Hiking to Republic Pass, Yellowstone
Republic Pass, Yellowstone National Park
Hike #15, Republic Pass Trail
Northeast Section - Light Traffic
Yellowstone National Park

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Location: Northeast Section (See map to the right)
Difficulty: Difficult - Out-and-back, point-2-point or overnighter
Distance: 8 mi/12.8 km round-trip
Elevation Gain: 1,800 ft.
Best time to visit: Mid-July-October (Republic Pass can reamin snow-covered into July)

Backcountry Camping: Yes. The Republic Creek Trail is located in a National Forest. At the top of Republic Pass the trail enters Yellowstone National Park where backcountry permits are required. From the pass the trail descends into the park via the Cache Creek Trail. Click here to view a list of the backcountry campsites for this area.

Full Description: Read the full description or view photos of this hike.
Trail Maps: Beartooth Publishing - Yellowstone National Park

Finding the Trailhead
From Cooke City: The trailhead is approximately 1.4 miles south of Cooke City on an old mining road. Get Directions from Cooke City

NOTE - Backcountry camping permits for this hike can be obtained at the Albright Visitor Center (at Mammoth Hot Springs). Open daily, year-round. Hours vary depending on the time of year - (307) 344-2263.

Read more about obtaining Yellowstone Backcountry Permits.





Republic Creek Trailhead Location
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Republic Pass Overview Map
Republic Pass Trail Stats


Trail Details
Trail Condition: Excellent - Well marked
Difficulty: Difficult
Total Mileage: 8 mi /12.8 km round-trip
Type of Hike: Out-and-back, point-2-point or overnighter
Wow Factor: Mountains, mountains and more mountains
Elevation Gain: 1,800 ft.

Nearest Town: Cooke City, MT
1.4 miles south of Cooke City, MT - Get Directions
Trailhead Coordinates
Latitude: 45.003818
Longitude: -109.932793

Republic Pass Coordinates
Latitude: 44.952043
Longitude: -109.953060

Approx. Elevations
Trailhead Elevation = 8,150 ft.
Republic Pass Elevation = 9,957 ft.
Elevation Gain = 1,800 ft.
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Yellowstone Backcountry Info


Republic Pass Photo Gallery
Republic Pass Trail Description

Republic Pass Trail Description - Light Traffic

Rugged peaks, incredible wildflowers and spectacular panoramas that stretch for miles. Republic Pass is located on the northeastern edge of paradise.

The trailhead to Republic Pass can be found 1.4 miles south of Cooke City, Montana. This small mining town is located 3.0 miles east of the park's Northeast Entrance. The trailhead is hidden at the end of a narrow dirt road that winds its way up the steep hillside south of town. The trailhead is not well marked and you'll have to trust that you've followed the directions properly to reach the small parking lot. See the photo gallery above for a picture of the trailhead. Most of this hike takes place outside of the park's northeast boundary but it does provide access to the Cache Creek Trail and Yellowstone National Park, which are accessible from the top of the pass. We highly recommend this hike if you're staying in the area.

From the parking lot you'll pass a large, blank wooded sign. Head to the right. A wider and more obvious trail goes left but this not the main trail. From here you'll climb a short steep hill that gets your heart pumping right from the start. There is a thick canopy overhead and as you pass beneath these tall slender trees it can feel a little claustrophobic. Moss hangs in long delicate strands from the branches of these trees like the beard of a grizzled trapper.

Over the next 2.0 miles the trail ascends at a relatively easy grade, gaining only a few hundred feet during that distance. Woody Ridge rises gently to the east, its curved slopes covered in thick green spruce trees that extend to the top of the ridge. At 1.3 miles a series of small meadows offer spectacular views south toward Republic Pass. As you exit the last meadow at about mile 1.7 there is a campsite off to the left. The food storage pole is barely visible from the trail. This would make an ideal jumping-off point if you plan to backpack further into the park via the Cache Creek Trail. Because you're still within the Shoshone National Forest you do not need a backcountry permit to camp here.

At mile 2.7 a large landslide (caused by snow avalanches) descends to the trail from the right. From this obvious landmark the trail begins climbing at a much steeper grade for the next 1.3 miles. There are a number of small rocky stream beds that crisscross the trail as you gain elevation. About 0.6 miles below the pass the terrain opens up as you exit the dense pine forest. The trail becomes somewhat faint in this location but if you look for the small rock cairns it's easy to find your way through this section.

At 3.4 miles the trail turns east, climbing steeply before turning back once again toward the pass. If you visit Republic Pass in late June or early July there may be snowfields on the north side of the climb. In early July the wildflowers cover almost every square inch of the pass.

Republic Pass reaches an elevation of 9,957 feet and it's here that the trail finally enters Yellowstone National Park via the Cache Creek Trail. The views stretch for miles in every direction. The tops of Index and Pilot Peak are just visible on the horizon to the northeast and if you look toward a long, uneven ridge to the south, you'll notice a very small arch called the Eye of the Needle. Layer upon layer of mountains stretch onward into the park. To the north the jagged ridgeline of the Beartooth Plateau stretches across the Montana skyline. Granite Peak (12,807 ft.), the tallest point in Montana, is visible along this range and these Precambrian metamorphic rocks are some of the oldest on the planet. This trail offers up some of the most dramatic scenery in all of Yellowstone.

OPTIONAL HIKE: For a nice multi-day, point-2-point backpacking trip, continue over Republic Pass and into Yellowstone on the Cache Creek Trail. There are three campsites (3C2, 3C3 & 3C4) located in the Cache Creek drainage. You could park a second vehicle at the Thunder Trailhead and return via the Thunderer Cutoff Trail, climbing up and over Chaw Pass, or you can continue following the creek to the Lamar River Trail, where you would exit at the Soda Butte Trailhead in the Lamar Valley. Give yourself 2-3 days for either of these options.





Click here to download your FREE Yellowstone Backcountry Trip Planner - Contains backcountry campsite information, backcountry permit information, park service phone numbers, bear management information and hiking/backpacking checklists.

WARNING: YOU MUST BE WELL PREPARED and carry the necessary equipment to make your hike a safe one. You are responsible for your own well-being while trekking in these remote wilderness locations. Help or rescue can be hours or even days away.

Read more about obtaining Yellowstone Backcountry Permits.







Nearby Hiking Trails
Specimen Ridge (Trailhead 2K4) - A long open ridge that tops out on Amethyst Mountain (9,614 ft.).
Slough Creek (Trailhead 2K5) - A premier backcountry destination for day hiking, backpacking, fly fishing.
Soda Butte (Trailhead 3K1) - Walk through the north end of the famed Lamar Valley. Connects with the Lamar River and Cache Creek Trails.
Trout Lake (Trailhead - Trout Lake) - A very easy and popular hike to a lake filled with, you guessed it, trout.
Thunderer (Trailhead 3K3) - Climbs to Chaw Pass and connects with the Cache Creek Trail. Provides access to the Thunderer.
Pebble Creek Trail (Trailhead 3K4) - A hidden gem. Connects with Slough Creek via Bliss Pass. Highly recommended.



Nearby Campgrounds
Pebble Creek Campground - Pebble Creek Campground is located approximately 13.1 miles west of Cooke City and has 27 primitive sites and vault toilets. Campsites are $15.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are mot permitted - Get Directions from Cooke City to the Pebble Creek Campground.

Slough Creek Campground - Slough Creek Campground is located approximately 28.5 miles west of Cooke City and has 23 primitive sites and vault toilets. Campsites are $15.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are not permitted. Located 2 miles off the NE Entrance Road - Get Directions from Cooke City to the Slough Creek Campground.

Tower Fall Campground - Tower Fall Campground is located approximately 34.4 miles west of Cooke City and has 32 primitive sites and vault toilets. Campsites are $15.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are not permitted. A general store and gas station (seasonal) are located near Tower Fall and Tower Junction - Get Directions from the Cooke City to the Tower Fall Campground.



Yellowstone National Park Backcountry Permits
Overnight backcountry permits for this hike can be obtained at the Albright Visitor Center (Mammoth Hot Springs). Open daily, year-round. Hours vary depending on the time of year - (307) 344-2263. Read more about obtaining Yellowstone Backcountry Permits.

Post Hike Meals
The following restaurants are located in Cooke City, Montana.

Beartooth Cafe - Located in Cooke City - 14 Main Street (Awesome sandwiches, burgers and steaks)

Maps for Hiking Republic Pass in Yellowstone
Beartooth Publishing Outdoor Recreational Maps
The following map from Beartooth Publishing covers all of the hiking trails located in Yellowstone National Park. For more information about these maps click here.






Directions to the Republic Pass Trailhead

Click the Map to Launch Directions
From Cooke City to the Republic Creek Trailhead.



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