Gallatin Crest Traverse

Yellowstone National Park, WY
5.0 (14 reviews)

Trip Highlights

  • Amazing Gallatin Mountains
  • Paradise Valley Views
  • Yellowstone's Highest Lake
  • Mountain Solitude
  • Deep Wilderness
  • Ascend Bighorn Peak
  • Wildlife

Description

We were excited when we added it, and we can’t help but stay excited about our Gallatin Crest Traverse backpacking adventure! Phenomenal views, diverse wildlife, high mountain lakes, and classic meadows are the signature attractions of this hiking tour. In far Northwestern Yellowstone a little known route straddles the crest of the picturesque Gallatin Mountains. This route features the best views in Yellowstone, crystalline lakes, lush meadows, beautiful valleys and abundant wildlife. Shelf Lake, your backdrop for two nights, is the park’s highest lake at 9,200 feet. A layover day high on the crest caps this one off and allows for an exciting one day hike to the top of Bighorn Peak.

If you’re interested in getting up in the mountains and experiencing more of America’s first national park than what you can see from the roads, this “top of the world” Yellowstone hike is for you. Call us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) to reserve your spot today!


Need to Know: March 1st Permits

Due to Yellowstone’s permit system, which issues backcountry hiking and camping permits on March 1st each year, it’s beneficial to register before February 28th of the year you’d like to hike with us. Give us a call at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) to learn more!

Read more …
From
$1750 Per Person
Return Guests get a 10% discount on all Trips!
Trip Type: Guided Backpacking Trip
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 2-10 Guests
Trip Length: 5 Days
Distance: 24MI / 39KM

DIFFICULTY LEVEL 3

Scale of 1-5. 1 is least difficult; 5 is most difficult

SUMMARY OF DIFFICULTY
The majority of this trip is on good trails, with some steep, loose, and rocky sections. There are a few creek crossing, none of which are significant.

Hiking Distances:

4-8 mi

Backpack Weight:

35-45 lbs

Terrain:

Moderately Rugged

Max Daily Elev. ↑↓:

2000 ft

Heights Exposure:

Light

Please Note: Terrain, Elevation Gain and Heights Exposure ratings reflect the section or day of the trip with the maximum difficulty of each. Much of the trip is at easier levels. See the trip itinerary for more detailed information. Backpack Weight ratings are estimates that account for Wildland-provided gear, guest clothing, personal items and a share of group food. By packing light it’s often possible to stay on the lower end of the weight range. Pack weights also decrease during the trip.

PHYSICAL DEMANDS OF THIS TRIP

  • Hiking uphill or downhill with a 35-45 lb backpack for 6-8 hours
  • Maintaining balance and footing on moderately rugged terrain
* For an official and complete list of physical requirements, please see our Essential Eligibility Criteria.

SOLITUDE LEVEL 5

1 least solitude, 5 most solitude

We rate this Yellowstone backpacking trip a solitude 5. You can expect to have the Yellowstone backcountry to yourself much of the time!

MINIMUM OF 2 GUESTS

If a trip does not reach the minimum number of guests, you may choose to transfer to another trip date or another trip, be refunded your payments in full, or you may have the choice to pay a supplemental fee to run the trip with fewer guests. We make the final determination for these trips 4-6 weeks before the departure date, and notify guests of changes and options immediately.

Private Trips

Travel in perfect company by booking a private trip exclusively for your group!

Our sliding scale for private trips is based on the final number of guests in your group. Rates are per person and do not include sales tax, national park fees or guide gratuity. The final rate is based on the actual number of guests on the trip and may adjust based on cancellations or additions.

Please Note: you can also enjoy a private trip at our normal scheduled rates by filling any empty tour to capacity. However, if group members drop from the tour those spots will automatically become available on our website for instant booking. By purchasing a private trip at the rates listed below, your trip will remain exclusive to your group regardless of cancellations. 

Private Rates FOr This Trip

  • 2 People: Rate x 2.5
  • 3 People: Rate x 1.75
  • 4 People: Rate x 1.25
  • 5+ People: Rate x 1.15

*all rates are per person

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ITINERARY

ITINERARY

Day 1

  • Shuttle to Trailhead: 3.5-hour drive
  • Hiking Mileage: 6.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet

This Yellowstone backpacking trip begins in the scenic Gallatin River Valley that roughly defines the park’s northwestern boundary. The trailhead lies at 7,000 feet; the lowest elevation of the hike. It is a 6.5 mile hike upstream along Specimen Creek, a lovely creek that feeds the Gallatin, to a beautiful camp in the meadows along the east fork of the creek.

Day 2

  • Hiking Mileage: 3.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 800 feet

After a leisurely breakfast it is a short hike (~3.5 miles) to Yellowstone’s High Lake; a pleasant lake nestled among rolling meadows near the crest. Moose are sometimes seen in the meadows along this part of the trail. After we make camp a day hike up the trail will yield our first glimpses of the grand views to be had from the Gallatin Crest.

Day 3

  • Hiking Mileage: 7.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2300 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 2000 feet

Shortly out of camp the group is rewarded with tremendous views of Paradise Valley before descending towards Crescent Lake. After a relaxing break on the lakeshore, we’ll continue hiking through the conifers and across Specimen Creek. We’ll then climb the final 2-miles to our campsite at Shelf Lake, Yellowstone’s highest lake.

Day 4

  • Hiking Mileage: 6 miles – optional round trip day hike
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: approximately 1500 feet

This is a layover day. You will have the option of lounging in camp or participating in an exciting day hike to the summit of Bighorn Peak. The climb follows the highest part of the crest – with very few trees and a narrow profile the crest affords incredible 360 degree views. Bighorn Sheep are frequently seen among these high crags and ridges of Yellowstone.

Day 5

  • Hiking Mileage: 8.2 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 2200 feet
  • Shuttle 3.5-hour drive

Our final day consists of a long hike down the North Fork of Specimen Creek. The trail descends sharply from Shelf Lake into thick stands of majestic spruce and fir trees. Specimen Creek grows quickly as we hike downstream and soon we are in the beautiful lower meadows that the we hiked through on the first day. A final 2 miles of hiking brings us to the van and this backpacking trip’s completion.

Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary access restrictions, weather, lodging/campground availability, guest ability/injury, natural events like fires and flooding, and other potential causes. Normal terms and conditions apply to trips with itinerary changes.

Trip Dates & Booking

TRIP DATES & BOOKING

Click on a date to register. You can also click here to request new dates or book through customer service.

Available to Book

AVAILABLE TO BOOK

This trip is available and bookable online! Click on the date to register now or contact us online to book through our award-winning customer service team!

Going Fast

GOING FAST

This trip has 1 or 2 spots remaining and is bookable online! Click on the date to book now or contact us online to book through customer service.

Request a Reservation

REQUEST A RESERVATION

This trip is exclusively booked through customer service due to logistics with lodging, permits, staffing, availability, or something else. Please contact us online or call us at 800-715-HIKE (4453) to request a reservation.

Don't see your dates? Call us! We may be able to add new trip dates.

800-715-HIKE (4453)

Trip Details

Trip Details

What's Included

  • Top-of-the-line tent, backcountry sleeping pad and multi-day backpack
  • High quality, synthetic sleeping bag (professionally laundered after every use) – or bring your own.
  • Use of trekking poles
  • All meals are included from breakfast the first day through lunch on the last day
  • Trained hiking guide(s) with years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. See Guide Bios.
  • Roundtrip transportation from your hotel in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
  • Entrance fees and national park permits
  • Bear safety equipment including bear spray cannisters and food-hanging gear
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and communication device (InReach Explorer or satellite phone)
  • Mandatory 5% national park fee that passes through directly to Yellowstone
  • A Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and dependents to a discount of 10% off any Wildland hiking trip after your first one (must book directly with us to receive the discount)!

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear (see recommendations)
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed guidance about what to pack.

Meals: What To Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.

Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:

  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware synthetic-fill sleeping bags (or bring your own)
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Bear spray cannisters and food-hanging gear
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Emergency communication device(s)

Guest Packing List

When you register for this tour you’ll receive access to a printable, downloadable trip information packet with a detailed packing list specific to this trip (click here to see it now.) All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, a recommended clothing system, a headlamp or flashlight, a hydration system (water bottles and/or bladder) and other items specific to each trip.

Additionally, some guests choose to bring their own sleeping bag. We supply high quality, synthetic fill bags that are professionally laundered after every trip. Synthetic fill is non-allergenic, insulates when damp and stands up well to repeated washings, but is heavier and bulkier than down. If you’re able to bring your own down sleeping bag, there are multiple benefits. If not, we’ve got you covered!

Trip Logistics

Trip Logistics

How do I Register?

Reserve your spot today! In the Trip Dates & Booking section of this page, the green and red dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you’re ready to register we’ll email you a link to a registration profile. You’ll have 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit.

Feel free to call us for more info – we’re here 7 days a week!

Where Do We Meet?

Your guide will conduct a virtual orientation meeting (via conference call) at 5:00 PM the evening before your trip begins to review the packing list, communicate the first day’s logistics and answer any last minute questions you have. Your guide will give you the phone number for this call during the pre-trip contact approximately 10 days before your trip start date.

Early on the morning of Day 1 your guide will pick you up from your accommodations in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Driggs, Idaho; or Victor, Idaho.

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed guidance about flights, shuttles, recommended lodging and more.

Travel to Jackson, WY

This trip begins and ends in Jackson, Wyoming. Jackson has an airport served by United, Delta, and American Airlines. A Black Car Service (307-413-2572) provides private airport shuttles (advance reservations are recommended.)

You can also fly into:

  • Idaho Falls – small, more affordable airport; can meet your guide in Driggs, ID instead of Jackson; requires a car rental
  • Salt Lake City – Salt Lake Express (800-356-9796 or 208-656-8824) and Alltrans (800-652-9510) offer daily shuttles (4.5 hours). Advance reservations required.

Pre and Post-trip On Request Lodging

We secure limited amounts of pre and post trip lodging in Jackson, Wyoming as an optional add-on for guests of this trip. This lodging is on request, and is available on a first come, first serve basis. If interested, please reach out directly to our team to check availability.

Start/End Times

You can expect the first day’s pick-up time to be between 5 and 7 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will drop you off at your hotel on the final day no later than 7 PM.

Safety Precautions

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT’s, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. Guides adhere to standardized risk management protocols in case of any potential or actual incident, and all tours carry an emergency communication device and comprehensive first-aid kit. Additionally we have a “24/7” system through which guides or guests can reach Wildland support personnel at any time.

If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.

Essential Eligibility Criteria

Essential Eligibility Criteria (“EEC”) have been specifically identified to help you understand the skills and abilities necessary to participate on each Wildland trip, and they apply uniformly to all potential trip participants, irrespective of the presence or absence of any disability.

Once you identify a trip in which you may be interested, please carefully review the EEC and itinerary details. If after reviewing the EEC that apply to your desired trip, you determine you need an accommodation in order to meet the EEC, please contact us prior to registering to discuss your requested accommodation.

The EEC exist for your own safety and the safety and enjoyment of all participants. If you are unable to meet the EEC for the trip, with or without an accommodation, you are not eligible for that trip. If you register and arrive for a trip for which you do not meet the EEC, you will be disqualified from participation on the trip and will be dismissed or evacuated from the trip without a refund.

Guide Working Parameters

Guides are required to take 8 hours off each 24-hour period to sleep, recuperate, take personal/down time…etc. In addition, as part of the 8 hours off they must sleep/rest or be in their tents/rooms uninterrupted for a minimum of 5 hours each night. We ask guests to respect these requirements and to not interrupt guides’ off time and sleep time unless there is a true emergency.

Age Restrictions

Age restrictions on this trip are as follows:

  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 5 and older to join private tours, with final approval and specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis

Weather in Yellowstone

Being a Northern mountain environment, Yellowstone is prone to sudden temperature and weather shifts. This is an exciting aspect of being in Yellowstone. On the Spring/Fall Trekking Adventure in June, snow is a slight possibility, and the rest of the summer you’re likely to get rained on at least once during your trip. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). See below for average summer temperatures in Yellowstone:

Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)

MonthHighLow
June70°42°
July80°47°
August78°45°
September68°37°

Accommodations

Accommodations

BACKCOUNTRY SLEEPING

Tent Camping

Sleeping on backpacking trips is in premier 1-person, 2-person or 4-person backcountry tents. Solo travelers, and anyone else who requests it, are issued single tents. Top-of-the-line self-inflating sleeping pads and synthetic-fill sleeping bags (professionally laundered after every trip) are also provided.

BACKCOUNTRY CUISINE

Fresh & Delicious

Meals from breakfast Day 1 through lunch the last day are fully included and prepared by your guide. We never use dehydrated backpacking meals, instead serving freshly prepared, delicious backcountry cuisine made with a variety of common and specialty ingredients that travel well in the wilderness.

AMAZING CAMPSITES

In the Action

Of course campsites vary tremendously by destination, trip and even by the individual day of a trip. However, you can expect to camp in beautiful areas that put you right in the action to make the most of your backpacking adventure. We carefully design our itineraries with campsites in mind.

Trip Reviews

Trip Reviews

  • Average Customer Ratings:

  • 5.0 (14 reviews)
Sam H
5.0

Great Trip

1 year ago

The only thing is parking a car. We would have drove to driggs to leave car while on trip. Parking at the airport was out of the travel. Price at airport was nuts.need better information on parking on your website. Overall had a great trip and will recommend you. Guide was awesome.

Kathleen C
5.0

Above and Beyond

2 years ago

This was a special trip for my husband and I celebrating a personal milestone and we couldn't be happier with our entire experience. Every detail was thought out and the back country cooking was above and beyond. Our guide was very knowledgeable about the local area and we learned so much. I also feel like we gained greater knowledge and confidence to do more backpacking on our own in our local area. I would book another trip and look forward to exploring some other regions, and coming back to Yellowstone in the future.

Brian S
5.0

A Wonderful Experience

2 years ago

A great way to explore a beautiful park. Ron made sure we were happy, safe, supported, and full of good food! A wonderful experience.

See All Guest Reviews!

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