There’s so many things to do in Yellowstone, that it may well be the perfect place to travel with children.
For quite a while now, I have been wanting to go back to the United States and explore more of the incredible country where I have lived for over two years at the beginning of this century (yes, I am old). Back then, I didn’t have the chance to visit Yellowstone, though I did drive through Wyoming (one of the states where Yellowstone is located) and appreciated its wildness. But it’s a place I want to visit soon.
My trip to Yellowstone would be a special one, a gift to one of the most lovely persons in my life: my niece Anna. She turned 8 last week. She’s the daughter of my cousin Luisa, and the first arrival of the latter generation in our (very enlarged, yet very close) family. I’m not a family travel blogger, yet I feel compelled to show Anna what my life is all about.
Anna is an interesting creature. She’s incredibly clever, witty yet always well behaved, and showing all the signs of an early case of wanderlust. Take her on a hike, and she’ll be the first reaching the top. She’s already expressed her interest in seeing the Pyramids in Egypt; in traveling to Lapland to meet Santa Klaus and in stuffing her face with hummus in Tel Aviv.
She knows I travel a lot, so she expressed her interest in going on an adventure trip with me. And I am keen to take her. Indeed, not only I don’t intend to help cure her wanderlust: I will feed it, as much as I can. But where would we go? I think a trip to Yellowstone would be perfect for us.
Indeed, the United States are a fantastic destination for families with young children. They have that fabulous mix of cities, nature and adventure, wildlife, good western food (though I have to say, Anna is much more of a foodie than I am!) and travel comforts which would make a trip memorable. And there’s so many things to do in Yellowstone, that Anna and I would have a total blast.
I think that, for a trip to Yellowstone, I’d opt for a family vacation package like those offered by Austin Adventures. I want Anna’s first intercontinental trip, away from her parents, to be memorable and to run as smoothly as possible, and while I am typically an independent traveler, on such a special occasion I’d rather have the experts take care of everything, while Anna and I enjoy the fun.
A bit more about Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is one of the most iconic national parks in the world, so unique it is enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not to mention it is simply huge – it’s 2.2 million acres, spread over 3 states – Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. It has a whopping 900 miles of hiking trails: it’s easy to see why hiking is one of the best things to do in Yellowstone.
Although so large, Yellowstone may appear crowded at times. The problem is that most people don’t really know what to see in Yellowstone other than the most famous attractions, such as the Old Faithful geyser, or Grand Prismatic and Mammoth Hot Springs. The good news is that with the right guide and following the right trail, it is possible to get away from the crowds.
Yellowstone is also famous for the amazing wildlife that lives in the area. On a proper trip to Yellowstone (that is, with good guides that know where to go and the best times of day to do so) it is possible to spot a great variety of animals such as bisons, bears, elks, moose, badgers, wolves and bighorn sheep.
Seven Adrenaline Filled Things To Do In Yellowstone
But what would a trip to Yellowstone look like? The following are some of the things to do in Yellowstone that Anna and I are looking forward to enjoy, and at the end there’ll also be a couple of packing tips for anybody who’s planning to go.
Seven fun things to do in Yellowstone
Anna and I love hiking. It runs in the family I think – at every chance we get, we wear our hiking boots and find a trail. Sure enough, a trip to Yellowstone implies a lot of hiking and we are up for the challenge – after all, hiking is one of the most amazing things to do in Yellowstone.
Some of the best hiking to do during a Yellowstone trip is that to the Upper Geyser Basin, which takes to Old Faithful bubbling hot springs and also goes to a view point from where to admire all the geysers – Old Faithful is meant to be legendary.
Another hike that those who visit Yellowstone should never miss is that to Storm Point. Along the hike, there’s views of meadows, lodgepole pine forests and a lakefront trail. I know Anna would love this and I won’t miss it for sure.
Finally, one of the top things to do in Yellowstone is hiking the Waipiti Trail, which goes all the way to the Grand Ganyon of the Yellowstone River and then to Artist Point, the most beautiful viewpoint of the Lower Falls of the river. Views are meant to be splendid, there. The Waipiti Trail is a top pick of Austin Adventures, for it shows the incredible variety of the canyon’s colors, depth and beauty that leave many completely speechless.
I am not exactly the best at horse riding, and after a few hours on a horse I just hurt everywhere. But I still enjoy it, and I know for a fact that Anna loves it. It’s great news then that one of the things to do in Yellowstone during a family adventure trip is horse riding up Pine Creek into the Absaroka Mountains. I guess I’d fix any pain I may have as a result of riding the horse with a nice dip in the hot springs!
Admiring hot springs
I can already picture Anna’s jaw dropping at the sight of the hot springs – there’s various in the national park, and one of the most fun things to do in Yellowstone is getting to see the hot water of Mammoth Hot Springs, famous for their white, orange and yellow travertine.
But there’s more: on a family adventure trip to Yellowstone with Anna, I’d also be able to stop at Boiling river (I guess the name says it all!) and at the historic Chico Hot Springs Resort, famous for its rejuvenating mineral waters. I guess Anna wouldn’t really need it, but I certainly wouldn’t mind a bit of a spa treatment!
I have been rafting a few times, the first time in Argentina, then in Colombia and finally in Nepal, before I embarked on the Poon Hill Hike. Whitewater rafting on the Yellowstone River is one of the coolest things to do in Yellowstone, and I can only imagine how much fun it would be doing it with Anna. She loves getting in the water, she loves adventure, and this would completely be her thing. All I need is a go-pro to catch the expression of her face when we hit the water!
I have been zip lining a bunch of times. The first time was in Tabasco, Mexico. I also did it in Cuba, in Honduras and in Argentina. The time I did it in Argentina was absolutely thrilling – I can still feel the adrenaline rush. One of the most fun things to do in Yellowstone is zip lining over the Gallatin River. I know I will love it, and I can already hear Anna screaming in excitement as she launches herself.
One of the things I love the most about staying in nature is admiring wildlife. Anna loves it too, and I have been doing my best to show her how important it is to do so responsibly. I talked to her about the cruelty of elephant riding, tiger selfies and dolphinariums (find out more about the use of animals in tourist attractions in this post). A trip to Yellowstone would also imply the possibility of spotting wildlife such as grizzly bears in Lamar Valley. I know we’d enjoy it.
Driving around Paradise Valley
Yellowstone is a huge national park and in order to explore a bit more of it, at times it is necessary to hop on a car. One of the nicest things to do in Yellowstone is driving through Paradise Valley. If done at the right time of day, this is a great opportunity to spot more animals – not to mention, take in the most amazing views.
Packing tips for a trip to Yellowstone
I always recommend traveling light, and I would like to do the same for a trip to Yellowstone with Anna. I know that many of the things I typically carry won’t be needed if we join a family adventure with Austin Adventures, yet I want to be as thorough as possible, as I want to make sure Anna is completely comfortable.
Here’s what our packing list will look like.
- Hiking boots – one of the top things to do in Yellowstone is hiking, and sure enough we want to wear the right shoes for that.
- Hawaianas sandals – for when we go to the hot springs, or when we have a chance to relax (which will be quite needed after a day filled with adventure!)
- A pair of walking shoes such as Converse All Stars – Anna and I want to look smart(ish) at dinner.
- Shorts – we are planning a trip to Yellowstone in the summer, so I expect the weather to be nice and warm.
- Hiking pants and leggings – hiking is one of the most fun things to do in Yellowstone; and leggings are very versatile for us girls, not to mention very easy to pack: they can be either sporty or dressy, depending on what we pair them with.
- A bunch of t-shirts – they are easy to wear and easy to wash.
- One or two fleece sweaters – I know I get cold on flights, and I am worried nights can be chilly in Yellowstone. For the same reason, I’ll carry a light scarf for both me and Anna.
- A waterproof and windproof jacket – I love my old one by The North Face, and I will make sure Anna gets a similar one. On a trip to Yellowstone we may rise bright and early to see the sunrise and it may be chilly then.
- Swimsuits – among the top things to do in Yellowstone there’s rafting and going to the hot springs, so we’ll make good use of them.
- Toiletry bag – containing the following toiletries: a good solid shampoo and conditioner (I love those by Lush, they are delicate enough even for a child’s scalp); a soap or shower gel (I know the hotels during a trip to Yellowstone will provide it, but I always prefer to carry my own); toothbrush and toothpaste; deodorant; moisturizing lotion for face and body (I find the one by Avene to be excellent, good enough even for Anna’s soft skin).
- Pharmaceuticals – the typical prescriptions I have to carry around for my asthma, as well as some paracetamol, cold and flu medications, etc.
We’ll also have to take day packs, which will be needed to carry sunglasses, a camera and powerbank, wallet and travel documents (I know we’ll both need travel insurance), and whatever we need for the day while we visit Yellowstone.
What apparently we won’t need, as it will be kindly provided by Austin Adventures, is mosquito repellent, sun block (one of the most important things to do in Yellowstone is wearing sun block!), water bottles and snacks for the day.
Have you ever been on a trip to Yellowstone? What did you enjoy the most about it, and is there anything else you’d add to the list of things to do there?