About MeI live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where I explore the deeper reaches of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem while also trying to raise awareness about light pollution and the importance of dark skies through photography and video.
What Am I Doing?
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Distance: 2.5 miles (one way)
Best time of year: Spring, Summer, Fall
Lone Star Geyser is a popular hike for many different reasons. It’s a unique geyser located slightly off the beaten path, it has a massive cone at its base, it’s one of the most punctual large geysers in the park, it’s accessible for bicycles, and it’s a very easy hike, making it accessible for nearly anyone.
Over the course of 2.5 miles, the trail very gradually ascends a mere 50-60 feet in elevation as it meanders along the Firehole River. The trail crosses the river early in the hike and subsequently pops in and out of meadows along the way, breaking up the forest cover from time to time.
Distance: 1.3 miles (one way)
Best time of year: Summer, Fall
The Monument Geyser Basin was previously one of the must-see sights of Yellowstone. Due to fading activity, however, it often goes completely overlooked. The fumaroles aren’t quite as loud and the geysers don’t shoot out as high as they used to. What is still there though are some really unique formations and the opportunity to witness geysers in the process of sealing themselves up. And then there’s also the view.
The trail begins along the Gibbon River and follows it for nearly .5 miles through a young forest burned in the 1988 Fires. It’s an easy jaunt along the calm waters with the highway on the other side, which begs the question: Why did I mark this as strenuous?
Hiking in Yellowstone National Park can be extremely rewarding for a number of reasons. Most obvious to many people is the quick access away from the crowds. Another is having the opportunity to hike in a pristine wilderness that hasn’t been altered by human hands, and has remained so for centuries. For others, it’s just the opportunity to explore a new wilderness. Whatever the case, hiking in Yellowstone is highly encouraged to get the most out of your visit. At the same time though, there are some important things to know before beginning your trip off of the main roads.
Bear Spray – Carry It. Seriously.
First and foremost, always carry bear spray whenever you’re hiking anywhere in the area, whether it’s Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park, Shoshone National Forest, the Beartooth Mountains, or anywhere in the region. It’s not a touristy novelty item like some people have horribly surmised.
Distance (loop): 18.9 miles
Best time of year: Summer, Fall
The views at the top of Swift Creek, leading to the Crystal Creek and Gros Ventre River headwaters are easily some of the most epic mountain views in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, but it doesn’t come easily. This loop is both extremely rewarding, but equally challenging, making it one of the most enjoyable trails in the Gros Ventre Wilderness.
Many people prefer to hike up the steepest parts and go down the most gradual parts, since it’s typically much easier on your knees. I opted to go that route, heading up Swift Creek, but certainly the better way for increasingly better views and scenery would be to go the opposite way, heading toward Shoal Falls and up Shoal Creek, then connecting with the Swift Creek Trail to descend.
I was recently hiking on some unmaintained trails in Grand Teton National Park hoping for some wildlife encounters since there were plenty of ripe berry bushes at this particular location. Given the opportunities, I was specifically hoping for some bear and elk, knowing both were in the area.
I had been hiking for roughly a mile, but hadn’t seen any wildlife yet, and found myself exploring a new trail I hadn’t been down before. There were lots of downed trees in one location and visibility was fairly limited in my immediate surroundings. Of course it’s recommended that people make noise to scare away wildlife, but I didn’t want to scare it away. I wanted to see it. I also feel comfortable enough with my knowledge of wildlife to avoid any unfortunate encounters, and I had my bear spray as a last resort, which is its intended use anyway.