Lamar to Pelican Valley
This guided backpacking trip through Lamar Valley, in the northeast corner of the park, covers some of the best scenery Yellowstone has to offer. You will hike through wide-open meadows scattered with bison, pronghorn, and other big mammals, all the while following the majestic Lamar River.
Eventually, the trail takes you over the mighty Mist Pass and drops into Pelican Valley — a massive expanse of rolling grass, slow-moving creeks, and a true wildlife stronghold.
Of all the trips Nomadic By Nature offers, this trip offers the best chance to see wildlife in the backcountry.
DAY BEFORE TRIP STARTS
We will meet the evening before our trip starts in Bozeman, Montana at 5:00 pm, at a predetermined hotel. If the meeting is held at a different hotel than you are staying, your guide will gladly provide transportation to and from the meeting. In this meeting, we will do a general orientation that will cover introductions, trip itinerary, safety precautions, pack fitting and group gear distribution. Most importantly, this is a chance to meet with your guide to discuss the personal gear and clothes that you plan on bringing; your guide will offer advice about what to bring and what to leave behind for a successful and comfortable trip. This meeting generally lasts one hour.
Travel time from Bozeman: 3.5 Hours
Distance: 3.5 to 6 Miles
We will pick you up early in Bozeman and enjoy a scenic drive through Paradise Valley on our way to the park. Once in the park, we’ll start our search for wildlife as we drive through Little America and Lamar Valley. The trail will start as we cross a footbridge over Soda Butte Creek, where we can look down and see Cutthroat trout swimming in the pristine waters. The first few miles are flat and wildlife is typically plentiful in these wide-open meadows. After a mile and a half, we will climb up some rolling hills and have our last glimpse of the road until the end of the trip since this is a very secluded part of Yellowstone. We’ll continue searching for wildlife in Lamar Valley until we reach Cache Creek, where we’ll settle in and enjoy a big dinner.
Distance: 5 - 8 Miles
We will start with a healthy breakfast, prepared by your guide. After breaking down camp, and packing up, we will continue our trip along the Lamar River; the trail will take us up and down and provide us with excellent vantage points to enjoy the scenery. Along the way, we can stop and check out an old patrol cabin, all while continuing to search for wildlife. We will set up camp in a spacious meadow and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.
Distance: 5 to 8 Miles
This is the day when the power of the landscape will really set in-- when you will see the bigger picture of what Yellowstone means to the rest of the world. We will continue backpacking along the Lamar River until we reach the important junction of Mist Creek. As a group, we will take lots of breaks along the trail to enjoy the sounds of the meadow and watch wildlife. We will set up camp and enjoy another night under the stars.
Distance: 6 to 8 Miles
After a hearty breakfast, we will begin the day with crossing the Lamar River. As we gently build elevation, we will reach a ridge overlooking Mist Creek and the surrounding mountains; wolf and mountain lion tracks have been spotted on this trail, as it is a very remote area of the park. In the evening, we will arrive in Mist Creek Meadows, where we’ll set up camp. This scenery will have you thinking back to days of untouched lands and pristine meadows. We will settle in for a night of star gazing, for tomorrow is a big day.
Distance: 11 Miles
Difficulty: Hard (due to long distance)
Travel time to Bozeman: 4 hours (estimated arrival is 5:00 pm)
We will wake up early, break down camp and hike over Mist Pass. On the other side, we will be rewarded with phenomenal views of Pelican Valley, the Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone Lake. Pelican Valley is home to the Mollie’s wolf pack, who are commonly known to bring down bison in the winter. With no roads leading through the valley, it is a stronghold for wildlife, and the scenery is absolutely spectacular. Even though this is a long day, the views, wildlife and thought of a big meal waiting for you will make it fly by. Once we reach the trailhead, we will take a short drive to a picnic area, we will enjoy a fresh lunch and be on our way back to Bozeman.
Nomadic By Nature always tries our best to follow the itinerary as closely as possible. However, there may be slight variations based on the National Park Service permit system and the ever-changing dynamics of the outdoors.
All backpacking gear is provided by Nomadic by Nature, including backpacks, tents, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, trekking poles, group cooking supplies, and more.
Click below to review the checklist of what is provided, and what you'll need to bring on your backpacking trip in Yellowstone National Park.
Due to the nature of the Park Service’s permit system, Nomadic By Nature will not know the exact dates of your trip until April. As soon as we get our permit dates, NBN will notify you immediately. We strongly recommend making your accommodation and flight reservations at that time.
GETTING TO AND FROM BOZEMAN:
All NBN backpacking trips will depart from Bozeman, Montana. Bozeman International Airport is 10 miles from Bozeman’s downtown. We ask all guests to arrive in Bozeman the day before the trip starts, so they can attend the pre-trip meeting, which will be at 5 pm the night before. If your flight is delayed, please reach out to Nomadic By Nature.
We strongly recommend NOT flying out the same day that the trip ends. With long drive times and unpredictable wildlife encounters along the roads, it is hard to predict a precise time that we will arrive back in Bozeman.
Nomadic By Nature is not responsible for providing accommodation the night before the trip, or the night we return from the trip. However, we have corporate rate with the C'mon Inn in Bozeman. Be sure to ask about the rate when you book with us!
TRAINING FOR THE TRIP:
By getting in shape before you start your backpacking trip you'll be able to enjoy your trip without worrying about aches and pains. Training for the trip not only helps yourself out, it helps the whole team accomplish the goal and stay safe and comfortable out there.
Check out our recommendations for training for a Nomadic by Nature backpacking trip.
Refund & Cancellation
Cancellation policy is per person.
Cancel 30 or more days prior to trip departure, refund less the $300 deposit.
Cancel less than 30 days prior to trip departure, receive a trip credit.
Trip credits are for the full trip amount and are good for two years.
For more information, please see Terms and Conditions at the bottom of the page.
Guests are no longer required to wear masks while in vehicles to and from the trailhead
Hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer are provided
All dishes will be cleaned using soap and bleach
All gear will be cleaned after each trip
Guests are asked to stay home if they are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms
Why Nomadic By Nature?
It's a lot of planning and a big commitment -- you don't want to choose just any outfitter or guide to take you into the wilderness for a several day stretch. Our experience is vast, personally and professionally, and we want you to be confident in choosing Nomadic By Nature. To learn more about our background and passion for backpacking and the outdoors, click below to read our story. We have much to share and show you -- so we hope you'll join us for an unforgettable experience!
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