The West Thumb area of Yellowstone is near the south border of the park. This area got its name from the odd shape of the lake, which sticks out like a sore thumb. Since Grant Village (named after President Ulysses S Grant) is nearby, park literature often calls it the West Thumb-Grant Village area. Though not well known, it has a variety of waterfalls, hikes, and geothermal areas that make it unique. We’ve found a few highlights in this area of the park that make it worth the trip, especially if you are coming through the South Entrance.
There are two beautiful waterfalls near the south entrance of Yellowstone that are both right next to the road. Lewis Falls has a fairly large parking area and can be seen as you drive by. It is worth the few minutes it takes to stop for a photograph at Lewis Falls. This cascade tends to be fairly busy, but people don’t stay long. The second waterfall in the area is Moose Falls, and it is one of our favorites. The walk from the car is less than a hundred yards, but it leads right to the base of the waterfall. There is a little bit of a drop to the bottom of the waterfall over some rocks, so be careful. The water drops about 30 feet, and you can safely get close enough to feel the spray. Best of all, not many people seem to stop for Moose Falls, so you may have it all to yourself!
There is also a nice Yellowstone National Park sign with a parking area for pictures. This is where we stop to take a photo when visiting the park.
Hikes near West Thumb
There are a few trails that are nice in the Grant Village-West Thumb Area. Our favorite is Duck Lake, and we make the time for this hike on most of our visits. It is fairly quiet, and there is a good chance of seeing bunnies along the trail. We almost always see waterfowl at the lake. What our kids remember most are the leeches, though. Stand near the edge of the lake and look into the crystal clear water. It won’t be long before a leech comes to check you out.
There are a few other family friendly hikes in this area, primarily Lake Overlook, which is a 1.5 miles loop, and Riddle Lake, but they are usually closed until July. We plan our trips to Yellowstone in June, so we’ve not yet had a chance to do either of them.
West Thumb Geyser Basin
The best reason to visit West Thumb is the West Thumb Geyser Basin. A short walk down to the edge of the lake winds past some of the most unique geysers in the park. A few of the geysers are right in the lake. Some mountain men even claimed that you could catch a fish and boil it in a geyser without ever removing it from the hook! There are also some of the most beautiful blue pools on this loop. If you are swinging around the bottom of the figure-eight loop in Yellowstone, a stop to see the West Thumb geysers should certainly be on your list!
Must Do Activities near West Thumb-Grant Village Yellowstone
Here is our list of must-do things to do near West Thumb and Grant Village in Yellowstone. We can’t wait to spend more time in this area and add more ideas to our list.
- Duck Lake hike
- West Thumb Geyser Basin
- Lewis Falls
- Moose Falls
- Yellowstone National Park sign
- Campgrounds: Grant Village campground: reservable campground. One of the largest campground areas with many amenities. Usually opens later in June due to bear activity. Lewis Lake Campground is a first-come, first-served campground and is a little more rustic with only vault toilets.
- Grant Village Lodge
- Grant Village Gas Station
- Located at West Thumb Geyser Basin and Grant Village area
- Grant Visitor Center
- West Thumb Information Station
Visit our Yellowstone page to find information about seven other areas in the park and to find helpful tips for visiting. Some posts you might be interested in: