Best Places to Find Lightweight Backpacking Gear and Yellowstone National Park!

Some heavy gear can wear you out! Lightweight Backpacking gear brings us these great benefits:

  • We feel less tired
  • We feel more comfortable
  • We can backpack further distances

A natural progression will be toward lightweight hiking, as you do more backpacking, or begin going on longer hikes. I will now tell you how my thinking progressed along this path to lighter gear...

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone River
Yellowstone River, lightweight backpacking

Yellowstone National Park is America's first national park, established in 1872. It is home to a large variety of wildlife including elk, bison, wolves and grizzly bears, and is located in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, a collection of the world's most extraordinary geysers, including Old Faithful, and hot springs, all preserved within Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone is a huge park! This is just a small part of my overall trip. For a place that sees some 3 million visitors a year, it sure is clean!

I remember when I drove into the park, the first thing I saw was the Yellowstone river. I pulled over to watch it flow by.

Yellowstone has all kinds of wildlife, and it is very close to the road, so you can see the animals up close. I remember getting a flier from the entrance warning people about the Bison. They will charge you and can hurt or kill you easily due to their large size. So keep far away or stay in your car!

Bison, lightweight backpacking

Yellowstone National Park lies in a very large caldera. It is a huge Volcano! Approximately one half of the world's hydrothermal features are in Yellowstone. In the park, there are more than ten thousand hydrothermal features, including more than three hundred geysers.

I walked around looking at many of the hot pools and openings in the ground. I could see and hear the steam coming out of this hole!

Steam Vent
Steam Vent, lightweight backpacking

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

In the Canyon District, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the primary geologic feature. Measured from the Upper Falls to the Tower Fall area, it is about twenty miles long. Width is about 1,500 to 4,000 feet, depth is about 800 to 1,200 feet.

I began my hike near the Upper Falls area. There is a parking area that leads to the South Rim Trail. I took this trail and I was fearful of bears being in the area. There are warning signs about the bears and when I got on the trail, I could see what I believe to be Bear scratch marks on the trees! I was alone so I kept my eyes wide open!

First, I came upon the Yellowstone river by a bridge above the upper falls...

Yellowstone River Above The Falls
Yellowstone River above the falls, lightweight backpacking

As it flows over less resistant, progressively softer rock, the Yellowstone River forms the falls. The Upper Falls are upstream of the Lower Falls and are about one hundred nine feet high. It can be seen from Uncle Tom's Trail and from the Brink of the Upper Falls Trail.

Upper Falls
Upper Falls, lightweight backpacking

The Lower Falls can be seen from various points on the South Rim Trail, Brink of the Lower Falls Trail, Artist Point, Red Rock Point and from Lookout Point, and is three hundred eight feet high. The Lower Falls are often described as being more than twice the size of Niagara, although this only refers to its height and not the volume of water flowing over it. The volume of water flowing over the falls can vary from 5,000 gal/sec in the fall to 63,500 gal/sec at peak runoff.

I hiked down into the canyon to get a close up look of the Lower Falls...

Lower Falls In Canyon
Lower Falls in canyon, lightweight backpacking

I had to hike down 352 metal steps to see the Lower Falls from the bottom!

Metal Stairs
Metal Stairs, lightweight backpacking

I continued backpacking along the South Rim Trail and decided to get a photo of the North Rim...

North Side Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
North side Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, lightweight backpacking

I continued on the South Rim Trail until I got to an observation point (I believe this is Artist Point) where I could get a really good shot of the Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone...

Lower Falls Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Lower Falls Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, lightweight backpacking

I hiked the South Rim on the left from past the Lower Falls to where I'm now standing. After this hike, I was so tired I had to stop and eat some food to get some energy! It was about three in the afternoon. I wanted to hike the North Rim also but I did not have the energy!

Joe Lower Falls
Joe Lower Falls, lightweight backpacking

This is when I first started to think about lightweight backpacking. I knew that there had to be better ways of carrying all my gear without me getting so tired! I began to do some research to see who makes this lightweight backpacking gear. This is what I found:

Several well known manufacturers, including MSR, Granite Gear, and Sierra Designs offer lightweight backpacking gear. Some lightweight backpacking gear is being manufactured by Oware USA, Bozeman Mountain Works, Gossamer Gear, and Brasslite. Other companies specializing in lightweight backpacking gear include GoLite, Integral Designs, and Montbell.

Had I known about light weight backpacking gear back in the fall of 2003, maybe I could have hiked the North Rim also. You also should be looking into this lightweight backpacking gear, if you are interested in backpacking further, feeling more refreshed, and more comfortable. Have fun and if you get to see Yellowstone National Park, I promise you, you won't be disappointed!

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