Most visitors are given the advise to drive the Upper Loop and the Lower Loop to get the full Yellowstone experience. We highly discourage that if you have any kids with you. Doing the "Loops" is typically a 12 hour journey at best, guaranteeing you'll lose the interest of the kids long before that. Coming from a parent who frequents Yellowstone regularly, it's a drag. For over 20 years we've recommending these simple itineraries for families that will not only be a great experience but is fun for all!
Begin in Big Sky or West Yellowstone. If you do start in Big Sky, you have a scenic 30 minute drive through the Northwest corner of Yellowstone, that features several easy hikes. One of those is the Bighorn Pass. It's a nice stop and you can hike up stream for 10 or fifteen minutes and back to the car to stretch the legs and have a beautiful walk.
- About fifteen minutes past the entrance in West Yellowstone, you will see signs for Harlequin Lake. Stop here and take this family friendly hike to the lilly pad, filled lake. It's a great walk and gets the kids moving.
- After the hike, head to Grand Prismatic Springs. Take the walk to the observation overlook.
- After Grand Prismatic, head to Old Faithful. We recommend taking the boardwalk Counter Clockwise from Old Faithful. This allows for a different perspective of Old Faithful and to see the rest of the Geysers and features of this basin.
- After strolling the boardwalk trail, head into the Old Faithful lodge for lunch or ice cream. The architecture of this building is not to be missed.
- At this point you've probably seen a dozen geyser features, Grand Prismatic, Old Faithful and plenty of Bison and Elk. Time to star heading back to West Yellowstone.
- On the way back feel free to stop and see something you noticed earlier, or head straight to the Firehole Swim Hole. Bring a swimsuit and towel and go have some fun swimming. If you bring swim goggle you can see the fish!
- From here it's time for an afternoon at the Zipline Adventure Park in West Yellowstone! This will be a highlight for the family, watch the video below check out the options at www.yellowstoneparkzipline.com
Insiders Tip: The Taco Bus in West Yellowstone is a great place for a casual evening dinner!