Day Hiking

Hikers on the top of Avalanche Peak
Exploring Yellowstone along more than 900 miles of trails will offer you a rewarding experience.

NPS/Diane Renkin

 

Yellowstone National Park is one of America's premier wilderness areas. The park encompasses more than 2.2 million acres, has more than 900 miles (1,449 km) of hiking trails, and is primarily managed as wilderness. Day hiking does not require a permit.

When planning a hike, remember that many of Yellowstone’s trails are more than 7,000 feet above sea level. Most areas retain snow until late May or early June, and some (especially mountain passes) are snow-covered until late July. Also, many routes require fording rivers that can be 25 feet wide, 3 to 6 feet deep, extremely cold, and swiftly running during our late spring runoff. It’s hard to tell from a map whether a stream will be a raging torrent or merely a swollen creek. Check our backcountry situation report for the most up-to-date information on park trails.

Find a Hike

Review the map to see where different hikes are located, or select an area to see what hike descriptions are available.

 
 
Lower Falls plunges into the yellowish-tan canyon.

Canyon Day Hikes

Mountains and canyons highlight some of the stunning hikes in the center of the park.

Hikers rest and look out at Yellowstone Lake from atop a mountaintop.

Lake & Fishing Bridge Day Hikes

Hikes in this area provide views of Yellowstone Lake and the surrounding mountains.

A trail meanders through a conifer forest.

Madison Day Hikes

Hikes in the Madison area meander through conifer forest.

View of sagebrush-covered valley with snow-capped peaks beyond.

Mammoth Hot Springs Day Hikes

The trails around Mammoth Hot Springs have a full range of difficultly and environments to explore.

Blue and orange hot spring steams and churns.

Old Faithful Day Hikes

Hydrothermal features abound in the Upper Geyser Basin, and many trails in the area lead to some quieter views.

The Yellowstone River meanders through a forested valley, exposing tan rock.

Tower & Northeast Day Hikes

Valleys, mountains, and petrified forests can be explored in the northeast part of the park.

Visitors walking along the West Thumb Geyser Basin boardwalk.

West Thumb & Grant Day Hikes

Hikes in the south part of the park reward hikers with spectacular lake views.

 

Safety

Visiting wilderness means experiencing the land on its terms. Here are some tips for exploring the natural wonders of Yellowstone on foot:

  • Begin your hike by stopping at a ranger station or visitor center for information or updates on trail conditions and area closures.
  • Tell someone about your plans, including your destination, route, and estimated time of return.
  • At a minimum, carry water, a raincoat or poncho, a warm hat, an insulating (non cotton) layer of clothing, insect repellent, sunscreen, and a first aid kit.
  • Stay on trails: taking shortcuts causes trail erosion and is dangerous. In hydrothermal areas, stepping on thin crust may plunge you into boiling water.
  • Stay alert in burned areas. Wind may topple standing dead trees.
  • Learn the best practices for traveling safely in bear country: hike in groups of three or more, make noise, carry bear spray, and know how to use bear spray.
  • As a safeguard against Giardiasis, other parasites and bacteria, we recommend that you boil, filter, or chemically treat all water found in the backcountry before drinking it.
  • Lightning storms are common during summer: stay away from ridges, exposed areas, and isolated trees when lightning is present.
 
 
Photo of people watching wildlife in Lamar Valley

Things To Do

No matter how you like to spend your day, we’ve got you covered.

 
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Duration:
4 minutes, 22 seconds

Most people visit Yellowstone from their cars. When they stop, it is at one of the park highlights which is crowded with visitors. The wise visitor sets aside some time for a longer day-hike.

Last updated: July 5, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168

Phone:

307-344-7381

Contact Us