Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness & More

From day hikes to multi-day treks and outfitter guided experiences the A-B Wilderness, as referred to by locals, is sure to leave memories!

Hikers in the Absaroka-Beartooth WildernessThe Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness is a 943,377-acre track of land covering portions of three states, boasting over 20 peaks greater than 12,000 feet in elevation and dotted with more than 950 alpine lakes. 

Set aside by Congress in 1978, the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness is located in south-central Montana with a small portion in northern Wyoming, just north of Yellowstone National Park.  The Wilderness is home to Montana's tallest peak, Granite Peak, at 12,799 feet, it towers above Beartooth Plateau and anchors the Beartooth Range. 

Active glaciers, sweeping tundra plateaus, deep canyons, sparkling streams and hundreds of alpine lakes tucked into granite cirques make the A-B wilderness an unique experience in the lower 48.

Travelling in the wilderness comes with additional restrictions and responsibilities. Please be aware of the wilderness regulations for hiking and stock before entering the wilderness area.  Prior to any backcountry trip be sure to understand Leave No Trace principles, Food Storage Orders and Be Bear Aware.  Bears are frequent throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem including the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. Protect yourself and the wildlife we love by properly storing your food.

Based upon you trailhead entry and exit points, contact the Custer Gallatin National Forest or the Shoshone National Forest with the most up-to-date information prior to visiting the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.


To volunteer or for more information visit:

Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Foundation

Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, Arthur Carhart Wilderness Training Center


Travel in the Wilderness involves a bit of risk and challenge. Good preparation and planning will help make your wilderness adventure successful and rewarding.  If you prefer not to tackle a trip on your own, many commercial outfitters and guides lead trips into the wilderness, under permit by the Forest Service. Permits are not required for backcountry camping on the Custer Gallatin Forest.


More Wilderness

Lee Metcalf Wilderness

Generally lying southwest of Bozeman the Lee Metcalf Wilderness is comprised of four land  units; the Bear Trap Canyon Unit (BLM), the Spanish Peaks Unit, the Taylor Hilgard unit and the Monument Mountain Unit (Custer Gallatin and Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forests).  Although no active glaciers the Lee Metcalf Wilderness explores  alpine ridges above 11,000 feet to the low elevation Bear Trap Canyon at 4500 feet.  Treeline is generally around 9-10,000 feet, wildlife is abundant and nearly 300 miles of trail and 28 trailheads provide access to the Lee Metcalf with no shortage of opportunities.  Access via U.S. Highway 287 south from Ennis toward West Yellowstone (on the west side) or U.S. Highway 191 between Bozeman and West Yellowstone (on the east side).


Hyalite Porcupine Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area (WSA) - Gallatin Community Collaborative (GCC) Conversations

The Hyalite Porcupine Buffalo Horn (HPBH) Wilderness Study Area (WSA) was designated in 1977 by the Montana Wilderness Study Act and is located on the Gallatin National Forest in south-central Montana. The HPBH WSA consists of approximately 155,000 acres of the northern Gallatin Range between the Gallatin and Yellowstone Rivers. It extends southward from the Hyalite Peaks area along the Gallatin crest to the northwestern corner of Yellowstone National Park. The HPBH WSA is approximately 36 miles in length and between four and 12 miles in width.

Map of Hyalite Porcupine Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area




What is a Wilderness Study Area?  

In 1977 Congress passed a law, S393, protecting the HPBH and eight other Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) in Montana. The Forest Service then studied each of these areas and made recommendations back to Congress on their suitability for inclusion in the Wilderness Preservation System.










How is a Wilderness Study Area (WSA) different than Wilderness? 

  • Congress has not designated these areas as Wilderness.
  • Some activities not permissible in designated Wilderness areas are allowed to continue in WSAs until Congress takes action.
  • The legislation was designed as an interim step to protect these areas until Congress decides whether or not to designate them as Wilderness.

How are Wilderness Study Areas managed differently from other National Forest System lands?

  • They are managed to protect their potential as Wilderness as it existed in 1977.
  • They are managed to protect wilderness characteristics like opportunities for solitude, remoteness, and natural integrity that existed in 1977.

“…the wilderness study areas designated by this act shall, until Congress determines otherwise be administered so as to maintain their presently- existing wilderness character and potential for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.” – Montana Wilderness Study Act of 1977, P.L. 95-150)

How can I protect this special place?

Practice “Leave No Trace” backcountry etiquette:

  • Pack it in, pack it out!
  • Ride or hike only on system trails.
  • Use a cook stove or existing fire ring only. Don’t build new rings. Keep fires small.
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  • Bury all human waste using the “cathole” method at least 200’ away from water.