Guided Yellowstone hikes with naturalist offer chance to see park’s backcountry

Yellowstone hikes — Rescue Creek Trail

Rescue Creek Trail is one of hundreds of popular Yellowtone hikes through the backcountry of America's first national park. (Jim Peaco - click to enlarge)

From Staff Reports

CODY, WYO. — Yellowstone National Park visitors who want to experience the park’s backcountry but perhaps aren’t ready for a series of Yellowstone hikes on their own can join “the 2 percent” this summer on a Trails Through Yellowstone package from the Yellowstone Association.

A couple of popular statistics often cited about travel in Yellowstone Park are that less than 2 percent of visitors venture more than 100 yards from a paved road or boardwalk and that only 2 percent of the park is accessible by paved road.

Either way, if you want to be among the elite 2 percent who take hike into the park’s backcountry, you’ll have to park the car and venture out.

Yellowstone hikes - Lamar Valley

Yellowstone hikes like a backcountry trip through the Lamar Valley are a great way to avoid crowds during the busy times in Yellowstone National Park. (J. Schmidt - click to enlarge)

The nonprofit Yellowstone Association Institute is offering a series of Yellowstone hikes that is a perennial favorite among guests — especially those not accustomed to hiking western wilderness trails. The Trails Through Yellowstone program is a popular option for visitors who want to get away from Yellowstone’s developed areas during the day and gain a better understanding of what the park offers.

The institute’s Lodging and Learning program of four daily Yellowstone hikes is paired with four nights of lodging at hotels inside the park, so visitors can enjoy a range of different Yellowstone hikes each day, but rest and relax in less rustic settings each evening.

“It is almost impossible to say that Yellowstone offers one thing above all others, unless that one thing is ‘diversity,’” said Jenny Golding, director of education for the Yellowstone Association Institute. “That’s why spending a day under the leadership of a knowledgeable guide helps open up one’s mind — along with the five senses.”

Groups of up to 12 people in the program spend their days on Yellowstone hikes with naturalist guides who are well-versed in park science and lore, and also trained in first aid and the use of bear spray.

In conjunction with lodging and dining concessioner Xanterra, the Trails Through Yellowstone program benefits the Yellowstone Association, a nonprofit education partner of Yellowstone Park that supports numerous conservation efforts in the park.

The association’s guides help participants more fully understand and interpret the wildlife, geology, plants and climate of landscapes they will see on their Yellowstone hikes.

The four-day program is designed for participants who are in able to enjoy daily Yellowstone hikes of four to eight miles featuring elevation changes of up to 1,500 feet on dirt trails. Each of the Yellowstone hikes is designed to showcase the park’s natural beauty and wildlife, including hikes around the Old Faithful geyser basin and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

More Info

Trails Through Yellowstone packages cost $839 per person for double-occupancy or $1,103 for single-occupancy and reservations can be made by calling Xanterra at 866-439-7375.

The Trails Through Yellowstone series of Yellowstone hikes runs weekly throughout 2012 from May 28 to Sept. 24. The program includes four daily Yellowstone hikes of moderate difficulty led by an institute naturalist guide. Packages include two nights of lodging at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel near the north gate of the park and two nights at Grant Village, 17 miles from the south entrance, as well as breakfast and a box lunch each day, plus in-park van transportation and optional evening programs. The program also includes an evening expedition to search for wildlife.

Contact Yellowstone Gate at 307-213-9818 or [email protected]

3 thoughts on “Guided Yellowstone hikes with naturalist offer chance to see park’s backcountry

  1. If you have never hiked in Yellowstone before the institute is a great way to get started. I originally went with my sister to Yellowstone, fell in love with the park and the next year took my husband. We were so not prepared that year. The next year we took classes through the institute and learned so much about the park and how to hike properly. We met amazing people and to this day have a friend that shares Yellowstone with us when we visit. Believe me having insight on the park and the right gear is a big plus. Our first trip was in 2004, we try to go back once a year or every 2 years. I highly recommend the institute if you are a first timer to Yellowstone and want to do some back country hiking.

  2. The Yellowstone Association’s Institute is a wonderful resource for anyone who wants to learn more about Yellowstone. I have taken several classes on various topics through YI and can recommend them without reservation. The instructors are extremely well versed in their fields and provide a wealth of information on a variety of topics. Give them a shot, you won’t regret it.