Yellowstone Women’s Backpacking – Bechler River

Trip Length4 Days
Group Size4–10
Activity level
Starting from
$1,649 for REI Members
$1,819 for non-members
DeparturesJul 2024-Sep 2024

Discover wilderness waterfalls and hot springs in Yellowstone’s pristine Bechler River Valley on this 4-day backpacking escape.

Bask in the beauty of Yellowstone National Park minus the tour-bus crowds as we travel into the backcountry. Postcard-perfect Rocky Mountain vistas serrate the horizon. Steam wafts from fumaroles and bubbling mudpots. Herds of bison munch through fog-kissed meadows. Ospreys bank lazy spirals overhead. Waterfalls—so many waterfalls—hopscotch and somersault down mountainsides. As we venture deeper into the Bechler River Valley, our expert female guides illuminate plants, creatures and geological features. They also prepare delicious dinners and lead mini-workshops to elevate our backpacking and backcountry cooking skills. You couldn’t imagine a classroom more sublime.

Soak away your cares in a wilderness spa—a series of river pools fed by a bubbling hot spring once nicknamed "Nirvana." Witness geysers up close. (But not too close.) Forage handfuls of wild huckleberries for your pancakes. Hike through a variety of jaw-dropping landscapes, from cool alpine forests to wide-open meadows to crystalline rivers that intersect our route. Make friends with a campfire circle of like-minded women under a sky glittering with stars. This is Yellowstone as it was meant to be experienced.

If you’re looking to explore different ways to enjoy all Yellowstone has to offer, view our full collection of Yellowstone itineraries.

Cascading waterfalls, steaming geysers, and awe-inspiring Rocky Mountain vistas all make the Bechler River traverse a perfect backpacking route for those looking to experience the wonders of Yellowstone.

Trip Highlights

  • Explore the magnificent backcountry wilderness of the world's first national park
  • Backpack past a variety of Yellowstone’s iconic geothermal features
  • Enjoy a relaxing soak in Mr. Bubbles, a fabulous natural hot spring
  • Learn backpacking skills and wilderness camping basics from expert female guides
  • REI Women’s Adventure—designed for women, guided by women


This trip is rated Vigorous [4]. Participants will be carrying their own backpacks with weights of 35–40 lbs. over varied terrain and at altitudes of approximately 7,000'–8,000'. Backpacking mileage will vary between 4–11.5 miles per day, depending on permitted campground location. Please make sure your backpack is fitted to your body before the trip. Trip members need to be in good physical condition.

  • Backpacking

What's Included

Professional guides; meals as noted in the daily itinerary; 3–person tents (2 guests per tent); group cooking gear; group first aid kit, water filter; campsite and permit fees; park entrance fees; round-trip shuttle between Bozeman, Montana and trailheads in Yellowstone National Park.


Backcountry camping, 3 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Itinerary map for Yellowstone Women’s Backpacking – Bechler River
Route Variation

This itinerary is subject to permit availability.

Daily mileage and elevation may change.

Day 1

Brush up on wilderness basics, venture into the park and see Yellowstone’s largest backcountry geyser

This trip begins in Bozeman, Montana. We meet our backpacking companions in the early morning at our host hotel in Bozeman. Our female guides conduct a full orientation, providing invaluable tips about proper pack fitting, and discuss various other gear necessities with women’s considerations in mind. After a gear check, we jump in our waiting van for the three-hour drive to our trailhead in southwestern Yellowstone. Shortly after hitting the trail, we reach Lonestar Geyser, the largest backcountry geyser in the park, erupting every three hours. Backpacking along the Firehole River, we pass an abundance of geysers, bubbling pools and mudpots, and cross the Continental Divide before arriving at our first camp. Before dinner, our guides offer a primer on wilderness camping that covers subjects such as proper tent set-up in all conditions, sleeping comfort, backcountry bathroom etiquette and fire building. Lunch and dinner included.

Backpacking: 10 - 11.5 miles depending on permitted campground location, Elevation gain: ~ 1600'; Transfer: 3 hours

Day 2

Hike into the heart of the Bechler Valley, soak in a gorgeous series of wild hot springs, and camp near a waterfall.

After a peaceful night's sleep and a hearty breakfast, we break camp, don our packs, and set out for another full day of outdoor adventure. Hiking into the heart of the Bechler Valley and alternating between riverside and forest trails, our goal is to reach the headwaters of the Bechler River by mid-afternoon. After dropping our packs and setting up camp near Twister Falls, we take a short hike to one of the valley's most remarkable geothermal features, "Mr. Bubbles". This gorgeous series of hot springs invites us to climb in and soak away the day’s aches in a natural wilderness spa. A relaxing end to a memorable and fulfilling day of exploration. All meals included.

Backpacking: 6–8 miles depending on permitted campground location, Elevation gain/loss: +850'/-1,200'. Optional hot spring hike: 1 mile

Day 3

Savor exhilarating river crossings and breathtaking waterfalls, camp near spectacular Colonnade Falls, and watch the sunset.

Wake up to a hot beverage and breath the fresh Rocky Mountain air. Our big hike today alongside and across the Bechler River includes two rivers crossings through thigh-deep, fast-moving water. Our guides help carry our packs and we work as a team to complete these exciting crossings (be sure to pack water shoes for this section if you prefer to change out of your boots). In reward of our efforts, we pass lovely Iris Falls before continuing on to our next and last campsite near Colonnade Falls. After making camp, a short hike to the falls is an option before dinner is served. As the sun sets, we relive the day’s adventures and relish our final evening in one of America’s most beloved national parks. All meals included.

Backpacking: 5–8 miles depending on permitted campground location, Elevation loss: 500'

Day 4

Hike through Bechler Canyon, forage acres of berry bushes, behold Grand Teton, and say farewell to new friends and Yellowstone herself.

Our final day of backpacking includes a long, flat stretch of trail leading through the lower sections of Bechler Canyon. This landscape is characterized by massive boulder fields, vast meadows, and acres of berry bushes where we can stop to forage. We navigate one final river crossing and, on clear days, enjoy views of Grand Teton before reaching the end of the trail near the Bechler Ranger Station. We plan to arrive back in Bozeman between 6–7pm this evening where we bid our newfound friends a fond farewell. Please do not schedule any departing flight prior to 8:30 pm. tonight. Breakfast and lunch included.

Backpacking: 7–9 miles depending on last night’s permitted campground location, Elevation loss: 250'. Transfer: 3.5 hours

Itinerary map for Yellowstone Women’s Backpacking – Bechler River

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.

Already booked this trip? Sign into your online traveler profile for a more detailed list of what you'll need.

REI members can shop for gently used gear online or at most REI stores. Members can also trade in pre-loved used gear online or at any REI store in exchange for REI gift card credit. Check out Re/Supply at REI to learn more.

We provide

  • All Group Cooking Gear
  • Bear Canister
  • Bear Spray
  • Group First Aid Kit
  • Stoves and Fuel
  • Tent(s)
  • Trekking Poles
  • Water Filter

What to pack

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 1 (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales ( 1 (800) 426-4840 ) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.

Trip specifics may change over time. Reviews reflect the version of the trip that was active at the time the reviewer took it. Please review the itinerary as described above and call our team for any additional details.