On Top of the World! Mt. Washburn, Yellowstone National Park

1-100_2051You feel like you’re on top of the world. You can see forever. And you just walked there!

“There” is Mt. Washburn in Yellowstone National Park. Located in the Washburn Mountains it is named after Henry Washburn who led an expedition to explore Wyoming in 1870. There are two trails to get up to the top. We took the easy route. Easy because it is really a gravel/partially blacktopped road and so it is wide with room for a lot of people. Now, ideally, you would like to take a hike where no one else goes, but forget about that happening in Yellowstone. Just go with it, because the nice part is that even though you climb in elevation, it is an easy, unobstructed walk so there were several more “mature” people walking and kids walking it as well. So it really is a friendly hike/walk for families.

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It is however, 3 miles one way so make sure you take plenty of water and a picnic lunch to have at the top while resting for the trip back down. Plan on taking 4-5 hours for the whole trip, you won’t want to rush it. Also, check ahead with the park before you go, to find out if the trail has cleared of snow yet. It can still have snow on it into June. Wear layered clothing as the weather can be unpredictable.

The trail we took is the Dunraven Pass trail so you get to by going to Dunraven Pass. There is plenty of parking. On this trail you will gain 1393 feet in elevation. The other trail is the Chittenden trail which is 2.25 miles one way and you gain 1491 feet in elevation. This trail is paved so you could ride your bike up it if you are in that kind of shape.

1-100_2023Along the way you can enjoy the various colorful mountain wildflowers such as Indian Paintbrush and lupines, as well as wildlife. Just before we got to the top we saw several mountain goats hanging around. They obviously weren’t afraid of people. I swear some of them even looked like they were posing for us!1-100_2062

At the top is the main fire lookout for the park and a park guide to answer any questions you may have. The lower part of the tower is open to visitors. But before you can ask questions, you will be made speechless from the beauty of everything that you can see from up there. Yellowstone Lake, Hayden Valley, the Grand Tetons. If you work in an office staring at a computer screen all day, the views will make your eyes thank you.

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It will be hard to leave. You will want to just sit there and look out at everything, taking it all in, watching as the sun moves across the sky and highlights areas you didn’t see just a few minutes earlier, shadowing other areas, bringing out the details of the landscape. So be sure you bring a camera. Words really can’t describe it and pictures can’t replace being there but they can help remind you of the way you felt when you were there. With so much to see and do in the massive park, it is easy to miss out on some things. But if you can, make the hike up to the top of Mt. Washburn a priority – because at 10,243 feet, you are on top of the world!1-100_2055

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