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Are you ready to trade in your snow boots for hiking boots? We are too. It won’t be long before northwestern Wyoming starts showing signs of spring, and it will be time to hit the trails

The most telling sign in this wild land is that the wildlife will start appearing with their newborns. So if you haven’t seen a young bison trying to keep up with the herd, put that experience on your bucket list. There are few things quite as cute as red dogs — that’s what newborn bison are sometimes called — as they playfully romp, feed, and learn about their world. 

Four baby bison and an adult bison walking

The region’s stunning spring wildflowers also begin popping up in the spring. Early spring wildflowers include the Crested Prickly Poppy, a showy blue-green leafy plant with large white flowers that can be found as early as April along mountaintops and stretches of dry prairie. Another early spring bloomer is the Utah Serviceberry, a shrublike plant with small white flowers that grows in shady areas. 

Safety First – Cody Yellowstone Hiking Tips

A family hikes in Cody Yellowstone

Before setting out on your first hike, we suggest going through a safety check to make sure your trail days are happy — and healthy — days. Here are some reminders and tips for safe hiking in Cody Yellowstone: 

  1. Just because the calendar says it is spring doesn’t mean Cody Yellowstone received the memo. Expect – and be prepared – for winter-like weather anytime during the months of April and May. 
  2. Know where you’re going and the current trail conditions. If you’re hiking inside the park, stop by a visitor center or ranger station for updates on trail conditions. Hiking trail maps that highlight hikes outside the park are available in downtown Cody stores and at the Cody Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center. For detailed trail information, guidebooks such as The Hidden Side of Yellowstone offer tips and information about popular area hikes. 
  3. Tell someone your plans and when you expect to return.
  4. Always stay on the trails. Even the slightest off-trail detours can lead to erosion in fragile areas. 
  5. Carry bear spray and know how to use it. And always hike with buddies. Bears are active during the spring, and there is safety in numbers. 
  6. Watch for lightning and stay away from exposed areas and isolated trees when lightning is present. Consider hiking in the morning when lightning is less prevalent. 

Ready to hit the trails? Here are three of our favorite early-spring hikes in Cody Yellowstone. 

Warm-up hike: Clarks Fork Trail 

A man and his dog hike in Clark

This trail along the Clarks Fork River is an excellent hike for starting the season, with a meandering trail that is mostly level but with enough hills to get the blood moving. The distance is five miles out and back, and the entire hike is an estimated four-hour excursion. The trailhead is located northwest of Cody off WY-120, about an hour’s drive from downtown Cody. Situated at the base of the Beartooth Plateau, hikers will find grassy flat areas, streams, valleys, as well as sections of forest. 

Day hikeWindy Mountain Trail 

A man and woman hike in Cody Yellowstone

Although this hike is only four miles long, it can take upwards of four hours to complete as there’s some serious elevation gain. Located near the North Absaroka Wilderness Area, the trail summit, at more than 10,000 feet, features expansive views of the Beartooth Mountains and the Absaroka Range. Bring a camera. In the spring, you’re likely to see some stunning mountain wildflowers.

Epic hike: Beartooth Lake Trails 

A man sits on a rock during a hike near Beartooth

Budget at least five hours to complete this 11-mile hike, plus time to appreciate the views en route to the trailhead along the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. Although the trail is long, the elevation gain is low, making this a great hike for hikers who enjoy a leisurely day in the wilderness. 

Hike Your Way Through Cody Yellowstone This Spring 

A woman hiking in Cody Yellowstone

With plenty of paths for hikers of all skill and activity levels, Cody Yellowstone is the kind of place where we say “Take a hike” in a good way! And there’s no better way to plan your hike (and the rest of your adventure) than with the all-new 2023 Cody Yellowstone Vacation Guide. It’s full of great tips, things to do, day trips, and more. Best of all, it’s totally free! Request your copy today, and we’ll see you on the trails.