Sunset in Yellowstone National Park: 10 BEST Family Spots

Yellowstone National Park is well-known for its glorious geysers, hot springs, and incredible American wildlife (hiya bison, bears and elk, oh my!). But if you’re heading on a vacation with tykes? Well, you might be on the hunt for amazing places to watch the sunset in Yellowstone National Park before you all turn in for the night.

Now, romantic sunset spots have their perks. However, we’re keeping families in mind here. So, instead of hard-to-hike trails that lead to high perches, we’ll focus on areas at lower elevations that are easy to reach via short trails. Yup – most of these spots are driveable and ideal for when you’re too pooped to face even a short walk.

This go-to guide includes everything from driving directions to parking instructions that’ll help you make the most of your limited time. We’ll even throw in a few top tips to help you catch the best of those vibrant colors.

Sunset at Sylvan Lake, heading toward the east entrance of Yellowstone National ParkPin
This stunning spot didn’t make our top 8, but I’d recommend it highly as one of the “sunset spots less traveled” and you can see this view right from the roadside – Sylvan Lake between Fishing Bridge and the East Yellowstone entrance

Just be aware that you’ll need to keep the length of the day in mind before embracing the warm light of the setting sun. Some kids will start to struggle after a while!

Now let’s get on the road!

TOP 10 Places For Your Family to Watch Sunset in Yellowstone National Park

1: Lamar Valley

Location: Northern Yellowstone

How to get there: If you’re coming from Mammoth Hot Springs, head towards the Northeast Entrance Road from Grand Loop Road. From Cooke City, you can go west straight from the North Entrance.

Nearest parking lot: There isn’t a designated parking area here, but there are several pullouts available for cars. Try to look for pullouts that already have cars in them (just so you feel confident that you’re stopped in a safe place with kids in the back!).

Why it’s on this list: Kids will appreciate the active wildlife in this part of the parks as it’ll keep them interested as the sun sets. Just watch out for bison jams as you’re heading in and out!

Lamar Valley belongs on any list of the best spots to watch the sunset in Yellowstone National Park.

That’s partly down to the fact that it’s easily accessible by vehicle year-round, but it’s largely because of the amazing wildlife-spotting opportunities.

bison amongst others in Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National ParkPin
bison in Lamar Valley

The animals in Lamar Valley are most active at dusk and dawn, and there are so many bison here (especially if you’re visiting during the rut). If you look closely, you may also spot pronghorns, elk, bald eagles, deer, black bears, coyotes…and if you’re really lucky, even wolves milling around.

In terms of the sunset itself, the hilly valley creates a stunning backdrop for the gold and pink colors. And if your kiddos are feeling tuckered out, they can easily watch the sunset from the car with binoculars! There are plenty of easy pull-offs in this area with great views.

person seen taking picture through side mirror of car in yellowstone national parkPin

2: Mammoth Hot Springs

Location: North Yellowstone

How to get there: You can get here by heading along Upper Terrace Drive (it’s a 1.6 km loop). There’s usually more parking around the Upper Terrace than the main terrace, so try there first!

Nearest parking lot: Upper Terrace Drive, but there’s also parking near Bath Lake and Opal Terrace.

Why it’s on this list: The bubbling pools, panoramic views, and accessible boardwalks make this a must-visit spot for families.

Mammoth Hot Springs is a fabulous place to catch the sunset in Yellowstone National Park as a family. Seriously, the combination of steam rising from the bubbling pools of bright pink and yellow complements the colorful skies beautifully.

sunset at Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National ParkPin
walking the boardwalks in Mammoth Hot Springs are always beautiful, but even more so at sunset

We’ll say that Mammoth Springs is a place that’s quite touristy, so crowds can be an issue for families with younger kids. But if you’re here with children 10 and up (and are willing to pull on walking boots to tackle the stairs!), this is one of the best spots to catch the sunset.

family at Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National ParkPin
Mammoth Hot Springs in the late afternoon – colors of the travertine and hot springs are very vivid at this time of day, too

There are boardwalks all around this area with railings, but you need to keep an eye on youngsters around here as the springs are hot and the terrain isn’t level.

sunset at Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National ParkPin
Mammoth Hot Springs at sunset

3: Lake Butte Overlook

Location: Eastern shore of Yellowstone Lake

How to get there: The easiest way to get here is by heading through the East Park Entrance. There’s a steep drive off the main road that takes you up to the overlook.

Nearest parking lot: Be warned that there’s only a tiny car park (for 5 or so cars!) up by the overlook. So, it’s a good idea to get here slightly early with snacks and entertainment for little ones.

Why it’s on this list: The views from here are pretty unbeatable, and you can see everything you need from the car. So, it’s ideal for tuckered-out kids!

The path to Lake Butte Overlook is a short (but steep) drive, and the view of Lake Yellowstone beneath the orange, pink, and purple-toned skies are well worth the climb.

panoramic view from Lake Butte overlook in Yellowstone National ParkPin
park ranger standing at the Lake Butte overlook, which is beautiful any time of day (this was early afternoon) but especially at sunset

Oh, and don’t forget about the unforgettable vistas over Mount Washburn, Electric Peak, and the Grand Tetons that reflect in the water!

view from Lake Butte overlook in Yellowstone National ParkPin
mid-day view from Lake Butte overlook

Once you’ve caught the sunset in Yellowstone National Park, you can recoup at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel.

family walking from the lake toward the Lake Yellowstone HotelPin
our family heading up to Lake Yellowstone Hotel from the lake

Even if you’re not staying here, they offer a fast-casual and full-service dining experience that’ll fuel the family before bed. Just be warned that only guests can book ahead, so you may be unlucky. To save yourself the hassle, it’s worth calling ahead to see if they can accommodate you for the evening.

our family getting ready to play a game in the lobby of the Lake Yellowstone HotelPin
our family getting ready to play a game in the lobby of the Lake Yellowstone Hotel

Didn’t make it to Lake Butte Overlook in time for the setting sun? Catching sunset from the shore of Lake Yellowstone is pretty spectacular, too. There’s a nice little deck area down a short path in front of the Lake Yellowstone Hotel.

sunset at Lake Yellowstone, near the Lake Yellowstone HotelPin
Sunset from the shore of Lake Yellowstone, directly in front of the Lake Yellowstone Hotel

4: The Great Fountain Geyser

Location: Lower Geyser Basin

How to get there: You’ll find this sunset spot along Firehole Lake Drive. The easiest route in is to travel south on the 191 until you reach the geyser.

Nearest parking lot: Parking is relatively limited, especially mid-day. But most guests will clear out before sunset hits depending on the time of year.

Why it’s on this list: If you’re willing to wait for the geyser to erupt, you’ll get some truly amazing pictures.

If you’re at Yellowstone National Park for explosive geysers, The Great Fountain Geyser won’t disappoint. It often offers forecasts (and is the only one in the lower geyser basin for which predictions are offered) for eruptions which shoot 10-50 feet in the air for up to 20 minutes at a time.

YouTube video
Great Fountain Geyser – mid-day in the lower geyser basin

The only thing I’ll say is that to catch an eruption at sunset means you are extremely lucky. Check on eruption predictions and if one is predicted around sunset, try to arrive as close to the prediction window as possible to prevent disappointment.

panoramic of great fountain geyser in the lower geyser basin of Yellowstone National parkPin
panoramic view of Great Fountain Geyser in the Lower Geyser Basin at mid-day

And truthfully, even without an eruption, this is a beautiful place to see the sunset. The reflection of the sun in the shallow waters of the geyser basin creates a colorful, and incredibly vivid, stunning view.

great fountain geyser in the lower geyser basin of Yellowstone National park at sunsetPin
Even without a sunset eruption, the Great Fountain Geyser offers stunning views at dusk

5: Old Faithful Geyser

Location: Grand Loop Road

How to get there: You’ll want to direct yourself to the Upper Geyser Basin or Old Faithful Visitor Center which are accessible via Grand Loop Road. There’s not really a shortage of parking here, so don’t worry!

Nearest parking lot: There’s parking at Old Faithful Inn, Old Faithful Lodge, and by the Photo Shop if you’re heading to the visitor center.

Why it’s on this list: Old Faithful is an unmissable natural attraction and kids find the enormous eruption fascinating!

Old Faithful is an iconic location and one of the best places to watch the sunset in Yellowstone National Park. It’s another spot in the Upper Geyser Basin in Wyoming and erupts on a relatively regular schedule.

Sunset at Old Faithful geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National ParkPin
Upper Geyser Basin at sunset

The paths around any of Yellowstone’s geysers can be slippery in inclement weather. So, make sure you’ve kitted out your kids in shoes with heavy grips.

Sunset at Old Faithful geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National ParkPin

If you’re waiting a while for an eruption, head into the Old Faithful Visitor Center. There are toilets, a baby changing station, and great educational exhibits as well as ranger programs with detailed information about the parks that you can check out.

There’s also a gift shop, with a spot to stamp your passport book if anyone in your family does one of those.

Old Faithful Visitor Education CenterPin

That said, my absolute FAVORITE place to watch sunset in this area is from the observation deck/roof deck (read: bar) in the beautiful Old Faithful Inn.

YouTube video
Our FAVORITE sunset viewing spot – even better with a deck of cards and an adult beverage

Take a deck of cards or a fun family game, grab a beer or a glass of wine at the bar, then relax while you wait for the next eruption of Old Faithful. I’m telling you, it’s an experience you will look back on and relish for a long time to come!

6: Fountain Paint Pots

Location: Lower Geyser Basin

How to get there: This spot is north of Old Faithful and South of Madison. You can get here by heading along the Grand Loop Road or from Madison Junction. It just depends which direction you’re coming from.

Nearest parking lot: Your best option for parking is next to Firehole Lake Road. The paint pots are just a short walk from here.

Why it’s on this list: Kids can’t get enough of the red, brown, and yellow pools around this trail. Plus, it’s one of Yellowstone’s shortest trails, meaning they can walk through easily without getting tired.

If you’re looking to catch the sunset in Yellowstone National Park, you need to check out the Fountain Paint Pots. This half-mile trail is along a sturdy boardwalk, making it easy for most families to tackle (even with toddlers in tow!).

Our spot #4 (Great Fountain Geyser) mentioned above is actually along this same trail, so double the bang for your short sunset hike buck!

We’d say the best time of day to check out the steamy mud pots are just before dusk hits (or an hour-ish before). This way, you’ll get gorgeous views of the nice sunset while still seeing the best of the paint pots themselves.

fountain paint pots trail yellowstone national parkPin
view of the fountain paint pots along the boardwalk trail

Just be aware that it might take slightly longer to walk this short trail with kids. We’ve found that they can stop and stare at the pots for a while before being moved along.

Oh, and prepare to hear a few complaints about the sulfuric smell – you’ll all get used to it though!

7: Artist’s Point/Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Location: South Rim Drive

How to get there: The parking lot is right at the end of South Rim Drive and this pin should get you right to the trailhead.

Nearest parking lot: There’s a central parking lot at the Artist’s Point trailhead. It’s $5 a day, but it’s worth paying for the views alone.

Why it’s on this list: You get next-level views of the Yellowstone River from virtually every angle (but the hike won’t tire out kids!).

Great views of the mountains, colors hitting the surroundings, and vistas over the entire area around the Grand Canyon? Now that’s an amazing place to watch the sunset in Yellowstone National Park!

Artist's Point viewpoint, Yellowstone National ParkPin
Artist’s Point is gorgeous ANY time of day (this photo was shot around noon), but this spot is even more amazing at sunset

One of the best things about this spot is that you miss the bulk of the crowds by visiting at sunset (or sunrise). Plus, you can’t beat the scenic drive to the parking lot!

To make things even more appealing, it’s just a few hundred yards from the parking lot to the viewpoint! So, little legs can more than handle this location.

family at Artist's Point viewpoint, Yellowstone National ParkPin
Picture opportunities here at Artist’s Point are better at sunset for people, too. Shadowy faces are hard to avoid when taking family pics like this one of us around mid-day.

8: Morning Glory Pool

Location: Upper Geyser Basin

How to get there: Walk (or bike) a paved 1-mile path (one way) to reach Morning Glory from Old Faithful. An alternate route is Artesimia Trail from Biscuit Basin parking lot which is equally long, but less crowded.

Nearest parking lot: Old Faithful Inn OR Biscuit Basin (to take the Artemisia trail)

Why it’s on this list: You can’t beat the almost luminescent colors of the pool as the sun starts to come down.

If you’re trying to keep kids entertained, Morning Glory Pool is a great place to watch the sunset in Yellowstone National Park.

Of all the spots on this list, Morning Glory will require the most effort to get to. There are a couple of options for getting there.

morning glory pool in yellowstone national parkPin

Option 1 is to rent bikes at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and take a paved 2-mile (1 mile out, 1 mile back) path from Old Faithful down to Morning Glory pool. This will be the quickest way to get there, and possibly the most fun for your family! Note that bikes are not permitted on the boardwalks (which are plentiful in the Upper Geyser Basin) so your routes will be limited.

Option 2 is to walk the same paved trail from Old Faithful, OR come at this pool from the Artemisia trail, which starts at the Biscuit Basin parking lot. Both routes are about a 2 mile round-trip walk. There is usually more parking in Biscuit Basin as it’s a less popular area (though it shouldn’t be) than Old Faithful.

The sheer natural beauty of this enormous pool will fascinate anyone. But it’s the emerald pool mixing with the orange and pink-toned sunset that’ll take your breath away.

Kids tend to find the depth of this pool super cool (along with the bubbling and steaming water itself).

And if you take your time to explain how the pool was formed thanks to Yellowstone’s volcanic location? Well, they won’t be able to take their eyes off this thing as the sun comes down!

family in front of the Morning Glory pool in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National ParkPin
Morning Glory Pool is gorgeous mid-day, too. When the sun is bright, the colors are especially vibrant.

9. Pleasant Valley (via Cowboy Cookout)

Location: Roosevelt Lodge; Roosevelt Corrals

How to get there: To get this sunset view, your family will need to book a reservation for the Old West Dinner Cookout in the Tower-Roosevelt area located in the central northern area of the park between Mammoth Hot Springs and Lamar Valley

Nearest parking lot: There is ample parking at the Roosevelt Lodge and Roosevelt Corral.

Why it’s on this list: Dinner + sunset? What could be better? The Old West Dinner cookout is unforgettable; not only is the food great, but the view of sunset after dinner as your horse or wagon heads back to Roosevelt Corral is spectacular.

The Old West Dinner Cookout is only offered during the summer season, and tickets book up months in advance. But if you book this event, I promise your family will not regret it.

Pack a face mask as the wagons kick up plenty of dust, but the ride out to Pleasant Valley, whether you do it on horseback, or via wagon ride is breathtaking. And you’ll be treated to stories about Yellowstone by your guide.

on the wagon ride at dusk headed back to Roosevelt Corral after the Old West Dinner Cookout in Yellowstone National ParkPin

You may encounter bison, coyote and other Yellowstone wildlife as you make the trek. When you arrive in Pleasant Valley, you’ll be treated to a fabulous dinner, a campfire and entertainment before heading back to the Roosevelt Corral at dusk.

The event is full of families, and is something my kids frequently talk about, years after we tried this for the first time in 2019.

YouTube video
Scenes from the Old West Dinner Cookout

10. Black Sand Basin

Location: just north of Old Faithful, but on the opposite side of the Grand Loop Rd

How to get there: From Old Faithful, drive 1 mile north on the Grand Loop Road, look for the quick left turnoff into the Black Sand Basin parking lot.

Nearest parking lot: There is ample parking at Black Sand Basin.

Why it’s on this list: This area faces west, and though close to lodging at the Old Faithful area, is much less crowded, has lots of parking and the trail is just .5 mile (out and back). It has interesting thermal features, and wide open spaces perfect for sunset views.

Last on the list, but certainly not least, Black Sand Basin is like a gem of Yellowstone that seems to be hidden in plain sight.

sign at black basin trail, yellowstone national parkPin

Though literally within a stone’s throw from the Old Faithful area, Black Sand Basin gets a fraction of the foot traffic the Upper Geyser Basin sees, and the thermal features here are magnificent.

With plenty of parking, Black Sand Basin has a boardwalk trail that will take you out about .25 miles, and then back for a total of .5 miles. It’s flat, and has expansive views facing westward. Perfect for sunset views.

family making shadows at Rainbow Pool in Black Sand Basin, Yellowstone National ParkPin
our family making shadows at the Rainbow Pool along the Black Sand Basin trail

Places to Watch the Sunset in Yellowstone National Park: Honorable Mentions

Yellowstone National Park is so huge that it’s really hard to just pick 10 spots. So here are a few other spots that are also amazingly gorgeous at sunset, and easy to get to with your family:

11. Madison Riverside Drive

Location: between west entrance and Madison Junction

How to get there: From the west entrance head toward Madison Junction. Look for a small sign on your left for the one-way, 1-mile Riverside Drive

Nearest parking lot: There are several pull-outs along the drive

Why it’s on this list: Sunset along the shallow Madison, looking westward is a gorgeous scene, and very conveniently located for people staying in West Yellowstone

Some of the most gorgeous sunsets our family has seen in Yellowstone were headed out of the park toward West Yellowstone.

sunset driving out of Yellowstone National Park toward West Yellowstone entrancePin
terrible picture of a beautiful sunset headed toward West Yellowstone, a few miles from the park entrance

And a great spot to stop and observe this incredible scene is on the short, one-way Riverside Drive which parallels the main road in and out of the park’s west entrance. This short side road winds its way alongside the Madison River.

panoramic view of the Madison River along Riverside Drive, 5 miles from the West Yellowstone park entrancePin
panoramic view of Madison River from Riverside Drive

Maybe because of the unobtrusive signage, or perhaps just lack of marketing…this spot is always quiet, and so other people’s lack of awareness can mean your family gets an amazing sunset spot all to yourselves!

my boys skipping rocks while wading in the shallow Madison River along Riverside Drive, 5 miles from the West Yellowstone park entrancePin
get out of the car, and skip some rocks in the shallow Madison while waiting for sunset…remember to be bear aware!

12. Gibbon Meadow

Location: Just past Gibbon Falls, and right before Artist Paint Pots along the Grand Loop Road

How to get there: From Madison Junction, head north on the Grand Loop Road. There’s a pull-off for this meadow (no parking lot) just past Gibbon Falls. If you hit Artist Paint Pots, you’ve gone too far

Nearest parking lot: Small pull-off right on the Grand Loop Drive

Why it’s on this list: This meadow is perhaps one of the most understated, but serene spots in the park. Vast, quiet, and great westward views of the sunset

This meadow is not overtly impressive in the way a viewpoint like Artist’s Point may be. But it’s stunning in its simplicity. Our family loves to pull off the Grand Loop Road at this point, and just sit in the quiet looking off onto this peaceful meadow.

panoramic of Gibbon Meadow, Yellowstone National ParkPin
panoramic view of the serene and peaceful Gibbon Meadow

Granted, it is RIGHT on the Grand Loop Road, so there will be some street noise from passing cars, but it’s incredibly easy to access, and a quick jump to lodging in West Yellowstone, if that’s where you’re headed for the night.

Gibbon Meadow, Yellowstone National ParkPin
beautiful even in the middle of the day, Gibbon Meadow is breathtaking at dusk

And there you have it! Our list of the most beautiful, family-friendly spots to witness the beauty of sunset in Yellowstone National Park! I hope your family finds this list useful. And if you see an amazing sunset, we’d love to hear about it!

Pin this information about sunset in Yellowstone National Park for later! And if you found this article helpful, leave a comment on the pin. That helps others decide whether to use this information, too!

Sunset in Yellowstone National Park is epic...make sure your family knows the best spots for sunset viewing! These 10 are easy to find, but impossible to forget! #yellowstonenationalpark #familytravelPin
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About Heather Thibodeau

Heather Thibodeau is the founder and mom behind nationalparksmom.com.

She and her husband Dave (AKA Tib) are on a mission to travel to as many US national parks with their three kids in tow as they possibly can, doing their best to keep the little ones out in nature and off of screens in an increasingly digital world.

Heather has earned degrees in biology & chemistry from Virginia Tech (Go Hokies), and holds master's and doctorate degrees in physical therapy from Duke University (Go Blue Devils).

Heather is also the creative force behind The Heathered Nest where she shares her love of all things DIY and home decor.

Her work has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, House Beautiful, Good Housekeeping, This Old House, Today.com, The Washington Post, Boston Globe, and more.

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