Yellowstone Backpacking – Bechler River

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Trip Length 4 Days
Group Size 4-10

Starting from


for REI Members

$1,274 for non-members


Jul 2019-Sep 2019

Explore Yellowstone’s remote Bechler River on this 4-day backpacking adventure.

The call to venture off the beaten path is answered on the remote and majestic trails of the world’s first national park. We explore the Bechler River, a unique destination that offers an up-close vantage of nature at work. Discover teeming rivers and streams, the wonder of pristine geysers and hot springs, and the breathtaking beauty of meadows carpeted with wildflowers.

Our hike starts out with a visit to the Lonestar Geyser, the largest backcountry geyser in the park. We then follow the Firehole River, crossing the Continental Divide before arriving at Shoshone Lake and Geyser Basin. Later on our journey, we explore a gorgeous series of hot springs whimsically dubbed, “Mr. Bubbles”. Ford two river beds and enjoy the thundering waterfall view on the other side. Along the way, stop to forage from ripe berry bushes and, with luck, view some of the park’s abundant wildlife. Hiking through the beautiful meadows and forests of Southwestern Yellowstone is a truly unforgettable backcountry experience.

Looking for other options in Yellowstone? Check out our Black Canyon and Gallatin Mountains backpacking itineraries, or our Yellowstone Kayaking trip.

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Trip highlights

  • Explore remote corners of the world's first national park
  • See beautiful rivers, streams, hot springs, geysers, and wildflowers
  • Enjoy four days of backpacking surrounded by natural wonder


This trip is rated Vigorous (4). Participants will be carrying their own backpacks with weights of 35 to 40 lbs. over varied terrain and at altitude. We will backpack a total of approximately 30 miles over our four backpacking days; however, the number of miles per day will vary depending on the campsite locations for each given departure. Please make sure your backpack is fitted to your body before the trip.

  • Backpacking

What's Included

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 Arizona Outback Adventures.


Backcountry camping, 3 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Day 1

See an abundance of geothermal pools and potholes in Geyser Basin.

We meet at 6:30am in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express Bozeman West. After a gear check and brief orientation, we load our gear into the support vehicle for our three-hour drive to the trailhead. Our hike starts out with a visit to the Lonestar Geyser, the largest backcountry geyser in the park with a 40-foot eruption every three hours. We backpack along the Firehole River, passing an abundance of geysers, bubbling pools and potholes, crossing the Continental Divide before arriving at camp. Lunch and dinner included.

Backpacking: 3 miles or 10.5 miles depending on permitted campground location; elevation gain: 500'.

Day 2

Hike to the headwaters of Bechler River and explore "Mr. Bubbles."

After a sound night's sleep and a hearty breakfast, we'll break camp and hit the trail! Today's goal is the headwaters of the Bechler River and into the heart of Bechler Canyon. After setting up camp near the riverside, we explore the valley's first remarkable geothermal feature, "Mr. Bubbles," a gorgeous series of hot springs. Bring your bathing suit as we have the opportunity to lounge in the natural hot baths. All meals included.

Backpacking: 4 miles, 6 miles or 7.8 miles depending on permitted campground location; elevation gain: 850'; elevation loss: 1,200'. Optional hike: 1 mile.

Day 3

Ford two rivers and pass stunning waterfalls on our way to camp.

Wake up to another hearty breakfast at the base of Bechler Canyon. We have a big day along the river, with two exciting river crossings. Be sure to bring along water shoes for this section if you would prefer to change out of your boots. We work together to carefully ford these two river beds and then enjoy the remarkable reward of two waterfalls, Colonnade and Iris Falls. We set up camp only five minutes away from these spectacular sights. All meals included. 

Backpacking: 5 miles, 8 miles or 9 miles depending on permitted campground location; elevation loss: 500'.

Day 4

Depart Bechler Canyon and return to Bozeman

Our final day includes a long, flat section of trail leading through the lower sections of the canyon. This section is characterized by massive boulder fields and acres of berry bushes where we can stop to forage. We expect to see an abundance of wildlife along our journey and hope to glimpse the Grand Tetons in the distance. Hiking through the beautiful Bechler meadows and forests of southwestern Yellowstone is a truly unforgettable backcountry experience. After returning to civilization at the Bechler Ranger station, we begin our drive back to Bozeman. We plan to arrive at the hotel between 6-7pm where we will say our goodbyes. Flights may be booked for after 9pm. Breakfast and lunch included.

Backpacking: 7– 9 miles depending on night three’s permitted campground location; elevation loss: 250'.

Yellowstone Backpacking – Bechler River Departures 2019

Adventure Expert


A hike along the Bechler River showcases many of the geological features this national park is renowned for. Spouting geysers, sparkling lakes, bubbling hot pools and vast wildflower meadows, Bechler is quintessential Yellowstone.


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