Hiking to Osprey Falls in Yellowstone
Osprey Falls, Yellowstone National Park
Hike #15, Osprey Trail
Bunsen Peak Trailhead 1K4
Northwest Section - Moderate to Heavy Traffic
Yellowstone National Park

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Location: Northwest Section (See map to the right)
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult - Out-and-back
Distance: 8.8 mi/14.1 km round-trip
Elevation Loss: 800 ft.
Best time to visit: June-November

Backcountry Camping: No

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 5 miles towards Norris Junction. The trailhead is on the left as you exit Golden Gate Canyon. Get Directions from Mammoth Hot Springs

NOTE - Backcountry camping 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.

Osprey Falls Trailhead Location

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Osprey Falls Overview Map
Osprey Falls Topo Map
Osprey Falls Trail Stats

Trail Details
Trail Condition: Excellent - Well marked
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Total Mileage: 8.8 mi /14.1 km round-trip
Type of Hike: Out-and-back
Wow Factor: A beautiful 150' waterfall
Elevation Gain: 800 ft.

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

Trailhead Coordinates
Latitude: 44.932329
Longitude: -110.728111

Waterfall Coordinates
Latitude: 44.929827
Longitude: -110.680245

Approx. Elevations
Trailhead Elevation = 7,200 ft.
Canyon Elevation = 6,400 ft.
Elevation Gain = 800 ft.
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Yellowstone Backcountry Info

Osprey Falls Photo Gallery
Osprey Falls Trail Description

Osprey Falls Trail Description (1K4) - Light Traffic

Osprey Falls is located in one of the deepest canyons in Yellowstone and plummets one hundred and fifty feet over the rim of an ancient lava flow deep within Sheepeater Canyon.

The trail to Osprey Falls follows a portion of the Bunsen Peak Road as it circles the base of Bunsen Peak. This dirt road is also one of only a handful of places in Yellowstone where mountain biking is allowed but it still sees very little use from cyclists. During the winter the trail is groomed by the park service and provides a great opportunity for cross-country skiing.

As you leave the Bunsen Peak Trailhead you'll pass a slow moving channel of water to the south (right) of the trail and if you approach quietly you may find a variety of waterfowl floating in this slack water. At mile 0.9 there are views across a small lake toward Swan Lake Flat and Gardners Hole which extend toward the high peaks of the Gallatin Range. At mile 1.25 the trail is surround by a stand of young pine trees but this new forest is only present for about three tenths of a mile before the terrain opens once again. At 1.9 miles you get your first glimpse of Sheepeater Canyon just as the trails begins turning north.

At 3.1 miles a yellow road sign indicates a "steep grade" ahead just before the trail descends a small hill. After a single switchback you'll reach the trail junction for Osprey Falls at 3.2 miles. A large wooden sign posted at this trailhead warns hikers of the steep and narrow descent that lies ahead. Sheepeater Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in Yellowstone and from here the Osprey Falls Trail drops 700 feet to the Gardner River in 1.4 miles.

For the next quarter of a mile the trail follows the rim of the canyon where you'll have views down into this spectacular ravine. Canada thistle and dalmation toadfalx grow in profusion along this dry and rocky section of the trail. At 3.7 miles you'll reach a series of short switchbacks as the trail continues its sharp descent to the river. Another set of switchbacks follows at mile 4.0 just before you reach the river.

As you near the bottom of the canyon the air becomes cooler and vertical spires tower over the river from the steep cliffs above. The Gardner River moves swiftly past, its waters turned white by the rocks that line the narrow riverbed. Just before reaching Osprey Falls the trail climbs a small hill where you can stand directly in front this impressive 150 foot waterfall.

You can turn this trip into a longer day hike by combining it with the Bunsen Peak Trail. From the summit of Bunsen Peak you'll descend the trail on the east side of the peak, following the trail to the junction with the Bunsen Peak Road and the Osprey Falls Trail. This is a difficult hike of 11.6 miles with an elevation gain of nearly 2,000 feet.

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.
Bunsen Peak (Trailhead 1K4) - A very popular summit with incredible views of the Gallatin Range and the Swan Lake Flat area.
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 Osprey Falls
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 Osprey Falls Trailhead

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


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