Artists’ Paintpots Trail is located 3.7 miles south of the Norris Geyser Basin on the west side of Yellowstone National Park. A 1.1-mile loop circles a hillside hydrothermal area, passing bursting mudpots, bubbling hot springs, and mesmerizing milky blue pools. The Artist's Paint Pots trail is an easy hike to several geothermal features in Yellowstone National Park. From the boardwalk, you can see colorful hot springs, two large mudpots, a fumarole, and a couple of geysers. Many of the geothermal features along this trail do not have names, and little is known about them.
From Cody, WY drive east towards Yellowstone and look for the trailhead at the top of the pass. There is a $25 fee to enter Yellowstone. A short, often windy, hike up a nearby peak as you enter Yellowstone National Park from the east (Cody, WY). You'll pass through beautiful forests with meadows of wildflowers and end up on a windy barren peak with views over Yellowstone below.
Beaver Ponds Loop
5 Miles RT
The trail begins between Liberty Cap and a stone house in Mammoth Hot Springs. It follows Clematis Creek, climbing 350 feet through forest to meadows of sage and stands of Douglas-fir and aspen. After hiking 2.5 miles, you reach the beaver ponds. The trail continues through mixed forest and meadows, and ends on the Old Gardiner Road behind the Mammoth Hotel.
4.2 Miles RT
The trail begins at the entrance of the Old Bunsen Peak Road Trail, 5.0 miles south of Mammoth on the Grand Loop Road. Climb 1,300 feet through forest to the summit, which features panoramic views. The nearby Old Bunsen Peak Road Trail is closed to vehicles but open for hiking and biking.
5 Miles RT
Choose from two trailheads for this easy hike:
• Cascade Lake Trailhead, 1.25 miles north of Canyon Junction on the Grand Loop Road
• Cascade Creek Trailhead, 0.25 miles west of Canyon Junction on the Canyon–Norris Road.
The Cascade Lake Trail joins the Cascade Creek Trail after 1.2 miles. If you begin on this trail, remember to bear left on your return trip.
Clear Lake/Ribbon Lake Loop
3 to 6 miles RT
Start at the Wapiti Trailhead on the South Rim Drive to Artist Point 2.0 miles south of Canyon Junction on the Grand Loop Road. This relatively level trail winds through meadows and forest and passes by three lakes. You can hike the entire loop which is 6.0 miles, or you can turn around at Clear Lake 3.0 miles round trip, or Lily Pad Lake which is 4.0 miles round trip. Clear Lake is a hydrothermal area. Stay on the designated trail at all times.
Elephant Back Mountain
3.6 Miles RT
Starting at a pullout 1.0 mile south of Fishing Bridge junction, this trail climbs 1.0 mile through a lodgepole pine forest before reaching a junction. Either trail leads in another 0.5 miles to a panoramic view of Yellowstone Lake.
7 Miles RT
Fairy Falls is 200 feet high and one of Yellowstone’s most spectacular waterfalls. Choose from two routes:
• Shorter route: Park 1.0 mi south of Midway Geyser Basin, cross the steel bridge, walk 1.0 mi to the trailhead.
• Longer route: Park at the end of Fountain Flat Drive and walk 1.75 mi to the trailhead.
From the trailhead, walk 1.6 miles through a young lodgepole pine forest to the falls. You can continue 0.6 miles to Spray and Imperial Geysers.
Grebe Lake via Norris Canyon Road
6 Miles RT
The trail begins 3.5 miles west of Canyon Junction on the Norris Canyon Road. A more direct route to Grebe Lake, this trail follows an old fire road through meadows and forest, some of which was burned during the fires of 1988. Once at the lake, you can connect with the Howard Eaton Trail.
1 Mile RT
Park at the third pullout 1.5 miles west of Madison Junction on the West Entrance Road. Follow the gentle, uphill trail to the small lake.
Howard Eaton Trail
7 Miles RT
Park at the parking lot on east side of the Fishing Bridge. From the east side of the bridge, the trail follows the Yellowstone River for a short distance before joining a service road; the trail continues on the service road for 1/4 mile. As it leaves the road, the trail meanders for two miles through meadow, forest, and sageflats with frequent views of the river. The last mile passes through a dense lodgepole pine forest before reaching an overview of LeHardy Rapids. To return, follow the same trail back to the trailhead. The trail does continue on to the Artist Point Road at Canyon in another 12 miles but is not well maintained.
Lone Star Geyser
4.8 Miles RT
The trailhead is east of Kepler Cascades pullout, 3.5 miles southeast of Old Faithful overpass on Grand Loop Road. This level trail and bicycle path follows the Firehole River to the geyser. Lone Star erupts 30–45 feet about every three hours. If you witness an eruption, please note the time and report it at the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center. Biking is not permitted beyond a barrier near the geyser.
Lost Lake Loop
4 Miles RT
The trail starts behind Roosevelt Lodge and climbs 300 feet up a forested hillside. At the junction, veer right. You reach Lost Lake in 0.2 miles. From there, follow the trail through a ravine to the Petrified Tree parking area. From the parking lot, the trail climbs to a sagebrush meadow, descends to the Tower Ranger Station area, and then 0.2 miles to Roosevelt Lodge.
Midway Geyser Basin
Midway Geyser Basin is located about half-way between the Madison and Old Faithful regions of Yellowstone National Park. From the parking lot, take the trail south and cross the Firehole River. You will see several streams of steaming water pouring from the terrace above into the Firehole River. Midway Geyser Basin is much smaller than the other basins found alongside the Firehole River. Despite its small size, it contains two large features: the 200-by-300-foot-wide Excelsior Geyser which pours over 4,000 gallons per minute into the Firehole River and the 370-foot-wide and 121-foot-deep Grand Prismatic Spring, which is the largest hot spring in Yellowstone.
6.2 Miles RT from Dunraven
5 Miles RT from Chittenden parking area
Trail begins at the Washburn Trailhead, 4.5 miles north of Canyon Junction and ends at Glacial Boulder on Inspiration Point Road. Starting at the Washburn Trailhead at Dunraven Pass, you ascend Mt. Washburn on a trail complete with, in season, wildflowers, bighorn sheep, and spectacular views. After this three-mile ascent, the Washburn Spur Trail descends very steeply from the east side of the Fire Lookout to Washburn Hot Springs in an another 3.7 miles. Here, you will find some interesting thermal features, including mud pots. Continue past the turnoff to Seven Mile Hole and follow the trail to the Glacial Boulder and the Canyon area. From an elevation of 10,243 feet, Mount Washburn offers panoramic views of about 20 to 50 miles in all directions. The southern trail starts at the Dunraven Pass Trailhead and the northern trail starts at the Chittenden Road parking area. Both climb steadily about 1,400 feet.
2.5 Miles RT
The trail begins at the west end of the Biscuit Basin boardwalk near Avoca Spring about 2.0 miles north of Old Faithful. You can also begin 0.25 miles south of Biscuit Basin. Park in pullouts on either side of the road. The trail parallels, but does not cross, the Little Firehole River for 0.7 miles. The trail climbs steeply to an overlook of the falls, which are 70 feet. To make a loop hike, which is 0.2 miles farther with elevation gain/loss of 500 feet, Continue on the trail above the switchbacks until it meets the Little Firehole Meadows Trail. Turn right, descend to an overlook of Old Faithful, and continue downhill to rejoin the Mystic Falls Trail.
Natural Bridge Trail
1 Mile RT
Located at the Bridge Bay Marina parking lot near the Campground entrance road. The natural bridge is a 51 foot high cliff of rhyolite rock that has been cut through by the erosional forces of Bridge Creek. The hiking trail meanders through the forest for 1/2 mile. It then joins the road and continues to the right for 1 mile before reaching the Natural Bridge. The short but steep switchback trail to the top of the bridge starts in front of the interpretive exhibit. The bike trail to the bridge begins just south of the marina off the main road. This trail is closed from late spring to early summer due to bears feeding on spawning trout in Bridge Creek. Inquire at the Visitor Center about trail closures before hiking or bicycling.
Norris Geyser Basin
The Norris Geyser Basin is the hottest geyser basin in the park and is located near the northwest edge of Yellowstone Caldera near Norris Junction and on the intersection of three major faults. The Norris-Mammoth Corridor is a fault that runs from Norris north through Mammoth to the Gardiner, Montana, area. Many hot springs and fumaroles have temperatures above the boiling point (200°F) here. Water fluctuations and seismic activity often change features. It's hard to imagine a setting more volatile than Norris. It is part of one of the world's largest active volcanoes.
6 Miles RT
The trail begins at Cascade Lake. Hike to a high mountain peak for an outstanding view of the Yellowstone wilderness. The trail passes through open meadows and some white bark pine forest. Past Cascade Lake, no water is available along the trail.
Drive 3 miles east along the East Entrance Road heading toward Cody, Wyoming. The trailhead will be on the left just past the Storm Point/Indian Pond Trail. From the shade of the large parking lot adjacent to the Storm Point/Indian Pond Trail you'll cross a large meadow filled with sagebrush and wildflowers that leads you northeast to another stand of trees. Over the next mile the trail climbs gently as it passes through an old burn filled with brightly colored flowers poking up through the overlapping patchwork of dead and fallen trees. At 1.5 miles the trail exits this forested area and here you'll have an incredible panorama across the immense Pelican Valley as it extends along the eastern edge of Yellowstone. This is prime grizzly bear habitat and the park service has established certain restrictions for hikers traveling in the Pelican Valley. The area is closed until July 4th and it is recommended that hikers travel in groups of four or more. Visitors are only allowed to hike in the Pelican Valley BMA between the hours of 9am and 7pm. Make sure you carry bear spray, stay alert and make your presence known when hiking in this area. At 1.6 miles the trail bends to the right, passing a thermal area and a small pond that sits off to the right. The trail continues heading southeast until it reaches a junction with the Turbid Lake Trail at 2.2 miles. At 2.2 miles you'll need to ford the shallow waters of Pelican Creek for the first time near the remains of an old wooden footbridge that sits abandoned in the middle of the creek. The best place to cross is just to the left of the bridge. Because of its shallow depth the water of Pelican Creek is usually warm, making it a real pleasure to wade through during the heat of the day. After crossing Pelican Creek the trail changes in character and becomes much more narrow as it traverses the valley in a northeast direction toward Astringent Creek. At 4.7 miles the trail reaches Astringent Creek where it crosses this stream on a small footbridge just before the Astringent Creek Trail junction at 4.8 miles. Continuing in a northeasterly direction the trail becomes a bit more primitive as it nears the northern boundary of the valley. The trail passes a small bubbling hot spring and a thermal area before reaching the edge of a forest and a low hillside that separates Astringent Creek from Upper Pelican Creek. From this side of the valley you'll have an unobstructed view toward the parks eastern edge and the mountain range that forms a barrier between the eastern boundary and the Absaroka Wilderness and Shoshone National Forest. Just before you reach the Upper Pelican Creek Trail juncture at 6.6 miles the trail becomes somewhat indistinct but if you hug the treeline it will lead you to your second stream crossing where you'll ford Upper Pelican Creek. Leaving the creek the path climbs a small hillside where a metal trail sign rigged to a cluster of dead tree branches indicates the direction to the Upper Pelican Valley Trail and the Pelican Cone Trail. To reach the Pelican Cone Trail stay to the right and follow the faint path up another small hill and then to the left around a cluster of trees that skirt the valley floor. As you make this left-hand bend you should see an orange marker attached to a wooden pole where the Pelican Cone Trail enters the forest and begins its 4.0 mile climb to the summit. The grass in this area is rather thick, making it hard to follow the trail, but if you keep your eye on the orange marker you should see the trail as it starts up the hillside near the treeline. From this juncture the Raven Creek Cutoff Trail heads southeast across the valley, rejoining the Mist Creek Trail near the Pelican Springs Cabin. From this point it's a fairly steady, but not steep, climb to the summit of Pelican Cone. What makes this section so difficult is the considerable deadfall that covers the next 3.0 miles of the trail, and climbing up, over, around and under downed trees can really sap your energy so be prepared for a good workout during the ascent/descent. After entering the woods at the base of the climb the next 0.75 of the hike are well shaded by tall lodgepole pines. At 7.8 miles the trail emerges from this unburned section of forest and enters an area that was significantly impacted by fire, and it's here that you'll experience most of the deadfall. At 8.7 miles the trail enters another forested area that miraculously escaped the massive fire that consumed this hillside, and once again you'll have a little shade as the climb continues toward the summit. An open hillside at 9.6 miles provides a wonderful view toward the Pelican Valley and Yellowstone Lake, both of which always look deceptively close. Over the last mile the trail is often very faint and can be completely overgrown so you'll need to look for subtle clues as to its location as you navigate through this section of dead and gnarled trees. Just below the summit the trail turns north and then one final switchback brings you face-to-face with the small weather-beaten lookout perched on the top of Pelican Cone. From the summit of this ordinary looking peak you'll have extraordinary views to just about every corner of Yellowstone and beyond.
6 Miles RT
Look for the trailhead at a turnout about 0.25 miles north of Madison Junction. You climb 1,500 feet in 3 miles to a panoramic view of the Gibbon and Madison rivers.
5 Miles RT
The trailhead is about 3.0 miles south of Grant Village junction, just south of the Continental Divide sign. This fairly level trail crosses the Continental Divide and runs through forest and marshy meadows to the shores of a picturesque little lake.
Seven Mile Hole
11 Miles RT
The trail begins at the Glacial Boulder trailhead on Inspiration Point Road. Following the Canyon Rim for the first 1.5 miles, you will be rewarded with views of Silver Cord Cascade. Continue north another 0.5 mile to join the Washburn Spur Trail; at 3 miles, the trail drops off to Seven Mile Hole, a 1.5 mi, 1,400 foot drop. Be careful where the trail passes both dormant and active hot springs. Off-trail travel is prohibited.
Shoshone Lake (via DeLacy Creek)
6 Miles RT
Starting at a trailhead sign at DeLacy Creek, 8.8 miles west of West Thumb junction, the trail runs along the forest edge and through open meadows to the shores of Yellowstone’s largest backcountry lake.
Slough Creek Trail
7 Miles RT
From Mammoth Hot Springs: Drive approximately 25.8 miles east on route 212 towards the town of Cooke City, MT. The trailhead is located 1.8 off the NE Entrance Road. Follow the dirt road towards the Slough Creek Campground. The trailhead will be on the right. The trail starts on the gravel road to Slough Creek Campground, climbs through Douglas-fir forest, passes through an open area, and then descends to the first meadow of Slough Creek. This trail leads to popular fishing spots and to a private ranch north of the park, so expect to see people, horses, and an occasional wagon.
Storm Point Trail
2.3 Miles RT
Starting at a large turnout at Indian Pond, 3 miles east of the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center, this level loop crosses meadow and forest before reaching the tip of Storm Point, where you will find expansive views of Yellowstone Lake and surrounding mountains. The trail continues along the lakeshore and through a lodgepole pine forest before rejoining the road.
Tower Fall Overlook
Tower Fall Overlook trail, starts from a large parking area on Grand Loop Road in the Tower-Roosevelt region. There is a Yellowstone General Store next to the trailhead. From the parking lot, walk a tenth of a mile to Tower Fall Overlook, where you will find a great head-on view of Tower Creek as it begins the 132-foot plunge.
Trout Lake Trail
1.2 Miles RT
To get to the trailhead to hike to Trout Lake, from Tower Junction, drive 17 miles east on the Northeast Entrance Road. The trailhead will be on your left hand side and is clearly marked. There is parking for roughly 9-10 cars. The trailhead is 11.4 miles away from the Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone National Park. The trail climbs about 150 feet through Douglas-fir forest to the lake.
Uncle Tom’s Trail
.7 Mile RT
Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon is about 20 miles long, and stretches from the Upper Falls to Tower Fall. The canyon is 1,500-4,000 feet across, and its walls are 800-1,200 feet deep. It’s an awe-inspiring sight to look across or down this canyon. Once in the Canyon area, take the Artist Point Road and park your vehicle in the parking lot at Artist Point. This Yellowstone National Park trail consists of over 300 steel steps built down the south wall of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River next to the park’s most impressive waterfall. The up-close views of Lower Falls are electrifying and this 0.7-mile round trip hike (with 500 feet of elevation loss) is as unique as they come.
West Thumb Geyser Basin
The trailhead is located on the west side of Yellowstone Lake near the Grant Village Visitor Center at the south end of Yellowstone National Park. The stair-free loop exploring West Thumb Geyser Basin is 2/3 of a mile long, and there is a second trail cutting across the basin down the center of the loop. Overlooks along the way provide great views of all the different hydrothermal features. West Thumb Geyser Basin stands out because it is on the edge of, and partially submerged by, Yellowstone Lake, which creates a dramatic backdrop for the dynamic geysers, pools, and springs. A dirt trail and wooden boardwalk loops through the geyser basin, offering a 2/3 of a mile long wheelchair-friendly stroll.
1 Mile RT
The trail begins at a pullout 0.5 miles east of Lava Creek Picnic Area on the Grand Loop Road. This short, easy trail passes through sagebrush meadows, marshland, and mixed conifer forest to the base of 79-foot
Yellowstone Lake Overlook
2 Miles RT
Heading north from Jackson Hole, take Highway 89/191. About 22 miles into the park through the South Entrance, you will see signs for the West Thumb Geyser Basin. The trailhead is signed on the west side of the parking lot just as you enter the area. If you are near the bathrooms, you’ve gone too far. There is a trailhead marker on the west side of the West Thumb Geyer Basin parking lot. Follow the trail into the forest as it heads west. In about ¼ mile, the trail crosses Highway 89/191. Continue west through the new growth pine forest as the trail gradually goes uphill. At 3/4 miles with the summit in sight, the trail will significantly steepen. There aren’t any trees on the summit, so you’ll have a full range of sight of the Yellowstone Lake, Duck Lake and surrounding mountains. The entire hike is on well maintained and easy to follow trails.
Yellowstone River Picnic Area
3.7 Miles RT
Begin at the Yellowstone River Picnic area, 1.25 miles northeast of Tower Junction on the Northeast Entrance Road. The trail climbs steeply to the east rim of the Narrows of the Yellowstone River and then follows the rim. Return the same way or make a loop by continuing to the next trail junction, where you need to turn left and descend to the road. (The Specimen Ridge Trail, strenuous and poorly marked, continues northeast.) Walk west along the road for 0.7 mile
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone has five entrance stations. Make sure to carefully read about access at each station at different times of the year.
North Entrance - Near the gateway community of Gardiner, MT, the North Entrance is the only park entrance open to wheeled vehicles all year. November through April, the North Entrance provides the only access to Cooke City, MT. US Highway 212 east of Cooke City is closed to wheeled vehicles November through April. The road from Mammoth to Norris opens to wheeled vehicles in late April through early November, and to tracked-oversnow vehicles, conditions permitting, from mid December to early March.
West Entrance - Adjacent to the town of West Yellowstone, MT, the West Entrance is open to wheeled vehicles from late April through early November, and to tracked-oversnow vehicles from mid December to mid March.
South & East Entrances - Open to wheeled vehicles from mid May through early November, and to tracked-oversnow vehicles from mid December to early March for the East Entrance and mid March for the South Entrance. Limited services are available near the South and East Entrances.
Northeast Entrance - Near the gateway communities of Silver Gate and Cooke City, MT, this entrance is open year around for wheeled vehicle access to Cooke City through Gardiner, MT and the North Entrance. Opening dates for roads east of Cooke City vary from year to year, depending on the weather. The Beartooth Highway is open from late May/early June (weather dependent) to mid October. Storms can temporarily close the Beartooth Highway during this "open" period.
The world’s first National Park is one of the planet’s most unique collections of geography, geothermal activity, and wildlife. Once-common North American animals such as bison, grizzly bears, and wolves live here among other large species. Thousands of geysers surround historic lodges, mountains, rivers, and canyons that make Yellowstone one of the most spectacular places in America to experience the natural world. As close as two miles beneath the surface, nearly-molten rock keeps things interesting in the Yellowstone Caldera. More than 10,000 thermal features (geysers, mud pots, hot springs, and steam vents) make Yellowstone truly unique, and many of them are accessible via the Park's network of boardwalks. Superheated water and steam spew hundreds of feet into the air from Old Faithful and numerous other geysers. Colonies of bacteria give the mineral-rich waters of hot springs–like Grand Prismatic–colors that have to be seen to be believed. And, as they have for thousands of years, calcium deposits continue to build mountains at Mammoth Hot Springs. Compared to many other National Parks, Yellowstone is very car-friendly, but visitors should be prepared to take it slowly. Frequent 'bear jams,' and 45 mph speed limits dictate a leisurely pace through the Park. Many companies offer tours by bus in the summer or by snowmobile and snowcoach in winter. The Park also boasts more than 1,100 miles of hiking trails, and several outfitters offer guided trips into Yellowstone’s backcountry on horseback. Millions of people drive Yellowstone’s scenic roads each year (the road leading from Gardiner, Montana to Mammoth Hot Springs is even kept plowed all winter long), but the park offers as much adventure as travelers are looking for. The most popular activity in Yellowstone is simply watching nature. The views at places like the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and its waterfalls are worth short walks to viewing platforms, and bison and other wildlife are easily seen from the car in areas like the Lamar Valley. Many of the trails at major features like Old Faithful and Norris Geyser Basin are wheelchair-accessible and do not require special footwear or gear. At the other end of the spectrum, a network of backcountry campsites can keep more adventurous travelers off the beaten path for weeks at a time.
Artist’s Paint Pots
1.1 Mile Loop