Project Remote is working to precisely calculate and travel to the remotest locations in each of the 50 United States. Below is a brief account of our expedition to document the Wyoming Remote Spot. This is our 27th state Remote Spot documented as part of Project Remote.
Euclidean Distance from Nearest Road: 21.7 miles
Distance from Nearest Trail: 0.8 miles
Travel Method: Multi-day Backpacking
Hiking Distance One-Way: 37 miles
Cell Phone Coverage: No
Public Land: Yes, Yellowstone National Park
Something We Learned: The WY Remote Spot also is the remotest MAINLAND location from a road in the entire 48 conterminous United States. (There are islands off the Lower 48 mainland that are more remote. We will be documenting these places soon…)
In Ryan’s words…..
This is to be our longest Project Remote expedition to date. We document the Wyoming Remote Spot during a 7-day, 75-mile, out and back hiking expedition in late September 2014. We are accompanied by our nephew, Cameron. Our backpacks bulge. They feel like bags of boulders. Beginning pack weights are 38, 62, and 75 lbs for Cameron, Rebecca, and I, respectively. Rebecca’s body weight to pack weight ratio is the most impressive (or rather–depressive). We begin our hike southward on the Thoroughfare Trail, along the east side of Yellowstone Lake. The landscape is impressive. Lodgepole and whitebark pine forests span over the mountains in every direction. In our first day, we move through patches of recent wildfire burn as well as later forest successional stages… Wild landscapes like this are typically characterized by having mosaics of different aged burns supporting different aged forests that regenerating after burns. It’s natural. It’s beautiful.
The weather turns on a dime. Thunderstorms roll in off Yellowstone Lake. We take immediate cover from lightning, finding a relative low point under shrubbery. We get back to hiking when lightning subsides, regardless of rain.
The trail frequently becomes muck and manure soup. Throughout the entire week, we deal with thoroughfare traffic. All told for the trip, we pass by about 3 horse trains traveling into the Yellowstone backcountry. It is a conundrum, but it’s better than automobiles, we suppose…
As with most national parks in America, backcountry travelers are asked to camp in designated spots so as to reduce human impacts on ecology and wilderness. We stay a night along beautiful Yellowstone Lake in one such designated camp.
Skyla takes in the lakeview. That smile on her face, captured while deep in the outdoors, makes us very proud parents…
As the sun sets on Yellowstone Lake–We are:
ONE FAMILY, 50 STATES
I retrieve our food from a high overnight suspension. In grizzly bear country, most outdoor people and professionals (us included) practice safe storage of foods and other aromatic gear. Yellowstone NP has conveniently suspended logs high in the air at some designated camps to facilitate hanging smelly items high out of bear reach.
Our journey to Wyoming’s remotest location is along the upper Yellowstone River most of the time. It’s fitting that the nation’s remotest location also is proximal to the upper reaches of America’s longest un-dammed river. We contemplate with Skyla how, if we placed a leaf on the surface of the upper Yellowstone River, it might just make the journey all the way to to Gulf of Mexico, then be blown by prevailing winds and surf to within 8 miles of our home in north Florida. She loves that mental exercise.
A proud uncle stands near his nephew along the Yellowstone River.
Skyla enjoys a break and some play time during our week long expedition. Project Remote often has to slow down to the pace of a 5-year old. But what better thing is there than slowing down often and outdoors to smell the roses? And as a family?
A giant wolf paw print the size of a grown man’s hand presses into the trail. We gladly occupy this landscape with iconic indicators of wilderness and ecological health. It is fantastic that Wyoming’s remotest location still has wolves and grizzly bears present here in the early 21st Century. It’s equally great that there are still people and places that care about preserving the “total ecological package.” Thank you–to “America’s best idea”–also known as the National Park Service.
On the fourth day of heavy backcountry trail hiking, we reach that point where we break off trail and navigate using GPS to the exact coordinates of the Wyoming Remote Spot. We calculated the location weeks ago back in the office. Anticipation and expectations are high. Mama carried the “Skyla backpack” nearly the entire 35 miles to this point. Today, while scaling off trail and uphill, Daddy takes on the interactive backpack!
As we make our way up in elevation eastward from the trail, we look back toward the Yellowstone valley westward. We make out two National Park Service backcountry ranger cabins lurking within the pine forest in the foreground. As wilderness seekers, we grit our teeth in frustration and realize that one can never get really far away from human influence any more in America. These ranger cabins are approximately 0.5 miles off the Wyoming Remote Spot. Still, no roads are within 21 miles. And this still must qualify, under our quantitative definition of remote, as our calculated Remote Spot. As disappointed as we are, we take great solace that, despite the cabin presence, this is an ecologically healthy landscape. Wilderness could be had on top of any of the mountains or in the next creek valley over the mountains. While total human exclusion in vast landscapes apparently isn’t possible any more in America, humans should be aspiring to coexist, like this, with wildlands and with all wildlife.
It always takes much longer to travel off-trail into pure rugged wilderness than on-trail. This morning it takes about 1.5 hours for us to slowly climb up about 500 feet and 0.7 miles off trail to the Wyoming Remote Spot. Upon arrival, in the middle of Day 4 backpacking, we break into remote laughter and hugs!
We report some data from our Remote Spot Assessment: There was no cell phone service. The ranger cabins were not in view, although were noted as nearby. There were some jets visible and audible overhead. No other human structures were observed.
Photos below are views from the Wyoming Remote Spot into each cardinal direction.
When we arrive at any state’s remotest location, there is always great excitement and a few precious moments of communion with wilderness. Some states have far more pleasing remote spots than others.
And, as always, we snap a quick photo of ourselves standing directly on the remotest location of each state….It ain’t every day we get to be in such places. And together.
At this moment in time, we are proudly the remotest family in the entire Lower 48 United States.
“Now, would you please get me outa here safely, Daddy???”
Remote spotters enjoy a nice fire one evening while camping near the Wyoming Remote Spot during the return journey back from documenting the remotest location on the mainland of the Lower 48 United States.
While in Yellowstone National Park documenting the remotest location on the Lower 48 mainland, we scored an awesome view of a lone wolf howling. We can think of fewer more majestic sites that that. This is what Going Remote is all about.
It is fantastic to note that the nation’s remotest location from a road on the mainland is firmly protected within the conservation land boundaries of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, and within southeastern Yellowstone National Park. This place is one of many national treasures. Let’s make sure it stays that way.