OverviewObservation Peak is located in northwest Wyoming's Washburn Range. Built from an ancient caldera rim, the Washburn Range is one of the oldest ranges in the central rockies. The peak is located within Yellowstone National Park, in close proximity to the park's Canyon Village area, famous for the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone which contains the Upper (109 feet) and Lower (308 feet) Falls of the Yellowstone River.
Observation Peak can be climbed as a day hike, but also makes for an easy and enjoyable overnight backpacking trip. From the summit are excellent views of the Central Plateau area, Hayden Valley, and Grebe Lake.
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.
Observation Peak and the approach trailheads are located near Canyon Village, in the central region of the park. The peak is most commonly climbed via the Cascade Lake Trail. Refer to the Cascade Lake route for complete details on ascending the peak by this route.
An alternative route is via Grebe Lake, which is located approximately 2 miles to the west of Cascade Lake. Although longer than the Cascade Lake approach, this is also a scenic alternative with several nice backcountry camping options at the beautiful Grebe Lake. Both routes converge to the same trail for the final 2.5 miles to the summit.
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 ClimbThe peak 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.
Weather and ClimateYellowstones 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: