Yellowstone National Park: Mount Washburn

You'll find wildflowers, bighorn sheep, and a lookout tower on the easy-going climb up to a 10,243-foot peak formed by ancient volcanic eruptions.
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You'll find wildflowers, bighorn sheep, and a lookout tower on the easy-going climb up to a 10,243-foot peak formed by ancient volcanic eruptions.

This mellow 5.7-miler climbs a quiet access road to a lookout tower at the top of the 10,243-foot Mount Washburn. From the trailhead, head south on Chittenden Road for a steady climb up Washburn's north ridge. As you hike, scan the surrounding slopes for bighorn sheep and vibrant wildflowers. At mile 0.9, crest a ridge and head southeast toward an unnamed 9,664-foot summit. From here, the trail leaves the ridge and cuts across the mountain's open slopes. One mile later, the road switchbacks to left, heading east for a 300-yard stretch, then turns to the south for the final 0.8-mile stretch to the summit and lookout tower. At the top, take time to visit the interpretive center and the observation deck (both located in the tower), before retracing your route to the trailhead.

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

-Mapped by the National Park Service

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 4.6

Waypoints

WAS001

Location: 44.8245201, -110.4445724

Follow Chittenden Road to the south. The gravel road climbs up Mount Washburn's north ridge.

WAS002

Location: 44.8168945, -110.442421

Follow the road as it curves to the southwest and wraps around the ridge. Scan open slopes for bighorn sheep and vibrant wildflowers.

WAS003

Location: 44.8137283, -110.4393921

Crest the ridge, then head southeast toward an unnamed 9,664-foot summit.

WAS004

Location: 44.8097343, -110.4362488

Trail leaves the ridge and cuts across the slopes below the unnamed summit. Keep climbing.

WAS005

Location: 44.8017807, -110.4391556

Follow the hairpin turn to the left, heading east for a 300-yard stretch.

WAS006

Location: 44.8021164, -110.4359131

Hike south up Mount Washburn's northern slopes. The summit and lookout tower rise in front of you. Only 0.8 mile of climbing remains.

WAS007

Location: 44.7977982, -110.4324417

The road switchbacks to the right 100 yards below the summit.

WAS008

Location: 44.7975693, -110.4338684

Mount Washburn (10,243 ft.): Mountainous views surround you on this open summit. An interpretive center and an observation deck are located in the lookout tower. Retrace route to trailhead.