Best 4-Day Yellowstone National Park Itinerary For Families

A blonde child standing in front of the Yellowstone National Park sign.
Photo Courtesy: Kara Williams

Experience one of the most iconic national parks in the United States with this Yellowstone National Park itinerary for families! The park is famous for its natural beauty and diversity, including geysers, hot springs, waterfalls, canyons, and forests. Not to mention the diverse range of wildlife, from bison and elk to bears and wolves! Yellowstone also provides countless educational opportunities, such as ranger-led programs and interactive exhibits, allowing families to explore the park’s geology, ecology, and history. Outdoor activities like hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife watching are plentiful, too. Next time you’re planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park with kids, this 4-day itinerary covers some of the most popular attractions, plus where to stay, what to eat, etc. Keep reading to plan your next adventure! 

How To Reach Yellowstone National Park With Kids

Two tweens standing in front of the yellow Yellowstone National Park shuttle.
Photo Courtesy: Nicole Ross Peirce

Yellowstone National Park has five entrances, all connected by the Grand Loop Road. There’s the West Entrance at West Yellowstone, Montana, for those from Idaho or western Montana. Here, you’ll find an Old West atmosphere and the most lodging and dining options. It’s also the entrance nearest the geysers. Families who visit Yellowstone with kids in the winter must use the North Entrance at Gardiner because it’s the only entrance open year-round. Entering here puts you close to Mammoth Hot Springs and is a convenient entrance for visitors from the Pacific Northwest.

Come through Montana to the Northeast Entrance for a close entrance to Lamar Valley. On the east side of the park, close to Yellowstone Lake, is the East Entrance. Finally, the South Entrance is perfect if you’re flying into Jackson, Wyoming, and driving. Also, the South Entrance puts you close to Grand Tetons National Park. 

During the winter, there’s also a park shuttle from the Bozeman Airport to/from Yellowstone National Park. Some other companies, like Cody, also offer shuttles from Wyoming.

Best 4-Day Yellowstone National Park Itinerary For Families

Now that we’ve covered all the park’s entrances, we can dive into how to plan a Yellowstone family vacation. Let’s get to our 4-day Yellowstone National Park itinerary for families! 

Day 1: Old Faithful, Upper Geyser Basin, Grand Prismatic Spring

A family of five peers into the teal hot spring at Yellowstone National Park. It's one of the best places to visit on a Yellowstone itinerary for families!
Photo Courtesy: Sara Hoffenberg

Begin your Yellowstone adventure with a visit to the iconic Old Faithful geyser. This natural wonder is renowned for its predictable eruptions, which occur approximately every 90 minutes. Arrive early to secure a good viewing spot and see this amazing spectacle of water and steam shooting up to 180 feet into the air! 

If you want to continue your exploration of Yellowstone’s geysers, you can head to the Upper Geyser Basin. This is where you’ll find five major geysers: Old Faithful, Grand, Castle, Daisy, and Riverside. A lot of families like to walk to Morning Glory and back, but there’s a lot more to see here, and you could easily spend a few hours exploring. Or, drive north to the Lower Geyser Basin and the Fountain Paint Pots, an easy 0.5-mile trail that passes through most of the types of thermal features found throughout the park. 

Afternoon Activity: Grand Prismatic Spring

A young girl overlooking the Grand Prismatic Spring, one of the best places to visit on a Yellowstone itinerary with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Kara Williams

There are a variety of restaurants, snack shops, and even ice cream counters to choose from when visiting Yellowstone with kids. One option to sit and have a fantastic meal is the Old Faithful Inn Dining Room. At Canyon Lodge Eatery, you’ll also find a number of restaurants, including a family-friendly food court-style restaurant.

After lunch, your next stop is the Grand Prismatic Spring, one of the largest hot springs in the world. As you approach the spring, kids will be struck by the vivid colors of the water, ranging from deep blue to bright orange. Perhaps the best view of the Grand Prismatic is from above, which you can access by parking at the Fairy Falls parking area and taking the 1-mile Grand Prismatic Overlook Trail for a birds-eye view. Once evening rolls around, you can grab dinner outside the park somewhere like Wild West Pizzeria & Saloon. Head to bed early and prepare for another epic day in Yellowstone with your kids!

Day 2: Hayden Valley, Grand Canyon, Artist Point

Father and daughter stand above a large waterfall in Yellowstone National Park, one of the best places for families in the U.S.
Photo Courtesy: Kelly Studer

On the second day of your Yellowstone itinerary for families, check out Hayden Valley. Open spring through fall, this area is known for its abundant wildlife, particularly bison. Arrive early in the morning, ideally before sunrise, to catch a glimpse of these majestic animals! As you drive through the valley, also keep an eye out for elk and even grizzly bears. Plus, ducks, Canada geese, and more waterfowl! There are lots of places to pull over and enjoy panoramic views of the Valley floor below. 

Because you’re at Yellowstone to enjoy the outdoors, plan to pick up food beforehand to enjoy (try the Fishing Bridge General Store) and have a picnic for brunch on your second day. There is a picnic area at Anglers Bluff that is a great choice for families. 

Afternoon Activity: Grand Canyon Of Yellowstone

A young boy wearing a blue shirt looks over a scenic outlook of Yellowstone National Park, featuring a large waterfall.
Photo Courtesy: Diane Oliveira

In the afternoon, visit the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. This breathtaking canyon, carved by the Yellowstone River, stretches for approximately 20 miles and reaches depths of up to 1,200 feet. It’s known for its vibrant colors, which are created by the presence of various minerals in the rock formations. Here, your family can hike Uncle Tom’s Trail which is a little steep, but at .6 miles, is short. Also in that area is the North Rim Trail which is around 3 miles, but leads to a waterfall.

Don’t forget to stop at Artist Point, a must-see viewpoint that provides a panoramic view of the canyon and the Lower Falls. Kids will be immediately captivated by the vibrant colors of the canyon walls and the powerful roar of the waterfall! Families can also see the Upper Falls by heading south from Canyon Village and turning left onto the South Rim Drive. Park, then walk west to the Upper Falls Viewpoint.

Day 3: Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, Lamar Valley

A family with kids walking along the boardwalk in Yellowstone National Park.
Photo Courtesy: Sara Hoffenberg

On day three of your Yellowstone itinerary for families, check out the Norris Geyser Basin, one of the hottest and most dynamic areas in the park. The basin has two areas: the Porcelain Basin (accessible via a 3/4-mile boardwalk) and the Back Basin (accessible via a 1.5-mile boardwalk). After, you can learn about the geology and history of the area at the Norris Geyser Basin Museum. Then, take some time to relax and enjoy a picnic lunch in one of the designated picnic areas. 

Afternoon Activity: Mammoth Hot Springs

In the afternoon, head to Mammoth Hot Springs, a series of terraces formed by the flow of hot water over thousands of years. The terraces are made of travertine, a type of limestone, and they’re constantly changing as the hot water creates new formations. Take in the unique beauty of this area by walking through the lower terrace. This trailhead starts partway up the Lower Terraces, with boardwalks leading to both Liberty Cap and Palette Spring, and continues into the Lower Terraces. You’ll get views of older, inactive terraces as well as active springs like the top of Palette Spring and New Blue Spring.

Families can also explore the Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District. This area is home to a collection of historic buildings that date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Visit the Albright Visitor Center, housed in the historic Fort Yellowstone barracks, and learn about the park’s history and geology. You can also see the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, a beautiful example of early park architecture. 

Evening Activity: Lamar Valley

A child pointing out the bison and other wildlife in Lamar Valley, Yellowstone.
Photo Courtesy: Sara Hoffenberg

Lamar Valley, in the northeastern corner of Yellowstone, is one of the best places in the park to spot wildlife! To reach here from Mammoth Hot Springs, take the Grand Loop Road east past Tower-Roosevelt, then continue on the Northeast Entrance road. 

Arrive just before dusk, when animals are most active, and you’ll be rewarded with sightings of bison, elk, coyote, deer, and even a few wolves. Look for groups of people who have already pulled over, as this likely means animals are nearby. Kids will love seeing these animals in their natural habitat, so spend some time watching them before heading back to your accommodations. If you’re looking for a tour to explore Lamar Valley, our traveling families love the Yellowstone Yellow Bus Wildlife Tour.

Day 4: Mount Washburn, Tower Fall

A young girl on her dad's shoulders on the boardwalk in Yellowstone National Park during an itinerary for families.
Photo Courtesy: Sara Hoffenberg

If you’re visiting Yellowstone with adventurous teens, use your last day to hike to the summit of Mount Washburn, one of the most iconic peaks in Yellowstone. Be sure to get started on this activity early, as it can take anywhere from 3 to 6 hours! 

Located in the northwestern part of the park, the 6.5-mile trail starts at the Dunraven Pass trailhead and winds its way up the mountain, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape. There’s also a shorter route starting at ​​Chittenden Road, which is 4.5 miles. As you hike, keep an eye out for wildlife like bighorn sheep and marmots. At the summit, you’ll be greeted by incredible views of the park, including the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, the Absaroka Range, and even the Tetons in the distance. It’s a breathtaking sight, so take some time to soak in the views and snap some photos.

Afternoon Activity: Tower Fall

A view of Tower Fall in Yellowstone Park, one of the best places to visit on a Yellowstone National Park itinerary for families.
Photo Courtesy: Yellowstone National Park

Tower Fall, a beautiful waterfall located in the northeastern part of the park, is also worth visiting in Yellowstone National Park with kids. The falls cascade down into a deep canyon, and little ones will be amazed by the power and beauty of the water. Hike along the Tower Fall overlook for ¾ of a mile to see Tower Creek flow into the Yellowstone River. Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep, peregrine falcons, osprey, and red-tailed hawk! 

After this, you can grab some food from the nearby Roosevelt Lodge. This incredible adventure starts by riding horses or taking a covered wagon out to the cookout site! When you get to the end of the trail, you’ll enjoy a cooked-to-order steak, sides, and a cup of coffee roasted over the fire. While you eat, you’ll be entertained by the singing cowboy. Then, since you’ll likely be tired, call it a day and tuck in early for the end of your Yellowstone National Park itinerary for families! 

Where To Stay Inside Or Near Yellowstone National Park With Kids

Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone National Park covered in snow.

Choose from the park’s nine lodging options. One of the most historic is the Old Faithful Inn. Another centrally located option is Canyon Lodge and Cabins which has lodge rooms and cabins. This is a great spot to be near the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Lower Falls. Also centrally located, the Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins is the oldest of Yellowstone’s hotels, located right on Lake Yellowstone. Families recommend this hotel because you can book a large suite to accommodate your entire family. However, this hotel is only open from May – October. 

For another convenient option, check out Grant Village Lodge. Families love these adorable chalet-style accommodations and the convenience of the on-site restaurant and lounge. One of the unique in-park options is the resort-like Mammoth Hot Springs. Another year-round choice is the Old Faithful Snow Lodge with lodge-style rooms, cabins, and dining selections. There are a variety of campgrounds around the park, with the most popular being Canyon Campground

If staying outside the park, we recommend staying in the town of West Yellowstone. It’s closest to all the top things to do and see. Check out Kelly Inn, Bar N Ranch, or Holiday Inn West Yellowstone. Vrbo also has various options. 

More Things To Do With Kids Near Yellowstone National Park

A group going horseback riding in Diamond P Ranch in Montana.
Photo Courtesy: P Diamond Ranch

Yellowstone has plenty to do inside the park, but if you’re searching for more things to do in the area, look no further! Try white water rafting in Big Sky with Geyser Whitewater. Then, for another experience, saddle up and go horseback riding. Our families recommend Diamond P Ranch because of their experienced guides. Another memory-making opportunity on many bucket lists is fishing. You can bring poles and fish within the park, but if you’re looking for a guide, try Montana Angler. Finally, for a different kind of animal experience, visit the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center wildlife center. Here, you’ll see grizzly bears, wolves, and otters up close! 

Additional Stop: Jackson, Wyoming

A mom and her pre-teen daughter stand in front of Jackson's iconic entrance created with fallen antlers.
Photo Courtesy: Shana Forrester

Looking for more things to do on your Yellowstone itinerary for families? Add a few days in Jackson, Wyoming! This charming town is located just south of Yellowstone, and it offers a wide range of activities and attractions that are perfect for families. From exploring the town’s historic downtown area to taking a scenic drive through Grand Teton National Park, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Families can also take advantage of the area’s outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and horseback riding. 

The Snake River, which flows through Jackson, is known for its challenging rapids and scenic views. Several rafting companies in the area offer guided trips for families of all ages and experience levels. Additionally, Jackson is home to the National Museum of Wildlife Art and the Jackson Hole Rodeo. Plus, the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is home to winter skiing and summer hiking. 

Happy Travels!

A young girl runs through a field in Yellowstone National Park at dusk.
Photo Courtesy: Jill Rippy Worden

We hope you liked this Best 4-Day Yellowstone National Park Itinerary For Families! From Old Faithful to Mount Washburn, the park has plenty of adventures for all ages. Enjoy your next family vacation to Yellowstone National Park!

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.


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