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How to Plan a Yellowstone National Park Family Vacation

A family of four enjoying the Yellowstone National Park hot spring on a cold day.

Everyone knows that Yellowstone National Park makes for a classic family vacation. Strolling the boardwalks around Old Faithful and taking photos of the Yellowstone River’s Lower Falls from Artist Point are things everyone should do in their lifetime. Here, I’m showing you how to plan a Yellowstone National Park family vacation.

Things to Do in Yellowstone with Kids

Child in winter jacket standing in show outside Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone

The Greater Yellowstone Area provides the perfect basecamp for families who like outdoor adventures – from mellow to hardcore. When planning, think about soaking in the hot springs at the Boiling River, rafting down the Yellowstone River with a guide, or hiking to the top of an easy summit with panoramic views of the Yellowstone Caldera and the Teton Range.

My family lives about an hour north of Yellowstone and we’ve been taking our kids hiking, soaking, backpacking, and cross-country skiing in Yellowstone National Park since they were just a few weeks old. Now, at ten and eleven-years-old, our boys race up the trails with mom and dad trailing behind!

Yellowstone Accommodations

Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone National Park covered in snow

Book your accommodation at Yellowstone National Park using

Book your stay at Yellowstone National Park using

The first step in planning a Yellowstone National Park family vacation is making and confirming your hotel or campground reservations. Yellowstone Park lodging can fill up a year in advance – so be sure to book early! If you didn’t get a jump on it, try the hotels in cities near Yellowstone National Park like Jackson, Wyoming (south of Grand Teton National Park), West Yellowstone, Montana (on the west side of Yellowstone), or Gardiner, Montana (north of the park).

Yellowstone Itinerary Recommendations for Families

A boy with blue hat and red backpack hiking in Yellowstone National Park.

Once you know where you want to stay, you can plan your Yellowstone family vacation itinerary. Decide what adventures you want an official guide for, options include fly fishing, wildlife watching, rafting, horseback riding, mountain climbing, or skiing (winter only, of course). After booking your guide, plan the rest of your trip around those activities. Grab a family-friendly hiking guidebook or peruse the park’s website for easy adventures you can do on your own.

Yellowstone Leisure Time

A young child relxes in a tent near a river at Yellowstone National Park, holding and looking at a tablet.

On any family trip to Yellowstone, we make sure there is some downtime. We like lunching at the picnic area near Cascade Falls, where our kids would run through the meadow when they were little. Additionally, wading in the Madison River near the Madison Information Station and Trailside Museum is never a waste of time! And leisurely wandering one of the trails, while the other four million visitors to Yellowstone are on the boardwalks, means we get time alone in this natural wonderland. There are so many ways to mix and match activities to have the best Yellowstone National Park family vacation.

By Melynda Harrison. Melynda Harrison writes about family travel and outdoor adventures at TravelingMel and YellowstoneTrips.

All images included in this article were taken by and belong to Melynda Harrison, unless otherwise noted.


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