10 Best Easy Hikes in Yellowstone National Park

The Best Easy Trails and Hikes in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park offers around 3,472 square miles or 2,221,766 acres to explore. With over 1,000 miles of hiking trails, it might be difficult to know which ones are best. In this Yellowstone hiking guide, I am covering the best easy hikes in Yellowstone National Park to include on your Yellowstone itinerary! All hikes are under 5 miles round trip so the whole family can enjoy it! 

These Yellowstone easy hikes will allow you to enjoy some wildlife, waterfalls, thermal features, and includes sight-seeing of the must-see Yellowstone attractions!

Artist Paintpots is a easy Yellowstone National Park hikes
Easy Yellowstone Hike to Artist Paintpots

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1. Fountain Paint Pots Trail

One of the best easy hikes in Yellowstone is the Fountain Paint Pots Trail. This trail is a 0.5-mile loop off of the Grand Loop Road and is perfect for those who love thermal activity.

Located near the West Yellowstone entrance in the Lower Geyser Basin, make your way down the boardwalk to explore mud pots, fumaroles, hot springs, and geysers. 

Some of the most notable attractions along the boardwalk are Fountain Paint Pot, Leather Pool, Red Spouter, Morning Geyser, and Fountain Geyser!

The entire trail is on a boardwalk and relatively flat. It takes around 25 minutes to 40 minutes to complete the loop, depending on how long you spend looking at the different features.

There is some grading between Silex Spring and Fountain Paint Pot. Additionally, there are also some steps near Twig Geyser to keep in mind.

It is best to visit Fountain Paint Pots during the Summer, Fall, or Winter. This trail is subject to wildlife closures (bears), mainly during the Spring.

Tip: Nearby this hike is Firehole Falls. If you are coming from the Yellowstone West Gate, it is a nice place to pull over and stretch your legs. 

Quick Fountain Paint Pots Trail Info: 

Distance: 0.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 22 ft.

Restrooms: Yes

Kid-Friendly: Yes

Difficulty: Easy

When to Visit: Summer, Fall, Winter

Location: Lower Geyser Basin – Closest to the West Yellowstone Entrance

Leather Pool at Fountain Paintpots in Yellowstone
Leather Pool on Fountain Paint Pots Trail
Fountain Paintpot is the first stop on your Yellowstone Itinerary
Driving up to Fountain Paintpot

2. Brink of the Lower Falls

Suggested Marquita by from Marquitas Travels

The Brink of the Lower Falls is 0.7 miles of a rather steep switchback hike. It leads to Lower Lookout Point which offers an incredible view of the largest waterfall in the Rocky Mountains, a 308-foot waterfall.

Nestled in close proximity to the North Canyon Rim parking lot, restrooms are nearby. The roughly paved trail quickly descends 300 feet; thus, potentially making the return a slight challenge.

Depending on your fitness level, the hike can take between 30-60 minutes. Luckily, there are benches along the trail, if needed. No matter how long the trail may take, one will not be disappointed as the view is absolutely breathtaking.

Not only is it home to a bigger-than-life-sized waterfall, but it also gives views of the unique and colorful canyon, confirming why it was appropriately named the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

Quick Brink of the Lower Falls Trail Info: 

Distance: 0.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 265 ft.

Bathrooms: Yes

Kid-Friendly: Yes

Difficulty: Easy/ Moderate

When to Visit: Year-Round

Location: Canyon Village – About 38 miles from the West Yellowstone Entrance and North Yellowstone Entrance (Gardiner). 

Yellowstone easy hikes to lower Brink Canyon
Lower Brink Yellowstone Hike

3. Midway Geyser Basin Trail

Midway Geyser Basin Trail is likely one of the most popular hikes in Yellowstone National Park. Not only is this trail easy, but it is also one of the hikes that allow you to see Yellowstone’s most popular attraction, Grand Prismatic Springs!

The loop is 0.8 miles and brings you up close and personal to Grand Prismatic Springs. Did you know Grand Prismatic Springs is deep enough to fit a 10 story building?

From the boardwalk, you will also be able to see other thermal features, including Opal Pool, Turquoise Pool, and Excelsior Geyser. Please make sure to stay on the boardwalk at all times!

Because this is such a popular trail, try to get here early. The loop is wheelchair accessible and has restrooms. Additionally, this area is subject to wildlife closure in the Spring due to bear activity. 

Quick Midway Geyser Basin Trail Info: 

Distance: 0.8 miles

Elevation Gain: Some grading

Restrooms: Yes

Kid-Friendly: Yes

Difficulty: Easy

When to Visit: Sumer, Fall, Winter

Location: Midway Geyser Basin – Closest to the Yellowstone West Entrance

Standing next to Grand Prismatic Springs in Yellowstone
Midway Geyser Loop Standing Next to Grand Prismatic Springs

4. Grand Prismatic Springs Overlook Trail 

Suggested by James Ian from Parks Collecting

The Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States and one of the best attractions in Yellowstone National Park. Bright blue, rimmed with green and yellow, and with orange sun-like rays, it is arguably the best of the many beautiful colored pools in Park.

Located in the Midway Geyser Basin, it can be seen up close from a boardwalk that goes around it, but this doesn’t really let you see the entire view since it is so large. The best view is from the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook Trail.

This trail is 1.2 miles roundtrip, with an elevation change of 105 feet, making it one of the best and most rewarding easy hikes in Yellowstone.

To access the trail, park at the Fairy Falls Trailhead. Please note that RVs, buses, and trailers aren’t allowed to park in this parking area. From the parking lot, walk along a wide and mostly flat trail (it is impossible to miss).

After about half a mile, the trail branches off to the left up a small hill. Take this trail. At the top, there is a small viewing platform with iconic views of the colorful hot spring.

The trail is very kid-friendly, but there are no restrooms (though there are facilities at the nearby boardwalk). From the overlook, you can return directly to the trailhead or continue on to Fairy Falls.

Additionally, it is best to visit the Grand Prismatic Overlook trail during the Summer, Fall, or Winter. This trail is subject to wildlife closures (bears) mainly during the Spring and opens in late May.

Quick Grand Prismatic Springs Overlook Trail Info: 

Distance: 1.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 105 ft.

Restrooms: Nearby Boardwalk

Kid-Friendly: Yes

Difficulty: Easy

When to Visit: Summer, Fall, Winter

Location: Midway Geyser Basin – Closest to the Yellowstone West Entrance

Grand Prismatic Springs Overlook trail is a easy Yellowstone hikes
Grand Prismatic Springs Overlook

5. Fairy Falls Trail

Suggested by Michelle from The Wandering Queen

Another one of the best easy hikes in Yellowstone is to Fairy Falls. This trail is around 4.8 miles round trip and has an elevation gain of 170 feet. It is rated as easy because you don’t have to climb up too many hills or mountains.

It is an excellent hike if you want to cool off because it features the outstanding Fairy Waterfall. This waterfall is around 200 feet tall and is a great place to swim on a hot day.

The trailhead is located at the same trailhead as the Grand Prismatic Overlook trail. It is best to combine both of these hikes for the best experience.

Please note that parking is limited at the Fairy Falls Trailhead and they do not allow buses, RV’s, or trailers to park. Additionally, the trail is closed during the Spring for bear management. It generally opens up in late May.

Make sure to bring water and a hat. There is very little shade.

Quick Fairy Falls Trail Info: 

Distance: 4.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 170 ft.

Restrooms: Nearby Boardwalk

Kid-Friendly: Yes

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

When to Visit: Summer, Fall, Winter

Location: Midway Geyser Basin – Closest to the Yellowstone West Entrance

Fairy Falls Waterfall is a great easy hike in Yellowstone National Park
Fairy Falls Waterfall

6. Norris Geyser Basin Trail

Suggested by Erica from Trip Scholars

Norris Geyser Basin offers one of the most spectacular hikes in the park. The geothermal waters at Norris are the hottest and some of the most acidic in Yellowstone National Park. This creates an otherworldly landscape unlike anywhere else on earth and makes for an awe-inspiring easy hike.

The trail is located at the major crossroads on the west side of the Great Loop Road. The Norris Geyser Basin Trail is made of two short loops: The Porcelain Basin Trail (.75 miles) and The Black Basin Trail (1.5 miles).

There is an elevation gain of 150 feet, much of it is stairs at the beginning of the hike. There are vault toilets in the parking lot and the best times to visit are before 10 AM and after 5 PM.

Bring water and hats since the acidity in the Porcelain Basin prevents most vegetation from growing so there is no shade. Also, be sure to take your time in the walkthrough open-air museum as you begin your hike.

It provides some of the best geology exhibits in the park. Once you pass through the museum, take in the astounding view from the overlook. You may get lucky on your hike and see the tallest geyser in the world erupt, Steamboat Geyser! It has been recorded of shooting water over 300 ft!

On your way out, stop by the small bookshop if you want to pick up some great resources to learn more about Yellowstone.

Quick Norris Geyser Basin Trail Info: 

Distance: 2.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 150 ft.

Bathrooms: Yes

Kid-Friendly: Yes

Difficulty: Easy

When to Visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Location: Norris Geyser Basin – Closest to the North Yellowstone Entrance (Gardiner) 24 miles. 27 miles from the West Yellowstone Entrance.

Norris Geyser Basin Trail
Norris Geyser Basin

7. Artist Paint Pots Trail

Another one of the best easy hikes in Yellowstone can be done at Artist Paint Pots Trail. This 1-mile loop is the perfect hike around golden hour/sunset. 

Enjoy a short walk down a wide/flat dirt path surrounded by trees that opens up to a boardwalk and thermal features. You can take a short climb to the top of the hill for an overlook of the mud pots and hot springs. 

Quick Artist Paint Pots Trail Info: 

Distance: 1 mile

Elevation Gain: 101

Restrooms: No

Kid-Friendly: Yes

Difficulty: Easy

When to Visit: Summer, Fall

Location: Norris Geyser Basin – Closest to both the North Yellowstone Entrance (Gardiner) and West Yellowstone Entrance.

View from the top of Artist Paintpots
Overlook from Artist Paint Pots

8. Natural Bridge Hike

Suggested by Rebecca from Whatever Packs Your Bag

Natural Bridge Trail is an easy 2.5-mile trail round trip and one of the best hikes in Yellowstone. It begins and ends at the same trailhead, and parking can be found at the Bridge Bay Marina.

The paved portion of the trail ends at an interpretive exhibit with an amazing view of the natural bridge. If you are looking for the best views, they are from the top.

To get to the top of the bridge, take a not very well marked switchback trail to the left of the exhibit.

Please note, it is off-limits to walk on the bridge as it is made out of rhyolite rock cut through by Bridge Creek and has become very fragile.

Once you hike the steps to the other side of the bridge, the hike back down is relatively easy.

The elevation gain is very low/ none to really speak of, but the switchbacks are a bit steep if you are unsteady. There are only a few of them, but even if you don’t go to the top, the view of the bridge is excellent and totally worth the walk. This hike is totally kid-friendly!

There is a small store at the Bridge Bay Marina, where you can pick up food/ necessities and hit the restrooms.

The trail is closed until early Summer due to bear activity. 

Quick Natural Bridge Trail Info: 

Distance: 2.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 216

Restrooms: Yes

Kid-Friendly: Yes

Difficulty: Easy

When to Visit: Summer, Fall

Location: Bridge Bay Marina Near the Yellowstone East Entrance Gate

Natural Bridge hike in Yellowstone National Park
View of Natural Bridge

9. West Thumb Geyser – Yellowstone Lake

West Thumb Geyser Trail located by Yellowstone Lake, is an easy 1-mile loop hike or some might say walk. You will get to see a lot of cool thermal features, including colorful pools and hot springs along with getting to see Yellowstone Lake. 

The path brings you along the boardwalk surrounding the hot springs. You might even be lucky enough to see some bison or elk during your visit. 

Some thermal features you will see include the Abyss Pool, Black Pool, Twin Geyser, Painted Pool, Lakeshore Geyser, and Fishing Cone.

Fun fact: Yellowstone Lake is the largest high-elevation lake in the USA. It sits above 7,000 ft in elevation. 

Quick West Thumb Trail Info: 

Distance: 1 mile

Elevation Gain: 216

Restrooms: Yes

Kid-Friendly: Yes

Difficulty: Easy

When to Visit: Summer, Fall

Location: West Thumb Geyser Basin Near the Yellowstone South Entrance Gate (Jackson Hole) and East Yellowstone Entrance.

West Thumb Geyser Overview
Overview from West Thumb Geyser Boardwalk Trail

10. Mud Volcano Trail

Ready for a stinky but fun and easy Yellowstone hike? Mud Volcano, close to Haydens Valley is a short 0.6-mile loop that brings you around the mud volcano and a few other thermal features including Dragons Mouth Spring, Sizzling Basin, and Grizzly Fumarole. 

The smell of rotten eggs is actually caused by hydrogen sulfide gas. You will likely smell this around other areas in the park. You can also find Sulphur Caldron, one of the most acidic features in the park, on this trail. This area is where many faults and earthquakes happen. 

You may even have a chance to see wildlife here. We saw many bison nearby the parking lot and by the trail entrance in the grass.

Please note this trail does have some steep grading and steps.

Quick Mud Volcano Trail Info: 

Distance: 0.6 mile

Elevation Gain: 118

Bathrooms: Yes

Difficulty: Easy

Kid-Friendly: Yes

When to Visit: Year-Round

Location: Near Haydens Valley and East Yellowstone Entrance.

Trail to Mud Volcano in Yellowstone
The trail to Mud Volcano with Bison in the distance

What to Know Before Hiking The Yellowstone National Park Trails

Now that you know some of the best easy hiking trails in Yellowstone, here are some things to keep in mind when hitting the trails. 

  • None of these trails require hiking boots. You should be fine with comfortable track sneakers. 
  • Use the All Trail app, bring a printed map, and a satellite GPS. There is very little cell service in the park.
  • Hiking poles are also not needed, however, if you plan on hiking a lot, you may want to consider some collapsable hiking poles. 
  • Bring a reusable water bottle, sunhat, sunscreen, and bug spray. Also, consider getting bear spray. Please note you can’t get on a plane with bear spray. 
  • Keep a safe distance from wildlife. 
  • Stay on the trail at all times. Yellowstone is dangerous. Remember, it’s a super volcano after all. 
  • Leave no trace behind. Everything that you bring in the trail, remember to take back out.
  • Check the Yellowstone website ahead of time for trail and road closures. 

Additionally, check out this Yellowstone Packing List, and Travel Tips to Know for visiting Yellowstone National Park. 

Best Time To Visit Yellowstone National Park

The best time to visit Yellowstone National Park is in the Sumer and Fall months. This is when most attractions and hiking trails will be open. Summer is also the busiest time in Yellowstone.

Because of this, you will want to make sure you book your accommodations well in advance and hit the road early. I have listed a ton of great places to stay around each Yellowstone Entrance in the above link about travel tips for Yellowstone.

Best Yellowstone National Park Hikes: Wrap-up 

This concludes some of the best easy hikes to enjoy during your trip to Yellowstone. I hope you have the best time exploring the first National Park in the USA and arguably one of the most unique! 

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below. Additionally, you can find more Yellowstone National Park tips, travel itineraries, and more in my Wyoming travel section.

Enjoy this guide of Easy Yellowstone Hikes? I’d appreciate it if you could share it below! 

Easy hikes in Yellowstone National Park
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Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good. Learn more here: https://findloveandtravel.com/samantha-oppenheimer/

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