Black Canyon of the Yellowstone River

Cody, Wyoming

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From the Gardiner Trailhead, the trail cuts through a narrow 60-yard strip of land between the church property on your left and a private campground on the right to a prominent trail sign. For the next 0.5 mile you cross private land (please stay on the trail), passing the confluence of the small and clear Gardner River with the larger and murkier Yellowstone River to where signs tell you that you are entering Yellowstone National Park. The surroundings are unlike what most people think of when they envision Yellowstone. Here, at the lowest elevations in the park, the only trees are some scattered Rocky Mountain junipers and a few cottonwoods by the river. In fact, the region is a semidesert, complete with sagebrush and prickly pear cactus. In summer it can get very hot in this canyon, but the relatively mild winters make it critical winter range for many of the park’s large mammals, including bison, elk, and bighorn sheep.

Black Canyon of the Yellowstone River Professional Review and Guide

"From the Gardiner Trailhead, the trail cuts through a narrow 60-yard strip of land between the church property on your left and a private campground on the right to a prominent trail sign. For the next 0.5 mile you cross private land (please stay on the trail), passing the confluence of the small and clear Gardner River with the larger and murkier Yellowstone River to where signs tell you that you are entering Yellowstone National Park. The surroundings are unlike what most people think of when they envision Yellowstone. Here, at the lowest elevations in the park, the only trees are some scattered Rocky Mountain junipers and a few cottonwoods by the river. In fact, the region is a semidesert, complete with sagebrush and prickly pear cactus. In summer it can get very hot in this canyon, but the relatively mild winters make it critical winter range for many of the park’s large mammals, including bison, elk, and bighorn sheep."

Activity Type: Backpacking, Hiking
Nearby City: Cody
Distance: 32.2
Elevation Gain: 3,200 feet
Trail Type: Shuttle
Skill Level: Difficult
Duration: 3–4 days
Season: May to November
Local Contacts: Yellowstone National Park
Local Maps: Trails Illustrated Mammoth Hot Springs-NW Yellowstone National Park and Tower/Canyon & NE Yellowstone National Park

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