Hiking the Rescue Creek Trail
Rescue Creek Trail, Yellowstone National Park
Hike #10, Rescue Creek Trail
Rescue Creek Trailhead 1N2
Northwest Section - Light to Moderate Traffic
Yellowstone National Park

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Location: North Central Section (See map to the right)
Difficulty: Moderate - Out-and-back, point-2-point, or overnighter
Distance: 14.8 mi/23.8 km with plenty of open terrain
Elevation Gain: 1,985 ft.
Best time to visit: May-October

Backcountry Camping: Yes. 1 site - 1A2
Click here to view a list of 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 - Rescue Creek (1N2)
From Gardiner:
From the town of Gardiner enter Yellowstone National Park and drive approximately 1.3 miles south on route 89 towards Mammoth Hot Springs. The trailhead is 0.6 miles from the entrance station on the left. Get Directions from Gardiner

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.

Rescue Creek Trailhead Location

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Rescue Creek Overview Map
Rescue Creek Trail Stats

Trail Details
Trail Condition: Excellent - Well Marked
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Total Mileage: 14.8 mi /23.8 km round-trip
Type of Hike: Out-and-back, point-2-point or overnighter
Wow Factor: Beautiful open meadows
Elevation Gain: 1,985 ft.

Nearest Town: Gardiner
1.3 mile south of Gardiner, MT - Get Directions

Trailhead Coordinates
Latitude: 45.017653
Longitude: -110.693827

Turnaround Coordinates
Latitude: 44.964551
Longitude: -110.597729

Approx. Elevations
Trailhead Elevation = 5,367 ft.
Turnaround Elevation = 6,686 ft.
Elevation Gain = 1,985 ft.
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Yellowstone Backcountry Info

Rescue Creek Photo Gallery
Rescue Creek Trail Description

Rescue Creek Trail Description (1N2) - Light Traffic

A great hike that is gaining in popularity and one that offers a chance to see wildlife within the first few miles.

From the trailhead (1N2) you'll immediately cross a large footbridge over the Gardner River. On the opposite bank the trail climbs briefly to an open expanse that is almost as wide as it is flat. Keep an eye out for pronghorn antelope and elk, because they often frequent this area. Don't forget to look over your shoulder for the fantastic views of Electric Peak and Sepulcher Mountain.

After crossing this open section on a well defined double track trail (0.8 miles) the trail turns right and heads east towards Rattlesnake Butte and Turkey Pen Creek (this is a dry creekbed). The Yellowstone River will be on the left and there is easy access to the river if you're looking for a good place to fish (Yellowstone National Park fishing regulations). This next open stretch to Turkey Pen Creek can be somewhat wet/muddy throughout the year. bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope are almost always present in this little valley and along the hillside to the right/south.

At approximately 1.6 miles the trail enters a notch at the base of Rattlesnake Butte and rises steeply for about 0.3 of a mile and 200 ft. before easing. The trail is tucked into this narrow canyon for the next .07 of a mile until you reach a meadow at the base of Turkey Pen Peak. NOTE: There are game trails that will lead you directly into this small meadow but the main trail climbs the hillside on the right. Look for the orange blazes. If you should lose site of the main trail and find yourself in the meadow just head to the right on the southeast side of this open area and you'll pick up the main trail again with very little effort.

After skirting to the right of Turkey Pen Peak the trail enters a forested area and continues to climb gradually for another mile before reaching an elevation of 6,867 ft. At this point the scenery opens once again and the trail descends for the next mile. One final (short) climb brings you to a maximum height of 6,686 ft. At 5.4 miles you reach the only campsite on this trail—(1A2). (See the photo gallery below for images of this hike and a photo of the campsite). Campsite Rating = (★★★★). No stock parties. Capacity 10.

After passing the campsite the trail drops down to meet another huge meadow. The trail hugs the left/northeast side of this low open marshland with Rescue Creek entering on the opposite side. At mile 7.4 the trail intersects with the Blacktail Plateau Trail and the turnaround point for this hike.

Alternate Hike
For a much shorter hike you can start from the opposite end at the Blacktail Plateau Trailhead (1N5) and walk the first few miles through this beautiful open valley. From Mammoth drive approximately 7 miles west towards Tower Junction. The Blacktail Trailhead will be on your left just past the Blacktail Ponds. Get Directions from Mammoth Hot Springs

Photo Tip
From the Rescue Creek Trailhead near the north entrance and the town of Gardiner there are often bighorn sheep, buffalo, pronghorn Antelope and elk grazing within the first two miles of this hike. If you're a photographer this can provide an excellent opportunity to photograph wildlife a short distance from the highway but away from the crowds that congregate along the roadsides.

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
Sepulcher Mountain (Trailhead 1K1)
Lava Creek (Trailhead 1N3)
Beaver Ponds Trailhead (1N4)

Nearby Campgrounds
Mammoth Campground - Open Year-round - Mammoth Campground is located approximately 3 miles south of the Rescue Creek Trailhead and has 85 sites 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 Rescue Creek Trailhead to Mammoth Campground.

Yellowstone National Park Backcountry Permits
Overnight backcountry 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.

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 Rescue Creek
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 Rescue Creek Trailhead

Click the Map to Launch Directions
From Gardiner to the Rescue Creek Trailhead.


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