Yellowstone National Park: Bunsen Peak

Climb to panoramic views of Yellowstone National Park on this 7-mile loop that crests Bunsen Peak and skirts the edge of Sheepeater Canyon.
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Climb to panoramic views of Yellowstone National Park on this 7-mile loop that crests Bunsen Peak and skirts the edge of Sheepeater Canyon.

Perched on the edge of Sheepeater Canyon and Golden Gate Canyon near the Wyoming-Montana border, Bunsen Peak's 8,564-foot summit reveals sweeping views across the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park. From the Bunsen Peak Trailhead, turn left at the first trail junction to start the clockwise loop.
The first mile winds east across a sagebrush-dotted landscape to the base of Bunsen Peak. After 1.3 miles, the switchback climb begins up Bunsen's northwest ridge—look to the north for the first views of Cathedral Rock, a towering rock formation. Crest the summit after 2 miles and stop to savor the views that stretch out in all directions. Electric Peak rises to the northwest, the Absaroka Range to the northeast, and Mount Holmes to the southwest.
From here, the trail zigzags down Bunsen's northeast ridge toward Sheepeater Canyon. Turn south off the ridgeline near mile 4 to navigate around the base of the peak. The final 3.2 miles of the loop travel southwest through sagebrush grassland back to the trailhead.

MORE PARK INFO: Yellowstone National Park, (307) 344-7381; nps.gov/yell/.
-Mapped by Jeff Chow

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 11.3

Waypoints

BUN001

Location: 44.932145, -110.727725

From the parking lot, turn left onto Bunsen Peak Trail, heading east. Ahead, the climbing gradually becomes steeper.

BUN002

Location: 44.9337875, -110.7243562

Pass views of Golden Gate (named for the golden-hued rocks flanking the road).

BUN003

Location: 44.932315, -110.715346

Look southwest across Swan Lake to views of the majestic Gallatin Range. Prepare for the switchback climb ahead.

BUN004

Location: 44.9341445, -110.7093894

Maneuver up the loose, rocky terrain (trekking poles recommended).

BUN005

Location: 44.933198, -110.707543

Hike past the radio hut and tower on this false peak.

BUN006

Location: 44.932161, -110.706995

Crest 8,564-foot Bunsen Peak, named after Robert Bunsen who conducted early research on geysers, and invented the Bunsen burner. Enjoy the 360-degree views of the park, and look for the register in the metal box.

BUN007

Location: 44.934342, -110.693602

Trail enters sparse forest. Continue the steep descent on numerous switchbacks.

BUN008

Location: 44.9369926, -110.687052

Turn right (south) to head around the base of the peak.

BUN009

Location: 44.9229406, -110.7020617

Veer right at Bunsen Peak Loop Road to continue on the double track dirt road.

BUN010

Location: 44.922716, -110.709402

Pass the Sheepeater Trail on left, which leads to Sheepeater Canyon.

BUN011

Location: 44.922002, -110.719759

Pass a small green lake on the left-hand side of the trail. Ahead, continue hiking northwest to complete the loop at the parking lot.

Views from Bunsen Peak

Location: 44.9312963, -110.7065034

Bunsen Peak Trailhead

Location: 44.932014, -110.7275695

Views from Bunsen Peak Trail

Location: 44.9322685, -110.715065

Expansive Views

Location: 44.9318355, -110.713461

Distant Peaks

Location: 44.9318374, -110.7134476

Cathedral Rock

Location: 44.9355116, -110.7114279

Look to the north for a view to the town of Mammoth and further to Gardiner, Montana.

View near Cathedral Rock

Location: 44.9353521, -110.7114065

Rocky Terrain

Location: 44.934536, -110.70943

Mountaintop Keepsakes

Location: 44.9321849, -110.7069379

An assortment of notes from previous hikers sits at the peak in an old metal box.

Trail Journal

Location: 44.9321545, -110.7069165

Sunset on Bunsen Peak

Location: 44.9311975, -110.7064605