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Yellowstone National Park: Lake Butte to Sylvan Pass via Thorofare Trail

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Star Star Star Star Star

Distance: 42.2 miles


A forgotten explorer's route leads to 42-mile off-trail adventure--with several peak bagging options--and bona fide solitude in Yellowstone National Park.

BOOKS/MAPS: Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone, by Tom Turiano ($45, indomitusbooks .com) and Hiking: Yellowstone National Park, by Bill Schneider ($17, falcon.com).

USGS TOPO QUADS: Lake Butte, Frank Island, Sylvan Lake, Trail Lake, Plenty Coups, and Eagle Peak ($8 each, store.usgs.gov)

SEASON:
You can easily do this hike between July and early September, but the last half of July and first half of August are your best bet for windows of reliable weather and blooming flowers.

PERMITS: Required (free, $20 if reserved more than 48 hours in advance). Note: Getting approval for at-large camping in a spot this remote involves convincing skeptical rangers that you have what it takes to venture off the beaten track. Turiano recommends coming prepared with an annotated map and a trip resumé to establish your creds. He says, “If you can show the experience level to match the route—and this is not a beginner traverse—rangers will usually say, ‘OK, just follow LNT ethics and bear protocols,’ and send you on your way.”

MORE INFO: Yellowstone National Park, (307) 344-7381; nps.gov/yell/.

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