Time To Complete: 2.0
Seasonality: Summer, Fall
Land Website: Hiking in Yellowstone National Park
Hiking in Yellowstone National Park
Fees Permit: Yes
Park Entrance Fee
Dog Friendly: No
Destination Highlights: Classic Destination, Good For Beginners, Great For Families
Park visitors could once drive to Natural Bridge, which is a geologic formation near Yellowstone Lake. The main access now is via a short hike that seems to be the opposite of every other in Yellowstone National Park. The hike starts out as a single track, widens to a double-track, and ends on a paved road now restricted to bicycles and foot traffic only. This is a pleasant walk through mature, un-burned forest that ends at a unique feature. At only 2.5 miles round trip, and a flat grade, this trail is welcoming to all ability levels.
What Makes It Great
Natural Bridge was formed over centuries and millennia as weaker rock eroded from beneath tougher, more resilient rock. As the pieces below crumbled away, bit-by-bit, eventually an arch was formed. Bridge Creek now flows beneath Natural Bridge. This hike demonstrates yet again the magnitude and depth of Yellowstone National Park’s geological features, from geysers and mud pots to soaring mountains and even a natural bridge.
The hike to Natural Bridge can be a bit confusing. From the marina parking lot, look for the paved trail heading west toward the nearby Bridge Bay Campground. Just as you reach the campground, the route to Natural Bridge turns to the left. It can be easily missed.
From there, follow the route on an abandoned road running past the campground for a half mile to a paved road. At the paved road turn right. This will take you all the way to Natural Bridge and the small loop that goes around the feature. An interpretive display at the end of the road tells the complete story of how Natural Bridge was formed.
Who is Going to Love It
Beginner hikers will love the route to Natural Bridge. The paved route, easy grades, and short distance make this hike suitable for all ages and ability levels.
Geological buffs will also love this hike. If you are in Yellowstone to see all of the park’s breath-taking geological features the hike to Natural Bridge needs to be on your list.
Those staying in the Bridge Bay Campground will enjoy this hike as well. Try hiking to Natural Bridge just after dinner. The trail can make for an easy, evening stroll from your campsite once all the dishes are clean and the food is stored away in the bear locker. An evening hike could mean far less people along the way as well.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Lake: Drive 2 miles south and turn west into the Bridge Bay Marina. Drive another 0.4 and turn left into the parking lot. Parking is free with an Entrance Pass.
Featured image provided by Aryeh Alex