- Yellowstone's most prominent mountains
- Yellowstone's highest lakes & rivers
- Paradise Valley and breathtaking views
- Summit Electric & Bighorn Peaks
- Deep wilderness of Yellowstone
- Potential to see wildlife
The Gallatin Skyline Backpacking Tour traverses the length of the Gallatin Mountain Range inside Yellowstone. It is a long, challenging, rewarding hike that features mountainous terrain, fantastic views, and abundant wildlife. With a great mix of meadow hiking, peak climbing (you'll have the opportunity to summit Electric Peak on day two), steep hikes up to high passes, and camping near rivers and lakes, this hike has it all!
You'll also hike past Paradise Valley, with some of the best views in the park, and camp next to Shelf Lake which is the highest lake in Yellowstone, sitting at 9,200 feet in elevation. The culmination of the trip is on day six, when you'll hike over Bighorn Peak (10,000 feet) and follow its high ridges for nearly six miles.
Trip Dates & Booking
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- Shuttle to Trailhead: 2-hour drive
- Hiking Mileage: 6.1 miles
- Elevation Gain: 750 feet
We’ll begin this Yellowstone backpacking trip from the Glen Creek Trailhead in Northwest Yellowstone, a few miles south of Mammoth Hot Springs. At just over 7,000’ of elevation , the trailhead lies in beautiful meadows below Terrace Mountain. Bison are often seen even before leaving the vehicle. The day’s hike consists of a gradual but steady climb through meadows and stands of pine and fir to camp on the banks of the Gardner River, one of Yellowstone's finest.
- Hiking Mileage: 8 miles (optional day hike)
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 3,000 feet each way
We’ll not be moving camp this day. Instead, we’ll use the day to hike the southeast ridge of the magnificent Electric Peak, the tallest peak in the Gallatin Range at nearly 11,000’. The first two miles of the hike up the southeastern flank of the mountain travels a well-defined trail at a moderate grade. The trail gets gradually less-defined and steeper after that, until we’re scrambling over lower angle rocks near the summit. It is a long hike/climb that will reward us with tremendous views from the summit.
- Hiking Mileage: 6.2 miles
- Elevation Gain: 1,800 feet
- Elevation Loss: 2,100 feet
Day 3 begins with a 3-mile hike and 2,000’ of elevation gain to Electric Pass, on the southwestern shoulder of Electric Peak. There are more tremendous views of Yellowstone from here. We’ll then descend the valley on the other side, losing another 2,250’ of elevation to Sportsman Lake. Here we’ll get a different perspective on Electric Peak looking at it from the west. Sportsman Lake makes for a peaceful camp in a small meadow nestled beneath another large mountain.
- Hiking Mileage: 7.3 miles
- Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet
Day 4 is relatively mellow as we hike across the Gallatin Crest again and transition into the Specimen Creek drainage. We'll make camp at another beautiful Yellowstone lake called High Lake.
- Hiking Mileage: 7.0 miles
- Elevation Gain: 400 feet
Shortly out of camp we're rewarded with spectacular views of Paradise Valley. Further along our hike we abandon the main trail for an old sheep trail that is not marked on any map and is known only to a handful of locals, increasing our chances of seeing wildlife. Dramatic views of the western valley dominate this part of the hike. We’ll make camp on the shores of Shelf Lake, Yellowstone's highest at 9,200’.
- Hiking Mileage: 9.2 miles
- Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
- Elevation Loss: 2,500 feet
Day 6 is the longest and most spectacular day of the trek and is really the culmination of the entire hike. After departing camp we’ll gain the Gallatin Crest and hike over a spectacular peak called Bighorn Peak, at nearly 10,000’. There will be fantastic views of the snowcapped Spanish Peaks to the northwest and the Gallatin Range to the southeast. Bighorn sheep are also commonly seen. We'll hike an additional 6 miles along the crest before descending Daley Creek to the evening’s camp. Incredible views of big country are a norm throughout this day's hike!
- Hiking Mileage: 3.5 miles
- Elevation Loss: 650 feet
- Shuttle to Bozeman: 1.5-hour drive
Our final day on this backpacking trip consists of a short 3.5-mile hike down Daley Creek to the Daley Creek Trailhead. Your backpack no longer laden with food, you’ll be able to appreciate the broad and lush valley on this final day.
Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary access restrictions, weather, lodging/campground availability, guest ability/injury, natural events like fires and flooding, and other potential causes.
- Top-of-the-line tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and technical backpack
- Use of trekking poles
- All meals are included from breakfast the first day through lunch on the last day
- A professional, knowledgeable, certified Yellowstone hiking guide
- Roundtrip transportation from your hotel in Bozeman, Montana to Yellowstone and back
- Entrance fees and national park permits
- Bear safety equipment including bear spray cannisters and food-hanging gear
- Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
- You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!
- Clothes, raingear, and footwear
- Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
- Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
- Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)
All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.
For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.
We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.
We provide all group gear which includes the following:
- Deuter or Osprey backpacks
- Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
- Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware sleeping bags
- Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
- Leki or Black Diamond trekking poles
- Cooking stoves and cookware
- Bear spray cannisters and food-hanging gear
- Company-issued first-aid kit
- Satellite phone
We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person and either a headlamp or flashlight per person. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.
Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots (reliable brands include Montrail, Lowa, Merrell, Vasque, and Salomon), rain gear, and non-cotton and cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.
NOTE: See the Packing Lists page for more detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your hiking tour. The trip packet you receive when you contact us will have the most accurate clothing and gear list for the tour you're interested in.
Ready to hike? In the Dates section of this trip page, the green dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you're ready to register we'll email you a link to a registration profile. You'll have 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit ($500).
Feel free to call us for more info - we're here 7 days a week!
You'll meet your hiking guide and group in Bozeman, Montana for an orientation meeting at 5:00 PM the evening before the trip begins. Your guide will be in contact approximately 2 weeks before your trip and will specify the exact location of the orientation meeting at that point. The next morning we'll pick you up at your hotel for transport to the trailhead. For Private Yellowstone Tours, you also have the option to originate your trip in West Yellowstone.
Check out our Travel Resources page for information on flights, shuttles, lodging and more.
Your guide will inform you of the first day's pick-up time at the orientation meeting. Generally, you can expect it to be between 5 and 8 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will drop you off at your hotel on the final day no later than 7 PM.
Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT's, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. We've developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and most tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.
Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.
Guides are required to take 8 hours off each 24-hour period to sleep, recuperate, take personal/down time...etc. In addition, as part of the 8 hours off they must sleep/rest or be in their tents/rooms uninterrupted for a minimum of 5 hours each night. We ask guests to respect these requirements and to not interrupt guides' off time and sleep time unless there is a true emergency.
The standard group size on backpacking trips is 6 guests and 1 guide, with a maximum of 10 guests and 2 guides. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) and we'll answer all your questions.
Age restrictions are as follows:
- 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
- 10 and older to join private tours, with final approval on a case by case basis
- specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis
Being a Northern mountain environment, Yellowstone is prone to sudden temperature and weather shifts. This is an exciting aspect of being in Yellowstone. On the Spring/Fall Trekking Adventure in June, snow is a slight possibility, and the rest of the summer you're likely to get rained on at least once during your trip. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). See below for average summer temperatures in Yellowstone:
|Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)|
Camping on Backpacking Trips
Sleeping on backpacking trips is in premier 1-person, 2-person or 4-person backcountry tents. Solo travelers, and anyone else who requests it, are issued single tents. Top-of-the-line self-inflating sleeping pads and sleeping bags (professionally laundered after every trip) are also provided.
Fresh & Delicious
Meals from breakfast Day 1 through lunch the last day are fully included and prepared by your guide. We never use dehydrated backpacking meals, instead serving freshly prepared, delicious backcountry cuisine made with a variety of common and specialty ingredients that travel well in the wilderness.
In the Action
Of course campsites vary tremendously by destination, trip and even by the individual day of a trip. However, you can expect to camp in beautiful areas that put you right in the action to make the most of your backpacking adventure. We carefully design our itineraries with campsites in mind.