Guest Author - Jim Fortune
How far will you walk to get to a travel destination? You read that correctly. I said walk. I will be the first to admit that I am not much for hiking long distances. I mean, I do not mind walking a few miles - 2 to 4 - or about an hour to get to a worthwhile travel destination. But 15 miles is a bit much, if you ask me. So what brings me to mention a 15 mile trek?
On a recent trip to Cody WY, I thought I would check on hot springs in Yellowstone National Park or in areas that were nearby. I checked out what hot springs were in the park first since that is a common destination for a lot of people. Going to a hot spring is fun and so is taking a dip in a hot pool.
Most people do not think of hot springs in Yellowstone. There's Old Faithful, of course, but there must be other hot springs in the park with all of that geothermal action going on and why not check it out, to see if one was close by and open for tourists?
The NPS (National Park Service) said that there was only one or two places in the park that were actually permitted for tourists to take a dip into. They mentioned Ferris Fork and Dunanda Falls. These two places were permitted because the water from the creek mixes with the hot springs bringing the pool temperature down to around 100º.
"Is it crowded?" I asked. Come to find out very few people actually went there. For starters, you have to drive about 26 miles down a dirt road traveling from Ashton, ID. This will bring you to the Belcher Trailhead. From the trailhead to Ferris Fork is about a 15 mile walk. Yup. 15 miles.
If you are interested, hiking up there requires a back country permit to be obtained no more than 48 hours in advance, in person. I am thinking that 15 miles is an all day trek. Some people can walk a 15 minute mile, myself included. That's about 5½ hours to get there, considering that you will be stopping for a break and water along the way. Figure that you will spend the rest of the afternoon in the pool, soaking your dogs (a euphemism for feet) and resting your tired body. So you will most likely be spending the night.
If that is the case, backpacking gear is a must and a tent is in order. You might need a campsite permit, so call the Yellowstone Backcountry Office at (307) 344-2160 or visit http://nps.gov/yell. You should also probably get a copy of the Trails Illustrated Yellowstone National Park map for $10 from http://www.natgeomaps.com/. Look for the link for Trails Illustrated Maps on the left column.
If you go up there, I would love to hear about your trip.
All the Best from Budget Travel,
Budget Travel Editor