How to Visit Hayden Valley in Yellowstone (Things to See and Do)


Hayden Valley is a beautiful valley in Yellowstone. You may be wondering, “what is there to do in Hayden Valley?

Hayden Valley in Yellowstone is popular for spotting wildlife. There is no singular attraction or large parking area in Hayden Valley. It’s a large valley located on the Grand Loop Road providing expansive views and serendipitous wildlife viewing opportunities. There are occasional pullouts and small parking lots with overviews of the valley and the Yellowstone River.

Keep on reading to learn more!

Getting There

Map of Yellowstone

How Long Does it Take to Visit?

Hayden Valley takes about 15 minutes to just drive through…assuming there are no traffic jams for bison or animal watchers.

It’s common for people to just pull to the side of the road and get out to see nearby wildlife. Since there is a very small shoulder, this slows down traffic significantly. It’s also your sign to pull over and see some animals!

Map of Hayden Valley area in Yellowstone

Look for Wildlife

Buffalo herd

It’s common for people to spend hours just sitting and looking at wildlife through binoculars or a scope. We recommend bringing binoculars to enhance your experience.

It’s possible to see bears (grizzly and black), elk, and bison. There’s even a wolf pack that roams this general area.


Even if you don’t see wildlife, there are a few marked pullouts that provide some nice views of the valley with the Yellowstone River running through it.

There are even some spots where you can walk to the river.

Yellowstone valley and Yellowstone River

Yellowstone River viewpoint

Mud Volcano

Mud Volcano

Mud Volcano is located on the edge of Hayden Valley and has muddy hot springs as well as fumaroles (steam vents).

Mud Volcano hot springs

There are a few nice trails in the Mud Volcano area to see the two best attractions: Dragon’s Mouth and Churning Caldron. I really enjoyed the hike through the hills to see Churning Caldron.

It’s also common to see bison roaming here since it’s so close to Hayden Valley.

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Map of Mud Volcano Area

Churning Caldron
Churning Caldron

Churning Caldron

Sulphur Caldron

Located near Mud Volcano is an interesting roadside stop where you can look down upon Sulphur Caldron and the valley below.

Sulphur Caldron

Sulphur Caldron
Matt and Cheryl at Sulphur Caldron

LeHardys Rapids

LeHardys Rapids

LeHardys Rapids is one of the more underrated stops in Yellowstone. Here you can walk down to the Yellowstone River and see trout swimming upstream!

Sign at LeHardys Rapids

Mary Mountain Trailhead

For long-hikers, this 20-mile trail begins in Hayden Valley and crosses the entire Lower Loop, ending at Lower Geyser Basin on the west side of the loop.

Visiting Yellowstone Soon?

Yellowstone can be overwhelming to plan a vacation because it’s so big and there are so many incredible things to see. So we prepared a Yellowstone Itinerary just for you. This will get you to the best sites in the most efficient manner.



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