Ten Yellowstone Backcountry Dayhikes
Yellowstone is a popular place, visited by more than two million tourists every year. The roads and boardwalks and visitor centers are teeming from Memorial Day to Labor Day. What isn't chock-full of humans, however, is the stunning backcountry, 2.2 million acres of thermal basins, alpine peaks, virgin forest, wildflower meadows, and hidden valleys that remain relatively unvisited, despite this first national park's popularity.
Fact is, you shed 50 percent of the crowds just by leaving the boardwalks and parking lots. Head a mile down the trail, and you've ditched 90 percent of the tourists. The vast majority of park visitors are driving through, staying on pavement, following the hoards. The simple act of leaving your car and heading down the trail, almost any trail, guarantees a backcountry experience full of exhilarating views, glimpses of wildlife, and miles of quiet wilderness.
Day hikes allow visitors to travel fast and light, cover distance, and see country without the burden of heavy backpacks. Weather can be incredibly variable, even in midsummer, so your daypack should include wind and rain gear, along with a layer of fleece or long underwear for warmth. Take plenty of water and enough energy food to snack on and replace calories. Also, carry a small first aid kit with blister treatment supplies.
Yellowstone's backcountry is known for its wildlife. It is quite likely that you'll see moose, elk, bison, coyote, and possibly bear or wolf. A pair of binoculars is worth the extra weight, and some bear pepper spray is a prudent precaution, especially when hiking alone. Finally, make sure you have a map/trail guide, and compass.
There are literally hundreds of candidates when it comes to great backcountry day excursions in Yellowstone, but these are some of the best. These ten backcountry trails are all doable one-day hikes. Some are easy jaunts with little elevation gain, while others are endorphin-junkie, dawn-to-dusk marathons. They range from short, strenuous peak ascents to extended forest trails into remote thermal areas. These dayhikes cover the park, north to south, east to west.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication