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National Parks are a great family vacation, but some parks are more family-friendly than others. Let’s face it, sometimes kids can find National Parks… boring. But Yellowstone National Park is different. This National Park is kid (and elderly) friendly. Find out why we love Yellowstone with kids AND learn how your kid may be your ticket to FREE National Park entrance.
About Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone is the United States’ FIRST National Park. That is right, it is the park that started it all.
Yellowstone is located in 3 different states- Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, with the majority of the park being located in Wyoming.
It is mostly a seasonal park- being open to cars from mid-Spring to mid-Fall (although the road between the North and NorthEast entrances is open year-round). The park is open to Snowmobiles and guided tours during the winter.
Cost of Visiting Yellowstone National Park
The park entrance fee is $30 for a 7-day pass. This fee does not include any extra fees for camping within the park. You can add on a pass to Grand Teton National Park for an extra $20. At the end of this post, I will tell you how to get into the National Parks- FOR FREE!
Where to Stay
I have stayed in both Island Park, ID (close to West Yellowstone) and Cody, Wyoming during visits to the park but there are several resort towns within driving distance. Check out my guide on where to stay when visiting Yellowstone for more information.
Things To Do In Yellowstone with Kids
Most people hear Yellowstone and think of Old Faithful. The Old Faithful geyser is a major attraction at Yellowstone, and it is definitely a must-see. You can stop by any visitor’s center in the park to get the approximate times that Old Faithful will erupt.
I suggest arriving 20 minutes or more before the next planned eruption so you can park and get to the viewing area in time. Yellowstone is full of geothermal activity, so even though Old Faithful is amazing, be sure to check out all the other geysers and also the hot springs.
Check out the waterfalls and the canyons of the Yellowstone River. One iconic spot you need to visit is Artist Point. The view of the lower falls at Artist Point is one of the most gorgeous views in the park. Do not miss the upper falls though, as you can get right near the water here.
There are several trails in Yellowstone for hiking. You can find a full list of trails HERE on the National Park Service’s Yellowstone page. You can also go camping in one of the 12 campgrounds in the park.
One thing that many people do not know you can do is you can go fishing in Yellowstone. I know the first time I went (as an adult) and noticed people fishing I was confused because I thought it would not be allowed. But it is. You can get all the information about fishing in Yellowstone, including regulations, permits needed, etc. HERE.
One of my other favorite things to do in Yellowstone is to check out the shops and visitor centers. Many of the visitor centers have really cool information in them. Also- the ice cream in the parks is really yummy.
Of course, one of the best things about Yellowstone is the wildlife. You get to see bison (buffalo) all over. Sometimes really close. We have seen them right next to our car and had them walk beside us on the road. You can see elk, bald eagles, coyotes, and even bears. It is important you follow the safety guidelines and NEVER approach the wildlife, but you will get to see them plenty close- especially if they cause a traffic jam for 3 hours (true story).
Activities for kids
Yellowstone has several activities geared towards kids. Your young ones can become junior park rangers. The program is ” a self-guided, Junior Ranger program for visitors aged 4 years and up.
The Junior Ranger program is a way to introduce children—and those young at heart—to the natural wonders of the park and their own role in preserving these wonders for the future.” The cost is $3 and you get a full color booklet, and a junior ranger patch upon completion.
Children can also become scientists, learn how to predict Old Faithful, join a conservations corp, and so much more. The National Parks website also has free coloring pages and more. You can find information on all of these programs and activities HERE.
Get Into The National Parks For Free!
So now that I have told you some of the best parts about Yellowstone, I am excited to share with you how you can get into Yellowstone and other National Parks For Free!
Each year, the National Parks offer at least one free entrance day, but this year- they are offering 16 to celebrate the National Parks Services turning 100 years old. You can find a list of dates that you can enter the parks for free HERE.
Also- 4th graders (or homeschooled children that are the age of 10) may receive free entrance for the year, along with their families.
Are you visiting a National Park this summer? Leave a comment letting me know which one. Then check out the other great posts from our friends on the blogorail below.