Yellowstone Half Marathon & 5K
June 11-12, 2021 | West Yellowstone, MT
Half Marathon Course Description (June 12)
The half marathon starts promptly at 6:00 am on Saturday June 12th. We will have a long staggered start with small groups starting until 8:00am. Please check your bib wave and follow the parking and start schedule provided in the Race Day Schedule tab.
The race will start and end at the Iris Street lot near Old Airport Road on the west edge of West Yellowstone. There is a ton of parking there and it is easy walking distance from many hotels on the south side of town.
The the majority of the race takes place on a dirt road and trail in Gallatin National Forest immediately southwest of West Yellowstone, MT.
The course starts flat but has a major and a minor hill that you need to train for. (See the map and elevation profile.) The best part of the course is that you will be less than a mile from the west park entrance.
The whole race is on a dirt road (depending on weather, there may be puddles).
- The first three miles will be a loop, partially through town, and partially on trail just outside of town.
- Miles 3-4 are pretty flat and straight as you head towards the hills.
- At mile 5 is where it really starts to get pretty, and challenging. You run over a beautiful bridge that crosses the South Fork Madison River and really start to enter the forest.
- Mile 6 is the most challenging section. You will start running uphill and in the 6th mile you will gain about 200 feet in elevation. Thick forest on either side. If you have to use bear spray it will be in this section (just kidding, but not really). You then start to flatten out and then enter a downhill.
- The course gets more technical around mile 7 with some rocks and a less defined path. The course will be clearly marked, but those in the front will feel like you are running through some weeds.
- Mile 8 is real fast down hill. Continues to be technical and weedy.
- Mile 9-10 is downhill for bit an then starts to flatten out a bit as you enter some really beautiful area.
- At mile 11 there is a slight hill that will feel big if you are not ready for it. Its only a 40-50 foot gain, but it's later in the race.
- Mile 12 to the finish will be slightly downhill or flat.
All runners will have 4 hours to finish the race. That is an 18 minute mile - plenty of time for walkers! If at anytime we deem it unsafe and need to pull a runner off the course we would hope for understanding and immediate cooperation. Failure to comply will result in being banned from future events.
Our course record holders receive a FREE RACE ENTRY every year that their time remains the course record! The current course record holders are:
Male Overall: Samuel Stow 1:22:12 (2018)
Female Overall: Bailey Parker 1:27:36 (2016)
Male Masters: Jerome Bowles 1:34:08 (2017)
Female Masters: Lisa Buohler 1:43:55 (2016)
Expect about 6 aid stations on the course at around mile 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 12. A medic will be stationed typically at the aid station at or near mile 9. Keep in mind, the exact location of each aid station may vary from race to race. Aid stations include toilets, water, Gnarly Hydrate, Honey Stinger gels, basic first aid supplies, and sometimes more.
All stations are cup-free so plan to bring your own hydration solution or request a free HydraPouch when you register.
You have a couple of options for picking up your bib and race packet including at the race expo/start line or we can mail it to you. When you register, we ask you to indicate when you plan to pick up your bib. If you plans change, don’t worry about it. We only ask to help us plan in terms of numbers.
Option #1: Race Expo
We’ll have our race expo the Friday before the race from 9am–5pm at the Iris Street Lot (Off of Iris Street and Old Airport Road). We’ll have our merchandise table set up, so be sure to stop by and say hi!
Option #2: Race Morning (not recommended)
We will have limited race morning packet pickup. The race starts very early, so having to worry about getting your bib on race morning will only add unneeded stress to your life. But we know sometimes it just cant be avoided. If it can be avoided, please do not pick your packet up the morning of the race. Bib pickup on race morning will be right next to the starting line. The race starts at 6:00am, so please get there early!
Option #3: Shipped Before the Race
There is a cost of $20 if you want to have your bib and shirt mailed to you. We do this as a convenience for runners not wanting to drive to the area early. You can add a shipped bib to your registration until one month before the race by logging into RunSignup, clicking Manage Registration, and Add Ons.
Refunds: Once your package is shipped, you are officially checked in to the race and no longer qualify for our refund, deferment, or transfer options.
Bib Pickup/Race Expo (June 11th)
Location: Iris Street Lot (at intersection of Old Airport Rd)
Date: Friday, June 11th
Hours: 9:00-5:00 PM
We’ll have drive thru and walk up bib pickup available at the expo. We’ll still have our merchandise table set up, so be sure to stop by and say hi!
Drive thru Bib Pickup
This is our way of keeping everyone safe and following local covid guidelines - you'll be able to get your bib, hydrapouch, race shirt, etc...all from the comfort of your car! You can then park and shop at the merch tent, if desired.
Please enter and follow signs for Drive thru pickup!
Walkup Bib Pickup
To keep things moving, you may also enter the parking lot from the southern entrance on Beckley Park Way. Enter, park, and follow signs for walk up bib pickup
Please enter and drive ahead to the parking lot (marked on map). There is NO drive thru access from the parking lot!
Bring Your Own Bag
In our ongoing effort to eliminate waste during our races, our expos are bagless events. We encourage you to BYOB (bring your own bag) to hold your bib, race shirt, and any goodies you pick up from the race expo!
If you are unhappy with the fit of your race shirt, or were unable to order the size you wanted, we will have a shirt exchange available at the finish line on race day. Please note that sizes and quantity will be limited.
Staggered Start - Color waves!
In order to keep everyone spread out at the start line, we are using a staggered wave system. Runners will start according to the wave indicated on their bib (you can check this on your bib or by logging into RunSignup and checking your registration).
Please arrive according to your wave (shown in the table). Once on-site, you can stay warm in your car until your line-up time. The Blue group will start their race at 6:00 am and then a rolling start begins (with an exception of a small walker group starting at 5:45 am). All runners must start their race no later than 8:00 am.
Tune in to FM 95.1 to hear morning announcements from our crew! They'll let you know when it's time to head to the start line as our start schedule may shift!
Race Day Schedule
The race starts at 6:00 am sharp at the Iris Street lot! We do not start our races late so please get to the start line early. Runners will have 4 hours to finish the race. That is a 18 minute mile- plenty of time for walkers!
4:30 am – Parking lots & bib pickup opens
5:15 am – Walkers and Blue wave should be parked!
5:39 am – Sunrise
5:45 am – Walkers start their race!
5:50 am – Runners line up at the start line & Last call for gear check
5:55 am – National Anthem
6:00 am – Runners Start!
6:00 - 8:00 am - All divisions will begin on a rolling basis according to wave color
All participants will have 4 hours to complete the course.
*Shuttles will start return trips to all parking lots as they fill up
*There are no dogs allowed on the shuttles or at the finish line.
Parking and Runner Drop-off
The race expo/bib pickup, start line, and finish line are all located at the Iris St. lot near Old Airport Rd in West Yellowstone.
There will not be any shuttles and spectators are not permitted at the start or finish lines.
The parking lot will open at 4:30 am race morning. We will have plenty
of parking to accommodate all of our runners, but please arrive early to avoid congestion. Most hotels are a short walk from the start line if you are staying in town and feel like walking.
Parking will be in the Iris St. lot near Old Airport Rd in West Yellowstone which is near the start line. We will have plenty of hot chocolate/coffee. Camping is not allowed in the parking lot.
If you are dropping a runner off, please enter the parking area and drop your runner off just past the parking lot exit. This will allow cars parking to enter the parking area and avoid any traffic jams from runners being dropped off.
Start Line Cues
There will be runner cues - or waiting areas - at the start line. When we call your wave you will come down and fill these cues in the small groups we will count off. Every 5 minutes you will advance closer to the start line until it is your group’s turn to start.
Please check your starting wave and stick to the schedule provided above in the Race Day Schedule tab.
Spectators at Yellowstone 2021
Spectators will not be allowed at the finish line. County health guidelines and regulations do not allow spectators at the finish. We have structured the event to ensure no large gatherings occur and allowing spectators would make it impossible to ensure compliance.
We know this is very disappointing to many of you and we are terribly sorry for the inconvenience. This is one of the aspects of the event we have had to make compromises on in order to get our permits approved and we thank you for your cooperation.
We recommend downloading the RaceJoy app to track your runner's progress and send them cheers along the way!
Yellowstone 5K Information
We are excited to be offering a 5K race! In addition to the half marathon, a 5 kilometer race will take place on Friday, June 11th at 6:00 pm.
This is a beautiful course to give you a chance to work your legs out and enjoy a run with friends and family. The race begins from the expo location on Old Airport Rd with the first mile running through town. Runners will then jump onto the forest service roads and run through the woods before returning to the finish line.
There will be one aid station on the course near the half way point (mile 1.5). The aid station will have water, Gnarly, and bathrooms. Like the half marathon, this race will be cupless!
The 5k race starts at 6:00 pm sharp on Friday, June 11th. 5K and Bison Double runners will have until 5:00 pm to pick up their bib at the expo. Limited bib pickup will be available until 5:30pm near the start line.
We will have a staggered start to reduce crowds at the start line - please check your wave color on your bib or via RunSignup. You can wait in your car and tune into FM 95.1 to hear when it is time for your wave to line up!
Note: The standard 5K registration is a timed race where runners will receive a race shirt, bib, and finisher medal. The 5K FUN RUN registration in not timed, but runner will still receive a race shirt, bib, and finisher medal.
Runners who register for the Bison Double are signed up for both the Yellowstone 5K and the Yellowstone Half Marathon! In addition to a race shirt and bib, Bison Double registrants will also get a special swag item. Once runners finish both races- they are also awarded a special finisher medal (in addition to a 5K and half marathon medal)!
The Bison Double is the perfect way to challenge yourself and extend the fun in one weekend. On Friday, June 11th we will hold a 5K race, and then Saturday morning the half marathon will take place. We know a lot of you will be coming with family and friends so we wanted an event where more could participate. Those that sign up for the Bison Double during registration commit to running both the 5K and the Half Marathon. Pretty hard, core right?
MEDALS AND SWAG CANNOT BE BOUGHT.
THEY MUST BE EARNED.
Note: Signing up for the two races individually will not earn the Bison Double medal. In order to receive the special medal and swag item, runners must officially register for the Bison Double during registration.
The Grizzly Double is a back to back weekend half marathon race. Runners who complete The Grizzly Double will participate in the Grand Teton Half on June 5, then (hopefully) spend the week exploring Jenny Lake, hiking Table Mountain, walking around Grand Prismatic, meditating at Artist Point, climbing Mt. Washburn and getting lost in the beauty of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park. Then on June 12 they will finish the Yellowstone Half Marathon. Two half marathons, two Saturdays, and one week of exploring in one of the most incredible places in the United States.
The Grand Quad is for those looking to be even more hardcore! With four races, we initially thought that would be too intense, but for you champions- the demand was there! Grand Quad participants will run the Grand Teton 5K (June 4) and Grand Teton Half Marathon (June 5) and then return for the Yellowstone 5K (June 11) and Yellowstone Half Marathon (June 12).
In between, they’ll get to hike and explore both parks, making this one of the most hardcore vacations we can imagine!
Not only are our Double and Grand Quad runners special in the eyes of their loved ones, but we think they’re pretty neat as well- So those who complete it will receive a special swag item and medal (in addition to the finisher medal for the separate races).
Those of you running the Grizzly Double will pick up your bibs and race shirt at the Grand Teton expo and use it for both races!
Those registered for a Double will receive:
- 1 Grand Teton Half Marathon & 5K race shirt
- 3 finisher medals (1 5K medal, 1 half marathon medal, and 1 special Double medal!)
- 1 special swag item (unless you opted out during registration)
Double Or Quad Pricing: You may wonder why it costs more to sign up for a double or quad event. For example, the fee to register for the Bison Double is more than it would cost to register for the 5K and the Half Marathon separately. While it doesn't save you money signing up for a packaged event, what runners WILL get is additional swag, and an additional finisher's medal...not to mention the runner's high and satisfaction for completing all the races involved! We highly recommend registering for the double/quad if you're on the fence about doing multiple events!
Need to upgrade to the Moose Double, grizzly double, or Grand Quad?
>> Click "Start Transfer"
>> Choose your Event
>> Continue and complete your registration!
*if you deferred into this race or transferred from another race your race credit will be $0 and we will need to help you upgrade your event. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where to Fly
If you plan to fly West Yellowstone Airport, Bozeman International Airport, and Jackson Hole Airport are your best options. West Yellowstone Airport will take you directly the host town. However flight availability will be limited. Both Jackson Hole and Bozeman require driving time to West Yellowstone, but you may have less trouble finding flights that fit your travel needs.
West Yellowstone (WYS)
If you can find a good flight in, West Yellowstone will definitely be the most convenient option.
The airport has several car rental agencies on site, so transportation to and from the airport is absolutely no problem, even if your lodging isn’t in the immediate vicinity.
Bozeman is a little less than a two hour drive to West Yellowstone (via Gallatin Road), but you can rent a car on site.
Jackson Hole (JAC)
Jackson Hole is a two and a half hour drive to West Yellowstone. You’ll drive through Jackson, WY, cross the state border to Driggs, MT, and connect with Route 20 to West Yellowstone. They also offer on site car rentals.
Driving is a little tricky since no interstates go through West Yellowstone.
From the West coast:
If you’re driving from the west coast, you’ll take I-80 or I-84 going east. You’ll then connect with I-15, heading north to Route 20.
From the Southwest:
Go North on I-15 and then get on Highway 20 (Northbound) in Idaho Falls.
From the East:
There are two general routes you can take from the Eastern U.S., depending on where you start from. You can take I-90 West to Gallatin Road. Take Gallatin Road South, right to West Yellowstone.
OR You could take I-80 West and connect with Route 287 which will take you to West Yellowstone through extremely scenic Grand Teton National Park. There are probably faster ways to get to Yellowstone, but this is for sure the prettiest option.
Where to Stay
You can find the perfect lodging in town for you and your party on the Destination Yellowstone website.
Other Lodging Options
Whether you prefer a hotel, the convenience of a home-like living space, or want to be a part of the great outdoors there's an option for you! There are a few companies we've partnered with to search for the best options in the area for hotels, vacation rentals, and camping areas:
Yellowstone Explorer Club
If you've run any of our National Park half marathons before, you may be familiar with our "club hikes" and "trifecta" programs. The "Explorer Club" series is our new iteration of this idea! We want you to have as broad or as deep of an experience of our National Parks and their surrounding areas as possible. We have created a scavenger hunt made up of all kinds of adventures and experiences you can have around each National Park.
The challenge consists of activities that fit into 6 categories: History, Hiking, Explore, Food/Dining, Education, and Stewardship.
Each activity is worth points towards your Explorer badge! They are worth a different number of points based on difficulty and you can choose which to tackle based on your interests. Whether you have an afternoon or a week, you should be able to plan an amazing itinerary with these suggestions!
Here's how to become a Yellowstone Explorer:
- Install the free Spark Challenges app
- Sign-up using the same email address you used to register for the race
- Join the Yellowstone Explorer Club challenge and start completing activities
- Earn at least 1,500 points within 7-days of the race and you’ll earn a special in-app achievement with a coupon code to claim your free Yellowstone Explorer badge
Club Hikes & Trifecta
We are phasing out our Club and Trifecta hikes after the 2021 year! You can find all the Club and Trifecta hikes included as part of the Yellowstone Explorer Club activities list.
Log any of these Club Hikes in the Spark Challenges app within 7 days of the end of the race and you'll still receive a club hike medallion. Completing the the Trifecta activities in the app earns you an official Trifecta pin!
You can still snap a photo and share it with us on social by using #YellowstoneHalf. We love to see our runners out in the wild!
Mt. Washburn is located in the northeast section of the park. The views from the lookout are some of the best in all the park.
After leaving the parking lot at Dunraven Pass you’ll have a bird’s-eye view of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Hayden Valley, and the Grand Tetons farther to the south. The trail has several switchbacks, offering different and unique views.
The trail is likely to have some spots covered in snow (around mile 2.5 is where the most snow-pack is). It should still be hikeable, but you should check conditions before attempting this hike. Snow-pack might make it very difficult.
The hike to Osprey Falls starts 5 miles south of Mammoth on the Old Bunsen Peak Road Trail and is 8 miles round trip. The trail follows the old roadbed for 2.5 miles through grassland and burnt forest. The trail veers off the old road and follows the rim of Sheepeater Canyon before descending in a series of switchbacks to the bottom. There are about 11 switchbacks in total, amounting to a mile of trail. The switchbacks are VERY thin, sometimes less than a foot wide. The trail ends about 30 feet from the falls, but previous hikers say you can hike to the base of the falls if you’re cautious.
You should bring way more water than you think you need. The altitude is high and the climate is dry. We would also recommend starting earlier in the day
Looking for something less strenuous? Introducing the Yellowstone Trifecta! The Trifecta is comprised of 3 different activities. You must complete all 3 in order to complete the Trifecta. The Trifecta is meant to be challenging, but less strenuous. These are iconic activities inside the park that should be experienced, but are doable with children. The 3 activities that makeup the Trifecta are:
- Old Faithful
- See Bison in the Park
- Artist Point (Grand Canyon of Yellowstone)
You must complete all 3 in order to complete the Trifecta. Log the competed hikes in the Spark Challenges app as part of the Yellowstone Explorer Club and you will receive a commemorative pin!
Watch Old Faithful Erupt!
Old Faithful is the most famous and celebrated geyser in the world. The 1870 Washburn Expedition camped near Old Faithful and discovered the geyser had frequent and regular eruptions over 100 feet. They dubbed the geyser Old Faithful. It erupts once approximately every 45 to 90 minutes, depending on the duration of the previous eruption. Schedules for predicted eruptions are posted in the NPS buildings near Old Faithful.
See Bison in the Park
You can’t leave Yellowstone without seeing bison! Yellowstone is the only place in the U.S. where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times.
While you might be able to find bison in any area of Yellowstone, check out Lamar Valley for a variety of wildlife viewing! Lamar Valley is a wide, expansive valley in sort of a remote north-eastern corner of the park. Take your picture with a bison... but do not approach the animals!
Artist Point is just a short hike off of south rim drive, and offers very popular and iconic views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Lower Falls.
You can view race results from past races below:
2020 Yellowstone Half Virtual Results | Virtual 5K Results
2018 Yellowstone Half Results | 5K Results
2017 Yellowstone Half Results | 5K Results
2016 Yellowstone Half Results | 5K Results
If you see that you placed, but didn't stick around for the awards ceremony, no worries! You can request to have your place medal shipped to you!
If you have questions about your placement or results, please email email@example.com.
Race photos are available the Friday following the week of the race. We will send out an email when they're posted to the album as well as place the link below. This year we are offering race photos FREE to all our runners!
Share your experiences with us!
Be sure to use #YellowstoneHalf in any photos you post from the race or your adventures exploring the park so we can share in the fun with you!
Exclusive Yellowstone Half Marathon merchandise is available in our online store.