A common saying at some national parks, including Yellowstone, is that 98 percent of visitors see 2 percent of the park. If you want to be one of the 2 percent who sees 98 percent of the park (or at least more than the gift shop), read on.
"I sometimes have to laugh when people tell me they've avoided backpacking in Yellowstone because it's too crowded," said Ivan Kowski, the park's backcountry program manager. "It's true that it may not feel like a wilderness as you're huddled shoulder to shoulder waiting for Old Faithful to erupt or as you're creeping along at two miles per hour in a two mile long traffic jam waiting to get your chance to pass through a herd of bison or to glimpse a grizzly bear, but if you're willing to get out of the car and hike down a trail then you can have the place to yourself. Relatively few of the three million people who visit the park each year ever get further than half a mile from a road."
Here's the inside scoop on the best backcountry treks and trails to ensure you see more wildlife, thermal features and mountains than Old Faithful keychains. Warning: if you do see a grizzly, it probably won't be on a postcard. Practice using your pepper spray BEFORE you go.