A Pit Stop a Day (Day 11): Yellowstone National Park

Day 11, we drove the short distance on Hwy 191 from Big Sky Resort to Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone crowds swarm the Old Faithful hub of this massive park, so after entering at the West Entrance, we drove north from the Madison hub to Artists’ Paintpots, then back-tracked to Firehole River for a wonderful swimming hole.

At Artists’ Paintpots, you’ll find a well-maintained loop trail taking you to steaming and bubbling ‘pots’ in the earth, as well as mud-holes that gurgle and spew (my kids’ favorite!). The hike is easy, and you get much closer to these interesting geothermal wonders than you can at nearby Geyser Basin (in our opinion).

Artists’ Paintpots is an easy hike for kids!

Upon reaching the top of the trail, you can see all the geothermal pools below!

Toby talks a bit about the paintpots on the Pit Stops for Kids Cam:

Once our kids were tired of being in the car (because Yellowstone is large and crowded and often doing road construction, long drives are unavoidable), we made a stop at the Firehole River Swimming Hole along Firehole Lake Drive (approach from the north, as this drive is one-way). This wonderful spot is warmed by the run-off of distant geysers, and one of the only places in the park where swimming is permitted.

Younger kids can wade and swim in the still waters of the hole, while older (more adventurous) kids will want to float a bit down the current. We did see people jumping from the rocks of the canyon upstream, but would not recommend it.

The geothermal waters combining with cold river water makes the water…less cold!

Nate still needs to ease into it!

Note: There are pit toilets at the swimming hole, but we had the kids change into swimsuits in the car instead.

Extra Tip: Pack a picnic lunch and plan to stay awhile once you’ve found a parking spot!

Date last visited: July 2, 2010.

Distance off the interstate: Right off Hwy 191 or Hwy 89.

Admission Prices: Only the $25 per car National Park fee (also good for Grand Teton NP).

Food Services: Plenty in the park. None at either location described above. We ate a meal at The Lake House in Grant Village in the southern end of the park before exiting, and found it much quieter than in the central hubs.

Website: Yellowstone National Park

Up Next: We enter Grand Teton National Park and check in to the Colter Bay Resort!