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
4.6

scorecard

  • 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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Type
Time to Spend
#1 Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Formed over thousands of years of erosion caused by wind, water and other natural forces, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the primary attraction in the Canyon Village area and one of the park's most popular hiking spots. The canyon stretches approximately 20 miles long and nearly a mile wide. Just as remarkable as the canyon's terra-cotta hued cliff walls is its river, which is the longest undammed river in the country, meandering for more than 600 miles through Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota.

"Amazing," "beautiful" and "fascinating" are just a few adjectives recent visitors used to describe this natural wonder. Most praised its hiking trails (like Artist and Lookout points), but a few said to check the National Park Service's Canyon Area Construction Projects page before you arrive since several paths are either partly or completely closed for renovations. Another tip: Get to the canyon early or late in the day to avoid rubbing elbows with hordes of tourists.

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