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Welcome to Montana’s Yellowstone Country

(Unofficial) Ranger

Greetings, Montana's Yellowstone Country travelers!

I'm the (unofficial) Ranger here in Montana's Yellowstone Country, and it's my job — it's a calling, really—to help folks enjoy the most incredible visit here possible. Whether you're planning a visit or you've already arrived, I'm here to answer questions and give advice about all the places you can go and all the things you can do here.

It's also my job to help visitors understand the importance of recreating responsibly in Yellowstone Country — to keep it the special place that it is while making your trip a safe and enjoyable one.

If you've never visited or lived in a place with the kind of pristine wilderness that Montana's Yellowstone Country has, you might not be familiar with the concept of recreating responsibly. Lucky for you, I'm here to share the set of principles we follow in this natural wonderland. So let's jump right in, shall we?


Know before you go.

Know before you go. (Having a lay of the land is handy out here.)

This one's all about being prepared: Where's the trailhead? Do you need a permit to fish, hunt or camp? What's the weather going to do? Is that museum open? Check your route, the forecast, road conditions, operating hours and any particulars for your chosen excursion before you head out on your adventures. This way you'll be ready for your planned activities — or can adjust if your plans have to change.

Stay on the trails.

Stay on the trails. (They're basically the red carpets of nature.)

For your safety and to protect the ecosystem where you're hiking, please stay on our nifty trails. These VIPS — that's Very Important Paths — will lead you to great views from safe distances, and sticking to them not only keeps you from getting lost, it prevents the pristine wilderness around you from getting trampled. That's a trail trifecta right there!

Play it safe.

Play it safe. (No need to be a hero.)

In Montana's Yellowstone Country, it's important to be realistic about your physical abilities. We have beautiful wilderness here, but it can be rugged, and pushing yourself beyond your limits in these landscapes isn't a good idea. The great news is that there's no need to risk injury or discomfort! We have so many amazing recreation options that there really is something unforgettable to do for everyone at any level. And remember: Before you head out, let someone know your plan and when to expect you back.

Pack it in, pack it out.

Pack it in, pack it out. (Mother Nature hates a mess.)

There are essentials you should bring when you're out enjoying the spectacular natural surroundings in Montana's Yellowstone Country — extra layers, bear spray, first aid kit, water and snacks to name a few. But make sure that everything you carry into the wilderness comes back out with you, including any trash and food waste — yes, even apple cores and banana peels!

Wildlife safety.

Wildlife safety. (This is not a petting zoo.)

We share this beautiful region with an abundance of wildlife — many people are drawn here for the chance to see animals like bison, wolves, bears and elk in their natural habitats. The desire to interact with or get close to the creatures that call this place home can be strong. But at the end of the day, they're wild animals, so for their safety and yours, resist the urge to pet or feed them and do your best to put some distance between you.

Prevent wildfires.

Prevent wildfires. (Spark conversation, inspiration or romance — not flames!)

There are several things you can do to prevent wildfires:

  • Know how to properly extinguish a fire (check out the official U.S. Forest Service for great information on this).
  • Don't leave campfires unattended.
  • Pay attention to the level of fire danger where you're traveling and abide by any restrictions on campfires — not starting a fire is a surefire way to prevent one!
Leave it as you find it.

Leave it as you find it. (No “finders keepers” out here!)

It can be tempting to remove rocks or wood or other natural objects as souvenirs, or to move things — like gathering stones to make a rock stack or cairn — or leave a mark. These behaviors might seem harmless, but they disrupt animal habitat, can lead to erosion and can affect other people's wilderness experience. Instead, snap photos to remember all the places you visit, and leave your mark by doing your part to keep our wild places wild.

Love Montana Back.

Love Montana Back. (It's the Montana Way.)

Montana's Yellowstone Country is a special place and we want to keep it that way for you, for all our visitors and for the folks who call this place home. Please respect our lands and communities and be kind and courteous to everyone you cross paths with.

And those are our Recreate Responsibly principles! Follow these guidelines for a visit to Montana's Yellowstone Country that's safe and enjoyable for you, for everyone around you, and for this incredible place! See you on the trail!

(unofficial) Ranger
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