Yellowstone National Park makes a great family vacation! Our easy guide will help you put together an unforgettable Yellowstone adventure.
- Book your Yellowstone accommodations and activities 13 months in advance to ensure you can book a room in your desired location. Hotels inside the park book up fast!
- Tip: Get the GuideAlong app with the Yellowstone guide. This audio guide works on GPS and points out attractions as you drive by. It’s $15 but well worth it.
- Pack clothes for all kinds of weather, including rain jackets and warm layers, because Yellowstone’s weather can be unpredictable. Even in June, we found snow in some parts, but warm t-shirt weather in the afternoons.
- Plan at least a four-day itinerary that includes visits to Grand Prismatic Spring, Old Faithful, Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, Lamar Valley, Yellowstone Lake, and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone for a mix of geothermal wonders and wildlife watching.
- Take advantage of family packages and Junior Ranger programs to add educational fun for kids.
- Consider staying inside the park to save on driving time to towns outside th park.
Planning for Your Yellowstone Family Vacation
Make hotel reservations in advance: Booking early is super essential for a Yellowstone family vacation. Hotels and campgrounds inside the park are sought after because of their great location. They get full fast!
Staying inside the park? Reservations open up 12-13 months in advance. On the 5th of each month, you can make reservations for the same entire month of the following year. Get ready to book early! Or wait for last-minute cancellations, which we’ve been able to do fairly easily if we weren’t set on a particular hotel.
Consider booking a family package
If youre searching for a semi all-inclusive vacation, look into family packages. The Yellowstone For Families Package is perfect for those with kids aged 8-12.
Led by a Yellowstone Forever Field Educator, you’ll learn about geysers, animals, and much more. Kids become Yellowstone National Park Junior Rangers as part of this package. See the entire package itinerary here. Although honestly at $6,135 per family of four (2 adults, 2 children, 1 room) it’s alot more than we spent on our Yellowstone vacation.
Yellowstone’s weather can change fast. At high elevations we encounter snow even during June, but it still reached 70 and sunny in the afternoon. Pack clothes that you can layer, like t-shirts, sweaters, and jackets.
Bring a waterproof jacket for each person, we encounter rain during
Next up is booking your fun activities ahead of time!
Book activities ahead of time
To have the best family trip, make sure you book your Yellowstone activities early. You can reserve spots for tours and special programs 13 months before you arrive. This is a great way to get everyone excited about seeing Old Faithful or exploring Mammoth Hot Springs without worrying about missing out.
Choosing what to do in advance helps your vacation go smoothly. Plan a visit to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone or sign up for a wildlife viewing tour. Some activities fill up fast, especially during summer months and other busy times.
Set up these adventures early so your family has lots of fun things to look forward to!
4 Ideal Days for Families in Yellowstone Itinerary
This Yellowstone journey’s itinerary captures the heart of these natural wonders in just four days.
4 Day Pace
This four-day itinerary is a fairly relaxed pace, allowing plenty of extra time for hikes and extra stops. You may be able to fit a lot more stops into four days or add a day to Grand Teton (highly recommended!).
Tip: Get the GuideAlong app with the Yellowstone guide. This audio guide works on GPS and points out attractions as you drive by. It’s $15 but well worth it.
On our first trip to Yellowstone, we combined Grand Teton and Yellowstone into four days and had to skip things we wanted to see. This was because we stayed outside the park in Island Park (At Springhill Suites, a great hotel and much more affordable than inside the park for a large family).
Discover how to make the most of four action-packed days in Yellowstone, creating unforgettable memories with your family as you explore geysers, hot springs, and wildlife—continue reading for the ultimate family-friendly adventure itinerary!
Hotel Recommendation Before Day 1
Old Faithful Inn is in a great location close to many attractions and saves many driving time in and out of the park. Alternatively, book a stay in West Yellowstone, just outside the west entrance to the park.
Day 1: Grand Prismatic Spring and Midway Geyser Basin
Heading into the park from West Yellowstone, there’s plenty of great river views on the 30-40 minute drive to the Midway Geyser and Grand Prismatic, which are in the same area.
The traffic is usually moving prettty slow along this road, giving you plenty of time to admire the view. If you were able to get a hotel inside the park, you can bypass this part of the trip from West Yellowstone each day.
Passing Madison Campground and heading south towards Grand Prismatic, take a quick detour to Firehole Falls, it only takes a few minutes and there’s not much traffic on this road.
There’s normally plenty of Bison in the area just north of Grand Prismatic also, right by the road. Stop for some great pictures here!
Start your adventure at Grand Prismatic Spring, where the colors will wow everyone in the family. It’s huge, bright, and looks like a rainbow in the ground. Walk on the boardwalks to see it up close.
Make sure you have your camera ready for amazing photos.
Next, head over to Midway Geyser Basin. You’ll find steamy hot springs with water that’s super blue. The kids can learn about geysers and how they work here too.
Day 2: Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin
Continue the stay at Old Faithful Inn.
Your next adventure awaits at Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin.
This fantastic sight of Old Faithful happens many times a day, approximately once per hour. Check the predicted eruption times at the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center so you won’t miss it.
Though Old Faithful is the most famous feature in Yellowstone, we found many other features around the park that were much more impressive than Old Faithful.
Next up from Yellowstone walk along boardwalks in Upper Geyser Basin to see more hot springs and geysers. With easy access paths, everyone in the family can enjoy these wonders together.
Day 3: Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, Lamar Valley
Get ready for an amazing third day at Yellowstone Park. Start your adventure at Norris Geyser Basin, where you’ll see steam and geysers everywhere!
This was one of our favorite parts of Yellowstone, it looks like youre on another planet! Here’s a quick video we took:
The paths are easy to navigate, though there are some stairs to get down to the lower view. Look out for the colorful pools and bubbling mud pots.
Next, head over to Mammoth Hot Springs. Walk along the boardwalks with your family and see cool terraces made of crystal-white minerals.
Finish the day in Lamar Valley. This place is known as America’s Serengeti because of all the wild animals here. You might see bison walking by or find wolves off in the distance if you’re lucky! We were lucky enough to spot a wolf on our visit, though not close enough to get any good pictures.
Day 4: Yellowstone Lake and Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Head to Grand Canyon of Yellowstone for more amazing views This Canyon has some amazing colors that look different as the light changes.
Theres a few different vantage points, from medium hikes to short walks from the parking lot to see impressive waterfalls up close.
- Artist Point: This famed viewpoint presents a picturesque view of the falls plunging into the Yellowstone River, with the vibrant canyon walls as a backdrop. It’s a sight that underscores why this is indeed the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
- Lookout Point: Another fantastic spot to view the Lower Falls and the canyon. It offers a slightly different perspective than Artist Point.
- Grandview Point: As the name suggests, this viewpoint offers a grand view of the canyon and is a great spot for photography.
- Inspiration Point: This viewpoint provides a panoramic view of the canyon, making it a popular spot for visitors.
- Brink of the Upper Falls: This viewpoint takes you to the top, giving you a unique perspective of the waterfall.
- Brink of the Lower Falls: This is the last overlook that needs to be completed. Once finished, it will offer an up-close view of the Lower Falls.
Here’s a great view we got from just above the waterfall, where you can really feel the power of the waterfall. This was taken in early June, when there was a lot of water from the snow melting.
Hayden Valley and Yellowstone Lake
Note: By this point, if you’re short on time, don’t feel bad about skipping Yellowstone Lake. It’s a bit of a drive, and the attractions we’ve listed above are more impressive. On the other hand, if you’re heading to Grand Teton, head south past Yellowstone Lake; it’s right on the way.
As you journey between the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Yellowstone Lake, you’ll pass through the enchanting Hayden Valley. This expansive, beautiful valley is a great place to see wildlife.
It’s one of the best places in the park to spot various animals, including herds of bison, elk, and the occasional grizzly bear.
Yellowstone Lake & West Thumb Geyser Basin
Next, head south to Yellowstone Lake, a vast mountain lake. It’s quiet and big, one of the highest lakes in North America that stays cool all year.
The air is filled with serenity as one admires the broad expanse of Yellowstone Lake, a peaceful haven tucked away in nature’s embrace. This tranquil body of water provides stunning views and remarkable sunsets that paint the sky with orange, pink, and purple hues.
Adding to the allure of Yellowstone Lake is the nearby West Thumb Geyser Basin. You can see both from the same parking lot.
This thermal area, located on the west shore of Yellowstone Lake, is home to various geysers, hot springs, and other geothermal features. While you might have seen plenty of hot springs by this point, West Thumb has some great additions, including the deep blue one above, located by the lake.
As you make it to Yellowstone Lake, this puts you close to Grand Teton National Park. This is a great time to continue south for more amazing but different scenery. You can easily spend several days in Grand Teton, combining it with an overnight stay in Jackson, Wyoming.
Day 4 Overnight Suggestion: If you’re continuing to Grand Teton, consider a stay in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Otherwise, if you’re heading back towards Bozeman, try West Yellowstone (west entrance) or Gardiner (north entrance).
Where to Stay in Yellowstone National Park
Staying in Yellowstone National Park can be a truly magical experience, as it allows for up-close access to nature’s beauty. A range of accommodations suit every taste and budget, from rustic cabins to luxurious lodges.
Staying overnight within the park is highly recommended to make the most of your trip to Yellowstone National Park. This will save you valuable time that would otherwise be spent driving back and forth from nearby towns like West Yellowstone or Gardiner.
Old Faithful Inn, located near the famous geyser, is a popular choice for those seeking a mix of historic charm and convenience. Though it’s in a great location, it’s often one of the most expensive hotels in Yellowstone.
Stay at the Canyon Lodge & Cabins to put you close to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
On the other hand, Lake Yellowstone Hotel offers stunning lake views and colonial-style architecture.
For a more simplistic and immersive experience, visitors can pitch their tents in one of the park’s campgrounds, such as Madison Campground, which offers basic facilities in a tranquil setting.
Booking should be done in advance to avoid missing out during peak seasons. All in all, these lodging options make for an unforgettable exploration of this remarkable national treasure.
Your trip to Yellowstone is sure to be amazing. You’ll see beautiful sights and make great memories with your family. Get ready for fun outdoor times in one of the most wonderful national parks.
Enjoy every moment in this special place! Safe travels on your adventure!