Younts Peak and the Beginnings of the Yellowstone River

Younts peak in late summer with small patches of snow

Photo courtesy of the National Park System 

In 1887, Arnold Haig, an explorer, traveled to the source of the Yellowstone River in 1887 and reported that its birthplace was "in a long snow-bank lying in a large amphitheater on the north side of the peak”.

Younts Peak, 12.156’ rises in the Absaroka Range in the Teton Wilderness, and is the highest point in this wild area.

Melt waters from a small glacier in the cirque on the north face of Younts flows into a small tarn (glacial lake) and when spring melt comes, rivulets of water flowing out of the lake and from the melting glacier form the very short lived North and South forks of the Yellowstone River and at the base of the peaks western ridge they join sending the Yellowstone on its 692 mile journey to meet the Missouri.

The Yellowstone River starts 28 air miles south of where it enters Yellowstone Lake and flows about 70 miles before reaching the lake.

Harry Younts for whom the peak was name was the first Yellowstone National Park ranger.

University of Montana | Department of Geography