Heart Lake to Snake River

Yellowstone National Park, WY
5.0 (35 reviews)

Trip Highlights

  • Point to Point Thru-hike
  • Summit Mount Sheridan
  • Hot Springs & Thermals
  • Wildland Habitat
  • Deep Wilderness
  • Lakeshore Camping
  • Guides Choice Trip


This Yellowstone backpacking trip features an amazing array of classic Yellowstone highlights in a remote, backcountry setting. Highlights include possible wildlife sightings (never guaranteed), spectacular views, deep wilderness, a peak ascent, lakeside camping, wonderful hiking, thermal features and more! This trip is also a point-to-point thru-hike, so we see all new scenery every day.

We’ll explore one of Yellowstone National Park‘s largest lakes, whose shores and waters host a fantastic variety of wildlife including elk, deer, moose, wolves, coyotes, fox, grizzly bears, black bears, swans, pelicans and more (again, wildlife sightings not guaranteed.) We’ll traverse Witch Creek, a steaming, thermal-fed stream that empties into Heart Lake. On the slopes and summit of Mount Sheridan we’ll enjoy some of the biggest and best views in Yellowstone. Then remote, vast meadows, the famous Snake River, a thermal creek we can soak in (time permitting), and more great wildlife country round out this trip and make it one our guides’ favorites!

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 …
4 Days
$1395 Per Person
5 Days
$1585 Per Person
Return Guests get a 10% discount on all Trips!
Trip Type: Guided Backpacking Trip
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 4-6 Guests
Trip Length: 4-5 Days
Distance: 25MI / 40KM


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

The 4-day version of this trip is rated Difficulty 4, the 5-day version is rated Level 3.

Backpack Weight:
30-40 pounds
Daily Hiking Distances:
4.5-10 miles
Most Elevation Loss:
2858 feet day hiking
Most Elevation Gain:
2858 feet day hiking
Quality of Trails:
Well maintained
This trip requires fording the Snake River which can be swift at times. Some of the hiking is also through wetland meadows which can get your boots wet and/or muddy.

Participants should:

  1. be active and healthy
  2. regularly exercise vigorously
  3. be comfortable hiking, biking, running, or swimming for several hours without many breaks


1 least solitude, 5 most solitude

We rate this Yellowstone backpacking trip a solitude 4. You can expect to see no more than a couple of other groups per day.

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: 2-hour drive
  • Hiking Mileage: 8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 300 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 600 feet

We begin this Yellowstone backpacking adventure in south central Yellowstone, where we’ll enter a burn area from the famous 1988 Yellowstone fires. Now over a quarter century old, the cleansing, regenerative effects of the fire are clearly evident. Factory Hill (9,607’) dominates the southern view as we ascend a gentle plateau overlooking Witch Creek and Heart Lake, two classic backcountry Yellowstone features. A number of hot springs pour into Witch Creek, raising its temperature to nearly 200 degrees Fahrenheit! We hike along Witch Creek through another burn area and then enter a meadow before joining Heart Lake. The largest trout ever caught in Yellowstone (a 43-lb. lake trout) was caught here. Along the lake’s western shore is Rustic Geyser, which is occasionally active.

Day 2

  • Hiking Mileage: 7.0 miles (optional day hike)
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 2,800 feet each way

We’ll spend day 2 hiking to the summit of Mount Sheridan. Mount Sheridan was named in 1871 by Captain Barlow after General Philip H. Sheridan, a distinguished soldier who often visited the park and worked for its interest. At 10,308 feet the peak lies a whopping 2,858 feet above Heart Lake. Our hike winds its way through meadows and forests up the northwestern shoulder of the mountain. Once atop the peak there are spectacular 360º views of the Grand Teton, Lewis Lake, the Absaroka Mountains and Yellowstone Lake. Also atop the summit is a fire-lookout – hard to believe living up here through the summer thunderstorms!

Day 3

  • Hiking Mileage: 11.1 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 400 feet

Following a hearty breakfast we’ll proceed south along Heart Lake’s western shore through open country where wildflowers abound. Hiking directly beneath Mount Sheridan we’ll see a number of characteristic avalanche chutes that exhibit precisely where massive avalanches have swept down on the lake. It is no wonder forests struggle to take hold here!

Once south of the lake we’ll hike through thick forest to the open and marshy glen that holds Sheridan Lake. After passing another lake (the picturesque Basin Creek Lake) we’ll descend to our camp on the Snake River near a number of thermal springs. One of these springs flows with a surprisingly high volume and contains beautiful blue algae accustomed to extreme temperature. The spring continues for approximately 1/4 mile before flowing into the Snake River – a fantastic spot for soaking. Those who wish may take advantage of soaking in the springs with a spectacular view of the surrounding canyon.

Day 4

  • Hiking Mileage: 5.6 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 300 feet
  • Shuttle: 2-hour drive

The final day we’ll hike out along the Snake River near the southern boundary of Yellowstone National Park. It is a beautiful 5.5-mile hike through stands of lodgepole pine, spruce, and fir with potential wildlife viewing.

5-day Variation

This route can be done in five days. For a 5-day itinerary we’ll stop at Basin Creek Lake to camp on the third night. Basin Creek Lake is a beautiful spot to camp and breaks up the trip nicely by shortening the long hike between Heart Lake and the Snake River. It also allows for more time exploring the area.

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.

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 or Black Diamond 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 and maximum group size on this trip is 6 guests and 1 guide. 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 (35 reviews)
Steven K

Exceeded all expectations

17 days ago

The hike exceeded all expectations. The back country of Yellowstone offered breathtaking vistas around every turn. The packs were heavy, the hikes were reasonably lengthy and there were more hills than I expected. And I wouldn't change a thing about experience. Our guide, Eric was obviously an expert in back country camping and hiking and kept us safe and sound throughout the trip. I think he was particularly outstanding in managing the hikes so we stayed at a steady, but comfortable pace, and no one felt stressed out from the physical exertion. He got everyone in our group (which included at least two people in their 60's) up Mt. Sheridan with no problems. He clearly knows how to lead a group. I am already browsing your catalogue for next year's adventure.

Heather S

GREAT time

24 days ago

5 stars! What a great way to see the park! We did this trip with our 13-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son. It was their first back-country trip. None of us will ever forget this experience! It was challenging but amazing. The views are just gorgeous. Our guide, Thad, went above and beyond. The weather was less than ideal. It was cold and rained just about the entire time and there was a fire ban too. So no warming up or drying out. Thad gave us options to adjust our trip and keep it enjoyable despite the weather. (Note: Our rain gear was lacking.) He was a great cook and our meals were beyond our expectations. He was also very knowledgeable about plant life and was great with the kids, teaching them basic survival skills, quizzing them, talking gear, etc. Despite the weather, we all had a GREAT time and can't wait to do another trip with Wildland.

John W

Excellent Guide

1 month ago

Carlos was an excellent guide and really did a nice job tending to specific individual needs. The meals were excellent. He had a wealth of knowledge to share with the group.

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