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Thorofare Valley, Yellowstone, WY/MT
Wildlife viewing is never a sure thing, even in the heart of one of the last remaining intact ecosystems in the United States. Wildlife hearing, on the other hand? That’s a slam dunk. Just set up camp in the isolated Thorofare and Two Ocean Plateau areas at the south end of Yellowstone Lake and pipe down. Bald eagles squeal overhead, loons warble, elk yodel, and howls from members of the Yellowstone Delta wolf pack fill the night.
Only the moose and grizzlies won’t be heard–unless they’re crashing through the forest next to your camp. “You’ll hear things around that lake you won’t hear in any other area of the park,” says Orville Bach, a seasonal ranger at Yellowstone for 36 years. The 20-mile trek begins on East Entrance Road. Tip: Camp at hiker-only Upper Ford (6B2), right in the thick of the Thorofare’s wildlife corridor. Make it a thru-hike by continuing west on Trail Creek Trail; pass Heart Lake and finish at South Entrance Road. No time for a 40-miler? Visit wildlife-rich Swan Lake Flat on a hike to Electric Peak (10.3 miles one-way, start at Glen Creek trailhead).