This 17.7-mile shuttle hike along Specimen Ridge overlooks the wildlife-filled grasslands of the Lamar Valley, making it a great choice for wildlife-lovers visiting Yellowstone National Park. Start early or stay late to spot the crowds of elk, bison, antelope, moose, wolves, and bears that roam Lamar’s grassy expanse.
From the trailhead, hike southeast across the vast, rolling hills that border the eastern edge of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. After 1.4 miles, the trail veers to the right below the crest of Specimen Ridge and continues to climb to the southeast. Roughly 2 miles later, take a break at scenic vantage point overlooking Yellowstone’s wildlife-rich northern range.
The route tops out on 9,614-foot Amethyst Mountain after 10 miles, giving way to some of the best panoramic views Yellowstone has to offer. From here, the trail drops down Amethyst’s southeast ridge, then swings to the northeast into the Lamar Valley; extensive views accompany hikers into the valley. At mile 15.6, ford the Lamar River, then continue a 2-mile descent to the route’s end point at the Lamar River Trailhead.
Note: Before you hike this trail, check with park rangers to determine the levels of the Lamar River.
PERMIT: Overnight camping in Yellowstone National Park requires a backcountry permit. Check out the latest fees and more details at nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/backcountryhiking.htm.
MORE PARK INFO: Yellowstone National Park, (307) 344-7381; nps.gov/yell/.
-Mapped by Jason Kauffman