Summer day hikes in Yellowstone

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of February 7-14, 1996
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Summer day hikes in Yellowstone
Q: My wife and children (ages 6 and 3) and will be spending a week in Yellowstone this summer. Would you kindly recommend some day hikes that would offer us some solitude?
Scott J. Lipkin
Chalfont, PA
[email protected]
Yellowstone rule number 1:
leave the crowds behind

A: In order to avoid the crowds that throng to Yellowstone in the summer, you'll need to follow a few basic rules. First off, know that Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone are prime tourist destinations. If you're planning to make the well-traveled pilgrimage to these areas, be prepared to sacrifice solitude for awe-inspiring--albeit crowded--views.

That said, we recommend planning your day hikes in the less-trammeled corners of the park. Head to the Monument Geyser Basin Trail, near Madison Junction, for a short, two-mile, out-and-back walk that's perfect for kids. The first half of this hike follows the Gibbon River before climbing a hill to a thermal area with steam vents, sulfur caldrons, and mud pots. To find the trailhead, drive 8.6 miles northeast from Madison Junction to the parking area on the west side of the road, just south of the Gibbon River bridge; look for a small sign for "Monument" at the turnoff.

For a longer hike, try the four-mile round-trip trek to Lost Lake and Lost Creek Falls. The trail offers spectacular views from both the base and top of Lost Creek Falls and then winds its way to Lost Lake, a long, narrow lake full of water lilies and ducks and bordered by forested hillsides. Leave your car in the Roosevelt Lodge parking area at Tower Junction. The trailhead is just behind the lodge and is hard to miss.

Because Yellowstone is grizzly country, it's a good idea to check for trail closures with rangers before heading out. For more information, call the visitor center at 307-344-7381. Pick up a copy of Day Hikes in Yellowstone National Park (Day Hike Books, 800-541-7323), and check out "Our National Parks" in our June 1992 issue. For good nuts-and-bolts information, see the National Park Foundation's guidebook page for Yellowstone.

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