Mount Washburn

Mount Washburn: a scenic unpaved road in the heart of Yellowstone NP

Mount Washburn is a high mountain peak at an elevation of 3.122m (10,243ft) above the sea level, located in Park County, in the U.S. state of Wyoming. Visitors can not drive to the summit although biking is allowed.

Can you drive to the top of Mt Washburn?

Located in the Washburn Range in Yellowstone National Park, the road to the summit is unpaved. It’s called Chittendon Road. This route, an old wagon road, approaches the summit on an easy grade, but hits a 15% grade. Starting from the scenic Grand Loop Road, the drive is 4.1 miles long. The Chittenden road to Mount Washburn becomes a service road (a two-way dirt road) beyond the Chittenden Parking lot. Visitors can drive 1.3 miles to the parking lot, ending at 2.665m (8,743ft) above the sea level. It is a big parking area where the road stops, at which point you can continue the journey to the peak of Mt. Washburn by walking or riding a bike. From there, it is a 2.8 mile road to the summit. The unpaved Chittendon Road is easy to drive and certainly has room for cars going the other direction. This is a 8 foot wide formally paved road that weaves its way up to a fire tower at the peak of Mt. Washburn. The grade is relatively gradual and not too strenuous.

Is the road to Mt Washburn open?

The road is usually open from late May to mid October. The summit hosts a lookout tower built in 1941. Expect some service vehicles on the unimproved gravel road to the fire lookout which also serves as a telecommunications site. Yellowstone's weather is characterized by its unpredictability. Frequent afternoon storms in summer, when high winds, heavy rain and lightning may develop quickly on a previously calm day. This area is heavily frequented by grizzly and black bears and scat/sightings are common. It's often windy up there.

Is the road to Mt Washburn worth it? 

The drive is definitely worth it. A drive not to be missed! There are many excellent photo opportunities. Views from the summit include much of the northern section of Yellowstone National Park and on clear days, the Teton Range is also visible. The peak is named after Henry Washburn, Surveyor-General of the Montana Territory and leader of the 1870 Washburn Expedition. Washburn made the first recorded ascent of the peak on August 28, 1870, although it was undoubtably climbed prior to this.
Road suggested by: Bret De Young
Pic: Michael Berg



NOTICE: Due to the spread of COVID-19, many points of interest and roads are closed and travel is not recommended. Please follow all local health authority directives before venturing off, and stay safe.