Bechler Horseback Trails
Yellowstone National Park
Bechler Ranger Station is located in the Southwest corner or region of Yellowstone National Park. It is a starting or end point for backcountry camping, fishing, and hiking. This area has more streams, creeks, lakes and waterfalls than any other area in Yellowstone. There is a historic Soldier Station here that is about 100 years old. There is one picnic table, a pit toilet and water available. This is a fee access area and you can camp, hike, and fish with an entrance and fishing fee. If you are going to camp, you need to make reservations for a backcountry camp site, please see the Backcountry Page for details and forms.
Here in "Cascade Corner," you can enjoy trails that follow rivers, lead to lakes, waterfalls, and traverse meadows.
Bechler Ranger Station - Check here for trail and stream conditions and bear information, maps and permits. Open 7 days a week in the summer from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM.
Required Permits - Permits required for overnight backcountry use and fishing; obtain permits at a ranger station.
When Trails Open - July 01, except Bechler Meadows opens July 15 or later, depending on conditions.
~ Cautions ~
- Hydrothermal Areas -
The thin ground in these areas breaks easily, and often overlies scalding water. Stay on the trail.
- Wildlife -
You must stay at least 100 yards / 91 meters from bears and wolves, and at least 25 yards / 23 meters from all other animals - including birds, bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes. It is illegal to disturb animals from any distance.
Tips for an Enjoyable Ride
If your horses are not used to crossing streams, bogs, downfall, or bog bridges, you may have a hard time on these trails.
Step over logs across the trail when you can rather than going around.
Biting insects thrive here. Use a strong repellant on yourself and your horses.
Give hikers enough warning to get off the trail; be willing to give right of way to other trail users.
Consider using saddle hobbles to keep your horses from pawing the ground.
Keep horses off roads except at designated trail crossings.
Travel single file.
Lead all stock. Loose herding or free-trailing is prohibited.
Do not use short cuts or cut across switchbacks.
Clean up after your horses by spreading all horse manure.
Remove all manure at the trailhead.
Do not tie stock to live trees for long period of time.
Do not damage trees (alive or dead) or vegetation around them.
Smooth over any scuffing, disturbance, or pawing done by your horses when they are tied up.
~ Bechler Horseback Riding Trail Descriptions ~
Cave Falls Loop - 7 miles - Little to no elevation change
Start from the Bechler Ranger Station and head east on the South Boundary Trail, which starts just south of the barn, and follow the signs to Cave Falls. You will ride through lodgepole pine forest; expect to ford a small stream about .5 mile from the station. The trail parallels the Cave Falls road for about a mile. From Cave Falls, head upstream on the Bechler River Trail past Bechler Falls and then another mile to the junction with the Bechler River Cutoff Trail, which goes southwest back to the ranger station. The trail is equally easy in the reverse loop. Look for moose, black bear and many riparian species.
Rocky Ford Loop - 7 to 8 miles round trip - little to no elevation change
From the Ranger Station, take the Bechler Meadows Trail north through lodgepole pine forest 3 miles to the Rocky Ford Cutoff Trail. From here, it would be worth your while to ride an extra half mile north and take a look at the beautifully expansive Bechler Meadows. Then retrace your trail back south to the Rocky Ford Cutoff Trail and head southeast to Rocky Ford. Instead of fording the river, head south on the Bechler River Trail to the Cave Falls Junction with the Bechler River Cutoff Trail, which goes southwest to the rangers station. Do not go toward Cave Falls but continue through the forest back to the ranger station. This trail, except for the .5 mile Rocky Ford Cutoff, remains relatively dry compared to the rest of the Bechler area. Look for beaver chewed trees and willows.
Rocky Ford and Cave Falls Loop - 11.7 miles round trip - little to no elevation change
From the Ranger Station, take the Bechler Meadows Trail north through lodgepole pine forest 3 miles to the Rocky Ford Cutoff Trail. From here, it would be worth your while to ride an extra half mile north and take a look at the beautifully expansive Bechler Meadows. Then retrace your trail back south to the Rocky Ford Cutoff Trail and head southeast to Rocky Ford. Instead of fording the river, head south to the Cave Falls Junction. At the junction, head southeast. You'll pass Bechler Falls before arriving at Cave Falls. Ride back to the ranger station on the South Boundary Trail, which paralless the Cave Falls Road for about a mile.
Dunanda Falls - 16 miles - 600 feet elevation gain
Start at the Bechler Ranger Station and head north on the Bechler Meadows Trail. After 1.6 miles, take the Boundary Creek Trail northwest. You will need to ford Bartlett Slough, a body of stagnant water ranging from 2 to 4 feet deep, depending on the time of year. After crossing the slough, you will emerge into Bechler Meadows. Continue north; when you reach campsite 9A1, you will ford Boundary Creek. Soon the trail will lead through the Robinson fire burn. This burn was ignited by lighting and burned 8,000 acres of the Bechler forest in the fall of 1995. The brink of the Dunanda falls is one mile north of the burn at the end of the moderately steep climb with spectacular views of the Grand Tetons, meadows, and Silver Scarf Falls. Return to the ranger station via the same route.
Colonnade and Iris Falls - 18 - 20 miles - 400 feet elevation gain
From the Bechler Ranger Station take the Bechler Meadows Trail north 3.5 miles to the meadows. Cross Boundary Creek, continue on the trail through the meadows and ford the Bechler River at the upper end of the meadows. Look southeast for a view of the Grand Tetons and northwest to see Ouzel Falls in the adjacent drainage. From the Bechler Ford, the trail travels gradually up into the lush and diverse Bechler Canyon, home to some of the park's largest Douglas-firs. Watch for pikas in the talus slopes, as well as moose and bears. Soon you will reach Colonnade Falls, a two part waterfall with good fishing at its foot. The falls is the barrier for rainbow trout. Upstream one will find only cutthroat trout. After another mile, you will reach Iris Falls. Look for a rainbow glittering at the base of the falls. Return the same way.
Information provided by the National Park Service. As with all information, it is subject to change. Check with a backcountry range station or office when you arrive in the park.
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