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Hayden Valley, Yellowstone National Park
Fast Facts




Canyon Country
Yellowstone Nat'l Park
Wyoming 82190
Points of Interest Nearby

Yellowstone River, Hayden Valley


Photo by Alfredo De Simone

Hayden Valley may not be a geological hotspot nor particularly picturesque yet it is one of the top spots for viewing wildlife in Yellowstone National Park. This ancient lakebed blanketed with glacial till - tiny particles of clay, gravel and sand that do not drain water well - supports a variety of animals and birds. View waterfowl and waders in Hayden's low-lying wetlands. Spot river otters and observe busy beaver in the slow moving waters of the Yellowstone River. Watch elk, bison and moose as they forage for food in dry meadows and near water's edge. And if you're lucky, sight grizzly bear, bald eagle and coyote. Predators of the above. Hayden Valley - named after the American geologist, Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden, whose 1871 survey led to the creation of America's first national park - is not easily overlooked.
Getting There
Hayden Valley, roughly 50 square miles of meadow and marshland, is located 10 miles (16 km) north of Fishing Bridge Junction and 6 miles (9.7 km) south of Canyon Village. The two lane road from Fishing Bridge to Canyon is open to wheeled vehicles mid-April 15 through October and oversnow vehicles late December through early March.
Getting Around
Turnouts and scenic overlooks offer views of both sides of the valley. Be sure to pull your car off the roadway when parking roadside. Mary Mountain trail (21 miles one way) is the only hiking path in Hayden Valley. The trail is moderately strenuous and, at times, difficult to follow. Bear activity prohibits off-trail travel in this part of the park. NB: Check trail openings with park rangers before venturing out. Be bear aware. Maintain a safe distance from all wildlife, 100 yards (91m) from bears and wolves and 25 yards (23m) from all other animals.
Things to Keep in Mind
Late spring and late summer are the best times of year to view wildlife in Hayden Valley. Dawn and dusk provide the best wildlife watching experience. Wildlife is not always roadside. Binoculars and scopes are often required to get a good view of animals and birds.
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