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Hiking in Yellowstone National Park: 8 Trails to Conquer in 2022

Yellowstone National Park should be a world wonder, this place is absolutely insane! Inaugurated in 1872 as the first national park in the US, there are over 2,000,000 acres of pristine wilderness to discover here.

And they pack a bunch of hiking trails, too, which makes it possible to cover the greatest hits up close and personal: the iridescent Grand Prismatic Spring, the Old Faithful, and the jaw-dropping Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Roads can only take you so far… And as challenging as it may get, there’s nothing more rewarding than hiking your way up to a mind-blowing viewpoint.

The problem? Yellowstone is a massive place. It might be tough to know where to start.

Our guide to hiking in Yellowstone is bound to give you the tools you need to prepare for your trip. We’ll talk safety, run you through the best hikes in Yellowstone, and give you some extra tips on what to expect.

You’re gonna have a killer time!

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What to Know Before Hiking in Yellowstone

Best Hikes in Yellowstone Map

1. Canyon Rim North Trail to Inspiration Point, 2. Avalanche Peak Trail, 3. Sky Rim Trail, 4. Osprey Falls Trail, 5. Grand Prismatic Hot Spring Loop, 6. The Black Canyon of the Yellowstone Trail, 7. Artist Point Loop, 8. Seven Mile Hole Trail

Yellowstone is the original (and some might say the best) national park in the United States. It’s a wild and otherworldly place that you need to visit at least once in your life.

Its jaw-dropping canyons and Alpine forests are more than enough to impress, but it’s Yellowstone’s bubbling geysers that really steal the show.

Home to the world-famous Grand Prismatic Spring, alongside a chain of other glorious geothermal features and waterfalls, it’s the kind of place that you need to see in order to believe. And the best way to take it in all of its magnificence is by getting out on the trail!

There’s a selection of various hikes and trails that make the park fairly accessible. Easy and straightforward hikes, medium-level trails, and the crazy ones that will get you sweating your ass off for an epic view.

Being one of the best national parks in the USA, Yellowstone’s more well-trodden routes can be busy in peak season. Don’t let that put you off, though: there is always a way to avoid the crowds. Leaving early is one option, or you can take one of the off-the-beaten-track routes instead.

Most routes are well looked after and clearly signposted, and staying on them is crucial: the park’s management is keen for hikers to understand the risks of being exposed to geysers, hot spray, and the park’s wild bear population…

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Yellowstone Trail Safety

Yellowstone Trail Safety

I see epicness.

The volcanic landscape and bubbling geysers in Yellowstone are a magnet for hikers. Those who are looking for a challenge and want to immerse themselves in nature will have a ton to explore.

But, as enticing as the hikes in Yellowstone’s might be, it’s essential that you know how to protect yourself when in the park. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe and well in Yellowstone National Park:

  • Don’t go wandering – Yellowstone’s trails and boardwalks are there for a reason. Leaving the path can not only endanger the delicate landscape, but also yourself.
  • Be prepared for the weather – Check the forecast before attempting any hike. During winter, temperatures can drop and cause icy pathways and snowstorms. Summer brings scorching hot sunshine, so you’ll need to dress accordingly and bring plenty of water.
  • Be mindful on the road – Traffic accidents are one of the more common causes of injury in Yellowstone. When driving, do not get distracted by passing animals and keep to the speed limit of 45 mph. The roads can also be winding, with sheer drops and potholes.
  • Stay clear of the animals – There are a lot of wild animals in Yellowstone. If you come across them, keep away and do not approach. Stay at least 100 yards from bears and wolves and 25 yards from any others.
  • Preparefor a bear encounter – Hike in a group, stay alert, make noise. Do not run and always carry bear spray. Read the official recommendations here.

Stay cool, guys! I mean no harm.

  • Go old-school – You might not get phone signal on more remote areas, so bringing a solid GPS device, or even a physical map, can come in very handy.
  • Don’t push too hard – Yellowstone is perfect if you’re looking for a challenging hike, but if you don’t feel like it when you’re out on the trail, please turn around. It’s dangerous to put yourself in a compromising situation, especially when far away from any sort of help.
  • Hike with a buddy – It’s much safer to hike with atleast one other person. If you decide to go alone, always let somebody know where you’re going.
  • Get insured – Make the most of your adventure and get good travel insurance that covers the activities you’ll be doing — hiking! Waste no precious time worrying unnecessarily.

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The Top 8 Hikes in Yellowstone

Now that we’ve covered safety and a few of the basics, it’s time to move onto the best hikes in Yellowstone National Park.

We’ve split them into categories, to cater different goals and fitness levels, so have a look around and pick whichever sounds best to you!

    – The Best Day Hike in Yellowstone– Most Beautiful Hike in Yellowstone– The Best Multi-Day Hike in Yellowstone– Must-Visit Hike in Yellowstone– A Fun, Easy Hike in Yellowstone– The Toughest Trek in Yellowstone– Best Hike for Views in Yellowstone– Off the Beaten Path Trek in Yellowstone

1. Canyon Rim North Trail to Inspiration Point – The Best Day Hike in Yellowstone

Canyon Rim North Trail, Yellowstone

To kick things off, here’s a nice all-rounder of a hike. It’s a relatively easy one with a selection of great views!

You’ll start on the Grand Loop Road, tracing the route of the Yellowstone River for the most part. Eventually you’ll come across the Brink of the Lower Falls: a famed spot for photographing the falls themselves.

Continuing on the trail, you’ll go through spots like the Grand View along the way. Inspiration Point isn’t too far from here, too, and it’s got three different levels for all your viewing needs!

This hike is relatively easy and is mostly paved with benches, rest-stops, and bathrooms dotted along its course. Come early morning to beat the crowds.

  • Length: 12.7km
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy/Average
  • Trailhead: North Rim Trail Head (44°42’29.7″N 110°30’11.1″W)

2. Avalanche Peak Trail – Most Beautiful Hike in Yellowstone

Avalanche Peak Trail, Yellowstone

Even though most hikes in Yellowstone are incredibly beautiful, this one might take the win for us. The rugged mountain scenery and stark volcanic landscape make it feel worlds away from your “usual” Yellowstone hiking experience.

You’ll find the trailhead located close to Eleanor Lake, at the west end to be more precise. From here, the path from climbs straight uphill (2,000 feet up) for about 2 miles — brace yourself!

The trail starts through the forest. Then it meanders out into a lush meadow, where you’ll catch sight of the aptly named Top Notch Peak.

Eventually, the trail brings you into a kind of natural amphitheater. It’s at the top of this that you’ll find Avalanche Peak (the climb up is fairly strenuous, but totally worth it).

We reckon this could easily become your favorite hike in Yellowstone. You’re not likely to see many other people, and the hike itself is beautiful. The views of the high-altitude Yellowstone Lake backdropped by the mountaintops are simply incredible!

  • Length: 7.5 km
  • Duration: 3.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Trailhead: Eleanor Lake (44°28’14.7″N 110°08’32.5″W)

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3. Sky Rim Trail – The Best Multi-Day Hike in Yellowstone

Sky Rim Trail, Yellowstone

No, not that Skyrim. This Sky Rim is a trail with some pretty epic panoramic views of Yellowstone’s landscapes. You’ll be tracing the ridgeline of a mountain as you are immersed in the park’s spectacular scenery.

This is a quieter part of the park, so it’s a great hike for anybody looking to get off the beaten track — you’ll find some real peace and tranquillity here.

Start things off at the Specimen Creek Trailhead. You’ll find plenty of parking here for you and whoever else is in your convoy.

After following the trail around the creek itself, you’ll be treated with views of Meldrum Mountain before the trail begins to climb to Shelf Lake. This climb is pretty unrelenting, and definitely takes some level of fitness to tackle. But take a break if you need to!

You can choose to camp on the bank of Shelf Lake, if you like. However, there are numerous backcountry campsites along the route if you feel like breaking up your journey.

After this, trek onwards along the border between Yellowstone and the Gallatin National Forest. Expect views of various peaks in all directions — and be careful of drop-offs (they can be pretty precarious)!

  • Length: 27 km
  • Duration: 2 Days
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Trailhead: Specimen Creek Trailhead (45°00’45.0″N 111°04’51.2″W)

4. Osprey Falls Trail – Must-Visit Hike in Yellowstone

Osprey Falls Trail, Yellowstone

This one is a pretty popular hike in Yellowstone National Park, but that’s usually a good sign: it means there is something good to be seen.

This time, you’ll kick off at Yak Camp Road, where you’ll start hiking along an old road. It’s fairly flat to begin with, with wide expansive views. You’ll get to see elk grazing in meadows, among other natural scenes.

Soon the trail starts to get steep and narrow, as you follow switch-backs into the canyon. The view as you descend is impressive — you may even spot mountain goats and deer on your way down!

The grand finale is the descent to Osprey Falls itself. It’s a good place for a picnic, or just for a little refuel for the journey back up. Grizzlies have been reported in this area, so that’s something to bear in mind. Eheh

  • Length: 13.3 km
  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Difficulty: Average/Difficult
  • Trailhead: Yak Camp Road (44°57’22.7″N 110°42’05.7″W)

5. Grand Prismatic Hot Spring Loop – A Fun, Easy Hike in Yellowstone

Grand Prismatic Hot Spring Loop

Photo: Mike Goad (Flickr)

The Grand Prismatic Spring is easily one of the main highlights in Yellowstone. It’s the largest hot spring in the United States and the third-largest in the world.

This hike is an easy way to soak up the rainbow-colored spectacle — and the surrounding landscape, too. It consists of a short, winding trail along a gravelly, dusty path that’ll take you up to a look-out over the springs.

With other smaller hot spring pools and geysers on the way (even a cheeky waterfall), you’ve got a whole spectrum of watery wonders expecting you!

Tip: depending on when you go, the Grand Prismatic Spring will look different. Its colors are muted when it’s cooler, so going around noon will ensure prime spring action. It’ll be fairly busy though.

  • Length: 2.5km
  • Duration: 1.6 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Fountain Flat Drive (44°34’40.3″N 110°49’45.0″W)

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6. The Black Canyon of the Yellowstone Trail – The Toughest Trek in Yellowstone

Black Canyon of the Yellowstone Trail

Get ready for the ultimate hike in Yellowstone National Park. It’s a challenging route, but a very rewarding one! If you’re looking for a real hiking challenge, then this is definitely the hike for you.

Hitting up the trail that winds its way around the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone, on the park’s northern boundary, is best done earlier on in the hiking season.

Following along the Yellowstone River, the canyon can only be accessed on horseback or on foot, which makes it feel very remote. Starting at the trailhead, the path descends to the river and then over one of the only suspension bridges in the park, high above the roaring water.

After crossing the Yellowstone River, you’ll be traversing the open sagebrush landscape, where you may catch sight of antelope and bison.

It’s possible to camp in the backcountry at Yellowstone, and campsites here are usually located along the river — you can even book some of them.

Day two boasts carved-out gorges and canyon views. You’ll trek all the way through this incredible landscape towards Hellroaring Trail, where you can take a shuttle back to where you started. You’ve got options to make this hike as long, or challenging, as you like!

  • Length: 22.5 km
  • Duration: 2-3 days
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Trailhead: Blacktail Creek Trailhead (44°57’20.3″N 110°35’37.9″W)

7. Artist Point Loop – Best Hike for Views in Yellowstone

Artist Point Loop, Yellowstone

Artist Point is our pick for the best hike in Yellowstone if you’re looking for views. It is, after all, the park’s most famous viewpoint — and for good reason, let us tell you.

Read Post  Adirondack Journeys

The mountainous landscape is arranged just right, making the scenery something you could stare at for hours.

The trail starts off at the South Rim Trailhead. You’ll be on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, with astounding views on both sides. Eventually, you’ll pass by the Upper Falls, and after a mile or so you’ll arrive at Artist Point itself.

Prepare yourself for breathtaking views. Savor the moment. You’ll soon realize why they call it Artist Point: this thing is a frickin’ piece of art!

Continuing onwards, and looping towards Lily Pond Lake, you’ll spot geysers and hear the rumbling of unseen bison. The scene expands.

Even though the hike is only a couple of miles, it sure packs a punch when it comes to the scenery you get to see. Plus, you’ve got parking available at the trailhead. And bathrooms, too!

  • Length: 3.2 km
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
  • Trailhead: South Rim Trail Head (44°42’29.2″N 110°30’07.2″W)

8. Seven Mile Hole Trail – Off the Beaten Path Trek in Yellowstone

Seven Mile Hole Trail, Yellowstone

If you really want to get out into the backcountry and properly off Yellowstone’s beaten track, this is the hike for you. It’s well away from the more traversed routes and trails you’ll find elsewhere, so chances are you’ll count few (if any) other hikers along the way.

This right here, fellas, is some pretty damn good Yellowstone hiking. You’ll get to soak up the majesty of the park’s woodlands, challenge yourself, and see active vents and geothermal features along the way.

The journey starts alongside the Yellowstone River, joining the Washburn Spur Trail into the pine forests after a mile or so. Keep your eyes peeled for grizzlies on the slopes of Mount Washburn in the near-distance.

The path then drops into the canyon itself. There are a few sheer drops, so watch your step. And be careful of the dormant and active hot springs and vents, which can splutter at any time.

The billowing thermal area, the carpets of wildflowers, the lush meadows, and the mountain views… this hike is a real backcountry dream.

  • Length: 15.5km
  • Duration: 5 hours
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Trailhead: Inspiration Point (44°43’42.0″N 110°28’19.2″W)

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Where to Stay in Yellowstone?

Now that you’re clued up on all the hikes and how to go about them, there’s one crucial element left: figuring out where to stay in Yellowstone.

If you’re really going to make a proper visit, we recommend staying at least a few nights in the area. Just the idea of staying this close to the most iconic park in the US is a no-brainer!

There are a few great spots to base yourself around here. And all sorts of accommodation types, too!

West Yellowstone, for example, is a solid option. With its own airport, you can get vintage inns, lodge-style hotels, RV parks, and some chain hotels for something a little fancier. There are also a whole bunch of places to eat (and drink), as well as museums and other cultural thingies.

Where to Stay in Yellowstone

On Yellowstone’s northern boundary there’s Gardiner. It’s similar to what you can find in West Yellowstone, just smaller. However, the scenery is more beautiful around town. And the Yellowstone River runs through here, too!

When it comes to staying within the park, there are tons of places to camp and otherwise stay the night. Mammoth Hot Springs, for example, just south of Gardiner, has a great campground. At Yellowstone Lake, there’s a lodge and other camping opportunities.

Backcountry camping is arguably the best way to see it, though. There are 300 designated backcountry campsites, so you’ll be spoilt for choice if you really want to get out into the wilderness. You’ll need a permit, for which you can apply online.

Lavish Hideaway near Yellowstone – Alpenglow Villa

Ready to splash the cash? Airbnb Luxe is a premium range of vacation homes with a whole array of additional services on offer. This particular villa offers childcare, airport transfers, and spa services — among many other personalized offerings. It also comes with stylish interiors and an unbeatable location. Sleeping up to 16 guests, this is one for the big group ski trips!

Stylish Loft in Yellowstone – Mountain Lux

Planning a winter getaway? This luxurious mountain resort gives you easy access to both Yellowstone National Park and the big ski resorts! The rustic architecture gives the property a really homey vibe, while the modern interiors ensure you’ll have an incredibly comfortable stay. It also comes with a sauna and a massive hot tub. What’s not to love?

5 Star Lodge near Yellowstone – Eagle Ridge Ranch

This five-star lodge is the epitome of luxury near Yellowstone National Park! Nestled along the western boundary, it is within walking distance of some great hiking and cycling trails. Each guest has their own private cottage with a modern kitchen and spacious bedrooms. As part of Eagle Ridge Ranch, you can also book a variety of excursions with a special guests discount.

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What to Bring on Your Hike in Yellowstone

Hiking in Yellowstone is a right of passage of sorts for outdoor enthusiasts. It was the very first national park in the US, and trust us: it does not disappoint.

Before you go, though, it’s a good idea to think about what you’re gonna pack in that new sexy travel backpack of yours.

First, the shoes. This is number one thing you should worry about. Poorly fitting kicks can be dangerous, as the trails will require something more reliable. Consider investing in high-quality hiking boots if you can!

And don’t forget a water bottle. A filter water bottle gives you access to clean drinking water wherever you may be. It’s good for the environment too, so there’s no reason not to try one out.

Lastly, the first aid kit. You might think it’s over the top, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared when out in nature. You never know when you’re gonna need a plaster!

Throw a little jacket in your daypack, a few snacks, bear spray, and you’re ready to go. Here’s a list of the ultimate hiking essentials:

15 Best Hikes in Yellowstone National Park

Boardwalk hiking trail in Yellowstone National Park

Boiling geysers. Cascading waterfalls. Deeply carved canyons. Wildlife at every turn. One of the best ways to see the beauty in Yellowstone National Park and avoid crowds is by taking a hike.

With over 1,000 miles of trails, how do you choose what hikes to add to your Yellowstone National Park itinerary?

This guide covers the 15 best hikes in Yellowstone National Park, from strolls through geyser basins to challenging summit trails. Plus, I’m sharing tips on what you need to know before hiking in Yellowstone.

By the end of this post, you’ll feel ready to conquer your first hike in Yellowstone National Park!

Important Note
Due to the severe flooding in Yellowstone National Park in June 2022, some roads remain closed. However, as of July 2, 93% of the roads in the park are open and the temporary “Alternating License Plate System” is no longer in effect.

To learn more about what’s open in Yellowstone, read the flood recovery page on the Yellowstone website.

Are you looking for more ideas for your trip to Yellowstone? Then, don’t miss this post!

This post may contain affiliate links, where I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Read more in this disclosure policy.

Yellowstone National Park At-A-Glance

Before diving in, here are a few highlights to help you plan your trip:

  • Best Time to Visit: Summer is a great time to visit thanks to warm weather and all park amenities being open, but it is also the most crowded time of year. Avoid crowds by visiting in September or early October.
  • Where to Stay: Yellowstone has eight lodges inside the park, plus several campgrounds. The Old Faithful Inn and Canyon Lodge are my favorites, both close to all the most popular places to see in the park. Outside the park, look for hotels in West Yellowstone, Montana.
  • How to Get There: The closest airport is in West Yellowstone (WYS), serviced by both United and Delta Airlines. Other major airports in the region include Jackson Hole (JAC), Bozeman (BZN), and Salt Lake (SLC). Use Skyscanner to browse flights and find the best price.
  • How to Get Around: The easiest way to get around Yellowstone is by car. Use Rentalcars.com to browse deals on rental cars or rent an RV or campervan with Outdoorsy .
  • Best Self-Guided Tour: My favorite way to learn more about the park is with GyPSy Guides, a narrated self-guided tour perfect for road trips and scenic drives. The Yellowstone Guide and the Yellowstone/Grand Teton Bundle both provide incredible commentary and detail about the history and geology of Yellowstone.
  • Don’t Forget: Be sure to get an America the Beautiful National Park Pass ahead of time. This $80 pass is valid for 12 months and get you into all 400+ national park sites (including both Yellowstone and Grand Teton!).

What to Know Before Hiking in Yellowstone National Park

Before diving into the details of the best trails in Yellowstone, I wanted to share a few essential tips and reminders for your trip.

  • Yellowstone National Park charges an entry fee. However, you can use the annual national park pass to save time. The pass gets you into Yellowstone and Grand Teton, plus 400 more national park sites. Get your annual national park pass here for $80.
  • July to September is the best time to hike in Yellowstone. For most of the year, hiking trails are covered in snow and are inaccessible. To avoid snow and hike in warm weather, visit during the summer months. To avoid crowds, start your hikes in the early morning. Read more about the best time to visit Yellowstone.
  • Cell service is limited in most areas of the park. Be sure to download your lodging reservation details or take a screenshot before arriving at the park. I highly recommend AllTrails Pro to download your hike details and navigate without cell service.
  • Yellowstone National Park is in bear country. You should always carry bear spray when hiking in Yellowstone. Be sure to make noise on less crowded trails to alert animals. You can read more here about bear spray in Yellowstone.
  • Pets are not allowed on hiking trails and cannot be left unattended. Read more about pets in Yellowstone National Park.
  • Dress in layers. Temperatures fluctuate dramatically from day to night. Wear moisture-wicking hiking shirts and warm fleece layers to keep you comfortable all day.
  • Pack a hiking backpack and the ten essentials. It’s crucial to carry safety gear every time you hike. So be sure to pack the ten hiking essentials and bring a hiking backpack with plenty of room for water and extra equipment.

Looking for more tips on what to pack for your trip? Check out my guides on the best hiking gear, what to pack for a road trip, and essential camping gear for all my favorite gear picks and tips to make packing for your trip a breeze!

Best Yellowstone Hikes to Geysers

Yellowstone National Park’s most popular attractions tend to be the geyser basins. These unique geothermal features draw millions of visitors each year.

These geyser trails are quintessential experiences in Yellowstone, taking you to must-see spots like Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Spring.

If you’re looking for the best family-friendly or low-impact hikes for a short time in Yellowstone, don’t miss these trails!

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Grand Prismatic Overlook Trail

Easily one of Yellowstone’s most visited hiking trails, the Grand Prismatic Overlook Trail belongs on every Yellowstone itinerary. But be warned, this trail is always crowded!

Grand Prismatic Spring is best seen from above in direct sunlight given the bright colors.

For that reason, I recommend hiking this overlook trail in the afternoon.

The trail starts at the Fairy Falls Trailhead, a short distance from the Midway Geyser Basin parking lot. This short, easy trail follows a dirt road out to a short ascent to the viewing platform.

From the viewing platform, you’re rewarded with incredible views of one of Yellowstone’s most iconic features. You can also walk the Midway Geyser Basin boardwalk if you want an up-close view of Grand Prismatic.

Upper Geyser Basin and Old Faithful Observation Point Loop

Yellowstone’s most famous attraction is the Old Faithful Geyser. Interestingly, Old Faithful is neither the largest nor most frequent geyser in Yellowstone. However, it is the most accessible and predictable geyser in the park.

But beyond Old Faithful, the Upper Geyser Basin is home to the densest concentration of hydrothermal features in the world! One of the best things to do in Yellowstone is this walking tour of the Upper Geyser Basin, including the Observation Point loop.

Starting at the Old Faithful viewing platform, make your way up the moderate climb to Observation Point. This viewpoint provides excellent views overlooking Old Faithful (bonus points if you’re able to time it with an eruption!).

Afterward, continue the loop of the Upper Geyser Basin. Don’t miss Morning Glory Pool, Riverside Geyser, and Castle Geyser!

At the Old Faithful Visitor Center, you can find a map of the geyser basin that details the science and history behind the area.

Lone Star Geyser Trail

If you’re looking to explore off-the-beaten-path, don’t miss the Lone Star Geyser Trail! Unlike the nearby Upper Geyser Basin and Midway Geyser Basin, Lone Star Geyser gets few crowds.

Fewer visitors make the 5+ mile round trip hike to see Lone Star Geyser, which means more solitude for you! After days exploring the more popular areas of Yellowstone, avoiding crowds is a nice treat.

The trail starts at the Lone Star Trailhead, just south of Kepler Cascade on Grand Loop Road. Next, you’ll follow the Firehole River through a dense pine forest, ending at the uniquely shaped Lone Star Geyser.

Lone Star Geyser is a cone (one of the largest in Yellowstone!) and erupts roughly every 3 hours. When erupting, the water reaches 45 feet high and lasts about 5 minutes!

Best Waterfall Hikes at Yellowstone

In addition to its renowned geysers, Yellowstone is also home to several impressive waterfalls. The tallest in the park is the Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

If you’re looking to explore more of Yellowstone’s natural beauty, don’t miss these waterfall hikes!

Brink of the Lower Falls Trail

The Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the tallest waterfall in the park, cascading nearly 310 feet. Surprisingly, Yellowstone’s Lower Falls is more than double the height of Niagara Falls!

The Brink of the Lower Falls Trail takes you into the canyon to overlook the towering waterfall. You’ll start your hike at the parking area off the North Rim scenic drive. The trail follows a series of steep switchbacks, descending 250 feet.

At the end of the descent, you’ll reach an overlook point at the top of the Lower Falls cascade. Here you’ll be able to take in the powerful waterfall pouring into the canyon below.

While steep, this hike is under a mile round trip, making it suitable for many visitors.

North Rim Trail

To explore the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in its entirety, hike the longer North Rim Trail. This trail follows the northern rim of the canyon, running parallel to the scenic drive.

Start this hike at the parking area near the junction of Grand Loop Road and South Rim Drive. You’ll quickly cross the bridge over the Yellowstone River and begin the North Rim Trail.

The North Rim Trail takes you to many of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone’s top viewpoints, including Brink of the Upper Falls, Crystal Falls Overlook, Lookout Point, and Grand View.

The trail dead-ends at Inspiration Point, offering impressive canyon views.

You can also add on short detours to Brink of the Lower Falls and Red Rock Point for an opportunity to descend into the canyon.

The North Rim Trail offers an excellent opportunity to explore a part of the canyon on foot that many choose to drive past.

Uncle Tom’s Trail

For impressive views of both the Upper Falls and Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, don’t miss Uncle Tom’s Trail. This hike is short but steep, making it a challenging climb.

The trail starts at the parking area for the Upper Falls Viewpoint. Then, it descends over 300 steps to the base of the Lower Falls along the Yellowstone River. Thankfully, the steep stairs offer several places to rest along the way.

Once at the foot of the falls, you’re rewarded with incredible views of the most powerful and tallest waterfall in Yellowstone. If you’re lucky, you may even see a rainbow in the falls!

Since most of the hike is on metal stairs, this trail is only open seasonally during the summer to avoid icy conditions.

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Fairy Falls Trail

Waterfall in front of a cave and rock wall in Yellowstone

The Fairy Falls Trail is often rated as one of the best waterfall hikes in Yellowstone. The trail starts near the Midway Geyser Basin at the Fairy Falls Trailhead.

Not only does this incredible hike provide waterfall views, but you’ll also see an impressive view of Grand Prismatic Spring from above.

The trail starts along a wide, flat path. After a short climb through a pine forest, you’ll reach the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook. This viewing platform provides must-see views of Yellowstone’s iconic feature. Expect to encounter plenty of crowds.

Most visitors choose to turn back at this point. However, to escape the crowds, continue to Fairy Falls.

The rest of the hike takes you through a younger pine forest, recovering after a forest fire in the late 1980s.

At the trail’s end, the path opens up to Fairy Falls. This 200-foot waterfall cascades down a steep rock face.

You can also continue on another half mile to Imperial Geyser and Spray Geyser if you have more energy. These backcountry geysers see minimal crowds compared to other more accessible geyser basins in Yellowstone.

Best Easy Yellowstone National Park Hiking

Yellowstone National Park offers a few easy hikes (aside from the geyser basin trails mentioned above). These short trails allow you to escape the crowds found in Yellowstone’s more popular areas.

If you’re looking for less crowded, family-friendly trails, these are for you!

Storm Point Trail

If you’re looking for an easy, lakeside hike, consider the Storm Point Trail! This 2.5-mile hike starts off East Entrance Road, just past the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center.

You’ll start at the Storm Point Trailhead. The trail passes Indian Pond before taking you to the shores of Yellowstone Lake. Upon reaching Storm Point, you’ll be rewarded with views of the massive lake along the rocky shoreline.

During the summer, you’ll find the grassy meadows along the trail filled with colorful wildflowers. You may even be able to spot some bison and marmots on the trail!

Trout Lake Loop

If you’re exploring the wildlife in Lamar Valley and looking for a quick, short hike, don’t miss Trout Lake!

This pleasant hike starts along the Northeast Entrance Road in the heart of Lamar Valley. The 1.2-mile trail loops around Trout Lake and is the perfect leg stretch.

You’ll have excellent opportunities to spot wildlife here. Keep your eyes peeled for otters, ospreys, and grizzly bears. Don’t forget your binoculars on this hike!

In the summer, you’ll find plenty of wildflowers covering the meadows surrounding the lake.

Best Hiking in Yellowstone: Moderate to Difficult Trails

Many of Yellowstone’s popular trails are strolls through wooded areas or geyser basins. However, if you’re looking for a more challenging hike, you’ll want to explore off-the-beaten-path.

These moderate and challenging hiking trails have more elevation gain, most taking you to summits that overlook Yellowstone! If you have several days in Yellowstone and want to avoid crowds, consider these hiking trails instead.

Dunraven Pass to Mount Washburn Trail

Mount Washburn is routinely rated as one of the best hikes in Yellowstone National Park. This summit trail provides excellent views of Yellowstone from the 10,243-foot summit.

You’ll truly appreciate the expansiveness of Yellowstone from this vantage point.

While there are two routes to reach Mount Washburn, the most popular trail is from Dunraven Pass to Mount Washburn.

Starting at the Dunraven Pass Trailhead along Grand Loop Road, you’ll ascend nearly 1,400 feet over 3.5-miles, a decently steep grade of around 7%.

After climbing several long switchbacks, you’ll reach the fire lookout at the summit. From this panoramic viewpoint, you can see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Hayden Valley, and Yellowstone Lake.

On a clear day, you may even be able to see the Grand Tetons!

This hike also provides plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife you won’t see in other areas of the park, like bighorn sheep! Be sure to bring bear spray on this hike, as you may spot bears too.

Afternoon thunderstorms are pretty common in the summer, so I recommend hiking this trail in the morning to avoid hiking in rain and lightning.

You can also hike from the Chittenden Road trailhead for a shorter route to Mount Washburn, covering 5.8 miles round trip.

Bunsen Peak Trail

Another popular summit hike in Yellowstone is the Bunsen Peak Trail. This moderate hike climbs nearly 1,300 feet over 2.2 miles, averaging around an 11% incline. This hike is steeper but shorter than the hike to Mount Washburn.

Starting at the Bunsen Peak Trailhead near Mammoth Hot Springs, you’ll climb a series of steep switchbacks to reach an incredible panoramic viewpoint.

You’ll have views of Mammoth Hot Springs, the Yellowstone River Valley, and the Gallatin and Washburn mountain ranges from the summit.

The hike is exposed for much of the way, passing through sagebrush and sparse pine forest landscapes. Like Mount Washburn, I recommend starting this hike in the morning to avoid the risk of afternoon thunderstorms.

Avalanche Peak Trail

The final summit hike on this list, the Avalanche Peak Trail, is another crowd-pleaser. This hike begins near Yellowstone Lake and climbs to impressive panoramic views of the eastern part of the park.

If you’re looking for a challenging hike to escape from the crowds, this is it! But be warned, this trail is steep, averaging around a 20% incline.

The trail starts at the Avalanche Peak Trailhead off of East Entrance Road, about 18 miles east of the junction with Grand Loop Road. You’ll follow the first part of the trail through a pine forest, providing plenty of opportunities for bear or elk sightings.

The hike opens up into more exposed terrain at high elevation, providing views of the surrounding area. Even in the summer, you may encounter a few small snow patches.

From the 10,568 foot summit, you can see much of the southeastern parts of Yellowstone National Park. In addition, you’ll have views of the mountain ranges to the north and south and Yellowstone Lake to the west.

Point Sublime via Artist Point Trail

One of the best hikes in Yellowstone National Park is this trail to Point Sublime. The hike starts at the photo-famous viewpoint, Artist Point, along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

The start of the trail at Artist Point offers excellent views of Yellowstone River’s Lower Falls.

The nearly 3-mile round trip hike follows the south rim of the canyon further east, past Artist Point. Point Sublime is an area of the park only accessible by hiking, making it an excellent way to escape the crowds found in other areas of Yellowstone.

Hike this trail in the mid-morning for the best light in the canyon.

The Point Sublime Trail offers excellent canyon views carved by the Yellowstone River below. You’ll be able to enjoy an exciting hike along the canyon edge and take in the beautiful, colorful canyon walls surrounding you.

Beaver Ponds Loop Trail

This moderate trail is one of the best on the park’s western side. The Beaver Ponds Loop starts near Mammoth Hot Springs and offers excellent opportunities to see wildlife.

The trail winds through both forest and sagebrush meadows on the way to a sprawling pond. Like the name of the trail hints at, the ponds on this trail feature beaver habitats.

About halfway through the hike, you’ll reach the beaver dams. Keep your eyes peeled for beavers on the water!

If you’re looking for a longer hike that is still family-friendly, consider making this loop after exploring Mammoth Hot Springs.

Lamar River Trail to Cache Creek Trail

The Lamar Valley area offers many long hikes, including several multi-day backpacking trips. The Lamar River Trail is one of Yellowstone’s most popular backpacking routes, but you can also hike sections of the trail on a day hike!

You’ll start this hike to Cache Creek at the Lamar River Trailhead along Soda Butte Creek. The trail takes you through a sprawling wildflower-filled meadow, providing plenty of opportunities to spot bison.

In addition to bison, you’ll also have a chance to see pronghorns, bears, elk, coyotes, and wolves.

The trail intersects with the Specimen Ridge Trail after about 1.5 miles. As you follow the Specimen Ridge Trail, you’ll reach the Lamar River. You can opt to turn back at this point or continue on a bit further to Cache Creek.

If you continue, you’ll return to the Lamar River Trail, following another 2 miles until reaching Cache Creek. The path provides plenty of mountain views along the way. After exploring the area, head back the same way you came.

This hike is rated as moderate but features stream crossings and less signage than other Yellowstone hikes, so I only recommend this trail for experienced hikers who are used to navigating backcountry environments.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Trails in Yellowstone

Is Yellowstone good for hiking?

Yellowstone has over 1,000 miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy walks through the geyser basins to challenging summit hikes. So if you want to see the best of the park and avoid crowds, go for a hike in Yellowstone!

Can you hike alone in Yellowstone?

Given that Yellowstone National Park is located in bear country, it is best to hike in groups of at least 2 to 3 people. Hiking in groups helps you make more noise on trails, which reduces unexpected encounters with bears and other wildlife.

Do you need bear spray in Yellowstone?

Yes, you do need bear spray in Yellowstone. Keep your bear spray holstered on your hip or another easily accessible location. You can purchase your bear spray or rent it locally once you arrive in Yellowstone.

Is there a lot of hiking in Yellowstone?

There are tons of Yellowstone hiking trails, from geyser basins to waterfalls to canyons to expansive valleys! Whatever you’re interested in seeing, you’ll find the perfect Yellowstone hike for you. Hiking is also one of the best ways to avoid crowds in Yellowstone.

How do I prepare for a Yellowstone hike?

The best way to prepare for a Yellowstone hike is to research the trail ahead of time and check weather conditions. After you know what to expect, be sure to pack the ten hiking essentials, including water, layers, sunscreen, and bear spray.

How long are the hiking trails in Yellowstone National Park?

There are 1,000 miles of hiking trails in Yellowstone, but individual hikes can range from short walks under 1 mile to 40+ mile backpacking trails. With plenty of trails to choose from, you’ll be able to find a hike that suits your fitness level.

Final Thoughts on the Best Day Hikes in Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park has a hike for everyone, from strolls through geyser basins to long hikes through expansive, grassy valleys. There’s no shortage of excellent trails in one of America’s first national parks.

These are the 15 best hikes in Yellowstone National Park:

  1. Grand Prismatic Overlook
  2. Upper Geyser Basin and Observation Point
  3. Lone Star Geyser
  4. Brink of the Lower Falls
  5. North Rim Trail
  6. Uncle Tom’s Trail
  7. Fairy Falls
  8. Storm Point
  9. Trout Lake Loop
  10. Dunraven Pass to Mount Washburn
  11. Bunsen Peak
  12. Avalanche Peak
  13. Point Sublime
  14. Beaver Ponds Loop
  15. Lamar River Trail to Cache Creek

If you want to learn more about Yellowstone National Park, check out these posts!

  • Itinerary:Ultimate Yellowstone Itinerary
  • Add Grand Teton:7 Days in Grand Teton and Yellowstone
  • Things to Do:22 Best Things to Do in Yellowstone
  • Getting There:8 Best Airports and Flights to Yellowstone
  • When to Visit:The Best Time to Visit Yellowstone
  • Where to Stay:Where to Stay in Yellowstone
  • Camping:12 Best Campgrounds in Yellowstone
  • Airbnbs Nearby:25 Incredible Airbnbs Near Yellowstone
  • Road Trip:8-Day Salt Lake to Yellowstone Itinerary

Are you planning a national park trip but don’t know where to start? Get my free 28-page national park ebook where I break down everything you need to know to visit all 63 USA national parks.

15 Best Hikes in Yellowstone National Park

Boardwalk hiking trail in Yellowstone National Park

Boiling geysers. Cascading waterfalls. Deeply carved canyons. Wildlife at every turn. One of the best ways to see the beauty in Yellowstone National Park and avoid crowds is by taking a hike.

With over 1,000 miles of trails, how do you choose what hikes to add to your Yellowstone National Park itinerary?

This guide covers the 15 best hikes in Yellowstone National Park, from strolls through geyser basins to challenging summit trails. Plus, I’m sharing tips on what you need to know before hiking in Yellowstone.

By the end of this post, you’ll feel ready to conquer your first hike in Yellowstone National Park!

Important Note
Due to the severe flooding in Yellowstone National Park in June 2022, some roads remain closed. However, as of July 2, 93% of the roads in the park are open and the temporary “Alternating License Plate System” is no longer in effect.

To learn more about what’s open in Yellowstone, read the flood recovery page on the Yellowstone website.

Are you looking for more ideas for your trip to Yellowstone? Then, don’t miss this post!

This post may contain affiliate links, where I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Read more in this disclosure policy.

Yellowstone National Park At-A-Glance

Before diving in, here are a few highlights to help you plan your trip:

  • Best Time to Visit: Summer is a great time to visit thanks to warm weather and all park amenities being open, but it is also the most crowded time of year. Avoid crowds by visiting in September or early October.
  • Where to Stay: Yellowstone has eight lodges inside the park, plus several campgrounds. The Old Faithful Inn and Canyon Lodge are my favorites, both close to all the most popular places to see in the park. Outside the park, look for hotels in West Yellowstone, Montana.
  • How to Get There: The closest airport is in West Yellowstone (WYS), serviced by both United and Delta Airlines. Other major airports in the region include Jackson Hole (JAC), Bozeman (BZN), and Salt Lake (SLC). Use Skyscanner to browse flights and find the best price.
  • How to Get Around: The easiest way to get around Yellowstone is by car. Use Rentalcars.com to browse deals on rental cars or rent an RV or campervan with Outdoorsy .
  • Best Self-Guided Tour: My favorite way to learn more about the park is with GyPSy Guides, a narrated self-guided tour perfect for road trips and scenic drives. The Yellowstone Guide and the Yellowstone/Grand Teton Bundle both provide incredible commentary and detail about the history and geology of Yellowstone.
  • Don’t Forget: Be sure to get an America the Beautiful National Park Pass ahead of time. This $80 pass is valid for 12 months and get you into all 400+ national park sites (including both Yellowstone and Grand Teton!).

What to Know Before Hiking in Yellowstone National Park

Before diving into the details of the best trails in Yellowstone, I wanted to share a few essential tips and reminders for your trip.

  • Yellowstone National Park charges an entry fee. However, you can use the annual national park pass to save time. The pass gets you into Yellowstone and Grand Teton, plus 400 more national park sites. Get your annual national park pass here for $80.
  • July to September is the best time to hike in Yellowstone. For most of the year, hiking trails are covered in snow and are inaccessible. To avoid snow and hike in warm weather, visit during the summer months. To avoid crowds, start your hikes in the early morning. Read more about the best time to visit Yellowstone.
  • Cell service is limited in most areas of the park. Be sure to download your lodging reservation details or take a screenshot before arriving at the park. I highly recommend AllTrails Pro to download your hike details and navigate without cell service.
  • Yellowstone National Park is in bear country. You should always carry bear spray when hiking in Yellowstone. Be sure to make noise on less crowded trails to alert animals. You can read more here about bear spray in Yellowstone.
  • Pets are not allowed on hiking trails and cannot be left unattended. Read more about pets in Yellowstone National Park.
  • Dress in layers. Temperatures fluctuate dramatically from day to night. Wear moisture-wicking hiking shirts and warm fleece layers to keep you comfortable all day.
  • Pack a hiking backpack and the ten essentials. It’s crucial to carry safety gear every time you hike. So be sure to pack the ten hiking essentials and bring a hiking backpack with plenty of room for water and extra equipment.

Looking for more tips on what to pack for your trip? Check out my guides on the best hiking gear, what to pack for a road trip, and essential camping gear for all my favorite gear picks and tips to make packing for your trip a breeze!

Best Yellowstone Hikes to Geysers

Yellowstone National Park’s most popular attractions tend to be the geyser basins. These unique geothermal features draw millions of visitors each year.

These geyser trails are quintessential experiences in Yellowstone, taking you to must-see spots like Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Spring.

If you’re looking for the best family-friendly or low-impact hikes for a short time in Yellowstone, don’t miss these trails!

Are you planning a national park trip but don’t know where to start? Get my free 28-page national park ebook where I break down everything you need to know to visit all 63 USA national parks.

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Grand Prismatic Overlook Trail

Easily one of Yellowstone’s most visited hiking trails, the Grand Prismatic Overlook Trail belongs on every Yellowstone itinerary. But be warned, this trail is always crowded!

Grand Prismatic Spring is best seen from above in direct sunlight given the bright colors.

For that reason, I recommend hiking this overlook trail in the afternoon.

The trail starts at the Fairy Falls Trailhead, a short distance from the Midway Geyser Basin parking lot. This short, easy trail follows a dirt road out to a short ascent to the viewing platform.

From the viewing platform, you’re rewarded with incredible views of one of Yellowstone’s most iconic features. You can also walk the Midway Geyser Basin boardwalk if you want an up-close view of Grand Prismatic.

Upper Geyser Basin and Old Faithful Observation Point Loop

Yellowstone’s most famous attraction is the Old Faithful Geyser. Interestingly, Old Faithful is neither the largest nor most frequent geyser in Yellowstone. However, it is the most accessible and predictable geyser in the park.

But beyond Old Faithful, the Upper Geyser Basin is home to the densest concentration of hydrothermal features in the world! One of the best things to do in Yellowstone is this walking tour of the Upper Geyser Basin, including the Observation Point loop.

Starting at the Old Faithful viewing platform, make your way up the moderate climb to Observation Point. This viewpoint provides excellent views overlooking Old Faithful (bonus points if you’re able to time it with an eruption!).

Afterward, continue the loop of the Upper Geyser Basin. Don’t miss Morning Glory Pool, Riverside Geyser, and Castle Geyser!

At the Old Faithful Visitor Center, you can find a map of the geyser basin that details the science and history behind the area.

Lone Star Geyser Trail

If you’re looking to explore off-the-beaten-path, don’t miss the Lone Star Geyser Trail! Unlike the nearby Upper Geyser Basin and Midway Geyser Basin, Lone Star Geyser gets few crowds.

Fewer visitors make the 5+ mile round trip hike to see Lone Star Geyser, which means more solitude for you! After days exploring the more popular areas of Yellowstone, avoiding crowds is a nice treat.

The trail starts at the Lone Star Trailhead, just south of Kepler Cascade on Grand Loop Road. Next, you’ll follow the Firehole River through a dense pine forest, ending at the uniquely shaped Lone Star Geyser.

Lone Star Geyser is a cone (one of the largest in Yellowstone!) and erupts roughly every 3 hours. When erupting, the water reaches 45 feet high and lasts about 5 minutes!

Best Waterfall Hikes at Yellowstone

In addition to its renowned geysers, Yellowstone is also home to several impressive waterfalls. The tallest in the park is the Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

If you’re looking to explore more of Yellowstone’s natural beauty, don’t miss these waterfall hikes!

Brink of the Lower Falls Trail

The Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the tallest waterfall in the park, cascading nearly 310 feet. Surprisingly, Yellowstone’s Lower Falls is more than double the height of Niagara Falls!

The Brink of the Lower Falls Trail takes you into the canyon to overlook the towering waterfall. You’ll start your hike at the parking area off the North Rim scenic drive. The trail follows a series of steep switchbacks, descending 250 feet.

At the end of the descent, you’ll reach an overlook point at the top of the Lower Falls cascade. Here you’ll be able to take in the powerful waterfall pouring into the canyon below.

While steep, this hike is under a mile round trip, making it suitable for many visitors.

North Rim Trail

To explore the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in its entirety, hike the longer North Rim Trail. This trail follows the northern rim of the canyon, running parallel to the scenic drive.

Start this hike at the parking area near the junction of Grand Loop Road and South Rim Drive. You’ll quickly cross the bridge over the Yellowstone River and begin the North Rim Trail.

The North Rim Trail takes you to many of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone’s top viewpoints, including Brink of the Upper Falls, Crystal Falls Overlook, Lookout Point, and Grand View.

The trail dead-ends at Inspiration Point, offering impressive canyon views.

You can also add on short detours to Brink of the Lower Falls and Red Rock Point for an opportunity to descend into the canyon.

The North Rim Trail offers an excellent opportunity to explore a part of the canyon on foot that many choose to drive past.

Uncle Tom’s Trail

For impressive views of both the Upper Falls and Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, don’t miss Uncle Tom’s Trail. This hike is short but steep, making it a challenging climb.

The trail starts at the parking area for the Upper Falls Viewpoint. Then, it descends over 300 steps to the base of the Lower Falls along the Yellowstone River. Thankfully, the steep stairs offer several places to rest along the way.

Once at the foot of the falls, you’re rewarded with incredible views of the most powerful and tallest waterfall in Yellowstone. If you’re lucky, you may even see a rainbow in the falls!

Since most of the hike is on metal stairs, this trail is only open seasonally during the summer to avoid icy conditions.

Fairy Falls Trail

Waterfall in front of a cave and rock wall in Yellowstone

The Fairy Falls Trail is often rated as one of the best waterfall hikes in Yellowstone. The trail starts near the Midway Geyser Basin at the Fairy Falls Trailhead.

Not only does this incredible hike provide waterfall views, but you’ll also see an impressive view of Grand Prismatic Spring from above.

The trail starts along a wide, flat path. After a short climb through a pine forest, you’ll reach the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook. This viewing platform provides must-see views of Yellowstone’s iconic feature. Expect to encounter plenty of crowds.

Most visitors choose to turn back at this point. However, to escape the crowds, continue to Fairy Falls.

The rest of the hike takes you through a younger pine forest, recovering after a forest fire in the late 1980s.

At the trail’s end, the path opens up to Fairy Falls. This 200-foot waterfall cascades down a steep rock face.

You can also continue on another half mile to Imperial Geyser and Spray Geyser if you have more energy. These backcountry geysers see minimal crowds compared to other more accessible geyser basins in Yellowstone.

Best Easy Yellowstone National Park Hiking

Yellowstone National Park offers a few easy hikes (aside from the geyser basin trails mentioned above). These short trails allow you to escape the crowds found in Yellowstone’s more popular areas.

If you’re looking for less crowded, family-friendly trails, these are for you!

Storm Point Trail

If you’re looking for an easy, lakeside hike, consider the Storm Point Trail! This 2.5-mile hike starts off East Entrance Road, just past the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center.

You’ll start at the Storm Point Trailhead. The trail passes Indian Pond before taking you to the shores of Yellowstone Lake. Upon reaching Storm Point, you’ll be rewarded with views of the massive lake along the rocky shoreline.

During the summer, you’ll find the grassy meadows along the trail filled with colorful wildflowers. You may even be able to spot some bison and marmots on the trail!

Trout Lake Loop

If you’re exploring the wildlife in Lamar Valley and looking for a quick, short hike, don’t miss Trout Lake!

This pleasant hike starts along the Northeast Entrance Road in the heart of Lamar Valley. The 1.2-mile trail loops around Trout Lake and is the perfect leg stretch.

You’ll have excellent opportunities to spot wildlife here. Keep your eyes peeled for otters, ospreys, and grizzly bears. Don’t forget your binoculars on this hike!

In the summer, you’ll find plenty of wildflowers covering the meadows surrounding the lake.

Best Hiking in Yellowstone: Moderate to Difficult Trails

Many of Yellowstone’s popular trails are strolls through wooded areas or geyser basins. However, if you’re looking for a more challenging hike, you’ll want to explore off-the-beaten-path.

These moderate and challenging hiking trails have more elevation gain, most taking you to summits that overlook Yellowstone! If you have several days in Yellowstone and want to avoid crowds, consider these hiking trails instead.

Dunraven Pass to Mount Washburn Trail

Mount Washburn is routinely rated as one of the best hikes in Yellowstone National Park. This summit trail provides excellent views of Yellowstone from the 10,243-foot summit.

You’ll truly appreciate the expansiveness of Yellowstone from this vantage point.

While there are two routes to reach Mount Washburn, the most popular trail is from Dunraven Pass to Mount Washburn.

Starting at the Dunraven Pass Trailhead along Grand Loop Road, you’ll ascend nearly 1,400 feet over 3.5-miles, a decently steep grade of around 7%.

After climbing several long switchbacks, you’ll reach the fire lookout at the summit. From this panoramic viewpoint, you can see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Hayden Valley, and Yellowstone Lake.

On a clear day, you may even be able to see the Grand Tetons!

This hike also provides plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife you won’t see in other areas of the park, like bighorn sheep! Be sure to bring bear spray on this hike, as you may spot bears too.

Afternoon thunderstorms are pretty common in the summer, so I recommend hiking this trail in the morning to avoid hiking in rain and lightning.

You can also hike from the Chittenden Road trailhead for a shorter route to Mount Washburn, covering 5.8 miles round trip.

Bunsen Peak Trail

Another popular summit hike in Yellowstone is the Bunsen Peak Trail. This moderate hike climbs nearly 1,300 feet over 2.2 miles, averaging around an 11% incline. This hike is steeper but shorter than the hike to Mount Washburn.

Starting at the Bunsen Peak Trailhead near Mammoth Hot Springs, you’ll climb a series of steep switchbacks to reach an incredible panoramic viewpoint.

You’ll have views of Mammoth Hot Springs, the Yellowstone River Valley, and the Gallatin and Washburn mountain ranges from the summit.

The hike is exposed for much of the way, passing through sagebrush and sparse pine forest landscapes. Like Mount Washburn, I recommend starting this hike in the morning to avoid the risk of afternoon thunderstorms.

Avalanche Peak Trail

The final summit hike on this list, the Avalanche Peak Trail, is another crowd-pleaser. This hike begins near Yellowstone Lake and climbs to impressive panoramic views of the eastern part of the park.

If you’re looking for a challenging hike to escape from the crowds, this is it! But be warned, this trail is steep, averaging around a 20% incline.

The trail starts at the Avalanche Peak Trailhead off of East Entrance Road, about 18 miles east of the junction with Grand Loop Road. You’ll follow the first part of the trail through a pine forest, providing plenty of opportunities for bear or elk sightings.

The hike opens up into more exposed terrain at high elevation, providing views of the surrounding area. Even in the summer, you may encounter a few small snow patches.

From the 10,568 foot summit, you can see much of the southeastern parts of Yellowstone National Park. In addition, you’ll have views of the mountain ranges to the north and south and Yellowstone Lake to the west.

Point Sublime via Artist Point Trail

One of the best hikes in Yellowstone National Park is this trail to Point Sublime. The hike starts at the photo-famous viewpoint, Artist Point, along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

The start of the trail at Artist Point offers excellent views of Yellowstone River’s Lower Falls.

The nearly 3-mile round trip hike follows the south rim of the canyon further east, past Artist Point. Point Sublime is an area of the park only accessible by hiking, making it an excellent way to escape the crowds found in other areas of Yellowstone.

Hike this trail in the mid-morning for the best light in the canyon.

The Point Sublime Trail offers excellent canyon views carved by the Yellowstone River below. You’ll be able to enjoy an exciting hike along the canyon edge and take in the beautiful, colorful canyon walls surrounding you.

Beaver Ponds Loop Trail

This moderate trail is one of the best on the park’s western side. The Beaver Ponds Loop starts near Mammoth Hot Springs and offers excellent opportunities to see wildlife.

The trail winds through both forest and sagebrush meadows on the way to a sprawling pond. Like the name of the trail hints at, the ponds on this trail feature beaver habitats.

About halfway through the hike, you’ll reach the beaver dams. Keep your eyes peeled for beavers on the water!

If you’re looking for a longer hike that is still family-friendly, consider making this loop after exploring Mammoth Hot Springs.

Lamar River Trail to Cache Creek Trail

The Lamar Valley area offers many long hikes, including several multi-day backpacking trips. The Lamar River Trail is one of Yellowstone’s most popular backpacking routes, but you can also hike sections of the trail on a day hike!

You’ll start this hike to Cache Creek at the Lamar River Trailhead along Soda Butte Creek. The trail takes you through a sprawling wildflower-filled meadow, providing plenty of opportunities to spot bison.

In addition to bison, you’ll also have a chance to see pronghorns, bears, elk, coyotes, and wolves.

The trail intersects with the Specimen Ridge Trail after about 1.5 miles. As you follow the Specimen Ridge Trail, you’ll reach the Lamar River. You can opt to turn back at this point or continue on a bit further to Cache Creek.

If you continue, you’ll return to the Lamar River Trail, following another 2 miles until reaching Cache Creek. The path provides plenty of mountain views along the way. After exploring the area, head back the same way you came.

This hike is rated as moderate but features stream crossings and less signage than other Yellowstone hikes, so I only recommend this trail for experienced hikers who are used to navigating backcountry environments.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Trails in Yellowstone

Is Yellowstone good for hiking?

Yellowstone has over 1,000 miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy walks through the geyser basins to challenging summit hikes. So if you want to see the best of the park and avoid crowds, go for a hike in Yellowstone!

Can you hike alone in Yellowstone?

Given that Yellowstone National Park is located in bear country, it is best to hike in groups of at least 2 to 3 people. Hiking in groups helps you make more noise on trails, which reduces unexpected encounters with bears and other wildlife.

Do you need bear spray in Yellowstone?

Yes, you do need bear spray in Yellowstone. Keep your bear spray holstered on your hip or another easily accessible location. You can purchase your bear spray or rent it locally once you arrive in Yellowstone.

Is there a lot of hiking in Yellowstone?

There are tons of Yellowstone hiking trails, from geyser basins to waterfalls to canyons to expansive valleys! Whatever you’re interested in seeing, you’ll find the perfect Yellowstone hike for you. Hiking is also one of the best ways to avoid crowds in Yellowstone.

How do I prepare for a Yellowstone hike?

The best way to prepare for a Yellowstone hike is to research the trail ahead of time and check weather conditions. After you know what to expect, be sure to pack the ten hiking essentials, including water, layers, sunscreen, and bear spray.

How long are the hiking trails in Yellowstone National Park?

There are 1,000 miles of hiking trails in Yellowstone, but individual hikes can range from short walks under 1 mile to 40+ mile backpacking trails. With plenty of trails to choose from, you’ll be able to find a hike that suits your fitness level.

Final Thoughts on the Best Day Hikes in Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park has a hike for everyone, from strolls through geyser basins to long hikes through expansive, grassy valleys. There’s no shortage of excellent trails in one of America’s first national parks.

These are the 15 best hikes in Yellowstone National Park:

  1. Grand Prismatic Overlook
  2. Upper Geyser Basin and Observation Point
  3. Lone Star Geyser
  4. Brink of the Lower Falls
  5. North Rim Trail
  6. Uncle Tom’s Trail
  7. Fairy Falls
  8. Storm Point
  9. Trout Lake Loop
  10. Dunraven Pass to Mount Washburn
  11. Bunsen Peak
  12. Avalanche Peak
  13. Point Sublime
  14. Beaver Ponds Loop
  15. Lamar River Trail to Cache Creek

If you want to learn more about Yellowstone National Park, check out these posts!

  • Itinerary:Ultimate Yellowstone Itinerary
  • Add Grand Teton:7 Days in Grand Teton and Yellowstone
  • Things to Do:22 Best Things to Do in Yellowstone
  • Getting There:8 Best Airports and Flights to Yellowstone
  • When to Visit:The Best Time to Visit Yellowstone
  • Where to Stay:Where to Stay in Yellowstone
  • Camping:12 Best Campgrounds in Yellowstone
  • Airbnbs Nearby:25 Incredible Airbnbs Near Yellowstone
  • Road Trip:8-Day Salt Lake to Yellowstone Itinerary

Are you planning a national park trip but don’t know where to start? Get my free 28-page national park ebook where I break down everything you need to know to visit all 63 USA national parks.

Source https://www.thebrokebackpacker.com/hiking-in-yellowstone-national-park-usa/

Source https://www.wellplannedjourney.com/best-hikes-in-yellowstone/

Source https://www.wellplannedjourney.com/best-hikes-in-yellowstone/

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