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Backpacker Magazine – August 2008

Yellowstone National Park

America's first national park is a playground for grizzlies, wolves, moose, and hikers (not in that order).

by: Rachel Odell

Photo courtesy Wyoming Travel & Tourism
Photo courtesy Wyoming Travel & Tourism

Exit Strategy

>> Clean up There's something oddly alluring about bathing in the same building where Theodore Roosevelt once scrubbed his knees. Splurge on a room at Old Faithful Inn ($119 for a double; 866-439-7375;, and marvel at the asymmetrical architecture, designed by Robert Reamer in 1903.

>> Pig out Head to West Yellowstone for grill-your-own steaks at Eino's Bar. Select your chunk of red meat and toss it on the grill (pay attention–you're head chef, though a cook gives advice) before bellying up to the bar with a fourth-generation rancher. (406-646-9344)

>> Best dayhike: Shoshone Geyser Basin
Trek 18 miles from the Lone Star Geyser Trail to the Shoshone Lake Trail past the Lone Star Geyser to Grants Pass. Turn right onto the North Shore Trail and tour a geyser basin that's usually full of bison. Beyond the basin, turn north on the horse bypass back to the Shoshone Lake Trail.

>> Try something new See Yellowstone by boat. Rent a canoe or kayak and then launch in Yellowstone Lake's open waters. A five-mile tour from West Thumb skirts the protected shoreline and ventures into the geyser basin where underwater geysers effervesce to the surface (Snake River Kayak & Canoe, 307-733-9999).

Beat the Crowds

Everyone wants to see Yellowstone–and mostly all at once. Here's how to work the system.

>> Start early The traffic jams are infamous. Rise at first light to avoid rubberneckers–and see more wildlife.

>> Sneak away The Old Faithful Visitor Center is the most popular permit office, and it's often packed with permitees. Beeline for the Bridge Bay Ranger Station on the north shore of Yellowstone Lake instead. The park doesn't advertise it, but rangers can issue permits there.

>> Ride your bike Each shoulder season–October in the fall, and mid-March to April in the spring–cyclists can cruise Yellowstone's snow-free, closed roads.

You're a Tourist, Now Act Like One
When in Yellowstone you have to watch Old Faithful erupt. But don't shortchange your madras-shorted self. Hightail it to the obvious side path just off the Old Faithful boardwalk before the spout starts spewing. Point, shoot, and capture the geyser–without all the gazers.

The Stats
Acres 2.2 million
Miles of trail 1,100
Phone (307) 344-7381
2007 visitation 3,151,343 (total), 30,040 (backcountry)

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Reader Rating: -


Jim Hall
Jul 21, 2011

Pelican Creek trail bridge washed out about 3 miles in. Great hike over open areas. Bison and deer and elk. Wild flowers and blue skies. July 11.

Jim Hall
Jul 21, 2011

Lone Star Geyser Trail on July 12. Great short hike to remote geyser. Be aware....bugs are BAD along the way.

Brian Potucek
Aug 29, 2010

Make sure u walk down white creek from the Great fountain geyser. You will see some nice blue pools, and a couple of small geysers by the river. Trail ends at two small waterfalls at the end of the valley. You will loose the trail a bit but just keep following the river.You should have this off boardwalk trail to yourself.

Yellowstone National Park
Apr 14, 2010

For the active visitor, the park has thousands of miles of trails from dayhikes to backcountry explorations. The main attractions are all located on the grand loop road and here are some of the top reasons to visit the park.

Sep 25, 2008

I have spent a lot of time in the Yellowstone area and am always skeptical when I see guides like this. But I have to say that I am very impressed. They recommended great hikes that will give you a good understanding of the diversity of this amazing ecosystem. If you are in for a little longer and more remote experience, try hiking the Thorofare region in the SE corner of the park.

Scott Sanders
Sep 05, 2008

Make SURE you don't stay too long at Old Faithful. Some of the coolest geyser's are behind it and down stream along the wooden path. An hour of two before sunset makes for some very pretty photographs.


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