Whether you’re looking for an easy hike on a boardwalk or a more adventurous hike to see wildlife, there is a hike for you in Yellowstone.  The park is one of the most fascinating in the entire country, and with so much to do, knowing the best Yellowstone hikes to do can be difficult. This guide to Yellowstone hiking shows you all the highlights. 

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21 Jaw Dropping Hikes in Yellowstone National Park
The Most Incredible Yellowstone Day Hikes

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Best Hikes in Yellowstone

Before we look at each of the Yellowstone best hikes, a few practical things to know: 

What to Pack for Hiking Yellowstone 

Be sure to check that you have everything on my Day Hike Essentials list

There is no cell service in most of the park. Pick up a topographical National Geographic Yellowstone trail map before you go.   A detailed Yellowstone National Park hiking map isn’t necessary for all of those trails, but will definitely help for those not on boardwalks. 

If you are planning a trip to Yellowstone, you can make your planning easy and stress free with a detailed itinerary. I have created 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-day itineraries for Yellowstone. You can choose your preferred activity level and take all the stress out of planning your trip.

Check out the 4 Yellowstone itinerary options


Ten Tips for Hiking at Yellowstone National Park 

  1. You may encounter wildlife.  Park guidelines require you to stay at least 100 yards (91m) from bears and wolves and at least 25 yards (23m) from elk, bison, moose, and other animals. 
  2. There are lots of black bears and grizzly bears in Yellowstone.  Carry bear spray or a bear whistle with you at all times.  You can get bear spray here if you need some. 
  3. Never stray from the boardwalk or trail.  There is a lot of geothermal activity in Yellowstone and the ground you see is often a thin crust over boiling acid or water.  People have got burned and some have even died when they ventured off the boardwalks. 
  4. Many of these hikes do not have shade. Practice good sun wellness, including wearing a sunhat and sunscreen
  5. The best time to hike most of these trails is early in the morning before it gets too hot, especially at the height of summer. Morning and dusk are also typically the best times to see wildlife. 
  6. Take more water than you think you’ll need.  You don’t want to get dehydrated. 
  7. Don’t rely on cell service; it is non-existent in the park.  Download or have a printed map
  8. Wear sturdy hiking boots or shoes.  If you hike trails that aren’t on boardwalks, the terrain is often uneven and solid hiking shoes/ boots make a huge difference.  If you need to get some, be sure to read my Guide to the Best Hiking Shoes/ Boots
  9. Take binoculars.  I always take binoculars when I’m hiking.  You never know when you’ll see birds, animals or geographic features in the distance that are interesting to see in more detail. I think they’re so important that I wrote a Guide to Finding the Best Binoculars For the Money.  Be sure to check it out. 
  10. Know the weather.  Check out my Guide to the Best Time to Visit Yellowstone for details on what expect throughout the year and check the latest weather when you’re there, as it can be unpredictable. 

Guided Hikes Yellowstone 

There are couple of ways you can go hiking in Yellowstone.  You can definitely do these hikes by yourself, but there are also several guided hikes in Yellowstone National Park to choose from.  These have the advantage of a professional guide to take you along the best routes, find the best viewpoints, and go to the best places to see wildlife. 

Lamar Valley 

This 6-hour hike takes you along the Lamar River Trail.  You can make the hike shorter or longer, but no matter how far you, this is one of the best places to see wildlife in the national park.  

>> Book a Guided Hike around Lamar Valley 

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone 

This 6-hour guided hike takes you on a 6-mile loop trail along the Canyon Rim starting and ending at Upper Falls.  Along the way, you’ll visit Ribbon Lake, Clear Lake, a back-country geyser basin, and the Wapiti Meadows. 

>> Book a Guided Tour along the rim of the Canyon 

Upper Geyser Basin 

Visit all the main attractions and some hidden gems in the Upper Geyser Basin. The 4 – 6-hour, six-mile loop stars and ends at Biscuit Basin and the stunning Sapphire Pool.  You’ll see Old Faithful, of course, as well as Morning Glory, Daisy Geyser, and more.  The hike includes Observation Point, a stunning viewpoint over the geyser basin.  

>> Book a Guided Hike Around Upper Geyser Basin 

Fairy Falls 

This 6-8-hour tour includes a walk to the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook, then continues along the trail through a lodgepole pine forest to Fairy Falls. 

>> Book a Fairy Falls Guided Hike 

Bunsen Peak 

This is a strenuous 6-hour hike up to a peak with breathtaking views over the park.  Take a shorter out-and-back option or return via the less-visited back of the mountain and add another 3 miles.  Whichever route you take, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views from the summit.  

>> Book a Bunsen Peak Guided Hike 

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Best Hikes in Yellowstone

21 Best Hikes in Yellowstone National Park 

To make your decisions easier, I’ve divided the main Yellowstone trails into categories. 

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Best Yellowstone Hikes for Wildlife 

Yellowstone is often called “America’s Serengeti” because of the abundance of wildlife inside the park. Three of the best day hikes in Yellowstone to see wildlife are: 

1. Lamar River Trail 

Lamar River Trail Yellowstone
  • Length: 4 miles, 7 miles or 33 miles 
  • Difficulty:  Moderate 
  • Trailhead: Lamar River Trailhead (if you’re heading east through Lamar Valley, don’t stop at the first trailhead (this is for livestock).  Drive another few seconds to get to the actual trailhead. 

This is one of the best trails in Yellowstone to see wildlife.  You can hike as much or as little as you like, though there are two popular options. 

The trail starts with a small footbridge over Soda Butte Creek, where there are great views of the valley and surrounding mountains.  1.3 miles into the hike is the Specimen Ridge Trail junction. The trail to the Lamar River (4 miles round trip) is to the right and the trail to Cache Creek (7 miles round trip) is to the left.   

The trail to Lamar River goes through meadows where bison often hang out. When you get to the river, you can turn back.  The trail to Cache Creek is a longer and more strenuous hike, but has great chances of seeing bison, bears, and possibly even wolves 

Insider Tips:  

  • Yellowstone National Park hiking is best done in the morning for the best chances of seeing wildlife, to ensure you get a parking spot, and to avoid the heat of the day (there is no shade on this trail). 
  • Use bug spray! 

Highlights 

  • Possibly the best hike in Yellowstone for seeing wildlife 

2. Beaver Ponds Trail 

Elk Beaver Pond Trail Yellowstone
  • Length: 6 miles loop 
  • Difficulty: Moderate, mostly due to the steep first 0.5 miles. After that, it’s easy.
  • Trailhead: There are two trailheads – to do the hike in a clockwise direction, start at the trailhead near Hymen Terrace at the northern end of the Lower Terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs.  End at the trailhead behind some buildings of the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel 

This is one of the lesser-known Yellowstone hiking trails, but one of the best to see wildlife. Despite its name, you probably won’t see beavers, though muskrats and water birds are often seen at the ponds. 

On the return trip, you’ll pass through a large meadow where elk often hang out. Other animals that are commonly seen in the sagebrush meadows and small groves of trees include black and grizzly bears, mule deer, pronghorn, and moose. 

Insider Tips:  

  • Doing the hike in a clockwise direction gets the steepest part of the trail out of the way at the beginning of the hike.  The rest is fairly flat. 

Highlights:  

  • Wildlife  

3. Mud Volcano 

Bison Mud Volcano Trail Hayden Valley Yellowstone
  • Length: 0.6-mile loop 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Trailhead: Mud Volcano parking lot 

This is one of the many hiking trails Yellowstone has that goes along a boardwalk for your protection and that of the environment.  The trail loops past churning cauldrons of hot water, steaming caves, and bubbling mud springs.  It’s definitely worth doing this hike for those alone. 

However, this is also a popular hangout for bison.  The trail climbs a small hill and at the back end of the loop, you may see bison grazing on the meadow on both sides of the boardwalk and hanging out near Sour Lake.   

Insider Tips:  

  • Visit early in the morning for the best chances of seeing bison 

Highlights:  

  • Geothermal features 
  • Bison  

Best Yellowstone Canyon Hikes 

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is an incredibly beautiful multi-colored canyon featuring the Upper Yellowstone Falls (109 feet) and Lower Yellowstone Falls (308 feet).

4. Yellowstone River Overlook 

Yellowstone River Overlook Trail
  • Length: 3.5- to 4-mile roundtrip (depending on where you turn back) 
  • Difficulty: Easy – moderate 
  • Trailhead: Yellowstone River Picnic Area 

One of the lesser-known best day hikes in Yellowstone National Park, this trail has spectacular views of the Narrows section of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and a good chance of seeing wildlife.

Most of the hike is along the east rim of the canyon, as it gets deeper and narrower. About a mile in, you may notice a sulphur smell from Calcite Springs on the opposite side of the canyon. 

At 1.7 miles, the trail turns left. You can turn back here (the best part is over) or continue another 0.3 miles until the junction with the Specimen Ridge Trail.  

Insider Tips:  

  • There is not much shade, so wear a sunhat and sunscreen.  
  • If you’re hiking with young children, keep an eye on them, as there is a steep drop off and no railing. 

Highlights:  

  • Views of the Narrows section of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone 
  • Good chances of seeing wildlife 

5. Brink of Lower Falls 

Brink of the Falls Yellowstone
  • Length: 0.8 miles return 
  • Difficulty: Strenuous due to the steep elevation change
  • Trailhead: Brink of the Lower falls parking lot/ trailhead 

From the parking lot, the paved trail heads down switchbacks through trees, so there is not much of a view along the way.  However, it ends at a small viewing platform perched right on the edge of the top of the Lower Yellowstone Falls.  It’s an incredible view of the falls up close as they plummet over the edge, as well as down the length of the canyon. 

The return trip back up the steep switchbacks is quite challenging.  

Read More: The Best Waterfalls in Yellowstone

Insider Tips:  

  • Parking can be a problem, so try to do this hike in the morning before 10:00am. 

Highlights:   

  • This is one of the best hiking trails in Yellowstone because of the dramatic views of the falls from the top. 

6. Red Rock Point 

Red Rock Point Trail Yellowstone
  • Length: 0.7 miles out-and-back 
  • Difficulty: Strenuous.  It drops about 500 feet in a very short distance. 
  • Trailhead: Lookout Point 

One of the best hikes Yellowstone has to see the Yellowstone Falls, the trail is short, but steep.  It descends from the north rim down into the canyon for a truly breathtaking view of Lower Yellowstone Falls. 

From Lookout Point, take the trail to the right.  It descends along a paved path and wooden walkways/ staircases to a viewpoint next to the red rock that gives the trail its name.  The climb back to the top is steep, so take it slow. 

Insider Tips:  

  • The parking lot at Lookout Point is tiny.  If you do this hike a bit later in the day, consider walking 15 minutes each way along the rim trail from the Brink of the Lower Falls parking area so that you don’t need to move your car and try and find another parking spot. 

Highlights:  

  • View of Lower Yellowstone Falls 

Best Yellowstone Waterfall Hikes 

The previous two canyon hikes included views of Lower Yellowstone Falls, and these are definitely the biggest falls in the park. But there are many other beautiful waterfalls in Yellowstone that are well worth seeing.

7. Fairy Falls 

Fairy Falls Yellowstone National Park past Grand Prismatic Spring
  • Length: 5 miles round trip 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Trailhead: Fairy Falls Trailhead 

This is one of the Yellowstone National Park best hikes because it takes you to a lovely waterfall and includes a view of Grand Prismatic Spring along the way.  The first part of the trail is to the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook (see below). 

From the Overlook, continue going down the hill to rejoin the main trail. About a half mile along, turn left at the sign to Fairy Falls.  The trail continues through a lodgepole pine forest until you get to the very pretty waterfalls, which while certainly less spectacular than the enormous Yellowstone Falls, make a great picnic spot.  

Insider Tips:  

  • The trail is generally open late May to early November, though this can vary from year to year depending on the snow. 
  • There are no RVs, buses and trailers allowed in the parking area. 

Highlights:  

  • Waterfall 
  • View of Grand Prismatic Spring 

Read More: Read a trail description 


8. Gibbon Falls 

Gibbon Falls yellowstone
  • Length: 0.5 miles round trip 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Trailhead: Gibbon Falls Trailhead/ parking lot 

Gibbon Falls are not the most spectacular waterfalls in the park, but this is one of the easiest waterfall hikes in Yellowstone. It’s just 75 feet to the brink of the 84-foot cascading waterfall. Continue along a trail another 525 feet to the upper overlook, or hike the full 0.5 miles round trip to the lower overlook.  There are several different views of the waterfalls along the way.  

Insider Tips:

  • Visit here when east to avoid having to turn across the road into the parking area.  

Highlights:  

  • Waterfall 

9. Tower Fall 

Tower Fall Yellowstone
  • Length: 100 yards 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Trailhead: Tower Fall parking lot 

Tower Fall is a narrow 132-foot waterfall.  It’s only about 100 yards from the parking lot to the observation point, so this is definitely short and easy, but is one of the must do hikes in Yellowstone for exactly that reason.  

Insider Tips:  

  • Look for hawks, falcons and ospreys – they are often seen flying around this aea. 

Highlights:  

  • Waterfall 

Best Easy Hikes in Yellowstone National Park 

Many of the best day hikes Yellowstone National Park are suitable for most people with a reasonable level of fitness.  Many of these hikes are around the geyser basins, but some venture off the boardwalks on to more traditional trails.  

10. Biscuit Basin 

Sapphire Pool Biscuit Basin
  • Length: 0.6 miles loop 
  • Difficulty:  Easy 
  • Trailhead: Biscuit Basin Trailhead/ parking lot 

This is one of the most easy hikes Yellowstone National Park has.  It’s a short loop on a boardwalk around a small geyser basin.  It’s named after the ‘biscuit’ shaped formations in the area, but the main attraction is Sapphire Pool.  The incredible blue color has to be seen to be believed!  There are also a couple of geysers and Black Opal Pool.  

Insider Tips:  

  • If parking is a problem and you have the energy, you can hike here from Upper Geyser Basin (or park here and hike to Upper Geyser Basin). 

Highlights:  

  • Sapphire Pool 

11. Black Sand Basin

Emerald Pool Black Sand Basin
  • Length: 0.5 miles out and back 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Trailhead: Black Sand Basin parking lot 

Another of the best short hikes in Yellowstone, this is also on a boardwalk around a small geyser basin. It’s named after Black Sand Pool that is actually on the opposite side of the main road and rarely visited.

As you head out on the boardwalk, you’ll soon come to a fork.  Go left to get to Emerald Pool.  Emerald Pool is quite similar to Morning Glory in Upper Geyser Basin – dark green in the middle with bright golden edges. 

Go back and turn left at the fork to get to Rainbow Pool and the small Sunset Lake.  Near Rainbow Pool are the remnants of Handkerchief Pool, which until the 1920’s, people used to throw their handkerchiefs into. The pool would suck the handkerchief down, then after a short while, it would pop up, cleaned. 

It’s illegal to thrown anything into any of the pools these days for a good reason – it interferes with the delicate balance of nature.  All that handkerchief throwing destroyed Handkerchief Pool in the 1920’s and today you can barely notice it.  

Insider Tips: 

  • If you want to see Black Sand Pool (which is blue and used to be a geyser), you can visit it as part of the Upper Geyser Basin trail.  

Highlights:  

  • Emerald Pool 

12. Midway Geyser Basin 

Ground-level-view-of-Grand-Prismatic-Spring-Yellowstone-National-Park-Wyoming
  • Length: 0.8 miles loop 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Trailhead: Midway Geyser Basin parking lot 

Midway Geyser Basin is one of the Yellowstone Park hikes not to miss because it’s home to the largest hot spring in North America and the third largest hot spring in the world, Grand Prismatic Spring.

The boardwalk crosses the Firestone River from the parking area and goes around the nearest edge of Grand Prismatic Spring. It also passes the huge geyser crater, Excelsior Geyser, as well as Turquoise Pool and Opal Pool.  

Insider Tips:  

  • The parking area is small, so it’s best to go early. There are also large pullouts on the main Grand Loop Road very close to Midway Geyser Basin where you can park if the parking lot is full.  

Highlights:  

  • Grand Prismatic Spring 

13. Fountain Paint Pot

Geysers on Fountain Paint Pot Trail Yellowstone Lower Geyser Basin
  • Length: 0.5 miles loop 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Trailhead: Fountain Paint Pot Trailhead 

This hike, another of the best short hikes Yellowstone has, is a great hike to learn about the geothermal features in Yellowstone because you can see all four of the hydrothermal features found in the park (mudpots, geysers, hot springs, and fumaroles) along the boardwalk. 

The geysers, including Clepsydra Geyser, erupt frequently, so there is a good chance you’ll see some activity going on.  At the end of the loop, you’ll come to the bubbling mud area that gives the trail its name. 

The trail is part of the Lower Geyser Basin, which at about 18 square miles, is the largest basin in the park. 

Insider Tips:  

  • There is a steep grade between Silex Spring and Fountain Paint Pot, as well as some steps near Twig Geyser. 

Highlights:  

  • Fountain Paint Pots 
  • Geysers

14. Pelican Creek Nature Trail 

Pelican-Creek-Yellowstone
  • Length: 0.6 miles loop 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Trailhead: A pullout on the south side of the highway just before the west end of Pelican Creek Bridge, 1 mile east of Fishing Bridge Visitor Center. 

This is one of the easy Yellowstone hikes in the Yellowstone Lake area. It starts by entering a forest before soon arriving at the shores of Lake Yellowstone, where there are great views of the lake.  The trail goes along the edge of the lake before heading back into the forest for the return loop.  It rejoins the original path at a marshy meadow where bison and bears are often seen. 

It’s a short trail but has lovely views of the lake and the forest is often frequented by foraging bears.   

Insider Tips:  

  • Grizzly bears are often present in spring and early summer, so take bear spray with you.

Highlights:  

  • Views of Yellowstone Lake 
  • Good chances of seeing animals and birds 

15. Natural Bridge Trail  

Natural-Bridge-yellowstone
  • Length: 2.5-mile out-and-back 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Trailhead: Bridge Bay Marina 

Another of the easy day hikes Yellowstone National Park has, the Natural Bridge Trail ends at a 51-foot arch that looks exactly like a bridge.  

The trail goes through the forest, then along a service road before arriving at the natural bridge. There’s an interpretive exhibit at the base. From the arch, you can climb a short but steep switchback to the top of the bridge, though you can’t walk over it.

Past the natural bridge, the trail crosses a creek, then continues along the cliff before rejoining the road.  

Insider Tips:  

  • The trail is usually closed until early summer while bears feed on spawning trout in Bridge Creek. Check at the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center to make sure it’s open if you’re traveling in spring or early summer.  

Highlights:  

  • Natural arch 

16. Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook 

Stunning-view-of-Grand-Prismatic-Spring-Wyoming-from-the-overlook-trail
  • Length: 1.2-mile out-and-back 
  • Difficulty: Easy (but does have a climb at the end) 
  • Trailhead: Fairy Falls Trailhead 

Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest and most spectacular colored hot spring in Yellowstone.  You can see it up close from the Midway Geyser Basin walkway, but to see it in all its glory, it is best viewed from the overlook, which is why this is one of the top hikes in Yellowstone. 

The trail is wide and flat and impossible to miss.  After about 0.4 miles, follow a small sign to the left and uphill for another 0.2 miles.  At the top is a small viewing platform where you get the best view in the park of Grand Prismatic Spring. It can be quite crowded, but people are usually pretty considerate and take turns to take photos.  

You can return the way you came or continue on to Fairy Falls.

Insider Tips:  

  • The spring is often covered in mist in the morning, so it’s best to visit in the afternoon, when the heat of the day has burned off the mist.  

Highlights:  

  • View of Grand Prismatic Spring 

Read More: Read my Guide to Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook Trail for more details 


17. Mammoth Hot Springs Lower Terraces 

mammoth hot springs lower terraceyellowston
  • Length: 1.75 miles 
  • Difficulty: East – Moderate.  There are quite a few stairs, with an elevation change of about 300 feet. 
  • Trailhead: The Lower Terraces parking near the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel 

This hike, which takes you past the main travertine terraces at Mammoth hot Springs, is one of the most unusual and best hikes in Yellowstone Park.  It is spread over several boardwalks.  

The boardwalk at the northern most part of the Lower Terraces (closest to the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel) is Hymen Terrace, which takes you near a 40-foot-high travertine cone, Liberty Cap.   

South of Liberty Cap is a 400-foot long out-and-back trail to the colorful Palette Spring, a picturesque area with lots of little pools and trickling water.  

The next path south loops all around Minerva Terrace.  On the far side, slightly off-trail and close to the edge of the forest, is Cleopatra Terrace, a largish area of yellow and orange flow formations. Mound Terrace on the south side of the loop is quite colorful.  

The trail then climbs up to New Blue Spring and to the Overlook, before passing around Grassy Spring and up and around to Canary Spring. Here, you can walk beside circular orange and white terraces with steaming water flowing down them and around now-dead trees as the spring slowly overtakes the forest. 

Insider Tips:  

  • Although most people do the entire trail from below, some of the upper part of the Lower Terraces are more easily accessed from the Upper Terraces, where there is a parking lot. 

Highlights:  

  • Liberty Cap 
  • Mound Terrace 
  • Canary Spring 

Best Moderate – Difficult Hikes in Yellowstone 

Some Yellowstone National Park day hikes are a little more difficult, either because of their length or due to their elevation change.  

18. Upper Geyser Basin  

Old Faithful yellowstone upper geyser basin
  • Length: 3 miles basic loop / 4.5 miles with Observation Point added / 5 miles to Biscuit Basin / 6.5 miles with Observation Point and Biscuit Basin added 
  • Difficulty: The basic loop is easy.  Moderate if you go to Biscuit Basin due to hike length 
  • Trailhead: Old Faithful area 

This is one of the most popular and best trails in Yellowstone National Park for a reason. It starts at Old Faithful and takes you past several other frequently erupting geysers such as Castle Geyser, Daisy Geyser and Grand Geyser.  There are dozens of colored pools, including the incredible green and gold Morning Glory near the far end.   

Add on an out-and-back hike up to Observation Point for a view of Old Faithful without the crowds.  You can hike all the way to Biscuit Basin and avoid having to find a parking spot there. 

Insider Tips:  

  • You can return more quickly by walking along a wide, flat service road. 
  • Go to the Old Faithful Visitor Center when you first arrive to find out the anticipated eruption times of Old Faithful and other geysers in the area that erupt regularly (Castle, Grand, Daisy, and Riverside).  

Highlights:  

  • Old Faithful 
  • Other erupting geysers 
  • Morning Glory 

19. Back Basin: Norris Geyser Basin 

Back Basin Norris Geyser basin yellowstone
  • Length: 1.75 miles loop  
  • Difficulty: Easy – moderate 
  • Trailhead: Norris Geyser Basin Museum 

Norris Geyser Basin is the hottest, oldest, and most dynamic of Yellowstone’s thermal areas. It’s divided into two basins – Porcelain Basin and Back Basin – with a boardwalk / dirt trail winding around both of them.  Back Basin makes it on the list of top Yellowstone hikes because it includes Steamboat Geyser, which at 300 feet, is the tallest geyser in the world.  Although it only erupts rarely, you can still it sputtering. 

Other highlights of the boardwalk loop include the aptly-named Emerald Spring, the largest acid-water geyser Echinus Geyser, and Green Dragon Spring, where, if the steam blows away, you can see boiling green water. 

Insider Tips:  

  • The trail can be shortened to 1 mile with a short cut that eliminates much of the loop (and many of the geothermal features) 

Highlights:  

  • Steamboat Geyser 
  • Emerald Spring 

20. Porcelain Basin: Norris Geyser Basin 

Porcelain Basin Norris geyser basin Yellowstone
  • Length: 0.8-miles figure 8 loop 
  • Difficulty: Easy – Moderate 
  • Trailhead: Norris Geyser Basin Museum 

Porcelain Basin is one of a handful of Yellowstone National Park hikes that takes you past multiple geothermal features.  It’s named after the milky, opalescent appearance of several of the pools, which is unique to this area.  

There are two loops, forming a figure 8. Following the trail in a clockwise direction, you’ll pass Crackling Lake, an emerald green boiling pool, Pinwheel Geyser and Sunday Geyser, a milky-blue pool, before continuing past Ledge Geyser on the way up the Porcelain Basin Overlook.  

The second loop passes Congress Pool before arriving at a short side trail to Porcelain Springs Overlook, where you can see the east end of Porcelain Basin and the Gallatin Mountains in the background. The boardwalk descends back into Porcelain Basin and passes Hurricane Vent before meeting up with the first loop near Sunday Geyser.  

Insider Tips:  

  • The parking lot at Norris Geyser Basin is often completely full between 11:00am and 1:00pm, and rangers will turn you away, so this time is best avoided.  

Highlights:  

  • Crackling Lake  
  • Porcelain Basin Overlook 
  • Porcelain Springs Overlook 

21. Mount Washburn 

Mount Washburn Yellowstone
  • Length: 6.2 miles round trip (or 5 miles)
  • Difficulty: Strenuous, with 1,400 feet elevation change 
  • Trailhead: Dunraven Pass Trailhead or Chittenden Road parking area 

If you like seeing panoramic views from the summit of a mountain, then this is definitely one of the best hiking trails in Yellowstone National Park for you. The trail takes you to the top of Mount Washburn (elevation of 10,243 feet), where on a clear day, you can see for 20-50 miles.  

There are two main trails to the peak. The one from Chittenden Road parking area is shorter (5 miles round trip) and wider, but is also shared with bicycles and service vehicles.  The more popular trail from Dunraven Pass Trailhead is paved, wide and easy to follow, but for hikers only.  

In July and August, wildflowers carpet the slopes, and there is a family of bighorn sheep that live in the area. There are switchbacks in the latter half of the hike.  

When you get to the top, you’ll enjoy incredible views, see one of three fire towers in the park, and be able to read interpretive exhibits explaining what you see. 

Insider Tips:  

  • If parking is full at Dunraven Pass, try at Chittenden Road instead 

Highlights:  

  • Wildflowers in season 
  • Mountain goats 
  • Panoramic views of the park from the summit 

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Subscribe to regular updates with tips for planning, travel inspiration and trip ideas and get instant access to the free PDF of the
Best Hikes in Yellowstone

Travel Insurance for Yellowstone 

You should definitely have travel insurance when you travel to Yellowstone.  Good travel insurance will cover you for trip cancellation, theft or damage of your property when traveling, medical help if you have an accident while hiking in Yellowstone, or medical repatriation if you need to get medevacked out.   

 A great insurance option is World Nomads.  They cover hiking for standard hiking routes below 19,685 feet.  You can book it here  or get a quote right here: 

Happy hiking!  

Do you have any other tip picks for the best Yellowstone day hikes?  I’d love to hear about it.  Join my private Facebook group National Parks Collectors and comment and let me know (you can also pick up extra planning tips, share your photos and stories with other national park lovers and more).   

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The Most Incredible Yellowstone Day Hikes
21 Jaw Dropping Hikes in Yellowstone National Park
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Are you just starting to think about taking a national parks trip? Get Inspiration
Are you starting to plan a trip to Yellowstone National Park? Read my Guide to Yellowstone National Park
Do you want a ready-made super detailed plan for your trip to Yellowstone? Get a detailed 1 – 4-day Yellowstone National Park Itinerary
Are you looking for a place to stay in or near Yellowstone National Park? Find a vacation rental near Yellowstone National Park or Find a campground inside Yellowstone National Park
Are you ready to book your trip? Use these Planning and Booking Resources
Do you want to read a book about Yellowstone National Park? Check out my Recommended Reading List for Yellowstone National Park

If you are also planning to visit the Grand Tetons, read my Guide to Grand Teton National Park and get a detailed Grand Teton itinerary.


About the Author 

James Ian Yosemite

James Ian has traveled to 82 countries and all 7 continents.  He has visited all of the main national parks in the United States, as well as many national monuments and state parks.

He has rafted through the Grand Canyon; rappelled down slot canyons near Zion and Arches; hiked among the hoodoos in Bryce and the enormous trees in Sequoia; admired the waterfalls in Yosemite and the colored hot springs in Yellowstone; seen moose in Grand Tetons and seals in the Channel Islands, and much more.

Read more…


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