The Best of Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Park

Are you looking for a one of a kind experience? Boiling rivers, billowing smoke, churning cauldrons, and epic mountain and valley views are just a few reasons to visit Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons. Be sure that you don't miss these all time favorite sites and activities!

Be sure that you don't miss these all time favorite sites and activities!

Madison Junction Campground

Madison Junction Campground is centrally located, provides great views, and has a river for the kids to swim and fish in. The ranger program was extremely boring, but we really enjoyed our stay here.

Madison Junction Campground in Yellowstone National Park, campfire (expert advice: if it's not cast iron, don't leave it in the fire), hammock stacking fun, swimming in the Madison River next to our campground, playing toddler golf...because....why not?

Location: Just East of the West Yellowstone entrance.

Artists' Paintpots Trail (kid favorite)

Hues of green and gold shrouded in steamy mist enthral guests as they stroll along this 1 mile boardwalk loop at Artists' Paintpots Trail. Our kids loved the bubbling mud paintpot along the walk.

Artists' Paintpots Trail, Yellowstone National Park

Boiling River Swim (kid favorite)

If you want to get up close and personal with nature, the Boiling River is the place to do it. Be sure to take a swim in this well loved location along the Gardner River where guests attempt to find the perfect temperature between the cold river water and hot spring flowing into it.

If you want to get up close and personal with nature, the Boiling River is the place to do it.

Boiling River, Yellowstone National Park

Tips: This was a kid favorite, however as a parent it was a bit stressful (If you choose to sit with the crowds this should not be an issue). The water level was a bit high when we went and the current was strong. (they will close the swimming hole when water is dangerously high)  Bring good water shoes, and if you choose to head downstream away from the crowds a bit lean back and find good rocks to push your feet against while the current rushes around you. Always have an adult in front to catch a child from the current if they begin to get carried away.

Location: Just North of Mammoth Springs Campground

Old Faithful Geyser Eruption and Inn Tour

A trip to Yellowstone would not be complete without a visit to the famous Old Faithful Geyser. Wander the grounds and enjoy the views from the observation windows in the surrounding buildings. Take a free Old Faithful Inn Tour and explore various areas while learning the history of the inn. Then, relax in a rocking chair overlooking the grand entrance and envision post dinner dances from days gone by.Old Faithful eruption, Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful can be viewed from various buildings around the perimeter as well

Old Faithful Inn - the tour is free and interesting. If camping you can also pay to shower here before leaving. Soap and shampoo are included and towels can be provided for a nominal fee.

Tips: Parking in the Old Faithful lot can be difficult to find if the geyser is close to erupting. Be patient and wait for the crowds to flood out. You can view eruption times for other park geysers in the visitor center. Don’t forget to do a little shopping and enjoy an ice cream cone before leaving.

Bike ride to Lone Star Geyser (family favorite)

This 2-½ mile trail along the Firehole River is shaded, beautiful, and family friendly providing a great activity for a hot day. You can rent bikes from the park or simply walk the trail to the Lone Star Geyser. This geyser may not be as large as Old Faithful, but you will have it almost completely to yourself. A welcome retreat from the crowds. If you don’t want a long wait upon arrival, check the predicted eruption times at the Old Faithful visitor center before heading out. Or, pack a lunch and a game and enjoy some family time while you wait.

This geyser may not be as large as Old Faithful, but you will have it almost completely to yourself. A welcome retreat from the crowds.

Lone Star Geyser, Yellowstone National Park

Tips: Be sure to sign the guest book located in the wooden stand. This also gives you great tips on when the geyser last erupted and how to know when it’s getting close. Don’t forget to bring bear spray on your bike ride or hike.

Location: Approximately 2 miles South of Old Faithful Village

Grand Prismatic Spring

The Grand Prismatic Spring is possibly the most photographed area in Yellowstone National Park, and with good reason. Turquoise, orange, yellow, and gold bursting through the steamy haze mesmerize guests daily. 

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Tips: If you would like an aerial photo of the Grand Prismatic you can hike the short ½ mile route up the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook for incredible photo opportunities.

Artist's Point

This well known overlook on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River provides unforgettable views and memorable photo opportunities. Pack a lunch and enjoy your meal with the million dollar view from Artist's Point.Artist Point, Yellowstone National Park

Tip: If you would like to get up close to the falls you can take the Lower Falls Trail down to the top of the falls. This trail is only ¾ mile roundtrip but it is very steep with many switchbacks. This was not a kid favorite, but provided a stellar top of falls view.

Location: Canyon Junction

Biscuit Basin - Sapphire Pool

The Sapphire Pool in Biscuit Basin mesmerized me with it’s clarity and color. You can walk the ½ mile boardwalk if desired and even hike to Mystic Falls from here if you have time. Biscuit Basin and the Sapphire Pool, Yellowstone National Park

The Mystic falls hike is about 3 miles roundtrip and easy to moderate in difficulty. We hiked it with ages ranging from 10-50 in flip flops. Tennis shoes would have been better, but it can be done in flops if not prepared.

Mystic Falls Hike, Yellowstone National Park

Location: 3 miles North of Old Faithful

Dragon’s Mouth Spring and Churning Cauldron in the Mud Volcano Area

Billowing smoke and thunderous sounds tumble out of Dragon's Mouth Spring, emulating the cave of a very large dragon, and making this Yellowstone feature a treat for kids of all ages. Continuing along the boardwalk, a sort of witches brew appears at the Churning Cauldron tossing muddy water 3-5 feet in the air and churning up a violent concoction as the air fills with sulphur. 

Dragon's Mouth Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Location: About 10 miles South of Canyon Junction

Beryl Spring

If you are short on time, this is the spring for you. Beryl Spring is right by the roadside and takes only a few minutes to enjoy. One of the hottest springs in Yellowstone at 196 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s sure to heat up your travels.Beryl Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Location: Along the road South of Norris Junction

Firehole Lake Drive

Another place to get away from the crowds. This 3 mile Firehole Lake Drive will take you up close and personal to some beautiful Yellowstone geysers. Don’t miss Surprise Pool and Firehole Spring which is so close to the road it’s hard to see. Fortunately, a rising steam cloud gives it away. 

Location: Between Old Faithful and Madison

Fountain Paint Pot Nature Trail

If you appreciate efficiency, Fountain Paint Pot Nature Trail should top your list, as it contains all four of Yellowstone’s hydrothermal features (fumaroles, mudpots, geysers, and hot springs) in an easy to conquer ½ mile loop. Fountain Paint Pot Nature Trail, Yellowstone National Park

Location: Lower Geyser Basin

Bike ride along Grand Teton Multi-Use Pathway to Jenny Lake

If feeling the wind in your hair as you pass by meadows with mountain peaks piercing the horizon sounds like fun, then biking along the Grand Teton Multi-Use Pathway should top your activities list in Grand Teton National park. We parked at the first lot just Southwest of Jenny Lake Campground and rode our bikes to Jenny Lake from there. However, the trail continues for miles through Moose Junction and onto Jackson if you’re up for more of a challenge. Be sure to grab a cool drink at Jenny Lake Store and walk past the boats to the swim area for a dip before heading back to the trail.

Location: Jenny Lake Campground to Jackson along US Hwy 26/89

Horseback Riding with Swift Creek Outfitters

Not your average trail horseback ride. Swift Creek Outfitters will have you traversing creeks, hopping over logs, and maneuvering through some pretty tight and muddy spaces to reach those famous views of the Teton Mountain Range, and we absolutely loved it. If you want something a bit more exciting than the typical nose to tail horseback trail ride then be sure to check out Swift Creek Outfitters.

Not your average trail horseback ride. Swift Creek Outfitters will have you traversing creeks, hopping over logs, and maneuvering through some pretty tight and muddy spaces to reach those famous views of the Teton Mountain Range

Riding horseback with Swift Creek Outfitters, Grand Teton National Park

We had originally planned to do the Colter Bay Village Dinner Horseback Ride, but when I called a few days before they were all booked up. (I didn’t book far in advance in case of rain) Upon further inquiry, Swift Creek Outfitters was recommended as they have hundreds of horses and advance reservations are not typically required. What a great recommendation it was!

Riding horseback with Swift Creek Outfitters, Grand Teton National Park

Location: Northeast of Colter Bay Village just outside of Grand Teton National Park

Day Trip to Jackson, Wyoming and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Shopping and sites abound in the town of Jackson. Once you’ve perused enough galleries and boutiques make your way to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Get whisked away on the Bridger Gondola for epic valley views from 9,095’ while enjoying live music and a drink from the Piste Mountain Bistro.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Jackson, Wyoming, Bridger Gondola, Piste Mountain Bistro

Tips: The Bridger Gondola ride is free if you will be purchasing something from the Piste Mountain Bistro.

Additional Sites We Enjoyed

There's absolutely no way to see it all. So, hopefully the above list of our favorites helps you narrow it down. 

Abyss Pool, West Thumb Geyser Basin - This area was interesting but similar to others listed above.

Picnic along Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park - We passed by on our way from Swift Creek Outfitters to the multi-use bike path and enjoyed a quick swim with picnic lunch before continuing.

Skip if You're Limited on Time

Mammoth Hot Springs - The springs have mostly dried up, but if you're heading to the Boiling River you might as well stop for a look.

Lamar Valley - We drove here early in the morning to view wildlife. You will always see bison here, but we hoped to see some wolves, bears, or moose and were greatly disappointed. 

Tower Falls - We hiked down this path to get a look at the falls, but it doesn't provide a view. Just a chance to swim in the river. It was a long and hot hike back up after splashing in the water.

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