The Black Canyon of the Yellowstone is a classic early season backpacking trip in Yellowstone National Park. The canyon, a well hidden 2,000-foot-deep river canyon is nestled on the north side of the Blacktail Deer Plateau. There are 12 different backcountry campsites within the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone. Depending on which site you choose, and how far you want to travel each day, the hike is worthy of one to three nights in the backcountry. For a good challenge, reserve campsite 1R1 or 1R3 and do the trip in two days and one night. The canyon is wild: Large game is evident throughout the canyon, and birds of prey are abundant along the river as well.
The backcountry campsites are private and situated in beautiful places along the river and its tributaries. This trip used backcountry campsite 1R1 and 1Y8, for a two-night, three-day trip through the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone. Campsites 1R2, 1Y1, 1Y2, 1Y4,1Y5, 1Y9, and 2H3 are also highly recommend backcountry campsites along the way. The route leaves from Blacktail Creek Trailhead to Helloroaring Trailhead and works as a one-way hike with a shuttle.
From Blacktail Creek Trailhead the trail crosses the Blacktail Deer Plateau before descending into the Black Canyon. An impressive suspension bridge crosses the river and meets the Yellowstone River Trail. Head east to continue toward the Hellroaring Trailhead, or, if you have some extra time and energy take the 4-mile round trip out-and-back, hike to Knowles Falls. To continue east, hike the river trail for about 5 miles before it ascends out of the Black Canyon and into the Hellroaring Creek area. The trail leads to a ford on Hellroaring Creek. If you are uncomfortable with the ford, simply hike north on the Hellroaring Creek Trail to the footbridge, cross the creek, and hike back down the creek to the trail. This option will add 4 miles to the hike. Once you leave Hellroaring Creek the trail heads back to a suspension bridge, crossing the Yellowstone River. The Hellroaring Trailhead is about 1.5 miles south of the suspension bridge.
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