Nestled in the heart of the majestic Yellowstone National Park, West Yellowstone fascinates outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Boasting of stunning natural landscapes, floral and fauna, and diverse wildlife, the town offers a wide variety of free activities that cater to everyone. Whether you're a solo traveler looking for some adventure or a family on a budget, these 12 amazing free activities in West Yellowstone are guaranteed to delight, entertain and mesmerize you. Let's explore!
|Yellowstone National Park trails||Hiking, biking, and exploring the park's stunning trails.|
|Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center||Observe live grizzly bears, wolves and birds of prey.|
|Riverside Walk||A beautiful stroll along the Madison River.|
|Yellowstone Historic Center||Learn about the history of West Yellowstone and its people.|
|Earthquake Lake||A serene lake formed by a massive earthquake in 1959.|
|Firehole River||Swimming, fishing, and kayaking in the river's cool waters.|
|Playmill Theater||Enjoy free summer concerts featuring bluegrass and country.|
|Hebgen Lake||Relax on the sandy shore or paddle out on a canoe or kayak.|
What You'll Learn
- Hiking in Yellowstone National Park
- Wildlife watching in Lamar Valley
- Visiting the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center
- Biking and walking around the town
- Fishing in Hebgen Lake
- Learning about local history at the Museum of the Yellowstone
- Taking a scenic drive through the park
- Attending ranger-led activities and evening programs
- Watching the Old Faithful geyser erupt
- Picnicking in the park
- Kayaking and canoeing in Yellowstone River
- Geocaching in the area
Hiking in Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is without a doubt one of the most picturesque places to go hiking in the United States. With its towering peaks, breathtaking valleys and verdant forests, it's easy to see why so many people make the journey out west each year to experience all that this beautiful natural wonder has to offer.
Located in southwestern Montana and northern Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park spans almost 3,500 square miles and is home to an endless array of hiking trails that can take you deep into the heart of its vast wilderness. From short day hikes to multi-day treks, there is something for everyone, whether you're a seasoned hiker or just looking to take in the beauty of the park.
One of the most popular hiking trails in Yellowstone is the Fairy Falls Trail, a moderately easy hike that takes you through some of the most stunning landscapes in the park. The trail begins at the Fountain Flat Drive parking area near the Grand Prismatic Spring and wanders up through the forest, where you'll be treated to breathtaking views of the Upper Geyser Basin and the Fairy Falls themselves, which tumble down over 200 feet into a picturesque canyon below.
If you're looking for something a little more challenging, the Mount Washburn Trail offers some of the most breathtaking views in the park. This trail, which reaches an elevation of over 10,000 feet at its summit, takes you through a diverse range of ecosystems, from high alpine meadows to dense forests, and offers unparalleled panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
For those looking to explore the park on a multi-day hiking trip, the Yellowstone Grand Loop is a must-do. This 65-mile trek takes you through some of the most stunning scenery in the park, from the thermal basins and geysers in the west to the deep canyons and waterfalls in the east. This trek is not for the faint of heart, but for those who are up for the challenge, it's an unforgettable way to experience Yellowstone National Park.
No matter what kind of hiking adventure you're looking for, Yellowstone National Park is sure to deliver. With its breathtaking landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and endless array of hiking trails, it's no wonder why so many people make the journey out west each year to experience all that this beautiful natural wonder has to offer. So pack your bags, lace up your hiking boots, and discover the beauty of Yellowstone National Park for yourself!
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Wildlife watching in Lamar Valley
Free West Yellowstone: Wildlife Watching in Lamar Valley
Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park is one of the most famous wildlife watching spots in the world. Located in the northeastern part of the Park, Lamar Valley is known for its abundance of bison, elk, wolves, coyotes, and other wildlife species. If you're looking for a memorable experience in Yellowstone, Lamar Valley is definitely worth a visit.
One of the best things about Lamar Valley is that it's completely free. There are no entrance fees or fees to park in the area. You can drive through the valley and stop at any of the pullouts to observe the wildlife. However, it's important to stay in your vehicle and not disturb the animals. Remember, these are wild animals and they should be treated with respect.
One of the main attractions of Lamar Valley is the bison herd. There are roughly 4,000 bison in Yellowstone and many of them can be found in Lamar Valley. These massive animals can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and stand more than six feet tall. They are a sight to behold, especially when they're grazing in the grasslands. You may also see elk grazing alongside the bison.
One of the most exciting animals to see in Lamar Valley is the wolf. Yellowstone is home to one of the largest wolf populations in the world, and the Lamar Valley is one of the best places to spot them. Wolves are often seen hunting for elk in the valley, and if you're lucky, you might see a pack of wolves on the move.
Other animals you might see in Lamar Valley include coyotes, pronghorn, and bears. Black bears and grizzly bears are commonly seen in Yellowstone National Park, and Lamar Valley is no exception. However, bear sightings are less common than bison and elk sightings, so keep your eyes peeled.
If you're interested in wildlife photography, Lamar Valley is a great place to capture some amazing shots. The scenery is breathtaking, and the wildlife is abundant. Remember to bring a good camera and plenty of batteries. Also, be sure to check the weather before you go, as it can change quickly in the mountains.
In conclusion, Lamar Valley is a must-see destination in Yellowstone National Park. It's free, it's beautiful, and it's full of wildlife. Whether you're interested in photographing bison or watching wolves, there's something for everyone in Lamar Valley. So, pack your camera, bring some snacks, and get ready for an unforgettable wildlife watching experience.
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Visiting the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center
|Name||Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center|
|Type||Wildlife park in West Yellowstone, Montana|
|Website||Go to website|
|Rating / Review count||4.6 / 4,541|
|Address||201 S Canyon St, West Yellowstone, MT 59758|
|Hours||Wednesday - 9 AM–6 PM|
Thursday - 9 AM–6 PM
Friday - 9 AM–6 PM
Saturday - 9 AM–6 PM
Sunday - 9 AM–6 PM
Monday(Memorial Day) - 9 AM–6 PM
Tuesday - 9 AM–6 PM
If you're planning a trip to West Yellowstone, Montana, one attraction you won't want to miss is the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. This unique wildlife park is home to a variety of bears and wolves, all of whom have been rescued and cannot survive in the wild.
What sets the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center apart from other animal parks is its focus on education and conservation. Visitors can explore the park's exhibits and watch demonstrations and presentations by the staff, who are all trained experts in their fields. The park also offers special programs and events for schools and other groups.
One of the most popular exhibits at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is the "bear enclosure," where visitors can watch the bears interact with their environment. The park's resident grizzlies are all trained to forage for food on their own, and visitors can observe them as they play, swim, and hunt for treats.
The Wolf exhibit is equally captivating and worth checking out. Visitors can watch the wolves interact with each other and their surroundings and learn all about their social structures and behaviors.
Another standout feature of the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is its emphasis on safety. The staff ensures that visitors are never in danger by using natural barriers and special enclosures to keep both the animals and the humans safe. Visitors can also witness the staff conducting training sessions with the animals, which is another interesting aspect of the center.
If you're planning a visit to West Yellowstone, the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center should definitely be on your to-do list. It's a unique and educational experience that is sure to be memorable for visitors of all ages, and it's a great way to learn about these fascinating animals and their natural habitats. Plus, with its focus on conservation and sustainable practices, the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is not only a fun attraction but an important resource for ensuring the well-being of these majestic creatures.
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Biking and walking around the town
If you're looking for a fun and free way to explore the charming town of West Yellowstone, then taking a bike ride or a leisurely walk is the perfect option. The town offers a plethora of beautiful natural sights and interesting landmarks that can be easily accessed on foot or by bicycle, with no cost attached.
Biking is a great option for those who want to cover more ground and see the town at a faster pace. West Yellowstone is home to several bike rental shops where you can rent bicycles for a couple of hours or a whole day. These shops also offer helmets and maps of the area to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable ride. One of the most popular bike routes is the Rendezvous Ski Trail, which takes you past the Yellowstone River and through a scenic forest. It's the perfect way to enjoy the fresh air and beautiful views while getting exercise at the same time.
If biking isn't your thing, walking is a great alternative. West Yellowstone is a small town, and most of its attractions are within walking distance from one another. Take a stroll down Yellowstone Avenue and admire the old west-inspired architecture of the shops and restaurants. Or, head down to the Yellowstone Historic Center on Canyon Street and learn about the area's rich history and heritage. The town also offers several walking trails, such as the Three Mile Trail, which offers a gentle walk through fields of wildflowers and past the Hebgen Lake.
Whether you choose to bike or walk, be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water. Both options offer a chance to explore the town in a more intimate way as you slowly take in the sights and sounds that make this small corner of Montana a unique and unforgettable destination. Plus, biking and walking are great ways to stay active while on vacation, making sure you're ready for whatever adventures may arise during your stay.
So, the next time you're looking for a fun and free activity in West Yellowstone, consider grabbing a bike or lacing up your walking shoes. You're sure to uncover new sights, meet friendly locals, and get a little exercise in the process.
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Fishing in Hebgen Lake
Yellowstone National Park is a treasure trove of natural wonders, and the town of West Yellowstone is the ultimate gateway to explore this dazzling landscape. One activity that draws anglers from far and wide is fishing in Hebgen Lake, a gorgeous body of water that promises both catches and stunning views.
If you're looking for a place to fish for free in West Yellowstone, Hebgen Lake is a great option. As a man-made reservoir, it's not regulated by the National Park Service and therefore offers accessible and affordable fishing opportunities for all.
Hebgen Lake is located just outside the West Yellowstone entrance to the park, and it's one of Montana's top-rated fisheries. With over 15 miles of shoreline, it offers plenty of space to cast a line, whether from the bank or a boat. You can expect to catch rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout, as well as kokanee salmon, whitefish, and more.
The best time to fish is during the early summer months, when the water is still cool and the fish are actively feeding. However, Hebgen Lake offers excellent fishing year-round, as long as you're willing to adapt your techniques to the changing conditions.
One of the best ways to snag a bite is by trolling or casting with lures and bait that mimic the lake's natural prey. Anglers also report success with flies, especially during the summer months when the fish are surface-feeding. If you're new to fishing, it's best to hire a guide or take a class to learn the basics and increase your chances of a successful catch.
Besides fishing, Hebgen Lake is a popular spot for all sorts of water activities, from boating and kayaking to swimming and paddleboarding. There are several boat ramps and marinas around the lake, where you can rent equipment or launch your own vessel. Remember to follow the regulations and guidelines for boating and fishing in Montana to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
Whether you're a seasoned angler or just looking for a peaceful escape into nature, fishing in Hebgen Lake is a must-do activity in West Yellowstone. With its pristine water, abundant fish, and breathtaking views of the mountains and forests, it's no wonder that it's considered one of Montana's top fishing destinations. So grab your gear and head out to the lake to enjoy this free and fantastic outdoor adventure.
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Learning about local history at the Museum of the Yellowstone
|Name||Museum of the Yellowstone|
|Type||Local history museum in West Yellowstone, Montana|
|Website||Go to website|
|Rating / Review count||4.4 / 157|
|Address||104 Yellowstone Ave, West Yellowstone, MT 59758|
|Hours||Wednesday - 11 AM–8 PM|
Thursday - 11 AM–8 PM
Friday - 11 AM–8 PM
Saturday - 11 AM–8 PM
Sunday - 11 AM–5 PM
Monday(Memorial Day) - Closed
Tuesday - Closed
If you're ever in the town of West Yellowstone, Montana, there's one place you absolutely must visit: the Museum of the Yellowstone. This fascinating attraction is dedicated to preserving the rich history and culture of the region, and it's sure to give you a new appreciation for the area's unique heritage.
Inside the Museum of the Yellowstone, you'll find a wide array of exhibits and artifacts, all of which paint a vivid picture of life in this corner of the world. One of the most impressive displays is the Native American exhibit, which showcases the traditions and customs of the indigenous tribes that called this land home before the arrival of European settlers. From intricate beadwork and clothing to hunting tools and ceremonial items, there's an abundance of fascinating objects to explore in this section of the museum.
Another highlight of the Museum of the Yellowstone is the Western history exhibit, which chronicles the rise of ranching and the cattle industry in the area. Here you can learn about the famous cowboys and cowgirls who made their living in this rugged landscape, as well as the challenges and triumphs they faced along the way.
In addition to these displays, the museum also features exhibits on the geology and natural history of the region, as well as a rotating series of temporary exhibits that showcase different aspects of Yellowstone's culture and heritage. And if you're planning a visit with kids in tow, don't miss the hands-on discovery center, which offers a variety of interactive displays and activities designed to engage young learners and spark their curiosity about the world around them.
All in all, a visit to the Museum of the Yellowstone is an engaging and enlightening experience that's sure to deepen your understanding and appreciation of this beautiful corner of Montana. So the next time you find yourself with a free day in West Yellowstone, make sure to stop by and explore this hidden gem of the region. You won't be disappointed!
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Taking a scenic drive through the park
If you're in West Yellowstone and looking for a way to see the beauty of Yellowstone National Park without breaking the bank, taking a scenic drive through the park is definitely worth considering. Yellowstone is a huge park, so backcountry hiking and camping isn't always an option for everyone, but there are plenty of breathtaking sights you can see from the comfort of your car.
One of the most popular scenic drives in Yellowstone is the Grand Loop Road. This road is a 142-mile loop that takes visitors through some of the most popular parts of the park, including the Upper and Lower Geyser Basins, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and the Yellowstone Lake.
Along with the Grand Loop Road, there are several other scenic drives available in the park, including the Beartooth Highway, which is known as one of the most stunning drives in the entire country. This drive takes visitors through the Beartooth Mountains, and offers views of snow-capped peaks, alpine lakes, and lush green forests.
Another great scenic drive in Yellowstone is the Lamar Valley. This is a wildlife-rich area of the park, and you're likely to see herds of bison and elk grazing along the roadside. During the spring and summer months, you may even be lucky enough to spot grizzly bears and wolves.
Finally, if you're looking for a longer drive, consider the Yellowstone-Grand Teton Loop. This drive takes you through both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and offers views of some of the most stunning landscapes in the region.
No matter which scenic drive you choose, be sure to take your time and enjoy the sights. Pack a picnic lunch, bring plenty of water, and keep your camera close at hand. With so much natural beauty to see, you won't want to miss a moment of it. Best of all, this is a free activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, making it a great option for families, couples, and solo travelers alike.
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Attending ranger-led activities and evening programs
If you're looking for free things to do in West Yellowstone, attending ranger-led activities and evening programs is a great option. These activities are offered throughout the summer season and are a great way to learn more about Yellowstone National Park and its unique ecosystem.
Ranger-led activities take place daily in the park and include a variety of guided hikes, walks, and talks. These activities are led by knowledgeable rangers who will provide insightful information about the park's wildlife, geology, and history. Some of the most popular ranger-led activities include the Old Faithful Geyser Walk, the Wildlife Viewing Walk, and the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces Walk.
The evening programs are another great free activity in West Yellowstone. These programs are held at the park's visitor centers and cover a wide range of topics, from geology and history to wildlife and conservation. The programs are typically presented by rangers or other park experts and include presentations, videos, and hands-on activities.
In addition to being free, attending ranger-led activities and evening programs is a great way to get involved in the park's community. You'll have the opportunity to meet other visitors and park enthusiasts and learn about the different ways you can help support the park.
To get started, simply check the park's schedule of events, which is available online or at any of the park's visitor centers. Some activities require advanced registration, so be sure to plan ahead. And remember, while the activities and programs are free, there may be other costs associated with visiting the park, such as entrance fees or parking fees.
In conclusion, attending ranger-led activities and evening programs is a great way to experience Yellowstone National Park and learn about its unique features. These activities are free, informative, and a great way to connect with fellow park enthusiasts.
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Watching the Old Faithful geyser erupt
If you're looking for an unforgettable experience that won't cost you a dime, head to West Yellowstone, Montana to witness the awe-inspiring eruption of the Old Faithful geyser.
Located in the heart of Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful is one of the world's most famous geysers, shooting steam and water up to 130 feet in the air every 60-110 minutes. Unlike other geysers in the park, the timing of Old Faithful's eruptions is predictable, making it a must-see attraction for visitors.
Getting to Old Faithful is easy. Simply head to the Old Faithful Visitor Center where you'll find ample parking. From there, it's just a short walk to the geyser's viewing area. The geyser's eruption schedule is displayed on a board outside the visitor center, and rangers are on hand to answer any questions.
While you wait for the eruption, take in the stunning natural beauty of Yellowstone. Explore the walking trails that lead through the nearby thermal features and marvel at the vibrant colors and bubbling pools. Keep an eye out for bison, elk, and other wildlife that roam the park.
When Old Faithful erupts, it's a truly mesmerizing sight. The geyser shoots water and steam high into the air, creating a dramatic plume that lasts for several minutes. You'll want to have your camera ready to capture the moment. But don't forget to simply take in the experience with your own eyes – it's something you'll never forget.
In addition to Old Faithful, there are numerous other geysers and thermal features in the park to explore. Take a hike to the Morning Glory Pool or admire the intricate patterns and colors of the Grand Prismatic Spring. Entrance to Yellowstone National Park is free, so you can spend as much time as you like exploring all that the park has to offer.
In summary, watching the Old Faithful geyser erupt in West Yellowstone is an incredible experience that won't cost you a penny. Along with the other geysers and thermal features in the park, it's a natural wonder that simply can't be missed. So, pack your bags and head to Yellowstone for an unforgettable adventure.
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Picnicking in the park
Yellowstone National Park located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho is a true gem of America’s natural beauty. The park is known for its diverse wildlife, geothermal wonders, and outdoor adventure opportunities. One of the best ways to experience the park is by picnicking. It is not only a great way to appreciate the great outdoors, but it also offers the opportunity to refuel after a day of exploring the park.
Fortunately, picnicking in West Yellowstone is free, and there are various scenic locations to choose from. Here is a guide to some of the best picnicking spots in West Yellowstone.
Madison Picnic Area
The Madison Picnic Area is located just off the main road and is easily accessible. The area is known for its stunning views of the Madison River and mountains. There are plenty of picnic tables for visitors to use, making it an ideal location for families and groups. The area is also equipped with fire grates, so visitors can grill if they want to add some sizzle to their picnic.
Riverside Picnic Area
The Riverside Picnic Area is perched on a bluff overlooking the Firehole River. The views of the river and the surrounding landscape are breathtaking. The picnic area is covered with tall pine trees that provide ample shade, making it the perfect spot to spend a hot summer day. Visitors can take a dip in the river or enjoy a relaxing day with family and friends.
Bakers Hole Picnic Area
The Bakers Hole Picnic Area is a popular spot for fishers as it is located near the Madison River. The picnic area is shaded with tall pine trees and is equipped with fire grates and picnic tables. Visitors can enjoy a picnic and then head down to the river for a day of fishing.
Yellowstone Lake Picnic Area
Yellowstone Lake is the largest lake in the park and is located in the southeast region of the park. There are many picnic areas located along the shoreline that offer stunning views of the lake. Visitors can enjoy their picnic while watching the boats and kayaks on the lake. The area is also perfect for a swim in the pristine waters of Yellowstone Lake.
In conclusion, picnicking in West Yellowstone is a wonderful way to connect with the park’s natural beauty. The park is equipped with various picnic areas that offer spectacular views of the mountains, rivers, and lakes. Best of all, picnicking is free. Visitors can pack their favorite food and spend the day exploring the park, picnicking, and enjoying the natural beauty of Yellowstone. So pack a basket and head to one of West Yellowstone's many picnic areas for an unforgettable experience.
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Kayaking and canoeing in Yellowstone River
|Name||Yellowstone Raft and Kayak Company|
|Rating / Review count||5 / 1|
|Address||11500 Hebgen Lake Rd, West Yellowstone, MT 59758|
|Hours||Wednesday - 9 AM–5 PM|
Thursday - 9 AM–5 PM
Friday - 9 AM–5 PM
Saturday - 9 AM–5 PM
Sunday - 9 AM–5 PM
Monday(Memorial Day) - 9 AM–5 PM
Tuesday - 9 AM–5 PM
If you're looking for a way to experience the beauty of nature in West Yellowstone for free, kayaking and canoeing down the Yellowstone River might be just the activity for you. With its clear waters, stunning scenery, and abundant wildlife, the Yellowstone River offers an unforgettable outdoor adventure.
One of the most popular starting points for a paddling trip is the town of Gardiner, located at the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park. From there, you can rent a kayak or canoe and make your way down the river, taking in the amazing views of the park's rugged mountains, lush forests, and wide-open meadows.
As you paddle along, you're likely to encounter an array of wildlife, from elk and bison grazing along the riverbanks to eagles and ospreys soaring overhead. You might even spot bears, wolves, or coyotes if you're lucky!
In addition to the wildlife, the river itself offers a variety of challenges and opportunities for exploration. With different sections offering everything from easy floating to thrilling rapids, there's something for paddlers of all skill levels. And if you're feeling particularly adventurous, you can even try your hand at fly fishing for the river's renowned trout.
Of course, it's important to take appropriate safety precautions when paddling in the Yellowstone River. Always wear a life jacket, be aware of any hazards such as rocks or fallen trees, and be sure to check the weather forecast before setting out. If you're new to kayaking or canoeing, it's also a good idea to take some lessons or go out with an experienced guide.
All in all, kayaking and canoeing in the Yellowstone River is a fantastic way to experience the natural beauty and wildlife of West Yellowstone without breaking the bank. So pack your sunscreen and water bottle, and get ready for an unforgettable day on the river!
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Geocaching in the area
If you're looking for a fun and free activity to do while in West Yellowstone, look no further than geocaching! Geocaching is a real-life treasure hunt using GPS coordinates to find hidden caches placed by other geocachers. It's a great way to explore the area and get some exercise while having a blast.
West Yellowstone is home to many geocaching opportunities. There are a variety of caches located throughout the town, as well as in nearby national forests and the Yellowstone National Park. Some popular caches in the area include the "West Yellowstone Visitor Center Cache" and "Yellowstone Art and Photography Cache." These caches offer unique challenges and stunning scenery.
To get started, all you need is a GPS-enabled device and a free account on geocaching.com. This website has a map of all the available caches in the area, along with their difficulty and terrain ratings. Once you find a cache you're interested in, enter the coordinates into your device and off you go!
When you find a cache, be sure to sign the logbook and exchange trinkets. It's a fun way to leave a reminder of your visit and discover some unique items left by other geocachers.
Geocaching is a great way to explore West Yellowstone and have fun for free. Whether you are a solo adventurer or a family looking for a fun activity, geocaching is a memorable experience. So, grab your GPS and start exploring!
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Frequently asked questions
Some free things to do in West Yellowstone include hiking in Yellowstone National Park, visiting the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, and observing the Old Faithful Geyser.
Yes, during the summer months, there are free concerts, movies, and events in West Yellowstone such as the Music in the Park series and the Rendezvous Music Festival.
Yes, visitors can join free ranger-led tours and hikes in Yellowstone National Park. Additionally, free walking tours of historic West Yellowstone are available through the Yellowstone Historic Center Museum.