Because my local library has such a pausity of trail guide books on Yellowstone, I've ended up buying my own reference library (and am still adding to it!). This is the first in a series of reports on the books I've purchased.
The first book I bought was Exploring the Yellowstone Backcountry by Orville Bach Jr ($16). I got it for Christmas 2007. My wife thought I was nuts as, for a month, I poured over every page, highlighted, and made notes on the interesting features of each trail. Perhaps because this was the first book I got, it became a major planning tool.
Once I narrowed down the trail features I was interested in (geysers, waterfalls, canyons, hoodoos, trout streams, wildlife, etc), I filtered the list based on trail length. I made a spreadsheet, listed the trail, region, distance, difficulty, and rated each trail, and a description of trail attractions. This list gave me a sense of how many days I'd have to be in Yellowstone to see all I wanted to see and knowing the regions where I wanted to hike lead me to making decisions about where to set up basecamps (and make reservations). From this list, I made a rough draft itinerary of trails to hike related to proximity to the basecamps (Madison and Canyon). I refined the intinerary based on other books I'll discuss in upcoming posts.
Overall, I really enjoyed this trail comprehensive book, and found it very useful as a planning tool. As of this date the extended backcountry trip I'm planning came about after reading the description in this book. I would recommend Exploring the Yellowstone Backcountry
Some of the cons: I wish this and other trial guides would include trail elevaiton profiles. I think this feature would quickly and easily help the reader assess trial difficulty way more than a third party subjective assessment. Also some of the maps were difficult to read along the middle fold. In a few instances, I couldn't find the trails listed in the text. The trail maps in the book do not include any info on topo. Perhqaps they assume you'll have a park topo map (probably a good assumption). However, these "faults" would not keep me from recommending the book. Buy it.