Activities that all ages can enjoy together are what make for the best family vacations. Luckily, there's no age requirement for enjoying the great outdoors, which is why West Yellowstone can be the perfect family get-away. In this outdoor-oriented, family-friendly community, you'll find adventures to satisfy everyone from your toddler to your teen. And don't forget the adults – kids and parents alike find family fun in West Yellowstone.
Summer's gorgeous weather brings in crowds to West Yellowstone as people visit Yellowstone National Park. Our best piece of advice: book early! Also ask about summer promotions to find the best lodging deals in West Yellowstone.
Full Day Suggestions
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is the main attraction in West Yellowstone, and it definitely lives up to the hype. Take at least a full day to explore –spotting bison, elk, and grizzlies as you roam the geothermal landscape keeps kids and adults engaged and exited all day. Start right down town at the West entrance and drive along the park loop which passes classics like Old Faithful and Yellowstone's Grand Canyon. As you explore mud pots and geysers, kids participate in activities and learn about the park as they earn their Junior Ranger Patch ($25 entrance fee – pass is good for 7 days, Yellowstone National Park).
Drive the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway
The whole family will love climbing up the series of walkways to feel the mist at the brink of 114-foot Upper Mesa falls, a stop on this 25-mile scenic byway 45 minutes South of West Yellowstone. Let tired kids pass out in the back of the car as you take in views of the Tetons, Snake River, Henry's Fork, and the 65-foot Lower Mesa Falls on the rest of the drive.
Kayak Quake Lake
Everyone will enjoy a calm paddle over the tops of submerged trees on Quake Lake. The trees, along with everything else in the former valley, were covered in water after a 1959 earthquake caused 80 million tons of to rock slide, blocking the Madison River and creating the lake in a matter of days. Cruise over the six-mile lake, then stop at the Quake Lake Visitor Center to learn about the infamous earthquake and take in views of the lake.
Step Back in Time to Historic Virginia City
Transport your family back to the Wild West in this historic gold-rush boom town. In Virginia City, you'll learn local history, and have fun doing it. Kids love weekends when the town dresses in period clothes, and everyone can enjoy stagecoach tours, panning for gold, and the thrill of an old fashioned melodrama by the Virginia City Payers at the Opera House.
Cast for Cutthroats and Rainbows
It's an angler's paradise on the Gallatin, Yellowstone, and Madison Rivers, not to mention Hebgen and Quake Lakes too. Kids can get into the art of casting and holding their scaly catch, or enjoy themselves in the sunshine and cool water instead. Montana fishing permits can be purshased at Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks regional offices or local sporting goods stores.
Half Day or Less
Take the family on a mountain bike over a stretch of the 30-mile old Union Pacific rail bed turned hiking and biking trail. It runs between West Yellowstone and Island Park, Idaho, but it's easy to cut short for younger riders. For mellow rolling trails, hit the Rendezvous Ski Center.
Raft the Gallatin
Get family thrills on the whitewater of the Gallatin River, where rapids range from I-IV. Hire a guide and find the perfect stretch of water to suit your family's needs.
Cowboy up on a Horseback Ride
Saddle up with Harriman State Park's riding outfitter, then hit the Silver Lake Loop trail. Ride around the shore of Silver Lake, over rolling hills, and watch out for wildlife on the northwest end, where elk and moose like to hang out in plain sight.
Float the Big Springs National Water Trail
Suit up for a five-mile float down the Big Spring National Scenic Water Trail on Henry's Fork near Island Park. Kids and parents splash around while checking out bald eagles soaring above and trout swimming below. Put in at the sign on Big Springs Road/Idaho Highway 84 for the four-hour ride, then take out at Mack's Inn.
Call Mack's Inn about Boat Rentals at 888-558-7272
Hike Harriman State Park
It's easy to choose your intensity level when exploring the 11,000 acres of Harriman State Park. With little ones, stick to the easy River Trail along the banks of Henry's Fork. With ambitious teens, hike up 400-feet on the Ridge Trail to the Ridge Overlook for views of the Tetons and the park's lakes below.
Feed Trout at Big Springs
Stand on the nearby bridge at Big Springs to check out huge trout swimming below, waiting for bits of falling breadcrumbs from the people above. The water in this naturally 52-degree water is crystal clear, so it's easy to spot the swarming fish.
Follow the signs east to Big Springs, just south of Mack's Inn in Island Park
Revisit the Past at the Yellowstone Historic Center
On a rainy day, head to the historic Union Pacific Depot to explore this West Yellowstone museum. Transportation is the focus here, and the whole family can discover old, trains, stagecoaches, and buses, as they trace the progression of tourism in Yellowstone National Park.
Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center
If you don't mind throwing down 10 bucks, visit grizzlies and wolves who can no longer live in the wild up close at the Discovery Center – your money will be well spent.
Call 800-257-2570 for schedule and rates.
Entertainment & Dining
West Yellowstone is chock-full of down-home, family-friendly Montana restaurants. For lunch and sweet baked treats, head to Nancy P's Baking Company where you'll find friendly service and low prices. For dinner, kids devour a pizza as you enjoy a steak at Gusher Pizza and Sandwich Shoppe.
Take kids to see family-friendly musical productions like Beauty and the Beast or Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Several shows rotate throughout the summer at this local theater, and the performances are surprisingly impressive, featuring talent from all over the country (406-646-7757).
Break out your riding boots and join the excitement at the authentic West Yellowstone Rodeo where cowboys ride bucking broncos each weekend. Call 406-560-6913 for dates and times.
Listen to grizzlies roar at 12 thousand watts and watch them ramble across a six-story screen when you watch one of the wildlife movies at the Yellowstone IMAX Theater. Call 888-854-5862 for dates and times.
Music in the Park
Pack a family picnic and let kids run on the lawn at this free outdoor concert series each week July through September.
Smoking Waters Mountain Man Rendezvous
For a week each August families get a feel for the frontier lifestyle. Watch old-time mountain men as they participate in tomahawk and knife demonstrations, black powder shoots, and cook over an open fire at the Smoking Waters Mountain Main Rendezvous.
West Yellowstone Rod Run
Watch the parade of old-fashioned street rods as you eat barbeque and ice cream at the West Yellowstone Rod Run each August.
We offer a variety of vacation packages in West Yellowstone. View ALL Packages.