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Yellowstone River Picnic Area Loop Trail [CLOSED]

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Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone River Picnic Area Loop Trail is a 3.9 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching.

Distance: 3.9 miles Elevation Gain: 456 feet Route Type: Loop

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

closed

no dogs

It has been reported this trail has a temporary closure due to COVID-19. Please see the park's website for up to date information.

Sun Nov 04 2018

This was a very easy and relatively short hike. My mother and I hiked to the lookout and turned around to avoid having to walk back on the road. We saw some wildlife, but I would recommend hiking in the morning to see more. There were several other groups who were hiking this trail at the same time we were which were loud and definitely were scaring away animals.

hiking
Thu Sep 06 2018

There are two trails leading away from the parking lot. The official trail with the signpost is a gradual climb to the canyon edge. The unmarked trail next to the bathroom climbs steeply to the edge. Along the canyon is a beautiful hike. I had my 5 year old along for the hike and only felt compelled to hold her hand a couple of times where it was steep off to the right. At the Specimen Ridge trailhead (which is a short way off the road) there is an unmarked trail which runs all the way back to the parking area so you don’t have to hike on the road itself. Saw bison. Bring water. Its a short hike but dry and hot with little shade.

Sat Aug 25 2018

This trail has awesome views of the canyon. There is no official trail sign at the bottom/start of the trail when you reach the Yellowstone Picnic Area and the trail isn’t well marked. We ended up just going to the point where there was a sign for different trails 2 miles in and just turning around—using it as an out-and-back trail instead of a loop. I do feel a little cheated because unlike other reviewers we saw no wildlife on our hike (unless you count the numerous grasshoppers!). Maybe it is because we went late morning. I would not recommend this for anyone with younger children. You hike along the very edge of the canyon on sandy/loose soil. Even my 15-year-old who was mostly paying attention slipped a tiny bit when his foot went just a bit outside the trail edge. I would go this one early in the morning because there is no shade.

hiking
Tue Jul 10 2018

We used this hike as an easy first day to acclimate (coming from flat all around Minnesota), the hike starts in a hurry to get up to the top but the quick scramble pays off right away. You walk along the cliff side with views of the Yellowstone River and even a small glimpse of Tower Falls. We saw a few bison along the way which made it even better. Overall an easy, but rewarding hike.

hiking
Sat Jul 07 2018

Beautiful views of the Yellowstone River with tons of wildlife sightings! There is a fairly steep incline right at the beginning but is easy once you get on top of the ridge. You have to walk along the road for the last part of the hike which downgraded this hike to a 4 for me.

Tue Jun 26 2018

Good, unique view of the canyon away from the crowds. The hike takes you through fields where we saw bison, marmots, badgers, and mountain goats. Trail isn’t too well marked, but the bald outlook at the middle serves as a nice midway point.

hiking
Mon Oct 02 2017

We saw 20+ mountain goats, antelopes and bisons on the way. Easy hiking. Breath taking view.

hiking
Sun Jul 30 2017

A wonderful alternative to experiencing the canyon rim without the crowds. When I went, I only saw 4 other people- but this may be due to it being later in the afternoon, and a storm approaching. Walking back to parking lot along the street is not enjoyable. A badger ran across the trail right in front of me while traversing the meadow!

walking
3 months ago

hiking
7 months ago

hiking
8 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

hiking
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hiking
10 months ago

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11 months ago

hiking
Mon Jul 23 2018

hiking
Sun Jul 15 2018

hiking
Sat Jul 14 2018

Sun Jun 24 2018

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