Tips for Safe Hiking in Yellowstone (Spoiler: Bear Spray)

There are almost too many reasons to visit Yellowstone National Park. The dramatic landscape tells the story of the planet’s evolution over hundreds of thousands of years with its dramatic canyons, dense forests and rushing rivers. Beneath the surface, an active volcano expresses itself through geysers, hot springs and fumaroles. Exploring the sprawling wilderness that is home to hundreds of species of animals is something everyone should experience at least once, and this list of tips ensures park visitors stay safe while doing it. .


ten Listen to your body

At the first sight of the breathtaking landscapes of Yellowstone National Park, visitors might be overwhelmed with the desire to enjoy as much as they can, as quickly as they can. However, since the park averages 8,000 feet above sea level, it may be necessary to acclimatize the body to the change in altitude.

Too often park goers push their bodies despite the warning signs of altitude sickness. Common symptoms include headache, dizziness, shortness of breath, and lightheadedness. If travelers get through their feelings of illness, they can develop altitude sickness, which amplifies symptoms and can last for days.

9 Be dressed properly

Dressing for the weather is one of the most important things a visitor can do to stay safe and enjoy the park. Most people visit the park during the summer months, and while it may be tempting to don shorts and a tank top, visitors should remember the park’s elevation and be prepared for variations in temperature.

Long sleeves and hats not only keep the body warm but protect the skin from the ever beating sun. A good pair of socks and comfortable shoes are always a good idea. Be sure to check the weather forecast for better preparation, but keep in mind that the weather can be unpredictable at times.


8 Carrying a navigation device

Wearing a navigation device is especially important for people traveling to Yellowstone’s incredible backcountry. The wilderness stretches in all directions and it can be easy to turn around. Whether it’s a traditional compass or a phone app with a reliable navigation tool, knowing where you are at all times in the park is vital for visitor safety.

Related: The Ten Backpacking Essentials Every Adventurer Should Always Have In Their Bag


seven Bring more water than you think you need

Water is the elixir of life and staying hydrated is one of the most important things a person can do, wherever they are. For shorter days, visitors should bring at least one liter of water. Longer adventures require more water, so consider packing up to four liters for extended stays outdoors. Backcountry backpackers and campers often use water filtration systems to lighten their loads, though Yellowstone Park officials advise drinking only in designated safe water areas.


6 Do not make fondue

One thing that makes Yellowstone’s landscape unique is its saturation of geothermal areas. There is, of course, Old Faithful, but there are also hot springs, mud pools and fumaroles. While it may be tempting to dive into it or take a closer look at these special features, it is illegal and dangerous.

Hot potting can result in arrest, serious bodily injury, and even death. For visitor safety and the environment, always stay on designated boardwalks and trails in geothermal areas of the park. Also, people should read, understand and obey the signs in these areas which are there to keep them safe.


5 Bring your vaporizers

It’s second nature for adventurers to have bug spray handy when heading out into the wild. Insect repellents are a layer of protection against the bites of mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers and biting flies, some of which can lead to lifelong illnesses like Lyme disease.

However, bug spray isn’t the only spray a park visitor should carry. Yellowstone is bear country, and while it’s rare to encounter bears wanting to do something with humans, the animals can be unpredictable, and prevention is better than cure. Travelers can take many precautions to protect themselves from bears, and having a bear ground box is high on the list.


4 Keep away from wildlife

It is a magical experience to witness wildlife in a natural habitat, free to roam a landscape unhindered by fences and other fabricated barriers. Park visitors may encounter many animals during their visit, and it is safer for humans and animals to maintain a safe distance from each other.

The safest place to view wildlife in Yellowstone is from the car, though travelers are likely to encounter animals while exploring the landscape. When outside of a vehicle, the National Park Service recommends visitors maintain a distance of 100 yards from bears and wolves and 25 yards from all other animals. Some animals people can expect to see are elk, bison, moose, weasels, cougars, river otters, and mountain goats.

Related: How to Plan a Tour Around Yellowstone’s Wildlife Mating, Migration Patterns, and More




3 Group hike

The adage that safety is in numbers rings especially true in Yellowstone National Park. Solo hikers are at a higher risk of encountering dangerous animals. Anyone exploring the region’s backcountry should do so with at least one other person, although groups of three or more are best.

Accidents like sprained ankles can and do happen, and there are parts of Yellowstone with little to no cell service. In these situations, a group of three allowed one person to ask for help while another stayed with the injured party. Also, two or more people sailing are better than one.


2 Avoid areas with lots of dead trees

Wildfires are a common and natural feature in Yellowstone. Park officials often let these fires burn out and burn themselves out, as they play an important role in clearing debris from forest floors, nourishing the ground below, and opening up areas to light. sun so that new shoots can flourish.

However, fires that burn through trees can be dangerous to cross. It may appear that the trunks are intact, but it is not uncommon for trees to fall without warning, especially after a fire. Although rare, falling trees have injured visitors. If there is no way around a burned area, park users should tread lightly and avoid touching or leaning on dead trees.


1 Test the waters

Several rivers and streams meander through Yellowstone. Some popular backcountry trails involve crossing water, and it is essential to test them before crossing. In all seasons, but especially in the spring, the waters can be dangerously cold and powerful.

There is a risk of hypothermia and strong currents can knock hikers down. Before crossing, people should test the water temperature and strength. Additionally, hikers can check the park’s website for information on dangerous conditions before hitting the trails.

Next: Here’s What To See In Yellowstone If You Only Have A Weekend

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