- Remote and pristine wildernesses
- Scenic boat shuttle
- America's longest undammed river
- Yellowstone meadows and river valleys
- Beautiful, remote campsites
- Abundant wildlife habitat
- Layover day to hike & explore
Do you want to have an unforgettable adventure this summer? If so, the Thorofare backpacking trip is for you! This trip is a 7 day/6 night hiking adventure into the headwater basin of the Yellowstone River, arguably the most pristine and remote area in the Continental United States. Rich with wildlife, mountain views, vast meadow systems, roaring rivers, crystal clear creeks, and feeling of wildness, this trip is truly spectacular!
We catch a boat shuttle from Bridge Bay Marina to the beginning of our hike along the eastern edge of Yellowstone Lake. From here we hike to the South end of the lake, where the mouth of the Yellowstone River marks the beginning of the Thorofare Country. For 3 more days we hike up the Yellowstone River into some of the most remote wilderness in the continental United States. The chances of seeing wildlife are very good (although never guaranteed of course), as this area is the Eden of Yellowstone's animal habitat. Bring your fly rod along if you're a fisherman, and you'll have the opportunity to catch 20 inch native cutthroat trout. Bring your camera along if you're a photographer, and you'll be shooting pictures of the most pristine area in Yellowstone. On day 5 we begin our hike back to Yellowstone Lake, exploring and scouting for wildlife along the way.
Trip Dates & Booking
You can also click here to request new dates or book through customer service.
We can often customize dates for groups at no extra cost!
- Shuttle to Trailhead: 3.5-hour drive
- Hiking Mileage: 8.2 miles
- Elevation Gain: 100 feet
This unforgettable Yellowstone backpacking adventure starts from Bridge Bay Marina on the north end of Yellowstone Lake, where we catch a boat shuttle that will drop us off 9 miles away along the the Southeast Arm of the lake. During the boat ride, and also once we’re hiking, we’ll have fantastic views of Mt. Doane and Mt. Stevenson. Dot and Frank Islands meanwhile aid in grasping the size of Yellowstone Lake. It is over 20 miles long, 14 miles wide and 300 feet deep. Scientists believe it is part of the ancient caldera of Yellowstone’s supervolcano. Once on shore, we’ll hike 8 miles to our camp at Beaverdam Creek, which marks the beginning of the valley of the Upper Yellowstone River. Camp for the evening is atop a bluff overlooking the creek and the expanse of the Thorofare!
- Hiking Mileage: 7.3 miles
- Elevation Gain/Loss: marginal
After crossing Beaverdam Creek we hike through thick willows and enter the broad meadows of the upper valley. Moose are sometimes encountered lounging among the willows. Another mile of hiking brings us to burned forests from the fires of 1988. Now over a quarter century old, the cleansing, regenerative effects of the fire are clearly evident. We'll make camp this evening in the vicinity of Trapper Creek, with spectacular views of the Trident (a series of rocky escarpments) to the south and Turret and Table Mountain to the east. Occasionally wolves can be heard howling from this part of the valley in the late evening and early morning.
- Hiking Mileage: 7.5 miles
- Elevation Gain: 450 feet
The next morning we'll hike deeper into the Thorofare, as our trip continues south, paralleling the Yellowstone River. Often following grizzly or wolf tracks on the trail, we continue to scout for wildlife as we hike. We’ll hike a short distance downstream from camp to a large tributary of the Yellowstone River named Mountain Creek. We’ll depart the valley here and hike upstream along Mountain Creek to its junction with Howell Creek. We’ll then hike a few miles up Howell Creek to camp near the park boundary. We’ll have the opportunity to sleep in one of the most remote areas of the Continental United States.
- Hiking Mileage: 4-10 miles (optional day hike)
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 1250 feet
Day 4 is exciting for two reasons. The first is that we’re not moving camp! We’ll sleep in and enjoy a delicious breakfast before embarking on a spectacular day hike to Eagle Pass, the second exciting part of the day. Several miles up Howell Creek the trail steepens and ascends through classic Yellowstone subalpine terrain to Eagle Pass. This will place us just below Eagle Peak, the highest peak in Yellowstone at 11,358 feet. Here we will have brilliant views of the wild and beautiful Absaroka Mountains to the east.
- Hiking Mileage: 6.5 miles
- Elevation Loss: 350 feet
On day 5 we'll begin our hike back toward Yellowstone Lake, enjoying the wildlife, wildness and views as we go. The views hiking back north are very different than they were on the way in. As we hike we're watching the Yellowstone River flow into Yellowstone Lake and the Gallatin Mountains in the distance. Our camp will be near the Yellowstone if not right on its shores.
- Hiking Mileage: 9.9 miles
- Elevation Loss: 150 feet
Day 6 we’ll continue hiking back through the Yellowstone River valley to a camp right on the shores of Yellowstone Lake.
- Hiking Mileage: 4.6 miles
- Elevation Gain/Loss: marginal
- Shuttle to Bozeman, Montana: 3.5-hour drive
On day 7 we'll hike along the eastern edge of Yellowstone Lake and catch the boat shuttle back to Bridge Bay Marina. A comfortable drive through Yellowstone National Park back to Bozeman, Montana ends this amazing backpacking trip.
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 (Oboz hiking shoes and boots recommended)
- 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, 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 around 5 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 and max group size on backpacking trips is 6 guests and 1 guide. 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.