Mount Washburn provides the easiest access to some of the best panoramic views in Yellowstone National Park. The trail to Mount Washburn from Dunraven Pass is an easy climb partially through high-elevation forest to a fire lookout and visitor area. An array of wildflowers along the way round out this overall stunning dayhike.
As you hike, take in views of Dunraven Peak to the west and over the Canyon Area to the south. The trail does have some steep sides as you cross the ridge to the Chittenden Road junction, so take care if you will be hiking with children. Enjoy the 360-degree views at the top. Sharp eyes will be able to pick out prominent mountains on the horizon including: Electric Peak to the northwest, Cutoff Mountain to the northeast, and to the southwest, Mount Sheridan and the Tetons.
The fire lookout has three floors. The main floor has bathrooms and an enclosed room often crowded with visitors taking a short reprieve or looking through the power telescopes. Strong winds on the second floor’s open observation deck keep the crowds down. The third floor is not open to the public as it is home for an employee trained to watch for wildfire signs from June until the end of the fire season. Current conditions on Mount Washburn are available online via two webcams set up on this top floor.
Parking at Dunraven Pass is routinely packed. Hiking during a weekday or around the lunch hour may be your best bet at finding a parking spot. Alternatively, this hike can also begin from Chittenden Road (2K6) or Glacial Boulder Trailhead (4K6), though accessing the latter is complicated by current construction around Inspiration Point.