Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone Lake is big - 20 miles long and 14 miles wide, over 400 ft deep, and the lake bottom has lots of geysers and hot springs too. One day the lake might be calm, an unruffled expanse of sparkling blue water, the next day, wind can whip the lake into a sea of white caps, waves crashing on the shore. The lake freezes in winter, and even in summer, this isn't a lake for kids to go swimming. But it's a beautifully scenic lake with crystalline clear waters, rimmed by snow covered peaks.
Lake Village - At Lake Village, the General Store is the place to pick up picnic supplies and have an ice cream (including huckleberry). There's plenty of picnic tables along the lake and great views of Stevenson Island. In front of the Lake Lodge, follow the trail that goes along the lake in either direction.
Bridge Bay - At the Bridge Bay Marina, take a one hour cruise on the lake, cruises run all day, including an especially nice cruise in the early evening around 7pm. At the marina, you can also rent row boats or motorboats to go out on the lake, kid's life jackets are provided. Along the Bridge Bay inlet is a large, lovely picnic area.
West Thumb Geyser Basin - This area has one of each kind of thermal feature in Yellowstone - geysers, fumaroles, mudpots and hot springs. The boardwalk goes right along the lake, look into the water to see bubbles and swirls coming up from hot springs at the bottom of the lake. At the lake's edge, boiling water bubbles out of the Fishing Cone; in the past, fisherman could catch a trout in the lake, and cook it in the cone. Our favorite pools are the Black Pool (it used to be black, due to the organisms living in the water, they died off, and now it's a gorgeous aquamarine pool) and Abyss Pool that seems bottomless.
Grant Village Visitor Center - In this visitor center, check out the exhibits about the forest ecology in Yellowstone, how plants, animals and trees survive wildfires and renew the forest, plus a 20 minute film about Yellowstone today. A picnic area is outside the visitor center.
East Entrance Road - Along the East Entrance Road is access to the lake, and two short hikes.
- Sedge Bay has a nice cove, pebbly beach, picnic tables
, and is the perfect place to stop for lunch and skip stones on the lake.
- We were delighted to see these glorious white pelicans with bright orange bills. They were there in Pelican Creek, a whole bunch of them, having a pelican party, putting their heads into the water to catch trout in their bills. On the west side of the creek, take the short one mile Pelican Creek loop trail
that goes through the forest to the lake and back.
Storm Point Trail
- About 3 miles east of Fishing Bridge, on the East Entrance Road, take the Storm Point Trail for a nice hike to the lake. The trail goes past Indian Pond, through the fir and pine forest, and along the lake to Storm Point, then loops back through the forest. It's largely level, a 2+ mile hike round trip.
Continental Divide - It isn't very dramatic, but the South Entrance Road crosses the Continental Divide. There's a sign marking the spot, elevation 7988 ft. Kids can stand with one foot on either side of the divide.