Yellowstone Snake River weekend


Nov 23, 2015
I had reservations for the Snake River Hot Springs site in Yellowstone, for Labor Day weekend. I invited people involved with the inaugural Wyoming Naturalist Program class (I’m in the class), and had 5 people join me. There was one instructor, two of her friends, and another classmate and her husband.

We met at the South Entrance to Yellowstone, and began by hiking down a wee bit of trail, and then fording the Snake River. It was about shin deep, somewhat chilly, and moving at a good clip.

The site was to be 5.5 miles, with a small amount of altitude gain. After the ford, we went through a it meadow, within view of the traffic on the road, then away from the road, but still in the big meadow. Finally, we walked alongside a stream draining a thermal feature, up a little hill, and into the woods.

We paused for some snacks, and breathers, and were passed by folks with a string of mules.


Mostly we were in the woods, but there was one big scree slope. Since fall was coming, some of the plants were turning yellows, reds and browns. It was quite pretty.



After a fashion, we came to another meadow, and could see the ridge of hills across the river.


Finally, we broke out of the woods. We could see the Snake River plain, and this stream. The stream flowed from a thermal, and we assumed that downstream from it, where this stream met the river, was where hikers could soak.

We’d be back.


To the side of the trail we saw a little pond. We carefully walked over. It wasn’t just a pond, it was the hot spring.

I didn’t get too close.

I’m chicken.


My tent, at the site. I could look out the door and see the cliff across the river. It was nice, because at night, I could see stars.


The trail in front of the campsite. It goes right beside the river (but you figured that out already).


The view at sunset.


In the morning, Kathy and Ken drank their coffee by the river, and noticed these grizzly tracks. They covered all hiker tracks from the day before, so in the night, a bear walked by our camp. It’s cool and intimidating at the same time.


Shortly after looking at, and taking pictures of, the grizzly tracks, a group of llamas and their people came by. Kathy and Ken have llamas. I had heard that they spit when they are unhappy. Kathy confirmed this. I asked if they recognize you, and you take care of them, if they are any more friendly. She said no, that they don’t want to be touched or talked to, they want to be left alone. She did say that hers don’t seem to mind hauling a load of gear, but they don’t want human interaction. I noted that some of the llamas in this group had torn ears (healed). She said that those would be males, and that they periodically get into fights, to establish the official pecking order.

I think I’ll just watch llamas from afar.


This picture was really before the last one, but my phone helped me “place” it. It was the morning light on the cliff. I thought it was pretty.


The llamas on their way back to the trailhead.


I went for a walk, upstream. Rounding the bend, I could see color in the stream that was flowing into the Snake. There were thermals above.


One of the hot springs. There were a number of them in this meadow.


The trail went through the meadow. There was a campsite in the woods to the left, and a hot spring in the field to the right.



In a bit I came to the Snake River again. There was a ford upstream a bit, but I didn’t go further.


An old thermal buildup, and the Snake.

Later in the day, I went to the place hikers can soak with Kathy and Ken. I didn’t get any pictures because i didn’t want my phone to go swimming. Maybe next time. It was quite nice. You walk out into the river, on super slick rocks, then curl around to below where the stream and river mix, and then sit and enjoy.


This is the view from the camp kitchen. Not bad for $3 per night.


The early morning light, looking upstream.


The trail in front of camp, heading back toward the trailhead.


Our group, heading out.


This was the thermal stream, looking back toward the hot spring. Some of our folks had wandered over and climbed onto that rock, to get a better look at the hot spring. (Not me.)


This is the informal “sign” telling hikers where to go soak.


Going out.


Fall colors.


The trail was nice. Flat enough, scenic enough, and with nice variety.


I loved the little moss gardens next to the trail, when they happened.


Some things stood out more than others.


The last little hill before the big meadow.


The meadow ahead, and hot springs to the left.



Over there is the South Entrance picnic area, and the river.


Paul fording the Snake River. Shin deep, cool, and pushy.


It was a really nice trip. I had been afraid to ford the river, but in this drought year, it was not a big deal. The scenery was varied and beautiful, as were the plants—starting to show their fall colors. Soaking in the mix of river and hot spring water was great. Oh, I almost forgot, the Wyoming Naturalist person came back from her dayhike with her friend with a grin a mile wide. She and her friend had been snacking at the Snake River Ford, upstream from camp, and saw a wolf across the river. It was the first wild wolf either of them had seen. I was really happy for them. They said the wolf looked at them for a few seconds, then trotted off.


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Last edited:


Wilderness Wanderer
Sep 23, 2016
Nice trip report. Have been back in here on a number of occasions. Enjoyed your photos.


Life really is better Here
Apr 20, 2013
Definitely $3 views!
Really nice that your overnighters are among such wonderful names: Yellowstone, Snake, Ice Lake, plus llamas.


May 16, 2016
That looks like a great trip, thanks for posting
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