Your Family-Friendly Guide to Yellowstone National Park

As far as dream destinations go, you can’t beat a wildlife-vibrant getaway you’ll talk about with your kids many vacations later. There’s something special about that rush of incredible joy—the moment you first feel Old Faithful’s steam bursting more than 100 feet into the air. Discover eagles soaring across skies and Western sun rolling on hillsides in the ultimate nature-exploration adventure. One thing’s for certain—you’re going to love your family trip to Yellowstone.

Why Yellowstone Is a Must-Visit for Families

Your Family-Friendly Guide to Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful Geyser Eruption in Yellowstone National Park at Sunset

Picture your exhilarating Yellowstone family vacation as you explore every canyon, geyser basin and backcountry trail, rugged with adventure. From watching the beautiful Old Faithful flow with mighty streams to taking a joyful soak in the hot springs, there is no shortage of memories to share together. Imagine cattle ranches, horseback rides and river views. Hear your family’s voices echo into the majestic Grand Canyon. It’s no wonder families can’t wait to come back!

10 Tips for an Epic Family Trip to Yellowstone

Daydreaming of a sunlit summer or snowy winter getaway? Explore before the crowds do and capture a view of stunning wildlife (with less packed parking lots)—grab a local coffee and get up early. Turn it into an action-packed road trip, staying in beautiful lodgings as you journey across the gorgeous expanse. Space out every adrenaline-racing adventure—key advice for savoring an incredible trip to Yellowstone with kids in tow.

1. Plan Your Itinerary Ahead of Time 

Top 12 Things to Do in Yellowstone National Park

This is your Yellowstone National Park itinerary to leap into the most fun in Yellowstone. Get ready to enjoy a mountain of family-friendly activities across the seasons. From about 20 daily geyser eruptions to the world’s third-grandest hot spring swirling colors 10 stories deep, the locals will tell you—springtime is a special one in Yellowstone National Park. While swimming areas may not be open, jaw-dropping blossoms will be in full swing as babies in the wild take their first steps in a lush landscape. 

2. Sleep Under the Stars

Looking for a gorgeous cabin? Why not try a beautiful 1920s gem close to the Tower Falls area called the Roosevelt Lodge Cabins—a personal old favorite of President Teddy Roosevelt—where families love to rock on the front porch after galloping along the trails. Before embarking on all sorts of family-friendly activities and adventures across Yellowstone, try staying at privately-run Madison Campground (travelers will be the first to tell you—you’ll love it here). 

Perhaps your Yellowstone family vacation leads you to go RV camping at Fishing Bridge RV Park—Yellowstone’s sole RV camping park offering complete hookups, from water and sewer to electricity. The array of family-friendly accommodation options available in Yellowstone, including ADA campsites, offer comfort and delight—beautiful opportunities to savor the park’s lush wonders for a moment longer on a memorable stay.

3. Pack a Travel Toiletries Kit

When you’re exploring Yellowstone with kids, don’t forget to bring the trusted essentials. Basics like sunscreen, bug spray and wet wipes for those multi day trips, along with extra supplies, go a long way out in the diverse backcountry. When you reach into your travel bag for that SPF lip balm, moisturizer or baby powder (for chafing-proof vacation days), wet wipes and bug spray at the ready, you’ll be glad you were well prepared. 

4. Get a Paper Shoot Camera to Capture a Core Memory

Your Family-Friendly Guide to Yellowstone National Park

One of the most heartfelt, portable family-friendly activities—bringing a disposable camera along for the magic of a paper shoot. When your kids get to test out their photography skills, knowing they had a hand in capturing each unforgettable memory, you’ll be able to look back on your Yellowstone family vacation with the connection of nostalgia and joy. 

5. Pack Pillows and Blankets for Car Naps

Prepare for a long, scenic drive to Yellowstone with kids. Young kids, especially, can find those miles add up without the proper cozy additions. Bring along soft pillows and blankets for a dreamy journey there. 

6. Bring Extra Bear Spray for the Kids

Your Family-Friendly Guide to Yellowstone National Park
Bear and a bison at Yellowstone. Photo Credit: Steven Cordes.

Bring an extra canister of bear spray when you’re packing for your Yellowstone family vacation. Talk with your kids ahead of wildlife viewing to gently remind them to keep a safe, respectful distance—you’re guests visiting the habitat that bears call home.  

Know Before You Go

Key conversations to have before you enter nature’s wonderland on your trek across Yellowstone with kids—while the water is stunning, tell your family to marvel at the water without touching it and stay out of the sparkling springs. This is an incredible opportunity to teach your kids how to engage with wildlife, like learning that bison aren’t meant to be pets (so say no to wilderness hugs). 

Additionally, it’s wise to establish meeting locations for everyone’s safety. Anticipate ways to maintain connection amidst the spots where cell service fades.  

7. Pack a Bin Bag and Leave the Park Better Than You Found It

Leave no trace behind as you pack up all trash in sight. To allow others to enjoy incredible future family trips to Yellowstone, guide your kids to explore responsibly, preserving every facet of the park’s natural treasures. When you come across litter on trails or at a campground site, lead by example—quickly use a resealable bag to pick up any forgotten items. Channel your inner Mary Poppins and turn it into a game. Make keeping the earth feel like a jubilant walk in the park! 

8. Maximize Your Visit at Yellowstone Visitor Centers

Another helpful practice when journeying to Yellowstone with kids—visitor centers will be your best friend. Turn to each one as a valuable platform for all kinds of resources, from educational programs and maps to news on all current park updates. 

Kid-Friendly Educational Opportunities in Yellowstone

Discover one of the best family-friendly activities for an uplifting trip to Yellowstone—the Yellowstone National Park Junior Ranger Program, designed for children ages 5 to 12. Watch your young travelers step into their own unique adventure, finding that perfect mix of educational and recreational. Junior Rangers learn how to hike on a park trail while also delving into new concepts like fire ecology, bringing the adults along for every fun leap.

9. Bring a Compact Light Chair 

Take a chair that travels light in the trunk. Your kids will be thanking you for the comfort of savoring breathtaking views (and the boost that helps them see spectacular wildlife at eye level, protected at a safe distance). 

10. Stay on the Boardwalks by Hot Springs

Old Faithful Geyser erupting in front of a crowd.

As thermal areas can reach scalding temperatures, stick to the boardwalks and designated paths. Safely lean into each other for a grand view of those dazzling prismatic waters from a beautiful distance.

FAQ: Things You Should Know for Yellowstone

For the families preparing for a trip of thrills and vibrant new memories ahead, here are the top tips to know when adventuring in Yellowstone.

Which part of Yellowstone is best for kids?

Make sure you explore the global hotspot for nearly a quarter of the world’s shooting geysers, the Upper Geyser Basin. With flat trails, families pushing young and curious children in strollers can easily explore the glory of Mother Nature, putting on her most spectacular show. Sit back and watch their faces light up as they see their first geyser erupting mid-air. 

How do I plan a family trip to Yellowstone National Park?

You’re ready to plan a multi day itinerary—bringing your family along to share the ride of a lifetime, full of thousands of square miles moving with vibrant wildlife and, all the while, Old Faithful steams with impressive might. Space out each adventure with experiences available at lodges, including horseback riding, as you connect with an outfitter to plan a guided fishing experience on Yellowstone Lake. 

Travelers tip: There’s so much to do in Yellowstone on an exciting family vacation, so plan for eateries between each new leap. Make sure you reserve tickets in advance for the epic Old West Dinner Cookout for an authentic cowboy experience after exploring the wild. 

How many days do you need in Yellowstone with kids?

Only a day would leave you with so much more wonder left untapped. While you could spend a week hopping from one eyes-sparkling attraction to the next, a sweet spot for that perfect, unforgettable family trip to Yellowstone is three to four days of nonstop delight. 

Is Yellowstone good for kids?

Yellowstone is a destination treat for families traveling with kids who are looking to have an absolute blast on an action-packed getaway. The experiences are as immersive as they are accessible, so no one will feel left out—leaving you with memories so bright, your conversations after vacation will feel like geysers continuing to stream with Yellowstone’s radiant technicolors. 

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