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: August 6, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
High Water Caution
Streams are dropping from peak levels, but some 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. The fire danger is currently HIGH.
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. (6/1/20)
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. (6/19/20).
Horse Use: Open to stock use
Bunsen Peak/Osprey Falls (1K4)
Horse Use: Open to stock. Osprey Falls not suitable 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 to stock and may be difficult to hikers due to deep snow and a large cornice.(See photo posted above) (7/1/20)
Daly Creek/Black Butte/Sky Rim Trail/Shelf Lake (WK1, WK2)
Black Butte trail is open. (7/13/20)
Daly Creek Trail (WK1) is clear of down trees. (7/13/20)
Daly to Black Butte via the cut-off trail is cleared of down trees. (7/10/20)
Sky Rim Trail is in good shape. (7/24/20)
Food poles at campsite WF1 are down; hard-sided bear canisters are required. (7/19/20)
Trail from Specimen Creek to Shelf Lake is cleared of downed trees. (7/22/20)
Horse Use: Black Butte open to stock. All other trails open to stock. (7/26/20)
Specimen Creek/High Lake/Crescent Lake/Sportsman Lake (WK3)
Specimen CreekTrail (WK3) : The trail from Specimen Creek to Crescent Lake is cleared of downed trees. Campsite WE1, and WD1,WD2, WD3, WD4, WD4 are in good shape.(7/22/20)
Trail from Sportsmans Lake to High Lake has been cleared of fallen trees (7/10/20)
Horse Use: Open to stock. It has been reported that there are several trees down between Specimen Trailhead and campsite WE1, passable to stock. (8/4/20)
Bacon Rind (WK4)
Bacon Rind trail (WK4) is dry and cleared of downed trees. (7/19/20)
Horse Use: Open to stock
Fawn Pass/Fan Creek (WK5)
August 10-15 there will be construction work at the Fawn Pass Trailhead. Visitorsneed to park on the gravel portion of the trailhead parking only so as not to be blocked in. Groups with multiple vehicles will need to shuttle additional vehicles from the Bacon Rind trailhead.
Campsites WC3, WC4 are in good shape.
Trail from Fan Creek to Specimen Creek is clear of trees and passible to stock.(7/10/20)
Thunderer trailhead (3K3) is open - caution crossing Soda Butte Creek. Scout for the best crossing .(7/24/20)
Cache Creek Trail is clear up to Republic Pass. (7/24/20)
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. (7/17/20)
Trail not clear of trees. (7/24/20)
Avalanche Peak (not suitable for stock)
Avalanche Peak trail is in good shape with just one lingering snow field. (7/28/20)
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)
Horse Use: Open (7/4/20)
Pelican Valley/Turbid Lake (5K3)
Strong Bear warning no off-trail travel for the first 5 miles of the trail. (7/25/20)
There is no off-trail travel and no fishing 1/2 mile from the confluence of the Lamar and Miller Creek (both on the Lamar River, and Miller Creek) due to carcass in the vicinity. (7/28/20)
The Mount Washburn Spur trail is open to campsite 4E1. The trail is closed north of campsite 4E1.
Horse Use:Closed to stock. Not Suitable.
Wapiti Lake, Clear Lake, South Rim (4K7, 4K8, 4N2)
Trail 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)
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)
Starting August 17th the Wolf Lake trail from the Wolf Lake Trailhead (4N4) to the Junction of the Howard Eaton Trail will be closed for fisheries work. Closure will remain in place until August 23. (8/4/20)
Cascade Lake, Grebe, Wolf and Ice Lake trails have been cleared of downed trees. (7/24/20)
The Solfatara Creek trail is open, conditions unknown. (6/1/20)
Observation Peak Trail has been cleared of downfall. Likely no water source remaining for campsite 4P1. (7/24/20)
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 Mary Mountain trail is open. (6/16/20)
Cygnet Lake Trail has been cleared of downfall, and is in good shape. (7/14/20)
Natural Bridge, Elephant Back and Storm Point trails have been cleared of downed trees. (7/19/20)
Horse Use: Open to Stock (7/1/20)
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 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 has 2-4 feet of snow. Travel not advised .(7/4/20)
CAUTION: BE BEAR AWARE! Strong Bear Warning for sites 5E1, 5E2, 5E3, 5E4, 6B1, 6B2, 6B4. (7/18/20)
Stream Crossings down to the Thorofare
Cub Creek,Clear Creek Meadow Creek easily forded on foot.(7/10/20)
Columbine Creek, Alum Creek, Cabin Creek,Mountain Creek, and Cliff Creek are running at normal flow: 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)
The confluence ford of the Yellowstone near the south boundary was running at 3-4' (7/10). It's fordable on horse and foot: hikers: caution advised is still high, not recommended.(7/15/20)
Upper and Lower Fords not crossable at these locations typically these fords are not crossable until late-July or early-August. (7/15/20)
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 though likely to have dropped enough to cross by next week.(7/15/20)
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,and Non Motorized buoys in place(7/13/20)
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, 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 aboutt 2-2.5 feet deep crossable on foot and stock.(7/15/20)
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. (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)
There is no overnight camping allowed at the Bechler Ranger Station. (7/10/20)
Shoshone Lake/Lewis Lake (8K1, 7K2)
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 is 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".
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)
Bugs are bad (7/15/20)
Horse Use: Open (7/19/20)
Bechler Meadows and Falls River area
Meadows are dry. Expect mosquitos and horse flies. (7/19/20)
Most river crossings are running about 24".
Horse Use: Open (7/19/20)
Bechler Canyon/Bechler River trail
Most creeks are running about 24" and crossable with caution. (7/15/20)
All snow has melted from the Bechler River trail up to campsite 9D4. (7/19/20)
Trail from 9D4 to Shoshone Lake has been cleared of downfall(7/29/20)
Horse Use: Open (7/15/20)
Boundary Creek/Dunanda Falls
Trails to Dunanda Falls are dry. (7/19/20)
Horse Use: Open (7/19/20)
Robinson Creek Trail very wet. (7/1/20)
Horse Use: Open (7/19/20)
Union Falls/Mountain Ash Creek
Mountain Ash Creek Fords are running 2 feet deep, high and swift. Passable, but use caution. (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)
Partially snow covered. Trails not cleared. Not recommended. (6/29/20)
Horse Use: Closed.
Beula Lake/Tanager Lake/South Boundary Trail west (8K5, 8K6)