Mount Washburn is located in the northeastern region of Yellowstone National Park, near the west end of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The mountain is a simple hike up a fairly well maintained trail; the round-trip hike to the summit will require approximately 3 to 5 hours for the average hiker.
The summit of the peak is capped by a fire look-out tower, and along with Mount Holmes and Mount Sheridan, serves as one of the three primary fire look-out towers in Yellowstone. An enclosed viewing area in the base of the lookout is open to the public, and provides a good shelter from the strong winds that are common on the summit. On clear days it may be possible to view the Teton Range to the south of the Park.
The peak is named after Henry Washburn, leader of the 1870 Washburn expedition through the region. Washburn made the first recorded ascent of the peak on August 28, 1870, although it was undoubtably climbed prior to this.
Much of the area surrounding the peak provides excellent habitat for Grizzly Bears, Elk, Bighorn Sheep, and Wolves.
Yellowstone 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:
West Entrance - Highway 20 through West Yellowstone, MT
North Entrance - Highway 89 through Gardiner, MT
Northeast Entrance - Highway 212 through Cooke City, MT
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.
Additional information can be found on the Yellowstone Plan Your Visit web page.
Mount Washburn and the approach trailhead is located approximately midway between Canyon Village and the Tower-Roosevelt Junction, in the northeast region of the park. The peak is most commonly climbed via the Chittenden Road/trail. Refer to the Chittenden Road route for complete details on ascending the peak by this route.
Yellowstone 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.
There are no additional fees or special permits required for hiking Mount Washburn.
When to Climb
Mount Washburn is generally 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.
Camping and Lodging
There 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.
There are no backcountry camping spots in the immediate vicinity of Mount Washburn.
Both grizzly and black bears are found in the park. Several of the most important precautions for safe travel in bear country include the following:
Do not hike alone; travel in groups and stay together
Stay on the trail
Announce your presence by making loud noise as you hike
Do not hike at night
Never store food in a tent; suspend food from a tree or bear pole