Lucky you — with up to a week in the park, you can mix and match your favorite activities in and around Yellowstone for an unforgettable vacation.
Paddle the lakes
Yellowstone Lake is open to both motorized and non-motorized vessels and offers dozens of remote lakeside campsites to boaters. Motorized boats can also cruise Lewis Lake, the portal to Shoshone Lake via the Lewis Channel.
However, be aware that the lake is extremely cold and can be dangerous. It's not a warm lake that's for swimmers. In the past, tourists who have fallen out of their kayaks have died from hypothermia.
Another fun option: Grab a float tube and drift away (popular with anglers). Pick up a boat or float tube permit from one of several entrance and ranger stations.
Dozens of private outfitters also offer fishing, paddling, and motorboat trips. Our favorite? Paddle Yellowstone and Jackson Lakes with O.A.R.S.
Go Horseback Riding
Park concessionaire Xanterra runs one- and two-hour rides from the Mammoth, Tower-Roosevelt, and Canyon Areas. Our favorite: A horseback ride followed by a cowboy cookout at Tower-Roosevelt. Or strike out for a one-day or multiday horsepacking trip into the backcountry with one of the park’s many outfitters.
Explore the Backcountry
There are 466 miles of road in Yellowstone, but 1,000 miles of trail—is it any wonder the very best way to get to know the park is off the paved routes? Spend a night or more in one of the 301 backcountry campsites and you’ll come away with a new appreciation for the vastness of this wilderness. Our top overnight: the 4.8-mile out-and-back to Ribbon Lake, which serves up private views into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (backpacker.com/destinations/hikes/333325).
Yellowstone Forever, a nonprofit educational organization, runs a series of top-notch field seminars and private tours in the park. Programs include guided backpacking trips, wildlife-watching tours, photography classes, and tours of “haunted” historic sites. Registered students can stay at the Association’s rustic lodging options in the Lamar Valley and above Gardiner, Montana.
See the Tetons
Though it’s just a few miles south of Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park offers attractions all its own. Chief among them: the iconic Teton peaks, a jagged range that draws hikers and climbers from all over the world. Wildlife watching is also tops here, as moose, bears, elk, and bald eagles frequent the park. Top dayhikes: Cascade and Paintbrush Canyons, two wildflower-filled trails with great views.
Do you have a park map? You'll receive a free park map when you enter the park or you can download one now. But if you'd like to plan your trip with a detailed topographic map, consider purchasing a Trails Illustrated map of Yellowstone on REI.com that includes hiking trails, iconic sights and more.