Location: Lamar Valley

Distance: Up to 7 miles

Elevation Gain: ~800 feet

Gear Typically Needed In the Winter: Snowshoes and or traction devices, warm clothes, trekking poles, food and water

Gear Typically Needed In the Summer: Bear Spray, sunscreen, food, and water

Lamar Valley stands as an iconic gem within Yellowstone National Park, drawing visitors with its breathtaking vistas of rugged peaks, expansive valleys, and unparalleled wildlife encounters. Nestled within this natural wonderland lies the beloved Lamar River Trail, a cherished pathway embraced by adventurers of all ages.

Despite its renown, Lamar Valley boasts just one trail, the Lamar River Trail, offering a serene respite from the bustle of park traffic. Meandering along this mostly flat route, you’ll swiftly leave behind the clamor of vehicles and immerse yourself in the park’s grandeur. As you approach the banks of the Lamar River, the symphony of nature envelops you—birdsong fills the air, the river’s melody ebbs and flows with the seasons, and the sounds of wildlife may find their way to your ears.

Throughout spring, summer, and fall, fortunate hikers may catch glimpses of wolves, bears, moose, bison, pronghorn, and an array of avian species. In winter, the trail transforms into a snowshoeing paradise, offering opportunities to encounter moose, bison, and perhaps even wolves. Yet, even when wildlife remains elusive, the memories forged along this trail linger, cherished by all who traverse its path.

My guided tours along the Lamar River Trail unveil hidden treasures and lesser-known wonders, ensuring you don’t miss a moment of its enchanting beauty and I would love to be able to share the wonders of the region with you. 

Important Trailhead Alert

The trailhead isn’t situated at the expansive turnout with the restroom facilities. Instead, it lies between that point and the Soda Butte Cone. Additionally, please be aware of anticipated construction delays spanning 2024, 2025, and 2026, affecting passage over the Yellowstone River near Roosevelt. These delays are expected primarily during the spring, summer, and fall seasons and can last up to 30 minutes each way.

What I Consider To Be The Highlights

While the hike to the Lamar River is great, one of the hidden gems of this hike is found by taking a left and heading upriver. While many will wander the next quarter mile directly to the river, I can’t stress taking a left at the junction enough. The left turn is 1.3 miles from the trailhead and quickly climbs a few hundred feet in elevation over the next mile. From the top of this hill, you’ll be treated to a grand view in all directions, including a large thermal area. While the thermal area won’t have the features you’ll see elsewhere, the barren landscape stands out starkly against the usually picturesque scenery. 

From here, those up for an adventure have a couple of options. While one could hike back the way they came, a personal favorite side trip is to hike down the hill directly toward the river. After avoiding the bison that like to hang out in this area, you’ll find a boot path along the bluff above the river, leading back toward the junction. A seasonal waterfall can be seen across the river when walking this path. 

If you’d rather get a more grand view of the region, you’ll want to head up. The best way to do this is when you are near the thermal area, take a left and work your way up the hill. If you plan on doing this, please reach out to me for specific information on how to do this safely and correctly. Be mindful of your surroundings and your directions, as there are no paths here and the area is filled with wildlife. If you get high enough up the hill, you’ll start to see antlers and bones, as well as some cool geological features. Again, if you decide to do this, be smart. Make plenty of noise to let wildlife know you are headed their way, know which direction you need to go to eventually meet back up with the main trail, and always know your limits. Do not attempt this unless you have backcountry experience in Yellowstone National Park.

What Some Consider To Be The Lowlights

When tackling this trail during the summer months, it’s no secret that the absence of shade and visible wildlife can pose challenges. To make the most of your experience, I highly recommend embarking on this hike either early in the morning or late in the afternoon to evade the scorching midday sun, a tactic that proves beneficial across all seasons.

For some, the allure of encountering wildlife along the trail may be outweighed by apprehension. With the potential for sightings of bison, pronghorn, elk, moose, bears, and wolves, it’s understandable that this aspect may deter certain hikers. However, equipped with knowledge of animal behaviors, bear spray, and a grasp of how to respectfully interact with wildlife from a safe distance, you can navigate these encounters with confidence.

The Lamar River Trail’s popularity may also deter some adventurers, but don’t let that dissuade you from experiencing its wonders. Arriving early at the trailhead can alleviate any concerns about crowded conditions, ensuring you can revel in the trail’s splendor without distraction. After all, its widespread acclaim is a testament to its natural beauty.

Want More Information On This And Other Hikes Around Yellowstone

Embark on a journey beyond the boardwalks of Yellowstone! Dive into the wonders of the Yellowstone region with my guidebook, showcasing my top-rated hikes. Whether you prefer the convenience of an ebook or the tangible experience of a paperback, this guidebook is your key to unlocking unforgettable adventures. For an even more immersive experience, join me on a guided hiking tour throughout the year. 

Embrace the opportunity to see Yellowstone like never before – your next trail adventure awaits!