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Yellowstone National Park

Going to Yellowstone National park this summer to paddle on Yellowstone Lake for 19 days. Camping along the shore at backcountry camp sites. Any body been there-done that? would like info on particulars.


  • me
    I paddle it often and live an hour north of the park so I have a lot of info...more or less.
    19days sounds awesome...you should have a great time.
    Let me know the specific questions and we'll go from there.
  • Yes, but not for 19 days
    -- Last Updated: May-01-11 1:10 AM EST --

    Sounds like a long time for that lake. Camping is allowed only at designated sites, even in the backcountry.

    There are lots of regs to comply with. Check with NPS on the entrance pass regulations, as the normal park pass is valid for only one week. You will also need to get a boating permit (sticker) for a small additional fee.

    Backcountry sites must be reserved, either well in advance by mail, or within a day or two of the start of your trip in person at the backcountry office. You are not allowed to just occupy a site--you MUST have and display the permit for that site. To obtain the permit, you must first go through their backcountry orientation, which is done in person at one of the backcountry offices. When you have completed the orientation (which lasts less than half an hour), they give you the actual permit.

    If this sounds like a lot of paperwork, it is (but not compared with trying to get river permits elsewhere). In return for your efforts, you know that you will have campsites, and nobody else is allowed to squat there. The sites usually have a bear crossbar and pit toilet. Generally, you will not be able to camp on Yellowstone Lake till mid- to late July due to bear considerations.

    Bring bug juice and/or bugsuits.

    I'm not going to tell you which sites are best, as that is extremely subjective, and the choices depend on how many miles per day and other schedule variables.

    There is one guidebook to paddling in Yellowstone and Grand Teton, a good one. Pnet sells it, or at least used to.

  • Book
    I haven't paddled there, but I bought the paddling guidebook last time I was out that way. I still pull it out and dream about a trip around the lake. If you haven't bought it here's the link to 'Paddling Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks' on Amazon: http://amzn.to/k7niRK

    Good luck and have a great time! I'm jealous.
  • the book
    Hi Brian, I see your name on other kayak sites quite often. I have the book you mention. It is interesting, and yes we are really excited! Going in August.
  • thanks
    Thanks for the info. Wife was wondering about the pit toilets. That's good. We got our campsite choices back from the park a couple weeks ago. We're putting-in at Sedge Bay, traveling south, and exploring all three fingers. Then coming back to Sedge Bay. Staying at a few sights for two nights to really relax. Thanks again for your input.
  • august is good.
    the end of august the bugs will die.
    email me i got a lot more info for you
  • email
    Did you get my emails? I sent you my new address.
  • email?
    are you sure that is the correct email???? I sent two replys and they came back as "undeliverable"...let me know if you never got any reply from me and we'll go from there.
  • heres some info
    i cut and pasted the first response into the new email addy you gave...if its not there...check your spam box
  • email
    Got it! Sent you one too.
  • make sure your food containers will
    lock up the smells and plan your campsite food storage. It's not a minor issue when in potential bear country.
  • Options
    I'd recommend the book "Death in Yellowstone" and "Hawks Rest".

    Death In Yellowstone is a must read for anyone going to the park, with some useful insights about Yellowstone Lake in particular.

    Hawks Rest is an excellent read about the back country from a ranger's perspective.
  • bugs
    with there still being a lot of snow in yellowstone and wet spring....
    the bugs will be biblical!!!!!! be ready for them
  • Yellowstone National Park
    The greatest cause of death in Yellowstone Park is not the bears or hot water or lightning or avalanches...……it's Yellowstone Lake according to the book "Death in Yellowstone".

    The water is COLD (40-50 degrees midsummer) and after a few minutes in the water hypothermia sets in rapidly. Prevailing southwesterly winds each afternoon can produce waves 5-6 feet high. The park even had a park ranger die of hypothermia after his kayak capsized in 1994.

    I've paddled Yellowstone Lake, Lewis and Shoshone Lakes…..gorgeous paddling!!! Just be prepared…..do your research!!!!

  • Should I expect to see other parties?
    I am also considering Yellowstone for a trip in the 2-3 week category. Tell me, when you have traveled the area by canoe or kayak, do you see other parties or are you buy yourself?
  • You will see other parties in summer
    -- Last Updated: Nov-03-11 2:53 PM EST --

    Might have better chances of avoiding people during the off-season. At least then you won't have the big outfitter groups that book the best sites way ahead of time.

    The catch is that backcountry camping permits may not be issued at certain times due to bear encounter potential. For instance, NPS won't allow camping at Yellowstone Lake before mid- to late-July many years. Maybe you could go while the bears are still denning. Just plan on being very, very cold. Water might not be open yet.

  • Designated sites
    The fact that camping is permitted only in designated sites is a problem in bear country. Bear/human contact is significantly reduced, and bears are less likely to become habituated if you travel in areas with fewer people and no designated sites where bears find food. A trip in Yellowstone is interesting, but I think I'll keep leaning to trips in areas were few people travel and the bears are not habituated.
  • habituated
    Lake yellowstone is a.great destination. I spent 9 days paddling the roadless part of the lake. It is one of the remotest part of the.lower 48. We hardly saw a human the whole time. Never had a bear encounter since most are up high.eatting the good.berry crop this.year. thud are not agitated much in that part either. Don't limit such.a.great location..elk., moose, wolves, eagles, landfill.cranes, plenty of 5- lb cuthroat trout, solitude, awesome camps and great hiking and paddling.
  • That does sound inviting
    What time of year were you there?
  • Bears when boating
    In all my visits to Yellowstone, whether for hiking or kayaking, I never encountered a bear in either the backcountry or the human-infested areas.

    BUT I have seen their scat there. My impression is that bear encounters are more likely near the SE portion of Yellowstone Lake than at Shoshone Lake. Also at Heart Lake, which is extremely popular for backpacking.

    The bear attacks that've made the news seem to always involve backpackers.

    Could it be that they're not quite as careful about clean camp practices as the rangers tell them to be? Hmmm!

    But you'll definitely see people in summer. Whether YOU think it's crowded or not depends on what you're used to. Also depends on whether the big groups (outfitters) actually occupy those sites they book so far in advance, or whether they cancel the day before due to not having enough customers to fill that trip. It's a crapshoot, and we can never be sure if we'll see just a couple other backcountry campers or most sites we paddle by will be occupied.
  • um
    I was there mid august. From there to end of October is awesome...no bugs, nice .lighting, temps, few people.
    Actually the.bear incidents are not backpackers at all. I've had a few.friends attacked and mauled. The ones in the news the.last few years are either from hunters or tourist in and around their campers such as deaths last year and the Japanese man who provoked and ran. Backpackers are usually experienced, seasoned, knowledgeable than "tourist" etc.
    If you want to hike you can get away and not see anyone. Read.Doug peacock s book "grizzly years", he spent ten years in the baackcountry and didn't see anyone.
    Google "zenfolio.com" and in search box at bottom type in my name ...Norman miller...my photo albums will come up and then click on " little red canoe" of pics.from paddling ystone lake this summer
  • After mid-August
    ...is better, for sure. Bugginess depends partly on how many frost nights have occurred.

    But late July was more crowded, enough so that we vowed never to go then again.

    The really disconcerting thing was hearing the Sturgis crowd's motors from Shoshone Lake. Couldn't hear normal traffic noise, just theirs.
  • runner up photo of the week
    I got runner up photo of the week here...
    its from Yellowstone Lake in August...
  • Nice!
    Looks like a good way to see the park!
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