21 Best Trails in Yellowstone

One of the most popular hiking destinations in the US is Yellowstone National Park, which spans over two million acres.

This natural area features ancient calderas and active volcanoes. It also boasts of the world’s most diverse collection of hydrothermal features.

Hiking is an excellent way to experience the beauty of this natural area. This is because it offers various hiking trails that can be used to explore different parts of the park.

 There are over 1,000 miles of trails in the area, and you can choose the ones that are most suitable for your needs.

This article covers the best hikes in Yellowstone National Park, together with their level of difficulty and distance.

Where Is Yellowstone?

In the western portion of the US, Yellowstone National Park is in Wyoming and extends to parts of Montana and Idaho.

It was established as a national park by the 42nd US Congress. President Ulysses S. Grant signed it on March 1, 1872.

It is regarded as the first national park in the United States. This natural area is known for its various geothermal features, such as the Old Faithful geyser.

It also has plenty of wildlife and subalpine forests, which are the most abundant in the region.

Although Native Americans have lived in the area for thousands of years, the area’s organized exploration was not carried out until the 1860s.

See Also: Fun Things to Do in West Yellowstone

Best Trails in Yellowstone

Due to the variety of regions and activities the park offers, visitors must make arrangements to spend several days experiencing what the park has to offer fully.

Many of the campsites in the area are near some of the park’s main hiking trails.

While hiking, visitors must keep their distance from the wildlife in the area to avoid disturbing them. Bison and other animals are known to frequent the park. These are the best trails in Yellowstone;

1. Fairy Falls

One of the most popular attractions in the area is the Fairy Falls. Two trailheads lead to this natural feature.

One is located south of Midway Geyser Basin, and the other is at the end of Fountain Flat Drive. However, it requires a longer hike.

It takes about 1.6 miles to reach the falls. Then, another 0.6 miles can be used to get to the various areas around the falls, such as the Spray and Imperial Geysers.

2. Storm Point Trail

One of the park’s most popular hiking trails is the Storm Point Trail near the Fishing Bridge. It offers a flat, family-friendly walk with a good chance of spotting wildlife.

Another popular trail is the lollipop-loop trail, which is around three miles long and can be used for quick trips.

The northern section of Yellowstone Lake is full of opportunities for both visitors and hikers. One of the most popular attractions in this area is the Fishing Bridge, which was constructed in the 1930s.

Although it’s not allowed to be used for fishing, this structure still provides a beautiful view of the lake and Yellowstone River.

3. DeLacy Creek Trail

One of the best trails in Yellowstone is the DeLacy Creek Trail, which follows the creek’s flow to the shores of Shoshone Lake.

This route is moderately graded and provides a good chance of seeing wildlife. The views from this area are also spectacular due to the varying perspectives of the lake.

If the weather is warm, it might be an excellent idea to take a quick dip in the lake before returning to the park’s central area.

Those who have permits can access the vast wilderness from the DeLacy Creek Trail.

4. Bechler River Trail

If you’re planning on visiting Yellowstone National Park for a couple of days, and intend to avoid the crowds, take advantage of the park’s backcountry.

This area is full of hiking trails ideal for both experienced and first-time visitors.

Bechler River Trail is an excellent backcountry route. It is a challenging trail and ideal for experienced hikers.

You can also complete it in just two days. This trail is located in the Cascade Corner and is accessible from the Bechler Ranger Station.

5. Lone Star Geyser

The Lone Star Geyser was named after the location of its hydrothermal feature, which is located in the Upper Geyser Basin.

This natural feature has been known to produce a massive spray of water that can be seen from a wide range of vantage points.

 The first people who saw the area around the Lone Star Geyser were blown away by its beauty.

The water from this geyser continues to impact the landscape around it approximately every three hours. It is one of the best trails in Yellowstone National Park for hiking.

6. Upper Geyser Basin Boardwalk

The Upper Geyser Basin is two square miles of the park’s natural beauty. It features over 30 geysers. One of which is the Morning Glory Pool.

The Upper Geyser Basin’s boardwalk trail can be used to explore this area. It leads to the Firehole River and Geyser Hill.

There’s a good chance of witnessing a spectacular hydrothermal show when multiple geysers, such as Old Faithful, erupt simultaneously.

The daily eruption times of Old Faithful are posted at the visitor center.

See Also: Best Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park

7. Boiling River Trail

The formation of the boiling river, caused by the flow of hydrothermal water into the Gardner River, is a unique natural feature that can be explored in the park.

This area is located north of Mammoth Hot Springs. It’s a short drive away from the Roosevelt Arch.

The best way to access the boiling river is through the Boiling River Trail, which is a half-mile.

Although it’s dangerous to swim in the hot spring, the water from the boiling river can provide a pleasantly warm and refreshing atmosphere.

8. West Thumb Geyser Basin Boardwalk

The West Thumb Geyser Basin is located on the western portion of Yellowstone Lake. This area has an abundance of hydrothermal features that can be explored.

Even in the parking lot of this region, one can hear gurgling geysers. This natural feature can be explored by walking through the half-mile boardwalk. It is one of the best trails in Yellowstone.

9. Slough Creek Trail

The popular trail known as the Slough Creek Trail is located northeast of the park. It can be used for an overnight adventure or an out-and-back day hike.

This area is a popular getaway for wildlife lovers, as well as for hikers and campers.

The trail’s various steps lead to a wide-open Yellowstone landscape. Those planning on staying near or along the trail can use the park’s backcountry permits.

During the night, camping and hiking in this area can provide one with amazing views of the night sky.

10. Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Although the park is known for its numerous hydrothermal features, it also provides visitors with some of the most impressive views.

One of the most popular areas of this national park is the Grand Canyon. With two sets of the rim and massive canyon walls, it’s hard to comprehend the scale of the natural beauty of this area.

The Northern Rim features the Lower Falls Trail, which can be used for exploring this natural feature.

This section of the trail offers a view of the falls as it plunges into the canyon below.

Another popular trail on this rim is the Upper Falls Trail, which can also be used to explore this natural feature.

The South Rim’s Uncle Tom’s Trail is another popular trail that provides visitors with a view of the Lower and Upper Falls.

This natural feature is known to draw large crowds during the summer season. The trail’s start point is a comfort station that also features bathrooms.

11. Norris Geyser Basin Boardwalk

One of Yellowstone National Park’s most active geyser areas is the Norris Geyser Basin.

This region is filled with hot springs, steam, and thermophiles. This natural feature can be explored by walking through a three-mile-long boardwalk.

The area is divided into two natural features: the Porcelain and the Back Basin. One of the largest active geysers in the region is the Steamboat Geyser. This natural feature can shoot water up to 300 feet into the air.

12. Midway Geyser Basin: Grand Prismatic Boardwalk

One of the best trails in Yellowstone is the Midway Geyser Basin. This natural feature is located five minutes from the Old Faithful Inn and the Upper Geyser Basin.

The Grand Prismatic Spring, which measures 360 feet in diameter, is a must-visit for anyone who enjoys exploring this national park.

The vibrant colors of the bacteria in the area’s spring can be seen through the steam bubbles created by this natural feature.

13. Mammoth Hot Springs: Upper and Lower Terrace Boardwalks

Situated on the far northern section of Yellowstone National Park is the Mammoth Hot Springs. This area is filled with various geological formations and vibrant colors.

Walking through the Main, Upper, and Lower Terrace can explore this natural feature.

14. Mount Washburn Trail

The route goes through a forest service road and gradually brings hikers to the summit of Mount Washburn.

It offers incredible views of the Grand Canyon, Hayden Valley, and Yellowstone. The trail has an elevation level of 1,400 feet.

The elevation of Mount Washburn provides some test of one’s legs. You can access it from the Dunraven Pass parking lot.

You can also explore the national park’s history through the forest fires that have occurred in the past. It is a challenging trial and not for the faint-hearted.

15. Brink of the Lower Falls Trail

The Lower Falls in Yellowstone National Park is the park’s highest waterfall, measuring 310 feet tall. It’s taller than Niagara Falls.

This trail has an elevation of 265 ft and a distance of 0.7 miles. It also has a difficulty level of moderate.

16. Uncle Tom’s Trail

One of the most spectacular views of the Lower Falls and the Upper Falls can be seen from Uncle Tom’s Trail.

This short and steep hike is a must for anyone wanting to take in these natural attractions. It is a moderately difficult trail with an elevation level of 383 ft and a distance of just 0.6 miles.

17. Trout Lake Loop

This area is home to various wildlife species such as grizzly bears, ospreys, and otters. During this hike, you might also see birds like the bald eagle.

It is an easy trail with an elevation of 200 ft and a distance of 1.2 miles.

18. Bunsen Peak Trail

One of the most popular summit hikes in the park is the Bunsen Peak Trail, which is about 2.2 miles. This moderate hike has an elevation of over 1,300 feet.

It’s shorter than the shorter hike to Mount Washburn. It is moderately complex and one of the best trails in Yellowstone.

19. Avalanche Peak Trail

This challenging hike is ideal for people who want to escape crowds. It has a steep and average 20% incline.

It is a difficult trail with an elevation level of more than 2,000 ft and a distance of 4.5 miles.

20. Point Sublime via Artist Point Trail

One of the best trails in Yellowstone is the Point Sublime trail. It starts at the South Rim of the Great Canyon.

This area is known for its photo-famous viewpoint. It is a moderately difficult trail with an elevation level of 341 ft and a distance of 2.7 miles.

21. Beaver Ponds Loop Trail

One of the best trails on the park’s western side is the Beaver Ponds Loop. This moderate hike near Mammoth Hot Springs offers numerous opportunities to see wildlife.

It has a distance of 6 miles and an elevation level of 674 ft.

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Best Time to Visit Yellowstone National Park

The best time to visit Yellowstone is during the spring, summer, and autumn. These months provide the best opportunity to see the local wildlife and enjoy fewer people.

During this period, bears emerge from their winter dormancy, elks start their rut, and migrating birds arrive.

How Much Does it Cost to Visit Yellowstone National Park?

The average cost for a single traveler in Yellowstone National Park is around $118 daily. This is based on the expenses that other visitors incur.

Some of the most common costs that past travelers have used include transportation and meals.