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Bechler River and Meadows, Yellowstone NP, Aug. 27, 2017

Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:09 pm

The Bechler River area is the most obscure part of Yellowstone. It is not connected by road to any other part of the park and is accessed from Ashton, ID over 26 miles of road, about half of it paved. It is recommended for hiking during a relatively narrow window of time starting around mid-August, thus the desire to check it out this time.

We parked at the more scenic Cave Falls trailhead, where there were only 3 other cars parked even though it was Sunday. Liz and I hiked the Bechler River Trail to the Rocky Ford Cutoff and then the Bechler Meadows Trail to the ranger station. We then took the Bechler Cutoff and retraced our early steps on the most scenic section along the Bechler and Falls Rivers.

Cave Falls is perhaps a 5 minute walk from the trailhead. I'm not a fisherman, but it's hard to imagine a more scenic spot for fly fishing than this.

More views of Cave Falls from above:


The Falls River here probably has at least a much volume as the Yellowstone River. This is the wettest part of Yellowstone NP. The trails did not seem that vulnerable to being flooded, but we were told by other hikers that with all the meadows there's a major mosquito problem earlier in the summer.

Within half a mile we reach the confluence of the Fall (upper right) and Bechler ( coming from behind the tree) Rivers.

Bechler Falls is perhaps a mile farther.

The river is placid above Bechler Falls and we follow it 2+ miles further to Rocky Ford.

In center background you can see a dirt notch where the Bechler River trail resumes on the other side. This is not a trivial crossing and you would need good river shoes at a minimum. Liz said, "I'm only crossing that river on a horse!"

During our next 4+ miles hiking through forest and meadows we encountered a train of pack mules.

The leader was on foot in front with his horse bringing up the rear. The mule train is supplying camping gear for backpackers. From the Bechler or Cave Falls trailheads, it's about a 30 mile hike to Old Faithful.

Lily pond:

Bee on an interesting flower:

At the Bechler ranger station Liz visited the horses.

The rangers here patrol on horseback.

Terrain at Bechler is flat but distances are long and the trails have wide river crossings.

The cutoff trail reaches the calm stretch of the Bechler River in 1.7 miles.

Soon we are at Bechler Falls again.

Then the confluence with the Fall River.

The Fall River flows into Henry's Fork, which joins the Snake River between Rexburg and Rigby.

After 11+ miles total we are back at Cave Falls.

We were hiking about 6 hours, then drove to Salt Lake, arriving after 10PM.
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