Yellowstone National Park is a great place for outdoor adventure. It is undoubtedly a hiker’s delight, with its endless trails of varying descriptions.
With the trails in the park comprising stunning waterfalls, geysers, other-worldly hot springs, serene, pristine forests, and wildflower meadows, the features surrounding the hikes in Yellowstone are impressive, to say the least.
And although it is something of a tall order to cover the complete, vast array of hikes that exist in one of America’s foremost National Parks, what we have done is put together ten of the best hikes in Yellowstone National Park.
10 of the Best Hikes in Yellowstone
1. North Rim Trail
The South Rim Trail is probably more well-known than the North one, which means that this 8-mile hike often gets overlooked in the region of the amazing Yellowstone River. But the North Rim trail allows you to access all the prominent viewing points along the canyon of the Yellowstone River.
You can start this hike from the Inspiration Point car park, or alternatively the Upper Falls car park. With an elevation up to 1000ft, some of the trails are quite steep and usually busy. But you can gaze across the broad variation in both color and geology from places like North Rim Inspiration Point.
Some of the best panoramic views of Lower Yellowstone Falls from a distance can be captured from the Red Rock viewing point, which you can access via the wooden stairway. Another viewing point with impressive views is just on the brink of the Lower Falls. This point is very close to the edge, which allows you to see and feel the power of the river.
2. Fairy Falls Trail
This trail qualifies for many as being among some of the best hiking available in Yellowstone. Needless to say, it can get quite busy so get there early if you’re thinking of parking in the Fairy Falls parking lot.
The trail is around a mile-and-a-half, and not too steep. It takes you close to the park’s tallest waterfall, which is 200-ft high, and the wildflowers along this walk make for impressive surroundings. As you pass through stretches of pine forest you’ll encounter a few decent viewing spots for the Grand Prismatic Spring and Excelsior Geyser.
You may even see a bear or two on this trail, as you can on many of the others – so a little caution in some areas may be wise.
3. Storm Point Trail
Storm Point is a pretty easy hike. It’s relatively flat and it’s a loop trail of just over 2 miles. You can pick up the trailhead a couple of miles past the Visitor’s Center at Fishing Bridge. This is the place to ask about any bear activity in the region before heading out, especially in the summer.
There are more meadows full of wildflowers along this walk, at least in the summertime, and the lakeside trail has some big vistas. Storm Point is a great place for checking out the views and any wildlife activity on the nearby rocky area. And there’s a beach next to the lake to check out before making your way back through the serene pine forest.
4. Clear Lake — Ribbon Lake Trail
This is another fairly easy to moderate hike and is ideal for anyone undertaking the walk with youngsters. It is quite a varied trail covering a stretch just under 4 miles, and it includes more wildflower meadows, pine forests, and a touch of hydrothermal activity.
You can begin the hike at the Wapiti Lake Trailhead, following the trail for just over half a mile before picking up the Clear Lake-Ribbon Lake trail by taking a left at a junction. In spring and early summer, you can spot various forms of wildlife in the area like bison, moose, and maybe bears.
Once close to the amazing emerald green, hydrothermal Clear Lake, you’ll notice various small, bubbling pools and simmering steam vents, so it’s best to stick with the path.
The descent to the Artist’s Point connector junction is a little steep, and if you carry on along the Ribbon Lake trail you’ll encounter the serene waters of Ribbon Lake. You can make your way back on the Wapiti Lake Trail to make a loop going back past Artist’s Point and the South Rim Trail.
This hike is popular for both novice and experienced hikers alike as it provides a real opportunity to take in a variety of some of Yellowstone’s diverse landscapes and scenery.
5. Point Sublime Trail
The short, 3-mile Point Sublime Trail is ideal for hikers of any experience and is easily another one of the best hikes in Yellowstone National Park. You can start the trailhead at Artist Point, which in itself is a pretty amazing viewpoint that takes in the Yellowstone Grand Canyon. The starting point is a fairly busy area as a lot of people just come to look at the canyon and the falls but don’t continue on the trail.
The thing about Point Sublime Trail is that the trail stretches around the edge of the canyon. Needless to say, you’ll be set for some pretty breathtaking views from such a vantage point. Point Sublime itself is a great resting spot with shade and is probably something of an anti-climax after following the trail to reach it.
One thing to consider with this hike is that some parts of the trail have no guard rails and are just a few feet away from what is quite a drop. So you might need to have a head for heights, or at least make sure to exercise logical caution along some stretches of this hike.
6. Observation Point Trail (Near Old Faithful)
Towards the southwest section of the park, Old Faithful is located in the Upper Geyser Basin. This geyser is easily one of the most visited in the park and erupts up to heights of 180 feet about every hour and a half.
You can start this 1.6-mile hike from the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center and head to the boardwalk around the geyser. You then take a right at the Geyser Hill sign and follow the path. This trail is a moderately steep one, and you’ll get the most from it if you get an update from the visitor center on the eruption times before setting out, and time your hike accordingly.
If you can find yourself a spot on one of the slopes you’ll get something of a panoramic view of Old Faithful. And if your appetite for geysers is whetted after that and you want to make the hike a little longer you could then head a bit further west to catch the Solitary Geyser.
7. Mount Washburn Trail
You can pick up the trailhead for this 7-mile hike at Dunraven Pass, just north of Canyon Village at the Mount Washburn signed parking lot. From Dunraven Pass, the trail starts on an old road that passes open meadows and gnarly-looking rock faces.
The route then switches back to the top of Mount Washburn where you can take in some amazing, 360-degree panoramic views.
This is one of the higher elevations and hence more physically challenging trails. It is also worth noting that storms can be frequent at certain times of the year it may be wise to bring rain gear, and a few warmer clothes, depending on when you visit.
8. Lone Star Geyser Trail
The Lone Star Geyser Trail is slightly less than 5 miles long and is slightly more out of the way compared to some of the main trails. So if you are not so much one for crowds and more of a lone rambler, this one might be ideal. It’s also ok for those with kids as it’s not too steep or challenging.
The trail starts at the Kepler Cascade (actually justly slightly south of it) where the car park also is. As you follow the trail it will lead you along the Firehole River and through a forest. You can catch various geyser eruptions along this track about every 3 hours, and some of them are reportedly around 45-foot high and up to 5 minutes in duration.
The trail winds up at the Howard Eaton trail junction, although there are a few hot springs between the Lone Star Geyser and this junction.
9. Pebble Creek Trail
Pebble Creek Trail is in a region of Yellowstone Park with more than its fair share of above-average surrounding scenery. The upper meadows of Pebble Creek are pretty impressive in that they are expansive and open, set off nicely by the rocky cliffs surrounding them. You can get up to the cliffs via another trail through the forest that is a bit more on the steep side.
This short, 4-mile hike starts at the trailhead which you can find to the west of the Northeast Entrance (located on the Northeast Entrance Road). The trailhead is actually indicated by a sign that says “Warm Creek”. At the offset, there is a fairly steep uphill climb. You can get some decent views from this section of the trail of both Abiathar Peak and Barronette Peak.
If you take the route to the top that contains a few switchbacks, you can drop back down into the valley via a pretty scenic trail that leads through pine forests and meadows.
10. Yellowstone River Picnic Area Trail
This is a reasonably short hike of just less than 4 miles, and it begins at the Northeast Entrance Road with a sign that is labeled simply as ‘Yellowstone’.
The trail ascends somewhat steeply into the rim of a narrow canyon and then down to the Yellowstone River. There is some pretty impressive geology by way of the various rock formations in this region, as well as generous glimpses of wildlife such as bighorn sheep, falcons, and osprey.
As you pass some of the rock faces you continue up and along the rim trail until you reach the Specimen Ridge Trail junction where you can either turn around and head back the way you came or continue a bit further along the Specimen Trail Loop which will take you through more gloriously open meadows.