When people start planning a trip to Yellowstone, they're often focused on the big attractions that get the most publicity and attention. However, there's so much more to the Park than Old Faithful. As we head into spring break, I've chosen a few of my favorite places that are particularly in the Mammoth Hot Springs area or within reasonable driving distance.
I also feel strongly that way too many people only see Yellowstone from the window of their car or through the lens of their camera. It's worth it to step out and hike or bike or just walk and enjoy Yellowstone away from the road and bear jams.
Finally - just because the kids came along too doesn't mean you have to limit your adventures. I've compiled our list of activities that are kid-friendly too.
Beaver Ponds Trail - This 5 mile trail that starts and ends right in Mammoth Hot Springs is frequented by both trail runners and hikers. For locals, it's a quick and easy way to get out on the trail and has some spectacular views of the valley. For visitors, it's a great hike to get you away from the crowds. I prefer doing the trail counter-clockwise to get a good climb at the beginning and then a long gradual downhill. If you are walking quick, this one can be done in under 2 hours. Plan for much longer with kids. It's also an easy one to go out and then turn back around when you need to.
Trout Lake - While the trail to this lake is steep, it's also short and sweet at just under 2 miles round trip. Once you get to the lake, there's the option to hike around (which you should do). As the name implies, fishing is great, the scenery is even better and you have the general feel as though you are tucked away off the beaten trail. Approximately mid-May to Mid-June is spawning season, and you can watch the fish if you hike about halfway around the small lake . Lake otters also live and play here and are fun to spot.
Bunsen Peak - Located right outside of Mammoth Hot Springs, this is one peak our kids know well and we see daily. The trail to the top of the mountain is 4 miles round trip and, while you are definitely climbing, doable for most 5 year olds (especially if they have lots of snacks!) The rocky top is perfect for a little more discovery and a quick lunch or break. Bring layers - wind is common and the top is almost always jacket-worthy.
Lone Star Geyser - This is one of our favorites for many reasons, but first and foremost because bikes are allowed on the trail to this geyser. It's a great place to take kids and let them ride because the paved trail is mostly flat. It's 4.8 miles out and back so a little long for tiny legs to do on their own, but totally doable on bikes or in bike trailers. The geyser itself is impressive as it shoots 45 feet in the air about every 3 hours. When you arrive, check out the journal to see when you can expect it next.
Hellroaring Creek - A beautiful trail down to Hellroaring Creek, crossing over a suspension bridge. The wildflowers abound and the views are some of my very favorites. This is definitely the toughest hike in this bunch, so pace yourself and be ready to carry kids on the way back up if need-be. It's worth it, though! Note: it is illegal to take elk sheds (antlers) out of the park. Please leave them for others to find and enjoy.
5 Things To Do In Yellowstone: A Local's Guide
By Amelia Mayer
March 02, 2015
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