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    Best hikes in Yellowstone

    Hikes in Yellowstone National Park

    Region in Wyoming, United States

    The oldest national park in the United States, Yellowstone is one of the country’s premier natural attractions. Covering 2.2 million acres of wild, jaw-dropping wilderness, this park is a truly remarkable place, known as much for its dramatic mountains as for its steaming hot springs. Yellowstone is a feast for the senses: expect sights, smells and sounds that you simply won’t find anywhere else.

    Yellowstone National Park is perhaps best known as a hub of volcanic activity – over 60% of the world’s geysers can be found within its borders. These incredible hot springs periodically erupt in a cloud of sulfurous steam, shooting boiling water high up into the sky. Surrounded by vibrant acidic pools that dazzle with their rainbow colors, Yellowstone’s springs and geysers are like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

    However, there’s more to this stunning natural park than Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring. Keen hikers will love exploring the depths of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, or ascending to the heights of Avalanche Peak. Wherever you go, you can expect lush forest, wildflower-studded trails, expansive meadows, rushing creeks and tumbling waterfalls. What’s more, you’ll have the chance to spot some of the rich wildlife that calls Yellowstone home, from bears to elk, moose, bison and wolves.

    What are you waiting for? Put hiking in Yellowstone National Park on your bucket list today, and start planning your trip with our handy guide. Happy hiking!

    What’s new if you’re Visiting Yellowstone for hiking in 2024

    In 2024, Yellowstone National Park is undertaking significant infrastructure upgrades, particularly focusing on road improvements. Notable projects include the replacement of the Lewis River Bridge and Yellowstone River Bridge, which are expected to cause some traffic delays and may affect access to certain trails and park areas. The Lewis River Bridge project, located north of the South Entrance, includes not only the bridge replacement but also enhancements to parking and viewing areas. This project is set to be completed in the fall of 2024. The Yellowstone River Bridge project, near Tower Junction, involves replacing an older bridge to ensure year-round access to northeast entrances. This project is expected to continue until the fall of 2026 and includes new pullouts and improved picnic areas​ (National Parks)​.

    Visitors planning trips to Yellowstone during this period should anticipate possible delays and check the latest travel advisories and road conditions before visiting.

    The 10 Greatest Hikes in Yellowstone National Park

    Yellowstone National Park covers a vast area of wilderness and offers some of the most varied hiking in this corner of the United States. There’s really something for everyone here, whether you’re travelling with kids or looking for an adventure out in the wild. Indeed, one of the reasons Yellowstone is so popular with hikers is due to its incredibly diverse scenery. You’ll find towering peaks and dramatic ridges, plunging gorges, cascading waterfalls and wildflower meadows, not to mention the steaming geysers and hot springs. Amid this spectacular scenery, there are trails to suit every age and fitness level, from flat walks along the valley bottom, to steep climbs on to dazzling rocky ridges. Whatever you’re looking for, Yellowstone has it all!

    • Norris Geyser Hike: This flat, easy hike along the Norris Geyser Trail is one of the best easy hikes in Yellowstone National Park, and the ideal introduction to its unusual natural attractions: the geysers. As you pass through a stark, otherworldly landscape you’ll see steam rising from the ground and smell the sulfur in the air. This is a great option if you’re looking for an easy hike, as the trail can be made shorter depending on your available time and energy levels.
    • Mystic Falls Hike: The enigmatically named Mystic Falls make the perfect destination for a family hike in Yellowstone National Park! The trail is calm, secluded and well maintained, passing intermittently between lush forest and wildflower-studded meadows. At the culmination of the trail, the falls certainly don’t disappoint, with pretty cascades and hidden geysers.
    • Sky Rim Hike: The Sky Rim trail is the classic Yellowstone hike: a long loop along a rolling ridge, with simply jaw-dropping views over the park. The rewards come early on this long hike, and just get better and better as the day wears on, with majestic mountain views, wildflower meadows, and impossibly craggy peaks. Without doubt, this is one of the best day hikes in Yellowstone National Park.
    • Avalanche Peak Hike: This trail up to Avalanche Peak is one of the best challenging hikes in Yellowstone National Park, with glorious views over alpine valleys and otherworldly peaks. You’ll need plenty of energy, as the climb is steep, but once you crest the rocky ridge you’ll have spectacular views over Hoyt Peak, Grizzly Peak, Sylvan Lake and Top Notch Peak, not to mention the vast expanse of Yellowstone Lake.
    • South Rim Hike: Another Yellowstone classic, this relatively short and easy trail is the best way to see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, with some wonderful views of the Lower Yellowstone Falls from the viewpoint at the beginning and end of Uncle Tom’s Trail. It’s also possible to combine this hike with the route from Artist Point to Point Sublime for a wonderful day out.
    • Upper Geyser Basin Hike: A trip to see the iconic geysers is a must on any Yellowstone itinerary, and this hike is an excellent way to experience them. Beginning at Old Faithful, the trail passes along boardwalks that snake through a series of geysers and inkpots. This is an easy, accessible trail in the midst of some of Yellowstone’s classic scenery.
    • Brink of the Lower Falls Hike: With a steep descent down to the bottom of the Yellowstone Canyon, this hike is a wonderful way to experience the immense, cascading waterfall that gushes down through the gorge. The climb back to the top is hard work, but the incredible view of the canyon and Yellowstone Falls makes it all worthwhile!
    • Mount Washburn Hike: This moderate trail climbs gently up to the summit of Mount Washburn, offering remarkable views all the way to the top. You’ll have a vista that takes in wildflower meadows, dense forest, and gaping canyons, in addition to the surrounding craggy peaks. Watch out for the infamous winds at the top – you may need to hold on to your hat!
    • Artist Point to Point Sublime Hike: This is a spectacular hike that will take you along the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, with incredible views all along the trail. The route is easy to follow and not too strenuous as it meanders up and down over the rugged scenery, but take care with children as there is no fence between the path and the plunging cliffs. The dazzling colors of the canyon provide a feast for the eyes all the way along the route, making this one of the best hikes in Yellowstone National Park.
    • Bunsen Peak Hike: The summit of Bunsen Peak offers yet another glorious perspective on the dramatic scenery of Yellowstone National Park. You’ll have a stunning view of the Golden Gate Canyon, Electric Peak, the Gallatin Range, and the Swan Lake Flats just below. This is a moderate trail that makes for a good training hike. The elevation gain is consistent but not too steep, and the views are immensely satisfying!

    When Is The Best Time To Hike In Yellowstone National Park?

    The best time to hike in Yellowstone National Park is during late summer and early autumn, when the trails will be quieter and still clear of snow. The hiking season begins as early as April, although many of the higher elevation trails will be covered in snow until early July, and some of the campgrounds will be closed until early May. However, a spring visit can be a wonderful time to see the park emerge from winter, and is a good time to catch a glimpse of bison and black bears.

    In summer, the weather is at its best, with warm, sunny days and low levels of precipitation. However, in July you’ll be competing for space at the campgrounds and out on the trails, with an average of 1 million visitors descending on the park in one month alone. As a result, we’d recommend visiting in early fall, when the weather is still warm, the trails are clear, and the autumn colors make the scenery simply stunning. It is possible to visit Yellowstone during winter, and this can also be a remarkable experience. The park is cold and covered in snow, meaning that you’ll be restricted to the lower valleys. However, the sight of the steaming Mammoth Hot Springs, surrounded by crisp snow and glittering ice, is reason enough to brave the cold weather!

    Other Outdoor Activities In Yellowstone National Park

    Although hiking is the most popular thing to do, there are lots of other outdoor activities in Yellowstone National Park! Yellowstone is a wonderful place for backpacking adventures, with lots of multi-day trails and well-equipped campgrounds across the park. It’s also possible to have plenty of adventures on two wheels, with lots of biking trails, or to get out on the water with canoeing, rafting and paddle boarding. You’ll also have the chance to go wildlife watching, horseback riding, and take informative tours of the geysers and hot springs that are dotted around the park. You can also opt out for a guided multi-day tour through Yellowstone to hit all the must-see spots.

    How To Plan A Trip To Yellowstone National Park

    Yellowstone is a bucket list adventure for lovers of the great outdoors, and if this has encouraged you to start planning your trip, we’ve got all the information you’ll need! Make sure to check out our complete guides to planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park, in addition to a list of the top 10 hikes to put on your bucket list.

    Frequently-Asked-Questions About Yellowstone National Park

    Is hiking in Yellowstone dangerous?
    Yellowstone is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the United States, and on the whole, it is considered a very safe place to hike. However, accidents do happen on the trail, and in Yellowstone, it’s important to take particular care around the geysers and hot springs. The vast majority of injuries and deaths that have occurred in Yellowstone have been as a result of burns sustained at hot springs, so make sure to follow advice and stick to the marked viewing areas.

    Do I need bear spray in Yellowstone National Park?
    Yellowstone National Park is the only place south of Canada that is home to both grizzly bears and black bears, which means that you’ll need to take sufficient precautions when hiking. It’s recommended to carry bear spray, to hike in groups and make plenty of noise on the trail, and to store food securely. Encounters between bears and humans are relatively rare, with an average of only one bear attack per year in the park.

    How many miles of hiking are in Yellowstone National Park?
    There are more than 900 miles of hiking trails in Yellowstone National Park, spread over the park’s 2.2 million acres of wild land.

    How much does it cost to go to Yellowstone National Park?
    A 7-day pass to Yellowstone National Park costs $35 per vehicle, or $80 for an annual pass.

    View Hikes in Yellowstone National Park on Map

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    Best Hikes in Yellowstone National Park

    Open details for Avalanche Peak

    Avalanche Peak

    Moderate
    8.1 km
    700 m
    3.5-4.5h

    The trail up to Avalanche Peak is one of the highlights of walking in Yellowstone National Park. The hike up is steep, but it all becomes worth it at the top, where plentiful mountain views and gorgeous alpine valleys fill the horizon.

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    9.7
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Open details for Sky Rim

    Sky Rim

    Very Hard
    31.2 km
    1,585 m
    10-14h

    Sky Rim Trail is the classic full-day hike in Yellowstone, and a must for fit hikers. This long trail will tire you out, however the views along are second to none. Expect dramatic peaks, vast valleys and all that’s in between on this hike.

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    9.7
    Technical Difficulty
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Advanced (Diamond)
    Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
    Open details for South Rim

    South Rim

    Easy
    4.5 km
    200 m
    1.5-2h

    The South Rim is our favorite way to view the incredible Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, providing a variety of stunning views back to the falls. Descending on Uncle Tom's Trail is a spectacular trip down near the Lower Falls. You simply must do this hike if in Yellowstone.

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    9.4
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Open details for Upper Geyser Basin

    Upper Geyser Basin

    Easy
    8.2 km
    190 m
    2-3h

    One of the classic hikes in Yellowstone National Park, you cannot miss the Upper Geyser Basin trail. Starting at Old Faithful, this trail will grant you wonderful views of a new geyser every few minutes!

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    9.6
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Open details for Brink of the Lower Falls

    Brink of the Lower Falls

    Easy
    1.9 km
    100 m
    0.5-1h

    The Lower Brink of Yellowstone Falls trail is a steep climb down to the viewpoint of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The hike is a lot easier than the way back up, however, the massive, cascading waterfalls are simply amazing. Do not forget your camera for this one!

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    9.6
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Open details for Artist Point to Point Sublime

    Artist Point to Point Sublime

    Easy
    4.8 km
    150 m
    1.5-2h

    This is a spectacular hike in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Start at Artist Point – the best viewpoint in all of the national park. Continue along a dirt trail to Point Sublime, a wonderful path with the potential to link up to other routes as well.

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    9.6
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Open details for Bunsen Peak

    Bunsen Peak

    Moderate
    7.1 km
    475 m
    2.5-3.5h

    Rising above the grassy planes and the herds of buffalo, the hike up Bunsen Peak will give you a new perspective on where you have been travelling. The short climb on a well-maintained trail is well worth the plentiful views of Yellowstone!

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    9.6
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Open details for Norris Geyser

    Norris Geyser

    Very Easy
    4.0 km
    100 m
    1-1.5h

    The Norris Geyser is a flat trail in Yellowstone that will guide you through several roaring geysers and colorful inkpots. Though it is busy, this hike is far superior to the Artist Point pots trail, as escaping the crowds takes a matter of minutes.

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    9.2
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Open details for Mount Washburn

    Mount Washburn

    Moderate
    11.4 km
    475 m
    3.5-4.5h

    A well-used trail climbs gently up to the summit of Mt. Washburn, where you will find a small radio station. The views are gorgeous – look down into the brink of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone on this hike and the numerous rolling, grassy hills that surround it.

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    8.0
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Open details for Mystic Falls

    Mystic Falls

    Easy
    5.7 km
    215 m
    1.5-2h

    The Mystic Falls hike in Yellowstone boasts quaint falls with a relatively easy approach, yet yield a beautiful, natural, secluded atmosphere. The cascading falls provide the perfect gurgling background for self-reflection and conversation.

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    9.3
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.

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