“Run back in time to Yellowstone's glorious stagecoach era!
— Tom Carter
Birding · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
You'll have to share this road with an occasional stagecoach. Please give them the right-of-way.
The trail begins near Tower Junction/Roosevelt Lodge and ends at Yancey’s Hole, where the park concessionaire each evening serves an Old West Cookout. The trail heads northwest from Tower Junction along the dirt road used for stagecoach rides.
From 1880 until 1915, stagecoaches were the primary means of transportation in the park. Hardy travelers, dressed in their Sunday best, rolled over this very road on their way from Tower Fall to Mammoth Hot Springs. They followed essentially the same route as cars use today, but it took 5 days to complete the tour. Not everyone could afford the stage. Many came in their own wagons, on horseback, and even on foot. In the colorful vernacular of the stagecoach drivers these visitors were "Sagebrushers," and the well-to-do stage passenger was a "Dude."
The trail is flat and dusty, but affords nice views of the surrounding area as it traverses the sagebrush meadow. At the 1.8-mile mark you reach a covered structure and some tables where the stagecoach cookout is served. It was on this site, back in 1884, that John Yancey built his Pleasant Valley Hotel. It was a small establishment. Beds were built Pullman style with an upper and lower berth. Patrons were said to have bribed the maid for clean sheets. But old "Uncle John" made everyone feel at home. Before bedding down you can bet there was some activity at the adjoining saloon. John served his own special brand of "Kentucky tea" from two shot glasses he boasted had never been tainted by a drop of water. Listen . . . you may hear the click of poker chips, or the knock of an empty shot glass against the bar, and over in the corner a gentleman relating the details of the day's touring. Yes, those were the good old days. But tourism was increasing, bigger and finer hotels were already in service by 1906 when the Pleasant Valley Hotel burned to the ground. Soon automobiles were allowed in the park and the stagecoach era became just a memory.
The Stagecoach Road Trail ends here, but runners can continue north to the Yellowstone River and Hellroaring Creek
or do a loop around Garnet Hill and return to Tower Junction.
Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone