Sky Rim

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Very Hard
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
10-14h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
31.2 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
1,585 m
User Ratings
These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
Overall Rating
This is the average user-submitted overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
9.7
Physical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Technical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
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Directions to Trailhead
Views from the Sky Rim Hike in Yellowstone National Park

Sky Rim Trail is the classic full-day hike in Yellowstone, and a must for fit hikers. This long trail will tire you out, however the views along are second to none. Expect dramatic peaks, vast valleys and all that’s in between on this hike.

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Route Description for Sky Rim

Starting from the trailhead, hike through the grassy and mostly flat meadows as you approach the rim itself. Especially if you started in the early morning this will look unbelievable, as the sky will extend infinitely into the horizon. The first junction you pass connects to the other “ladder” of the hike – the Black Butte trail. Turn left here towards the Sky Rim Trail, though keep in mind you will be returning this way.

Follow the signs towards the Sky Rim Trail. You will pass a campground and a path leading to the left. Again, continue towards the Sky Rim. As you approach the rim you will gain some elevation in the trees, then emerge on the top of a dirt-covered ridge. This ridge is the border of Yellowstone National Park. Look left into Gallatin National Forest, and back right into Yellowstone.

Now the jaw dropping views you have heard so much about become a reality. For your entire traverse of the ridge you will be totally ensconced in the magical scenery of Northern Yellowstone. At first you will be able to see Ramshorn Peak, Fortress Mountain and Lone Indian Peak to the north. As you continue, Canary Bird Peak and Sawtooth Mountain will be visible to the east.

The rolling ridge of the Sky Rim Trail will continue to roll up and down through recently burnt forest, wildflower filled meadows, and rocky bluffs. Towards the end of the ridge you will come to the final steep climb of the hike. There is no normal trail, however flags are ever present directing you up to Big Horn Peak. After climbing up this loosely wooded field you will come to a grassy plateau. This is not yet the peak. Continue along the trail to the visibly rocky outcropping to the east. At over km, the views from this peak are majestic, as the all the valleys and peaks seemingly originate from your vantage point.

After soaking in the views return to the grassy plateau and follow the signs (and the orange tape) along the Black Butte Trail in the direction of the Black Butte Trailhead. You will descend all the way down to the valley floor, alongside the Black Butte Creek. At the first junction you will turn right towards Dailey Creek.

This connector trail gains a little elevation, going up the pass between King Butte and Lava Butte. At the top you will find yourself at an old ranger cabin. Descend the trail and turn right at the junction, finally returning to your car at the Dailey Creek Trailhead.

Insider Hints for Sky Rim

  • This hike is extremely long. It is imperative that you start as early as you can.
  • Water is scarce on the rim itself. Make sure you can carry enough for the scorching Yellowstone sun.

Getting to the Sky Rim Trailhead

From West Yellowstone, drive north along highway 191 for just under 50.0 km. You will enter the park as it juts out to the northwest. After passing Bighorn Pass, Fawn Pass, Specimen Creek and Black Butte trailhead, the Daly Creek trailhead will be on the right. There is limited parking, however the trail is lightly used. If you exit the park and enter the national forest you have gone too far.

Route Information

  • When to do

    June through September

  • Backcountry Campsites

    No

  • Toilets

    At Parking Lot and partway up the trail

  • Family friendly

    No

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    Low

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Sky Rim Elevation Graph

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