Yellowstone National Park: Gallatin Skyline

Go high for the see-it-all hike in this iconic park.
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Go high for the see-it-all hike in this iconic park.

At one extreme, you have the boardwalks-and-bus-stops Yellowstone. At the other, this wild alpine route. The 40-mile trek winds along the spine of the Gallatin Range, where you'll cross massive summits, skirt streamside elk meadows, and even explore a petrified forest. The route traverses 9,888-foot Big Horn Peak (day two) and passes two more must-bag peaks: 9,855- foot Sheep Mountain and 10,959-foot Electric Peak.
Allow a half day for the straightforward detour up Sheep Mountain from Shelf Lake, and a full day for the challenging scramble up Electric Peak. Expect to see elk, deer, and swans along the rivers, bighorn sheep on ridges, and probably bears. The price for such a wondrous trip? The initial 3,000-foot climb out of Gallatin River Canyon, and scarce water sources; carry a gallon for the dry six-mile leg between Black Butte Creek and Shelf Lake, more if you're camping between the two.
-Mapped by Steve Howe, howephoto.us
PERMIT: Make advance reservations (beginning April 1); nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/feesandreservations.htm
USGS TOPO MAP: Sunshine Point, Big Horn Peak, Sportsman Lake, Joseph Peak, Quadrant Mountain, Mammoth
MORE INFO: Yellowstone National Park, (307) 344-2160; nps.gov/yell

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 64.4

Waypoints

GAL001

Location: 45.048488, -111.139633

Daly Creek Trailhead

GAL002

Location: 45.068762, -111.121516

Bear right at Y-junction.

GAL003

Location: 45.054667, -111.094737

Turn left (east) at trail fork. Ahead, pass Campground Og2.

GAL004

Location: 45.066368, -111.056199

Turn right at T-junction on Big Horn Peak, heading east.

GAL005

Location: 45.088066, -111.015816

Bear right at Y-junction and descend toward Shelf Lake.

GAL006

Location: 45.071217, -111.011224

Turn left at 3-way junction.

GAL007

Location: 45.057698, -110.937753

Hike past a campground and High Lake on the right.

GAL008

Location: 45.025586, -110.96509

Turn left at T-junction, heading southeast.

GAL009

Location: 45.012602, -110.950885

Continue straight at 3-way junction.

GAL010

Location: 45.013391, -110.903335

Campground: Thorofare Barn

GAL011

Location: 45.002013, -110.89016

The trail crosses the Montana-Wyoming state line. Continue south into Wyoming.

GAL012

Location: 44.97339, -110.812182

Pass Campground 4M2 and Campground Od3.

GAL013

Location: 44.97254, -110.803728

Continue straight (northeast) at 3-way.

GAL014

Location: 44.980433, -110.79227

Hike past the trail to Cache Lake. Next, continue heading southeast along Glen Creek.

GAL015

Location: 44.967622, -110.755899

Continue straight at 3-way.

GAL016

Location: 44.959545, -110.747906

Pass the trail to Snow Pass on the left.

GAL017

Location: 44.957571, -110.746393

Continue straight at 3-way.

GAL018

Location: 44.933582, -110.731856

Stay right at trail junction.

GAL019

Location: 44.932299, -110.728272

Glen Creek Trailhead

Views of Electric Peak

Location: 44.973299, -110.808578

Sprawling Grassland

Location: 44.959173, -110.747737

Leaving the Forest

Location: 44.958816, -110.747423

Plains and Peaks

Location: 44.934507, -110.733005

Distant Peak

Location: 44.933541, -110.731738

Glen Creek Trailhead

Location: 44.932162, -110.727993