Fairy Falls is the best hike in Yellowstone if your kids can handle the distance. At nearly 5 miles roundtrip, the distance is a little daunting for our 2 and 5 year-old. Luckily the trail is nice and flat, and the payoff is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Yellowstone.
The Fairy Falls hike starts just north of Old Faithful near the Midway Geyser Basin. The trail is super flat and easy, and actually follows an old road (yes, you used to be able to drive much closer to the falls) for the first mile. This means that 2 of the five miles are on a wide, flat road.
There is a sign, at the junction, and the trail turns left into the bristlecone pines at the 1 mile mark. Here, the trail becomes much more narrow as it passes through the thick, but short forest. The trees here either don’t grow very tall, or are relatively new, possibly due to the forest fires in the late 80s. Still, the trail is flat and simple, and Dad carried the baby on his back while our oldest walked.
The trail continues through the tres for around a mile and half and then the waterfall appears on the left. There is a small pool at the base of the spectacular 300 foot fall. You can wade over close to the bottom, but the only way to get a decent picture is to stand back as far as possible.
Though Fairy Falls can be difficult for little ones, it is one of the crown-jewels of Yellowstone. If your children have the stamina, definitely do this hike!
Directions: Fairy Falls is located 5.5 miles north of Old Faithful or 10.5 miles south of Madison Junction just south of Grand Prismatic Spring. The parking lot is on the west side of the road and is often full/busy during peak season, so go hike early in the day to avoid the crowds!