Closest entrance and distance: 22 miles from Grant Village to the south entrance

The Grant Village complex lines the lakeshore on the south side of West Thumb. It’s a convenient home base if you’re combining your visit with a trip to Grand Teton National Park, and it boasts stunning sunset views, but the lodging and dining choices are more serviceable than they are inspiring. The Grant Village lodges provide motel-style accommodations, Grant Village Campground lets you sleep under the stars, and Grant Village Dining Room serves upscale dishes. Better bet: Lake House Restaurant, a casual eatery on the water that has unbeatable lake views. Grant Village Visitor Center (tel. 307/242-2650) has exhibits on the 1988 wildfires and the forest’s subsequent recovery, plus animal hides and skulls for kids to touch and a beautiful porch overlooking the lake. 

Heading south on the South Entrance Road soon takes you over the Continental Divide and on to evergreen-lined Lewis Lake. This lake makes for excellent boating, paddling, and fishing. Indeed, one of the park’s best paddling trips starts at the boat ramp here: Paddle across Lewis Lake, up the Lewis River, and into Shoshone Lake, a gorgeous backcountry waterway and the park’s second-largest lake. The Lewis Lake Campground on the southern shore is one of Yellowstone’s quietest, most away-from-it-all camps.

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Just south of here is Lewis Falls, a lacy, 29-foot waterfall pouring right over the lip of the Yellowstone caldera. Then follow the river south through the dramatically plunging Lewis River Canyon; don’t blow past the pullouts here without getting out to gaze across the chasm at least once. 

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.