Somewhat depends on the age of the kids

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 12:23:19 08/18/13

In Reply to: clarify things to do posted by Tomkat


I have a host of ideas for you, but some of them depend on the age of the kids.

First, I will second what Pat suggested, particularly if the kids are grade school age. The Junior Ranger program is educational, fun, and really gets the younger set involved in the park.

Second, as long as you would be in a Visitor Center to enroll the kids in the Junior Ranger program, check out what is available in the way of interpretive activities. Each Visitor Center has walks and talks, ranging from short 20 to 30 minute jobs right by the V.C. to multi-hour hikes out and about. Then there are the evening programs, with PowerPoint presentations in the campground amphitheaters. This can be a treasure trove of relevant information, and open doors to aspects of Yellowstone you are unaware of.

If you are there when it is still warm, there are a number of swimming/soaking opportunities, including Boiling River, on the Gardner River between Mammoth and the North Entrance, the classic "swimming hole" on the Firehole River along Firehole Falls Drive, and the beach behind the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center for wading.

There are numerous short hikes available. Moose Tracker recommended one of the best. Do it early or late in the day for the best photo opportunities!

Other hike options include the Beaver Pond Loop above Mammoth. It is a 5 mile roundtrip loop, that offers incredible diversity of terrain and habitat. Another would be the Yellowstone River Picnic Area trail. It is a mile or two from Tower Junction on the Northeast Entrance Road, and provides great views and opportunities to see all sorts of critters. You can do it as a 3 or 4 mile loop or just a mile out and mile back along the basalt cliffs above the river. Storm Point, east of Fishing Bridge, is another great family hike. It is a 1-2 mile loop in flat terrain that takes you to a stunning lakeside view. Mystic Falls, out of Biscuit Basin is another good short hike. You can just go to the Falls and back, or lengthen it with a jaunt to an overlook with a panoramic view of geyser basins. Actually, I could go on and on, but your best bet would be to purchase one of the numerous hiking guides that are available, and use that to pick and choose your hikes. It's a good idea to check in with the nearest Visitor Center to see what is going on in the area. Sometimes, trails have carcass closures. Sometimes, there is a particular wildlife species that is frequenting the area, and you can be on alert for it.

The best single piece of advice I can offer is to USE the Visitor Centers. Your tax dollars are paying for them.


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