Price & Hours
- Hiking, Natural Wonders, Sightseeing Type
- 1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
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One of the best places to catch a glimpse of Yellowstone's fascinating wildlife is Hayden Valley. This lush valley north of Yellowstone Lake is a highly visited gathering place for bison, elk, coyotes and grizzly bears. While you can get a good view of the valley from the Grand Loop Road, you need to get out your car for the best perspective. Hikers should check out the area's two trails: The Hayden Valley Trail runs parallel to the Yellowstone River from Yellowstone Lake to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, while the Mary Mountain Trail traces the valley's northern edge. While you're exploring, be sure to check out some of its geothermic features, such as Mud Geyser and Sulphur Spring.
Past visitors praised the valley's scenery, but many were most excited about seeing its various animals. For a better view of harder-to-spot critters like wolves, several suggest bringing a pair of binoculars. Just remember to keep a safe distance from the animals. The National Park Service advises staying at least 100 yards away from wolves and bears and roughly 25 yards away from other kinds of animals.
Hayden Valley is situated roughly 40 miles southeast of Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone's Canyon Village area. The valley's closest facilities are located about 8 miles north at the Canyon Village Education Center. It is accessible 24 hours a day between April 20 and Oct. 10. You may also opt to join an organized tour offered by operators like Xanterra Parks & Resorts and Buffalo Bus Touring Company. Learn more about Hayden Valley by visiting NPS' Canyon Village Area page.