to see hot bubbles bursting and a wonderful bonus – spectacular views over Yellowstone.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Artist paint pots is just over 3 miles south of Norris Geyser Basin.
  • It isn’t one of the famous stops so far fewer people visit.
  • Parking is fairly limited but it will only fill in peak Summer months.
  • Go up behind the paint pots to see close ups of bubbling mud.

4. Lower Geyser Basin (Fountain Paint Pots)

Lower Geyser Basin is the largest of Yellowstone’s basins in area and it discharges more hot water per minute than any other part of the park.

The main walkway is called Fountain Paint Pots boardwalk trail and it is a total of 0.6 miles easy flat walking from parking lot back to parking lot. You will pass colorful geysers, springs, mud pots and fumaroles.

Firehole Lake Drive accounts for the other side of Lower Geyser Basin. One of the most popular sunset spots in Yellowstone is Great Fountain Geyser along this road. It is a flat, wide and still geyser which reflects the sun, clouds and colors perfectly if you’re lucky.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Lower Geyser Basin is located between Madison and Old Faithful to Yellowstone’s southwest.
  • Firehole Lake Drive is only open in Summer and early Fall.
  • Lower Geyser Basin doesn’t take long to visit.
  • Sunset is very popular at Great Fountain Geyser, photographers should arrive early.

5. Midway Geyser Basin (Grand Prismatic Spring)

Midway Geyser Basin has the fewest thermal features of the three major basins in Yellowstone’s southwest corner, but it has one the most beautiful attractions in the park – Grand Prismatic Spring.

When you see photographs of a huge crystal clear deep blue pool encircled by yellow and orange rings, that is Grand Prismatic Spring from an elevated viewpoint on the Fairy Falls trail. This trail is closed except for Summer months and early Fall.

But there is more to see at Midway. You will cross the Firehole River, which will be steaming on a cool or cold day, before seeing the mighty Excelsior Geyser first. On a cold day, Excelsior will be booming out steam like an old steam train.

Opal Pool and Turquoise Pool are both very attractive but if you can see Grand Prismatic Spring on a warm and clear day, you will be able to fully appreciate the beauty of this natural thermal wonderland.

You will not be able to hike to GPS overlook along Fairy Falls if you visit Yellowstone in April due to snow and bear activity.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Midway Geyser Basin is located between Lower and Upper Geyser Basins.
  • Do not miss the viewpoint along Fairly Falls trail, it is one of the best in the park.
  • The boardwalk loop is very short at Midway Geyser Basin.
Echinus geyser norris geyser basin reds and oranges

6. Upper Geyser Basin (Old Faithful)

Upper Geyser Basin is simply unmissable and has to be considered as one of the very best things to do in Yellowstone National Park.

It has the highest concentration of geysers of any region on the planet, which means it is not just about Old Faithful!

Yes, Old Faithful is the most famous geyser in the world and watching it erupt is a rite of passage for first time visitors to Yellowstone.

However, we strongly urge you to spend at least 2 or 3 hours walking around the rest of Upper Geyser Basin. There are so many more amazing geysers to see, including Castle Geyser, Riverside Geyser, Daisy Geyser and the awesome Grand Geyser.

Exploring hidden geysers behind Old Faithful is among the best things to do on a visit to Wyoming.

Park rangers make predictions on eruption times for those listed above, but besides those, you will walk past endless colors, shapes and sizes from geyser to geyser.

Another of our top hidden gem attractions (although it isn’t exactly a secret!) is Morning Glory Pool, which is almost like a miniature but more vibrant version of Grand Prismatic Spring.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Upper Geyser Basin is located between West Thumb and Madison.
  • Old Faithful is always busy, hike to the observation point for a quieter experience.
  • Walk around the boardwalks among some of the best viewing in Yellowstone.
  • Yellowstone is one of the best USA national parks and Old Faithful is the star attraction.
  • This may be the most popular part of Yellowstone but there is plenty of parking.

7. Biscuit Basin

Biscuit Basin is considered a part of Upper Geyser Basin but it has a separate parking area and many miss it in favor of Old Faithful.

This is another 0.7 mile roundtrip loop with notable features such as Jewel Geyser, Coral Geyser, Avoca Spring, Mustard Spring, Sapphire Pool and Black Opal Pool.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Biscuit Basin is located near Upper Geyser Basin.
  • There is ample parking here and it can be used as an overflow for Upper Basin if full.
  • You can follow a long trail from Biscuit Basin to Old Faithful, passing Morning Glory Pool.
  • Much quieter to visit, we had the entire basin to ourselves in October.

8. Black Sand Basin

Black Sand Geyser is also part of Upper Geyser Basin but it too has its own parking area and is a fantastic lesser visited detour before arriving to Old Faithful.

Emerald Pool and Rainbow Pool are the star attractions of a very colorful basin named for its black sand (also known as obsidian, the natural form of glass). 

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Black Sand Basin is located very close to Upper Geyser Basin entrance.
  • Parking is limited but it rarely gets too busy.
  • Boardwalk trail is out and back here, not a loop.
  • You will be surprised by how vivid the colors are in this basin.

9. West Thumb Geyser Basin

West Thumb is one of the least visited Geyser Basins in Yellowstone National Park, which is better for you because it will be quieter and more enjoyable.

There are no major hot springs or geysers here, but there are a variety of gorgeous pools and interesting hot springs, such as Fishing Cone, Abyss Pool and Black Pool.

What makes West Thumb Geyser Basin unique is its location right on the edge of Yellowstone Lake, with many of its features inside the shallow water.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • West Thumb Geyser Basin is located very close to South Entrance (toward Grand Teton).
  • Usually very quiet and easy boardwalk loop trail to follow.
  • You can hike to West Thumb Overlook for arial views of the basin.
  • Stunning mountain views over the lake are worth visiting alone.

10. Mud Volcano

Mud Volcano makes up the second of two thermal attractions on the eastern side of Yellowstone (along with West Thumb). It is a complete contrast to West Thumbs calmness and still waters.

You can expect loud, gargling and unruly bubbling mud pots, plus smelly acidic geysers here at Mud Volcano.

The name sounds so dramatic doesn’t it?! Well, the best feature is actually nothing to do with mud, but a small vent blowing out an awesome amount of hot steam called Dragon’s Mouth Spring, for obvious reasons.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Mud Volcano is located between Canyon and Lake, near Hayden Valley.
  • This is another very quiet geyser area but is definitely worth a visit.
  • Don’t miss the eye catching volume of steam billowing out of the Dragon’s Mouth.

Best Waterfalls To See In Yellowstone National Park

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone from North Rim Drive beautiful gorge to lower yellowstone falls deep blue sky

11. Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Yellowstone Falls are hands down one of the best things to do in the National Park. You have to include this area in your Yellowstone itinerary.

Drive down both North Rim and South Rim drive, stopping off at each viewpoint and soaking up views into the awesome canyon.

Our personal favorite viewpoint is Artist Point on South Rim Drive and this where you would find us at sunrise with our camera and tripod, even on a freezing cold October morning!

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is located near Canyon Village.
  • Sunrise is special in the canyon, especially if you get lucky with clouds and weather.
  • Uncle Tom’s trail has been closed a long time and looks unlikely to reopen.
  • Upper Falls is worth stopping at on the South Rim.
  • Bald Eagles nest around the bridge area crossing the river as you enter South Rim drive.

12. Firehole Falls

Firehole Falls is a 40 ft waterfall on Firehole Canyon drive (not to be confused with Firehole Lake drive) – but the waterfalls is only half of the fun.

Pull over to see the waterfall, which is impressive and surrounded by rock walls, then continue along the one way road until you reach one of only two places you can swim inside Yellowstone – the Firehole swimming area.

This area is not manned by lifeguards, the water is not (as you might expect!) hot and it gets very busy but you get to say you’ve been swimming inside Yellowstone National Park.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Firehole Canyon drive is located very close to Madison campground.
  • Don’t expect too much here but it is a nice off the beaten path part of the park.
  • You can’t get close to the waterfall so take a telephoto lens.
  • Swim at your own risk but have fun!

13. Tower Fall

Tower Fall is arguably the second most attractive waterfall in Yellowstone after Lower Falls. It is a narrow and stunning 132 ft single drop plunge waterfall surrounded by trees and canyon walls.

Severe erosion means trails to the bottom of Tower Fall are now closed off but a viewing point remains and is just 100 ft from the parking lot.

You can also walk past the overlook for three quarters of a mile to see the waterfall landing inside the Yellowstone River. 

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Tower Fall is located near Tower Junction in northeast Yellowstone.
  • Access to the waterfall is not possible in 2021 due to road closures.
  • Couple a visit to Tower Fall with hiking Mt Washburn (when open).
Firehole river with small hot waterfall near grand prismatic spring midway geyser basin best things to do in yellowstone national park

14. Fairy Falls

Fairy Falls is one of Yellowstone’s grandest waterfalls, plunging 197 ft from a cliff edge and landing right in front of you as you stand at its base.

The bottom half of the waterfall has a cavernous hole in the cliff which looks very much like Batman’s secret lair in the super volcano.

You do have to hike 7 miles roundtrip to reach Fairy Falls (more later in hiking) but that means you will share the experience with far fewer people, who generally stick to the loop road.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Fairy Falls trailheads are either 1 mile South of Midway Basin (recommended) or the end of Fountain Flat drive.
  • As the narrow waterfall hits rock it fans out intricately in a triangular pyramid shape.
  • People do swim in the pool at the base of Fairy Falls.

15. Gibbon Falls

Gibbon Falls isn’t going to blow you away but it is one of the easier waterfalls to visit in Yellowstone National Park. It is a wide and sloped waterfall dropping over 80 ft into the Gibbon River.

Parking is plentiful but this is a very popular stopping off point between Norris Geyser Basin and Lower Geyser Basin. A short walk along a paved path leads you to a viewing platform from which you can see the entirety of the falls.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Gibbon Falls is located near the junction to West Yellowstone.
  • It is a popular stop off so if there’s a parking spot, take it.
  • Visits here will take no longer than 10-20 minutes.
  • The sun will cast shadows across half the falls as you move into the afternoon.

16. Undine Falls

Undine Falls is a 60 ft multi-tier waterfall near Mammoth which can be viewed from an overlook on the road side or closer up via Lava Creek Canyon trail.

The trail is 4.4 miles one way running from Mammoth Village to Lava Creek Trailhead so works well if one person drives while the others hike one way to save coming back the same way.

Undine Falls is very photogenic with its three-tier cascade and this is a relatively unknown wildlife spotting area away from the crowds of Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Undine Falls is located 4 miles east of Mammoth on the way to Tower-Roosevelt.
  • The overlook is very popular but the hike is always extremely quiet.
  • Consider that bear activity can be high in this area, particularly in Spring.
  • Don’t forget your tripod and ND filter to photograph Undine Falls.

Best Wildlife Spotting Areas In Yellowstone National Park

Bison herd walking down a road with green trees and blue sky in wyoming

17. Lamar Valley

Animals are like celebrities in Yellowstone National Park and there’s no better place to go celebrity spotting than Lamar Valley.

Lamar is where you have the most chance seeing grizzly bears, wolf packs, pronghorn and of course bison.

If you enter or leave the park via northeast entrance (Cooke City), you will drive through Lamar Valley. Bear this in mind when creating your itinerary.

Our top advice for all areas of wildlife spotting but mainly Lamar Valley is to go very early in the morning. You will stand a much greater chance of seeing wildlife, speaking from experience!

If the roadside is jam packed with cars and people wanting to see animals, get off the roadside. Park at Specimen Ridge and hike a few hundred meters away from the road instead.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Lamar Valley is located between Tower-Junction and Cooke City.
  • Early morning and late afternoon into early evening are ideal times.
  • 10-4pm on a hot Summer day you have very little chance seeing animals.
  • Binoculars and telephoto lenses help immensely.

18. Hayden Valley

Lamar Valley is the undisputed primetime wildlife spotting arena but Hayden Valley is widely regarded as the second best place to see wildlife in Yellowstone National Park.

Our top advice is to visit Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone for sunrise, before driving a few minutes south into Hayden Valley to spot wildlife as they begin their daily routines around dawn.

Bison, eagles, grizzly bears, wolves and waterfowl can be found in Hayden Valley.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Hayden Valley is located between Canyon Village and Lake.
  • Early morning and late afternoon into early evening are ideal times.
  • Stick close to the Yellowstone River for more chance seeing bald eagles.
  • Bison are the most common animal you will see in big herds around Hayden Valley meadows.

19. Yellowstone East Entrance

Lamar and Hayden Valleys are so well known that sometimes they become too busy with humans, which causes certain animals to stay clear.

We think Yellowstone east entrance (between Cody and Yellowstone Lake) is one of the best hidden gem wildlife spotting areas in Yellowstone National Park.

Elk are plentiful in the lower lying areas near Cody, but grizzly bears are regular appearances closer to the mountains. Bighorn sheep, pronghorn and moose can also be seen here.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • East entrance is located between Cody, WY and Yellowstone Lake.
  • As always with wildlife spotting, early and late in the day are best.
  • Pull in and wait for animals to come to you.
  • Avalanche Peak trail is located on this stretch of road (see hiking).
Wolf spotting near grand prismatic spring on meadow with dead tree in foreground

20. Mammoth Village

Mammoth is one of the most built up areas inside Yellowstone park boundaries. We can all but guarantee you will see elk walking around the parking lot, near the hotel and dining hall.

However, if you time it right (it’s all about luck and timing with animals), you might see a herd of bison walking through town.

On our most recent visit in April 2021, we saw at least 15 – 20 bison dotted all around Mammoth village. You do have to give them plenty of room and please whatever you do, do not just abandon your car in the road.

On our first visit when we stayed in a lodge at Mammoth for a night, we had an Elk with huge antlers eating about 30 meters from our porch area.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Mammoth is located in the very northwest of Yellowstone near Gardiner, MT.
  • You will see wildlife here throughout the day.

21. Firehole River (Grand Prismatic Spring Area)

You will see wildlife all over Yellowstone, these suggested places are only recommendations but there’s no guarantee you will have the same luck.

We have included the sweeping meadows south of Grand Prismatic Spring in this list because on our last visit in Spring 2021, we watched a lone wolf eat a carcass and become silhouetted by geyser steam when wind blew in the right direction.

As you can imagine, that was a very dramatic and almost cinematic sight for us. You might get something similar but it could be somewhere else in the park.

Wolf sightings had been common in this same meadow in the days leading up to our visit so it’s worth checking out.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The meadows are located directly next to (south) Grand Prismatic Spring.
  • There is a larger pull off area overlooking the meadow.
  • Fairly Falls trail begins near here and is closed in Winter for bear activity.

22. Yellowstone Lake

Lake Yellowstone is at the far end of the east entrance which we have already mentioned. But in this instance we are referring to Lake Village and Lake Lodge area, down to Bridge Bay and around to West Thumb.

During our first visit, we followed a lone coyote that seemed to be in very high spirits in this area. We also saw a large herd of elk resting on snowy meadows.

It is much quieter in traffic and human terms on the east side of Yellowstone, so it’s a good idea to stick to this side when looking for wildlife.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Lake Yellowstone and Bridge Bay are between Canyon and West Thumb.
  • Park up and walk around the immediate areas to see wildlife taking refuge away from the road.

Best Hiking Trails In Yellowstone National Park

Where are those morgans walking on boardwalk over geysers and hot springs with trees and blue sky

23. Mount Washburn

Mount Washburn is the most popular day hike in Yellowstone National Park and it is finally back open in 2022 after a few years of closure to the public.

The summit can be reached via two trails – first Dunraven Pass (recommended) and second Chittendon Road. The trail is so popular it even has its own parking lot alongside Grand Loop Road.

Views from the summit are spectacular, with a 360 panoramic vista over Yellowstone making it one of the best things to do in the park and one of the best hikes in the US.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Mt Washburn trail via Dunraven Pass is located between Canyon and Tower-Roosevelt.
  • Parking fills very early here so be sure to arrive as early as possible.

Mount Washburn Hiking Information:

  • Distance: 6.8 miles roundtrip
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Type: Out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,400 ft
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Recent Comments: All Trails

24. Lava Creek

Lava Creek trail is the best day hike around the Mammoth area. It follows the Gardner River to the confluence with Lava Creek and passes by Undine Falls.

Wildflowers and wildlife can be seen along this trail, plus you get to cross a suspension bridge over the river.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Lava Creek trail begins along Grand Loop Road 4 miles east of Mammoth.
  • The second trailhead – or other end – is at Mammoth campground.
  • Rolling hills but final part is all uphill.
  • If possible, organize vehicles to drop off or pick up to make this hike one way.

Lava Creek Hiking Information:

  • Distance: 4.2 miles one way (8.4 miles roundtrip)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Type: Out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,200 ft
  • Time: 1.5-2 hours one way / 3-4 hours roundtrip
  • Recent Comments: All Trails

25. Boiling River

Boiling River is a very short and easy trail that leads to the best place to swim in Yellowstone National Park – the aptly named Boiling River.

Very cold river water mixes with hydrothermal hot springs creating a very unusual temperature with pockets of icy cold then baking hot.

Important: Boiling River is closed until further notice. Hopefully it will reopen in 2022 because it is a unique thing to do in Yellowstone. Check the status of the Boiling River on the NPS website.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Boiling River trailhead is near the 45th parallel sign between Mammoth and Gardiner.
  • Take swimsuits, water, sunscreen and flip flops.
  • Lifeguards are not present at swimming areas in Yellowstone.
  • Boiling River is a very popular part of the park.

Boiling River Hiking Information:

  • Distance: 1.2 miles roundtrip
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Type: Out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 75 ft
  • Time: 30 mins hiking time
  • Recent Comments: All Trails

26. Specimen Ridge (Lamar Valley)

Specimen Ridge is a long hike in Lamar Valley on which you can fully expect to see various forms of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, elk, pronghorn, bison and maybe even bears.

We would recommend only taking on this hike if you are experienced, have bear spray and are willing to give up half a day on your Yellowstone itinerary.

This is a beautiful trail with stunning views, wildflowers and at times a bit of adventure if you have to cross the river.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Specimen Ridge trailhead is very close to Tower-Roosevelt near Lamar Valley.
  • You will see wildlife on this hike.
  • This is a long and challenging hike that will take up at least half a day.
  • Take the usual rations – food, water, sunscreen, bear spray etc.

Specimen Ridge Hiking Information:

  • Distance: 16.9 miles one way
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Type: Point to Point
  • Elevation Gain: 3,850 ft
  • Time: 30 mins hiking time
  • Recent Comments:  All Trails
Billowing hot steam venting out of super volcano in wyoming

27. Observation Point (Old Faithful)

When you visit Old Faithful and Upper Geyser Basin you will inevitably find it jam packed full of tourists waiting in gleeful anticipation for the big event.

If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, take a short but steep hike up to Observation Point for amazing views over proceedings and very few others around.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Observation Point is located behind and to the right of Old Faithful Geyser.
  • Closes for Winter and bear activity.
  • Steep but absolutely worth it for unique views over Upper Geyser Basin.
  • Sunset is the perfect time to watch and eruption from this overlook.

Observation Point Hiking Information:

  • Distance: 1.5 miles roundtrip
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Type: Out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 260 ft
  • Time: 1 hour hiking time
  • Recent Comments: All Trails

28. Lone Star Geyser

Lone Star Geyser trail is a very easy and flat paved walking / biking path leading to Lone Star Geyser.

This is an accessible and very leisurely walk through forested land, where people often see moose and a very worthwhile geyser eruption.

The only problem is Lone Star only goes off once every 3 hours. Typically, the geyser erupts sometime between 9.30 – 11am and last 30 minutes once it starts.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Lone Star Geyser trailhead is located between Old Faithful and West Thumb.
  • Take bug spray as this trail follows the river.
  • Check with other hikers in the parking lot for information about the last eruption time.
  • Don’t expect a challenge, this is a nice easy family friendly hike.

Lone Star Geyser Hiking Information:

  • Distance: 5.3 miles roundtrip
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Type: Out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 120 ft
  • Time: 2-3 hours depending on eruption
  • Recent Comments: All Trails

29. Mystic Falls

Another fantastic reason to visit relatively unknown Biscuit Basin is because you can hike a great trail to another waterfall not mentioned above – Mystic Falls.

Mystic Falls is a 70 ft cascade waterfall plunging into Little Firehole River and is well worth a hike if you’re looking for a moderate 2-4 hour trail to get stuck into in Yellowstone.

You can add on a steep climb for excellent views back across Upper Geyser Basin and include a loop for a slightly longer but better hike.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Mystic Falls trailhead is located at Biscuit Basin.
  • Waterfall and geyser basin views are worth the effort.
  • Family friendly for older kids.
  • Busy trail so plan to arrive early.

Mystic Falls Hiking Information:

  • Distance: 3.5 miles roundtrip
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Type: Out and Back / Loop
  • Elevation Gain: 600 ft
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Recent Comments: All Trails

30. Avalanche Peak

Avalanche Peak is a steep hike in Yellowstone, but its rewards are worth the climb. Something to consider is the high elevation here at over 10,500 ft summit.

There are very few mountain peaks you can actually summit in Yellowstone and this is one of the easier, quicker peaks you can reach on a day hike.

Views over snow capped mountains, the Tetons on a clear day 50 miles away and of course Yellowstone Lake. Grizzly bears like it around this area, so take bear spray but hope you don’t need it.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Avalanche Peak trailhead is on Yellowstone east entrance road.
  • Not recommended to hike in September or October due to grizzly bear activity.
  • Snow and fallen trees until early July.
  • Steep climb but well worth it for the views.

Avalanche Peak Hiking Information:

  • Distance: 4.7 miles roundtrip
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Type: Out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 2,050 ft
  • Time: 3-5 hours
  • Recent Comments: All Trails

Map Of The Best Things To Do In Yellowstone National Park

Trip map courtesy of Wanderlog, a trip planner app

Click or touch the map to activate.

Scroll around Yellowstone, zoom in and out to find each of the 30 best things to see and do in the park.

  • Red Markers – Geysers and Hot Springs of Yellowstone
  • Blue Markers – Yellowstone Waterfalls
  • Green Markers – Yellowstone Wildlife Spotting Areas
  • Orange Markers – Hiking Trails in Yellowstone

Top Tips For Your Yellowstone Vacation

Let’s take a very brief look at some of our top tips having visited the park on two separate occasions:

  • Yellowstone is a 4 season wonderland but there are pros and cons to each.
  • Summer is extremely crowded at attractions, on hiking trails and when booking lodging.
  • Weather is unpredictable in Spring and Fall, but animals are at their most active.
  • Winter is spectacular but only for skiers and other Winter activities.
  • Some of the very best USA road trips include Yellowstone and Grand Teton.
  • Geysers, pools and hot springs are best seen in Summer months when the air is warmer.
  • Check for road, park entrance, hiking trails and lodging closures before booking anything.
  • Allow at least 4 full days in Yellowstone if it is your first visit.
  • The park is huge, ideally you would spend 1 night in 3 different areas of the park to reduce driving.
  • Start early each morning to beat the crowds, go to your top ‘must visit’ places first.
  • Animals are far more active at dawn and dusk, don’t sleep in!

Our Yellowstone Itinerary Planning Resources

Use all of our in depth Yellowstone National Park resources to help plan the perfect itinerary for you and your family:

We hope this guide to the 30 best things to do in Yellowstone National Park helps with planning your visit!

Have you been to Yellowstone? Do you have any other awesome suggestions for things to do in the park?

Please let us know if you have any questions or need any help planning your visit in the comments below.

Happy Travels,

Mark and Kristen

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