Tips for Traveling with Kids in Yellowstone

Pharaba Hacker-Witt (Visitor Review) September 7, 2010 1 Comment

The Great Canyon of Yellowstone

A waterfall taller than Niagara Falls.

When you set out on an adventure with kids, it is often easy to leave things behind or not know what exactly you will need. This can be especially prevalent when going to National Parks. For those on a budget it is not easy to acquire those things you leave behind as everything inside the park can be of heightened cost. The other complication can be keeping kids entertained.   Lets face it, there are many natural formations that adults can marvel at while kids might find them less than thrilling.

First and foremost decide on the right family game before going to the park. Yellowstone is full of animals, different rock formations, different types of trees, hot springs and giant lakes. Devising a points game before you enter the park can help ensure you get to see the things you want to see while keeping kids looking for things to fill out their sheet. You can place point values on everything from waterfalls to paint pots to Old Faithful. Don’t forget to include high point values for hard to spot animals. A word to the wise, limit the number of Bison you can count or you will fill up an entire sheet with the 100’s of buffalo that roam the park.

Pack for all kinds of weather. Even in the summer, a snowstorm can hit in the high mountains, so it is important to carry sweatshirts, fleece, and even rain jackets. Nothing makes kids (and their parents) more miserable than not being prepared for the correct weather temperature. If you pack for a variety of weather conditions you will be good to go. Even if it never gets cold during the day, you will find it to be cold in the evenings, so by the fire most people like to have some warm options.

Proper shoes are paramount. I cannot tell you how many times I have travelled places only to find all the shoes packed by the kids were flip flops. Closed toed shoes are essencial. Shoes are quite important especially if you plan on taking in any of the sites slightly off the beaten path such as the morning glory pool. Most things in the park include a bit of walking, so prepare your children for that fact so you can limit the “pain and suffering” angle. Yellowstone actually has quite a few trails with steps. Another game for the duration of your stay is to log every stair you climb. It can be a fun way to distract the kids from how far they are walking.

The Gusher Pizza Yellowstone

A great family friendly pizza joint.

Plan some just plain runaround time. The Lake is a great place to do this because of the expansive beach. You can play tag or set up a picnic. The park can be quite overwhelming and sometimes just letting kids run loose is a nice break for them as well. This area, as it is open, makes it more doable for the kids to run off on their own. Also, West Yellowstone offers some inexpensive dining such as a cook it yourself steak house called Enos and a pizza place with arcade games, The Gusher.

There is no cable TV in the park. This is an important fact when considering your entertaining options. Even if you are staying in the local facilities such as the cabins at Canyon or the Inn at Old Faithful, you are still not going to have access to TV. Bringing a computer with DVD’s could help keep you sane when you are getting ready in the room. We did not realize how convenient a TV can be while taking turns in the shower until that option is not available. If you like to stay unplugged, pack a few board or card games that you can play in the room.

If you are brining small children, it is important to know the park is not conducive to strollers. Even the areas that have flat surfaces are made up of planks and decking making for a difficult rolling experience. It is helpful to have as sling or a backpack for kids who are not yet walking or who might tire easily. Also, with the uneven ground, some form of tether is a good idea for small children so they do not toddle into harm’s way. Many of the fascinating things to see are based on very volatile geothermal activity, making straying from the path dangerous and sometimes lethal. Keeping a tight reign on children is important.

Above all, have fun. Yellowstone is a huge place and you should take your time to explore it all.  There is more than Old Faithful and you can have a truly lengthy vacation and visit many different landscapes all in one place. From deep forest to lakes to volcanic rock to a waterfall taller than Niagara Falls, it is all packed into the country’s oldest National Park.

avatarAbout the Author:

Pharaba Hacker-Witt (Visitor Review)

I work and live in Los Angeles, but travel as much as I possibly can. My brother and sister are young enough to be my kids, so I have taken the lead in planning all the family vacations, learning tons along the way! From Europe to Canada to Mexico to road trips all over the United States, I have done and planned it all and can't wait to hit the road each and every day.

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One Comments to “Tips for Traveling with Kids in Yellowstone”
  1. avatar Picking accommodations for your family - Tips and Considerations says:

    [...] the River Walk. We wanted a view of the Alamo. And this drove our hotel selection. When we visited Yellowstone National Park, I wanted inexpensive, modern accommodations. That ruled out the elegant in-park offerings and the [...]