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Visiting Yellowstone National Park with kids can be a fun family adventure, but also requires some planning. On our trip to Yellowstone, our children ranged from one year old through elementary age. We spent three full days in the park, but we could have easily stayed longer. We had a lot of fun, but there were a lot of things we would do differently next time around. I’m going to share as many of these tips with you as possible.
Plan for Lots of Car Time
It’s a big park! Once in the park, the different areas are still a good distance away from each other. I liked the scenic drives, but the kids were getting a bit stir crazy by the end of the trip. Make sure to pack lots to do in the car. This is especially true if you’re staying outside of the park and have to make the drive in every day. Make sure to check out our post on how to have a great camping road trip!
Junior Ranger Program
We participate in the junior ranger program at almost every national park we visit. The kids can learn about the park using a guided activity booklet. They receive a badge once they finish and get sworn in as an official Junior Ranger. In Yellowstone, they charge a small fee to get a booklet. You can turn in at any of the many visitor areas around the park.
Helpful Free Yellowstone National Park Apps
Want to know when to expect Geyser Eruptions? Yes, there’s an app for that! And, it’s free! The app is currently available on the iTunes store.
You can also find apps that have general park info. There’s one by Chimani that has gps enabled maps and a calendar of ranger activities. Get a free park guide with maps from Mobile Reference.
Be Ready to Stay on the Path!
Many of the busier areas require you to stay on the path or boardwalk. When we went to the Grand Prismatic Springs, there were areas where a small child could have easily hopped off the path a gotten into serious trouble. I’d suggest using a backpack carrier if your child tends to wander. Even my older kids were starting to feel a little constrained by staying on the path by the end of the trip.
Be ready for Crowds!
This park is so busy during the summer. There were many large tour buses of foreign visitors in the park during our visit. The parking in some areas became too crowded at peak times.
Be ready for Mosquitoes!
Our campground was full of mosquitoes! They were literally swarming around as you stepped outside. We wore long sleeve shirts and pants most of our visit because of this. Be prepared with insect repellent as well as something to stop the itch if you get bit!
Top Kid Friendly Area in Yellowstone
1. Old Faithful
This dependable geyser is easy to access and goes off on schedule. You can plan your day around its eruption time. There are several other geysers in the same geyser basin that also erupt frequently. We saw a couple by chance while waiting on Old Faithful.
2. Grand Prismatic
This is one of those iconic spots that you want to see. This is a good choice for older children who are able to stay on the boardwalk. As I mentioned earlier,a carrier is a great idea for young children. The views are worth it!
3. Artist Paint Pots
We really enjoyed this little hike. It was not as crowded as other areas and had some interesting sights including vents and pools. It’s about half a mile and I would allow at least an hour to hike it with young children.
4. Mammoth Hot Springs
In the far northwest corner of the park, the mammoth hot springs are a very unique area. A short hike is required to get a close view. The formations are very different from other areas of the park. There are some dining and lodging options near the Mammoth Hot Springs area if you want to make a separate day trip out of it.
4. Grand Canyon on Yellowstone
It’s not as impressive as the real thing, but it does have some great views. There are several access points to hike all or part of the shaded trail. You’ll be treated with a waterfall at the end!
Our Other National Park Trips