Yellowstone’s trails range from flat, easy strolls to extended paths that delve deep into the wilderness. And though you’d need months to explore all the hidden corners here, even a single day hike will reveal a whole new side of the park to you. These selected day hikes from every developed area are the best of the best—you won’t regret saving time to make tracks on at least one of them. Note: The trails through the geyser basins also make for excellent day hikes. Keep in mind that hiking in Yellowstone can be hazardous for the unprepared: Bad weather, river crossings, and wildlife all pose real risks. Check in at a visitor center or ranger station for details on the weather forecast and trail conditions for your hike, and make sure to pack the essentials.
West Yellowstone to Madison
Purple Mountain ★—You’ll truly earn your views on this challenging trail—reaching the summit of the flat-topped mountain requires hoofing it up 1,500 vertical feet in 3 miles—but the eagle’s-eye vistas from the top are worth it. Begin hiking through a lodgepole pine forest, then pop out on a plateau with views of the twisty Gibbon and Madison Rivers—and all the way to the Tetons on bluebird days.
6 miles round-trip. Difficult. Access: Trailhead is at a turnout 1/4 mile north of Madison Junction.
Artist Paintpots ★—This short loop trail between Madison and Norris provides an uncrowded quick fix for geothermal junkies. Stroll the trail/boardwalk combo through a young lodgepole pine forest to see brightly colored hot springs, hissing steam vents, and mud pots tossing mud several feet in the air. A slight climb to the top of the basin gives you a lovely aerial view over the thermal features and a distant peek at 10,336-foot Mount Holmes.
1.2-mile loop. Easy. Access: Trailhead is 4 1/2 miles south of Norris Junction.
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.