I’m pretty sure Yellowstone is magic — in early fall, especially so. Maybe it’s the golden light mingling with the golden aspens; or the endless stands of lodgepoles punctuated by my all time favorite tree, the whitebark pine.
Maybe it’s because the window between heavy mosquitoes and the first snowfall of the year is so fleeting, and therefore a reminder to live in and be grateful for the present moment. Or, maybe it’s because humans have been present in the area for more than 10,000 years, since the last Ice Age!
My friends and I were lucky to win a good place in the lottery for Yellowstone backcountry permits that takes place in early March. Securing stunning camp sites, we were able to string together an incredible 5-day, 4-night thru-hike.
We started our backpacking adventure at Bechler, a remote ranger station in the southwest corner of the park accessed by a long dirt road. At a relaxed and fun pace, we made our way toward Old Faithful.
If you’re not one to plan six months in advance, or you get skunked in the lottery, you can keep an eye out for cancellations on recreation.gov. Or, if you’re within two days of your hoped-for start date, walk-up backcountry permits are available on a first-come, first-served basis in person at any Yellowstone Backcountry Office. Walk-up permits cannot be issued over the phone or online. This interactive map of Yellowstone’s backcountry camping sites will help with trip planning! And this National Park Service page has good general information on backpacking in Yellowstone!
I’d like to thank Mandy and Marek, not only for their incredible companionship, but also for being the ones to take several of the photos included in this gallery. We hope it inspires you to find your way to these sacred grounds; to hike, explore and revere the thundering waterfalls, abundant wildlife and ancient Indigenous corridors.
… and who knows? It just might change your life, as it did mine.
- Amy Hatch, GGG Co-Founder & Editor in Chief
P.S. Let’s play eye spy! How many pieces of GGG gear do you see in these photos? Leave a comment below!