Park Itineraries

Romancing the Yellowstone – Top 5 Romantic Things to Do

Forget roses and chocolate - for real romance, you can’t beat these Yellowstone activities. Plan now for Valentine's Day, a wedding proposal or anniversary.

1. Get Steamy in a Natural Hot Spring

You already know how relaxing a hot-tub soak à deux can be. Now picture your tub set in the pristine wilderness, with no sign of anyone else around but the howl of the occasional coyote. Most of Yellowstone’s thermal features are much too hot to get in (and are dangerious), but there are a few accessible hot springs. 

For a truly intimate getaway inside the park in summer, hike 14 miles from the Bechler Ranger Station to Mr. Bubbles, a comfortable 110°F hot spring pool. Or head to the Boiling River in fall and winter, the spot where a hot spring flows into the Gardiner River. It’s a short walk from the parking pullout just south of the 45th Parallel sign in the Mammoth area. Read about more hot soaks in the greater Yellowstone area.

Mr. Bubbles Hot Pool. Photo by Ilya Katsnelson on Flickr
Mr. Bubbles Hot Pool. Ilya Katsnelson on Flickr
Boiling River north of Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone. Photo by Wesley Fryer
Boiling River north of Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone. Wesley Fryer

2. Have a Date Night at Old Faithful Inn

Yellowstone lodging and dining don’t get any cozier than the Old Faithful Inn, an impressive log lodge built in 1903-04. Start with a stroll around Old Faithful Geyser Basin to see its namesake spout, plus hundreds more thermal features. Then sit down to a fine meal at the Old Faithful Inn Dining Room, where choices may include smoked bison sausage, quail, and pork osso buco; there’s also an extensive wine list and chocolate truffle tortes on the dessert menu. After dinner, curl up around the massive rhyolite fireplace. Staying the night? Old Faithful Inn’s rooms lack TVs or radios, so you can focus only on each other.

Note: The Old Faithful Inn is only open during the summer season, so give your sweetheart a reservation for Valentine’s Day.

Old Faithful Inn Dining Room. Photo by NPS Jim Peaco
Old Faithful Inn Dining Room.NPS Jim Peaco

3. Spend a Night Under the Stars

Striking out into the wilderness is a chance to escape life’s everyday stresses, reconnect, and stoke the (camp)fires of love. Plus, what could be more romantic than snuggling up in a sleeping bag to watch shooting stars streak across the sky? Yellowstone’s backcountry offers hundreds of miles of trails to explore, and the camping options are nearly limitless. (Winter camping is available in the Mammoth area.) For a short trip, try the 2.4-mile hike out to Ribbon Lake, which also offers an unmatched sunset view into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Ranger-led stargazing talks and night skies photography workshops are offered during the summer season.

The Milky Way in the night sky above Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone. Photo by NPS Neal Herbert
The Milky Way in the night sky above Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone. NPS Neal Herbert

4. Get Wild on a Sleigh Ride

Like the sound of a horse-drawn tour through Wyoming’s snowy meadows ringed by dramatic mountain peaks? How about doing it among thousands of majestic elk? Head to the National Elk Refuge just outside Jackson and Grand Teton National Park between December and April for just that. Spotting elk is practically guaranteed, and you might also see bison, foxes, eagles, and wolves.

Winter sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge. Photo by USFWS Lori Iverson
Winter sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge. USFWS Lori Iverson

5. Watch the Sun Set Over the Park

A picnic blanket, two glasses of wine, and a prime perch to watch the sunset are really all you need for an unforgettably romantic evening. Lake Butte Overlook on the East Entrance Road provides a sweeping view across Lake Yellowstone that’s especially lovely as the sun goes down. Prefer an indoor view? Snag a spot on the porch at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel or Lake Lodge during the summer season. In the winter, stay at the Yellowstone Snow Lodge or schedule a snowcoach to watch the sunset behind Old Faithful. (How Old Faithful eruptions are predicted)

Sunset over the Firehole River in the Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone. Photo by Greg Griffin
Sunset over the Firehole River in the Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone. Greg Griffin
Old Faithful at Sunset
Old Faithful at SunsetiStock