Best hikes in Yellowstone National Park

Best hikes in Yellowstone National Park
Best hikes in Yellowstone National Park

Hikes in Yellowstone National Park: Yellowstone National Park is one of the most loved national parks in the United States, and rightly so. With hissing geysers that shoot water hundreds of feet into the air, pools of bubbling mud, and an abundance of large mammals and wildlife, this is a very special place. There’s plenty to see and do, but we think the best way to find out is to indulge your curiosity on one of the park’s iconic hiking trails. In fact, Yellowstone has more than 1,000 miles of hiking trails to explore.

We’ve put together a list of hiking and walking trails in Yellowstone (in no particular order) to help you discover the beauty of this national treasure.

The 8 best hikes in Yellowstone National Park

  1. Mount Washburn Trail
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 6.2 miles
  • Duration: 3-6 hours
  • Elevation: 1,400 feet
  • Hike type: Out and back
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Trailhead: Dunraven Pass

Hike up to the Lookout Tower on Mount Washburn for incredible 360 ​​views spanning 50 miles. On a clear day, you can see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Yellowstone Lake, the Absaroka Range, and the rolling mountain range. It’s not the best trail for secluded hiking (it’s one of the park’s most popular day hikes), but we promise you the views are worth it. Starting at the Dunraven Pass trailhead, you climb a steep incline that straddles the edge of Mount Washburn.

You then go through a mile-long series of switchbacks before reaching the final stretch that flattens out a bit as you reach the summit. The trail is beautiful with rocky outcrops, lots of wildflowers (in summer), and the occasional family of wild sheep. Grizzlies also roam the area but are less common to see during the peak summer season.

  1. North Rim Trail
  • Difficulty: Easy/moderate
  • Distance: 7.6 miles
  • Duration: 3-4 hours
  • Elevation: 1,000 feet
  • Hike type: Out and back
  • Wheelchair accessible: Yes (the section between Grandview Point and Lookout Point is accessible)
  • Trailhead: Inspiration Point

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is an absolute must. Although you can drive for several viewpoints, this trail offers special views and lets you get very close to the thundering waterfalls. Starting at Inspiration Point, you’ll reach a short trail passing through the picturesque Cascade Creek just above Crystal Falls that takes you to the brink of the Upper Falls where you can see the river 109 feet down.

Another slightly longer climb takes you to the brink of the Lower Falls where the water drops 308 feet (more than twice the size of Niagara Falls), and standing this close is pretty impressive. You will hear and feel the roar of this mighty force of water. Oh, and be prepared to be sprayed with mist!

  1. Avalanche Peak
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 4.6 miles
  • Duration: 3-5 hours
  • Elevation: 2,100 feet
  • Hike type: Out and back
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Trailhead: Avalanche Peak Trailhead

Avalanche Peak offers some of the best seats in the house with unbeatable 360 ​​views of the Rocky Mountains, Lamar Valley, Yellowstone Lake, and some of the highest alpine peaks in the area. But these views don’t come cheap as you’ll only climb over 2,000 feet in elevation for just over two miles. The entire trail is very steep, with quite a bit of vertical footing.

It’s a burner on the feet, but we promise your efforts will be totally worth it once you reach the summit. Because it is one of the more difficult trails in the park, it is much quieter than other day hikes and you can enjoy the scenery in solitude. The best time to do this hike is between June and October, but it can close early depending on bear activity (they come here in early fall for pine nuts).

  1. Fairy Falls Trail
  • Difficulty: Easy/moderate
  • Distance: 6.5 miles
  • Duration: 3-5 hours
  • Elevation: 105 feet
  • Hike type: Out and back
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Trailhead: Grand Loop Road (located between Midway Geyser Basin and Old Faithful)

If you’re excited to see Yellowstone’s abundant geothermal features, this is the hike for you. The Fairy Falls Trail begins about a mile south of Midway Geyser Basin. You’ll cross the Firehole River before climbing to an overlook, which offers amazing towering views of the colorful Grand Prismatic Spring and the steaming Excelsior Geyser.

You’ll walk through a few small hot springs and then a gorgeous lodgepole pine forest before arriving at Fairy Falls: Yellowstone’s largest front-country waterfall that falls from a 200-foot cliff. It is a mystical trail that showcases some of the most unique natural wonders of the park. The best times to do this trail are in spring and summer, but it can be a wonderful skiing trail in the winter.

  1. Electric Peak
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 20.6 miles
  • Duration: 1-3 days
  • Elevation: 3,343 feet
  • Hike type: Out and back
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Trailhead: Glen Creek Trailhead

Fancy climbing the most prominent peak in North Yellowstone? At 11,000 feet, Electric Peak is the highest mountain in the Gallatin Range (of the Rocky Mountains). It’s a challenging trail with exposed rock ledges and Class 3 to reach the summit, but you’ll be rewarded with incredible views each way.

It’s a remarkable day hike if the weather is on your side and you have a high fitness level, but you can spread the trip over two days with an overnight stay at one of two backcountry campsites that are halfway through are located. If summit scrambling isn’t your thing, you can hike most of the trail and quit it when you reach the Class 3 section. The best time to do this trial is between June and September when the weather conditions are good.

  1. Lamar Valley River Trail
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 8.6 miles
  • Duration: 3-5 hours
  • Elevation: 780 feet
  • Hike type: Out and back
  • Wheelchair accessible: No (note: several pullouts have enough room to move around in a wheelchair and there is an accessible restroom at the Lamar River stock trailhead)
  • Trailhead: Lamar River

Nestled in the heart of the Lamar Valley, this family-friendly hike is a Yellowstone classic. This is one of your best opportunities to see the diverse wildlife that lives in the park (the Lamar Valley is also known as the “American Serengeti”). Keep your eyes peeled for bison, elk, deer, antelope, bighorn sheep, and whole herds of pronghorn, which may be grazing, mingling, or simply doing their jobs.

It is one of the best places in the world to track wolves. It’s one of Yellowstone’s prettiest trails, with rolling hills, colorful wildflowers, sagebrush meadows, and plenty of picnic seating along the Lamar River. If you’re looking for a longer and slightly more strenuous hike, you can continue on to Cache Creek. The 8 best hikes in Yellowstone National Park.

  1. Mammoth Terraces Trail
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 2.8 miles
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Elevation: 300 feet
  • Hike type: Loop
  • Wheelchair accessible: Yes (Upper Mammoth Terrance and some Lower Terrace Boardwalks)
  • Trailhead: Mammoth Terraces parking area

Mammoth Hot Springs can easily make you think you’re walking on the moon, or at least inside a cave deep underground. These two thermal travertine terraces offer 50 shallow orange and yellow pools (the bright colors are thanks to algae and bacteria that thrive in the warm water), gas vents that bubble to the surface, and some pretty pungent odors.

There is a very ethereal atmosphere all along the way and the visual magnificence is definitely worth tickling your nose at. If you’re feeling up to it, you can continue on to the Boiling River, where you can bathe in a section of the river where hot spring water mixes with cold river water (this is Yellowstone One of the only safe swimming spots in the U.S.) ) Bliss.

  1. Lone Star Geyser Trail
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 4.8 miles
  • Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Elevation: 121 feet
  • Hike type: Out and back
  • Wheelchair accessible: Yes
  • Trailhead: 3.5 miles south of Old Faithful Overpass

Lone Star is one of Yellowstone’s largest cone geysers and was given this name because of its isolated location. Every three hours, the Lone Star erupts and spews water about 45 feet into the air for five minutes. This is followed by a loud hissing sound as more water and steam escape for the next 20 minutes.

You’ll probably see at least some little steaming action happening no matter what time you visit, but it’s worth planning your hike around a blast (it can get a little busy this time around but it’s equivalent There are fewer spectators than Old Faithful) You can bring a picnic to keep you entertained while you wait.

The paved trail takes you through a serene stretch of the Firehole River and a pine forest with beautiful meadow views. If you don’t like walking, or you are pushed for time, you can cycle there and jump when you reach the barrier near the geyser. The 8 best hikes in Yellowstone National Park

Safety tips for hiking in Yellowstone National Park

Hiking is one of the best ways to see Yellowstone, but it’s important to do it safely. The park is huge and the weather can change quickly. Below are some suggestions:

  • Let someone know where you’re going and what time you expect to return
  • Be aware of wildlife (especially bears) and know how to travel safely in bear country
  • Watch wildlife from a distance and never approach animals
  • Stay on the trail paths and boardwalks
  • Check the daily weather forecast and be aware of lightening above the treeline
  • Wear appropriate clothing and pack a few warm layers in your daysack in case the temperature drops
  • Stay hydrated and bring plenty of water and high energy snacks
  • Do not enter the hot springs or geothermal features
  • Do not go beyond the marked zones near the hot springs

Whether you want to see the Geyser Basin up close or challenge yourself to reach the summit of Yellowstone’s highest peaks, we promise that every trail will be an adventure. The 8 best hikes in Yellowstone National Park

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