Hiking to the top of Mount Washburn offers amazing views of Yellowstone National Park. The 10,243-foot Mount Washburn sits at the northern end of Yellowstone's caldera, the world's largest volcano. This is the site of a massive eruption that occurred 600,00 years ago. The explosion, considered one of the world's largest, was 1,000 times greater than the explosion of Mount St. Helens in 1980. The summit of Mount Washburn has a staffed fire lookout tower, weather station, visitor center, bathrooms, and a drinking fountain. The visitor center is a great place to escape from the elements once on the summit. Interpretative signs help you identify the sprawling landscape that lays before you.
The hike ascends the Chittenden Road for about 3 miles and gains 1,500 feet. The park uses the road for service vehicles, but it is also a heavily used path by hikers, horses and bicycles to reach the summit. Don't let hiking on a road deter you from taking this route. The views are spectacular the entire way. There are multiple mountain ranges to observe such as the Gallatin Range, the Absoraka Range, the Beartooh Range, and the Grand Tetons. The giant Yellowstone Lake is also impossible to miss. Whitebark pine, fir, and a plethora of wildflowers also contribute to the beautiful scenery on Mount Washburn. The mountain is also great habitat for mountain goats, which are often seen wandering between the rocky cliffs and mountain meadows. They too use the road as a trail, so be sure to give them plenty of space if you encounter them during the hike.
Mount Washburn is exposed to the elements, so it is a good idea to bring extra layers and be mindful of the weather. Yellowstone is famous for it's afternoon thunderstorms. Lighting is a legitimate concern during these storms, so consider finishing your hike early in the afternoon before the storms start.