Hiking Bunsen Peak
Bunsen Peak, Yellowstone National Park
Hike #14, Bunsen Peak Trail
Bunsen Peak Trailhead 1K4
Northwest Section - Heavy Traffic
Yellowstone National Park

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Location: Northwest Section (See map to the right)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate - Out-and-back or loop
Distance: 4 mi/6.4 km round-trip
Elevation Gain: 1,278 ft.
Best time to visit: June-October

Backcountry Camping: None

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

Finding the Trailhead - Glenn Creek/Bunsen Peak (1K4)
From Mammoth Hot Springs:
From Mammoth Hot Springs drive south on US-89 approximately 4.8 miles towards Norris Junction. The trailhead is on the left as you exit Golden Gate Canyon. Get Directions from Mammoth Hot Springs

Bunsen Peak Trailhead Location

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Bunsen Peak Overview Map
Bunsen Peak Topo Map
Bunsen Peak Trail Stats

Trail Details
Trail Condition: Excellent
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Total Mileage: 4 mi /6.4 km round-trip
Type of Hike: Out-and-back or loop
Wow Factor: Views of Swan Lake Flat & Gallatin Range
Elevation Gain: 1,278 ft.

Nearest Town: Mammoth Hot Springs
4.8 miles south of Mammoth Hot Springs - Get Directions

Trailhead Coordinates
Latitude: 44.932329
Longitude: -110.728111

Summit Coordinates
Latitude: 44.933123
Longitude: -110.707507

Approx. Elevations
Trailhead Elevation = 7,285 ft.
Summit Elevation = 8,564 ft.
Elevation Gain = 1,278 ft.
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Yellowstone Backcountry Info

Bunsen Peak Photo Gallery
Bunsen Peak Trail Description

Bunsen Peak Trail Description (1K4) Light Traffic

Short and sweet! This is a great early morning or late afternoon hike that doesn't take long but delivers a stunning panorama of Gardners Hole, Electric Peak and the Gallatin Range.

If you're pressed for time and are looking for hike that will take just a few hours Bunsen Peak is ideal. It's 4 miles to the summit and back, and in a short time you can climb above the surrounding landscape rather quickly. There are extraordinary views from most points along the trail and once you're on top of Bunsen Peak you'll be treated to the open expanse of Swan Lake Flat and Gardners Hole. The rugged Gallatin Range provides a picturesque backdrop for any photographer. (See photo tips below)

From the parking lot the trail heads north up the lower slopes of Bunsen Peak. On your left you'll have a birds-eye view of Golden Gate/Glen Creek Canyon with the Hoodoos and Mount Everts visible in the distance. The 1988 fires impacted this area significantly and you'll see the effects of this first-hand as you move through areas of standing dead trees (widow makers) and the newer and younger trees.

At just under a mile the trail swings back to an open south facing slope with vistas of Swan Lake Flat and the Gallatin Mountain Range. Electric Peak dominates the view to the west with Antler Peak and Quadrant Mountain extending to the southwest. At this point the trail heads north again into what I call the dead zone. This section of trail is filled with numerous standing dead trees and has a very 'Tim Burtonesque' feel to it. From here you can peer through these gnarled trees towards Terrace Mountain, Sepulcher Mountain and Golden Gate which is now directly below you. At 1.4 miles the trail makes a sharp right at a large rock formation know as Cathedral Rock. This is a great spot for taking photos of the Mammoth Hot Springs area and Mount Everts.

Now the work begins. This last stretch to the summit climbs a series of steep switchbacks and much of the trail is covered with loose talus. Pay attention here because it's easy to lose the trail in these talus sections, especially if you're taking in the views. Now head south, then north, then south, and finally north again until you're on the back side of Bunsen. As you near the summit you'll notice utility lines leading up to the peak. There is a weather station located on top but the views are amazing and if you're lucky you'll have the peak all to yourself.

Photo Tip
If you hike Bunsen Peak early in the morning the sun will be in the perfect location for photographing the dramatic eastern edge of the Gallatin Range, Swan Lake Flat and the vast open plain of Gardners Hole.

WARNING: The weather in Yellowstone can change rapidly at any time of the year. During the summer months afternoon thunderstorms are very common and there is no easy way down from the summit of Bunsen Peak if the weather changes. Temperatures can drop significantly within minutes and at elevation the wind will almost always be a factor even on the nicest of days. Start your hike early and be off the mountain by mid afternoon.

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.

Nearby Hiking Trails
Sepulcher Mountain (Trailhead 1K3) - A nice out-and-back with stunning views of Electric Peak.
Fawn Pass - East Side (Trailhead 1K3) - Plenty of mountain scenery with access to four beautiful backcountry campsites. Very popular.
The Hoodoos (Trailhead 1K3) - A nice hike through interesting rock formations located high above Mammoth Hot Springs.
Electric Peak (Trailhead 1K3) - Climbs to the highest peak in the Gallatin Range at 10,969 ft.
Osprey Falls (Trailhead 1K4) - Descends into Sheepeater Canyon to the base of this 150' waterfall.
Indian Creek (Trailhead 1K5) - Heads west over scenic Bighorn Pass.
Mount Holmes (Trailhead 1K6) - A long day hike to a lookout tower located at the southern end of the Gallatin Range.
Grizzly Lake (Trailhead 1K8) - Offers access to both Mount Holmes and Trilobite Lake.

Nearby Campgrounds
Mammoth Campground - Open Year-round - Mammoth Campground is located approximately 5.6 miles north of the Bunsen Peak Trailhead and has 85 that are mostly pull-through. Campground has flush-toilets. Campsites are $20.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are permitted from 8am - 8pm. A gas station, general store, restaurants, a hotel and visitor center are located nearby at Mammoth Hot Springs - Get Directions from the Bunsen Peak Trailhead to the Mammoth Campground.

Indian Creek Campground - Indian Creek Campground is located approximately 4 miles south of the Bunsen Peak Trailhead and has 75 primitive sites (no RV hook ups). Campsites are $15.00 per night. Reservations are not accepted. Generators are not permitted - Get Directions from the Bunsen Peak Trailhead to the Indian Creek Campground.

Yellowstone National Park Backcountry Permits
Overnight backcountry permits for this area 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.

Post Hike Meals
Visit the following restaurants in Mammoth or Gardiner after a day of backcountry hiking.

The Corral Drive-In - Located in Gardiner (Awesome burgers) - Get Directions
K Bar & Cafe - Pizza and beer. 202 Main Street in Gardiner - Get Directions
Outlaws Pizza - You guessed it...Pizza. Located on Scott Street in Gardiner - Get Directions
Terrace Grill - Fast food. Located in Mammoth (This will do in a pinch. Frankly, anything tastes good after a long day of hiking).

Maps for Hiking Bunsen Peak
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 Bunsen Peak Trailhead

Click the Map to Launch Directions
From Mammoth to the Bunsen Peak Trailhead.


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