Because I promote picnicking as the best way to deal with the inevitable and recurring need for food, here are some YNP picnicking realities and a few of our favorite picnic areas. (Note: Each is near water—either beside a river or above Yellowstone Lake.)
Our 5 Favorites Picnic Areas
- Firehole River Picnic Area | Situated on the Firehole River, this is our family’s favorite. The picnic tables are right by the water. Miraculously, we almost always manage to get our preferred table and the kids almost always play “catch stick.” This would be a made-up game where they throw a stick in the water and see if they can run fast enough to catch it and fish it back out. Children do creative things when they are waiting for food without television or the internet to distract them. When we’re there, we’ve occasionally seen other children doing the same or grownups just sitting by the water in the afternoon sun, soaking in the restorative power of mountain air and running water. Location: Just before or after Madison Junction, depending on your direction.
- Gull Point Picnic Area | Nestled among the trees on a hill above Yellowstone Lake, this is yet another place where our children easily entertain themselves while I make dinner. The first time we stopped here, our son was five. As he made his way down the slope, I looked at the shoreline, saw a sizable tree trunk laying on the beach, and said to my husband, “You know he’ll try to launch that” He had to work at it, but he got it done. Location: on the shore of Yellowstone Lake near Bridge Bay
- Pumice Point Picnic Area | This two-table spot is my absolute favorite. Its two tables are situated on a bluff above Yellowstone Lake. And it is the site where I learned—again—to slow down, to expect and enjoy great scenery. (Between Grant Village and Bridge Bay)
- Lava Creek Picnic Area | Away from the road with only a handful of tables sheltered under a canopy of trees, this—like the others—is a favorite because of its proximity to water and because we’ve made memories there. (Near Mammoth Hot Springs)
- Snake River Picnic Area | Overlooking the Snake River near the South Entrance of the park, this offers a lovely view but not much shade. It’s a new find for my husband and me. We had breakfast there one morning and liked it so much that we stopped there for breakfast again a couple of days later. (Just inside Yellowstone’s South Entrance.
*Consult your park map for specific locations
* Get my tips for picnicking in Yellowstone here
happy trails ~ Natalie 🥾
- Find information about Yellowstone’s picnic locations and regulations here and information about planning a visit to Yellowstone can be found here.
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