The Thorofare and the Absaroka Wilderness


Wilderness Wanderer
Sep 23, 2016
Now for years have been hiking, camping, and wandering in the Thorofare and the Absaroka Mountain Wilderness in Wyoming. For myself the first year I was back in this wild country was several times in the summer of 1982 before the Yellowstone Fires of 1982. Yes there has been changes thru the years but also how much it has stayed the same. Thought I would post some photos of the area plus some trip report experiences along with them thru the years for everyone. Now in coming back to the Thorofare, my most favorite time in here is usually in late spring and early summer for in the Thorofare itself when it all is green and the flowers are everywhere. But anytime between spring to fall is great. The earliest I have been in here is mid May after a low winter snow season. The latest I have been in here in late Octoeber with the snow beginning to fall. And also will be posting more off and on thru the winter. Since it is December, spring in this area 'Paradise' is still a long ways a coming. Hope you enjoy.

This first photo is along the Upper Yellowstone River near Hawks Rest in the early summer. When am here at Hawks Rest, love to go out along the Yellowstone River in the mornings to just enjoy everything.

This next photo is another out along the Upper Yellowstone River, out in the meadows, near Hawks Rest. The river actually forks in here near Hawks Rest. One channel becomes more of the main fork, but the other dries up more or less in the summer. This is out along the channel that dries up in the summer. It is always such an experience walking the dried up river channel in here for one always finds so many various animal tracks in here including from Grizzlies, Wolves, Elk, Moose, or such.

This next photo is out along a side channel near but some distance away from Hawks Rest in the early summer. It is a nice wild secluded spot where one can enjoy all the wildness that is found in this Thorofare Yellowstone Country. At times have seen several Grizzlies near this area so one always has to be on the lookout.

This next photo is out in the meadows right close to the boundary of Yellowstone Park with the Teton Wilderness with looking north. The mountain peaks seen in the distance are Colter Peak, Mt. Schurz, and then the Trident Plateau. This photo was taken in late June. Also a story pertaining to right here in these meadows right at the park boundary. the meadows is flat in here and Yes back in the 30s or so, small aircraft had landed in here. There was a push to make a backcountry airstrip right here in these meadows at the park boundary. Thanks pretty much from the outfitters back in those days, the Yellowstone Park Superintendent rejected any airstrip being made back in this area. Remember most of the land wildernesses in the lower 48 have a backcountry airstrip in them. Not the Yellowstone's Thorofare Area.

This next photo is in the Thorofare looking south thru the meadows, not far from the backcountry campsite of 6Y6 in the middle of the summer. Here near 6Y6 is the Yellowstone River and it is always a delightful walk to just follow the river bank south off the trail thru the wild country.

Here is a photo looking south from along the north shore of Bridger Lake located here in the Thorofare Yellowstone Country in the middle of the summer.There is always a good assortment of ducks and geese on Bridger Lake in the summer. And on occasion maybe even an Otter or two.

Overlooking the Wild Thorofare. Here up near Yellowstone Point in the Teton Wilderness looking north up thru the wild Thorofare in mid to late summer. Here the Two Ocean Plateau area is on the left with Hawks Rest on the right.
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Thought I would post more today for everyone. Do Enjoy!

Along the Upper Yellowstone River here near Hawks Rest in late spring - early summer when the Thorofare itself is all greened up, but the mountains nearby are still all covered with snow. Do soooo love it here at this time. It is quite an easy hike in at this time from Turpin Meadows at the end of the the Buffalo Valley Road . But it could very well be a muddy hike in though.

Here in the wild Thorofare right near the Yellowstone Park boundary with the Teton Wilderness looking south in this late spring period when it is all green in the Thorofare but snow still covering the mountain peaks nearby.

Here another from the wild Thorofare away from the trails in this late spring time period. Near from again some distance from Hawks Rest in this Thorofare region.

Here is another photo right along the Yellowstone River with not far from Hawks Rest in late spring. This was taken around about in 2001.

Here is a photo looking up along Thorofare Creek /River with the nearby environs, right up from where it flows into the Upper Yellowstone River in Yellowstone NP in the middle of the summer.

Overlooking the Thorofare from a hill near Hawks Rest with looking north one morning in early summer. This is always a easy climb near Hawks Rest with a splendid view over the area.

Another view from this hill near Hawks Rest overlooking the Thorofare here in the summer.

And here is a photo up along Thorofare Creek / River here in this early summer time period up in Yellowstone Park. Here in this area of the photo is an area of some extensive mud flats that always has all kinds of assorted tracks around and about. It is always a pleasure walking along the rivers in here for one never knows what they will come upon. Beyond the bend in the photo is sometimes a series of islands in the Thorofare River which makes it feasible to cross the river even when it is full of snowmelt in late spring. Seemingly always come upon fresh grizzly and wolf sign in the area. The Trident Plateau is in the background.

And here near the same area and time period with looking downstream along the Thorofare Creek / River. The Two Ocean Plateau is in the distance. The backcountry campsite along the Thorofare River, 6T1 is located on the river bank near those trees nearby in the distance. It seems every year where the campsite is located, the Thorofare River undercuts the river bank a little bit more every spring during the high snowmelt time period.

Hope You Enjoy!
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Now for some photos of the some of the other areas in this wild Absaroka Country for everyone. Hope you Enjoy.

Now one of my most favorite places in here during the summer. This is Clear Lake located about 7 or so miles to the north of Turpin Meadows. Have been here and camped many a time. One time back in the time of the summer solstice of 1986, about June 21st, I had a close encounter with a Sow Grizzly here at the mouth of this lake. She was on one side of the outlet and I was on the other. The Sow Grizzly came down to the outlet and gave a good grizzly growl at me, then with the cub retreated.

Here looking out from near Clear Lake Area towards the Teton Mountains in the distance in mid to late summer.

Here up along Upper Pacific Creek and some meadows with the Two Ocean Plateau nearby in the Teton Wilderness.

Now here is a photo of the Parting Of The Waters here at Two Ocean Pass. Here Two Ocean Creek flows off of the nearby Two Ocean Plateau with the water going one way via Atlantic Creek to the east, and the water going the other way via Pacific Creek to the west. And the next photo afterwards is of the sign posted here at the Parting Of The Waters. It is always a joy to be here during the summer and just Enjoy Life.


The North Buffalo Fork Meadows during the summer. This was after the fires of 1988 and before the fires that ravaged here in the late summer of 2012. This was taken from the rocky knob that is behind Clear Lake which gives one an excellent view here of these meadows.

Now here looking out over the meadows near where Castle Creek flows into the Upper Yellowstone River with the nearby mountains and environs in the early summer. Now Castle Creek flows into the Upper Yellowstone River about 8 miles or so up the trail from Hawks Rest in the Teton Wilderness.

Here is a photo looking out over the Upper Yellowstone River not far from the meadows near Castle Creek when the Yellowstone River is still quite full of snowmelt in the early summer.

And now here looking out at Younts Peak during the summer which is the headwaters of the Yellowstone River. Have been here many a time and most of the times have seen Grizzlies nearby on the slopes of the peak. One summer in July I saw near 12 Grizzlies in one day up on the slopes of the peak. This is looking up at the peak from the south.

And to finish it off for now ... a nice secluded wild area near Upper Pacific Creek in the summer in the Teton Wilderness.

Wishing Everyone the Best!
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You really are an astounding photographer. Thanks for sharing. Bookmarking this link.

I loved the Absarokas. They blew me away. I'll be back!
Now thought I would post a few more photos here today for everyone. Now the ones that I will start off with where taken in the spring of 2001. The spring of 2001 in this country was a year of a low snowpack. It became the time when I was able to get back here to the Yellowstone Thorofare the earliest ever. I was able to get back in here and hike, camp, and wander in mid to late May. Yes Mid to Late May if one can believe it. The only snow going in was a few snow patches near Trail Creek Pass (8600 feet) and Two Ocean Pass (8200 feet). Once I arrived and was camping near Hawks Rest in the Thorofare, the grizzlies were everywhere it seemed this early but they are always everywhere in this country anymore. But back in 2001, they were just not quite as plentiful in this area as now. The population of Grizzlies has gone up since then. Also the Elk in covering the meadows early in the mornings were like looking at a cattle ranch with them being everywhere. This was a period of after the snow in the meadows had melted but before it had all greened up. It greened up just a little bit more each day. Also I was not the only one who was able to get back here in late May of that year for a horse party also was able to get back to Hawks Rest briefly (looking for antlers) at this time then also. It was wonderful being back here in the wild Thorofare so early usually all be my lonesome. When one is back here all by one lonesome for days on end, there becomes a really special magic to the place that one experiences that often one might not feel when others are around and about like in mid summer. I have been there in the Thorofare many a time by myself or when the crowds have been there at Hawks Rest also. Enjoy!








Now for some High Country Photos of the region for everyone.

Here is several up along the Continental Divide near Jay Peak on the map, looking east towards Younts Peak in the distance. Jay Peak is a knob on the Continental Divide located right north of the very headwaters of the North Fork of the Buffalo. Have been up in this section of the country and seen everything .... Grizzlies around about with some close encounters, huge herds of Elk, Eagles flying around and about. And this section of the divide in here is all offtrail where one can wander around to their hearts content. Mountain Summer Paradise!


Now here is several photos taken from the 11,000 foot pass between Younts Peak and Thorofare Peak looking down the wild drainage of the North Fork of the Yellowstone with the nearby surrounding country in early July. Such splendid wildness in all directions! Also had some close Grizzly encounters (of course in this country) near here.



Looking over to Younts Peak from a nearby unnamed mountain in late August in 2007. Near this photo I found a Bighorn Sheep Ram skull near a melting snowbank. I picked up the skull and later packed it out and still have this skull with me to this day. It looks quite ancient so who knows how long had laid under the snow and then in the sun for how many years. The summer of 2007 was a low snowpack year also.


This photo taken up a unnamed side drainage of the North Fork of the Yellowstone in early August looking back down towards nearby Younts Peak and the area. Near this area in this photo I had a very close encounter with a Sow Grizzly with two cubs. I was packing up in the morning when heard a noise and there a short distance away maybe 100 feet or so was a Sow Grizzly with two cubs. I was camped in some scrubby pines near timberline and the bear had just come upon me. I screamed bloody murder while the Sow Grizzly was just as much in shock as myself with turning around in a cloud of dust. the Grizzly Sow with her two cubs rapidly retreated while I enjoyed watching the bears being safe and sound. One can utilize this drainage as a route from the North Fork of the Yellowstone to upper Thorofare Creek.


Now here to finish off this segment is a set of three photos from a high ridge near the top of Hawks Rest looking out over the Yellowstone and Thorofare River Drainages in this country. What a nice place to hike up to, sit a spell, and Enjoy Life. The first photo is looking up towards the east, up the wild Thorofare River / Creek drainage with the surrounding couuntry. The second photo is looking across the Thorofare River to the nearby Trident Plateau and area. The third photo is looking north up thru the wild Yellowstone Rover Drainage- The Thorofare with all of it's beauty in the middle of some summer past.




Wishing Everyone The Best!
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Awesome photos of some beautiful country, some day I'm going to see this in person. The Thorofare has been on my bucket list for a while, I think it just got pushed higher, thanks.
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