If it isn’t already, Yellowstone National Park should be on your family’s bucket list!
It is stunning, unique, and amazing! The wildlife, the geothermal features, the beautiful valleys, the waterfalls, the canyons!
It is a massive park full of natural wonders to enjoy with your kids.
I have provided everything you need to fill your Yellowstone family vacation itinerary with my ultimate guide to Yellowstone with kids. Here are the 28 best things to do in Yellowstone National Park with kids!
Why Visit Yellowstone with Kids?
Yellowstone was the first national park in the United States. It is also one of the most popular national parks to visit in the country.
There’s just no other place like it.
The park is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, including the famous Old Faithful geyser.
Yellowstone was on my bucket list of places to take my kids while they were still young. It has everything you could want for that epic, memorable family vacation.
When To Visit Yellowstone National Park?
Summer is by far the best time of year to visit Yellowstone National Park with kids. The weather is at its best and the kids are out of school. All the park roads and facilities are open during the summer months.
Because this is the best and most popular time to visit, expect crowds and expensive prices on lodging.
Other great times to visit weather-wise and crowd-wise are April, May, and September(early fall.) But do your research, because not all roads and facilities may be open during these months.
Plan and book your lodging EARLY!
Start your day EARLY to avoid crowds!
How Many Days Do I Need in Yellowstone National Park?
Yellowstone National Park is HUGE! In fact, Yellowstone is in 3 states: Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. It includes 3,472 square miles which make it bigger than Rhode Island and Deleware combined.
Because of the size of Yellowstone and the location of the park’s main highlights, I recommend spending a minimum of at least 2 days here.
I recommend spending at least a day touring the geothermal areas. To my surprise, there was much more than just seeing Old Faithful!
Other must-see areas are the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone area and the Mammoth Hot Springs area.
You should allow time for traffic jams. And by traffic jams, I mean bison jams! Yes, bison jams! Some people have been held up in bison jams for hours. Also, you never know what type of wildlife will pop up and you’ll want to stop the car, jump out and take a look.
28 Best Things to Do in Yellowstone National Park with Kids
Yellowstone National Park is full of adventures waiting for you and your kids to explore and make memories. Here are the 28 best things to do in Yellowstone National Park with kids!
Must-Stop Basins With Kids In Yellowstone National Park
Before visiting Yellowstone, I thought Yellowstone had Old Faithful and a couple of other hydrothermal features. Boy, was I wrong!
Yellowstone is Earth’s largest active geyser field. Yellowstone has more than 10,000 hydrothermal features! If you only have time to visit a couple of basin areas, I recommend the Upper Geyser Basin to see “Old Faithful” and the “Midway Geyser Basin” to see the colorful Grand Prismatic Hot Spring.
Yellowstone’s 4 hydrothermal features include geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, and mud pots.
When in the geyser basin areas in Yellowstone, you will smell a really bad odor, similar to “rotten eggs” due to the sulfur coming from the geysers.
When exploring the hydrothermal areas keep young kids close or hold their hands. The hydrothermal areas are SAFE, but only if you stay ON the boardwalk. You don’t want your kids to run off the boardwalk. This could be very dangerous.
1. Upper Geyser Basin
The Upper Geyser Basin is Yellowstone’s largest geyser basin. It includes several groups of hot springs and over 150 geysers! Yes, over 150 including the famous Old Faithful!
Old Faithful is the world’s most famous geyser. It is called “Old Faithful” because it is “faithful.” “It erupts on a very reliable schedule-about every hour and 30 minutes; plus or minus 10 minutes.
There is much more to the Upper Geyser Basin than just Old Faithful. Plan to spend a good amount of the day here if you want to take in all the Upper Geyser Basin has to offer, which I HIGHLY recommend.
I recommend starting your adventure here by entering the Old Faithful Visitor and Education Center. They will list the approximate times Old Faithful and other popular geysers will erupt.
Old Faithful is conveniently located right behind the National Park Service Visitor’s Center. The benches around Old Faithful fill up pretty quickly around prime hours, so if you want a good viewing area arrive early.
From Old Faithful, a nice, flat, easy, walkable boardwalk takes you to the rest of the hydrothermal features in the Upper Geyser Basin. Popular features here include the Castle Geyser and Morning Glory Pool.
Allow at least a couple of hours to explore the rest of this area.
TIP: Don’t leave this area without visiting the Old Faithful Inn.
2. Midway Geyser Basin
The Midway Geyser Basin is located between the Upper and Lower Geyser Basins. This is the other must-stop basin with kids in Yellowstone National Park. Why? Because of the colorful, beautiful Grand Prismatic Spring!
Grand Prismatic Spring is not only Yellowstone’s largest hot spring but also the largest hot spring in the U.S. It is also the third-largest hot spring in the world!
There are 2 different ways to see Grand Prismatic Spring. The first way is a hike to The Grand Prismatic Overlook, which gives you a distant, birds-eye view.
To get to the overlook, you will park at the Fairy Falls parking lot. Then you will start your hike on the Fairy Falls Trail. It is about 0.8 miles to the overlook. The last final bit of the hike was a little difficult because it was pretty much straight up a hill.
The views from the overlook are amazing! You really can see all the beautiful colors from this birds-eye view.
The other way to see Grand Prismatic Springs is to take the boardwalk for an up-close look. I highly recommend doing this if you only have time for one. Why? Because the last bit of the hike to the overlook can be strenuous for those with young kids.
Also, you will be able to get a view of the amazing Excelsior Geyser and a couple of other smaller pools when you take the closer view option.
The parking lot at the Midway Geyser Basin is very small. People were parked all the way down the road when we were there. We were able to find a parking spot off the side of the road though.
Approaching the boardwalk you will come up to a beautiful landscape with water streaming down from the hydrothermal pools above.
Once you cross the short bridge, you will first come across Excelsior Geyser on the left. The steam pouring above the blue color is just amazing.
After seeing Excelsior Geyser, you will follow the boardwalk and approach Grand Prismatic Spring. It is just AMAZING! Make sure to take lots of pictures here!
Arrive in the late morning into the early afternoon to see the colors of Grand Prismatic Spring at their best.
3. Lower Geyser Basin
Lower Geyser Basin is located between Madison Junction and the Old Faithful area. It is home to over 100 geothermal features.
The Fountain Paint Pots area is the most popular area in this basin. This area includes all 4 types of hydrothermal features. All can be seen on a very short, easy walk on the boardwalk.
The Fountain Paint Pot is named for the reds, yellows, and browns of the mud in this area. So many unique colors!
4. West Thumb Geyser Basin
West Thumb Geyser Basin is a small geyser basin located right on Yellowstone Lake. What makes this different from the other geyser basin areas in Yellowstone is the LAKE! Some of the thermal features are even IN the lake! So cool!
The Abyss Pool is the main draw here. It is a beautiful blue hot spring with a view of Yellowstone Lake in the background.
5. Norris Geyser Basin
Norris Geyser Basin is special because its home to the largest active geyser in the world, Steamboat Geyser!
It is the oldest and hottest of Yellowstone’s thermal areas. However, eruptions are not predicable here like they are in Yellowstone’s other basins.
Norris Geyser Basin is divided into 2 sections; Porcelain Basin and Back Basin which has Steamboat Geyser.
6. Mud Volcano Area
If you think your kids might enjoy looking at churning, boiling mud, Mud Volcano might be the perfect place to take your kids in Yellowstone.
The Mud Volcano Area is located north of Yellowstone Lake on the way to Hayden Valley. It consists of muddy hot springs and fumaroles.
I think the most interesting thing here is Dragon’s Mouth. Dragon’s Mouth is a hot spring that boils out of a deep cave. It creates a gurgling noise that can be heard on the boardwalk. I can see where the name “Dragon’s Mouth” came from, given the noises and the steam coming out of the opening.
7. Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs is located in the northwest section of Yellowstone very close to the North Entrance of Yellowstone near Gardiner, Montana.
It is very different from the other basin areas in Yellowstone, making it a must-stop in Yellowstone National Park with kids. Mammoth Hot Springs is a large mass of travertine terraces that have been forming over thousands of years.
The drive to Mammoth Hot Springs coming in from the south is breathtaking! I think it is the most beautiful drive in all of Yellowstone.
The Mammoth area looks so different from the other areas in Yellowstone. It is an actual town.
It’s very common to see elk grazing right here in the middle of town. We saw elk in the same spot in the 2 days we were passing through.
The Best Way To View Mammoth Hot Springs
I recommend parking at the parking lot on the lower terrace. From here, you can easily walk to the restrooms and general store if needed.
There is a boardwalk that starts at the parking area that leads you to the lower terrace and up to the upper terrace.
Walking along the boardwalk from the lower terrace to the upper terrace can be very exhausting. You will be walking up a lot of stairs. If you have young kids, I recommend just stopping at the Lower Terrace and not continuing with the walk.
We continued on and I don’t think the extra walk to the top of the upper terrace was worth it. My eyes were burning from the sulfur though and I was pretty miserable. My eyes had been burning a lot at the other geothermal features, just not as bad as they did here.
TIP: This area can get VERY hot and CROWDED during the summer. I recommend starting your day here very EARLY to avoid the heat and crowds.
See Yellowstone’s Beautiful Falls
8. Hike To Fairy Falls
Fairy Falls is a pretty flat, easy 4.5 mile there and back trail. If you are wanting to do a longer hike in Yellowstone National Park, this is a great one to do with kids.
The hike to Fairy Falls starts at the Fairy Falls Parking lot in the Midway Geyer Basin area.
The Fairy Falls trail is an easy hike through a lodgepole pine forest. Once you get to the falls, you will be glad you made the hike. The 200 feet high falls are just beautiful!
NOTE: This is the same trail that leads to the Grand Prismatic Overlook. Make sure to stop at the overlook on the way back!
9. Tower Falls
Tower Falls is a beautiful 132-foot waterfall named after the “tower” formations above it.
Tower Falls is located about 2 miles south of Tower Junction on Grand Loop Road between Tower-Roosevelt Junction and Canyon Village. The overlook is just a quick walk from the parking lot.
If you are in this area, you will want to stop and admire the beauty of these falls!
10. Grand Canyon Of The Yellowstone
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is a must-see when visiting Yellowstone National Park with kids! It is magnificent, spectacular, and grand! There are just not enough words to describe this amazing sight! You will just have to see it for yourself!
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is about 20 miles long from the Upper Falls to the Tower Falls area and between 800 to 1200 feet deep. The Lower Falls at 308 feet high is one of the most photographed views of Yellowstone National Park.
There are 2 main roads that take you through Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone; South Rim Drive and North Rim Drive.
There are many different overlooks where you can take in this stunning canyon. There are also many different walkways and trails that will take you to different views of the canyon area.
All of the overlooks and walkways we went to were just a short walk from the parking area. All are very easily accessible with young kids and strollers.
We took in many different views from far away. We also got really close to the Upper Falls at the Brink of the Upper Falls.
It’s amazing how different the view looks from far away versus right on top of it!
Artist Point is one of the most photographed views in Yellowstone. If you only stop at one of the overlooks stop at this one. This observation point looks like a painting! Just unbelievable!
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone was my favorite spot in Yellowstone National Park! The views are just so incredible and breathtaking!
View The Wildlife
Wildlife viewing is one of the most exciting things to do in Yellowstone National Park with kids. Yellowstone is home to a wide variety of wildlife including bison, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, mule deer, pronghorn, white-tailed deer, black bears, Canada lynx, coyotes, grizzly bears, mountains lions, and wolves.
When visiting Yellowstone, you are almost guaranteed to see some form of wildlife. You can see wildlife just about anywhere in Yellowstone, but the best places to see wildlife are Hayden Valley and Lamar Valley.
1. The best time to see wildlife is at dawn and dusk.
2. Binoculars are useful when viewing wildlife from far away.
3. Make sure to keep a safe distance from animals.
11. Hayden Valley
Hayden Valley is a great place to see wildlife in Yellowstone National Park. It’s more centrally located in Yellowstone, so it’s more convenient to get to than Lamar Valley. It’s located about 9 miles south of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Hayden Valley is a beautiful, lush valley with lots of wildlife such as bison, elk, coyotes, and grizzly bears.
We saw a few bison, but that was it. We also came mid-day so that may have been why we saw such little wildlife.
I highly recommend driving through, even if you don’t see much wildlife because it is just beautiful!
12. Lamar Valley
Lamar Valley is the place to go to see wildlife in Yellowstone! In fact, it is often called America’s Serengeti because of its easy-to-see populations of large wild animals.
Lamar Valley is located between Yellowstone’s Northeast Entrance and Mammoth Hot Springs, along the Lamar River. It’s kind of out of the way, but definitely not to be missed.
We saw so much more wildlife in Lamar than anywhere else in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park.
Common wildlife to see here are bison, pronghorn, grizzly bears, bald eagles, deer, and wolves.
Many people come to Lamar Valley to see wolves. The Junction Butte Pack of 19 is often seen here. Slough Creek is a great place to pull out and watch for the wolves. It’s common to see people here with scopes set up waiting to see wolves. For the best chance of seeing wolves, you might want to do a wolf wildlife tour.
Our Early Morning In Lamar
We started our day off very early and got to Lamar shortly after sunrise! What did we see in Lamar? Bison, bison, bison, and more bison. Oh, and a pronghorn deer! Bison were just EVERYWHERE!!
Seeing bison cross the road right in front of our car, walking beside our car, and behind our car was the coolest thing. Just AMAZING! It was an unbelievable experience to be so close to these incredible wild animals.
Lamar Valley is a definite must-do in Yellowstone National Park with kids!
Other Must-Do Things in Yellowstone with Kids
13. Drive the Yellowstone Grand Loop Road
Yellowstone Grand Loop Road( the main road in Yellowstone) is a 140-mile scenic drive that passes through some of the best sites in Yellowstone.
If you only have one day in Yellowstone, this is the best way to see the main sites!
14. Visit The Old Faithful Inn
Visiting Old Faithful Inn is a must in Yellowstone National Park with kids. You do not have to stay here to walk in and explore.
This inn is historic, iconic and the world’s largest log cabin. It is conveniently located near the Old Faithful geyser.
We loved comparing it to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. The main building at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is modeled after the Old Faithful Inn. We have stayed there before and were amazed by how well Disney recreated the architecture and feel of this historic place.
15. Check Out The Visitor Centers
Checking out the Visitor Centers when visiting Yellowstone National Park with kids is a must. It’s an educational and learning experience for both you and your kids. There are many exhibits about the area’s sights and the history of Yellowstone.
It’s also a great place to speak to a national park ranger and get information, maps, and other helpful advice.
Your kids can also become Junior Rangers and earn their Yellowstone National Park Junior Park Ranger Badge. You can sign your kid up to do this at any of the visitor centers.
Another great program Yellowstone National Park Service offers is the Young Scientist Program. Kids 5 and over can become Young Scientists of Yellowstone by solving science mysteries.
Each area in Yellowstone has a visitor center. Make sure to stop at each one before you explore the area. For example, visit the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center before viewing Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin. Visit the Canyon Visitor Education Center before visiting the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
16. Shop The General Stores & Gift Shops
There are General Stores in every main area of Yellowstone National Park. We loved going to the General Stores to pick up snacks and drinks.
My kids got SO excited about the General Stores. Every time they saw one, they shouted out “General Store”! It’s the little things that get kids so excited sometimes! I think it became kind of a game to see how many General Stores we saw throughout Yellowstone and the Tetons.
So, visiting the General Store is a must-do when visiting Yellowstone National Park with kids.
There are also many gift shops in Yellowstone National Park. It’s so fun for the kids to stroll through and pick up souvenirs to take home. There are also many cool items for us parents to look at that we just might want to take home!
17. Swim in Boiling River or Firehole River
For a unique family experience, head to Boiling River to swim in nature’s hot tub.
The Boiling River, which is extremely hot, flows into the Gardiner River, which is extremely cold. It creates the perfect “hot tub” experience.
The parking lot for Boiling River is located between the North Entrance and Mammoth Hot Springs. From the parking lot, you will take a beautiful, scenic half-mile walk to the soaking and swimming area where these two rivers meet.
Make sure to have water shoes because the rocks can be slippery. The current can be strong, so be cautious of this if you have young kids.
The only facility to change clothes is a vault toilet in the parking lot. You might want to wear your bathing suit under what you’re wearing for the day. Also, make sure to bring a towel.
**CLOSURE-Boiling River is closed for 2021 due to COVID-19.
Another place to swim on your family trip is the Firehole Swim Area located on the Firehole River. This is about 2 miles south of Madison Junction on Firehole Canyon Drive.
18. Take Your Families Picture At Roosevelt Arch
Roosevelt Arch is located at the North Entrance of the park in Gardiner, Montana.
If you are not coming into Yellowstone from the North Entrance, I recommend taking the short, beautiful drive when visiting Mammoth Hot Springs to see this iconic monument.
Roosevelt Arch is inscribed with a phrase from the 1872 legislation that established Yellowstone National Park: “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.” In 1903, President Roosevelt laid the cornerstone for the Roosevelt Arch. Back during this time, the Roosevelt Arch was the most important gateway to Yellowstone.
Fun Fact: As soon as you exit the park and arrive here in Gardiner you will have internet and phone service. We had been in the park for a couple of days and hadn’t had any internet or phone service.
My kids WERE so excited to have internet again! This gives you another reason to stop here!
After getting your picture here, explore the town of Gardiner. Grab some lunch or dinner! It’s such a cute town!
19. Eat The Local Fruit- Huckleberries!
Huckleberries are the local fruit in the Yellowstone National Park area. They are most closely related to the blueberry. Its color ranges from a deep red to a dark blue or purple color.
Huckleberry season runs from late July through the month of August. So be on the lookout for some huckleberry bushes when wandering around Yellowstone National Park.
You will see just about everything with huckleberries in it. Huckleberry ice cream, huckleberry pancakes, huckleberry burgers, and huckleberry drinks to name just a few.
Eating huckleberry ice cream is a must when visiting the Yellowstone area with kids!
20. Old West Dinner Cookout
The Old West Dinner Cookout is an amazing experience for the whole family. Your family will meet at the Roosevelt Corrals, load up into a covered wagon or ride horseback into Pleasant Valley and enjoy a cookout. The season for the cookout usually runs from early June through early September.
The wagon ride is about 30-45 minutes. For those horseback riding, you can choose either a one-hour ride or a two-hour ride. The tour guides are very friendly and entertaining. It’s common to see wildlife while on the wagon, such as bison!
Foods that are served include steaks, baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw, cornbread muffins, and fruit crisp. They also have coffee brewing over the campfire! While eating, you will be entertained by cowboys singing old western songs.
I love experiences and this is a great one while visiting Yellowstone National Park with kids!
COST: Prices quoted for the 2022 season (Children under 2 are free)
$54 (Children 3-11)
1 hour horseback riding:
$79 (Children 8-11)
2-hour horseback riding:
$95 (Children 8-11)
NOTE: To ride horseback, you must be at least 8 years old, 48 inches tall, and weigh under 240 lbs.
There might not be a better place for a family camping experience than Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone has 12 campgrounds to choose from. RVs are allowed at all campgrounds.
There are also lots of camping and RV sites outside the national park. Even some glamping sites!
So pitch a tent, light a fire, make s’mores and enjoy some quality family time in the great outdoors camping in beautiful Yellowstone National Park!
22. Explore Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone Lake is the largest body of water in Yellowstone National Park. It’s also the largest high-elevation lake in North America, with an elevation of over 7000 feet!
There are many great family activities you can do at Yellowstone Lake, which include boating, fishing, hiking, and camping.
Bridge Bay Marina offers motorboat rentals for having fun, exploring, or fishing on a first-come-first-serve basis. Bridge Bay Marina is open on a seasonal basis from early June through early September.
A fishing permit is required for fishing. This can be purchased at all ranger stations, visitor centers, and Yellowstone Park General Stores.
If you plan on using your own boat or angler float tube, you’ll need a permit and a Yellowstone aquatic invasive species inspection.
Fun Activities with Kids NEAR Yellowstone
23. Go To A Rodeo
When in the west, take the opportunity to see a rodeo! There are many rodeos located in the Yellowstone area.
I have heard many great things about the Cody Rodeo. Cody, Wyoming is located directly east of Yellowstone and is often called the “Rodeo Capital of the World.”
The Cody Rodeo is fun for the whole family. The cowboys and cowgirls are amazing to watch and the energy of the crowd is awesome! This would be a great experience for you and your kids when visiting Yellowstone National Park.
The Cody Rodeo’s season runs from June-August and they are open EVERY night during the season.
Other rodeos near Yellowstone:
Jackson Hole Rodeo
Wild West Yellowstone Rodeo in West Yellowstone, Montana
24. Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center
The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is a great place to take kids when visiting Yellowstone National Park.
The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is located in West Yellowstone, right outside the entrance to the park. It is a not-for-profit wildlife park and educational facility featuring grizzly bears and wolves. They also have otters and birds of prey.
We didn’t see any grizzly bears or wolves in the park, so we made a trip to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center to see some.
Your kids will love seeing all the animals and they even have a fun activity where kids can hide food for the bears to find!
I found it very interesting that manufacturers send their garbage cans and coolers for testing here to make sure they are bear-resistant!
So if you end up not seeing any grizzlies or wolves in Yellowstone like us, come here to see some before heading home!
Adults (13 and older) – $15.00
Seniors (62+) – $14.00
Children (5-12) – $10.00
Children (4 and under) – Free
*Admission is good for 2 days!
Ziplining is a fun experience for the whole family and makes for the perfect break from all the sightseeing in Yellowstone.
There are a few places to zipline in the Yellowstone area. Here is a couple that I recommend:
Sleeping Giant Zipline in Cody, Wyoming
Sleeping Giant Zipline offers five separate zip line sections to go on with dual lines, allowing side-by-side racing. You will zip over streams and beautiful trees. The views here are just gorgeous!
The minimum height is 48 inches. The minimum weight is 50 lbs and the maximum weight of 265 lbs.
Zipline Adventure Park in West Yellowstone, Montana
Zipline Adventure Park offers ropes courses and ziplines. This is a great place for those little kids because they have a Junior Ranger Ropes course for ages 4 and up. The zipline and ropes courses start at ages 6 and up.
NOTE: Zipline season runs from mid-June through mid-September each year.
Tours & Guides
26. Fly Fishing
Yellowstone is a fly-fishing paradise. There are so many different bodies of water to fish in: rivers, lakes, and streams. The Yellowstone area also has a wide variety of game fish.
Whether you have years of experience or if this is your first time, a fly fishing guide is the way to go.
27. Guided Kayak & Boat Tours
Exploring Yellowstone by boat is a great way to see a side of Yellowstone that you can only see by water.
Guided kayak tours are a great way to learn about Yellowstone while having fun! The Yellowstone Lake half-day kayak tour past geothermal features is a great unique activity to do with kids in Yellowstone.
In this half-day tour, you will be kayaking past West Thumb Geyer and Potts Geyser Basin. It’s common to see elk on the beach or wading in the water.
Another great option if you just want to sit back and relax is a scenic cruise aboard the Lake Queen leaving from Bridge Bay Marina on Lake Yellowstone.
This is a one-hour guided tour of Yellowstone Lake, where you’ll hear the history of the area while watching for wildlife.
Both of these options provide a unique, educational and fun way to see Yellowstone National Park with kids!
Rafting is an exciting and fun family activity when visiting the Yellowstone area. You can choose either a calm, leisure float or a more adventurous whitewater rafting experience.
If you have younger kids or want a more calm, leisurely experience, I recommend the Snake River in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for a float tour.
Here, I will break down the different rivers to choose from for a whitewater rafting experience.
Yellowstone River is the closest rafting to Yellowstone National Park. It is located in Gardiner, Montana (North Entrance of the park). Yellowstone River is a great river rafting experience for families and those rafting for the first time.
Gallatin River is located in Gateway, Montana between Bozeman and Big Sky. Gallatin River is also great for families and those rafting for the first time.
This river also offers more action for those seeking a more thrilling experience with Class IV+ rapids.
Montana Whitewater Rafting and Zipline Company
Madison River is famous for its fly fishing, but it also offers whitewater rafting and tubing!
Tubing on the river is a great option for families with kids in Yellowstone looking for a unique, fun way to spend the day.
Tour company for rafting and tubing:
Montana Whitewater Rafting and Zipline Company
How Much Does It Cost to Get Into Yellowstone National Park?
- Vehicle: $35 for 7 days
- Motorcycle: $30 for 7 days
- Hiker/biker: $20 for 7 days
(Prices are good for 7 days from the date purchased)
America the Beautiful Pass– $80 for a year. Worth it, if you plan on visiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton both because you can also use them over the next year at any other national park. I purchased ours online at REI.
TIP: If you have a 4th grader, get the Every Kid Outdoors pass. This pass enables your 4th grader and the whole family to get into National Parks for free!
Where to Stay in Yellowstone National Park with Kids
Yellowstone National Park is HUGE.
You might want to stay in a couple of different areas while visiting. We stayed in Old Faithful Inn for one night to visit the Upper Geyser Basin and Mid Geyser Basin. Then, we stayed in Gardiner, Montana another night to be closer to Mammoth Hot Springs and Lamar Valley.
I will break apart the best places to stay in the park based on the areas you will be visiting.
NOTE: Book EARLY! Yellowstone National Park lodging books up months in advance!
LODGING Near Old Faithful and the Geyser Basins
Old Faithful Inn
The Old Faithful Inn is the most requested place to stay in Yellowstone National Park. It was built in 1903-1904 using local logs. It is now considered the largest log structure in the world!
There are a variety of different rooms to fit your family and your needs. The Old Faithful Inn also offers quick-service food options including muffins, breakfast sandwiches, and coffee for breakfast. The Old Faithful Dining Room is a great place for your family to have dinner.
They also have a gift shop with a great variety of souvenirs for you and your kids to bring back home.
We were lucky enough to snag a room at the Old Faithful Inn, considering we booked so late. It was exciting to stay in this iconic hotel and be so close to the famous Old Faithful geyser. We enjoyed walking out the door and being right there at Old Faithful.
Staying there we were able to walk around the Upper Geyser Basin at sunset. It was just beautiful!
There are 2 drawbacks to staying at Old Faithful Inn. No air-conditioner! Our room was VERY hot, even with the fan going. Also, there is no wi-fi or cell service. In order to access wifi, we had to walk to the neighboring hotel, the Old Faithful Snow Lodge.
Old Faithful Snow Lodge
The Old Faithful Snow Lodge is located right next to the Old Faithful Inn. You are still in the prime location for visiting Old Faithful, the Upper Geyser Basin, and the Old Faithful Visitor Center.
The Old Faithful Snow Lodge is the newest of Yellowstone’s full-service hotels. There are a variety of different rooms to fit your family’s needs.
They also have a full-service dining room, a quick-service restaurant, and a gift shop.
Just like the Old Faithful Inn, there is no AC, but they do have WIFI!
CAMPING Near Old Faithful and the Geyser Basins
Madison Campground has more than 270 non-electric campsites that accommodate tents and RVs. This is the closest campground to the Basin Areas of the park. Reservations are available online or by phone.
Grant Village Campground
Grant Village Campground has more than 400 non-electric sites available to accommodate tents and RVs, making it one of the largest campgrounds in Yellowstone. Grant Village also provides a full-service restaurant, gas station, and general store. Grant Village is closest to West Thumb Geyser Basin and Yellowstone Lake. Reservations can be made online or by phone.
LODGING Near Mammoth Hot Springs & Lamar Valley
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins is a convenient place to stay when visiting Mammoth Hot Springs and Lamar Valley. You are within walking distance of Mammoth Hot Springs.
They offer cabins and newly renovated rooms. As with most lodging in the park, there is NO wifi and NO AC.
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins has a dining room for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They also offer a quick service place to grab coffee and breakfast.
As with all areas in the national park, you have easy access to the General Store here for any groceries or miscellaneous items you need to purchase.
Elk love grazing in the town of Mammoth. Your kids will love seeing the elk outside the hotel.
CAMPING Near Mammoth Hot Springs & Lamar Valley
Mammoth Campground is the only campground that is open year-round in Yellowstone. They have 85 non-electric campsites. They can accommodate tents and RVs. Reservations can be made online.
Slough Creek is the closest campground to Lamar Valley. It has 23 non-electric campsites for tents and small RVs. Reservations can be made online.
LODGING Near Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Canyon Lodge & Cabins
Canyon Lodge & Cabins is open from June through early October.
Again, like all lodging in the park, no AC, and no TVs.
Canyon Lodge & Cabins offers sit-down dining and dining for those on the go.
CAMPING Near Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Canyon Campground has 270 non-electric sites. In the Canyon Village area, there is a general store and quick-service dining. Reservations can be made online or by phone.
LODGING Near Lake Yellowstone
Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins
Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins has a classic, elegant colonial look. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2015.
They offer suites, standard hotel rooms, and cabins. Again, no AC and no TV. Wired internet is provided here.
They have a deli for specialty sandwiches and soups. The Lake Hotel Dining Room offers an upscale menu featuring fresh fish, wild game, and more.
CAMPING Near Lake Yellowstone
Bridge Bay Campground
Bridge Bay Campground is located right next to Yellowstone Lake. They have more than 400 non-electric campsites that can accommodate tents and RVs. Reservations can be made online or by phone.
Where to Stay NEAR Yellowstone National Park with Kids
If you can’t secure lodging in Yellowstone National Park or you would just prefer to stay outside the park, here are the main gateway towns where you can stay.
NOTE: A great plus about staying outside the park is AC and WI-FI!
West Yellowstone is Yellowstone National Park’s most popular and busiest gateway town. It is more centrally located and at a much closer distance to Old Faithful and the other geyser basins.
West Yellowstone offers lots of hotel and dining options when visiting Yellowstone National Park.
Here are a couple of great options for places to stay in West Yellowstone when visiting Yellowstone National Park with kids:
Gray Wolf Inn & Suites
Gray Wolf Inn & Suites is conveniently located near the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park. It’s also located right across the street from the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center and the Yellowstone IMAX.
Gray Wolf Inn & Suites offers 103 air-conditioned rooms including very spacious family suites for those with bigger families. Amenities include free wifi, refrigerator, microwave, fitness room, and indoor swimming pool. Some rooms are pet-friendly.
They also offer free ice cream and s’mores every day, along with a free breakfast.
Kelly Inn West Yellowstone
Kelly Inn West Yellowstone is also conveniently located next to the west entrance of Yellowstone. It’s also located within walking distance of the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center and the Yellowstone IMAX.
Kelly Inn West Yellowstone offers spacious rooms with modern rustic decor. They even have rooms for those with families of 7!
Amenities here include a complimentary hot breakfast and an indoor pool. All rooms have AC and are pet-friendly. For those with babies and toddlers, they have cribs. Your kids will enjoy the complimentary 24-hour hot chocolate.
CAMPING In West Yellowstone
Yellowstone Park/West Gate KOA
Yellowstone Park/West Gate KOA is located about 6 miles from the West Entrance of the park. They provide tent and RV camping. They even have cabins!
Gardiner, Montana is located at the North Entrance of the park closest to Mammoth Hot Springs. It’s a great place to stay when visiting Mammoth Hot Springs and Lamar Valley.
Gardiner is such a cute town! Gardiner offers locally-owned restaurants and some unique shopping.
The iconic Roosevelt Arch is located here.
Here are a couple of great options for places to stay in Gardiner, Montana when visiting Yellowstone National Park with kids:
Yellowstone Gateway Inn
The Yellowstone Gateway Inn is conveniently located about 5 minutes from the North Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. They are upscale apartment-style suites perfect for your whole family when visiting Yellowstone.
I was lucky enough to find this hidden gem and able to book us a night here. This place is amazing, clean, and spacious! The owner checked us in, walked us to our room, and made sure we were well-taken care of for our stay! The friendly, personable service here is something that is very hard to find these days.
Our apartment-style suite included a separate bedroom for my husband and me, a living area with another bed for my boys, and a pull-out sofa that my daughter slept in. They also had a full-size kitchen with a dining table. Oh, and the best thing was AC! We hadn’t had AC in so long and the cold, AC was the best thing ever!
It is also very common to see deer and elk here on the property.
I will say this is the nicest place we stayed during our whole Grand Teton/Yellowstone trip.
If you can book this place, do it. You won’t regret it!
Yellowstone Riverside Cottages
Yellowstone Riverside Cottages offer air-conditioned studios, suites, and cottages right on the beautiful Yellowstone River. Rooms are clean, and modern, and sleep up to 6 guests!
Included are a microwave and a refrigerator. Some rooms even include a full kitchen. If you can, make sure to book a room right on the river. You can’t beat this scenic view!
Just like the Yellowstone Gateway Inn, deer and elk frequent this property.
DreamCatcher Tipi Hotel
DreamCatcher Tipi Hotel is the ultimate, luxury glamping experience. It is located 5 miles from the Yellowstone North Entrance and 100 yards from the Yellowstone River.
Each tipi includes a king or double-full memory foam mattress and sleeps up to a family of 4.
Included with your stay are a nightly campfire, s’mores for you and the kids, and 2 complimentary adult beverages nightly. Also included are complimentary muffins every morning and hot cookies in the afternoon.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole, Wyoming is a great place to stay when visiting Yellowstone National Park with kids. Jackson Hole is about 1 hour and 15 minutes from the South Entrance of Yellowstone.
Jackson Hole is the gateway town to Grand Teton National Park. You will be further out from the sites of Yellowstone than the other gateway towns, but there are plenty of places to stay, things to do, and places to eat.
I highly recommend at least staying 1 night in Jackson Hole to experience this town.
If you haven’t already planned on visiting Jackson Hole/Grand Teton National Park or you plan on going and need ideas, check out my guide here of the 17 Best Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park With Kids! Recommended Jackson Hole hotels are included too!
Where to Eat In Yellowstone National Park with Kids
Yellowstone National Park has food for dine-in or to go at all the main areas in the park such as “Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and Mammoth Hot Springs.
The food at the park is not the greatest and not always the most convenient, so I recommend carrying a cooler with lunchmeats, snacks, and drinks. There are many picnic areas located throughout the National Park where you can have a nice family lunch or dinner.
For the times you would like to eat in the park here are a couple of options:
Old Faithful Inn Dining Room
I recommend dining at the Old Faithful Inn Dining Room because this place is just so iconic and historic! The Old Faithful Dining Room has a dinner buffet service with a wide variety of food for the whole family.
If you choose not to eat in the dining room, they have a grill in the Inn where you can order burgers, sandwiches, and salads to go.
Lake Yellowstone Hotel Dining Room
Lake Yellowstone Hotel Dining Room menu is more of an upscale menu featuring fresh fish, wild game, and more. If you’re looking to dine somewhere a little nicer in the park, this is your place to go.
Where to Eat NEAR Yellowstone National Park with Kids
West Yellowstone Kid-Friendly Restaurants
West Yellowstone is the most popular gateway town closest to Old Faithful and the Midway Geyser Basin areas.
Wild West Pizzeria & Saloon
If your family is craving pizza while in the West Yellowstone area, Wild West Pizzeria & Saloon is your place to go!
We ate here for lunch after exploring The Grizzly Bear and Wolf Discovery Center. The service was good and the food was delicious.
If you are not a pizza lover, they offer wings and salads. They also offer pasta, such as macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, and chicken parmesan.
Slippery Otter Pub
Slippery Otter Pub is a popular restaurant in West Yellowstone. They offer your typical American food such as burgers (including bison and elk burgers) salads, and pizza.
Some options for your kids include pizza, chicken nuggets, corn dog bites, and fries.
Running Bear Pancake House
I have to give a breakfast option. I love dining out for breakfast when out of town. Running Bear Pancake House is an excellent choice for breakfast when visiting Yellowstone with kids!
Some foods they offer are pancakes, cinnamon roll cakes, muffins, eggs, sausage, and bacon. They also have many specialty items such as burritos, pigs in a blanket, strawberry crepes, and avocado toast.
Gardiner, Montana Kid-Friendly Restaurants
Gardiner, Montana is such a cute little town. Gardiner is located at the North Entrance of the park closest to Mammoth Hot Springs.
Iron Horse Bar and Grill
Iron Horse Bar and Grill is located right on the Yellowstone River. They offer a variety of food for the whole family.
Some menu items include burgers, salads, elk nachos, huckleberry barbeque chicken, bison shepherd’s pie, steak, and trout. Kid’s menu items include burgers, chicken strips, and fries.
You can choose to eat inside or outside to take in the beautiful view. We ate inside because it was a VERY hot day. I ordered the bison burger. It was the BEST burger I’ve ever had in my entire life. I’ve never had a bison burger anywhere else, so I have nothing to compare it to. But, it was definitely better than any other cow burger I’ve ever had.
NOTE: Most restaurants in the Yellowstone and Grand Teton area do NOT have AC. If you are traveling during the hot months of summer be prepared for this.
Montana Goods & Grindz
Montana Goods & Grindz is the place to go when looking for breakfast in Gardiner. They offer a wide variety of breakfast options including cinnamon rolls, breakfast burritos, croissants, English muffin sandwiches, and biscuits and gravy.
They’re also open for lunch and dinner. Some options are sandwiches, salads, soups, enchiladas, lasagna, chicken alfredo, and shepherd’s pie. For dessert try ice cream, a shake, or malt!
What to Bring To Yellowstone National Park with Kids
Being prepared when traveling to Yellowstone National Park with kids is important. Here are some must items to have!
Cooler with food/snacks! Having a cooler with food, drinks, and snacks is a must. You are in a national park, so you may not have easy access to food and drinks at all times.
Variety of Clothing! The weather can fluctuate a lot in Yellowstone. We were there towards the end of July. Early mornings were very cold. We wore jackets in the morning and by afternoon it was very, very hot! So definitely dress in layers and be prepared for everything from shorts and tank tops to pants and jackets!
Backpack! Bringing a backpack is a must for seeing the sites in Yellowstone. You do not want to be lugging around your purse while visiting the basin areas and walking down trails. It’s easy to throw some snacks and drinks in your backpack and have them when you need them.
Bear Spray! You are in Bear Country. Bear spray is a must. You don’t want to be on one of the trails without bear spray. Bear spray is available just about everywhere. If you are flying, I recommend renting because you cannot fly home with it.
We rented ours from the Jackson Hole Airport. It was a little more affordable than purchasing if you don’t have to use it. Purchasing can cost around $50 a can.
Binoculars! Binoculars are a great thing to have when viewing wildlife from a distance. There will be many times you will see wildlife from a distance and will want a closer look.
Comfortable tennis shoes/hiking boots! Make sure you have adequate foot protection when in Yellowstone National Park. You will be doing a lot of walking, so make sure you and your kids’ feet are protected.
How to Get To Yellowstone National Park
If you are not driving into Yellowstone, here are a few of the best and nearest airports to fly into. Once you fly to the airport, you need to rent a car. Having a car in Yellowstone is a MUST. Yellowstone is a large park that requires driving from site to site.
Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport
Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is Montana’s busiest airport. Bozeman is about 1 hour and 41 minutes from the West Yellowstone (West Entrance) entrance to Yellowstone. Bozeman is about 1 hour and 18 minutes from the Gardiner (North Entrance) entrance to Yellowstone.
Jackson Hole Airport
Jackson Hole Airport is conveniently located in Grand Teton National Park. For those also traveling to Grand Teton National Park, this may be your best option.
Jackson Hole Airport is about 1 hour and 34 minutes from the South Entrance of Yellowstone National Park.
Idaho Falls Regional Airport
Idaho Falls Regional Airport is another option when flying to Yellowstone National Park. It is located about 2 hrs 52 from Yellowstone.
Salt Lake City International Airport
Salt Lake City International Airport is the furthest airport I have listed. It is also popular when traveling to Yellowstone because it can be much more affordable for some. The drive from Salt Lake to Yellowstone is approximately 4-5 hours.
The Wrap-Up: Yellowstone with Kids
Yellowstone National Park should be on every family’s bucket list. Make it happen. You won’t regret it! The memories you make on a Yellowstone family vacation will last a lifetime!
I hope my ultimate guide to Yellowstone with kids including the 28 best things to do in Yellowstone National Park with kids has inspired you to go or helped you fill your itinerary with things to do.
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