Yellowstone National Park
Activities & Programs
Listen to the sound of long summer days calling you to experience adventure in Yellowstone’s mountain wilderness. The backcountry beckons anglers to streams teeming with fish, and hikers to trails winding through meadows undulating with wildflowers. Whether fishing on the Madison River, taking a guided walk with an interpretive ranger or riding horseback through Roosevelt Country, you will enjoy exploring all the park has to offer.
What to Wear
When preparing for any outdoor activity, program or guided tour in Yellowstone, dress in layers, wear comfortable walking shoes or boots, always carry a jacket or sweatshirt and bring rain gear and plenty of water and extra food.
National Park Service rangers offer interpretive talks and guided nature and history walks during the day. They also present evening talks and illustrated programs at various locations in the park. Topics cover many different themes and stories at each park location. Programs are available for both adults and children. Check at any visitor center for current times and listings.
Field Seminars and Private Tours
The Yellowstone Association Institute (YA) offers more than 500 learning vacations on subjects such as geysers, grizzlies, photography and park history. Courses are based at the organization’s Lamar Buffalo Ranch Field Campus, the Yellowstone Overlook Field Campus, at park hotels and in the backcountry. Yellowstone Association also offers private tours including wildlife watching, day hiking and geology exploration.
Pedaling through Yellowstone can be a memorable, but potentially dangerous, experience. Very few bike paths exist, there are no bicycle lanes along roadways, and bikes are prohibited on boardwalks and backcountry trails. Wear safety gear, including a helmet and high-visibility clothing, because park roads are narrow and winding. Be especially mindful of mirrors protruding from campers and RVs that may pass you from behind. A rear view mirror on your bike and a helmet can be life-saving essentials. Bicycle rentals are available at Old Faithful Snow Lodge, where you can bicycle off-road through the
Upper Geyser Basin.
Bridge Bay Marina on Yellowstone Lake is the hub of boating activities. Scenic cruises, boat rentals, guided charters, boat slips, marine supplies and ranger services are all available. One-hour interpretive scenic cruises on Yellowstone Lake run from June to mid-September.
You can rent a rowboat or motorboat, or charter a guided boat to take up to six passengers to the hottest fishing spots. Fishing rods and tackle are provided on charters. Call (866) GEYSERLAND (439-7375) for guided charters. Rentals are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Boats, canoes, kayaks and rafts are not allowed on park rivers and streams, with the exception of the waterway between Lewis and Shoshone lakes, where only hand-propelled vessels are permitted. Launching facilities are located at Lewis Lake, and on Yellowstone Lake at Bridge Bay Marina and Grant Village Campground. All water vessels (including float tubes) must have a permit, which can be obtained from the Bridge Bay Marina or at ranger stations in the lake area. Each person on a vessel must have a Coast Guard-approved “wearable” personal floating device.
Understandably, fly fishing is popular throughout the park on Yellowstone’s crystal-clear lakes, rivers and streams. The fishing season begins in late May and continues through November 2. All anglers ages 16 and older must possess a valid Yellowstone National Park fishing permit to fish in the park; state permits are not valid. Anglers ages 15 and younger may either fish under direct supervision of an adult who has a fishing permit or obtain a free permit and fish without supervision. Fishing permits may be obtained at ranger stations, visitor centers, Yellowstone General Stores and Bridge Bay Marina. You can rent fishing equipment at the Yellowstone General Store at Bridge Bay Marina and purchase fishing tackle from Yellowstone General Stores throughout the park. Xanterra Parks & Resorts offers a fly fishing guide service. Visit hotel front desks for more information or call (866) GEYSERLAND.
During spring, summer and fall, wildlife is best spotted in the early morning and evening. In summer, bears, bison and coyotes are often seen in Hayden Valley, while mule deer inhabit the Geyser, Lake and Canyon countries. Elk often wander through meadows in Mammoth Hot Springs, the Upper and Midway geyser basins and the Lewis River area. Bighorn sheep sometimes congregate in the Gardner River Canyon. You may also see beavers, weasels, foxes, marmots and other animals. Wolf-watching is a popular activity in Lamar Valley.
You will see more of an animal’s natural behavior and activity if you are sensitive to its need for space. Don’t approach wildlife, especially those with young. View them from the safety of your vehicle. If an animal reacts to your presence, you are too close.
Each year a number of park visitors are injured by wildlife when they approach animals too closely. Always stay at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves and at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all other large animals—bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose and coyotes.
Lodging and Learning Packages
Lodging and Learning Packages are affordable adventures based at park hotels. During the day participants explore the park in a small group with an expert instructor from the Yellowstone Association Institute. Each night they return to historic park hotels for excellent meals, comfortable accommodations, and entertaining evening programs provided by Xanterra Parks and Resorts.
Spring, summer and fall packages are based at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, Roosevelt Lodge, Lake Hotel, Grant Village and the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. They include two wildlife programs (Spring Wolf & Bear Discovery and Fall Wolf & Elk Discovery), a hiking program (Trails Through Yellowstone), a family program (Yellowstone for Families), three comprehensive park tours (Best of Yellowstone, Essential Yellowstone, and Old Times on the Grand Tour), and a program that features exclusive use of a historic lodge (Roosevelt Rendezvous).
For more information about this award-winning program, call (866) 439-7375 or visit YellowstoneAssociation.org.