NOTICE All backcountry permits are being issued remotely through the Central Backcountry Office. Refer to Camp in the Backcountry for information on obtaining a backcountry permit.
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Last Updated: July 7,2020
This Backcountry Situation report provides the most up-to-date conditions for Yellowstone’s Backcountry. Conditions are listed by area, then trail.To avoid frustration, even if you are experienced with Yellowstone’s backcountry, please review our website as standard process have changed in attempt to keep everyone safe from Covid-19. Before heading out on the trail, make sure to review information about traveling safely in bear country, and familiarize yourself with our bear management areas. Depending on other activities you intend to pursue in the backcountry please reference our fishing, boating, and horse use regulations.
General Information Office Hours:
Backcountry Permit Offices will not be staffed for the 2020 season. All backcountry permits are being issued by e-mail or phone through the Central Backcountry Office - hours 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Additional information about the permit issuing process is posted on our Backcountry Camping Page. For more information please e-mail us at email@example.com.
The boating season is currently open. All boats must obtain a boat registration permit and be inspected for Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) prior to launching. AIS inspections and permits will be available at Bridge Bay Ranger Station, Lewis Lake Ranger Station and Grant Village Backcountry Office. Prepare for the upcoming season by Cleaning, Draining and Drying your boats now. Review our Boating page for 2020 changes.
The fishing season has opened for the majority of streams in the park. Please review the fishing pages on this website for 2020 changes. Not all streams and lakes are open, please review the fishing regulations for opening dates of individual bodies of water. Fishing permits are available at limited general store locations inside the park. Consider purchasing fishing permits from vendors in gateway communities before arriving in the park.
Please check our Fishing pages on this website for additional information and changes for the 2020 Season.
High Water Caution
Streams are dropping from peak levels, but many are still too high and dangerous to cross. Streams which are crossable in the morning may rise to unsafe levels by afternoon. Don't get caught on the wrong side of a stream. If you must cross - scout out the safest location, the best crossing may not be in the exact location where the trail meets the stream. Above all use caution and be safe around all streams. Yellowstone's backcountry does not have many bridges, please evaluate planned travel routes for any potentially hazardous stream crossings.
Before deciding to have a campfire, check that your campsite allows for fires, and consider the current weather conditions. Campfires are only allowed in the designated fire ring.
Most backcountry trails and stock accessible campsites are open for the season. Please review specific trails, listed further down in this webpage to see whether they are open or closed to stock use. Day Ride Permits are available by phone or e-mail as early as 7-days before your ride. Please fill out our day ride permit request, or contact our office via phone at 307-344-2160. Make sure to review our horseback riding page.
Food Storage Regulations
Do not leave food unattended at any time. All food, trash, and odorous items must be properly stored (hung 10 feet above ground and 4 feet from side supports or kept in one of the installed metal bear proof boxes, or an approved bear resistant food container) whenever the items are not in immediate use. Day hikers should keep their packs with them at all times. In past years, there have been several instances of bears obtaining food from unattended packs. Backpackers should hang their food immediately upon entering their campsite – before setting up camp.
Food Caches are not allowed in the backcountry. Hanging food overnight in an unoccupied campsite or elsewhere is not permitted – this is considered unattended food. Yellowstone allows only the use of certain bear resistant food containers.
Bear Management Areas
In order to reduce human related impacts on bears in high density grizzly bear habitat the park has established several bear management areas. Listed below are the current Bear Management Areas (BMAs) in effect. Some Bear Management Areas are full closures, others are no off trail travel restrictions. Please reference the Bear Management page for further details and locations of closure area.
The Gardner River crossing on the Fawn Pass Trail is approximately 2 feet deep. (7/3/20)
Expect snow on the trail over Fawn Pass. (7/3/20)
Expect snow between Sportsman Lake and Electric Pass. Crossing the pass is not recommended. (7/1/20)
The Sportsman Lake Trail has been cleared from the Glen Creek trailhead to campsites 1G3 and 1G4 and to Cache Lake. (6/19/20).
Horse Use: Open to stock use
Bunsen Peak/Osprey Falls (1K4)
Horse Use: Closed to stock.
Bighorn Pass trail (Indian Creek, 1K5)
Access road to the trailhead parking area and Indian Creek Campground is closed. Hikers wishing to access the Bighorn Pass trail must park in the pullouts near the access road barricade. Do not block the access road.
Bighorn Pass trail is uncrossable due to deep snow and a large cornice. (7/1/20)
Daly Creek/Black Butte/Sky Rim Trail/Shelf Lake (WK1, WK2)
Black Butte Trail (WK2) Black butte trail into campsite WF1 is dry and clear of trees. Campsite is in Good shape.(6/3/20)
Daly Creek Trail (WK1) Daly creek trail to WF2 is dry and clear of trees. WF2 is in good shape. (6/3/20)
Sky Rim Trail likely has a few patches of deep snow. Caution advised. (7/1/20)
Horse Use: Open to stock. (7/1/20)
Specimen Creek/High Lake/Crescent Lake/Sportsman Lake (WK3)
Specimen CreekTrail (WK3) : The trail from Specimen towards Shelf Lake is mostly dry and cleared of downed trees for the first four miles. Campsite WE1, and WD1 are in good shape. Reports of several trees down north of campsite WE4. (7/6/20)
Streams are dropping, but are still deep and swift. Caution advised on any stream crossing. (6/15/20)
Report of limited parking due to construction on Hwy 191.(6/29/20)
Horse Use: Open to stock. (7/1/20)
Bacon Rind (WK4)
Bacon Rind trail (WK4) is dry and cleared of downed trees. (6/2/20)
Horse Use: Open to stock
Fawn Pass/Fan Creek (WK5)
Campsites WC3, WC4 are in good shape.
Trail from Fan Creek to Specimen Creek is mostly clear of trees and passible to stock.(6/29/20)
Streams are dropping, but are still deep and swift. Caution advised on any stream crossing. (6/15/20)
Strong Bear Warning for the area south west of the Hellroaring foot bridge to the patrol cabin along Hellroaring Creek(area between 2H3 and 2H7 ) due to a carcass. (7/4/20)
Helllroaring Creek Trailhead is open and dry and has been cleared of downed trees. (6/18/20)
Fording Hellroaring Creek is not recommended - approximately 3 feet deep and swift. Hikers should plan on using the bridge north of campsite 2H7 to cross. (6/29/20)
Conditions in the Gallatin National Forest on Bull Mountain Loop unknown.
Coyote Creek trail is dry in the lower elevations and wet/muddy in places along the upper elevations. Be cautious of rising river levels on tributary of Coyote Creek north of campsite 2C1.Cross with caution, and scout for the safest place to cross the river.(6/18/20)
Upper elevations of Buffalo Plateau trail are partially snow covered. Campsite 2B1 is likely partially snow covered. (6/15/20)
Horse Use: Horse use is open to day rides along Hellroaring Creek and Coyote Creek.
Specimen Ridge/Agate Creek/Yellowstone Picnic Area trailhead (2K4, 2K7)
Specimen Ridge cannot be hiked in its entirety. The Lamar River is not crossable on the east end of the trail. Don't be caught on the wrong side of the river as it is a 14 mile backtrack to the trailhead. (7/1/20)
Yellowstone Picnic Area trail is open.
Horse Use: Open to stock (6/1/20)
Lamar River Trail - Soda Butte to Mist Creek Pass (3K1)
Cache Creek ford is crossable. Be cautious that streams which are crossable in the morning may rise to unsafe levels by afternoon – don’t get caught on the wrong side of stream.(7/6/20)
Pelican Valley is open from 9 am to 7 pm. See the Pelican Valley Bear Management Area. Strong Bear Warning for Upper Pelican Creek Trail from Pelican Cone Trail Junction north to Fern Lake. (7/4/20)
Horse Use: Open to Stock. (7/4/20)
Cache Creek/Thunderer (3K1, 3K3)
Thunderer trailhead (3K3) is open - caution crossing Soda Butte Creek. (7/3/20)
Cache Creek Trail is clear up to Republic Pass. The National Forest Service side of Republic Pass has exteremely deep snow drifts and is not recommended.(7/6/20)
Cache Creek is open to stock coming from the Lamar trailhead. The trail is clear of trees and dry. (06/29/20)
Horse Use: Thunderer: Closed to stock (06/29/20) Cache: Open to stock (7/1/20)
Miller Creek trail is clear of trees and open to stock. Higher elevation trails surrounding area not clear and still snow covered. (06/29/20)
Wet conditions and trail not clear of trees. (06/29/20)
Avalanche Peak (not suitable for stock)
Avalanche Peak open. Likely some residual snow patches. (7/1/20)
Possible driving delays to get to the trailhead due to construction. Check the park road update page.(5/9/20)
Horse Use: Closed to stock (7/1/20)
Wapiti Lake trail/ Wrangler Lake/ Broad Creek/ Howard Eaton trail (4K7, 4N2, 4K8,5K2)
7-Mile Hole is snow free and cleared of downed trees. (6/13/20)
The Mount Washburn Spur trail is open to campsite 4E1. The trail is closed north of campsite 4E1.
Horse Use:Closed to stock
Wapiti Lake, Clear Lake, South Rim (4K7, 4K8, 4N2)
Trail is snow free and has been cleared of downed trees from Ribbon Lake, Clear Lake and South Rim. (6/13/20)
Howard Eaton Trail has been cleared from Wapiti Wrangler Lake junction south to Fishing Bridge. (6/16/20)
Trail has been cleared of downfall to Wrangler Lake.(7/1/120)
Strong Bear Warning for Upper Pelican Creek Trail from Pelican Cone Trail Junction north to Fern Lake. (7/4/20)
Horse Use: Pelican Valley, Astringent Creek Trail, and Wapiti Lake are closed to stock (7/1/20)
Cascade, Grebe, Wolf & Ice Lake (4K2, 4K3, 4K4, 4K5, 4N4)
Cascade Lake, Grebe, Wolf and Ice Lake trails have been cleared of downed trees. Trail is snow free, but very wet and muddy in some areas. Gibbon River is running 2.5 feet deep and fairly swift. Caution advised. (6/13/20)
The Solfatara Creek trail is open, conditions unknown. (6/1/20)
Wolf Lake and Grebe Lake have bird protection closures. Please review maps of the closure area.Campsites 4G5, 4G6, and 4G7 are also closed under this closure. (5/1/20)
Observation Peak Trail has been cleared of downfall. Fairly large snowpack still on top for a water source. (6/26/20)
Horse Use: Open to stock (5/1/20)
Mary Mountain/Hayden Valley & Cygnet Lakes (4N1, 4N3)
Hayden Valley area wildlife closure at Crater Hills (6/11/20)
The east half of the Mary Mountain trail to Mary Lake is likely wet and muddy. (6/14/20)
The Mary Mountain trail west of Mary Lake is open. (6/16/20)
Natural Bridge Trail is open. Road access has been cleared, the trail from Bridge Bay Campground has not. (6/15/20)
Elephant Back has been cleared of downed trees and is muddy in some areas. (6/14/20)
Storm Point is open. (6/16/20)
Horse Use: Open to Stock (7/1/20)
Lake Butte Overlook
Lake Butte Overlook is closed. (6/13/20)
Howard Eaton Trail (5K2)
Howard Eaton Trail from Fishing Bridge Trailhead north to Wapiti Wrangler Lake junction has been cleared. (6/16/20)
Horse Use: Open to horse use. (7/1/20)
Nine Mile Trailhead (5K5); Thorofare Trail / Mountain Creek (6K1, 6K2, 6K4, 6K5)
Trail from Nine Mile trailhead to the Thorofare, Mountain Creek Triangle, Mountain Creek Trail up the the base of Eagle Pass have been cleared of downed trees. Overall trail conditions are good with tntermittent mud and bogs. (7/4/20)
Eagle pass has 2-4 feet of snow. Travel not advised .(7/4/20)
Stream Crossings down to the Thorofare ( Cub Creek,Clear Creek, , Meadow Creek, Columbine Creek, Alum Creek, Cabin Creek,Mountain Creek, and Cliff Creek) are running at normal flow or slightly above: fordable on foot and stock with caution.(7/4/20)
Beaver Dam is fordable but stock users should ford 50 ft. downstream of the crossing as there is a big hole created by an eddy on the south side of the crossing. An emergency reroute is planned.(7/4/20)
Campsite 6C3 on has one food pole (7/4/20)
Campsites 6C2 and 6D1 has intermittent bogs: Caution for stock users.(7/4/20)
Yellowstone River is swollen to its banks: Not fordable at any of the crossings (7/4/20)
Upper and Lower Fords are closed (Trail Creek Trail is closed until July 15). River is typically not crossable at these locations until late-July or early-August. (7/01/20)
Fords of Thorofare Creek upper ford, is fordable on horse and running around 4-4.5 feet Deep and swift. Lower Ford:Deep and swift not crossable for both stock and foot.(7/4/20)
Escarpment Creek is a mess, running everywhere. Staying on the trail which has water running down it is the safest route. Anything off the trail is saturated and boggy. Caution for stock users. (7/4/20)
Hazard buoys and navigation aids are in place. Non Motorized buoys are not in place, motorized boaters, it is your responsibility to know where the mileage zones and non-motorized boat zones are, and to abide by the regulations.(6/10)
Docks are installed at campsites 7L5, 7L6, and 7M4. (6/10/20)
Docks are in place on Frank Island (6/18/20)
High winds are a daily occurrence on the lake, particularly in the afternoon. Canoeists and kayakers are urged to travel
close to shore, evaluate conditions, get an early start, and complete open water crossings as quickly as possible.
Heart Lake (8N1)
Open.Trail has been cleared of downfall along the Heart Lake Loop, and into Heart Lake from the the Heart Lake Trailhead.
The Trail Creek Trail east of Outlet Lake is closed until July 15 (Hear Lake BMA).
Snake River Ford Between Campsite 8B5 and 8C5 is 4 - 4.5 feet deep. The current was very strong/ swift and not fordable on foot.Stock users should cross with caution. (7/1/20)
Upper Snake river Ford near 8C5 is running 2-2.5 feet deep may be fordable for experienced hikers with extra caution. Okay for stock.(7/1/)
Heart River Ford running 1.5 feet deep. Should be okay to cross by foot and stock (7/1/20)
Horse Use: Open to Stock. No stock travel East of 8J3 to Outlet Meadows (7/1/20)
South Boundary Area/Snake River/Two Ocean Plateau (8K7, 8K8, 6K3)
Crossing Snake River not recommended due to rising water levels and very cold temperatures. Rivers which are crossable in the morning may rise to unsafe levels by afternoon -- do not get caught on the wrong side of a stream.
Fords as if 7/1/20:
Snake River Ford at South is 2 1/2 feet deep and Swift. Passable to stock, not recommended for foot parties.
The Ford of the Snake River at 6 mile is 3-3 1/2 ft deep . Passable to stock. Not recommended for foot parties.
The Ford of the Snake River by 8C2 is 2 ft deep. Passable to strong parties.
The Ford of Wolverine Creek is 2 ft deep. Passable to strong parties.
The Ford of the Snake River below 8C4 is 3-3 1/2 ft deep and swift. . Passable to stock. Not recommended for foot parties.
The Ford of the Snake East of the Snake River Tr/Basin Cr Cutoff junction is 5 ft deep where marked. Passable to stock upstream but not recommended for foot parties.
Horse Use: Open. The South Boundary Trail east of Harebell to Thorofare is closed. Two Ocean Plateau Trail, Snake River Canyon and the Trail Creek Trail from 8J3 to Outlet Meadows are closed to stock.(7/1/20)
The Shoshone Lake Trail along the east side of Shoshone Lake is posted as a bear frequenting area due to a carcass and bear activity in the area. (7/1/20)
All the trails around Shoshone, have been cleared of downed trees.(6/29/20)
Dogshead trail cleared of downed trees (6/9/20)
The dock at Lewis Lake is in place. AIS inspectors are on hand at the Lewis Lake Ranger Station to conduct AIS inspections and boat registration.
High winds are a daily occurance on the both Lewis and Shoshone Lakes, particularly in the afternoon. Boaters crossing Shoshone Lake should use good judgement to evaluate conditions and cross only at the "narrows".
There is a Loon Closure area in the Lewis River channel. The cove near the mouth of the Lewis channel is temporarily closed . Travel up the Lewis river is allowed. Buoys and sings mark the closed area.(6/6/19)
Horse Use: Open to Stock. The Stock Detour is closed, and no stock is allowed along the West side of Shoshone Lake.(7/1/20)
Lone Star Trail (OK1) & Howard Eaton Trail (OK2)
Report of tree across Howard Eaton trail (between Howard Eaton trailhead and Lone Star Geyser) that requires people to climb over it. (7/1/20)
Trail from campsite OA3 to Shoshone Geyser Basin has been cleared of downed trees. (6/29/20)
Horse Use:Closed until down fall is cleared. (7/1/20)
Grassy Lake Road is open. Conditions unknown. High Clearance Vehicles recommended.
Cave Falls Road from Ashton to the Bechler Ranger Station and Cave Falls is open but very rough. High Clearance Vehicles advised. (6/1/20)
Horse Use: Closed until July 15th. (6/1/20)
Bechler Meadows and Falls River area
Travel in the Bechler area is not advised. Bechler Meadows is flooded - expect areas with 1 to 2 feet of standing water. (7/1/20)
All rivers are deep and swift. Stream crossings are not recommended. (7/1/20)
Bugs and mosquitos are in abundance. (7/1/20)
Horse Use: Closed until July 15 (6/1/20)
Bechler Canyon/Bechler River trail
Rivers are swift and deep. Attempting to cross any streams is discouraged. Travel north of campsite 9B6 is highly discouraged due to dangerous river crossing. (7/1/20)
Bechler River Trail between campsites 8G1 and 9D2 has areas of snow. (7/2/20)
Horse Use: Closed until at least July 15
Boundary Creek/Dunanda Falls
Trails to Dunanda Falls are wet and partially flooded. (7/1/20)
Horse Use: Closed until July 15
Robinson Creek Trail very wet. (7/1/20)
Horse Use: Closed
Union Falls/Mountain Ash Creek
Fish Lake Trailhead is closed through July 15.
Mountain Ash Creek Fords are running 2 feet deep, high and swift. Passable, but use caution. (7/1/20)
Trails still have water, and mud in lower lying areas.(7/1/20)
Horse Use: Open from Grassy Lake Trailhead.
Pitchstone Plateau (8K4)
Partially snow covered. Trails not cleared. Not recommended. (6/29/20)
Horse Use: Closed.
Beula Lake/Tanager Lake/South Boundary Trail west (8K5, 8K6)