What to Pack for Yellowstone Backcountry Hiking
Yellowstone has many unique features that make a backpacking trip exciting and, at times, unpredictable. The grizzly bear has an incredible sense of smell and is very curious, making camp life more complicated than in other regions. Weather can be unpredictable, and sharp temperature shifts can occur even in the middle of summer. Be prepared for these oddities as you pack for your next Yellowstone hike.
Organize your food with animal safety in mind. Menu plans can remain the same as you normally use for backcountry trips, but your food must fit into bear-proof canisters or be hung from poles in campsites. Pack all of your food in plastic lock bags to keep in odors, and pack extra bags for trash storage. Make sure all of your food and toiletries fit into your bear can, and organize everything in order of its use so you don't have to empty the can at every meal. If you plan to hang your food, pack a stuff sack or other container.
Yellowstone is home to the grizzly bear as well as the black bear, so controlling odors around your campsite is a must. Pack a separate set of clothes to sleep in and plan to hang any clothes you cook in with your food at night.
Even in the summer months, the high elevations in Yellowstone can lead to cold nights. Pack a warm sleeping bag (30-degree rated or warmer) and a fleece sweater or light jacket. If you are traveling in the spring or fall, consider adding another fleece or soft-shell jacket and a pair of fleece pants.
A tent is a must in Yellowstone. Weather can be unpredictable, and there is no guarantee that you will make it through an evening sleeping out without getting wet. A tent also offers mostly psychological protection from wildlife, though it can sometimes deter a bear from investigating a curious odor.
Fires are prohibited in some areas of Yellowstone, so bring a backpacking stove. Plan on purifying all of your drinking water as well, and bring bags to pack out all of your trash.
Tips & Warnings
Place each meal into its own lock bag, then the separate meals into larger bags labeled by day. You can then hang these bags in your sleeping bag stuff sack at night.
At night, you must hang things like toothpaste and toothbrush, pots, pans and your stove or place them in a bear can. Even residual odors from food can attract bears.
Article Written By Gregory Johnson
Greg's passion for the outdoors has led him in hikes across the United States and over diverse terrain. Though he currently resides in the foothills of Appalachia, Greg spends his summer months working and hiking in such places as Tucson, Arizona, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
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