Since we were stationed in Utah, I couldn’t let up the opportunity to visit Yellowstone pass us by.
It was a little daunting to plan a long road trip with little ones, but they did great!
We all agree it’s our favorite trip in the USA so far.
We visited Yellowstone National Park over several days to see everything.
The park is essentially two big loops and we did a section each day.
We ate a lovely breakfast buffet each morning at The Ranch House Restaurant then drove into Yellowstone Park to see the sites and picnic, but we came back to Colter Bay each evening to grill dinner and play at the rocky beach.
We entered at the South Entrance.
There were forest fires, and we had to check on road closures each day.
We saw the remains of trees. We learned that forest fires are healthy for the forest since many cones won’t open without the heat. The ash replenishes the soil and new growth is already seen!
It was desolate, but beauty from ashes!
The only stretch we didn’t get to make it to due to the fires were from Canyon Village to the Fishing Bridge.
I splurged and bought Tori and Katie these lovely scavenger hunt cards and notebooks for our car rides.
It was pretty exciting to see the Continental Divide.
Day 1: Old Faithful
There is a ton of stuff to do at the Old Faithful Geyser area.
Educational backpacks for kids to check out with thermometers, drawing tools, and all sorts of fun stuff.
Boardwalks to walk around to view all the other fun geysers and hot pools.
A great little museum where kids can learn and explore and earn a Junior Ranger badge.
We watched Old Faithful about three times. It was so fun and fascinating.
The best part?!
Our son had been toilet training and was *this close* to having everything just click right into place. He refused to wear diapers or pullups anymore, so accidents were horrendous and messy and we were traveling and worried about all that. A lot.
When he told me he had to go, I took his hand to lead him to the single toilet bathroom in the visitor’s center. The girls were reading signs in the little museum and Aaron was at the viewing window.
He didn’t want me inside with him, so I waited right at the door.
A few minutes later, he opened the door a crack. He was so proud.
We flushed and washed. I told him to go tell his dad.
My favorite memory of Yellowstone is my son running through the Old Faithful Visitor’s Center towards his dad, yelling, “I pooped! I pooped! I POOPED!” while all the French people and Asians stared at him like he was being abducted.
Then we got to see Old Faithful again.
We had a lunch picnic outside the gift shop at Old Faithful.
Then we got some ice cream at the shop and sat on a bench to rest. And watched Old Faithful again.
Day 2: Geysers and Gibbon Falls
These elk crossed our paths and were so close we could almost pet them. But we didn’t. We were so good.
We stopped at Madison for a picnic lunch and break.
Norris was probably our least favorite location. We didn’t even complete the trail before we headed back to the car.
When driving, you have to watch out for the animals!
This big guy stopped traffic:
Day 3: Mammoth Hot Springs
Historic Fort Yellowstone is near Mammoth Hot Springs. There’s a little museum and lots of shops and restaurants.
We drove from Mammoth to Canyon. It’s a beautiful landscape.
From the car, we saw lots of deer and antelope.
Deer were frolicking and foraging by the roadside.
Day 4: Canyon Village, Yellowstone Falls, and West Thumb
Liz completed the Junior Ranger program at every center in the park. The hardest one was at Canyon Village.
We saw a baby bear! Lots of stupid people had pulled over and were out of their cars, chasing it with cameras. We slowed down and I snapped this out the window. We left before Mama Bear appeared.
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and the Falls were lovely.
West Thumb was our last stop at Yellowstone.
The geysers, hot springs, and colorful pools are always amazing.
Clothing layers and good walking shoes. The weather changes quickly. It’s cool in mornings and evenings, but warms up during the day. It’s very bright if the sun shines, so sunglasses and hats are good to bring.
We ate picnic lunches every day to save money. And it was easier to have a cooler of healthy foods and snacks with us. We could stop whenever we needed at a picnic site for a break or meal.
Stay on the boardwalks, walking paths, and trails. We didn’t venture away from the safety of these.
Don’t bother animals. Don’t try to touch them or feed them.
Learning about Yellowstone:
- Mac’s Field Guide to Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks: Birds and Mammals Cards AND Trees and Wildflowers Cards by Craig MacGowan
- “Hey Ranger!” Kids Ask Questions About Yellowstone National Park by Kim Williams Justesen
- Yellowstone Trivia by Janet Spencer
- Yellowstone & Grand Teton Activity Book by Paula Ellis