TLDR: I wrote a new guidebook that highlights 50 of my favorite hikes in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. You can order a paperback copy here, or order an ebook copy here

There is this weird assumption that America’s first National Park is nothing more than fields full of animals and iconic thermal features. I understand why many think this way. Plastered on tourism publications, postcards, and knickknacks are images of bison and bears, the Old Faithful Geyser, and Grand Prismatic Hot Spring. Occasionally, one will see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River and the iconic Lower Falls, but the marketing of the park typically only revolves around those things. Even social media focuses on these well-known parts of the park. Chances are, you probably follow someone, maybe even me, who posts from the park, and the overwhelming majority of images we share are of thermal features and wildlife.

In the park, finding secondary-level information and things to do is difficult. Signs and maps direct you to boardwalks that roam around hot springs or to prairies full of animals. Seasonal rangers direct people to well-known areas. If they know of more wild trails, they do not share them with the public often, if at all. All of this is fine and good. The trails recommended are amazing and should be wandered. They are part of why Yellowstone is so spectacular. But they aren’t, contrary to popular opinion, the whole natural experience.

Away from the large parking areas and infrastructure, there are world-class hiking destinations, many of which are rarely mentioned or uttered. I wish I had known about these trails much earlier during my adventures in Yellowstone, which was one of the driving forces in creating this book.

While one could and should hike as many trails in the park as they can, I also wanted to write this so like-minded adventurers could know of the soul-nourishing spots reached in the mountains and valleys outside the park.

It is easy to fall into the trap that the best places in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are found within park boundaries.

Many of us plan trips or pick spur-of-the-moment trail time in the park because somehow when you leave the park, the wild and wonderful landscape stops. Or is somehow inferior?

For the first quarter century of my visits to the park, Yellowstone started at the entrance stations and not a moment before. I do not usually admit this, but now I am putting it in print. For nearly 30 years, I don’t recall more than a handful of times I hiked outside of the park. The areas outside the park were pretty, and I was sure they held interesting outdoor experiences, but I was coming for the park. I was somehow convinced that everything outside the park was humdrum at best. The truth is that the hikes outside the park are some of the most incredible hikes in America – they are much less publicized and talked about.

It wasn’t like I came here once or twice as a child or young adult so my sample size was small. I first visited Yellowstone in 1987, and have spent time in the Yellowstone region pretty much every year since 1992. As the Dream Team was dunking on the world, I was stinking of sulfur from the geyser basins. The yearly trips increased after 1995 when the wolves were released back into the wilds of the park. We would go in the winter months, for Christmas Break or Thanksgiving, then again in the summer. In college, I worked near the park and was hiking and adventuring in Yellowstone every day.

I don’t say this to brag and I do definitely recognize my privilege in being able to visit the area so much. I bring this up to let you, and myself, know that it is perfectly acceptable to visit the park and stick to the rivers and streams you are used to. There is absolutely nothing wrong with gazing upon the views of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone multiple times in a year, trip or even day.

But if you are yearning for something a little more rugged and remote, hoping to hike a trail that will be the object of your daydreams for years to come, you’ll find some worthy candidates outside of the park boundaries.

I relocated my adventure base to Livingston, Montana, a historic town set along the Yellowstone River and 53 miles from the park’s north boundary. During my first summer here, I ran all the roads in Yellowstone National Park. The next year, I hiked hundreds of miles on trails in and out of the park. The year after that, I put in easily over a thousand miles of adventures. I pulled up maps and followed routes up peaks, along ridge lines, and experienced mind-numbing beauty.

During 2020, I wanted to avoid anyone and everyone because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so I found myself on the trails surrounding Yellowstone National Park. At least once a week, I was on a new-to-me trail, a remote peak, or along high alpine treks, passing never-ending waterfalls and shimmering lakes. I must’ve rubbed my eyes a million times in disbelief at the wilderness wonderlands I encountered.

I spent so much time on trails over the past half-decade, that I may never be able to get the dirt of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness off my skin and clothes.

I also may never want to. I know I don’t.

I want you to have shoes covered in the dirt of the region and to have views from mountain summits burnt into your brain. I hope you find a moment of bliss in Hyalite and spend some time wandering the Bridger Ridge. My wish is that this book gets you onto the glacial-swept Beartooth Plateau or next to some gorgeous remote lake, where you catch a sunset as fish jump for bugs.

This may sound like hyperbole, but the hikes found in and around Yellowstone have the potential to change your life and leave you obsessed with hiking every trail in the area. It happened to me on the trails in this book, and it might just happen to you.

Whether you are in Yellowstone National Park or want to see what is found beyond its borders, this guidebook is sure to inspire truly memorable hiking adventures!

Click to order your copy!

You can now order a paperback copy here, or order an ebook copy here

​FAQS About the Book

Why Did You Write This Book?

Two parts love for the region, one part spite.

I joke. Somewhat.

I was once told, by someone who has never visited the area, that there are no good hikes found in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. That got the ball rolling on this project. In truth, I wrote the book to help those visiting the Yellowstone area find amazing hiking trails, both in and out of the park.

I wrote the book hoping that it would help people go beyond the boardwalks and find wilderness bliss in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Many come to the area and assume that the only hikes one can do are found in the popular spots of the park. This is not true in the least. The boardwalk trails are a great start, but the dirt and rugged routes in the region are world-class, bringing you into the hidden beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

What Can I Expect in this Book?

You’ll find my favorite trails and hiking destinations in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. These are the trails that gave me a better understanding and appreciation for the area, as well as the ones that opened more lesser-known spots. For each trail, I share descriptions of the hike, highlights you’ll find, mileage, elevation gain, and even some fun facts and history. With each section, I try to give you the knowledge and confidence to plan longer, more remote adventures when in the area.

Does this Book Include Every Hike in the Region?

No. This book highlights many of my favorite hiking trails in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. It is not an all-encompassing guide to every trail in the region. That book would be over a thousand pages in length, at least. Or it would have no real information. Instead, this book is designed to give you dozens of options on where to hike when visiting or living in the region. If a trail you like isn’t included in this book, it was probably cut for space or because I haven’t been there yet.

Are Trails Around Grand Teton National Park Included?

Not in this version. Again, including the Tetons would make this book far too big. If and when I write the next version of this, I will be including a handful of hikes in the Tetons and beyond. Until then, the hikes in this book should keep you plenty busy.

Does this Book Include Maps?

Nope. No map I can include in this book will give you the knowledge one can get from picking up a much more detailed and larger map. For detailed maps of the region’s hiking trails, I strongly suggest picking up maps of the region made by Beartooth Publishing. Their maps are accurate, extremely detailed, visually appealing, and are the maps I use to plan my treks. This is not a sponsored recommendation for their maps- they are just that good!

Can You Explain the Mileage and Elevation?

Each trail has listed mileage and elevation. The numbers used are based on my GPS tracking and are as accurate as I can give you. There may be minimal fluctuations, but the numbers used are well within the ballpark of what you should expect. I have also included elevation maps for nearly every trail listed. They are as accurate as the GPS on my watch wanted to be.

How Did You Decide What Makes a Trail Kid-Friendly?

I tried to use my best judgment on this, based on the trails which I have seen kids and those which I have not. At the end of the day, if you are hiking with kids, you know them better than I do and the decision to hike a trail is 100% your call.

What About the Dog-Friendly Hikes?

Any trail that remains in the National Forest and does not enter Yellowstone National Park is dog-friendly. Those are all found in the second half of the book (excluding Skyrim and Bighorn Peak). However, please leash your dogs and clean up after them at all times.

Can I Hike With You?

If you’d like to hike trails with me, please contact me! I am a licensed hiking guide in Yellowstone National Park and will happily find a hiking tour perfect for your needs. I am also down to bag a summit if you want a trail buddy.

Click to order your copy!

You can now order a paperback copy here, or order an ebook copy here