Thursday, December 17, 2015

Backpacking Yellowstone's Bechler Region

This October I made it down to Bechler, the remotest corner of Yellowstone National Park. Bechler is a wild and expansive landscape of meadows, waterfalls and hot springs that really only lends itself to overnight or multi-day backpacking trips. The four-day itinerary took in over 25 waterfalls and two of the best hot springs soaks in the Rockies. The only disappointment was the lack of wildlife and that fact that is was surprisingly busy (full moon weekend in high season). Still it was recommended. 

My itinerary took me from Bechler Ranger Station up to Ferris Fork, then back down the valley in order to detour to stunning Dunanda Falls. If you can arrange a vehicle shuttle it's well worth combining Bechler, Dunanda, Ferris Fork and Shoshone Lake into one of Yellowstone's great backpacking trips.

Bechler Meadows

Bechler is all about its waterfalls.

Collonade Fall

Dunanda Falls

Iris Falls

Ferris Fork is one of the highlights, a junction of four rivers that has some great thermal features, a near-legendary soaking hot spring called Mr Bubbles and plenty of options for off-trail waterfall exploration. It's a two-day walk north from Bechler Ranger Station or south from Lone Geyser (near Old Faithful).

Soaking in Mr Bubbles

Dunanda Falls is the other great highlight, with several soaking hotpots at a perfect temperature right at the base of the towering waterfall.

Dunanda Falls
Practicalities: I managed to pick up a backpacking permit the day before starting, which was lucky because most people book their permits six months in advance. September and October are the best months here; before September come prepared for boggy conditions and fearsome clouds of mosquitoes. Be prepared to wade thigh-deep across half a dozen rivers.

A rare Bechler bridge; be prepared to wade elsewhere

The back side of Grand Teton from Bechler

Backcountry Luxuries

The Best Detours off the Everest Base Camp Trek

If you are thinking of trekking in the Everest region, then I suggest you check out this photo article I just wrote for Lonely Planet. Included are ten of my favourite detours off the main Everest trekking trail, places that you'll likely have completely to yourself, if you don't mind putting in a bit of leg work to get there. Most are just an hour or two's walk off the main trail, while some involve a full day trip.

My advice is to budget three or four extra days to your trek to include these babies. They may end up being the highlights of your trek. Just make sure you are fit and acclimatised and that your lodge owner or guide knows where you are going. Be safe.

Top Ten Detours off the Everest Trek



Classic Pamiri Scenery of Gorno Badakhshan

Current Favourite Track