200 mile Yellowstone loop in June. Route advice needed.

Brian Skibbe

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Feb 3, 2017
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41
Greetings!! This is my first post here!

Planning my first trip to Yellowstone!

I'm planning on doing a 10-ish day, 150-200 mile backpacking trip, and hoping to do it in early June, camping in the backcountry. I'm aware that this is generally considered late winter, so I will gear up accordingly.(snowshoes, etc...) I'll be packing my cameras in hopes of seeing all of the wildlife that I possibly can (particulary MOOSE!) I'm driving from Kansas to Cody, and planning on parking at the airport in long term parking (which I read is free), and either getting a ride into the park, or just starting my hike there.. I plan on hiking Northeast into Lamar valley, then making my way West to Mammoth, then South and West to the Old Faithful area. (the routes should put me in into town from time to time to restock food and charge batteries) Then the plan is to continue back South and East towards the thorofare ranger cabin, then back North to the East entrance.

Major concerns are the closures along these routes, namely the heart lake area, and areas East of Yellowstone Lake. Can i skirt the heartland lake area on the west edge on the heartland lake trail to hook up with the easterly travelling trails, or do I have to plan on hiking the hwy 89 corridor to get to south end of the park? It also looks like it may not be possible in June to skirt the East side of Yellowstone Lake all of the way back North Towards the East entrance? I'm planning on attempting to hike the entire route on established trails as recommended by the literature that I've read so far.

Any general recommendations are greatly appreciated!

Brian
 

Artemus

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Jun 25, 2012
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4,400
Greetings!! This is my first post here!

Planning my first trip to Yellowstone!

I'm planning on doing a 10-ish day, 150-200 mile backpacking trip, and hoping to do it in early June, camping in the backcountry. I'm aware that this is generally considered late winter, so I will gear up accordingly.(snowshoes, etc...) I'll be packing my cameras in hopes of seeing all of the wildlife that I possibly can (particulary MOOSE!) I'm driving from Kansas to Cody, and planning on parking at the airport in long term parking (which I read is free), and either getting a ride into the park, or just starting my hike there.. I plan on hiking Northeast into Lamar valley, then making my way West to Mammoth, then South and West to the Old Faithful area. (the routes should put me in into town from time to time to restock food and charge batteries) Then the plan is to continue back South and East towards the thorofare ranger cabin, then back North to the East entrance.

Major concerns are the closures along these routes, namely the heart lake area, and areas East of Yellowstone Lake. Can i skirt the heartland lake area on the west edge on the heartland lake trail to hook up with the easterly travelling trails, or do I have to plan on hiking the hwy 89 corridor to get to south end of the park? It also looks like it may not be possible in June to skirt the East side of Yellowstone Lake all of the way back North Towards the East entrance? I'm planning on attempting to hike the entire route on established trails as recommended by the literature that I've read so far.

Any general recommendations are greatly appreciated!

Brian
Hi Brian, welcome. You have high aspirations. Others here can advise you better on specific detail questions like Heart Lake. I assume you are savvy on bear country travel and aware of the solo travel risks and bear country precautions? There is a LOT to read here about others experience here including with the thorofare and the frequent grizzly encounters. Plan on it.
 

scatman

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I need to bite this off into little pieces before I respond. I love the idea though. Are you willing to go outside the Park to complete your loop?
 

Kmatjhwy

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Sep 23, 2016
Messages
541
Brian, now I have hiked extensively in Yellowstone. Now if you are wanting to do this in June of this year then you will have some real hazards to face. One of the main things one will have to face is the runoff of this winter's snowpack which is being Above Normal. And the runoff could make any little side creek drainage into a roaring torrent of water. And it just takes a little water for one to lose their balance.

Now on this whole SE area of Yellowstone Park and spring closures. The whole Heart Lake Area is closed into July because of the bears. Also this entire area surrounding Yellowstone Lake is closed in the spring till July also because of the bears. And this includes the entire east side of the lake and the entire south side of the lake. Now as for the Yellowstone's Thorofare which have been many a time in the spring. On the park side, essentially it is closed off in the spring and early summer also for the bears. The Park Service does not grant permits for camping for the Yellowstone Park side of the Thorofare, with not till July.

But if you really want to cross to the east, one can go south and cross thru the Teton Wilderness and Washakie Wilderness to the south. Many a spring with starting in May, I usually start my treks into this area. I usually start at Turpin Meadows up the Buffalo Valley, go up the North Buffalo Fork and camp extensively in the Soda Fork Meadows. Tons and tons of wildlife of everything here in the spring. Then up and over Two Ocean Pass to Hawks Rest and Bridger Lake in the Thorofare right outside the Park. Now being in the National Forest, I can camp here in one spot for up to 16 days before I have to move camp at least 5 miles away. The thing is that coming in from Turpin Meadows and up the North Buffalo Fork in the spring towards the Thorofare, one does not have to cross one major stream on the way. And one can cross the Thorofare by going off trail making ones way across like I have instead of crossing and recrossing Atlantic Creek which can have tons of water in the spring.

Also one can go up Pacific Creek to some upper meadows near Gravel Creek. About 5 to 6 miles up the trail, and then further without a major crossing. But Pacific Creek when one has to cross in the spring, is a major crossing. There is a trail also on the east bank of the Snake River near Flagg Ranch that goes up to the South Entrance of Yellowstone Park. By using this trail, not on the map, in the spring, one would not have to cross the Snake River right here at the South Entrance would would be horrendous in the spring. Then one could go up the drainage on the main trail to Boundary Meadows, about 8 miles, near Coulter and Wolverine Creeks and near the boundary of Yellowstone Park and the Teton Wilderness.

Now if you would like specific information then could help you out and feel free to contact me for have been in all of this country. There are no spring closures in the National Forest, in the Teton or Washakie Wilderness. But no one, but maybe me or some other adventurous soul would be back there then most probably. So one has to really watch themselves.

As for the Lamar River or the Upper Lamar River, I have been in here also. And some of those side drainages would be horrendous with the runoff in the spring. Have been there and done it personally. Going across the snow on snowshoes would be onething, but crossing a stream filled with runoff is something else entirely. In Yellowstone Park, it is no problem to get permits to hike in the very upper part of the park between Mammoth /Gardiner to the Lamar. I have done this. Personally would find a spot, camp for some days then dayhike all around with birdwatching and animal watching. One can do this in the Hellroaring Creek Area with dayhiking all along both ways along the Yellowstone, up Hellroaring Creek (in the spring) up into the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness, and more. I used to many years ago go up and camp in the spring or fall in the Pelican Valley Meadows when one could do this. But since the mid 80's unfortunately one could not do this.

But many areas, like the Soda Fork Meadows which is just 5 to 6 miles up from Turpins Meadows up the North Buffalo Fork, is exquisite in the spring. For myself I usually get here and stay for near two weeks with going everywhere in the spring seeing all kinds of birds and animals. Some of my closest Grizzly Bear encounters have been here in the spring and early summer. As for here, in the migrating animals ... first is the Moose, then the Elk, and then the Mule Deer. And once the Mule Deer comes in, you know it is time to push further into the deep wilds. And no one is back in here in the early spring. I have been in there as early as early May when it was still all snow, and just you and the Grizzlies. Just Absolutely Fabulous Fabulous Fabulous! Spring is one of the best times for no one is back in there much. But choose your route with care for one creek crossing, and one loses their footing, no one back to help you and it could be all she wrote for your life.

It is not just Yellowstone Park but the entire NW Wyoming and adjacent Southern Montana. So much country, go back in the early spring and come back out in the fall. I have been doing this for years and still have not seen it all.

And actually thinking of your plans, this sounds like a Great all spring to summer to fall trip. But don't think one could do much in just two weeks with just soooo many great nooks and crannies which begs one to stay in for days and days to really see and experience it all. I have been doing this for years, since 1978, and still not have seen it all personally.

Go For It , Go For It! And See the High Country in the spring when it is all still melting.
Hope this helps you out and Wishing You the Best!
 
Last edited:

Outdoor_Fool

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Wow, sounds like a great trip! You will receive great advice from folks here but I'd also recommend calling the park and talking to a backcountry ranger or 2 ASAP.

Before I jump off with a lot of assumptions, I hope you don't mind some questions.
How much snowshoeing experience do you have? With a heavy pack?
How much time have you spent at 8,000 feet and above?
How much winter camping have you done? In the Rocky Mountains?
Give us some idea of your experience, we'll be much more able to give you some advice.

The bear closures will alter your trip. Pelican Valley is closed until July 3. Access to Pelican Valley is the best route from the East Entrance Road to Lamar Valley. You could go up on the ridges to the east but cornices, deadfall, and terrain may make this difficult at best. Heart Lake, including the trails along the lake, are closed until June 30. The park takes these closures seriously.

Regardless, sounds like an awesome venture. I like your enthusiasm. Good luck with it!

Brian, I just read your intro on the other thread. You sound like enough of a beast physically to attempt this but take to heart what kmatjhwy said in her post. Spring runoff is a serious hazard. Cold water will eff you up faster than most people can ever comprehend. If you are new to backpacking, which you sound like you are, perhaps start a little smaller. We can tell you all kinds of great info to assist you but what you figure out on your own as you add bigger and better trips is invaluable.
 
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scatman

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Well, @Kmatjhwy and @Outdoor_Fool have beat me to the punch. :) Their advice is sound and Outdoor_Fool's questions need to be contemplated before you embark on your trip. Is it possible to delay your trip for a month? This would certainly open up areas that are closed in June due to bear management restrictions.
 

Brian Skibbe

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Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Messages
41
All of you....absolutely amazing...! What an excellent resource this site is!

Based on what I've read here so far...

I will take the sound advice that I've received here, and both cut back on my mileage aspirations, and the areas of the park that I will expect to see on this trip. Understand that I recognize my (over) zealousness...ha ha... I've dreamed of visiting Yellowstone since I first started reading about it in the encyclopedia Britannica when I was in grade school...and am dying to see it all..

Scatman - I can't delay my trip unfortunately, as I have another hike scheduled with a group of guys in Colorado near Aspen, in July. June is it .(for this trip anyway) I'm definitely not opposed to going outside the park on this trip, now that I'm becoming more and more aware of the limitations in June due to bear restriction areas and the realities of the runoff at this time of year.

Outdoor_fool - Great questions! Thank you! Physically I'm fine I think, as you read. I've camped a few times in the winter. (and frozen my you-know-what off), so I will hopefully be prepared for the cold temperatures.

Kmatjhwy - Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I'm going to open my trails illustrated map tonight, and start to dissect the wealth of information in your response. I cannot thank you enough!!

Based on what I've read here... I'm going to scale back on my mileage and range of areas for this trip. I'll still spend ten days, but maybe pick out the area to best spend 10 days, camping two or three days in one spot, and moving to another. It seems as if I need to look into going anywhere but the Southest corner of the park.

Thank you all for such great advice so quickly. I'll try not to wear out my welcome as I continue to pick your brains.

Best regards....
 

Brian Skibbe

Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Messages
41
Brian, now I have hiked extensively in Yellowstone. Now if you are wanting to do this in June of this year then you will have some real hazards to face. One of the main things one will have to face is the runoff of this winter's snowpack which is being Above Normal. And the runoff could make any little side creek drainage into a roaring torrent of water. And it just takes a little water for one to lose their balance.

Now on this whole SE area of Yellowstone Park and spring closures. The whole Heart Lake Area is closed into July because of the bears. Also this entire area surrounding Yellowstone Lake is closed in the spring till July also because of the bears. And this includes the entire east side of the lake and the entire south side of the lake. Now as for the Yellowstone's Thorofare which have been many a time in the spring. On the park side, essentially it is closed off in the spring and early summer also for the bears. The Park Service does not grant permits for camping for the Yellowstone Park side of the Thorofare, with not till July.

But if you really want to cross to the east, one can go south and cross thru the Teton Wilderness and Washakie Wilderness to the south. Many a spring with starting in May, I usually start my treks into this area. I usually start at Turpin Meadows up the Buffalo Valley, go up the North Buffalo Fork and camp extensively in the Soda Fork Meadows. Tons and tons of wildlife of everything here in the spring. Then up and over Two Ocean Pass to Hawks Rest and Bridger Lake in the Thorofare right outside the Park. Now being in the National Forest, I can camp here in one spot for up to 16 days before I have to move camp at least 5 miles away. The thing is that coming in from Turpin Meadows and up the North Buffalo Fork in the spring towards the Thorofare, one does not have to cross one major stream on the way. And one can cross the Thorofare by going off trail making ones way across like I have instead of crossing and recrossing Atlantic Creek which can have tons of water in the spring.

Also one can go up Pacific Creek to some upper meadows near Gravel Creek. About 5 to 6 miles up the trail, and then further without a major crossing. But Pacific Creek when one has to cross in the spring, is a major crossing. There is a trail also on the east bank of the Snake River near Flagg Ranch that goes up to the South Entrance of Yellowstone Park. By using this trail, not on the map, in the spring, one would not have to cross the Snake River right here at the South Entrance would would be horrendous in the spring. Then one could go up the drainage on the main trail to Boundary Meadows, about 8 miles, near Coulter and Wolverine Creeks and near the boundary of Yellowstone Park and the Teton Wilderness.

Now if you would like specific information then could help you out and feel free to contact me for have been in all of this country. There are no spring closures in the National Forest, in the Teton or Washakie Wilderness. But no one, but maybe me or some other adventurous soul would be back there then most probably. So one has to really watch themselves.

As for the Lamar River or the Upper Lamar River, I have been in here also. And some of those side drainages would be horrendous with the runoff in the spring. Have been there and done it personally. Going across the snow on snowshoes would be onething, but crossing a stream filled with runoff is something else entirely. In Yellowstone Park, it is no problem to get permits to hike in the very upper part of the park between Mammoth /Gardiner to the Lamar. I have done this. Personally would find a spot, camp for some days then dayhike all around with birdwatching and animal watching. One can do this in the Hellroaring Creek Area with dayhiking all along both ways along the Yellowstone, up Hellroaring Creek (in the spring) up into the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness, and more. I used to many years ago go up and camp in the spring or fall in the Pelican Valley Meadows when one could do this. But since the mid 80's unfortunately one could not do this.

But many areas, like the Soda Fork Meadows which is just 5 to 6 miles up from Turpins Meadows up the North Buffalo Fork, is exquisite in the spring. For myself I usually get here and stay for near two weeks with going everywhere in the spring seeing all kinds of birds and animals. Some of my closest Grizzly Bear encounters have been here in the spring and early summer. As for here, in the migrating animals ... first is the Moose, then the Elk, and then the Mule Deer. And once the Mule Deer comes in, you know it is time to push further into the deep wilds. And no one is back in here in the early spring. I have been in there as early as early May when it was still all snow, and just you and the Grizzlies. Just Absolutely Fabulous Fabulous Fabulous! Spring is one of the best times for no one is back in there much. But choose your route with care for one creek crossing, and one loses their footing, no one back to help you and it could be all she wrote for your life.

It is not just Yellowstone Park but the entire NW Wyoming and adjacent Southern Montana. So much country, go back in the early spring and come back out in the fall. I have been doing this for years and still have not seen it all.

And actually thinking of your plans, this sounds like a Great all spring to summer to fall trip. But don't think one could do much in just two weeks with just soooo many great nooks and crannies which begs one to stay in for days and days to really see and experience it all. I have been doing this for years, since 1978, and still not have seen it all personally.

Go For It , Go For It! And See the High Country in the spring when it is all still melting.
Hope this helps you out and Wishing You the Best!

Such a wealth of knowledge you have!

The more I contemplate this journey, the more I feel it would be wise to explore areas not under such stringent bear area restrictions at this time of year, though it breaks my heart somewhat to know that I may not make it into yellowstone this year.

Per this paragraph of yours:

"But if you really want to cross to the east, one can go south and cross thru the Teton Wilderness and Washakie Wilderness to the south"..

This sounds very appealing to me! I'd like to explore this area, and hopefully meander north to the cabin at thorofare ranger station (as the silly adventurist in me wants to see the most remote building in the US, since I probably won't head into Yellowstone this year) Now.. Say I'm going to be coming in from the East, on highway 26. I have to park somewhere in that area in order to access this region. Is there somewhere you'd recommend?

Many, many thanks for your time!!
 

Pringles

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Nov 23, 2015
Messages
261
I think you're no longer looking at parking in Cody, but I live in that vacinity. If I'm available I might be able to help you get to the park. And yes, the airport has free long term parking. They also have free short term parking, but it's in a slightly different area. I was thinking that if you wanted to park and start hiking toward the park, there's at least one forest service campground that's much, much closer to the park that has a big parking area outside the camping area. I don't remember which one that is, but I could check a map. You might just call Pahaska Teepee (lodge, restaurant, gas station, gift shop (you wanted a memento, right?). They might let you park for little or nothing.
 

Brian Skibbe

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Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Messages
41
I think you're no longer looking at parking in Cody, but I live in that vacinity. If I'm available I might be able to help you get to the park. And yes, the airport has free long term parking. They also have free short term parking, but it's in a slightly different area. I was thinking that if you wanted to park and start hiking toward the park, there's at least one forest service campground that's much, much closer to the park that has a big parking area outside the camping area. I don't remember which one that is, but I could check a map. You might just call Pahaska Teepee (lodge, restaurant, gas station, gift shop (you wanted a memento, right?). They might let you park for little or nothing.

Thank you very much for replying, for the information, and the offer! I'm still trying to determine what and where exactly I'm going to go now... as much more knowledgeable folk have warded me off of an overzealous hiking plan...lol. For now I will continue to research heavily!

Regards!
 

Kmatjhwy

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Sep 23, 2016
Messages
541
Brian, Hi Again! So you were wondering if there would be somewhere to park your car off of Highway 26. And you would be coming in from the east. Correct? Also what time of June would be your trip? It sounds like you might want to try to go into this Teton Wilderness, Thorofare Area possibly. If so here are some notes.

Now I see Highway 26 is the highway running from the Riverton Area, up to Dubois, over Togwotee Pass, then down to Grand Teton NP and Moran Junction. And it sounds like your goal would be to see that Thorofare Ranger Station. First if you are gonna try to go to the Thorofare in June, I have done this many a time in June and even in May. Yes there is a place where you could park your car without you having to worry about it. Now near Moran, about 4 miles east of Moran Junction in Grand Teton NP, is the Buffalo Valley Road. And then 10 miles up this road, one comes to the Turpin Meadows Trailhead and Campground which is maintained by the Bridger-Teton NF. Here at the trailhead is a nice large place to park. And this campground every summer has a campground host nearby. Now in most years in late June, the parking lot can be filled with vehicles and horse trailers of people going back to the Thorofare. These are usually people out of Idaho or Utah with some from Wyoming who make the trip back usually in late June. In most years I try to get back there in early June or so before all the horsepackers get back in there. The reason they like to go back in late June is the Great Fishing to be had in the Yellowstone River with all the Cutthroat Trout.

Also to let you know, there is not just one cabin but three cabins back in the Thorofare. One is nearby in Yellowstone Park which is the Thorofare Ranger Station, and on the north side of the Thorofare River. How many times have visited this cabin to see the doors shut and locked with nobody around it seems. The other is the Forest Service Cabin at Hawks Rest - Bridger Lake right outside the park, and which in most summers has a volunteer staying in the cabin from like July to September or so. And then there is the Wyoming Fish and Game Cabin which is located nearby but a short ways up the Thorofare River. And on it's north side in some nice meadows. Most of the time when I have gone by this cabin, it is locked and the doors are shut.

Now the place the people say they are headed out of Turpin Meadows will be Hawks Rest. This is the area in the Thorofare - Yellowstone Meadows right near Bridger lake and the area right outside the park. Here there is ample places to camp, Bridger Lake nearby, the Yellowstone River flowing by, the Yellowstone Meadows - the Thorofare everywhere around, and a short hike to the north in Yellowstone Park is the Thorofare River. The Thorofare River can be choke full of water in the spring and early summer and real hard to get across. But right upstream is several islands and large mudbanks, and have crossed in the early summer when the river is swollen with snowmelt going from island to island. Also in going to the Thorofare, do think it will take someone at least a week with maybe 3 days in and 3 or so days out and then for yourself to enjoy the area. And as for here at Hawks Rest - Bridger Lake, there is a nice bridge over the Yellowstone River. The way in is by a good trail, if this will be your object then can give you in depth trail descriptions for have done it many a time in late May or June and many other times thru the years. But this year could be different with all the snow and the big runoff which is to come if it continues to snow like it is now.

But there is just sooooo many places all thru out the entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to see and to explore. In early June, the Mammoth / Gardiner to the Lamar / Tower Area can be nice also being drier and less now and earlier spring. Have done it but need to get back and do it again. Also near the South Entrance to Yellowstone, there is a large parking lot at Flagg Ranch which I guess one might use. And as Pringles said about Pahaska Tepee right east of the East Entrance to Yellowstone Park with all of the nearby wilderness. Hope this helps.

For those interested in the Thorofare, I have a nice photosite at www.reflectionsofthewild.zenfolio.com

Wishing Everyone the Best!
 
Last edited:

Brian Skibbe

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Feb 3, 2017
Messages
41
Brian, Hi Again! So you were wondering if there would be somewhere to park your car off of Highway 26. And you would be coming in from the east. Correct? Also what time of June would be your trip? It sounds like you might want to try to go into this Teton Wilderness, Thorofare Area possibly. If so here are some notes.

Now I see Highway 26 is the highway running from the Riverton Area, up to Dubois, over Togwotee Pass, then down to Grand Teton NP and Moran Junction. And it sounds like your goal would be to see that Thorofare Ranger Station. First if you are gonna try to go to the Thorofare in June, I have done this many a time in June and even in May. Yes there is a place where you could park your car without you having to worry about it. Now near Moran, about 4 miles east of Moran Junction in Grand Teton NP, is the Buffalo Valley Road. And then 10 miles up this road, one comes to the Turpin Meadows Trailhead and Campground which is maintained by the Bridger-Teton NF. Here at the trailhead is a nice large place to park. And this campground every summer has a campground host nearby. Now in most years in late June, the parking lot can be filled with vehicles and horse trailers of people going back to the Thorofare. These are usually people out of Idaho or Utah with some from Wyoming who make the trip back usually in late June. In most years I try to get back there in early June or so before all the horsepackers get back in there. The reason they like to go back in late June is the Great Fishing to be had in the Yellowstone River with all the Cutthroat Trout.

Also to let you know, there is not just one cabin but three cabins back in the Thorofare. One is nearby in Yellowstone Park which is the Thorofare Ranger Station, and on the north side of the Thorofare River. How many times have visited this cabin to see the doors shut and locked with nobody around it seems. The other is the Forest Service Cabin at Hawks Rest - Bridger Lake right outside the park, and which in most summers has a volunteer staying in the cabin from like July to September or so. And then there is the Wyoming Fish and Game Cabin which is located nearby but a short ways up the Thorofare River. And on it's north side in some nice meadows. Most of the time when I have gone by this cabin, it is locked and the doors are shut.

Now the place the people say they are headed out of Turpin Meadows will be Hawks Rest. This is the area in the Thorofare - Yellowstone Meadows right near Bridger lake and the area right outside the park. Here there is ample places to camp, Bridger Lake nearby, the Yellowstone River flowing by, the Yellowstone Meadows - the Thorofare everywhere around, and a short hike to the north in Yellowstone Park is the Thorofare River. The Thorofare River can be choke full of water in the spring and early summer and real hard to get across. But right upstream is several islands and large mudbanks, and have crossed in the early summer when the river is swollen with snowmelt going from island to island. Also in going to the Thorofare, do think it will take someone at least a week with maybe 3 days in and 3 or so days out and then for yourself to enjoy the area. And as for here at Hawks Rest - Bridger Lake, there is a nice bridge over the Yellowstone River. The way in is by a good trail, if this will be your object then can give you in depth trail descriptions for have done it many a time in late May or June and many other times thru the years. But this year could be different with all the snow and the big runoff which is to come if it continues to snow like it is now.

But there is just sooooo many places all thru out the entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to see and to explore. In early June, the Mammoth / Gardiner to the Lamar / Tower Area can be nice also being drier and less now and earlier spring. Have done it but need to get back and do it again. Also near the South Entrance to Yellowstone, there is a large parking lot at Flagg Ranch which I guess one might use. And as Pringles said about Pahaska Tepee right east of the East Entrance to Yellowstone Park with all of the nearby wilderness. Hope this helps.

For those interested in the Thorofare, I have a nice photosite at www.reflectionsofthewild.zenfolio.com

Wishing Everyone the Best!

Thank you again!!

Beautiful photographs on your site!! It reminded me to buy a couple extra batteries for my Sony A6000 so I have three or four backups, as to not miss any opportunities!

I won't lie.... I've been checking from time to time today, looking for your reply/recommendation..lol.

I've been scouring the google earth satellite and topo maps of that area, and I think I'm defenitely going to wander North from Turpin meadow, aiming for the first or second week of June. I'll probably make my way North towards the thorofare area. (I read of the cabin at hawk's rest, and found the book on amazon that the ranger wrote while staying there...:) I'd been eyeballing that large lot at parking lot there, wondering if that it where I could park. (btw, yes, I'll be coming in from the East on 26).

I've spent at least 4 or so hours today educating myself on the terrain (I'll have a map and compass, but the better I can ingrain the terrain into my head, the better, right??) I've also the found and studied some of the migration paths of the big game. I'm dying to see a moose...and am hoping that this will be the trip in which that happens. (p.s. not that it matters....but I'm not a hunter. I'd much rather take a photo than take it's life :)

Thoughts and questions that have run through my mind:

Snowshoes are on my shopping list... Big dudes, or can I get away with more compact ones?
Do I camp out in the open, the edge of the trees, or in the woods? And..on the east or west slopes of the valleys?
Can (if it's legally possible) I start a camp fire for the heat and "camping anbience"?
Your recommendations on bear detterence based on your experiences. (i.e bells, airhorn, spray)(I plan on having spray regardless)
Best place to see moose in early June??

Your wealth of knowledge has been SO helpful....and I hope to not seem too pesky! :)

Regards,

Brian
 

Kmatjhwy

Wilderness Wanderer
Joined
Sep 23, 2016
Messages
541
Brian, Hi Again. Now it sounds like you are really interested in this Teton and Washakie Wilderness Area, and espicelly with heading out from Turpin Meadows. Yes the dirt parking area at Turpin Meadows is quite extensive, with the Turpin Meadows campground right close by. And so you are aiming for your trip to be in the first or second week of June. Now anywhere in the Greater Yellowstone Are will have snow at that time up high with very much this year with how it is going. And by the time you would go in, the campground host at the campground would be there if you have any worries with your vehicle. Also by the time you are heading in, I should be in there somewheres, and very possibly hopefully maybe in the Thorofare itself.

As for your questions ...

Now taking snowshoes, as for myself, in early June I never never take snowshoes. The snow is usually melted out enough on the way in to the Thorofare which makes that one does not need them. There are two passes on the way from Turpin Meadows, Trail Creek Pass at 8600 feet and Two Ocean Pass at 8200 feet. In early mid June, encountering mud and getting your boots and feet wet will happen. But one having to have snowshoes, nope don't need them if one is headed to Hawks Rest.

As for having fires, and espicelly in early / mid June, one can have a fire all they want back in here in the Teton and Washakie Wilderness. In fact about everywhere in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem including in the campsites in Yellowstone Park one can have fires - no problem here. The only time one will encounter restrictions is possibly later in the summer in a dry year when either the Park or areas of the forest will be closed to fires on account of the dryness. Many a campsite all around one will come upon and they all have campfire pits. The horsepackers and outfitters love their fires.

My recommendation on Bear Deterrence ... this would be bear spray and a airhorn. This is personally what I take every summer. I never never never have bells. Bells dangling from the pack would most probably drive me insane. But the best bear deterrence is that which is between your ears ... using your mind, being alert to what is around you and happening at all times, keeping a clean camp, with deeply respecting the wilds and all the creatures. Just in my opinion.

Now you wonder where would be the best place to see a Moose. I will do a trip itinerary of the trail back to Hawks Rest after this and this will be mentioned along with campsite locations. But campsite locations are numerous. But Moose can be anywhere with espicelly in the meadows near the willows. The first is the Soda Fork Meadows which is a Great spot for all the wildlife espicelly here in the spring. The animals gather in the meadows at this time of year in the evening and early morning with Moose one of the creatures coming into the meadows to feed. Also some of my closest Grizzly Bear and Wolf Encounters has been in these meadows. Next is the North Buffalo Fork Meadows where a possibility exists, near Two Ocean Pass and upper Atlantic Creek in these meadows, and near Hawks Rest anywhere out in the Great Yellowstone Meadows among the deep willows espicelly on the sides of the meadows near some timber. Also in Grand Teton NP, near Moran Junction, at the Oxbow Bend Area which is between Moran Junnction and the nearby Jackson lake Lodge and area.

Now will post a little itinerary for whoever is interested in going back to the Thorofare anytime of the summer including the spring or early summer like myself. It will be the next post.

Hope this helps Brian and Wishing You the Best!
 
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Kmatjhwy

Wilderness Wanderer
Joined
Sep 23, 2016
Messages
541
Now for Brian and anyone else who is interested ... a trail description to head back to Hawks Rest and the Thorofare thru the Teton Wilderness in the spring or early summer, or anytime in the summer if interested, from Turpin Meadows.

First Turpin Meadows at the end of the Buffalo Valley Road, with 10 miles up the road. Here is a nice large parking area and trailhead for those going into the wilderness. At times like late June in a normal summer, it can be crowded with many pickups with their horse trailers of those exploring the wilderness. The trailhead is at about 7,000 feet in elevation. Then the trail heads out with a half mile away, one comes to little Clear Creek. In May or so when the creek is filled with runoff, it will be above one knees. But most of the time in the summer, one can hop across on the rocks or the creek coming to one's ankles. Here there is a split in the trail on the other side of the creek. One trail to the right heading over to the South Fork of the Buffalo, and the one to the left with heading up the North Fork of the Buffalo and eventually to Hawks Rest near 30 trail miles away.

Here the trail will go over a rise in like 2 to 3 miles which the top is near 7600 feet. In most years the trail in here is mostly melted out by late May but sometimes after a good good winter, maybe the snow will linger i here at the top in the trees till the end of May. Then it drops down to a wooded bench for several miles. After like 5 to 6 miles from the trailhead, one will come to lovely and beautiful Soda Fork Meadows on the right. Here at the edge of the meadows scattered about are several nice campsites. Also there is a really lovely campsite right off the trail, on a knoll overlooking the meadows. Here at the Soda Fork Meadows, the wildlife really puts on a show about every evening and have seen about everything here in these meadows including Wolves, Grizzlies, Moose, hundreds and hundreds of Elk, Eagles, and what all. I have camped here often on this knoll and it makes for splendid camping. Soda Fork Meadows extends for several miles and makes for good exploring. the Soda Fork Meadows is near 7400 feet in elevation. A very good Grizzly location for have seen many a Grizzly here thru the years.

Then from here the trail goes over another rise of about 400 feet in about 2 or 3 miles and drops down to the North Buffalo Meadows at around 7600 feet. Good place also for wildlife. There is one campsite here along the trail in a grove of timber. And on the knoll on the SW side of these meadows is a campsite and outfitter site. Do always see Grizzly tracks in here in the spring and early summer it seems.

Then from here after several miles, one comes to a trail junction here along the North Buffalo River. One trail on the right continues to go up and along the North Buffalo Fork while the left trail goes up and over Trail Creek Pass and over to Pacific Creek and Two Ocean Pass. The top of Trail Creek Pass is around 8600 feet. It used to be that the snow would always linger here in the timber on the way over this pass into like early and mid June it seems. But after a fire in here several years ago, it seems the snow might melt out a little earlier. The trail will be muddy but usually one has no problems in early June with the snow over this pass in a normal year. But indeed muddy trails on over. If one gets over this pass with no problems, Two Ocean Pass is never a problem. Down below Two Ocean Pass are several camp areas with an outfitter spot near a creek like a mile down from Two Ocean Pass. And several miles on down, there is a bluff on the south side of Atlantic Creek which has a great campsite, not far from where Jay Creek comes in. There are several other great campsites here near where Jay Creek comes in. And some beaver ponds along Atlantic Creek. Atlantic Creek is never a problem with the runoff before Jay Creek, but with the added volume of Jay Creek it can become some stream during the runoff. Two Ocean Pass is near 8200. And here at Two Ocean Pass is the Parting of the waters where Two Ocean Creek divides right on the Continental Divide becoming Atlantic and Pacific Creek.

Then it is about 8 miles or so from Two Ocean Pass to Hawks Rest / Bridger Lake in the Thorofare. On the east side of the Thorofare , at the mouth of Atlantic Creek, is a trail crossing of Atlantic Creek. Here Atlantic Creek can be horrendous in the spring during the runoff. Then out across the Yellowstone Meadows, which is usually extremely boggy and marshy in the spring and early summer. Sometimes in a high runoff season, parts of these meadows will turn into a lake because of the runoff. It is about 3 miles or so across the meadows. When using the trail, part way across the meadows, one will recross Atlantic Creek. But this second crossing is not as dangerous with a gravel bar right where the trail crossing and deep holes on either side. I though thru the years make a bushwhack going across the meadows most of the way offtrail which can be drier then the trail. But once across the meadows, there is a bridge across the Yellowstone River here at Hawks Rest.

Here at Hawks Rest, there is ample camping spots right in the trees here near the river with bear boxes to boot. And up near the ranger cabin here a Hawks Rest is the best drinking water. It comes out of a pipe at a spring near the cabin and is fabulous. Here near the cabin and the camping spots, there are trails over to Bridger Lake near one half mile or so away, trails that go up the Thorofare River, or trails that go around Bridger Lake and over and up to Yellowstone Park and the Thorofare River nearby. One could linger here for days and days and days and not have a bad day.

Now in most years, one has no problem in going back on foot in late May or early June. But in big snow years, like this one, it could be something else. In the early summer after a big big winter,, the Thorofare has turned into a shallow lake. But so wild and fabulous.

As for myself, this is all I can think about - getting back I here again. For what it is worth ... Wishing Everyone the Best!
 
Last edited:

Brian Skibbe

Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Messages
41
I cannot express enough gratitude for your kindness, and willingness to share your knowledge. You've given me both a wonderful head start on my trip planning, and an incredible amount of inspiration. With any luck...we will cross paths while I'm there.

You are a gem!!
 
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