Wildflowers continue to dazzle, mosquitoes continue to bite, and a wind storm has helped bring down some trees. I’ll talk about all that and more for this week’s hiking in Yellowstone National Park overview.
As with last week, the wildflowers in the park are putting on quite a great display. While the lower areas of the park are seeing some of them begin to leave, the higher elevation trails are still breathtaking and smell incredible. If you haven’t hit a trail with wildflowers in the area, definitely consider doing so ASAP!
For more wildflower details, please click here to head over to the official wildflower page for Yellowstone National Park. For pictures and names of all the wildflowers you may spot in Yellowstone, check out this website.
Current Wildlife Trail Warnings
As of July 7th, one trail has been issued a strong bear warning.
The trails impacted by this are in the northern Pelican Valley and Astringent Creek area. This strong bear warning will not impact the overwhelming majority of hikers in the park, as the region is not one of the well-trodden spots in the park.
The Sepulcher/Beaver Ponds/Snow Pass area has bear frequenting area warning signs up.
The Natural Bridge Trail in the lake area currently also has bear frequenting area warnings.
Important Trail Closures
Elephant Back Mountain Trail is closed due to downed trees. This update is from 7/4/23. I image the trail will be open soon, so check with rangers when you are in the park.
Osprey Falls: Closed for the foreseeable future due to serious erosion after the 2022 floods.
Lost Creek Falls Trail: Access to the falls is not allowed due to a washed out bridge.
Garnet Hill Loop: Closed for the foreseeable future due to serious erosion after the 2022 floods.
Lone Star Geyser: Closed at the main parking area for construction. The trail can still be accessed from the Howard Eaton Trailhead or from Keppler Cascade.
Three Recommended Trails for the Week
Alright, so this is obviously subjective, but as a hiking guide, I am often asked where one should hike. The following trails are where I think you’ll enjoy yourself the most right now and are the treks where you’ll potentially make fantastic hiking memories. I have provided links to give you more information about each hike.
Easy Trail: Mystic Falls
Moderate Trail: Yellowstone River Overlook Trail
Difficult Trail: Seven Mile Hole
If these hikes don’t interest you, I do have a hiking guidebook that covers 50 my favorite hikes in and out of the park.
Weather Overview for the Coming Weekend
June of 2023 was officially the cloudiest June in 84 years in Yellowstone, but it is over and now we look forward. Looking at the 10 day forecast, there isn’t anything serious that is showing up to be worried about. Expect occasional afternoon thunderstorms throughout the park, but don’t expect too many of them or for them to last too long.
Temperatures are looking great for most of the region. Highs in the 70s or 80s will be common in the lower elevations, and low temps will be in the 40s or even 50s. In the higher elevation areas around the park, expect highs in the 60s and 70s with lows in the low 40s.
Well-Known Trails Where You Will Find Snow
Patchy snow is still lingering on the following well-traveled trails: Sepulcher Peak, Avalanche Peak, Mount Washburn. I’d expect that after this coming week of warmth, the snow patches will be pretty small and really easier to maneuver around or through.
The mosquito inundation continues, but is slowly diminishing. While this week will still more than likely require some bug spray, the warmer weather will start to dry out some of the wetter areas and seasonal ponds. From reports from others and hikes I have been on, there really isn’t a spot where you won’t find them.
Book a Hiking Tour
Would you rather hike the trails with a knowledgable expert on the park? I offering private guided hiking services in Yellowstone and would be happy to help you have an amazing time out in the wilds of the park. Feel free to reach out to me directly, or check out my current guided hiking options!
Pick up A Guidebook to the Region
I mentioned it before, but I have written a hiking guide to 50 of my favorite trails in and around the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. It is sold both in paperback and an ebook formats and can be purchased by clicking on the following links.
Ebook Copies: https://store.outdoor-society.com/shop/ebooks/6
Paperback Copies: https://store.outdoor-society.com/shop/guide-books/3
General Yellowstone Hiking Tips
Wildlife Safety Tips
Expect wildlife encounters on all trails and always carry bear spray with you. Bear spray should be quickly accessible and you should know how to use it before heading out on the trail. Also always stay 100 yards from all bears and wolves, and 25 yards from elk, bison, pronghorn and pretty much all other animals. If an animal walks toward you, walk away from it calmly, but quickly. An approaching animal is not a reason to stay still. Always maintain appropriate distances from all wildlife.
When hiking, make noise as often as possible, but especially in areas where visibility may be limited. If you are in the forest, walking around a corner, or cresting a hill, make plenty of noise so wildlife will know you are approaching. Failing to do so could result in an unfortunate incident that may result in personal injury and the execution of the animal.
If hiking solo, make even more noise than you feel you should. Clap. Talk to yourself. Do everything in your power to let wildlife know that you are nearby. Yes, you may not see as much, but your safety and the animal’s safety is most important.
Hiking at Elevation
Chances are, you are not from the Rocky Mountains. If that is the case, there are a few things to know before hiking the trails of Yellowstone. The average elevation of Yellowstone is around 8,000 feet above sea level. The air is also more dry in the region. The combination of the elevation and dry air will lead many to feel slow and slugging.
One way to help adjust yourself to the elevation and dryness is to drink plenty of water or electrolytes, and not just while hiking. If you aren’t needing to pee every few hours, you probably aren’t drinking enough water.
If you can, I also recommend taking a day or two to adjust to the elevation a big before doing a strenuous hike. A few days of just walking around on the flat boardwalks can help your body adjust. Even then, do not expect your pace on a hiking trail to be as fast as it may be when hiking at home. Take plenty of breaks, refuel and rehydrate. While you may be walking in the park, it probably won’t feel like a walk in the park.
Hiking Gear Questions
Footwear wise, wear what is comfortable. You more often than not will not need heavy duty hiking boots to hike the trails of the park. They are typically overkill.
Always have a backpack full of food, extra layers, and extra water. Anticipate 100 calories and a minimum of 8oz of water an hour. Bring too much stuff with you and be happy you are fully prepared. Obviously, also carry bear spray and know how to use it.
Finally, I am often asked about whether one should bring trekking poles for hikes. I always say the following: If you want them, bring them. If you think you’ll want them, bring them. If there is even a small chance you may want them, bring them. The worst thing you can do is not have them if you need them. Plus, they add one more point of contact for uphill and downhill sections.
Thank you for reading! Please know that while this will serve as a great starting point to have the perfect trail adventure in the park, this is not a complete overview of everything you need to know about hiking in Yellowstone National Park. This is also not for the boardwalk hiking paths, as those are well-maintained and heavily used. This is for trails that go beyond the boardwalks.
For even more detailed and consistently updated hiking conditions in every corner of the park, I strongly encourage you to look at the official Backcountry Situation Report put out by Yellowstone National Park.
As always, if there is anything you would like to see in future posts, do not hesitate to send me a message!