Bunsen Peak and Osprey Falls offers motivated hikers two notches for their proverbial hiking belt. First, a spectacular waterfall experienced from beyond the typical roadside points or crowded parking lots. Second, the hike is a chance to walk up an entire mountain, complete with great views, tired legs, and a feeling of true accomplishment. Bunsen Peak represents the easiest full-mountain climb found in Yellowstone. Climbing a mountain is never easy though and the full loop will take 6-8 hours to complete. The Bunsen Peak and Osprey Falls hikes can be separated or joined for a full-day loop.
What Makes It Great
This hike begins at the Glenn Creek Trailhead. The first four miles of trail are along an abandoned road and are relatively flat and open. Early morning hikers through this section have the best chance to see wildlife and they will beat the afternoon heat on the return.
At mile 3.2, the trail to Bunsen peak begins on the right. Those continuing to Osprey Falls will head straight. Bunsen Peak, named for after Robert Bunsen the inventor of the Bunsen Burner, rises 1,500’ above you. The trail to Bunsen Peak ascends to the summit in just over 2 miles of steady grade, switchbacks, and superb scenery. From the top, look down into the large meadow to the west known as Gardiner’s Hole and the graceful curve of the Gardiner River therein. Electric Peak and Mt. Holmes fill the horizon nearby.
For those seeking waterfalls only, continue past the Bunsen Peak junction and turn off of the abandoned road after four miles. The trail drops over the rim of the Sheepeater Cliffs. The trail winds down the cliff face, steep but safe, and ends near the rushing crash of Osprey Falls.
Those wishing to make a loop will descend Bunsen Peak to the west, instead of re-tracing their steps back down. This will loop to the west and south before re-connecting back to the trail above Sheepeater Cliffs and return to the Glenn Creek Trailhead. NOTE: The spur trail down to Osprey Falls is still an out-and-back with this loop.
Who is Going to Love It
Waterfall chasers, view-seekers, and those looking for a longer hike will love Bunsen Peak and Osprey Falls. This section of the park is slightly drier than others which accentuates the small, lush miniature gardens surrounding Osprey Falls. Keep your eyes out for wild raspberries on the return as well.
Bring plenty of water, especially for afternoon hikes later in the summer. The climb back up the Sheepeater Cliffs can be steep and hot.
The top of Bunsen Peak makes for great photo opportunities. Ask a fellow hiker to snap a photo of you and your loved ones astride a mountain top with Electric Peak in the background and maybe return the favor!
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Drive 4.8 miles south of Mammoth past the Golden Gate Bridge. Park on the left in the Glen Creek Trailhead. Parking is free with the Yellowstone National Park entry fee.
Please respect and maintain the required distances from all Yellowstone wildlife. It is illegal to approach or remain within 100 yards of bears or wolves. All other animals must be within 25 yards.