by Joseph A. Sprince – Photography by Gerald B. Allen
The Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks Travel Guides are a resource for those planning to tour Yellowstone National Park and/or Grand Teton National Park. The adjacent national parks are typically visited at the same time and offer very different experiences. Yellowstone offers the world's largest concentration of thermal features such as geysers and hot pools. Grand Teton features one of the world's most spectacular mountain ranges. Both parks offer outstanding opportunities to view wildlife.
Grant Village is located along the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake. The lake is often considered the “jewel” of Yellowstone National Park. The beautiful lake with its deep-blue waters is the largest natural freshwater lake in the United States above 7,000 feet and one of the largest such lakes in the world. The lake is roughly 20 miles long and 14 miles across with a depth over 300 feet in the West Thumb area.
Fishing and boating are popular on the lake. You can launch your own boat at the marina or rent a boat. Guided boat tours and fishing trips are also available. The lake has the largest population of wild cutthroat trout in North America. However much larger lake trout, a non-native species, was illegally introduced to Yellowstone Lake and threatens the native cutthroat trout. Unfortunately Whirling disease is also present in the area. You need a Yellowstone National Park permit for both fishing and boating. See Fishing in Yellowstone (NPS).
The West Thumb Geyser Basin is much smaller than the Old Faithful area but is quite interesting due to having the lake as a backdrop. A short 3/8 mile trail covers the basin. There are several scenic hot springs, including the Abyss Pool shown above. Another interesting feature is the Fishing Cone (shown, left), a steam vent just off shore. In years past, it was exceedingly popular to catch a fish in the lake, then place it over the cone to be cooked. This dangerous practice is now prohibited, as the Fishing Cone can and does erupt on occasion without any warning.
Grant Village and West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake
Day Hikes in the Grant Village and West Thumb Area
The are several good hiking trails in the area, ranging from one to 17 miles. The Yellowstone Lake Overlook Trail, two miles round trip, climbs to a meadow with a nice view of the lake. The Duck Lake Trail is only one mile.
- Shoshone Lake (via DeLacy Creek) Round trip 6 miles (9.7 km), easy. Starting at a trailhead sign at DeLacy Creek, 8.8 miles (14.2 km) west of West Thumb junction, the trail runs along the forest edge and through open meadows to the shores of Yellowstone’s largest backcountry lake. Moose are seen here occasionally.
- Yellowstone Lake Overlook Round trip 2 miles (3 km), moderately strenuous. The trail begins at a trailhead marker near the entrance to the West Thumb Geyser Basin parking area and climbs through burned forest and a mountain meadow to a commanding view of Yellowstone Lake and the Absaroka Mountains. This trail is mostly level, with a moderately strenuous 400 foot (121 m) elevation gain near the overlook. Caution: hydrothermal area; Stay on designated trail and abide by detour signs at all times.
- Riddle Lake Round trip 5 miles (8 km), easy. The trailhead is about 3 miles (5 km) south of Grant Village junction, just south of the Continental Divide sign. This fairly level trail crosses the Continental Divide and runs through forest and marshy meadows to the shores of a picturesque little lake. Bear management area: Trail usually opens July 15. Opening may be later if trumpeter swans are nesting on the lake.
- Natural Features in Grant Village & West Thumb Area. Includes Yellowstone Lake, West Thumb Geyser Basin, Abyss Pool, Fishing Cone, Heart Lake, Isa Lake, Craig Pass, DeLacy Creek, Factory Hill, Riddle Lake, Shoshone Lake, Snake River, Lodgepole Pine Forests, and 1988 Fire.
- Things to Do in the Grant Village & West Thumb Area. Official NPS guide.
- Day Hikes Near Grant Village & West Thumb Area.
Services in area
Food and Lodging at Grant Village
- Grant Village Lodge. Late May to late September. Located on west side of Yellowstone Lake, about 22 miles from South Entrance. Six two-story buildings each containing 50 motel-style rooms with private bath and telephone. Some ADA accessible rooms are available on first floor. Televisions, radios, and A/C are not available. Lodging complex features a full-service restaurant, a lakeside restaurant with a casual menu, lounge and gift store.
Camping at Grant Village
- Grant Village Campground. Open: Late June to late September. Located on west side of Yellowstone Lake, about 22 miles from South Entrance. Large campground with 430 sites. Rates for this campground include 2 showers per night. No utility hook-ups, dump station nearby. Flush toilets. Services, stores, pay showers, and coin laundry located nearby. Short drive to West Thumb Geyser Basin. Half of sites in meadow area with no shade; others are wooded. Forested campground, well spaced out. Modern facility. Tent-only loops available. Generators allowed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Reservations are available.
- Lewis Lake Campground. Mid-June to early November. Located about 10 miles north of park's south entrance adjacent to lake. Small campground with 85 sites. All sites are 25 feet or under (very few pull throughs). Vault toilets. Campground away from developed areas. Boat launch available. Generators not allowed.
Nearest Visitor Center
The Grant Village Visitor Center is open late May to late September and is located on the shore of the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake. The locale is controversial for being in prime grizzly bear habitat. The center’s exhibits focus on the effect of wildfire, particularly the 1988 fire which ravaged the park. The historic West Thumb Information Station also serves as a Yellowstone Association sales outlet as well as a meeting place for interpretive walks and talks during the summer season.
Other services in area
Food services, general stores, gift shops, gas station, post office, and boat rentals and fishing charters.