Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
2,800.00 ft (853.44 m)
Trail type
14.00 mi (22.53 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National Park Pass


Best early season backpacking in park. Great backcountry campsites. Large game.


Biting flies. Mosquitos. Heat.

Trailhead Elevation

6,777.00 ft (2,065.63 m)


Backcountry camping
Bird watching
Big Game Watching
Big vistas
Old-growth forest
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day


Suitable for



Nearby Lodging + Camping


I'm a Glacier park girl and not so familiar with Yellowstone. I'd like to do this hike this summer and I'm wondering a couple of things for those of you who have hiked this. 1. Is there a better direction to go (Blacktail to Hellroaring or VV) and why? 2. What are the best campsites along the way for being along the river, but secluded in a nice spot.
Did this as a two night, three day trip from 8/16/20-8/1920. Great hike, amazing views and you really feel separated from everyone. Saw people on the trail but no one else at our two sites. Lots of heat and climbing on day two but doable. Only issue trail signs get a bit confusing on the way to Hellroaring Creek and where to forde the river but an enjoyable hike
Did this trip last weekend. Great views and we saw almost no one on the trail even though it was a busy weekend in the park. Lots of mosquitoes on the second half of the trail though. I would recommend this trip.
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