Yellowstone National Park is that bucket list destination many families tend to overlook. While it’s always exciting to get some new stamps in your passport, we have plenty of beauty and adventure right in our own backyard!
Once kids get to be in middle school or so, an adventure in America’s great West is something I’m finding more and more families asking about. This is a particularly ideal destination for a multi-generational trip.
I’ve just returned from my own epic adventure to Yellowstone and am thrilled to share some images with you and have created the perfect itinerary for a summer Yellowstone with kids family adventure!
Start in Jackson, Wyoming
Jackson Wyoming, one the doorstep of Grand Teton National Park and home to the Jackson Hole ski area, is a perfect place to start. Begin with 2 nights at the Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole. The kids will love swimming in the lovely heated outdoor pool and there is plenty to do stay busy. Be sure to check out the charming downtown area and don’t miss the afternoon treats poolside for the kids.
This is also a great opportunity to adjust to the altitude and dry climate if you’re traveling from sea level before heading into Yellowstone with kids.
3 Nights in Yellowstone by Horseback
Now the real adventure begins. Spend the next 3 nights camping in Yellowstone, traveling by horse and supported with some of the best guides in the business.
You’ll set off towards the park, anywhere from a 1 – 3 hour drive from Jackson depending on which area of the park you’ll be exploring. Here, meet up with your guides and the rest of the staff and the horses and mule train, then load up and set off along the trail! While kids need to be comfortable around horses and up for an adventure, it’s not necessary to be expert equestrians.
Rides can be anywhere from 4 – 14 miles per day, and this portion of the trip is completely customizable. The younger the children the shorter the rides tend to be. It’s possible to stay in the same camp for 3 nights or move every day. It all depends on what your family would most enjoy.
The staff supporting your adventure will include a head guide, a cook, and one or two wranglers and fly fishing instructors depending on the size of your group. Its important to plan early, as the stock campsites open for booking around April for the summer ahead and book up extremely fast.
The terrain in Yellowstone is some of the most varied I’ve ever experienced. In a matter of a mile, you can ride from sweeping plains into old growth forest and on to thermal country where you’ll see massive waterfalls alongside mineral-rimmed hot springs.
Sure we all know about the geysers and thermal activity in Yellowstone. But did you know you can actually have a nice soak in some of them? This was great fun and particularly if your family is not primarily interested in fishing, a wonderful area of the park and so much fun to spend the afternoon in Yellowstone with kids relaxing in a hot spring (also a good way to rinse off some dust from the trail).
In addition to horse wrangling and outfitting expeditions into the heart of the Wild West, these guides were also some of the best fly fishing guides in Wyoming. While I had no intention of fishing, within about 2 hours of arriving at camp I put on a pair of waders and grabbed a rod, started working on my casting and learning how to “read the river.”
What to Expect
While in Yellowstone, you’ll be sleeping in tents. These tents can range from comfortable mattresses on the ground to small cots. Everything is set up for you by the staff so you don’t have to lift a finger. Rather you can focus on fishing, hiking around and enjoying the natural beauty of the area.
Meals are prepared for you in camp, and suffice it to say no one will go hungry. Lunches are usually packed in the morning and carried along in your saddle bag during the day so you can have a picnic whenever and wherever you’d like.
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