Wyoming: $2200 • August 14-23, 2012
The southeast corner of Yellowstone near the mouth of the Thorofare River is the most distant point from a road in the lower 48 states. Halfway through this hike we’ll be there! This 75-80 mile odyssey begins near the park’s south entrance and ends on the Shoshone River’s North Fork west of Cody, Wyoming. Late in the trip we’ll cross the Absaroka Range and enter the Washakie Wilderness, which abuts the park. Because we’ll cover roughly 8-12 miles each day with one layover, participants must travel light and have good stamina. This trip has it all: vistas galore, verdant woods and wildflower meadows, huge mountain river valleys,blue lakes and sky-scraping peaks plus virtually all of Yellowstone’s native wildlife. Be prepared for any kind of weather, and though most of the terrain is fairly gentle, we rate this trip fairly strenuous because of mileage and remoteness. Its base is Gardiner, Montana.
We usually begin this Yellowstone backpacking odyssey at the Heart Lake trailhead and head for the remote “Thorofare” country via Heart Lake and either the South Arm of Yellowstone Lake or the headwater tributaries of the Snake River. Then we go over the Two Ocean Plateau and down to the amazing valley of the Yellowstone and Thorofare Rivers before we leave the park for the Washakie Wilderness. Or, we may do the same wonderful route in the opposite direction.
TREK BASE: Gardiner, Montana. Yellowstone River Motel, 14 Park Street, (888)797-4837 or (406)848-7303. Or, Gardiner Guest House Bed and Breakfast, 112 Main Street. You choose, they’re just a block apart. Gardiner is small! If you need a night in Bozeman, we recommend the Comfort Inn at 800-587-3833 or 406-587-2322.
MEETING TIME: Pre-trip orientation/food and gear handout/safety talk at 6 pm the evening prior to day one.
TRANSPORTATION: Air service to Bozeman; Amazing Taxi from airport to Gardiner (about an hour and a half) 406-223-5344. Call in advance and identify yourself as a Big Wild client. The taxi company will try to bunch up clients on a late afternoon ride in order to reduce the per-person price.
TREK RATING: Fairly strenuous due to distances covered. Most of the terrain is gently rolling on good trails, but this is a 75-mile trip and there will be a couple of 12-13 mile days. Other days will be in the 8-10 mile range. There will be a mid-trip layover in the vicinity of the most remote location in the lower 48 states.
ELEVATIONS: 7,000-10,000 feet. Max one-day elevation gain with pack: 2,000’.
WEATHER: Mid August usually has great weather, with warm days and chilly nights. Afternoon thunderstorms are common, but usually short-lived. But Yellowstone weather can suddenly change, so be prepared for anything from the 80’s to cold rain or even snow! Click here for the National Weather Service forecast.
FISHING: A Yellowstone fishing permit can be purchased when we enter the park. There are some good trout fishing opportunities if time permits; please inform us in advance if you plan to fish.
SPECIAL FEATURES: This is our longest trip, both in time and distance. We will pass the most distant location from a road in the lower 48 states (21 air miles) near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Thorofare Rivers. The landscape is highly varied, with spectacular open valleys, expansive forests, high peaks, rivers, lakes and plenty of wildlife. This is an ultimate wilderness adventure, a true oddessey!
SPECIAL TIPS: Because we’ll be covering many miles, it is essential to travel light! Eschew surplus! Bring what’s on the list and nothing more. Make sure your tent or tarp is lightweight. This is griz country, so leave all deodorants, soaps and other sweet smelly things behind!
STATUS: Believe it or not, Congress has yet to designate a single acre of Yellowstone as Wilderness under the Wilderness Act of 1964. The final third of the trip will be in protected national forest Wilderness.
ITINERARY: We’ll begin in southern Yellowstone and hike to the Thorofare country in the park’s southeast corner via the south arm of Yellowstone Lake. Then we’ll hike northeast over the Absarokas, through the Shoshone National Forest’s Washakie Wilderness, terminating a few miles from the park’s east entrance. The trailheads are about 2.5 to 3 hours from Gardiner.
Please Note: Mileages and elevations are approximate and subject to change due to various factors.