Mount Holmes Above Early Morning Mist
OverviewLocated in the northwest region of Yellowstone National Park, Mount Holmes anchors the southern end of Wyoming and Montana's Gallatin Range. With an elevation of 10,336 ft., Mount Holmes is the third highest peak in the range, trailing 10,969 ft. Electric Peak and 10,444 ft. Joseph Peak, both of which are located approximately 12-13 miles to the north.
The hike to the summit of Mount Holmes is ±19 miles (round-trip), with an elevation gain of ±3,000 feet. While strong hikers can make the climb as a long day hike, a more realistic itinerary would be to make the climb as part of a 2 or 3 day backpacking trip.
On the summit is a small stone/wood shelter which serves as one of three primary fire lookouts located within Yellowstone. During the summer months the lookout is manned by a park employee, who may invite you in to chat upon your arrival to the summit. The ranger manning the lookout when we summited also kept a log book for visitors to sign. Based on this log book, somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 hikers visit the summit during an average year.
Mount Holmes was officially named in 1878 by members of the Hayden Survey, after artist and geologist William Henry Holmes of the US Geological Survey. Previous to this the peak had been known as Mount Gallatin, and also for a brief time as Mount Madison.
Views from the summit include the Hebgen Lake area to the west, much of the southern Gallatin Range stretching north to Electric Peak, the Absaroka Range to the east, and large portions of Yellowstone Park to the east and south. On clear days the Teton Range will also be visible to the south.
Getting ThereYellowstone National Park occupies the northwest corner of Wyoming, as well as small portions of southern Montana and eastern Idaho. There are five major roads entering the park:
The North entrance at Gardiner Montana is the only entrance which remains open during the winter. Refer to the Operating Hours & Seasons page for complete details on road opening and closing dates in the park.
West Entrance - Highway 20 through West Yellowstone, MT
North Entrance - Highway 89 through Gardiner, MT
Northeast Entrance - Highway 212 through Cooke City, MT
East Entrance - Highway 20 through Cody, WY
South Entrance - Highway 89 through Grand Teton NP
Additional information can be found on the Yellowstone Plan Your Visit web page.
Mount Holmes is most commonly climbed via the Mount Holmes Trail, which begins from the Norris-Mammoth Hot Springs road in the northwest region of the park. The Grizzly Lake route is a slightly longer variation which includes a visit to the scenic Grizzly Lake. The Trilobite Lake route is an optional spur trail which can be used to ascend or descend the peak. This route must be used in conjunction with one of the other two primary routes. Refer to the individual route descriptions for details on ascending the peak by these routes.
Red TapeYellowstone Entry Fees
Entering Yellowstone National Park requires purchase of a $25 7-day pass, available at any of the five entry stations entering the park. This pass allows entry into both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park to the south. Alternatively, an annual America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass may be purchased for $80. This pass provides access to, and use of, Federal recreation sites that charge an entrance or amenity Fee, for a period of one year.
A backcountry camping permit is required for all overnight trips into the Yellowstone backcountry. Backcountry camping permits may be reserved in advance, and require a $15 fee. Backcountry permits may also be obtained on a walk-in basis, (subject to availability) no more than 48 hours prior to the hike - there is no charge for walk-in permits.
Permits may be obtained from most ranger stations in the park. When picking up backcountry permits you will be required to view a short video on regulations and safe travel in the Yellowstone backcountry. The Yellowstone Backcountry Camping & Hiking page contains complete details and regulations on backcountry trips in the park.
Camping and LodgingThere are numerous options for camping within Yellowstone National Park. Regulations and available facilities varies among the campgrounds. Visit the Campgrounds in Yellowstone page for complete details.
There are also a number of lodging facilities within the park, ranging from rustic cabins to luxurious lodges and inns. Lodging in Yellowstone is administered by Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the primary concessioner in Yellowstone. Refer to their website for complete details on locations, reservations, etc.
Bear PrecautionsBoth grizzly and black bears are found in the park. Several of the most important precautions for safe travel in bear country include the following:
Visit Yellowstone's Minimizing the Dangers of a Bear Encounter web page for additional information on hiking in bear country.
When To ClimbMount Holmes can typically be climbed from late May or early June through October, although this may vary considerably depending on snow conditions. Winter attempts are certainly possible, but would involve a very long multi-day approach by skis or snowshoes.
Weather and ClimateYellowstone's weather is characterized by its unpredictability. Always be prepared with warm clothing and rain gear, even on warm and sunny summer days.
Weather related links: