Our hiking tour assembles in Bozeman, MT early morning of Day 1, and we’ll van shuttle to Mammoth, traveling through Gardiner, named after the trapper Johnson Gardner, where we’ll stay for the first two nights. This is the oldest named place in the Park, and a history making location as the initial superintendents struggled to maintain order in the country’s first national treasure. Our first hike is a rolling 5 mile loop through Beaver Ponds that will bring us to the Mammoth Hot Springs area. This is Yellowstone’s only major thermal area located well outside the Yellowstone Caldera. Here you can observe the travertine terraces, which are changing constantly, along with other active thermal features.
The trail for Day 2 will take us around Bunsen Peak and down 800 ft to one of the deepest canyons in Yellowstone. From there we can view Osprey Falls as it plummets 150 feet over the rim of an ancient lava flow deep within Sheepeater Canyon (9 miles).
On Day 3, we will transfer to the east side of the park, stopping along the way for a point to point hike near Canyon Village that meanders past Chain of Lakes. We’re likely to pass backpackers and fishermen on this series of trails that skirts the small lakes and connecting rivers (10 miles). Continuing on our drive, we will stop at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone for some lookout hikes. This relatively new canyon, geologically speaking, has been carved through fault lines and glacial deposits by the Yellowstone River, the longest undammed river in the continental United States. From here we continue past Yellowstone Lake to Pahaska Teepee where we will spend an exciting night at Buffalo Bill’s original lodge at the Eastern gateway to Yellowstone, on the North Fork of the Shoshone River.
Day 4 is a summit climb to Avalanche Peak, topping out at 10,568 ft. This is a short, but steep climb. However, after reaching the summit, you’ll have incredible views of the Grand Tetons and Mount Sheridan to the south, Yellowstone Lake to the southwest and the numerous high peaks of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness bordering the eastern edge of the park (5 miles). After this awesome climb, we’ll drive around the massive Yellowstone Lake, the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 ft. The lake is part of the massive Caldera that collapsed 640,000 years ago, and geysers, fumaroles, and hot springs are found both alongside and in the lake, as we will view from West Thumb Geyser Basin (2 miles). Tonight, our first of two overnights will be spent at Flagg Ranch located on the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway at the south entrance to the park. The ranch has been an established stage coach stop and dude ranch since the start of the 20th century.
The southern entrance to the park is often passed by as travelers hurry to get to the main tourist spots, so we are likely to be alone as we choose our hike for Day 5. For the adventurous hikers we have a treat in store of the second highest waterfall in Yellowstone – Union Falls at a height of 260 feet. Its unique shape makes it one of the park’s most picturesque landscapes. This beautiful hike will be worth the 15 miles round trip, but if your legs are not up for that distance, there are several other lakes and falls to enjoy in Yellowstone’s Cascade Corner.
Now that we have worked our way around the fringes of this National Park, it is time to jump into the middle for the not to be missed sight – Old Faithful. Day 6 is a tour of the geysers and hot spots that make Yellowstone National Park famous. We will hike to Mystic Falls in the morning, then catch the show at Old Faithful, along with a lunch at the famous Old Faithful Lodge. We continue north through the park, stopping at Biscuit Basin, Grand Prismatic Springs, Lower Geyser Basin and Firehole River swimming basin (total ~5 miles). We will exit the park on the west side for a final night in West Yellowstone, before a morning van shuttle back to Bozeman and the conclusion of our Yellowstone Complete Tour.