Hayden Valley picture1 of 4
Hayden Valley2 of 4
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Price & Hours

Free
24/7 daily

Details

Hiking, Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, Free Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.6scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 4.5Atmosphere

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.

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More Best Things To Do in Yellowstone

Old Faithful1 of 8
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone2 of 8
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Old Faithful

The world's most renowned geyser is a must-see for every Yellowstone visitor. Although it isn't the largest geyser in the world, Old Faithful's eruptions are definitely awe-inspiring, averaging around 130 feet high. Like its name suggests, you can count on Old Faithful erupting approximately every hour and a half (the nearby visitors center can provide you with a more accurate schedule). There are several ways to see Old Faithful's power: You can join the hordes of tourists who gather around the perimeter or find a less hectic spot in the nearby Old Faithful Inn's dining room. More adventurous travelers can enjoy the mile-long hike out to Observation Point for a bird's-eye view of the Upper Geyser Basin.

Recent visitors enjoyed seeing Old Faithful, although some felt it wasn't as impressive as other Yellowstone geysers. Many, however, said this geyser is worth checking out. Despite it's fairly predictable schedule, Old Faithful's eruptions occasionally occur sooner than expected, so consider arriving early.

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