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Day Hiking and Backpacking in Yellowstone National Park

Updated on March 18, 2010


Yellowstone National Park is the worlds first National Park. It is comprised of 2,219,789 acres, bigger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined. It is an awesome sight. I went to Yellowstone in the summer of 2009 and traveled 600 miles within the park in 7 days and just touched on the immense beauty of the park. Along the roads inside the park you can see an incredible display of wildlife and scenic beauty. But to really see more of what the park has to offer you have to hike. There are day hikes and backpacking hikes that you can take to see the park in ways most visitors don't see. The majority of the visitors to Yellowstone stay on the main roads and go to all the main attractions. But the real beauty is off road. To see this beauty you must day hike or backpack into the wilderness.

Day Hiking

There are many day hiking trails in Yellowstone. The park has about 1,100 miles of trails available for hiking. On a daily basis during the hiking season in Yellowstone, trails may be closed on a temporary basis for a number of reasons. Bear activity, rain or snow storms, high water, and fires may close some trails. Always be careful even when on a day hike because hiking in the wilderness has its risks. Unpredictable wildlife, storms, and rotten rock can cause accidents. Always be prepared by bringing a rain coat, water, a hat, insect repellent, sun screen, a first aid kit, and bear repellent. There are many hiking trails for day hiking ranging from 1 mile round trip to 8 miles round trip. When you get to Yellowstone National Park be sure to visit the Rangers Stations or visitor centers and get maps of the trails that are available. You can also go online for information about Yellowstone in general and about some of the hiking trails, what you will see and how far the trails are.

Day Hiking

Backpacking in Yellowstone

Backpacking in Yellowstone is an exciting activity for the experienced back country hiker. A Backcountry Use Permit is needed for all overnight stays. Permits must be obtained in person and no more than 48 hours before your planned trip. Backcountry permits are only good for the dates specified and all backpacking travelers must have their permit on them at all times while in the backcountry. You may reserve the backcountry campsite but you must get the permit in person. Campsites are limited to 1 to 3 days and each campsite has a maximum number of guests allowed. Campfires are allowed only in established fire pits and some campsite do not allow fires of any kind. Make sure you know all the details of the campsite you wish to hike to to see all the regulations for that particular campsite. There is also a Backcountry rules and regulations book you can get from the rangers at Yellowstone. Yellowstone National Park also makes it clear that if you choose to go backcountry hiking and camping there is no guarantee of your personal safety, so its best to be experienced in backcountry hiking and camping, or go with someone who is before doing this type of activity in Yellowstone.

Rules in Bear Country

While out in the backcountry of Yellowstone, there are certain things that you need to do to help keep you safe. Especially from bears. Bears have a keen sense of smell and there are rules to follow to help keep the bears away from humans. If you see signs of bear activity such as fresh scat ( bear excrement) or fresh tracks don't camp there. Also being noisy will often scare a bear away from you. Avoid cooking or carrying foods that are highly odorous. Keep a clean camp, don't leave food or dirty cooking utensils laying about as these things will attract a bear looking for an easy meal. Most backcountry campsites have a food pole that you can use to suspend when not in use all food, cooking gear, and toiletries that have a smell. Never leave food unattended even for a few minutes. Set up you tent at least 100 yards away from where you prepare food and never bring food into your tent. Do not sleep in the clothes that you were wearing when you prepared the food and put these clothes in a plastic bag and suspend from the food pole. All these things help keep the bears away from you. If you do encounter a bear the experts say to back off slowly if the bear is aware of you but is not charging you or making huffing sounds which means he is agitated. If the bear is charging you drop to the ground and play dead, making no movements Running away only makes the bear more aggressive and climbing a tree is not good as bears can climb trees better than any human can. .

The Only Bear We Saw

Hiking and Camping Gear

Always be prepared for anything that can happen during a backcountry hiking vacation. You will need a large back pack for carrying everything you will need during your hiking excursion. There is backpacking equipment especially made small and lightweight because you are carrying everything you will need on your back. From sleeping gear to cooking gear to the proper food needed is available from your favorite sporting goods store with knowledgeable sales persons to help you. You can also find lists and equipment needed online. Make sure you are prepared for anything and you should have a incredibly exciting and memorable hiking adventure. 

A Vacation of a Lifetime

Backpacking and camping in the wilderness of Yellowstone National Park can be exciting and rewarding. If the rules and regulations are kept you will have a wonderful hiking vacation that will stay in your memory for a lifetime. You will see things and experience things you will not see anywhere else in the world. Yellowstone National park is unique. It is so immense that you will see something new with each visit and in a lifetime still not see it all. But it sure would be nice to try.

A Long Way Down


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    • fishtiger58 profile image

      fishtiger58 7 years ago from Momence, Illinois

      Thanks Bex Yellowstone is an amazing place.

    • profile image

      Bex 8 years ago

      I would love to head to Yellowstone. Looks so beautiful. I've only done international travel but this is next on my list. Check out my blog for more travel ideas :)

    • fishtiger58 profile image

      fishtiger58 8 years ago from Momence, Illinois

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting on my hub, and I sure will be looking at your hub. Thanks juneaukid.

    • juneaukid profile image

      Richard Francis Fleck 8 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      Thank you for your hub on one of my favorite places in the world. You have given sound advice and I'm sure many people will be inspired by your hub. You might be interested in one of my hubs "A Grizzly Bear Surprise" at Dunraven pass of all places.

    • fishtiger58 profile image

      fishtiger58 8 years ago from Momence, Illinois

      There is lots of information on the internet about hiking where there are bears. As well Yellowstone has information. Thank so much for reading my hub Richard.

    • profile image

      Hiking-Equipment 8 years ago


      Sounds like a fantastic place! I would love to see the waterfall close up. I love water and waterfalls. It gives me a feeling of the power and danger of nature.

      Talking of danger, I’ve never hiked in what I call dangerous terrain so I would definitely want to know how to deal with bears before going there.

      I’m in the UK and have never been to the US so I will put it on my list of places to see.



    • fishtiger58 profile image

      fishtiger58 8 years ago from Momence, Illinois

      Hi Sandy I also visited Yellowstone as a child, so glad I went again this past summer as I had forgotten how beautiful it is. Thanks for your comments.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Love the pictures. Last time I was at Yellowstone I was a little girl.

    • fishtiger58 profile image

      fishtiger58 8 years ago from Momence, Illinois

      LOL no offense taken

    • outdoorsguy profile image

      outdoorsguy 8 years ago from Tenn

      LOL sorry that wasnt directed at you. I was actualy trying to comment that new Hikers should learn. sometimes Im surprised that english is my native language LOL

    • fishtiger58 profile image

      fishtiger58 8 years ago from Momence, Illinois

      Thanks for your comments. I know about that getting in shape thingy for years I was not. Now I am healthy and in shape so am going to try the backpacking adventure this coming summer I hope.

    • outdoorsguy profile image

      outdoorsguy 8 years ago from Tenn

      great hub, love the pictures.

      one thing, Learn how to load your pack to distribute the weight evenly. and if needed exercise to get in enough shape to carry what you need in any kind of terrian.

      I have known peoplem who on day trips or long weekend hikes, will cut, food, bear repellent, changes of clothes. small emergency survival kits etc. only to later need one or all of the items and be stuck miles from nowhere with out the needed gear. all in order to carry as light a pack as possible.

      then again I tend to Carry up to eighty pounds on most of my trips, which are usually twenty to thirty mile hikes. LOL and sometimes wish I had left one or two items at home LOL


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