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Daily mileage and elevation may change.
This trip begins in Bozeman, Montana. We meet our guides and fellow backpackers in the lobby of our Bozeman host hotel in the early morning. After a brief orientation and gear check, we jump into our waiting vehicle and begin the three-hour drive to Yellowstone National Park. Our route takes us through the north entrance of the park, past Mammoth Hot Springs and on to the Lamar Valley. We arrive at our trailhead around lunchtime and, after fueling up for the trek ahead, we begin our hike into the Lamar Valley backcountry, renowned for its tranquil beauty and wildlife viewing. Our trail follows the Lamar River and requires that we ford Cache Creek before reaching the first backcountry campsite of the trip. After a delicious dinner prepared by our guides, we slip into our tents for a restful night’s sleep under the Rocky Mountain sky. Lunch and dinner included.
Backpacking: 5–6 miles; Average elevation gain/loss: +750' / -550; Transfer time: 3 hours
Today we continue into the heart of the Lamar Valley, known as North America’s “Little Serengeti.” Keeping our eyes peeled for some of the 67 species of mammals that live in the park, we continue backpacking south along the banks of the Lamar River. Even the river itself harbors life with native Yellowstone cutthroat trout living and spawning in the flowing waters while making a comeback as a result of recent protections. Fly fishing permits are available online (barb-less catch and release only). We pitch our tents this afternoon on the Lamar riverbank, as serene a campsite location as one could ever hope for. All meals included.
Backpacking: 8–11 miles; Average elevation gain/loss: +1,650' / -1,250
After a hot cup of coffee and a hearty breakfast, we break camp and continue backpacking along the Lamar River to Mist Creek. We hike through rolling grasslands and smell the sagebrush, navigating some creek crossings and passing over a footbridge en route to tonight’s campsite. The rugged peaks of the Absaroka Range come into view and the wildlife-viewing possibilities remain strong. These valleys and grasslands are home to elk, pronghorn, bison, bears, wolves, moose and many other wild creatures. Tonight, the music of Mist Creek plays in the background as we tuck ourselves into our sleeping bags and drift off to sleep. All meals included.
Backpacking: 8–10 miles; Average elevation gain/loss: +1,400' / -450'
We get an early start this morning in preparation for our last big day of backpacking. We climb over Mist Creek Pass and begin a downhill cruise into the spectacular Pelican Valley, known as some of the premier grizzly bear habitat in the U.S. Our route takes us past the Pelican Springs backcountry ranger cabin, along the meandering creek, and through the spectacular open meadows of Pelican Valley. Reaching trail’s end, our van awaits to take us on a scenic drive along the shores of Yellowstone Lake and through some of the park’s geothermal areas before beginning the return drive to Bozeman. We plan to arrive back in Bozeman between approximately 7–8:30pm this evening. Breakfast and lunch included.
Backpacking: 10–12 miles; Average elevation gain/loss: +1,100'/-1,400; Transfer time: 3 hours