Fun and Exciting Things to Do at Yellowstone National Park
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Yellowstone National Park was the first established national park in the United States. This mammoth natural preserve spans the states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. Prices to tour and enjoy the park vary by type of entry and age. Yellowstone National Park offers many outdoor pursuits and natural attraction tours. Camping, boating, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and picnicking are only a sampling of activities.
Bundle Up When Visiting Yellowstone National Park During Cold Weather
Visiting Yellowstone National Park is an affordable outing, and offers dozens of hiking and back-country camping options. Non-commercial vehicles can enter, regardless of the number of passengers, for $35.
Motorcycles and snowmobiles can enter for a fee of $30. Visitors who enter the national park by bicycle, snow skiing, or on foot can enter at a charge of $20 per person. Walking or pedal-powered visitors under the age of 16 are admitted at no charge. An annual park pass is available for $70. The passes allow non-commercial vehicles to enter for 12 months from the purchase date, regardless of the number of passengers riding with the pass holder.
A $ 20-lifetime pass for senior citizens can also be purchased from any entrance, or at the established visitor’s center. A free lifetime pass is available for any United States resident who is permanently disabled or legally blind. Passengers on a commercial bus tour are subject to fees established by per-passenger fee, or a commercial tourism agreement of a per-bus fee for large commercial vehicles. Non-commercial bus passengers aged 16 and older are charged $12 each to enter the park.
Visitor Rules And Safety At The National Park
Wildlife inside the park roams free throughout the property. Visitors are required to adhere to wildlife posting signs and the rules governing feeding wildlife for their own safety. Pets are allowed within the park on a leash but are prohibited from entering any back-country trail area or boardwalk. Traffic speed is enforced throughout the park by radar.
Open containers of alcohol are strictly prohibited. Swimming is not permitted in any of the Yellowstone National Park thermal pools. Visitors are not allowed to pick or remove, any natural features of the park. Natural features include rocks, flowers, deer antlers, or any other item that is growing or environmentally specific to the area. A visitor’s guide features a map of handicap-accessible areas. Major park attractions such as Old Faithful, Grant Village, and Mammoth Hot Springs are wheelchair accessible.
Recreation And Outdoor Activities At Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park offers many dining options, boat, and horse rental sites, and gift shops. Visitors can rent both rowboats and outboard motorboats from the Bridge Bay Marina at Yellowstone Lake. Fishing boats and guides can be reserved in advance of the park visit. A boat ramp is also available at the marina for a per-use fee.
Permits are required for boat floating tubes, and motorized and non-motorized boats used in the park. An annual permit is available for $30, or a seven-day pass is available for $20 for any type of motorized boat. Non-motorized boat annual passes can be purchased for a fee of $15, or $10 for a one-week pass. Grand Teton National Park permits are honored at Yellowstone National Park but must be registered upon entering the park. Boat types not permitted inside the park include airboats, Jet Skis, wave runners, or submersible floating structures.
Horseback Guided Trail Rides and Wagon Rides
Xanterra Parks and Resorts, located inside Yellowstone National Park, offers two-hour horseback riding tours. Reservations are strongly suggested. The guided trail rides are offered with both horses and llamas. Xanterra also offers wagon rides where visitors travel to a cookout area and enjoy a steak meal.
Visitors can bring their own horses to Yellowstone beginning each July. A permit is required for overnight use of the park, with horses being permitted in designated campgrounds only. Xanterra Parks and Resorts also feature in-park lodging services for visitors. Guests can select either a luxury-style suite with a view of the park or a traditional rustic cabin, also with a view of the natural surroundings.
More than 60 species of mammals inhabit Yellowstone Park. In addition to helping young visitors spot large animals like bears and bison, tell them to be on the lookout for coyotes, bobcats, cougars, raccoons, badgers, otters, skunks, elk, moose, deer, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats.
Early morning and evening hours, when animals feed, are generally the best times to spot some of these creatures. Provide binoculars or telephoto lenses so children can see animals safely without disturbing them. Make sure they understand that wild animals are unpredictable and dangerous, especially females with young. Park rules prohibit visitors from getting within 100 yards of bears or wolves or within 25 yards of other wildlife.
With more than 1,000 miles of hiking trails, Yellowstone has routes to suit any young explorer. Wraith Falls Trail is an easy, 1-mile round trip that takes in meadows, marshes, woods, and the 79-foot Wraith Falls.
Pelican Creek Trail, a 1.3-mile round trip, starts at the Pelican Creek bridge and travels through a forested area before winding along the shores of Yellowstone Lake. Yellowstone Lake Overlook Trail, a 2-mile round trip, is a moderately strenuous route that runs from the West Thumb Geyser Basin parking area through woods and mountain meadows to views of Yellowstone Lake.
Junior Ranger Program
Yellowstone’s free junior ranger program for children 5 to 12 years of age introduces them to the park’s natural wonders and what must be done to preserve them for future generations. Participants who complete the program earn a patch.
Program requirements, which can be obtained online or at any Yellowstone visitor center, include attending a ranger-led program, hiking a park trail, and completing activities dealing with fire ecology, park wildlife, and geothermal geology. The winter junior ranger program requires that children learn to use a thermometer and a hand lens. Snow packs and snowshoes for use in the winter program may be checked out at Mammoth Visitor Center.
Yellowstone contains nearly half of the world’s hydrothermal features, including more than 300 geysers. Your children will enjoy watching Old Faithful, which sprays into the air an average of 130 feet about once every two hours.
Riverside Geyser shoots at an angle across the Firehole River, often forming a rainbow in its mist. Steamboat Geyser, the world’s largest, reaches heights of between 300 and 400 feet. Don’t let them miss Mammoth Hot Springs, where hot water rises through limestone, dissolving the rock into a chalk-like substance and depositing it on the surface in formations creating an ice castle effect.
Yellowstone offers many spots in which to relax and enjoy nature, including canyons, waterfalls, and lakes. Tower Falls and Gibbon Falls are known for their exceptional beauty and, if majestic canyons are on your list, there are several to choose from including Artist Point, Inspiration Point, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and Lower Falls. If you want to explore wildflowers, the best time to look for them is during the months of early summer and spring.
If you find that you aren’t able to cover as much ground as you d like to, you may decide to stay longer. Or, you can always schedule a return to this historic park, which has attracted visitors from all over the world for well over a century.