Off-The-Beaten-Path Hikes to Check out in Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park is over 2 million acres, a vast swath of land with hundreds of trails. Yet most people stick to the main attractions and rarely venture to some of the lesser-known areas of the Park. Once you’re off the beaten path and away from the crowds, the vastness of Yellowstone is even more apparent, and the solitude is delightful. From gentle slopes to long, arduous backpacking trips, there’s a hike for everyone.


Cygnet Lakes

This is a moderate day hike in an uncrowded part of Yellowstone. The flat, 8.2-mile out-and-back is home to a lot of waterfowl, including swans, making it great for birding, hiking, and running.


Rescue Creek

This day hike or overnight is moderately challenging, making it suitable for backpacking, camping, and hiking. It’s a seldom-used trail near Mammoth and does require a shuttle.


Solfatara Creek

This trail is best for more experienced day hikers. The trail is not frequented often but is a great place to look for obsidian used by the Sheepeaters and other Native Americans for arrowheads. (Just look, please; removing them from the Park is illegal!) The 6.4-mile shuttle is excellent for backpacking, birding, and camping.




Monument Geyser Basin

This hike is short and steep, taking you to a thermal area that is rarely seen. The walk is 2.4 miles out and back, with many steam vents and chimneys. It’s also great for birding and hiking.


Purple Mountain

A day hike to this mountaintop takes you up to 1500 feet. It’s a Category 2 climb to the summit, which is 8,433 feet. Once you’re there, you’ll have panoramic views of Gibbon River Valley and the Madison River. (Note, due to the elevation gain, this is not a good hike for those with heart or respiratory problems.)


Little Gibbon Falls

For those looking for a short, easy hike, this hidden trail is 1.2 miles to a 25-foot waterfall not found on most maps. The hike meanders through a lovely meadow before heading into the forested area.




The Thorofare and the South Boundary Trail

One of the longest backpacking trips in Yellowstone and the most remote; you can hike 30 miles in and be 30 miles in any direction from the nearest road. The total hike is 69 miles and requires a shuttle.


Fern Lake

Another challenging backpacking route, this 23.9-mile lollipop loop, requires you to move 12-14 miles daily, and hiking is only allowed from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Buffalo Plateau

This is an excellent hike to start early in the morning. It’s 18.8 miles and generally considered challenging, but it has a plethora of wildflowers and generally a lot of cast-off antlers from the elk wintering.


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