Forget roses and chocolate—for real romance, you can’t beat these Yellowstone-area 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.
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.
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.
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.
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)