Backpacking in Yellowstone, or into any section of the expansive wilderness in the Greater Yellowstone Area, can seem an overwhelming prospect to consider. But, take it from the pros – the staff of Sunlight Sports – who backpack together into Yellowstone each summer: The preparation is worth the experience.
We asked some of the Sunlight team for their most essential advice when it comes to backpacking in Yellowstone. Before donning your pack, consider these ten tips (we hope they’ll add to both your excitement and confidence to get out the door and into the wild).
1. A backcountry office will prepare you for your trek
“In theory, backpacking in Yellowstone sounds a lot more complicated than it is,” said Sunlight Sales Associate Zayne Hebbler. “As long as you can get to a backcountry office, you can figure it out. The rangers are very helpful at explaining the whole process, so it really is a lot easier than people hype it up to be.”
2. Know how you can moderate bear danger
“Bears are definitely an issue for greater Yellowstone area, but you can mitigate the bear risk by taking proper precautions,” said Sunlight Manager and Buyer Christian Baumeister. “This includes watching the bear safety video in the backcountry office, hiking in groups of two or more, carrying bear spray, practicing safe food and smellables storage and separating your kitchen site from your bear hang and your sleeping area. Just being all around bear aware.”
3. Equip yourself to enjoy the fresh mountain water
“Having a water source – some type of water purifying system, is a must. You don’t want to be carrying water all the way back there,” said Sunlight Sales Associate Sonya Graves.
4. Don’t forget to take care of what’s carrying you
“You’ve got to take care of your feet – that’s what’s carrying you in and out,” said Sunlight Footwear Buyer Krystina Beatty. “That’s why we try to put a big emphasis on our footwear at Sunlight.”
5. You probably don’t need as much gear as you think
“Keep it simple. Don’t over gear yourself. Even though the trails are well-maintained, they’re relatively rocky, and you don’t want to be over carrying,” said Sunlight Sales Associate Sonya Graves.
6. Leave your worries back in civilization
“Don’t worry so much,” said Sunlight Sales Associate and Merchandizer Randi Hicks. “A lot of people tend to worry. Just have fun. Just enjoy yourself. You’re in the woods. You’re in a great place so go ahead and enjoy it. Relax a little.”
7. Equip & educate yourself so you can enjoy yourself
“Be prepared for the worst and experience the best,” said Sunlight Sales Associate Katrina Pasek. “To me, that’s being ready for everything from bad weather to animal encounters, but also enjoying the moments. Or expecting the unexpected.”
8. Get on the trail, and bring your common sense with you
“My advice for backpacking in Yellowstone would be: Do it. The best way to do it is to be safe,” said Sunlight Sales Associate Josh Fitzsimmons. “Just get on one of the trails that isn’t a boardwalk. Once you get out there, be a rational, reasonable individual, and you’re going to have the time of your life.”
9. It doesn’t take much to find yourself in the solitude of the wild
“We’re an hour away from the Park. Please get off the boardwalks and get onto the trails. There’s so much there,” said Sunlight Sales Associate Zane Hebbler. “People don’t get out there as much as we have the opportunity to – whether you’re from Germany or a local, it’s easy access. You can do it like we do for our summer staff backpacking trips – just an overnighter.”
10. If you have questions before you go, Sunlight is here to help
“For people who want to backpack in Yellowstone, if you have any questions at all, stop by Sunlight,” said Sunlight Sales Associate David Henrich. “We’ll do our best to get you all figured out and help you guys get out there.”