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Hiking in Yellowstone

Updated: Jun 4

Yellowstone National Park waterfall

Unspoiled nature, a varied landscape, and abundant wildlife make Yellowstone National Park a hiker's dream. With over 1,000 miles of trails weaving through its vast wilderness, the park invites adventurers of all levels to explore its captivating wonders. This guide to hiking in Yellowstone will highlight some of the best trails and provide tips to ensure an unforgettable and safe experience. We can't recommend this full-day tour enough to hit the lower loop favorites!


The Best Trails in Yellowstone

1. Uncle Tom’s Trail

This short but steep trail provides a stunning close-up view of the Lower Falls. The path includes a descent of over 300 steps, making it quite strenuous on the return trip. However, the spectacular views of the falls and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone make the effort worth it.

2. Mount Washburn

One of the most popular hikes in the park, the Mount Washburn trail offers panoramic views of Yellowstone's diverse landscapes. Starting from the Dunraven Pass trailhead, the 6.2-mile round trip is a moderately challenging hike leading to a fire lookout station. On clear days, you may even spot bison or bears grazing in the meadows below.

3. Fairy Falls

The Fairy Falls trail offers an excellent mix of geological wonders and a tranquil waterfall. This relatively flat 5.4-mile round trip passes by the Grand Prismatic Spring, the park's largest hot spring, which is particularly photogenic from above. The trail's namesake, Fairy Falls, is a beautiful 200-foot waterfall that cascades into a picturesque pool.

4. Lone Star Geyser

This easy 4.8-mile round-trip trail follows an old service road along the Firehole River to the Lone Star Geyser. This predictable geyser erupts approximately every three hours, shooting water up to 45 feet high, providing a more intimate (and less crowded) experience than Old Faithful.

5. Avalanche Peak

For experienced hikers, the Avalanche Peak trail is a must. This challenging 4.2-mile round-trip hike involves steep climbs but rewards hikers with one of the most impressive panoramic views in Yellowstone. Be prepared for possible snow encounters even in the summer.

Hiking Tips for Yellowstone

Safety is paramount when hiking in Yellowstone. Here are some key tips:

Stay on the trail: Venturing off the designated paths can damage delicate ecosystems and potentially expose you to dangers like thermal areas and wildlife encounters.

Prepare for the weather: Weather in Yellowstone can change rapidly, so dress in layers and always carry rain gear.

Carry bear spray: Both grizzly and black bears inhabit Yellowstone. Learn about bear safety, make noise while hiking to avoid surprising a bear, and always carry and know how to use bear spray.

Stay hydrated and pack snacks: The altitude and physical exertion can lead to dehydration. Carry plenty of water and energy-rich snacks.

Leave No Trace: Preserve the park's beauty for future generations by packing out all trash and respecting wildlife and plants.

Yellowstone's vast wilderness and geothermal wonders create a unique hiking environment. Whether you're an experienced hiker or a casual enthusiast, you'll find a trail that not only matches your skill level but also introduces you to the stunning natural beauty that makes Yellowstone one of the world's most popular national parks.

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