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Frequently Asked Questions
What are the day rides like?
All rides are led by the owners, Mike and Erin Thompson, to insure you the best backcountry experience possible. Our small groups and diverse riding areas illustrate the difference between a day sitting on a horse with 20 other people, being led down a well worn path for 3-4 hours; or a great day searching and exploring Yellowstone, off the beaten trail with us. Because of our excellent history of "low impact" horseback travel with Yellowstone’s Backcountry Management, we are frequently given permission to travel into seldom seen, off trail areas of Yellowstone’s Backcountry.
What are the pack trips like?
The pack trips are adventurous in nature. Trips vary in length from 3,4,6 and 9 days in length. The shorter trips are based out of one campsite; while the longer trips are progressive campsites. All food, gear and equipment is packed in & out on horses and mules. Day rides and short hikes from camp highlight the sights, sounds and activities that Yellowstone’s Backcountry has to offer.
What are the camps like?
The camps are in an area designated by the Park Service. (This is to concentrate the impact in specific locations.) They have only a fire ring and food pole; and we pack everything else. Our camps are simple; consisting of a covered cooking and dining area, saddle tarp and large "backpacker style" dome tents. This setup is very simple and functional, which creates less impact on the resources of Yellowstone.
What are the differences between your trips and other outfitter trips?
All of our trips are lead by us, the owners, Mike and Erin Thompson. We work exclusively within Yellowstone Park. (We do not have a hunting camp near the border of Yellowstone and then ride you through Park to get to a camp.) Our groups are small to give you the best wilderness experience. Trips can be customized to suite the group and abilities. We travel all areas of Yellowstone, not concentrating rides in one particular area, thus minimizing the impact. We have a huge return clientele which is very positive, almost like family.
How much riding experience do I need?
Some riding experience is preferable, but certainly not a limiting factor in your wilderness experience. Your attitude and ability to be comfortable around horses is more important to us than riding experience. I would estimate that 90% of our guests are "beginner riders."
What ages are appropriate?
This is always a difficult question, as there are many variables. Our insurance sets a minimum age of 7. We stipulate that the child must be able to safely ride their own horse and wear an approved helmet. Our best advice is to call us and discuss your child and your own ability & attitude towards this adventure. As should any adult guest, over 60, should be healthy and prepared for the physical activities associated with altitude changes, low humidity, camping and riding horses.
What are the "Restroom" facilities?
The Park Service has very stringent regulations for human waste disposal. At most of our campsites we establish a latrine area (according to NPS Guidelines). Or as our guests refer to it: "a room with a view." Some of the campsites have a pit toilet already established near the site.
What about the grizzly bears?
Although, Yellowstone has the highest concentration of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states, we have never had any bear problems. We are extremely particular about food handling, cooking, cleanup, camp setup and hanging all food and odorous objects. For added safety, the horse/mules are hobbled around the campsite and with this added activity the bears seem to avoid the immediate area.
What is the weather like?
June is usually quite spring-like, a wide range of conditions from nice sunny days, thunderstorms or even snow in early-June make it an interesting month. The summer weather can be quite variable with day time highs in the low 70’s and nighttime lows in the 30’s. There is always a chance of thunderstorms during July and August. September can entail many extremes; from normal July/August temps. to lows in the teens and highs in the 50’s; with either sun, rain or snow. When you view the "Checklist"(Day ride checklist, Backcountry checklist)you will notice that we want you prepared for the extremes.
Can I bring my cell phone or computer?
While we cannot stop you from bringing modern technology, we urge you to leave the "Real World" behind and enjoy the "World of Yellowstone." Cell phones seem to give a false sense of security; remember we are in the backcountry and receiving a signal is usually not the case. Courtesy to others in the group is very important to us. Computers can be easily damaged and not recommended.
Can I bring my own horse and tack?
In most cases we do not allow you to bring your own horse and tack. The main reason is that your horse is not part of our group of horses and mules; not trained to hobbles, pickets, campsites and wildlife which in turn require much more work and impact to maintain the control of stock during grazing, nighttime and day rides for our staff. As for tack, all of our tack is specially fitted to the horses and mules; and as they are our primary mode of transportation for over 4 months, we cannot afford to have them sore from an improper fitting saddle or be held liable for tack breakage.
Why travel by horse?
The horse has historically carried mankind and equipment on adventures and explorations. In the spirit of the Mountain Men, the horse provides us the most functional and inspirational mode of travel. It also provides you the greatest opportunity for viewing the Backcountry, without having to watch where your next step has to be.
Mike and Erin Thompson
Wilderness Pack Trips, Inc.
172 E. River Rd.
Emigrant, MT 59027