Suggestions for a June visit to Yellowstone
May 17, 2015 3:41 AM   Subscribe

Can you recommend hikes in the Yellowstone area in June?

I'm going to be in Montana for work in mid June and would like to visit the Yellowstone area. I'd like suggestions for day hikes and possibly backpacking areas for that time of year, plus resources for planning a Yellowstone visit.

I've been to Yellowstone before to see the easily accessible geysers, for this trip I'd like to go more off the beaten path.

What level of mosquitos, snow, and high creek crossings should I expect if backpacking in mid June?

What areas are best for backpacking and/or day hiking and car camping that time of year?

What websites/books should I be looking at? In addition to trip planning I'd also like to learn more about the natural history of the area.

I did already read the NPS website and call and talk to a ranger, but the ranger I spoke to wasn't super helpful.
posted by medusa to Travel & Transportation around West Yellowstone, MT (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You're asking about three very different kinds of hiking. Back country, day hikes, and car camping.

At Yellowstone, you need a permit for backcountry hiking. Pay attention to the rules and regulations described in the Backcountry Trip Planner. In particular, realize that weather can change in an instant, and that you can get snow in June. It's entirely possible to get nighttime temperatures of 0C/32F.

For daytime hikes, the description at the NPS site is correct
* Begin your hike by stopping at a ranger station or visitor center for information or updates on trail conditions and area closures.
* Tell someone about your hiking plans, including your destination, route, and estimated time of return.
* At a minimum, carry water, a raincoat or poncho, a warm hat, insect repellent, sunscreen, and a first aid kit.
* Stay on trails: taking shortcuts causes trail erosion and is dangerous—in hydrothermal areas stepping on thin crust can plunge you into boiling water.
* Stay alert in burned areas. Wind may topple standing dead trees.
* Know how to minimize the dangers associated with a bear encounter.
* Carry bear spray and know how to use it.
Several commercial businesses are permitted to offer guided day hikes in Yellowstone National Park. NPS provides a list here

For car camping, you either need a reservation at Madison, Fishing Bridge RV Park, Bridge Bay, Canyon, or Grant Village, or take your chances on a first-come first-serve site such as Mammoth, Norris, Tower Fall, Indian Creek, Pebble Creek, Slough Creek, and Lewis Lake. Campsites fill early.
posted by blob at 5:27 AM on May 17, 2015

Mod note: Corrected post to say "Yellowstone".
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:32 AM on May 17, 2015

Yea, I've worked in YNP for 2 summer and hiked over 100 miles, probably closer to 150, in the park. This question is kinda all over the place so I'll just say

-- that the above is good advice,
-- stop by /r/yellowstone to get further information (read other folk's post before posting, unless you have a truly special snowflake type situation)
-- decide what you want to get out of your time there, this will depend on your amount of time in the park, skillset, inclinations, and gear (not to mention weather and park rules)

I'm glad to help more, but need more [directed] information about your plans/trip.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:33 AM on May 17, 2015

A nice backpacking overnight would be to park at the Lone Star Geyser trailhead and hike out to Shoshone Lake - about 9 miles one way to the lakes western edge. It is one of the countries largest backcountry lakes and is sublimely tranquil. Once there you can stay at any of the backcountry campsites along the shore, provided you get an overnight permit. You will pick up the permit the day of your hike and will be required to watch a video about backpacking in grizzly bear country. Then you could hike back out the following day. On this hike you will see backcountry geyser fields, likely bison and you will cross the continental divide. I did it a few years ago as an overnight and it was wonderful. At night I listened to the Elk buggling (it was the rut season).

For any hiking / backpacking in the Yellowstone backcountry make sure you bring bear spray, and better than that would be a group of 3 people or so.

If you are interested in wildlife viewing stick to the northwest corner of the park and close to the Lamar Valley.
posted by jnnla at 10:51 AM on May 17, 2015

Response by poster: Sorry for the confusing question. We are planning to spend some time day hiking and some time backpacking. What I am looking for is suggestions for good areas to consider. Yellowstone and the surrounding national forests cover a huge area, and when trying to look for information online we tend to find things focused on the Yellowstone front country. Thanks for the /r/yellowstone suggestions, we'll look at that.
posted by medusa at 11:49 AM on May 18, 2015

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