Route Finding in Yellowstone
Wilderness Navigation Skills

Yellowstone Backcountry Navigation

Most hiking trails in Yellowstone are well marked and well traveled so it's easy to maintain a sense of where you are in relation to the trailhead or the backcountry campsite you plan to visit. There are however some instances where you may need to rely on your own route finding skills and natural instincts to find your way through and unmarked section of trail. This is where a good map is essential and it's important to carry one that contains enough detail to help you determine your current position using the surrounding features. Most maps have a different scale and area of coverage so it's best to take a look before purchasing to make sure it meets your specific travel needs.

Using a map to gain a better understanding of the general topography for the geographic location you intend to visit is an integral part of the trip planning process. A good topo map can provide you with an overview of any location before you ever set foot outdoors, and they are an indispensable part of any journey into the wilderness. The right map can also help you plan a trip that best suites your outdoor skill level and conditioning because it gives you a birds-eye view of the physical terrain you will encounter along your specific route. Using a detailed map will provide you with valuable information about trail locations, roads and highways, river crossings, man-made features, elevation gain/loss, wilderness boundaries, thermal areas and much, much more.

Before heading out on any trip study the map carefully and make notes of the mileages and landmarks that you will encounter along the way—a river or stream crossing, a steep hill, a campsite, a trail junction, a large meadow or lake. Take a mental picture of these features and keep track of them as you navigate your route. Don't be afraid to consult the map from time to time and use it to mark your location. It's all to easy to keep your head down when hiking and your eyes focused on the ground directly in front of you, but a good navigator is always studying the landscape and making mental notes of each important landmark or other details along the route. It's also ideal to stop every so often and look back at where you've been since you may be heading in that direction if you're trip is an out and back hike.

If you're new to backpacking and outdoor travel the following companies make it easy to find the right maps for your trips, and they offer a variety of maps for Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding areas.

Yellowstone Maps
Beartooth Publishing Outdoor Recreational Maps

Rekindle Your Love for Adventure

Trail Guides Yellowstone National Park Posters


Trail Guides Wyoming
Rekindle Your Love For Adventure

2149 Durston Road
Bozeman, Montana 59718
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