Traveling with Kids
Montana and the Yellowstone Area is a large place and can be tricky with kids, but also a lot of fun and a great memory-making vacation! Make sure you plan plenty of out of the car time and try to stay places along the way to avoid extra driving. Make reservations in advance because places fill up in the summer!
Enjoy a Paddle/Saddle trip and stay at a Hot Springs Hotel
Start off your journey in the city of Gardiner just North of Yellowstone Park. Join Montana Whitewater for an exciting day of horseback riding followed by a rafting, our Paddle Saddle trip! You will start your day meeting at the historic Stermitz Ranch for a horseback ride through wildflower fields and gradual mountains bordering Yellowstone Park. Enjoy a BBQ lunch at the ranch, then head to Gardiner for rafting. The Yellowstone is a fun splashy river suitable for as young as 5 yrs old. After rafting, drive 30 mins north to Chico Hot Springs and stay the night with the family. Eat at the poolside grill and soak to your hearts content in the outdoor hot springs pools.
See the Park!
Start off fueling for the day with an early morning soak and a breakfast buffet at Chico. Then, head through Gardiner, into the North Entrance of the Park and drive up to Mammoth Hot Springs (only 5 miles in). Make your first stop the Albright Visitor Center to find out about the Junior Ranger Program. This will give your kids a fun goal to accomplish while visiting the park! Spend some time exploring the boardwalks around the 2nd largest hot spring terrace in the world. Pick up a trail map at the visitor center if you want to get off the boardwalks. There are many hikes in the Mammoth area that can be as long or short as you like. If you’re not sure about using backcountry trails, ask about Ranger-led family hikes when you’re at the visitor center.
Enjoy the lunch at the Terrace Grill in Mammoth or grab a picnic table and your sack lunch and sit outside. Spend part of the afternoon driving out to Tower/Roosevelt, looking for wildlife along the way (don’t forget the binoculars!). Stop at the Tower General Store and take a short walk to the falls overlook, maybe grab an ice cream, or continue on to Lamar Valley for more wildlife viewing potential. Head down to Canyon Village for the night. If your group isn’t too tired, you’ll want to attend the Ranger-led Evening Program at the Canyon Campground. A slide show and campfire is a great way to finish off a day in Yellowstone! Check for times in your park newspaper.
Rent a canoe on Yellowstone Lake, Old Faithful and West Yellowstone
Drive south to Yellowstone Lake. Connect with this beautiful natural mountain lake with a shore hike and rock skipping or get out on the water by renting an outboard or rowboat (first come, first served) from Xanterra Parks and Resorts at Bridge Bay Marina. Enjoy lunch at the Lake Lodge, then head to Old Faithful to see this famous geyser. Jet out the West Entrance and hit up one of the many accommodations like the WorldMark Hotel, the smaller Alpine Inn, or the KOA in West Yellowstone. Dinner at the Bar N Ranch is a great finish to the day.
ZipLining and River Tubing or *Hangout in West Yellowstone!
If the family is stoked for some more outdoor fun, get up early and grab breakfast at the Kiwi Take-away. Go north on 191 about an hour to our Gallatin Location and enjoy a zip line trip. Eat lunch at the Blazing Paddles café, then continue north another 30 minutes to catch the 1:30 shuttle for Madison River Tubing. We will take you to a mellow section of river and provide a tube for a relaxing afternoon of fun! After the tube trip, head into Bozeman for a hotel and dinner (lots of options in this college town).*If the weather isn’t great or the kids need a mellower day, spend the morning in West Yellowstone. You can go to the Grizzlyand Wolf Discovery Center and partake in the Keeper Kids program. Kids learn first about grizzly bear eating habits then accompany the naturalist and animal keeper into the bear habitat to hide food for some of the resident bears. After the food is hidden, see how bears use their sense of smell to search out the food! Then, head north to Big Sky and grab a delicious lunch at Bugaboo Café. Finish the afternoon with a zip line tour, flying across the Gallatin River and head to Bozeman for the night.
Lewis and Clark Caverns or Virginia City
Choose your adventure for the day. You can drive about an hour west from Bozeman to enjoy a journey underground in the Lewis and Clark Caverns. View stalactites and stalagmites, while listening to great tales about Montana’s past from a tour guide. Another great option is to explore the historic Montana ghost town of Virginia City. This is about an hour and a half from Bozeman, but is a great way to spend the day. Go on a train ride, pan for gold and see how to make toffee at the local candy shop. Depending on the way you drive, you may pass Norris Hot Springs and can stop for a final relaxing soak on your way home. This place is deemed the “Water of the Gods”. If you hit it on a weekend night, live music will be playing poolside. You can also try out some yummy snacks made from local foods and enjoy a microbrew in the pool. To sum it up- rustic, wholesome, and soothing.