Gates Park - Upper Sun River

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Ascending Headquarters Pass
Preparing the Evening Campfire
Mountain Goats at HQ Pass
Setting up the Cook Tent
Soaking in the Views at Beartop
Gates Park Packbridge
Biggs Creek Meadows

Photography - Riding - Scenery - Fly Fishing -  Exploration

Start Date: 
Sunday, August 25, 2024 to Friday, August 30, 2024
6 days
Trip Price: 

This is a late summer trip is the perfect way to end summer!  Weather is often mild, temps are moderating, and the bugs are mostly done.  We start the trip at the South Fork Teton River trailhead and traverse over Headquarters Pass as we work our way down to Headquarters Creek to Gates Park on the North Fork Sun River.  Here we spend the rest of the trip exploring the many points of interest on day rides and hikes from camp.  The area around Gates Park is full of late 19th century western history, as well as earlier native Indian history.  Additionally, there are spectacular vista points from areas like Biggs Creek meadows and Bear Top Fire Lookout.  The fishing is excellent this time of year with lots of terrestrials (grasshoppers, ants, etc) and the fish are quite aggressive with stimulators.  The days are hot and the nights cool - perfect for camping and relaxing.

We frequently see elk and deer along the river, as well as large numbers of raptors this time of year, ranging from golden eagles, owls, ospreys, hawks, falcons, and dozens of other birds of prey. 

While the daylight hours are reducing now in late summer, the nighttime is amazing.  You will find our night-time skys are spectacular with deep space views of the galaxy and beyond.  The stargazing, as with our daytime scenery, is simply unparalleled by any in the lower 48 states.  Many of our guests find themselves staying up to early morning watching the evening sky.  Evening comes late this time of year as our sun sets around 10:00pm in the evening.  It can be a challenge staying up late enough for the stars to come out after an exhilirating day, but it's absolutely worth it. There are rarely any forest fires this early in the West, so we can expect crystal clear nights for star viewing.  The is no night polution and now early summer haze as the humidity is always quite low.  The nights are cool so be prepared for that when you step away from the campfire.

Day 1: Pack up early at the South Fork Teton trailhead and prepare for the ride over Headquarters Pass (elev 8,000ft).  There is a quite a climb up the South Fork  to the basin, traversing many switchbacks in the trail as we climb around 2,500 ft.  After crossing the pass we drop into a glacial basin for lunch.  Proceeding on is a gradual ride down Headquarters Creek into the Sun River valley.  We cross the river on one of a handful of packbridges in the Bob Marshall, and then a short distance to camp. This is a beautiful day with a mix of high alpine meadow in the Headquarters basin, 40 yr old burn with wide open vists, open meadows, and some old growth timber. Riding distance 14 miles.

Day 2: Non travel this day.  For day riders, we often go to Biggs Creek flats where we have amazing vistas of the North Fork valley, the Chinese Wall, and a whole panorama of views from a high ridge on the flats.  Total riding distance 10 miles.  Hikers have many miles of trails going right past camp and the hike over to Gates Lake is popular.  There is excellent fishing as well on the Sun River.

Day 3: Non travel this day.  For day riders, we often go to Bear Top fire lookout which is the only remaining fire look out in the valley.  The view up there are incredible.  It's a good trail and we ride most of the way and hike the last 45 minutes.  We eat lunch and chat with the fire watch person, and just soak in amazing 360 views.  Total riding distance 10 miles.  Hikers have many miles of trails going right past camp and the hike over to Gates Lake is popular.  This trail continues on towards Rock Creek and offers some superb vantage points above the Sun River and the Rock Creek valley looking west to the south Chinese Wall. For fishermen we will often take you to a different stretch of river to give you a new "look" at the water.

Day 4: Non travel this day.  We often take a day to ride down river to Rock Creek and explore some immense open country.  This is an easy ride with lots of great photo ops. Usually 6-8 miles.  We often take the fishermen upriver to Ray Creek to get some colder water and tributary action.  Very remote and rugged waters up there.

Day 5: Non travel this day but plenty to do.  If you're up for a day ride, we often go to Biggs Creek Meadows to explore and see some incredible views of the continental divide to the west and the Sun River valley in all other directions.  Riding distance is 5 miles. There are some great hikes too for the adventuresome.  The ridges are mostly open in this area, so they are easy to navigate and reward you with some great vistas.  There is excellent fishing as well on the Sun River.

Day 6:  We pack up early and head out the Headquarters trail.  We get an early start to beat the heat and the dust, and are eating lunch in the basin below Headquarters Pass (elevation 8,000 ft).  This is a spectacular pass with amazing vista.  We often see mountain goats and bighorn sheep in the basins on either side of the pass.  Our day ends at the South Fork Teton trailhead.  We typically arrive in there in early afternoon.  Riding distance 14 miles.



This is a great trip with shorter travel days than many of our summer packtrips.  The day rides go to some fascinating places of interest, but are not very long rides from the Gates Park camp.  Fishing is an option, depending on the snowmelt and spring run off.  The wildlife viewing is unsurpassed this time of year, and we can get to some superb viewing points that give you some great photo-ops and exploration options.

What To Bring: 

This time of year is the end of the cool season and the start of the warming season.  We recommending layers (always in the mountains) with an eye towards chilly nights and mornings, and days in the 70's.  Raingear is always appropriate for protections in the occasional mountain thunderstorm.  Definitely bring hiking boots, and several changes of good thick socks to help with the moist grass in the morning and the generally damper ground in many places you will walk.  The mosquito hours are short, but you will need repellant.  A detailed gear list below can be downloaded and has additional detail.

Recommended Camping Gear (pdf)


A Lazy H Outfitters is a family business operated by the Haas family. Al, Sally, and Joe Haas have been taking guests into the mountains for decades. Our passion is providing enjoyable and high quality adventures.



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