Mount Washburn from Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon

10 Hours

AVAILABLE JUNE 20th to OCTOBER 15th, 2024

Mount Washburn is one of Yellowstone’s most-climbed mountains.

The Grand Canyon the the Yellowstone is one of Yellowstone’s most-visited locations.

Knowing this, I figured that one should combine both views and experiences for the ultimate day hike.

Following a remote trail that traces the 1870 expedition of the park, the trek from the Grand Canyon the Yellowstone to Mount Washburn is known for sweeping views, wildlife sightings, and a seasonal wildflower display that will leave you in awe. Bison and elk are somewhat common sights, bighorn sheep are seen frequently and even bears may be spotted along this remote trail that borders a bear management area. In July and August, the wildflowers erupt on the slope of the mountain, bringing with it seemingly endless whiffs of nature. Speaking of smells, along the trek, we will also be passing Washburn Hot Spring, a collection of acidic mud pots that gurgle and plop and can be quite strong-smelling.

While the wildlife and wildflowers, as well as the views, maybe a big draw, one of the underrated highlights of this trail adventure will be the silence and solitude. The route taken, especially the Mount Washburn Spur Trail, is rarely taken. I am barely (no pun intended) exaggerating that there is a better chance of seeing more bears than people. Because of that, groups of hikers will all need to be in shape enough to ALL hike to the top and back, together. We start the hike as a group and stay as a group.

Why isn’t the trail more popular, aside from the presence of bears?

The round trip distance is 16.6 miles. While this is a long day hike, one must take into account the experiences they will have. Instead of driving around, finding parking, and being around people, this trail shows you Yellowstone the way it was meant to be seen. Despite the long distance for a day hike, the entire trek only gains ~2,800 feet, topping out at over 10,000 feet above sea level. Most of the elevation comes in the final 2.5 miles of the climb, making a steep ascent and descent, but an otherwise chill day.

If you are wishing for your trip to Yellowstone to take you to unseen wonders full of incredible experiences, I would strongly recommend this tour.

Important to Note

Thunderstorms can and do frequently roll in during the day. We will do our best to reach the summit, but a turnaround due to a storm may happen. Also, there is no water available on the trail. I will carry some extra water, but hikers need to be prepared to carry and drink plenty of fluids. Finally, this is a heavy bear area. I will provide bear spray and we will all hike together for safety.


The Trek

Few adventures in Yellowstone National Park deliver what you will experience when hiking from Canyon to Mount Washburn and back. Over the 16.6 mile day, which is the round trip distance, you will hike along a scenic and overlooked section of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, spot a seasonal waterfall dropping into the river below, hike by a hidden thermal area full of smelly mud pots, then ascend through wildflower-filled cleanings to the top of Mount Washburn, elevation 10,219 feet.

This should be considered by anyone looking to have the adventure of a lifetime on a remote trail in Yellowstone. Not only will you get sweeping views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone as we hike up and down the mountain, but you’ll also be able to stand atop the summit, knowing that you truly climbed the mountain.

The trail also passes directly next to a bear management area, giving you a good chance of seeing a bear while on the trail. You may also see elk, bison, bighorn sheep and marmots.

In the 8.3 miles to reach the summit of Mount Washburn, the trail is mostly flat, gaining just ~300 feet in the first 5.8 miles. The final 2.5 miles sees around 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Then, we hike it all in reverse, losing all the elevation quickly before leveling off for a leisurely walk back to the trailhead.

Plenty of breaks will be taken, but it is important to note that this hike is for experienced hikers who can handle the distance and elevation gain. One firm rule on this hike is that we will ALL hike to the top and back, together. Or all turn around at the same time. We start the hike as a group and stay as a group.


  • Wildlife Sightings (Bears, Bison, Elk, Bighorn Sheep, Marmots)
  • Wildflowers
  • Remote Thermal Features
  • Hidden Waterfall Views
  • Stunning Panoramas
  • A Mountain Summit
  • Solitude
  • Potentially Sore Legs
  • An Experience of a Lifetime


Day 1:
What the Day Will Look Like

We will meet at our designated starting time in the morning. After a gear check, a safety talk, and a few other quick things, we will begin the hike.
Starting along the Seven Mile Hole Trail in the Canyon area of Yellowstone, the route follows the canyon rim for a mile and a half, showing off hidden views and a rarely seen seasonal waterfalls across the canyon. After the falls, the trail darts into the woods for a little over a mile before meeting the Mount Washburn Spur Trail Junction. Along this first section of the hike, the trail rolls gently, gaining roughly 200 feet in elevation. 

At the junction, the trail continues to meander through the woods for around a mile and a half. Then, the path reaches Washburn Hot Springs, a collection of acidic mud pots. Named “Hell-Broth Springs” by the 1870 Washburn Expedition, these odiferous thermal features are a hidden gem and are often smelled before they are seen. Beyond the mud pots, the trail continues to meander through a gorgeous meadow with views of Mount Washburn. 

The final 2.5 miles are where the trail earns its difficulty rating. Over the next mile, the trail steeply climbs ~1,200 feet before leveling off  for a little less than a half mile, giving us all a chance to take a break. Here, we will more than likely have a decently sized break to drink water, eat food and rest before the push to the top. 

Another steep push for a half mile will gain ~350 feet before leveling off again and leading us to the final trail climb to the top of Mount Washburn. This push is much less steep and is shorter, but on tired legs may feel just as rough. Keep trekking onward, though. It is less than a half mile to the top, where the Mount Washburn lookout tower resides, providing a bathroom, benches, shade, and breathtaking views. 

We will hike down the same way we came up. 


What You Get

  • A knowledgeable guide who knows the region well, bear spray, access to gallons of water before the hike, use of binoculars, an expert guide, wildlife tips, trekking poles (if requested in advance), a few prepackaged snacks (jerky, nuts, etc...)

What You Don't Get

  • Hiking shoes, backpacks, water bladders/water bottles, meals

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Mount Washburn from Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon
From $ 300
/ Adult
From $ 100
/ Child