Gallatin Crest Traverse

Yellowstone National Park, WY
5.0 (13 reviews)

Trip Highlights

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


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 …
5 Days
$1535 Per Person
Return Guests get a 10% discount on all Trips!
Trip Type: Guided Backpacking Trip
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 4-10 Guests
Trip Length: 5 Days
Distance: 24MI / 39KM


Our difficulty ratings are based on a scale of 1-5, tours with a rating of 1 being least difficult, tours with a rating of 5 being most difficult

Backpack Weight:
30-40 pounds
Daily Hiking Distances:
4-8 miles
Most Elevation Loss:
2250 feet
Most Elevation Gain:
2000 feet
Quality of Trails:
Well maintained trails and off-trail
This trip features an off-trail section and an ascent of Bighorn Peak. The hiking in these sections is through meadows and across rocky alpine ridges.

Participants should:

  1. be active and healthy
  2. exercise several times per week
  3. be comfortable hiking 6-8 miles per day in hilly or mountainous terrain with a 25-pound backpack


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!

We’re here to help. If you have any questions, call 800-715-HIKE or contact us online.
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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 miles
  • Elevation Loss/Gain: 1,200 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 2,000 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: 2,200 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


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

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


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


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
  • A professional, knowledgeable, certified Yellowstone hiking guide
  • 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 satellite phone
  • You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear (Oboz hiking shoes and boots recommended)
  • 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)

What Gear To Bring

We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person and either a headlamp or flashlight per person. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries are also important.

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!

What Clothes to Bring

When you register for this tour you’ll receive access to a printable, downloadable trip information packet with detailed guidance about what clothes to pack (click here to see it now.) All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, and our recommended clothing system. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required.

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.

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 Considerations

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. We’ve developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and most tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.


Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.

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.

Group Size and Age Restrictions

The standard group size on backpacking trips is 6 guests and 1 guide, with a maximum of 10 guests and 2 guides. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) and we’ll answer all your questions.

Age restrictions 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)





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.


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.


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 (13 reviews)
Kathleen C

Above and Beyond

24 days 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

A Wonderful Experience

28 days 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.

Mikkael O

Enjoyable outdoor experience

1 month ago

More than just great views, it's an experience. The food is amazing and that alone makes the trip worth it. Our guide was very knowledgeable and helped with mundane tasks so we could enjoy more of the awesome sights and sounds that surrounded us.

See All Guest Reviews!

Go to our reviews page

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