Yellowstone Backpacking

Last Updated on August 30, 2020

Yellowstone National Park is America’s oldest park, established in 1872. It spans over 2 million acres, and many might say it is grandest too. Yellowstone is an outdoor wonderland full of wildlife, majestic peaks, geysers, 14 rivers, and nearly 200 creeks.

It’s difficult to see more than a part of the country from the road or nearby trails. The number of natural wonders of the park you can see from the road is fantastic, but the amount you cannot see is almost mind-boggling. You will get a feel for the park by leaving the road, heading down a trail, and setting up a camp.

Yellowstone Backpacking

Backpacking in Yellowstone is the best way to experience the nooks and crannies in the park. A backpacking tour in Yellowstone is the best way to dive in and experience all Yellowstone has to offer.

Here you will find a few simple tips that will help you get started on your backpacking adventure in Yellowstone. Some special regulations exist in the park, and this overview will help you understand these rules and regulations. So this will easy for you to plan the perfect backcountry outing in America’s first national park.

Yellowstone Backpacking

How to Get Permits

You need a permit to camp in the backcountry of Yellowstone. You can apply at any backcountry office up to 48 hours before your trip, or you can download the permit online and mail it in before your trip.

It’s best to apply for a license in advance to make sure you get the campsite you are interested in. It can be a slow process. As usual, it may take up to 30 to 40 minutes or longer to fill out the necessary paperwork.

In case you’re hoping to get an early start this can be a bit tedious, yet the officers will give you valuable data concerning the most recent trail conditions, stream follows, and bears action for your particular trail.

During the application procedure, you will be required to watch a 20-minute video that covers safety issues including; bear and natural life experiences, nourishment stockpiling, stream intersections, and general backcountry rules and guidelines.

From June through August, permits are available all the days a week from 8 am to 4:30 pm at the following locations:

  • Canyon Visitor Center
  • Bechler Ranger Station
  • Bridge Bay Ranger Station
  • Old Faithful Ranger Station
  • Grant Village Visitor Center
  • Tower Backcountry Office
  • Mammoth Visitor Center
  • South Entrance Ranger Station
  • West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center

Ranger stations and visitor centers don’t have set hours during spring, fall, and winter. You may Contact the Central Backcountry Office (Backcountry Office: P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190, 307-344-2166 (fax)) for details on where to obtain a permit during these seasons.

How Many Fees to Pay

Anyone obtaining a license to stay overnight in the backcountry between Memorial Day and September-10 will have to pay a permit fee for all individuals 9years of age or older. Backpackers and boaters will pay $3.00 per person, per night, with a group of 5 persons or more paying a total of 15$ per night.

Stock users will be charged $5.00 per person and per night. Besides, you may purchase an Annual Backcountry Pass ($25), which covers the per-night per-person, backcountry fees for the calendar year for the individual pass holder. Since 1996, Authority of the park has accepted advanced backcountry reservations. It remains $25 for trips reserved more than two nights in advance.

Locate Your Campsite

There are over 300 fantastic campsites located throughout the backcountry of the park that is spread out over 2.2 million acres of this extraordinary wilderness. Each campsite has a specific number like 2S1, 2S3, 2S4, etc. you can use backcountry campsite locator map for locating your campsite.

There has a maximum limit for the number of people and stock allowed per night for each designated campsite. The maximum stay per campsite varies from 1-3 nights per trip, and group size limits range from 4 to 12 people.

In case your group exceeds the campsite limit, you’ll need to obtain a second permit and cook and sleep as separate groups. A food storage pole is given at every campsite so that food and attractants may be secured from bears. Some sites have fire pits also.

Pre-Backpack Preparation

We recommend that you should become familiar with your camping equipment before you ever set foot in the backcountry. You should practice how to set up a tent in the backyard. You should also know how to use your camp stove and how to filter water properly for drinking.

Break in new shoes and boots before any trip, and you should never backpack in a brand new pair of hiking boots to avoid any injury on foot. You can Carry freeze dried food until you are comfortable cooking more elaborate meals. Freeze dried meals are convenient, require very little space, and are lightweight.

This essential pre-backpack preparation can make the difference between a memorable trip and one that keeps you from enjoying your Yellowstone backpacking experience.

Basic Equipment List:

  • 2 or 3-season tent
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Sleeping bag rated to 20/30 degrees
  • Cookstove and fuel
  • Garbage bag for trash
  • Cookware and utensils
  • 50′ of nylon rope to hang your food
  • Backpack
  • Food – energy bars, freeze-dried meals
  • Rain jacket
  • Matches or lighter
  • Extra socks
  • Headlamp and batteries
  • Good boots/footwear
  • Water filter and water bottles
  • Basic first-aid kit
  • Warm clothes
  • Bear bag or bear-proof canister
  • Bear spray

One important thing that we recommend you to keep bear spray with you. It has proven to be a practical thing where it was appropriately used.

General Safety Concerns

If you approached by a bear DO NOT RUN – bears may interpret you as prey if you run. You have to keep it in your mind to use the bear spray when a bear attacks you. You should never drink untreated water directly from any river, lake, or hot area, it is no matter how clean the water may appear.

Water should be filtered before drinking. Do not hike after dark for avoiding any incidents like as bear or snake attack and you must watch for signs of animals including tracks and scat.

Final Words

Backpacking is a great way to see amazing views of Yellowstone. There are more than 900 miles of backpacking trails inside Yellowstone Park. A few trails are long and strenuous, and others are short and simple.

Guided backpackers are available to help you navigate some of the harder trails. The weather changes fast in the park, so always check the forecast before heading out, and let someone know where you’re going.


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