Stroll the boulevards above Mammoth Hot Springs and its scorching travertine terraces, but then try a moderate hike to the nearby Bunson Peak trailhead, ascending through the meadows to a peak of 8 564 feet with views of Swan Lake Flats. For a family-friendly option, visit the Old Faithful Geyser and the nearby Biscuit Basin with its crystal-clear pools, then hike up the Mystic Falls Trail for a three-mile round-trip hike to a 70-foot waterfall. Want something more fearless? To try All trails new ‘Less Traveled Trails’ filter, which allows you to search for popular, less traveled trails, including the difficult 11.2 miles Sepulcher mountain trail.
The best time to visit
Yes, summer has the best weather, longer days, baby animals and wildflowers, but also the most people. If you must come in the summer, avoid the rush of traffic by visiting the park outside of the busiest hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., arriving strategically late or as early as 6 a.m., when wildlife is out and the roads and the sidewalks are clear. For consistently comfortable weather and lighter crowds, aim for June, when baby animals – like cubs, wolf puppies, and adorable American fawns – are in abundance and waterfalls are at their peak, or September to mid. -October, when the aspens turn to gold and the moose bawl.
From mid-October to April, it is winter in these regions, certainly the least populated and in fact quite spectacular. Expect high temperatures ranging from one digit to 20, but also a truly peaceful experience with warm multi-colored pools against white snow, herds of bison covered in icicles, and Old Faithful seemingly all to yourself. Most roads are closed in winter, although you can visit parts of the park by snowmobile or guided snowmobile tours (small bus). For an extra cool nighttime tour in winter, check out the “Steam, Stars and Winter Soundscapes Tour” snowcoach experience. You can also rent skis in the shops of Mammoth Hot Springs or enjoy private guided snowshoe adventures as part of a stay at Lonely mountain ranch in the Big Sky area.
Where to stay
Yellowstone’s crazy number of visits means homes are often purchased quickly, six months to a year in advance, with the latter becoming the norm. We’ve named our favorite accommodations in this comprehensive guide to where to stay in Yellowstone, which includes glamping sites, cabins, and mountain-view condos in and near the park.