Photo: Russ Nordstrand

Yellowstone Backpacking Tours

Phone Number for Wyoming Hiking Guides

Heart Lake Llama Trek

Highlights

  • Enjoy a thru-hike with new scenery every day
  • Hike by a boiling river and soak in hot springs
  • Climb Mount Sheridan for amazing views
  • Soak up fantastic solitude in remote wilderness
  • Watch out for wildlife like mountain goats, moose and wolves
  • Hike in comfort with just a light day pack
  • Enjoy our top-notch service and wonderful llamas!


Description

Our Heart Lake Llama Trek is an awesome opportunity to explore Yellowstone National Park's spectacular wilderness. We'll sleep under the stars, feast on tasty backcountry cooking, enjoy days of memorable hiking, and keep an eye out for wildlife. We'll also see very unique Yellowstone highlights including thermal features, wildlife, and big mountain views. We'll camp next to lakes and rivers and enjoy roaring campfires.

Our hike starts near Heart Lake, where we camp for two nights and ascend Mount Sheridan on Day 2. On Day 3 we leave Heart Lake and enter into the deeper backcountry, traversing the Heart River to the Snake River, and exiting near the South Entrance of Yellowstone.

Don't miss this fantastic Yellowston trek - give us a call at 800-715-HIKE (4453) to learn more or book your spot today!


 


Yellowstone Llama Trek Photos

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Shuttle to Trailhead: 1.5 hours
Hiking Mileage: 9.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 200 feet
Elevation Loss: 500 feet


This Yellowstone llama trek begins with pickup at your hotel in Jackson, Wyoming. We'll drive to our starting point at Heart Lake Trailhead (passing stunning views of the Tetons enroute), pack up the llamas, and begin our trek. Today takes us through meadows and lodgepole pine forests to a broad valley looking down onto Heart Lake. We'll hike by Witch Creek - a boiling creek - and other thermal features and traverse around Heart Lake to our campsite. We'll set up camp and enjoy a dip in Heart Lake before settling in for a backcountry dinner and great night's sleep.


Day 2

Hiking Mileage: 11.2 miles
Elevation Gain/Loss: 2805 feet

Today we leave camp set up and get an early start to beat potential thunderstorms. Our hike takes us up the flanks of Mount Sheridan to a summit ridge. We'll follow the ridge to the summit for absolutely spectacular views, a picnic lunch, and long break before we descend. From the top of Mount Sheridan we can see how Heart Lake earned its name - it is indeed a huge, heart-shaped lake surrounded by classic Yellowstone wilderness. We'll be able to see the Tetons in the distance to the South and the Gallatin Mountains to the north.

Once back at camp, we will have some time to relax, swim in the lake, or enjoy a good book before another wonderful backcountry dinner.


Day 3

Hiking Mileage: 5.7 miles
Elevation Gain: minimal
Elevation Loss: 200 feet


Today we leave Heart Lake and begin a gradual traverse of the Heart River. At this point we are in very remote feeling country characterized by broad valleys, deep lodgepole stands, vast meadows, wonderful-smelling sage brush and willows, and all-around excellent wildlife habitat. We have seen packs of wolves, moose, elk, deer, bear, coyote, fox and a variety of wildlife in this area. We'll keep our eyes out and hope to see some! Eventually we'll come to our campsite not far from the shores of the Heart River.


Day 4

Hiking Mileage: 5-8.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 0-500 feet
Elevation Loss: 100-300 feet

There are two possibilities for today, both of which take us down the Heart River to its confluence with the Snake River. One is 5 miles and leaves 6 miles of hiking for Day 5; the other is 8.5 miles and leaves 3 miles of hiking for Day 5. Which campsites are available when we secure permits will determine which alternative we take. Either way we start with a heart breakfast, traverse miles of stunning Yellowstone river wilderness, and end up camping near the shores of the famous Snake River.


Day 5

Hiking Mileage: 3-6 miles
Elevation Gain: 300 feet
Elevation Loss: 550 feet


Today we continue our hike along the Snake River to a camp that gives us access to the Snake River Hot Springs. This extraordinary thermal feature originates with a spring bubbling up scalding water which forms its own, steaming creek. The steaming water flows 1/2 mile, cooling as it goes, to where it meets the Snake River. We will soak at the confluence of the thermal water and the Snake River. We have had groups in the past see packs of wolves (with pups) from this amazingly special spot. We'll celebrate our final night in the wilderness with a hearty feast and good night's sleep.


Day 6

Hiking Mileage: 5.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 300 feet
Elevation Loss: 550 feet
Shuttle to Jackson Hole: 1.5 hours


Today we have our final backcountry breakfast and break camp. We cross the Snake River and hike out to a trailhead not far from the South Entrance to Yellowstone National Park. We'll enjoy a picnic lunch either during our hike or at the trailhead, and enjoy a relaxing shuttle past the Tetons back to Jackson.


Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary park restrictions, campsite availability, weather, road closures, guest ability/injury, and natural events like fires and flooding.

Trip Details

What's Included

  • Pack llamas to transport the majority of gear and food and a dedicated llama handler
  • One or more professional, knowledgeable, certified Yellowstone National Park hiking guides (max guest to guide ratio is 6:1, not including the llama handler)
  • Top-of-the-line tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and technical backpack
  • Use of trekking poles
  • All meals are included from breakfast the first day through lunch on the last day
  • Roundtrip transportation from your hotel in Jackson, Wyoming to the trailhead and back
  • Bear safety equipment including bear spray cannisters and food-hanging gear
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
  • You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and your kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Waterbottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-15% of trip cost)
See the Packing List page for more information.


Meals: What To Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.


Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:
  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks
  • Sierra Designs or Mountain Hardware tents
  • Sierra Designs sleeping bags
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki trekking poles
  • Mountain Safety Research cooking stoves
  • Mountain Safety Research cookware
  • Bear spray cannisters and food-hanging gear
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Satellite phone


What Gear To Bring

We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter waterbottles per person, either a headlamp or flashlight per person, and a lightweight waterproof stuff sac for your clothes and belongings. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.


What Clothes to Bring

Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots (reliable brands include Montrail, Lowa, Merrell, Vasque, and Salomon), rain gear, and non-cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

NOTE: See the Packing Lists page for more detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your hiking tour. The trip packet you receive when you contact us will have the most accurate clothing and gear list for the tour you're interested in.

Trip Logistics

Where Do We Meet?

You'll meet your hiking guide and group at predetermined hotel in Jackson, Wyoming for an orientation meeting at 5:00 PM the evening before the trip begins. The next morning we'll pick you up at your hotel for transport to the trailhead. For private trips, you also have the option to originate your trip in Pinedale, Wyoming.

Check out our Travel Resources page for information on flights, shuttles, discounted lodging and more.

Safety Considerations

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional Wyoming hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT's, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. We've developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and most tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.


Guides

Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, training in llama-handling, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.


Group Size

Every llama trip has a dedicated llama handler/wilderness guide. The standard ratio of guests to guides/handlers on llama trips is 1 guide/handler for 1-4 guests; 2 guides/handlers for 5-9 guests; and 3 guides/handlers for 10+ guests. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 800-715-HIKE (4453) and we'll answer all your questions.


Weather Around Yellowstone

Being a Northern mountain environment, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is prone to sudden temperature and weather shifts. This is an exciting aspect of being in Wyoming's mountains. On trips in June, snow is a slight possibility, and the rest of the summer you're likely to get rained on at least once during your trip. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). See below for average summer temperatures around Yellowstone:
     
Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)
     
 
Month
High
Low
 
June
70°
42°
 
July
80°
47°
 
August
78°
45°
 
September
68°
37°