The Wild Huckleberries of Yellowstone

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This locally sourced and sustainable fruit appears in everything from margaritas and syrup to ice cream and lip balm at America’s first national park

Posted by: Yellowstone National Park on November 4, 2017

Terry Richardson says they’ve considered other berries — blueberries, chokecherries, gooseberries. But there’s magic in a wild huckleberry.

They’re plump and sweet tart. They resist cultivation and must be handpicked in the wild. And visitors to Yellowstone National Park eat them up.

The humble huckleberry has made its way into everything from milkshakes to bath salts. Visitors sip huckleberry margaritas at the historic Old Faithful Inn. They pour huckleberry syrup over their pancakes at the M66 Grill at the park’s new Canyon Lodge. They snap up huckleberry lip balm at the Lake Hotel’s gift shop. They line up for huckleberry ice cream cones at Mammoth Hot Springs.

Consider it the ultimate eco-friendly ingredient.

Huckleberries

Huckleberries grow on bushes at high elevations above 5,000 feet, and can’t be commercially grown. Because they’re wild, they’re free of chemicals and fertilizers. And in late summer, legions of pickers take to the mountains of Montana and beyond to collect them.

About 40,000 to 50,000 pounds of the delicate fruit end up at The Huckleberry People headquarters in Missoula, Mont., where owners Terry and Lois Richardson clean and quick-freeze them. Then they become the key ingredient in products like chocolate cordials, licorice, cookie mixes, jelly beans, taffy, caramels, and, of course, jam. The company is a major supplier to restaurants and shops in Yellowstone and other national parks.

The Richardsons got into the huckleberry business in 1982. And what started with a simple jam recipe has spread to a plethora of other products, including a bath and beauty line, and even candles. Terry Richardson says they’ve considered other berries — blueberries, chokecherries, gooseberries. But there’s magic in a wild huckleberry.

“The taste is more intense. I guess it’s like the difference between driving an eight-cylinder car and a four-cylinder car,” he says. “Things that grow in the wild generally have more flavor.”

How to Explore

With nine unique lodging options, including the renowned historic Lake Yellowstone Hotel, Yellowstone National Park Lodges allows you to have the ultimate park experience. Staying in the park is the best way for visitors to experience all it has to offer, including the exciting wildlife watching. Once the day-visitors leave, Yellowstone remains for the in-park overnight guests alone. Yellowstone National Park Lodges offer tours and activities guided by Certified Interpretive Guides that help create memorable experiences. For more information on lodging, tours, and vacation packages, visit yellowstonenationalparklodges.com or call 307-344-7311.

For a multi-day visit of Yellowstone, consider the six-day guided walking tour from Country Walkers, “Montana & Wyoming: Yellowstone,” or the six-day walking tour from VBT, “Yellowstone & Grand Teton: Walking America’s First National Park.”

For more than 38 years, Country Walkers has provided active and immersive travel experiences on five continents. They offer two distinct ways to explore: scheduled, small-group Guided Walking Adventures and independent Self-Guided Walking Adventures. On tour, guests enjoy superb local cuisine, first-class guides, fine accommodations, and authentic cultural and natural encounters. Visit countrywalkers.com or call 800-234-6900 for more information.

VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations is the value leader in active biking vacations and has been rated among the “World’s Best Tour Operators” by the readers of Travel + Leisure for six years. VBT offers more than 55 deluxe, small-group bicycling, walking, and barge & sail vacations in 29 different countries and 10 U.S. states. Unlike other companies, VBT also includes round-trip international airfare from more than 30 U.S. cities and select Canadian cities for all overseas vacations. Visit VBT.com or call 800-245-3868 for more information.

For more travel experiences to Beautiful Places on Earth™ available from Xanterra Parks & Resorts and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.


Written by: Jayne Clark

Washington, DC-based freelance travel writer Jayne Clark has been a travel reporter at USA TODAY and several other daily newspapers.


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