Springtime Splendor: 15 Best Lakes in Yellowstone to Hike to!

lakes in yellowstone

As the snow melts and the landscape awakens from its winter slumber, the park bursts into life with blooming wildflowers, cascading waterfalls, and an array of fascinating wildlife.

Visiting Yellowstone’s lakes during spring offers an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the park’s breathtaking beauty and experience a reawakening world.

In this blog, we will take you on a journey to some of the most captivating lakes within Yellowstone, from the iconic Yellowstone Lake to hidden gems like Delusion Lake.

Whether you’re an avid hiker, a wildlife enthusiast, or simply seeking a serene escape in nature, these lakes provide the perfect backdrop for unforgettable adventures.

As you embark on your springtime journey through Yellowstone, prepare to be inspired by the diverse landscapes, the fascinating geothermal features, and the incredible wildlife encounters that await you.

So, pack your hiking boots, grab your camera, and let’s dive into the wonders of Yellowstone’s lakes in the heart of spring!

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake, the park’s largest body of water, is a majestic jewel that deserves a spot on your spring adventure itinerary. This impressive lake spans 136 square miles (352 square kilometers) and sits at an elevation of 7,733 feet (2,357 meters) above sea level.

Yellowstone Lake in yellowstone

The lake’s stunning turquoise waters and dramatic mountain backdrop create a breathtaking destination for visitors to explore and admire.

The West Thumb Geyser Basin, located along the western shore of Yellowstone Lake, boasts a variety of geothermal features, including colorful hot springs, geysers, and fumaroles. Don’t miss the unique Fishing Cone, a submerged geyser where early visitors would catch a fish and then cook it in the geyser’s boiling waters.

Several hiking trails around Yellowstone Lake offer magnificent views of the lake and its surrounding landscape. The 1.5-mile (2.4 km) Storm Point Trail takes you along the picturesque shoreline, through a forested area, and finally to the scenic Storm Point, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the lake and the distant mountains.

For a longer hike, try the 6.8-mile (10.9 km) Elephant Back Mountain Trail, which starts near the Fishing Bridge and ascends through dense forests before reaching a stunning overlook of the lake. This moderately difficult trail provides an excellent opportunity to observe wildlife, including elk, deer, and the occasional bear.

Lewis Lake

As the third-largest lake in Yellowstone National Park, Lewis Lake offers an idyllic setting for a springtime adventure. The lake, named after explorer Meriwether Lewis, covers 2,790 acres (1,129 hectares) and is nestled amidst dense forests and picturesque mountain scenery.

Lewis Lake in yellowstone

The Lewis Lake Trail is a relatively easy and flat 3-mile (4.8 km) loop that takes you along the lake’s shoreline, providing ample opportunities to soak in the panoramic views and spot local wildlife. Keep an eye out for moose, elk, and waterfowl, as they frequent the lake’s marshy areas.

Lewis Lake is also a popular destination for anglers seeking to catch brown and lake trout. Fishing from the shore or a boat is permitted, but be sure to obtain the necessary fishing permit and follow the park’s regulations.

Moose Yellowstone animals 15

For those interested in water activities, Lewis Lake offers a boat ramp for launching small vessels, canoes, or kayaks. Paddle through the calm waters and take in the stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Keep in mind that the lake’s chilly waters make swimming inadvisable.

Heart Lake

Begin your spring adventure at Heart Lake, named for its distinctive heart shape. This tranquil lake is surrounded by lush forests and picturesque meadows filled with blooming wildflowers.

Heart Lake in yellowstone

The 8.1-mile (13 km) Heart Lake Trail offers a moderate hike with a 400-feet (122 meters) elevation gain, making it ideal for hikers of all skill levels. Be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife, as Heart Lake is home to moose, elk, and even grizzly bears!

Shoshone Lake

For a more challenging hike, head to Shoshone Lake. The 6.2-mile (10 km) DeLacy Creek Trail will take you through dense forests, marshy meadows, and eventually to the largest backcountry lake in Yellowstone.

Shoshone Lake in yellowstone

The trailhead is located near the West Thumb Geyser Basin, so be prepared to witness some of the park’s geothermal wonders. As you reach the lake, marvel at the sparkling blue waters and take a refreshing dip in the Shoshone Geyser Basin’s natural hot springs.

Trout Lake

Hiking to Trout Lake offers a unique opportunity to witness the annual cutthroat trout spawning in spring.

Trout Lake in yellowstone

The short but steep 1.2-mile (1.9 km) Trout Lake Trail climbs approximately 150 feet (46 meters) in elevation, rewarding hikers with panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding Absaroka Range. Keep your camera ready for a chance to spot river otters and ospreys feasting on the abundant fish.

Ice Lake

Discover the hidden gem that is Ice Lake by embarking on a 3.2-mile (5.1 km) round-trip hike through lush meadows, dense forests, and a series of rolling hills.

Ice Lake in yellowstone

The Ice Lake Trail offers a moderate hike with a 300-feet (91 meters) elevation gain, making it suitable for most hikers. As the name suggests, Ice Lake remains partially frozen throughout the spring, creating a stunning contrast between the icy shoreline and the lake’s turquoise waters.

Lost Lake

Nestled near the base of Petrified Tree, Lost Lake is a serene destination for a springtime hike. The 4-mile (6.4 km) loop trail takes you through meadows dotted with wildflowers, dense forests, and along the shores of Lost Lake.

Lost Lake in yellowstone

With an elevation gain of only 290 feet (88 meters), this hike is perfect for families or those seeking a leisurely stroll. Keep an eye out for bison grazing in the area, as well as the occasional black bear or wolf sighting.

Grebe Lake

Experience the serenity of Grebe Lake by taking the 6.2-mile (10 km) out-and-back trail that starts near Canyon Village. The gentle terrain with a modest 250-feet (76 meters) elevation gain makes this hike suitable for most visitors.

Grebe Lake in yellowstone

The lake’s calm waters, surrounded by lush forests, create a peaceful atmosphere perfect for birdwatching or fishing for native Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

Grizzly Lake

Grizzly Lake, nestled in the northern region of Yellowstone National Park, offers visitors a chance to explore a lesser-known gem and experience the tranquility of the park’s pristine wilderness.

The lake, surrounded by dense forests and rugged terrain, provides a picturesque setting for a serene hike.

grizzly lake Lakes in yellowstone 1

To reach Grizzly Lake, begin your journey at the Grizzly Lake Trailhead, located near the Indian Creek Campground.

The hike is approximately 3.4 miles (5.5 km) one way and takes you through beautiful meadows, verdant forests, and along a bubbling creek. As you hike, keep an eye out for the abundant wildflowers that bloom during the spring months.

The trail features a moderate elevation gain of around 300 feet (91 meters), making it suitable for hikers with average fitness levels.

Upon arriving at Grizzly Lake, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the pristine lake and its serene surroundings. The lake’s crystal-clear waters and the solitude of the area make it an ideal spot for a peaceful picnic or quiet reflection.

As its name suggests, Grizzly Lake is located in prime grizzly bear territory. While it is unlikely that you will encounter one of these majestic creatures, it is essential to be prepared and follow the park’s guidelines on hiking in bear country.

Carry bear spray, make noise while hiking, and maintain a safe distance if you happen to spot a bear.

grizzly jasper national park wildlife

Grizzly Lake offers a unique opportunity to explore Yellowstone’s lesser-known beauty and enjoy a peaceful escape amidst the park’s breathtaking wilderness. So, lace up your hiking boots and embark on this memorable adventure through Yellowstone’s enchanting landscape.

Cascade Lake

Embark on a 5-mile (8 km) round-trip hike to Cascade Lake, a pristine body of water surrounded by lush meadows and dense forests.

Cascade Lake in yellowstone

The Cascade Lake Trail boasts a gentle incline of 170 feet (52 meters), making it ideal for hikers of all abilities. In the spring, the lake’s shores come alive with blooming wildflowers, and you might spot bison, deer, or even a moose grazing nearby.

Riddle Lake

Located near the Continental Divide, Riddle Lake is accessible via a 5-mile (8 km) round-trip hike that takes you through dense forests and lovely meadows.

Riddle Lake in yellowstone

The trail is relatively flat, with a total elevation gain of just 180 feet (55 meters). Riddle Lake is home to an abundance of waterfowl, so birdwatchers should keep their binoculars handy. Additionally, the lake is a popular fishing spot for native cutthroat trout.

Cygnet Lakes

The Cygnet Lakes are a chain of three beautiful lakes that can be reached via a 7.2-mile (11.6 km) out-and-back hike. The trail takes you through a mix of lodgepole pine forests, meadows, and marshy areas, with an elevation gain of approximately 400 feet (122 meters).

Cygnet Lakes in yellowstone

Each of the three lakes offers a unique and picturesque setting, making the Cygnet Lakes hike an excellent choice for those seeking a diverse and scenic experience. Keep an eye out for wildlife, as the area is home to moose, elk, and an array of bird species.

Delusion Lake

Delusion Lake, a secluded and lesser-known destination in Yellowstone National Park, offers a serene escape for those seeking solitude and tranquility. This small, picturesque lake is surrounded by dense forests and provides a peaceful setting for hikers and nature enthusiasts.

Delusion Lake in yellowstone

Access to Delusion Lake requires a more challenging off-trail hike, so it’s best suited for experienced hikers and adventurers. The lake’s remote location makes it an ideal spot for observing undisturbed wildlife and enjoying the quiet beauty of nature. Remember to practice Leave No Trace principles to preserve Delusion Lake’s pristine environment for future generations.

Harlequin Lake

Harlequin Lake, situated in the western region of Yellowstone National Park, is a serene destination for those seeking a peaceful retreat in nature.

Surrounded by lush forests and home to an array of bird species, the lake provides a picturesque setting for a leisurely hike away from the bustling crowds.

Harlequin Lake in yellowstone

To reach Harlequin Lake, start at the Harlequin Lake Trailhead, located along the Madison River between Madison Junction and the West Entrance.

The hike to the lake is a short and easy 0.8-mile (1.3 km) round trip, making it suitable for hikers of all ages and skill levels. As you walk through the dense lodgepole pine forest, enjoy the soothing sounds of the nearby creeks and the gentle rustle of leaves.

Upon arriving at Harlequin Lake, take a moment to appreciate the pristine waters and the calming atmosphere that surrounds it. The lake is named after the colorful Harlequin ducks that can often be spotted swimming in the area.

Harlequin ducks Lakes in yellowstone

Bring your binoculars and enjoy some birdwatching as you observe these beautiful ducks and other bird species that frequent the lake.

In addition to Harlequin ducks, you may spot other wildlife around the lake, such as deer, elk, or even an occasional moose. Remember to maintain a safe distance from all wildlife and follow the park’s guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for both you and the animals.

Harlequin Lake offers a tranquil escape in the heart of Yellowstone National Park, providing a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature and experience the park’s lesser-known wonders. Don your hiking shoes and set out on this enchanting journey through Yellowstone’s captivating wilderness.

Beula Lake

Beula Lake, tucked away in the southern region of Yellowstone National Park, is a pristine alpine gem that offers visitors a serene and picturesque escape.

Surrounded by rolling meadows, lush forests, and majestic mountain peaks, Beula Lake is a dream destination for those seeking a scenic and peaceful hike.

Beula Lake in yellowstone

To reach Beula Lake, begin at the Beula Lake Trailhead, located just off the South Entrance Road near the park’s southern boundary.

The hike to Beula Lake is a moderately challenging 5.6-mile (9 km) round trip, with an elevation gain of around 600 feet (183 meters), making it suitable for hikers with some experience.

As you traverse the winding trail, you’ll pass through verdant forests of lodgepole pines and open meadows adorned with vibrant wildflowers during the spring months.

Keep an eye out for wildlife, such as deer, elk, and various bird species, as they are often spotted along the trail and near the lake.

Elk north cascades

Upon reaching Beula Lake, take a moment to marvel at the crystal-clear waters and the stunning backdrop of rugged mountains.

The lake’s tranquil setting provides an ideal spot for a picnic, photography, or quiet reflection. For anglers, Beula Lake is home to a healthy population of cutthroat trout, making it a great destination for some backcountry fishing. Be sure to obtain the necessary fishing permit and adhere to the park’s regulations.

Beula Lake offers a unique opportunity to explore one of Yellowstone’s lesser-known treasures while enjoying a serene and invigorating hike. Lace up your hiking boots and set out on this unforgettable adventure through the park’s enchanting landscape.

Where to Stay During Your Spring Adventure in Yellowstone

To make the most of your springtime Yellowstone adventure, consider staying at one of the many lodging options available within the park. Staying inside the park allows you to enjoy early morning and late evening hikes without the need for long drives. Here are some excellent options for accommodations during your visit:

Old Faithful Inn

The historic Old Faithful Inn, located near the famous Old Faithful Geyser, is a great choice for those seeking a unique and iconic stay.

Old Faithful Inn in yellowstone

Built in 1904, the inn features rustic charm, a massive stone fireplace, and a magnificent log structure. Its prime location provides easy access to the Upper Geyser Basin, making it perfect for exploring the park’s geothermal wonders.

Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins

Situated on the shores of Yellowstone Lake, the elegant Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins offer stunning views and comfortable accommodations.

Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins in yellowstone

The hotel, originally built in 1891, has been meticulously restored to maintain its classic colonial charm. It is an excellent base for exploring the Lake area, including West Thumb Geyser Basin and nearby lake hikes.

Canyon Lodge and Cabins

Canyon Lodge and Cabins, located near the breathtaking Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, provide a range of lodging options, from modern hotel-style rooms to rustic cabins.

Canyon Lodge and Cabins in yellowstone

This central location is ideal for exploring the park’s northern and eastern regions, with easy access to popular destinations like the Grand Canyon, Hayden Valley, and Norris Geyser Basin.

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins

Nestled near the park’s North Entrance, Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins offer a variety of accommodations, from hotel rooms to cozy cabins.

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins lakes in yellowstone

Its proximity to the impressive Mammoth Hot Springs terraces and the wildlife-rich Lamar Valley makes it an excellent choice for nature enthusiasts and wildlife watchers.

Grant Village

Located on the southwestern shore of Yellowstone Lake, Grant Village features six two-story lodges, each with 50 rooms.

grant village lakes in yellowstone

This lodging option is perfect for those who prefer a more contemporary stay, as the rooms are equipped with modern amenities. Grant Village’s location provides easy access to the West Thumb Geyser Basin and several lake hikes, including the Shoshone Lake Trail.

Remember that accommodations within the park can fill up quickly, especially during the peak season. Be sure to make reservations well in advance to secure your preferred lodging option.

We recommend booking.com for finding your preferred type of accommodation! You can use the search engine below.

For those who prefer camping, there are numerous campgrounds throughout the park that offer a more rustic and immersive experience in Yellowstone’s natural beauty.

Wildlife Encounters Near Lakes in Yellowstone

One of the highlights of visiting Yellowstone National Park is the chance to observe the diverse and abundant wildlife that call the park home. The lakes and their surrounding habitats provide ideal environments for many species.

animals in yellowstone

Here are some of the most common wildlife you may encounter near the lakes in Yellowstone:

  1. Bison: As North America’s largest land mammal, bison are an iconic symbol of the park. They can often be seen grazing near lakes and meadows, especially in the Hayden and Lamar Valleys.
  2. Elk: Yellowstone’s most abundant ungulate, elk are frequently spotted in open meadows and wooded areas near lakes. During spring, you may witness the spectacle of large herds of elk moving through the park.
  3. Moose: Moose are often found in marshy areas and around lakeshores where they feed on aquatic vegetation. Keep an eye out for these magnificent creatures near lakes like Grebe, Lost, and Trout Lake.
  4. Grizzly and Black Bears: Both grizzly and black bears inhabit Yellowstone, and they are most active during spring as they emerge from hibernation. While sightings are not guaranteed, you might spot them foraging near lakes and streams in search of food.
  5. Wolves: Yellowstone is one of the best places in the United States to observe wild wolves. While they are more commonly seen in the Lamar Valley, you might catch a glimpse of these elusive predators near some of the park’s remote lakes.
  6. Waterfowl and Birds: Many bird species, including waterfowl like ducks, geese, and swans, as well as ospreys, eagles, and great blue herons, are drawn to Yellowstone’s lakes. Keep your binoculars handy and enjoy the fantastic birdwatching opportunities.
  7. Otters: River otters are playful creatures often seen swimming and diving in Yellowstone’s lakes and rivers. Trout Lake is a popular spot for otter sightings, as they feed on the abundant fish populations.
  8. Beavers: Yellowstone’s beavers are known for their impressive dam-building skills. Look for these industrious rodents near lakes and streams where they create lodges and dams.

While observing wildlife in Yellowstone, it is crucial to maintain a safe distance and respect the animals’ space. Keep at least 100 yards (91 meters) away from bears and wolves, and 25 yards (23 meters) away from all other wildlife.

Remember, these are wild animals, and their behavior can be unpredictable. By following the park’s guidelines, you can ensure a safe and memorable experience for both you and the wildlife.


Yellowstone National Park is a treasure trove of natural wonders, and its magnificent lakes offer an unrivaled springtime experience. With each lake providing its unique charm and allure, visitors have the chance to explore diverse landscapes, encounter captivating wildlife, and create lasting memories in this iconic American wilderness.

We hope this guide has inspired you to embark on a spring adventure to Yellowstone’s lakes, where you can connect with nature, challenge yourself on scenic hiking trails, and enjoy moments of tranquility amidst the park’s beauty. Remember to plan ahead, respect the wildlife, and practice Leave No Trace principles to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for both you and the park’s inhabitants.

As you explore the captivating lakes of Yellowstone, allow yourself to be amazed by the intricate tapestry of ecosystems, geological wonders, and the ever-evolving story of this extraordinary national park. With each visit, Yellowstone continues to reveal its secrets and share its enchanting allure, inviting us all to rediscover its magic and immerse ourselves in the wonder of the great outdoors.

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