Yellowstone Itineraries Help


Jun 24, 2016

Before heading to Glacier NP - see the other thread - me and my woman will be staying from 8.30 to 9.6 in Yellowstone. We booked the nights of 30th and 31st at Canyon (we will have a camper van) and the 3rd at Mammoth. Basically to be sure to stay in the Park. We are looking for 2/3 nights hikes (If the itinerary would require it, we could cancel the 31st), and some day hike. We are (should be :) ) fit and able to do about 12M and 3000ft el gain - as we tipically do in the steep Italian Alps, so we are optimistic thinking about (what from far away seems to be) the gentler yellowstone.

@scatman already gave me some advice at a previous stage of the planning, now I come to ask your suggestions about some detail. As we are going to ask for walk in permits, for which of the following itineraries do you think we have more chances? Please, also let me know if the itinerary make sense, as it is hard for me to judge, being this the first time. Here is a map I am working on to figure out things

Itinerary 1
Pelican Valley - Mist Pass - Lamar Valley
would this be feasible in 3 days 2 nights sleeping, let's say, in 3T2 and 3L7 Campgrounds? Can we reasonably assume that we could get walk-in permits for this itinerary around those dates? If CG are full, we might opt for Wapiti Lake and then exiting at Canyon

Itinerary 2
Heart Lake loop or Heart Lake to South Entrance
probably 3 nights if Loop, I think. If faster, we might consider taking 1 day to hike Mt Sheridan.
Campgrounds 8H5 8C5 8J1
it might be faster going to the South Entrance with two nights only at 8H5 and 8C6 CG.

Itinerary 3
Bechler River trail
Lone Star to Bechler river station
I guess 3 nights is best, although it might be squeezable into 3 days 2 nights.
9D4 ==> 9B9 ==> 9B4 if 3 nights
9D3 ==> 9B5 if 2 nights

Being on the 3rd of September in Mammoth, and having to reach Glacier on the night of the 6th, we still have the nights of 4th and 5th available. I was thinking of a overnight or easy 2 nights in the Gallatin range.
Would a Glen Creek ==> Fawn Pass ==> Fawn/Bighorn cutoff WB1 Campground - Bighorn Pass - Bighorn Pass trailhead loop be feasible? Any other suggestion for this area?

Then I have few more practical questions
- since most of these hikes are shuttle, I am assuming that is feasible/"safe" for a couple to hitch hike in the park. Any other option?
- Most of the hikes are party of 4 suggested, we would not mind hiking with other people after a chat. Best place to look for co-hikers? Here, facebook?
- Many campgrounds do not allow campfires, can I use a esbit stove to warm up some water for freeze-dried food?
- I know that the most lethal thing in Yellowstone is bathing...however, the idea of jumping in the water for some refreshment sounds appealing. The areas above mentioned present some dangerous thermal spring? (I know about the wapiti lake area)
- What do you guys use for cleaning stoves and yourself while backpacking? is there any kind of soap that might be used n the wild?

Thank you so much!


Dec 11, 2015
Itinerary 1 - It's about 35 miles so 12 miles/day would work nicely. It's very popular so competition for campsites should be high.

Itinerary 2 - 3 nights for loop is fine. I did that exact trip many years ago. It was an awesome trip and the distances involved each day were fine.

Itinerary 3 - 3 nights would be best but it can be done in 2 nights/3 days. Again, it's about 35 miles. Big logistical problem is leaving vehicle at one end and from my impression, hitching out from Bechler River RS should work as it receives a fair bit of visitation on any given day and you could talk to and hopefully charm someone into giving you a ride back to a regular highway or farther. If I did this, I would make it the first trip in case it takes a day or more to catch a ride from there. Then I could adjust other trips on how well the exit from this trip goes. Google "The Bubble" hot springs to read about an awesome back country hot spring along the way. The trails in that area are usually very busy so if you are seeking huge amounts of solitude, you may want to go elsewhere.

Glen Creek to Bighorn Pass to Panther Creek TH trip - This is also ~ 35 miles with some significant altitude gains but the trail tends to be pretty forgiving i.e. not steep. Great scenery and chances to see bighorn sheep near the Bighorn Pass area (makes sense, no?).

In my several hitch hikes through the park (both solo and with a friend) a strange pattern has developed. It usually takes a long while for the first ride but then they come along really quickly if it requires more than 1 ride to reach your destination. Just follow the rules for hitch hiking in the park (Google for them). All-in-all, hitching in the park, from my experience has been relatively easy and the ride providers have been great folks.

I have backpacked in all those areas, mostly with only 1 other person. The larger group recommendation is for safety in griz country. Just stay bear aware, make noise (talk, shout at times if the need arises) as you move along, and have a can of bear spray for each of you, and wear it on your hip belt or chest strap so it's there if you need it.

Using a stove is fine. The rangers will let you know if fires are not allowed at camp sites due to fire danger.

I guess we're all different but I usually do not worry about cleaning myself until the trip is over. At most, I may dunk myself in a river after 3-4 days just because it feels so damn good. Leave the soap in the car. It should not really be used in the back country in my sometimes-humble opinion. It is illegal to soak in any hot spring water unless it naturally mixes with a cold water system.

Demand for back country campsites will be at it's peak while you are there, good luck with camping at the ones you want!

If you have bad luck trying to piece together the trips you want due to lack of back country campsites, just go off into the surrounding National Forests. Awesome trips can be had on the periphery of the park without crowded trails, but with outstanding scenery and views and wildlife and the ability to camp (mostly) where you want.

Have a great trip, sounds like a lot of fun!


Jun 24, 2016
Hi @Outdoor_Fool,

thanks a lot for your great tips! I realized only after booking that it was labour day weekend, we just can keep our fingers crossed and eventually create another itinerary elsewhere.
Fairbanks uh?! Alaska in general and gates of the arctic in particular were also a possibility until we decided for the rockies. Very challenging for a mediterranean guy like me, perhaps. But sooner or later.... :)


Dec 11, 2015
Oh, I just realized you were talking about Labor day weekend. For some reason I was thinking your trip was right around the corner. Demand for back country sites may taper off a bit by then so hopefully your odds of camping at the sites you want will be a little better.

Head to the Brooks Range at some point, they are awesome.
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