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Bunsen Peak (Yellowstone) hike with the family

July 26, 2011

Bunsen Peak (8,564')
Roundtrip distance: 4.2 miles
Elevation gain: 1,300 feet

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Bunsen Peak (a volcanic cone named for the guy who invented the Bunsen Burner), in Northern Yellowstone, made for a nice mid-day hike with the family. The trailhead is located just beyond Rustic Falls, and though the parking lot was full as promised, we did not encounter very many people along the trail.


The Bunsen Peak Trail started up through some regrowth forest, where the ground was littered with logs from a previous forest fire; they like pick-up sticks. Above this the trail wound through some scenic meadows with all different colors of wildflowers. Eventually the trail climbed to the northwest slopes of the mountain and switch-backed all the way to the top.

Electric Peak

We stopped at the impressive but crumbling cliffs of Cathedral Rock, where Holly and I scrambled out onto an airy rock for a photo shoot.

At the mountaintop the wind was blowing pretty hard, but we took some time to look around. We had a good view of the snowy Absaroka Range to the southeast, but it was also such a clear day that we could see the Tetons 100+ miles due south! My mom, wife and aunt descended the trail while my dad, uncle and I hiked to the other two of Bunsen Peak's three summits.

We did some running on the way down the switchbacks and through the meadows, enjoying the nice trail and the beautiful weather.

In retrospect this is not the most scenic part of Yellowstone--which we would experience over the next couple of days--but it was a unique hike on a volcanic cone through a regrowth forest with plenty of wildflowers and decent views. And it was easy enough that the whole family could do it.