11 Amazing Yellowstone National Park Hikes You Need To Do At Least Once

Yellowstone is the OG National Park. It’s the land that inspired a President to say, “Wait, we need to make sure this doesn’t get messed up”… creating a lovely chain reaction of preserving the country’s most beautiful and unique ecosystems and landscapes.

It’s no wonder then that Yellowstone is perennially one of the most visited parks in the country. It’s a land full of other worldly hot springs, epic waterfalls, and captivating wildlife.

During our month spent just north of the park in Montana, we spent a disproportionate amount of time exploring this park.

A lot of that time was spent on the hiking trails, clutching our bear spray in one hand and a camera in the other.

It’s one of the most exciting parks I’ve spent time in because the potential to see something you never have before is greater than ever.

If you’re heading to Yellowstone anytime soon, here are 11 great Yellowstone hikes you need to add to your itinerary.

North Rim Trail

Length: 6.4 mi | Elevation Gain: 675 ft. | Difficulty: Moderate

Did you know Yellowstone has its very own Grand Canyon? Indeed, it does.

I would say that no trip to Yellowstone is complete without visiting it.

You can certainly drive up and hop out of the car to get the view of it quickly, but I prefer the scenic route. Taking the North Rim trail leads you up alongside the mighty Yellowstone via the North Rim of the canyon.

You’ll have spectacular views throughout the hike, including several different vantage point of the epic Upper and Lower Yellowstone River Falls.

This trail is easy to follow and well-maintained. You’ll also have a lot of coverage throughout, escaping that brutal sun if you’re visiting in summer.

You can start by parking in the lot at the Wapiti Lake Trailhead, cross the bridge on south rim drive, and follow the river upstream.

You’ll come across multiple overlooks such as the brink of the upper falls and crystal falls, culminating at the spectacular Inspiration Point. This trail is definitely a must-do hike in Yellowstone, so be sure to add it to your list.

More info!

view from north rim

Image by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Point Sublime Trail

Length: 2.7 mi | Elevation Gain: 341 ft. | Difficulty: Moderate

While the views of the North Rim are incredible, so are the views from the South Rim. And for the most part, you’ll be battling less crowds on the South Rim.

If that sounds good to you, then Point Sublime is surely one of the must-do hikes in Yellowstone. This trail starts at the alarmingly picturesque Artist Point. Which I have to assume is named that way because people feel an overwhelming urge to paint what they’re seeing.

I know I just said the South often is less crowded than the North Rim, but you’ll still face the crowds at Artist Point and parking can prove difficult if you wait too long to head out. 

However, once you start out on the trail the crowd will start to dissipate. Leaving you with serenity as you gaze out into the canyon and watch the river roar.

After a little over a mile, you’ll hit Point Sublime. Yet another overlook with the perfect name. The view is of the same river, waterfall, and canyon, but trust me even the slightest change in perspective opens up a new level of appreciation for this place.

More info!

Image by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook Trail

Length: 1.5 mi | Elevation Gain: 200 ft. | Difficulty: Easy

If you’ve researched Yellowstone National Park, you’ve probably seen a lot of images of those mesmerizing hot springs that have helped make the park so famous.

If you’re visiting Yellowstone, it’s imperative to take in their beauty, and the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook Trail is a great way to do that.

This trail is a super easy to do and well-worth the time. It’s a gentle climb throughout on a well-maintained gravel path, easy to do for people of all ages.

The toughest challenge you’ll face here is the parking. There is a parking lot near by, but that thing fills up rather quickly.

You’ll have to battle crowds often when visiting Yellowstone, I always recommend getting up as early as you can or visit during the off-season if possible. The other challenge you’ll face is limiting the number of photos you’re going to want to take.

More info here!

Prismatic Springs

Image by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Fairy Falls Trail

Length: 4.8 mi | Elevation Gain: 170 ft. | Difficulty: Easy

Not sick of waterfalls? Well luckily, there are several amazing waterfalls in Yellowstone.

One of the most popular is called Fairy Falls. Possibly because it looks like something out of a fairy tale.

This jaunt is definitely one of the must-do hikes in Yellowstone and a great family hike as well because it’s pretty flat and easy. You can find parking right off the Grand Loop Road, cross a bridge over Firehole River via a service road, and after a mile you’ll find Fairy Falls trail on the left. 

A cool part about this trail is that it connects to the Grand Prismatic Overlook trail, so you could easily bang out two really cool park features at once!

This is a popular hike, so if you want some solitude you’ll have to go early in morning. It’s also exposed throughout, so make sure to protect yourself against the sun and bring plenty of water.

Read more here.

Fairy Falls

Image by Sean Musil on UnSplash

Dunraven Pass to Mount Washburn Trail

Length: 6.8 mi | Elevation Gain: 1,394 ft. | Difficulty: Moderate

This is our toughest Yellowstone hike on the list so far, with an elevation climb of 1,394 feet and an out & back distance of just under 7 miles… but hey, feel the burn. No pain, no gain.

This hike ascends Mount Washburn and awards you spectacular views of the valley. When you reach the top, which is above 10,000 feet, there’s a neat fire lookout tower that has interpretive exhibits and restrooms if ya gotta go. From here, you can look out and see Yellowstone Lake and the Absaroka Mountain range.

This hike is best during the summer months, as it can see snow late into the spring and even early in the summer.

Park officials also discourage hikers from taking this trail during early fall, September and October. That’s because this trail sees a high population of grizzly bears trying to stock up for their winter hibernation.

Because of its high population of bears, it’s recommended to carry bear spray when visiting Yellowstone. It’s highly effective in warding off bears.

Find more information here!

Yellowstone Bear

Image by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Lone Star Geyser Trail

Length: 5.3 mi | Elevation Gain: 127 ft. | Difficulty: Easy

Most of us have heard of Old Faithful, but do you know there are other, less crowded geysers to check out in Yellowstone? One such geyser is called Lone Star Geyser. It erupts up to forty-five feet from a twelve foot cone about every three hours. The hike to the geyser is flat and partially paved, making it a very easy and pleasant trek. 

The best part about visiting this geyser is that it is far less visited than some of the other attractions in the park. It’s a little off the beaten path and you’ll often get to see the eruption without having to get on you tippy toes to see over someone’s head.

The trail is located off of Grand Loop road near the Kepler Cascades and has a parking lot at the trailhead. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a predictor of eruption times like you can with the other geysers, but I’d just be as patient as you can. Seeing the geyser go off is well-worth the wait and makes this hike one of the best hikes in Yellowstone.

More info here.

Lamar Valley Trail

Length: 7.1 mi | Elevation Gain: 698 ft. | Difficulty: Moderate

One of our favorite areas of the park is where we saw one of the famous Yellowstone wolf packs dart across a giant field, majestic as could be.

The Lamar Valley is considered one of the best areas to view wildlife in the park, and definitely one of our top places to visit in Yellowstone.

It’s a great place to park the car in one of the dozens of pullouts, pop open the trunk, eat some snacks and just watch life in the park go by. Alternatively, it’s also a great place to take a hike. 

Along the Lamar Valley trail it’s not uncommon to come across elk, pronghorn, coyotes, even bears and badgers! That’s why you should be prepared. Always carry bear spray when hiking in Yellowstone!

Also remember not to approach wildlife, give them their space.

I know park rangers beat this into the heads of Yellowstone visitors, but it’s for good reason. You don’t want to be one of those dummies that go viral on the internet for harassing a bison.

More info here!

Lamar Valley

Image by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Fawn Pass Trail

Length: 20.3 mi | Elevation Gain: 2,506 ft. | Difficulty: Hard

Okay, I know 20 miles is excessive and we definitely didn’t do that. I’m just being literal regarding the entirety of the trail, but most people will just walk down as far as they feel and head back.

When my wife and I ventured on this trail, we added four legs each. I’m talking about horseback riding. I know we’re talking about hiking, but it kind of counts right?

I can highly recommend finding a horseback riding company and taking a horse deep into the country. We went through Horsetrack Outfitters in Pray, Montana and would absolutely go through them again.

They took us deep down the Fawn Pass trail away from the crowds and to an overlook that gives you incredible sweeping views of golden rolling hills.

While horseback riding is cool and makes you feel like a cowboy, you can definitely hike this trail too. In fact we came across a hiker on the trail who warned us of a grizzly sighting up the road from us. Exciting stuff, but a reminder to keep that bear spray on you! This is a different, less traveled trail which makes it an awesome hike to do in Yellowstone.

More info here!

Fawn Pass

Image by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Upper Geyser Basin and Observation Point Loop

Length: 4.9 mi | Elevation Gain: 357 ft. | Difficulty: Moderate

If you want to see Old Faithful, but don’t like the crowds, here’s the Yellowstone trail for you.

With Observation Point, one of the first stops along this trail, you’ll get an awesome perspective of Old Faithful from a distance, even more awesome if you get to see it erupt !

However, there are many other geysers sprinkled throughout Yellowstone that warrant viewing. Old Faithful isn’t the largest or most frequent geyser in the park, it’s just the most accessible and predictable. Which explains the insane crowds.

If you’re willing to work for it, you can admire geysers with more solitude by hiking this trail.

Geysers that you’ll get to see include Morning Glory Pool, Riverside Geyser, and Castle Geyser.

As with most hikes in Yellowstone, it behooves you to get an early start. With the trail beginning at the Old Faithful viewing platform, parking can get sparse very quickly.

Another reason is that it can get very hot here in that mid-day summer sun, so bring a ton of water. This trail is without a doubt one of the most fascinating hikes in Yellowstone, so it’s well worth the effort.

More info here!

Upper Geyser Basin

Image by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Storm Point Trail

Length: 2.5 mi | Elevation Gain: 98 ft. | Difficulty: Easy

Another must-visit area in the park is Yellowstone Lake.

Luckily, if you’re looking for a relatively easy Yellowstone hike, Storm Point Trail will take you right up to the lake shore. This trail is easy and accessible, with minimal elevation gain.

Starting just past the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center, you’ll pass by Indian Pond on your way to the shore. Storm Point gives you an incredible view of this massive lake, the largest high elevation lake in North America.

All that said, it’s not recommended to swim in Yellowstone Lake, unfortunately. The waters are dangerously cold here even throughout August. There are designated swimming areas that you can use as an alternative. The most popular is the Boiling River, which is much more pleasant than the name suggests.

While it might be a bummer that you shouldn’t swim in the lake, it’s still incredible to look at, with it’s gorgeous snow-capped back drop. That’s what makes Storm Point Trail a great hike to do in Yellowstone.

Find more info here!

Yellowstone Lake

Image by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Mammoth Terraces and Upper Terrace Loop

Length: 3.6 mi | Elevation Gain: 538 ft. | Difficulty: Easy

Another example of Yellowstone’s geological wonder, is just inside the park’s northern entrance at the Mammoth Terraces. I imagine someone who didn’t know what they were about to see would think there’s something terrible happening here. The ground looks like it’s melting like wax, forming terraces with little pools of steaming water. The terraces produce some amazing colors and viewing them from the Upper Terrace Loop is quite spectacular.

As one of the first attractions you see when entering the park from the north, the terraces are one of the most popular areas of the park.

I think I’ve said this a million times by now, but the best way to combat the crowds is by getting there before them. To do that, set your alarm earlier than you think.

The trail here is boardwalk for almost the whole way, making it very accessible and easy to navigate. This should go without saying, but the internet has taught us just how surprising our human peers can be. Do not go off trail and get too close to the springs! People have died falling into the springs at Yellowstone, so they’re blocked off by railings for a reason!

The Mammoth Terraces and Upper Terrace Loop is an absolute must for people searching for the best hikes in Yellowstone.

More info here.

Mammoth Springs

Image by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Did we miss any of your favorite hikes in Yellowstone National Park?

Let us know in the comments so we can add more recommendations to our list!

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