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.
NOTICE Backcountry Fire Restrictions are in effect. See information below.
NOTICE The Lone Star Fire has prompted closures of multiple backcountry trails and campsites. See the Southwest Region section below for additional information.
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Last Updated: September 25, 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 phone and e-mail 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 call 307-344-2160 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Backcountry Fire Restrictions
Backcountry fire restrictions are in effect. Due to very high fire danger wood and charcoal fires are currently prohibited in the backcountry at all backcountry campsites. Smoking is prohibited in the backcountry and on all trails, expect immediately adjacent to the provided fire ring in designated campsites or within a 3 foot diameter area barren of all flammable material (e.g. standing in water, on a boat). Portable gas stoves and lanterns are permitted.
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,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.
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.
Horse Use: Beaver Ponds trail not suitable for stock.
Glen Creek Trailhead – Fawn Pass & Electric Pass (1K3)
The Sportsman Lake Trail has been cleared from the Glen Creek trailhead to campsites 1G3 and 1G4 and to Cache Lake.
Trail from Electric Pass to Sportsman Lake, High Lake and Crescent Lake is cleared of downed trees. (9/24/20)
Horse Use: Open to stock use
Bunsen Peak/Osprey Falls (1K4)
Open and accessible from the Bunsen Peak Trailhead.
The Bunsen Road Trailhead is closed due to construction. Hikers/bikers are unable to enter/exit via the Bunsen Road Trailhead by the Mammoth Garage. Travel past (north of) the Osprey Falls trail is not recommended since the trail is a dead end.
Horse Use: Open to stock. Osprey Falls not suitable to stock
The Indian Creek campground is closed for the season. For visitors permitted for campsite 1B1 please make sure to park so that you do not block the barricade so that administrative vehicles can still access the area. (9/24/20)
Horse Use: Open to Stock, be cautious around a bog near Indian Creek crossing. 8/4/20
Mount Holmes area (1K6, 1K8)
Loop around Grizzly Lake has been cleared of downed trees. (7/1/20)
Mount Holmes trail has been cleared of downed trees until the campsite 1C4 and 1C5. (6/18/20)
Specimen Ridge/Agate Creek/Yellowstone Picnic Area trailhead (2K4, 2K7)
Specimen Ridge has been cleared and can be hiked in its entirety. The Lamar River is crossable on the east end of the trail, scout for the best crossing. (7/12/20)
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 is crossable. (7/24/20)
Horse Use: Open to stock. (7/4/20)
Cache Creek/Thunderer (3K1, 3K3)
Thunderer trailhead (3K3) is open - caution crossing Soda Butte Creek.(9/21/20)
Cache Creek Trail is clear up to Republic Pass. (7/24/20)
There is a bog along the trail approximately 1.5 miles north of campsite 3C4. Caution advised for horse parties. (9/8/20)
Horse Use: Thunderer: Open to stock (7/12/20) Cache: Open to stock (7/1/20)
Miller Creek trail is clear of downed trees. Canoe Lake and Bootjack Gap trails are snow free and cleared of downed trees. Hoodoo Basin trail is cleared of downed trees up to the last half mile . (7/17/20)
Horse Use: Open to stock. (8/15/20)
Trail not clear of trees. (7/24/20)
Avalanche Peak (not suitable for stock)
Avalanche Peak trail is in good shape. (9/20/20)
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)
Natural Bridge, Elephant Back and Storm Point trails have been cleared of downed trees. (7/19/20)
Horse Use: Open to Stock
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.
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 initially cleared. Nine Mile Trailhead to campsite 5E6 has been re-cleared. Overall trail conditions are good with intermittent mud and bogs. (7/10/20)
Eagle pass is crossable. (8/10/20)
Stream Crossings down to the Thorofare
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)
Campsites 6C2 and 6D1 has intermittent bogs: Caution for stock users.(7/4/20)
Upper and Lower Fords of the Yellowstone River near campsites 6B1 and 6B2 are crossable. Caution advised for swift water.
Fords of Thorofare Creek are crossable.
Horse Use: Open to Stock
Yellowstone Lake (5K1, 5K4, 5K6, 7K1)
The dock at the Grant Village boat launch is damaged and unstable. Launching of motor boats at Grant is not advised. Boaters are advised to launch at Bridge Bay until the dock is repaired. (8/8/20)
Hazard buoys and navigation aids, and Non Motorized buoys in place.
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)
CAUTION Strong Bear Warning for Heart Lake Trail, no off-trail travel between Paycheck and Heart Lake carcass in the area. (9/19/20)
Several bears are in the area feeding on berries. Make sure to make noise, be bear aware, and have food and scented items properly stored at all times.(9/4/20)
Open. Trail has been cleared of downfall along the Heart Lake Loop, and into Heart Lake from the the Heart Lake Trailhead, also Heart Lake to Outlet Divide. Caution advised for some of the drainages for stock particularly long pack strings.(7/10/20)
Trail to Mt. Sheridan is cleared of downfall. (7/24/20)
The Snake River fords are running about 2-2.5 feet deep crossable on foot and stock.(7/15/20)
Heart River Ford running 1.5 feet deep and crossable on foot and stock.
Campsite 8C6 is CLOSED due to bears frequenting the area.Strong Bear Warnings for campsites 8C1, 8C7, 8B1, and 8B2 (8/31/20)
Horse Use: Open to Stock. (7/24/20)
South Boundary Area/Snake River/Two Ocean Plateau (8K7, 8K8, 6K3)
Crossing Snake River Fords are crossable and approximately 2 feet. It is recommended that users scout for the best ford and not blindly cross where the trail crosses as there might be safer options nearby. (7/12/20)
Two Ocean Plateau trail is cleared of downed trees from the South Boundary trail to campsite 6M5. (7/19/20)
South Boundary Trail: Cleared from the South entrance to Thorofare. (7/15/20)
Snake River Canyon trail is cleared from the Fox Creek Cabin up to Heart Lake. (7/15/20)
Harebell Cutoff trail: cleared from the Heart River trail to Harebell Patrol Cabin. (7/15/20)
Campsite 8C6 is CLOSED due to bears frequenting the area. (8/21/20)
The following trailheads are CLOSED due to the Lone Star Fire: Fern Cascade, Lone Star, Howard Eaton, DeLacy Creek.(9/14/20)
The following trails are CLOSED due to the Lone Star Fire: Fern Cascade, Howard Eaton, Lone Star, Bechler River Trail north of campsite 9D2, North Shore Shoshone Lake Trail, DeLacy Creek Trail, Shoshone Lake Trail north of campsite 8T1 (no travel through the Shoshone Lake Geyser Basin), East Shore Shoshone Lake Trail (north of campsite 8S1). 9/14/20
The following campsites are CLOSED due to the Lone Star Fire: OA1, OA2, OA3, 8G1, 8R1, 8R2, 8R3, 8R4, 8R5, 8S2, 8S3, 8S4, 8S5, 8S7, 9D3, 9D4.
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".
Horse Use: Open to Stock. The Stock Detour is closed, and stock is not allowed along the West side of Shoshone Lake through the geyser basin.
Lone Star Trail (OK1) & Howard Eaton Trail (OK2)
CLOSED due to wildland fire. See MAP of closed area/trails. (8/23/20)
Campsites OA1, OA2, and OA3 are closed.
Horse Use: Closed
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. Travel for vehicles towing trailers is very slow. (6/1/20)
Horse Use: Open (7/19/20)
Bechler Meadows and Falls River area
Meadows are dry.(9/11/20)
Horse Use: Open (7/19/20)
Bechler Canyon/Bechler River trail
Bechler River Trail is closed north of campsite 9D2 due to the Lone Star Fire. MAP of closed area. (8/23/30)
Trail from 9D4 to Shoshone Lake has been cleared of downfall(7/29/20)
Horse Use: Open south of campsite 9D4. (8/23/20)
Boundary Creek/Dunanda Falls
Trails to Dunanda Falls are dry. (7/19/20)
Horse Use: Open
Robinson Creek Open. (7/1/20)
Horse Use: Open
Union Falls/Mountain Ash Creek
Mountain Ash Creek Fords are running up to 2 feet deep and are crossable. (7/1/20)
Trails to Union Falls are dry. (7/19/20)
Horse Use: Open from Grassy Lake Trailhead but not recommended for stock use due to a beaver dam blocking and flooding the trail. (7/19/20)
Pitchstone Plateau (8K4)
Trails not cleared.
Horse Use: Closed.
Beula Lake/Tanager Lake/South Boundary Trail west (8K5, 8K6)