Time To Complete: 3.0
Very strong hikers can knock this one out in day, but it is best done as an overnight.
Seasonality: Summer, Fall
Land Website: Hiking in Yellowstone National Park
Hiking in Yellowstone National Park
Fees Permit: Yes
Park Entrance Fee and backcountry permit
Dog Friendly: No
Destination Highlights: Classic Destination, Most Of A Day, Good For Experts, Panoramic Views
While not the tallest mountain in Yellowstone, the view from Electric Peak might be the most fantastic in the park. From the formidable summit, lucky hikers can soak in sweeping views of the entire northwest corner of Yellowstone including the Gardiner River, Bunsen Peak, and even the Yellowstone River as it leaves the park and flows though the nearby town of Gardiner.
It takes more than luck to reach the top of Electric Peak though, and one of the best tools is a good plan. It is recommended to summit Electric Peak over the course of three days: hike to the Upper Gardiner River Valley and set up a base camp the first day, arise early and summit Electric Peak the second, and hike out the third. Most of the adventure is on class 1/2 trails but the final scramble to the summit is solid class 3.
What Makes It Great
Arise early on day two for the summit push. It’s a steep 4-mile climb that gains over 3,000 feet in elevation. Both intermediate and expert hikers should be well prepared. The top of Electric Peak is very exposed. Check the weather before leaving and be sure to bring the right equipment including proper clothing, food, and water. The first few miles of the trail climbs Electric Peak’s southeastern flank and are easy to follow. The route begins to disintegrate higher up. The last half-mile mile is a class 3 scramble over the rocks. Most hikers do not use ropes or climbing protection. Plan for extra time enjoying the breathtaking views from astride the mountain.
Who is Going to Love It
Intermediate and expert hikers will love the thrill, challenge, and planning components needed to summit Electric Peak. Electric Peak is a popular destination and so there is a plethora of online resources to help assist with the trip planning for this route. As always, carry bear spray on your belt or in your hand — never tucked away in your bag. The Upper Gardiner River Valley, including your basecamp, and the lower sections of Electric Peak are grizzly habitat.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
If you plan to stay overnight, a required first step is to reserve one of the backcountry campsites in the Upper Gardiner River Valley. Check the Yellowstone National Park website or ask at a visitor center to learn how.
Once ready to go, the route begins at the Glen Creek Trailhead. The first day is spent with an easy and enjoyable walk up into the headwaters of the Gardiner River. Given enough time and energy, a short side-trip up the pretty Cache Creek Trail to Cache Lake is worth the extra few miles. Electric Peak can be seen from the shores of Cache Lake and this view adds to the excitement of a summit prospect the next day. Beyond the Cache Creek junction, the trail climbs gradually to the Electric Peak Spur Trail. Continue another 0.25 miles downhill, past this junction, and camp the first night in the Upper Gardiner River Valley at your reserved backcountry site.
From Mammoth: Drive 4.8 miles south and park at the Glen Creek Trailhead on the eastside of the road. Parking is free with an Entrance Pass.
Please respect wildlife and maintain the required distances from all Yellowstone wildlife. It is illegal to approach or remain within 100 yards of bears or wolves. All other animals must be within 25 yards.
Backcountry camping in Yellowstone National Park requires a backcountry permit. Backpackers can only stay in designated locations that are subject to reservation. Please follow all Leave No Trace guidelines as well.
Featured image provided by Neal Herbert