- Hike along the Yellowstone River's Black Canyon
- Fish one of the best trout rivers in the world
- Camp along the river with ample time to rest and recharge
The Yellowstone River winds its way nearly 700 miles from Yellowstone National Park to the Missouri River. We explore a scenic stretch through Black Canyon by foot, teeming with cascades and waterfalls. Carrying all we need in our packs, we quickly ditch the crowds and enjoy the solitude of remote wilderness.
Hiking 5-8 miles each day, we take time to rest, relax, and recharge on our journey from camp to camp. Anglers can even try their hand at trout fishing from one of the best rivers in the world. On our journey, we keep an eye out for wildlife, from elk and bison to moose and the occasional bear.
- Route Variation - This itinerary is subject to permit availability.
- Night before - Optional stay in Bozeman.
- Day 1 - Meet for group orientation before descending to the Yellowstone River.
- Day 2 - Cross a few creeks en route to our next camp.
- Day 3 - Day hike, fish, or relax in camp.
- Day 4 - Hike along Blacktail Deer Creek to the trailhead.
Trip Itinerary and Details
Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.
Route Variation - This itinerary is subject to permit availability.
Daily mileage and elevation may change.
Night before - Optional stay in Bozeman.
Since we will meet at 7:00 a.m. on Day 1 of your trip, you may choose to arrive in Bozeman, Montana the night before (not included in the cost of the trip). We recommend staying at the Holiday Inn Express Bozeman West, where we meet on Day 1 of the trip. Your car can be left at this location. Be sure to make reservations as far in advance as possible to ensure the availability of rooms. To make reservations call the hotel directly at 877-410-6667.
Day 1 - Meet for group orientation before descending to the Yellowstone River.
Our group meets at 7:00 a.m. in the lobby of the hotel. After a gear check and brief orientation, we load our gear into the support vehicle for the 1-1/2 hour drive to the trailhead. Please plan on adding 5-10 pounds of shared group gear to your pack. Our hike begins at Hellroaring Creek Trailhead where we'll descend 500 feet in elevation to the Yellowstone River, one of the last free-flowing rivers in the continental United States. Black Canyon offers wonderful views of cascades and waterfalls. Our trail includes a couple of short (less than ½ mile) steep sections. Lunch and dinner included.
Hiking: 6-8 miles; Elevation gain: 750 ft.
Day 2 - Cross a few creeks en route to our next camp.
After breakfast we break camp and continue backpacking down river. This section of the Black Canyon generally offers a chance to observe the abundant wildlife of Yellowstone: elk, bison, coyotes, moose, deer, and an occasional bear may be seen. Our hike continues along the north bank of the Yellowstone River on a well maintained trail with a relatively gentle grade, although there are a few short creek crossings today. We arrive in camp with time to set up our tents and take an afternoon day hike before enjoying dinner prepared over the camp stove. All meals included.
Hiking: 5-7 miles; Elevation loss: 250 ft.
Day 3 - Day hike, fish, or relax in camp.
Today is a layover day, providing us with the opportunity to really soak up the surrounding environment however we prefer. We have the option to relax in camp, fish, or explore downstream to Knowles Falls and steeper parts of the Black Canyon. There are tremendous views of the Yellowstone River as it thunders downstream full of spring runoff. All meals included.
Hiking (optional): 5-7 miles; Elevation loss: 700 ft.; gain: 500 ft.
Day 4 - Hike along Blacktail Deer Creek to the trailhead.
From camp we hike upstream along Blacktail Deer Creek to the trailhead. The creek ascends sharply, passing a nice set of cascades, before leveling off in a beautiful valley of huge meadows and isolated stands of trees. Now out of the canyon, views of the surrounding country abound. It is the perfect end to a wonderful backpacking experience. We plan to be back at the hotel by 6:00 p.m. Breakfast and Lunch included.
Hiking: 3.7 miles; Elevation gain: 1000 ft.
Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control. This trip is operated rain or shine.
Contact REI Adventures prior to purchasing your airline tickets to confirm that the trip has the minimum number of participants required to operate.
Professional instruction and guiding; meals as noted in the daily itinerary; 2-person tents; group cooking gear; group first aid kit, water filter; campsite and permit fees; park entrance fees; round-trip shuttle between meeting point and trailheads.
All Yellowstone backpacking trips are conducted under the authorized concessionaire permit of Wildland Trekking Company.
Transportation from your hometown to group meeting point; any hotel reservations; insurance of any kind; alcoholic beverages; soft drinks; guide gratuities and items of a personal nature.
This trip is rated Moderate Plus (3-4). Participants will be carrying their own backpacks with weights of 35-40 lbs. over varied terrain and at altitude. Please make sure your backpack is fitted to your body before the trip. Trip members need to be in good physical condition. To maximize your enjoyment of the trip, we strongly encourage you to take up a training regimen beforehand. Day hiking with a pack and making sure your hiking boots are broken in before your trip is key. Cycling, running, walking and weight training are also good conditioners for this type of outing. The better shape you are in, the more you’ll enjoy all that Yellowstone National Park has to offer.
Depending on the date of departure, daytime temperatures usually range between 50o - 80o F with evening temperatures dropping into the 30s-40s. On early and late season departures are prepared to encounter lows of 30 degrees or colder. You may encounter freezing temperatures at some of the higher elevations. Afternoon thunderstorms are a distinct possibility, so adequate raingear is important.
If you are traveling alone we will assign you a roommate of the same gender if possible. A limited number of single accommodations are available, and are assigned only as necessary.General Information
This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Weekend Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and detailed pre-trip information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.
Yellowstone Backpacking – Black Canyon Gear List
The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. Try to bring only what is necessary—this will help you and the field staff.
- Tents (3 season, 2 person)
- Cooking gear
- Stoves and fuel
- Water filter
- Group first aid kit
- Bear canister
- Bear spray
- Backpack: large internal frame or external frame (65 – 80 liter)
- Pack cover – waterproof
- Sleeping bag (rated at 20° - 25° F)
- Sleeping pad
- Rain jacket and pants, lightweight waterproof and breathable
- Light weight warm synthetic or down jacket (mandatory for early and late season trips)
- Midweight fleece jacket or wool sweater
- Mid- or lightweight thermal top and bottom made of synthetic or wool (mid weight for early or late season departures)
- Extra warm clothing for early or late season departures
- Hiking pants, quick-drying, lightweight (zip-off legs are great) no jeans!
- Hiking shorts, quick-drying, lightweight
- 1-2 T-shirts, synthetic
- 2 changes of underwear
- Hiking socks, 3 pairs of wool or synthetic
- Sock liners, 3 pairs of synthetic liners (optional)
- Sun hat with brim
- Wool or fleece hat
- Lightweight wool or fleece gloves
- Hiking boots: heavy duty, waterproof, and well broken-in, should rise above ankle
- Two 1-quart water bottles or hydration system equivalent (recommended to bring one 1-quart bottle even with hydration system)
- Plastic bowl, spoon, travel mug with lid
- Sunglasses and retainer strap
- Sunblock, (small amount—not the whole bottle), min SPF 25
- Lip balm (unscented)
- Insect repellent (small)
- Head net for mosquitoes, especially in July
- Toothbrush & trial-sized paste
- Pack towel and/or washcloth
- Personal first aid kit, small and light with personal medications
- Favorite energy snacks and drinks
- Bic lighter
- Travel size wet-wipes
- TP system: toilet paper (not a full roll) & 1 Ziploc quart baggie & 1 Ziploc gallon baggie and orange plastic trowel
- 1 large plastic garbage can bag
- Trekking poles (highly recommended)
- Pocket knife or small multi-tool
- Ear plugs
- Lightweight camp shoes/sandals
- Journal & pen
- Camera and film- think weight
- Small paperback book
- Swim suit
- Down vest or jacket
- Headlamp with spare batteries and bulb
Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.