The views along the way are some of the best in the park. It’s about two miles to the peak, from which you can either retrace your steps back to the trailhead, or continue down the east side and make a big loop of about seven miles. This is the by far the best day hike in the western part of the park.
2. Rose Creek
You won’t find this one on the official park maps. It starts from behind the Lamar Valley Buffalo Ranch and follows Rose Creek for about two miles or so to the now abandoned Rose Creek Pen. The pen is actually the remains of one of the original acclimation pens used to house the wolves when they were first reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995.
I learned about this trail during a Yellowstone Institute class in 2008. Our instructor (that’s him above) was part of the team of scientists involved in the wolf project from day one. His firsthand account of the day they hauled the first wolves up in crates and let them go in the pen was riveting.
While I did this hike with a group the first time, I have done it since by myself. Either way it’s a great hike. Just be sure to carry bear spray and make plenty of noise. After all, this is Lamar Valley and you never know what might be around.
The hike is about two miles one way to the pen, mostly uphill. Be sure to look for elk sheds along the way.
3. Mt. Washburn
At 10,243 feet in elevation, Mt. Washburn is generally known as the best hike in Yellowstone, and for good reason. The view from the top is panoramic. On a clear day you can see the Teton Range some 80 miles to the south. Don’t forget your camera!
Put an extra layer in your pack. At over 10,000 feet, the summit is usually pretty windy. This is one of the best places in the park to see Mountain Goats and Bighorn Sheep. They can often be seen along the slopes or, if you are lucky, right on the trail itself. The hike is pretty much all uphill, but the reward is worth it, and then it’s all downhill on the return trip.
There are two trailheads to Mt Washburn. They are several miles apart on the Park Road near Dunraven Pass. However, if you have two cars in your party, you can hike from one to the other and experience both segments of the trail. Either way, you’ll be glad you decided on this one. No matter which trailhead you start from and/or return to, the whole round trip hike is about six miles.
Keep in mind that some of these trailheads are pretty small and parking may fill up fairly early. That’s another great thing about a truck camper; you can always get there early, hang out until it warms up, and then head out. But, like everywhere else in Yellowstone, the earlier you go, the better your chances are of seeing wildlife.
Hopefully I have given you a bit of insight into the Yellowstone National Park that I love and appreciate so much. As long winded as I have been, I have only scratched the surface of what Yellowstone has to offer. The place is just big. While every visitor is sure to find a different and unique path through the park, there is one thing I can promise you. You will never forget your path.
Have you traveled to Yellowstone or another fun National Park with your truck camper? Please share your story.