Around a thousand miles of trails lace Yellowstone’s backcountry. From two-mile strolls to 100-mile expeditions, Yellowstone offers unparalleled wilderness hiking. The 25-mile trip from Tower to Gardiner through the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone is one of the premier fall or spring backpacking trips in the Park. Or try a two-nighter to Heart Lake, complete with a climb up 10,000-foot Mount Sheridan and a soak in Witch Creek hot springs. Be sure to keep the bear spray handy, and make some noise on the trail—all of Yellowstone is bear country. If you’re going overnight, you’ll need a backcountry permit, available at any backcountry office. Check nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit for more info.
All native mammal species still roam here— including gray wolves, reintroduced in 1995. Before mid-November, you even have a chance of seeing grizzly and black bears. Over 4,000 bison are concentrated around the Lamar and Hayden Valleys, and elk gather in and around the village of Mammoth Hot Springs during the fall rut. You might also spot moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, mule deer, pronghorn, coyotes, foxes, badgers, eagles, hawks, owls, osprey, and any number of other wild animals right off the road. Just be sure to give the wildlife plenty of room, and don’t offer them any food.
Geothermal Razzle Dazzle
Yellowstone is famous for its diversity and abundance of seething, bubbling, steaming, spewing geysers and hot springs. Fueled by the immense Yellowstone Supervolcano, over 10,000 distinct geothermal features turn Yellowstone into a dynamic wonderland.
With over 300 waterfalls 15 feet or higher, Yellowstone is truly the land of falling water. The most well-known falls are the upper (109 feet) and lower (308 feet) of the Yellowstone River in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. You can visit popular viewpoints or head out on the rim trails for more intimate views of this incredible canyon. Or try an overnight hike on Seven Mile Hole—the only trail that reaches the canyon’s bottom. The Park’s plethora of falling water and geothermal features make for some great swimming opportunities. Take a splash in the thermally heated Firehole River or head south to Moose Falls for a 30-foot cliff jump.