Hiking Daly Creek
Daly Creek, Yellowstone National Park
Hike #1, Daly Creek Trail
Daly Creek Trailhead WK1
Northwest Section - Moderate Traffic
Yellowstone National Park

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Location: Northwest Section (See map to the right)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate - Out-and-back with possible extended loops
Distance: 10.4 mi/17 km round-trip
Elevation Gain: 1,779 ft.
Best time to visit: May-November (The Sky Rim may be snow-covered until mid-July)

Backcountry Camping: Yes. 1 site - WF2
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
Topo Maps: Beartooth Publishing - Yellowstone National Park

Finding the Trailhead - Daly Creek (WK1)
From Bozeman:
Drive 57.7 miles south on route 191 until you enter Yellowstone National Park. Daly Creek is the first trailhead on the left. There is a very small inconspicuous sign marking the entrance to this trailhead. Get Directions from Bozeman

From West Yellowstone: Drive north on route 191 for approximately 30.4 miles. After entering the Park you'll pass the following trailheads: Bighorn Pass, Fawn Pass, Specimen Creek and Black Butte. The Daly Creek trailhead is on the right 2 miles past the Black Butte trailhead. Get Directions from West Yellowstone

NOTE - There are no entrance fees along this 20 mile section of Yellowstone National Park and there are limited services between Bozeman, Big Sky and West Yellowstone.

Backcountry permits can be obtained in West Yellowstone at the West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center - (307) 344-2876.

Read more about obtaining Yellowstone Backcountry Permits.

Daly Creek Trailhead Location

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Daly Creek Overview Map
Daly Creek Trail Stats

Trail Details
Trail Condition: Excellent - Well marked
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Total Mileage: 10.4 mi /17 km round-trip
Type of Hike: Out-and-back with longer possible loops
Wow Factor: Open meadows, alpine scenery
Elevation Gain: 1,779 ft.

Nearest Towns: Big Sky, Bozeman & West Yellowstone
20.5 miles south of the Big Sky, MT - Get Directions
30.4 miles north of West Yellowstone, MT - Get Directions
57.7 miles south of Bozeman, MT - Get Directions

Trailhead Coordinates
Latitude: 45.04812
Longitude: -111.140034

Turnaround Coordinates
Latitude: 45.107435
Longitude: -111.112483

Approx. Elevations
Trailhead Elevation = 6,761 ft.
Sky Rim Elevation = 8,540 ft.
Elevation Gain = 1,779 ft.
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Yellowstone Backcountry Info

Daly Creek Photo Gallery
Daly Creek Trail Description

Daly Creek Trail Description (Trailhead WK1) - Light to Moderate Traffic

Reach for the sky...The Daly Creek Trail is an amazing destination located along the northwestern edge of the Park and it just beckons you to keep going as it climbs to the backbone of the Gallatin Range.

The Daly Creek Trailhead (WK1) is located in the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park (in Montana) on route 191 between Bozeman and West Yellowstone. The first two-thirds of the hike is easy to navigate as the trail heads east towards the impressive Gallatin Range. The terrain is largely open until you reach the only campsite at 3.6 miles (WF2 - Stock Allowed). From here the trail climbs steadily through intermittent patches of forest to the ridge where the trail meets the Sky Rim junction at 4.7 miles. For this hike we went another 0.5 miles along the ridge to soak in the amazing views of the Taylor Hilgards and the snow capped mountains of the Spanish Peaks and Lone Mountain to the north.

Getting Started: Leaving the parking lot the trail skirts the bottom of a steep hillside before crossing Daly Creek on a solid log footbridge at 0.3 miles. For the first mile the trail moves across open ground that is a beautiful gold color during the fall. At 1 mile the trail climbs a short hill with views of Crown Butte directly to the left (north). At the top of this hill the trail passes through a notch before dropping into another large valley. Google Earth shows a small lake hidden at the base of Crown Butte which would be an ideal side hike if you have the time. At 1.8 miles you reach the Daly Creek Cutoff which enters from the right. The Daly Creek Cutoff traverses the ridge between Daly Creek and the Black Butte/Bighorn Peak Trail. The cutoff is 2.2 miles in length and can be used as an alternate route if you plan on hiking Daly Creek to the Sky Rim Trail and over/up to Bighorn Peak.

After passing the Daly Creek Cutoff the trail continues east on open ground for another 0.8 miles where the Teepee Creek Cutoff enters from the left. After this junction the trail moves to the right side of the valley and passes through a few isolated stands of trees before crossing Daly Creek at 3.2 miles on another footbridge. Just after crossing Daly Creek you enter another large meadow that faces the rocky slopes of the Gallatin Range. The trail now changes direction slightly and begins heading northeast. You'll enter the woods from the left side of this meadow and begin the gradual climb to the ridge. Campsite WF2 appears on the right soon after entering the woods and is located at an elevation of 7,522 ft. Campsite rating = (★★★). Stock parties allowed. Capacity 10.

Continue up through patches of forest and open topography until reaching 4.5 miles where another beautiful alpine meadow appears on the right at 8,300 ft. The final ridge is now directly to the north and east and one final climb brings you to a four-way junction at Daly Pass. From here you have a couple of additional hiking options to consider:

Alternate Hikes
Option 1: Continue right and follow this steep ridge along the Sky Rim Trail to Bighorn Peak, descending via the Black Butte Trail and reconnecting via the Daly Creek Cutoff. This adds another 13.5 miles over very steep alpine terrain for a total of 18.4 miles but it's worth every leg burning step.

Option 2: Head left and follow One Day Ridge to Teepee Creek and rejoin Daly Creek via the Teepee Creek Cutoff. This adds another 7.1 miles to the hike for a total of 11.8 miles.

Option 3: Head back the way you came for a total hike of 9.4 miles. However, if you hike up the ridge just 0.5 miles you'll have a great view of Lone Mountain and the Taylor Hilgards to the northwest. This is the turnaround point for this particular hike.

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 Sky Rim Trail if bad weather moves in. 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.

Read more about obtaining Yellowstone Backcountry Permits.

Nearby Hiking Trails
Black Butte (Trailhead WK2) - Climbs to the jagged summit of Bighorn Peak and connects with the Sky Rim Trail.
Specimen Creek (Trailhead WK3) - Provides a direct route to Shelf Lake. Access to Crescent/High Lake and the Sportsman Lake Trails.
Bacon Rind (Trailhead WK4) - This trail exits the park to the west and climbs to the Skyline Trail in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness.
Fan Creek (Trailhead WK5) - A secluded valley that connects with the Sportsman Lake Trail.
Fawn Pass - West End (Trailhead WK5) - A long but rewarding day hike into the heart of the Gallatin Bear Management Area (BMA).
Bighorn Pass (Trailhead WK6) - Another beautiful mountain pass located high in the Gallatin Mountains.
Gneiss Creek (Trailhead WK7) - A quiet stretch of trail that is as flat as it is long.

Nearby Campgrounds
Bakers Hole - May to Sept. - Bakers Hole Campground is located 3 miles north of West Yellowstone and has 73 sites and vault toilets. Campsites are $16.00 + per night. Electrical hookups are available for 33 sites. Reservations are not accepted - Get Directions from the Daly Creek Trailhead to the Bakers Hole Campground.

Taylor Fork Road - Open All Year - Taylor Fork Road approximately 3.5 miles north of the Black Butte Trailhead on route 191. Campsites are free. There are no facilities. The first few sites are located about a mile from US 191. Forest service road (FSR 134) follows Taylor Creek west and extends deep into the Madison Range/Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area, and provides access to numerous hiking and mountain biking opportunities within the Gallatin National Forest - Get Directions from the Daly Creek Trailhead to the Taylor Fork Primitive Area Campsites.

Red Cliff Campground - May to Sept. - Red Cliff Campground is approximately 11 miles north of the Black Butte Trailhead on route 191 and has 67 sites and vault toilets. Electric hookups are available for 26 sites. Campsites are $15.00 per night. Located along the Gallatin River between Big Sky and the northern boundary of the National Park. Bozeman Ranger District/Gallatin National Forest - (406) 587-9054 - Get Directions from the Daly Creek Trailhead to the Red Cliff Campground.

Yellowstone National Park Backcountry Permits
All overnight backcountry permits for the northwest section of Yellowstone National Park can be obtained at the West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center on the corner of Yellowstone Ave. and S. Canyon St./route 191 in West Yellowstone - (307) 344-2876. Read more about obtaining Yellowstone Backcountry Permits.

Post Hike Meals

After hiking Daly Creek visit one of the following restaurants on your way back to Bozeman.

The Corral located on route 191 - Burgers & Beers - Get Directions
The Wrap Shack in Big Sky - Fresh, healthy and affordable food. Get Directions
Choppers Grub & Pub in the Big Sky Town Center - Get Directions

Maps for Hiking Daly Creek
Beartooth Publishing Outdoor Recreational Maps
These maps from Beartooth Publishing will cover all of Yellowstone National Park as well as Bozeman/Big Sky/Gallatin Range/Madison Range and West Yellowstone.
For more information regarding these maps click here.

Directions to the Daly Creek Trailhead

Click the Map to Launch Directions
From Bozeman to the Daly Creek Trailhead.


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