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Yellowstone Adventure Guide
Yellowstone National Park
Download map (798K PDF)
Secret spots, park info, and a printable map

• Three Hidden Spots
• Park Information
• Printable Map

While nearly 900,000 automobiles cram Yellowstone’s roads each year, many backcountry campsites receive fewer than two dozen visitors in an entire season.

Yet some of Yellowstone’s best treasures are hidden away in these overlooked corners of the park. Here are three trips into the Yellowstone almost nobody knows.

3 Hidden Spots

(Bottom Left Circle on Map)

Yellowstone is famous for its waterfalls, but the roadless southwest corner of the park—where the Bechler and other rivers flow off the Pitchstone Plateau—offers falling waters in almost absurd abundance.

Reach the region by driving 20 miles [32 kilometers] from Ashton, Idaho, to the Bechler River ranger station. Hike ten miles [16 kilometers] on the Bechler River (see photo) or Bechler Meadows Trail to the roaring falls of Ouzel, Colonnade, and Iris. The Ferris Fork of the Bechler, five miles [eight kilometers] above Iris Falls, leads to the falls of Tendoy, Gwinna, Sluiceway, and Wahhi.

On the return leg, make a side trip on Boundary Creek Trail to the 150-foot [46-meter] drop of Dunanda Falls. Geothermal features also abound in the area. There are 14 backcountry campsites along all three trails.

(Top Right Circle on Map)

At the head of the Lamar Valley stands an assortment of bizarre volcanic hoodoos in a region an early park superintendent dubbed the Goblin Labyrinths (see photo). Take the Northeast Entrance Road to the head of the Lamar River Trail at Soda Butte Creek.

Eighteen miles [29 kilometers] of hiking south and east along the Lamar River and Miller Creek Trails lead to the Hoodoo Basin Trail. The Hoodoo Basin Trail runs for 8 miles [13 kilometers], crossing Miller Creek and climbing 2,000 feet [610 meters] over the saddle of Parker Peak, descending into Hoodoo Basin, a region of highly eroded volcanic rock outcrops. Camp at Boundary campsite.

(Bottom Right Circle on Map)

The historic Thorofare route over the Continental Divide begins well outside Yellowstone and enters the park in its remotest corner. There is no occupied dwelling in the contiguous U.S. farther from a road than the Thorofare Patrol Cabin (which includes a tent platform), at the border of the park.

Approach the trail from Moran Junction, in Grand Teton National Park, by driving 15 miles [24 kilometers] northeast on Pacific Creek Road to the Pacific Creek trailhead.

Follow the Pacific Creek Trail 18 miles [29 kilometers] to Two Ocean Pass—on the Continental Divide—then 10 miles [16 kilometers] through regenerating forests on Atlantic Creek Trail to Bridger Lake. Cross over the Yellowstone River to the Thorofare Trail, and follow the trail 15 miles [24 kilometers] to Yellowstone Lake.

There are at least 15 backcountry campsites in this region. Along the way, scramble off-trail to 10,969-foot [3,343-meter] Trident and 10,683-foot [3,256-meter] Colter Peak; check bear-management rules with the backcountry office first. At Yellowstone Lake, you can catch the motor launch from Columbine Creek to Bridge Bay.

Park Information

Permits: Backcountry camping is allowed only at designated campsites, which can be reserved in advance for U.S. $20. The reservation form is included in the backcountry trip planner, available from the backcountry office. The park starts accepting reservations April 1. Canoes and kayaks require a $5 use permit.

Contact: For the park’s backcountry office, call +1 307 242 3881. For boat rentals, contact Snake River Kayak & Canoe (800 529 2501, U.S. and Canada only; www.snakeriverkayak.com) or Rendezvous River Sports (+1 800 733 2471, U.S. and Canada only; www.jhkayakschool.com).

Download Printable Park Map (796K PDF)

Next: The ultimate five-day Yellowstone itinerary >>


  Other Park Listings
    •  Introduction
    •  Acadia
    •  Glacier
    •  Grand Canyon
    •  Grand Teton
    •  Great Smoky Mountains
    •  Olympic
    •  Rocky Mountain
    •  Yellowstone
    •  Yosemite
    •  Zion


Related Web Sites

Action Guide to the Great Parks
The ultimate itineraries for the ten most popular U.S. national parks.

Forum: Your Secret Spots in Our Favorite Parks
Tell us how you beat the crowds in the most popular U.S. parks.

Photo Gallery: Secret Yellowstone
Photographer and guide Tom Murphy shows and tells how he captured the park for the May 2002 Adventure.


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May 2002:
In the Magazine | Excerpts | Park Guides | Yellowstone Photos | Yellowstone Map | Forum: National Parks | Gear Guide: Sunglasses | Travel Calendar

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