Traversing the Northern Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem: Honoring Our Common Ground

Zach Altman high in the Gallatin Range – Credit: Anthony Pavkovich

Traversing the Northern Greater Yellowstone EcosystemHonoring Our Common Ground

By Anthony Pavkovich

Sitting on my front porch, my gaze is drawn to the snowy peaks jutting up just south of the Gallatin Valley.  As the crow flies, it’s forty miles to Yellowstone National Park.  However, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is not confined by the arbitrary boundaries of man. Just beyond the last Bozeman backyard lies Sourdough Canyon, a gateway to the GYE.

While Yellowstone National Park enjoys federal protection, much of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is under threat of development and resource extraction. Across the West, a movement has gained momentum to sell off our public lands that make up the vast majority of this region. Despite strong public opinion, many of Montana’s legislators and lobbyists are working with unprecedented eagerness to transfer public lands to private interests. Without engagement and action, our commons may disappear.
In the wake of the public lands movement, the message is clear: we each have a voice and a responsibility to use it. As a trailrunner and public land owner, I invite you to engage, speak up, and act.  
Using my voice, I joined over a thousand of my fellow Montanans at the Capitol in January to protest the proposed transfer of our federal public lands. This act was empowering and from this engagement, I was inspired.  
Credit: Anthony Pavkovich
Riding the momentum of this event, two friends and I decided to plan a trail running adventure to celebrate the beauty and importance of our area’s public lands. Living in Bozeman, our backyard encompasses the northern Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Over the week of July 10th through 16th, we plan to traverse two hundred and fifty miles from Bozeman to Red Lodge.   
Our route across this landscape will take us from downtown Bozeman south along the Gallatin Crest to the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park.  We’ll cross the park’s northern range on our way to Cooke City and then up and over the Beaten Path in the Beartooths as we jog the last few miles into Red Lodge.
On our traverse, we’ll travel through two National Forests, one National Park, a congressionally designated Wilderness Area, and a Wilderness Study Area; a total of nearly four million acres of public land.  
Credit: Anthony Pavkovich
This is more than a run. This is a celebration of the public spaces we share as a local, regional and national community. This is an exploration of the place we call home.
Join us in the search for common ground.

And in the meantime, please visit and check back with Montana Trail Crew in late July to see how this adventure unfolded.

Common Ground Promo from Eli Abeles-Allison on Vimeo.