With its bubbling geysers, rushing waterfalls, and charismatic wildlife, Yellowstone is a kids’ paradise. There’s no better way to experience the region than out on the trails—just follow these tips for family-friendly fun.

How Far Can Kids Hike?

  • Don’t overdo it. Most children can handle hiking about half a mile for every year of age (so your 6-year-old can probably hike 3 miles). Expect to hike more slowly than you’re used to, especially if you’re gaining elevation.
  • Offer a great payoff. Kids don’t care about gorgeous views as much as you do, but they’re wild about rocks to climb on, lakes and rivers to splash in, and bugs to examine.
  • Pack treats. M&Ms, trail mix, Skittles, and granola bars are time-tested motivators for tired legs. Try bringing snacks the kids don’t normally get at home to make hiking even more of a treat.

Backpacking with Kids

  • Have kids participate. When planning, ask what they want to do and see. On the trail, even small children love carrying their own light daypacks (pack them with a few layers or snacks. In camp, ask kids to help gather firewood, set up tents, or prepare dinner.
  • Gear up. Make sure each child has her own sleeping pad and sleeping bag. And they’re not essential, but kids love wearing their own headlamps.
  • Play games. Pack a deck of cards (or Uno) for tent tournaments. Or play word games such as I Spy or scavenger hunts.

Here are the top trails for kids in Yellowstone:

1. Upper Geyser Basin 

(Recommended for ages 8 and up for entire distance)

Watching Riverside Geyser erupt in Yellowstone's Upper Geyser Basin

Watching Riverside Geyser erupt in Yellowstone's Upper Geyser Basin

Old Faithful is one of the most famous geysers in the world and is a definite must-see for anyone visiting Yellowstone. Go beyond this crowd-pleaser by exploring the geyser basin behind Old Faithful. Wind among hot springs and waterspouts on this 4-mile boardwalk trail through the world’s largest concentration of geysers and colorful hot springs such as Beehive Geyser, Riverside Geyser and Morning Glory Pool. 

2. South Rim Trail

(Recommended for children 10 and up)

Hikers on the South Rim Trail in the Canyon area of Yellowstone

Hikers on the South Rim Trail in the Canyon area of Yellowstone

This flat, 5-mile (round-trip) trail traces the edge of the stunning Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and offers views of immense Upper and Lower Falls. Keep a close watch of children near the edges of the canyon.

3. Wraith Falls Trail

(Recommended for children 5 and up)

Wraith Falls and Lupine Creek in Yellowstone

Wraith Falls

Even young children will love this easy 1-mile (round-trip) hike through sagebrush to the foot of a pretty 69-foot waterfall along Lupine Creek. The trailhead is east of Mammoth Hot Springs and a half-mile east of Lava Creek Picnic Area on the Grand Loop Road.


Black Canyon of Yellowstone River off Rescue Creek Trail

Blacktail Creek Trail Hike in Yellowstone

Start near Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone and end in Gardiner, Mont. Excerpted from Tom Carter's Day Hiking Yellowstone Park

A hiker headed up Avalanche Peak Trail in Yellowstone

Which Yellowstone Trail Should I Hike?

Do you want to see lakes, waterfalls, thermal features, or peaks? Find your perfect day hike with our personalized guide.

Ascending the stairs on Uncle Tom's Trail in Yellowstone

Uncle Tom's Trail Hike to Lower Falls in Yellowstone

This steep but wonderful trail takes you from the top of Yellowstone's Grand Canyon to the base of the 308-foot-high Lower Falls. It's strenuous going down 500 feet, but less so than in 1905 when Uncle Tom lowered you by rope.

Looking toward Specimen Ridge from the Garnet Hill Loop Trail. Photo by permission Flickr Upstate Dave

Hiking Yellowstone’s Garnet Hill Loop Trail

Wander over gently rolling hills covered in sagebrush and cast a line in the Yellowstone River on this animal-dotted 8.3-mile lollipop.

Bunsen Peak Trail in Yellowstone

Hike Yellowstone National Park's Bunsen Peak Trail

See evidence of Yellowstone's 1988 fires on a hike that starts and ends just south of Rustic Falls near Mammoth. Excerpted from Tom Carter's Day Hiking Yellowstone Park.

Couple holding hands in Yellowstone

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.


Hike to the Middle of Nowhere in Yellowstone

There are moments where Yellowstone can feel positively crowded.

Camping in Yellowstone with Children

A Parent's Story: Camping and Hiking with My Kids in Yellowstone

Shelli Johnson of Yellowstonepark.com tells you how to go backpacking in Yellowstone with kids and llamas to haul your gear.

Bunsen Peak from Mammoth winter

Bunsen Peak Hike

This hike provides an excellent opportunity to view the effects of the 1988 fires. Also, Bunsen Peak affords a commanding view of the Mammoth area, as well as the Gallatin and Washburn Mountains.