Yellowstone Backpacking Myths: Crowds

Backpacking in Yellowstone is an experience that no outdoor-person should miss. There are many reasons to explore this natural wonderland, but there are also a number of widely-held misconceptions about backpacking in Yellowstone that we will consider in our latest blog series, “Yellowstone Backpacking Myths”. This post about the myth of over-crowding will be the first of the series.

First, let’s admit the obvious: over two million people visit Yellowstone each year, and that’s a lot of human biomass. The roadways are sometimes crowded, yet Park Service statistics prove what we back-country aficionados already know: most of Yellowstone’s visitors stay near their vehicles along the park roads and rarely venture more than a couple of hundred yards from pavement. This leaves the back-country for the small minority of visitors with enough of a sense of adventure to walk, ride a horse, ski, crawl or slither through some of the wildest and most remote wilderness in America! In fact, about 98% of the park is road-less back-country, and over 90% of the park acreage is actually proposed by the National Park Service for Wilderness designation under the Wilderness Act of 1964.

On a Big Wild Adventures multi-day guided Yellowstone hiking tour, you will experience real wilderness. Occasionally you will probably pass other hikers, sure, but they are much fewer than you would typically experience in many other wilderness areas or national parks including Glacier, Rocky Mountain, the Great Smokies or just about anywhere in the Sierras. Once you get a mile or two from the trail-head, you’ll see few other people! In fact, according to government statistics, overnight back-country use in Yellowstone actually peaked in the early 1980’s and is considerably less today than it used to be. That’s great from the standpoint of solitude, but it does indicate that Americans are becoming less interested in wild nature, a trend that I find to be disturbing. So Yellowstone back-country solitude is impressive, and another bonus is that unlike many national parks such as Glacier, you don’t have to share a camp with other parties. When we reserve a camp for a Big Wild group, it is ours, exclusively.

In other words, if you are willing to walk, you’ll leave the crowds behind. Most of Yellowstone is real wilderness, and it’s yours to explore!




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