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Yellowstone National Park continually remains one of the most famous park destinations in the US. This comes as no surprise, given Yellowstone’s rich collection of sights, sounds, structures, and smoking rivers. With more than 2.21 million square miles of park territory and over 904 miles of hiking routes, you need good Yellowstone hiking trail maps to traverse this rich terrain. Since the Park is officially preserved as a wilderness, Yellowstone trail maps are indispensable when exploring this region.
The National Park offers an incredibly wide variety of mountains, rivers, streams, and hills. This makes it a dream destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers. But before we get into the Yellowstone Hiking trail maps, let’s get a better understanding of the Park and its features. This will help us to make more sense of the maps.
The history of Yellowstone National Park and its trails are as rich as the physical features that adorn it today. To go into details about Yellowstone’s past, we would need a whole new article to understand its formation fully. But for our purposes, a brief overview should be sufficient.
The name is generally believed to have come from the yellow hue of the rocks observed in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. However, the name was subject to multiple translations by the French trappers in the 18th Century and the American Trappers later on. So, the exact meaning of the Native American name of the river is not known for sure.
Paleo-Indians lived in the region more than 11,000 years ago because the region was very conducive to hunting-gathering communities. In recent centuries, European explorers slowly made their way into the area.
The Lewis and Clark expedition happened to be the first to arrive in 1805, followed by similar other subsequent expeditions. John Colter, the famous explorer from the Lewis and Clark expedition, noticed geothermal locations in this region. Skeptics dismissed his claim of ‘Fire’ and ‘Brimstone’ by calling it an imaginary ‘Colter’s Hell.’ Jim Bridger, another explorer, later came across these geysers and reported about boiling rivers and springs.
It was only later on when naturalists and scientific explorers saw the region that these features were documented. Cornelius Hedges, a writer and lawyer, was among the first to suggest making it a National Park for preservation and sustenance. Finally, with the arrival of the railroad, better exploratory methods, and government-sponsored expeditions, the area became a dedicated National Park. Yellowstone National Park enjoys the distinction of being the first territory to be accorded National Park status in the United States.
Yellowstone National Park is mostly in the State of Wyoming, in the northwestern part of the country. However, strictly speaking, the Park territory touches two other states – Idaho and Montana. Although around 96% of the park area is in the State of Wyoming, technically speaking, the other two states also accommodate 1% and 3%, respectively.
If you get a reliable Yellowstone National Park Map pdf file, you’ll be able to zoom in to see the minute boundaries that separate each region. If you want to take a closer look at which areas are in the border of these states, it’s best to have a Yellowstone National Park Map pdf version. The PDF file will generally have a better textual resolution, which can help you make sense of smaller details in the maps.
The Park is so vast and wide that it has five different entrance points. It’s best to choose the entrance that brings you closest to the site or park destination you wish to visit. With our Yellowstone hiking trail map PDF, you’ll be able to get the easiest access to different regions, depending on your entrance.
The five entries are named according to the direction in which they enter – The North, Northeast, East, South, and West. Each of these entrances has certain destinations in their proximity. If you want to follow Geyser Paradise, you have to take the West Entrance for the fastest arrival. For example, the Boiling River Trail Map and West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail map give you essential locations in this area. If you want to head to Yellowstone Lake, it’s best to take the East entrance.
If you’d like either the Boiling River Trail pdf or the West Thumb Geyser Basin map, you can download our map collection for free using the button below.
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One of the chief characteristics of Yellowstone National Park is unpredictable patterns of weather that swing from one extreme to the other. The majority of the Park’s area lies at an elevation of more than 6000 feet above sea level. This elevation can create huge swings in the temperature of the region. Also, it’s not rare to see rain or snow falling at different times of the year. You could have snow in the middle of the year or rainfall during the peak of winter.
Daytime temperatures can easily swing between 30 degrees (0 degrees Celsius) to 60 degrees (20 degrees Celsius). During summer, the temperature can easily touch 80 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Whether it is spring or fall, you can expect 11 inches of snow when the rest of the country doesn’t have a trace of it.
Winter temperatures fall to sub-zero levels, especially at night and in those areas where the elevation is higher. Snowfall in winter can go up to 140-150 inches at average elevation while higher peaks may experience double that amount. If you get your hands on the Elephant Back Mountain trail map, it’s worth the trip in winter just to see the heavy snowfall at this elevation. However, hiking during winter in these areas should be taken with the utmost care. It’s only recommended for professionals or those who have a lot of experience and skills in backpacking.
Regardless of the season and time of the year you visit, make sure you pack reasonable clothing. It can get hot or cold quickly in the wilderness, especially at this elevation. Having to brave the elements in inadequate clothing can be challenging.
Traversing through such a huge park can be confusing and frustrating at times. The most important tool you can have to navigate through these regions is a map. Maps can indicate the right trails and routes to take as well as the sights you’ll see along the way.
Yellowstone National Park has regularly had over 4 million visitors for the last five years now. Since 2008, the Park has attracted an average of more than 3 million visitors annually. This means the average number of annual visitors has been increasing gradually. 2016 experienced peak visitor numbers in this decade, with 4.26 million people visiting in that year alone.
While visitors are increasing, an important thing to note here is that most visitors aren’t familiar with the region’s geography and locations. You can book tours and trips within the Park during arrival or before you come. But even with these agencies, you’ll be left wondering a lot of times if you don’t have reliable information. The best thing to do in this situation is to get the map of the area and keep track of where you are.
Yellowstone trail maps come in different sizes, depending on your source. But the most helpful maps have the correct information and reliable data presented on it. Whether you’re looking for Yellowstone hiking trail maps PDF or jpeg files, your search ends here.
Here are the Yellowstone hiking trail maps that are designed to give you all the relevant information and direction as you choose and trek through different hiking trails in the Yellowstone region.
These are two of our maps, but you can download the rest for free by clicking the button below.
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Fun Tip: If you download the Yellowstone hiking trail map.pdf, you can convert it into a picture (.jpg or .jpeg) format for easier viewing on smartphones or tablet screens. If you want to get a printout, it’s better to stick with the PDF version of the Yellowstone hiking trail map.
The Yellowstone hiking trail map PDF we’ve provided here is meant to aid and assist you as you go through the different parts of the Park. Some of the important parts of the map you have to read are the routes, names of places, and distance between locations. It doesn’t take a survival expert to see this information on a map. In fact, anyone can find these details on a given map.
Being aware of the trailhead or starting point is an important detail. Knowing this location can allow you to reach your destination without taking wrong turns and excessive roundabouts. Most Yellowstone hiking trail maps have the starting point clearly indicated so that you know where to start.
Some trails can trace a river or stream that runs alongside the route. These trails are easy to read on a map because there’s a stream or river running parallel to the route on the map. The Boiling River Trail map is an example of this kind of trail map.
A lot of hiking trails also end where they start. These trails are sometimes called ‘loops’ because they follow a circular pattern. A good example of a loop trail is the Lone Geyser trail map, which takes you back to where you started. Some maps, such as the Uncle Tom’s trail maps can be helpful in finding resting spots in between. Since this trail involves climbing a lot of steps, knowing where to rest can be crucial information. Otherwise, you don’t need much help with directions since there’s one staircase that leads you to the viewpoint and back.
Hiking in the backcountry is best done with experienced hikers or with some company. It’s not advisable to venture out there alone if you’re a novice. Having some company can also help you understand map symbols better since two or three of you can deduce the information together.
Strategic stops and resting locations can also be found on the maps.
Whether it is a visitor center or a camping site along the way, maps give you an easy way of identifying these important pitstops. These stops are especially important if your hiking trail is a long-distance trip.
As mentioned earlier, Yellowstone’s Park and hiking trails are known to experience sporadic changes in weather. But these extreme swings are mostly seen during the peak of the summer or winter season. The other times of the year have a slightly smaller probability of experiencing inclement weather.
Experienced hikers usually recommend visiting Yellowstone between early April and late May. If you miss this window, August is also an ideal time for visiting the region. These are the months when you can avoid the extreme weather of June-July and November-December. Also, the remaining months are the in-season when some areas of the Park are crowded with tourists.
So, you get the best experience when you avoid both the crowds and the extreme temperatures. Just make sure you have this handy map ready whenever you go. It will save you a ton of trouble and make the trip all the more enjoyable!
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If you’d like, you can check out some of our favorite Yellowstone hikes here!