Rivers, Yellowstone National Park
On the way from West Yellowstone to the Old Faithful Inn, I took a picture of an old fisherman with a Santa Claus beard fishing in the river (photo 3). We stopped at Black Sand Basin on the morning of the third day and there were a lot of fishermen parked there. We parked by one of them and my grandson went to take pictures. I asked them if the thermal springs that drained into the river made it warm, and they said no it didn't - that it was still cold. Snow melt I guess.
On the second day at the end of the Circle of Fire tour, we drove down Firehole Canyon drive and I got a photo of something that the guide said was significant (photo 2), but I can't remember exactly what it is or the why of the significance.
On the way out going back to West Yellowstone, there was a sign about a trumpeter swan nesting area and sure enough there were swans, and also a great blue heron.
After the entrance at Silver Gate (coming from Cooke City and the Beartooth Highway) , the first sight of Yellowstone is really pretty as the road goes along Soda Butte Creek. Golden Hills shining in the sun, water flowers along the banks... it is very peaceful here.
There are some pic-nic tables along the river and you're welcome to drop by if you are an avid fisherman!
Anglers older than 12 years-old need a permit (free for those between 12 and 15 years old).
There are 3 kinds of permit: a a 3 days permit ($15) , a 7 day permit ($20) and a season permit ($35).
Animals have precedence in the use of fish and you are, of course, not allowed to use toxic material to fish (leave your lead material at home).
Our drive to Gardiner did not take long and we were soon checked into the Yellowstone River Motel, nothing fancy but it did the trick for us. What we really liked about it was its location – within walking distance of the North Entrance to the park and also perched high above the Yellowstone River itself. One of its great features was a beautiful secluded little rear patio area where we could observe some whitewater rafters on a run of the turbulent waters caused by the rocky river bottom (1st and 2nd photos). The Yellowstone River is about 700-miles (1100-km) long and eventually empties into the Missouri River which, in turn, empties into the Mississippi River – these guys might have ended up in the Gulf of Mexico! There are quite a number of rafting outfits in Gardiner and one of them is operated by a guy who actually did the above trip by kayak – taking 100 days to reach the Gulf.
Typical rafting trips can be 2-hours (four departures per day at 9 AM, 11 AM, 1 PM and 3 PM), an 18-mile Day trip or an Overnight trip. The prices get more expensive with length but the 2-hour ones charge about $40 for adults and $30 for children 12 and under. As for me, I was enjoying our little patio (3rd photo), so cracked open a cold beer after our long day’s drive from Billings, Montana.
With the rapids behind us, the Yellowstone River soon turned gentle as it reached the wide expanse of the Hayden Valley with its sub-Alpine climate, as seen in this view of the flatter but still beautiful landscape. The 2nd photo shows a few broad bends in the river as it meanders slowly across this wide valley before eventually turning fast and wild again as it approaches the waterfalls in Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon – our eventual target for the day.
This part of Yellowstone NP is one of the best locations for viewing game of all types and sizes. Although a very nice looking area, this peaceful place turned into very slow driving due to large numbers of cars stopping for animals on or beside the road. It must happen so often that even the Ravens have learned to ask for a handout (3rd photo)
It took us until noon to drive about half-way across the top of Yellowstone Lake, where we then branched off northward toward Canyon Village as we followed the fast flowing Yellowstone River. We had not gone far before we came across the nice looking LeHardys Rapids, so we pulled over for a closer look. The 2nd photo shows the downstream view as the rapids gradually die away. At the right time of year, this is a popular spot to watch Cutthroat Trout leap out of the fast flowing water as they try to fight their way upstream to spawn. Be careful though because bears enjoy catching them!
Only a few miles further along, we came to one of Yellowstone’s features that we had not yet seen, mud pots at Sulphur Cauldron. Mud pots are different from geysers, hot springs and fumaroles in that they are a version of hot springs that happen to reach the surface at a location which has rich topsoil. The mixture of the hot water and soil creates a thick bubbling sludge instead of a watery pool. The 3rd photo shows a highway viewing area above one of them while the 4th photo shows a pool with grayish sludge bubbling away. The final photo shows an overall view of the bubbling pool with another more distant one in the background with a moon-like crater.
Rivers and lakes cover 5 percent of the land area in Yellowstone NP, with the largest water body being Yellowstone Lake at 87,040 acres. Some significant rivers begin in the park including the Yellowstone and the Snake Rivers, and they are fed by numerous smaller rivers such as the Lewis River, the Firehole River, the Gibbon River, Gardiner River, and the Madison Rover (there are more, but these are the rivers I saw during my journey). The Lewis River and Yellowstone Rivers have carved great canyons into the earth and numerous falls exist all over the park. In fact, there are 290 waterfalls of at least 15 feet in the park, the highest being the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River at 308 feet.
The origins of the Yellowstone and Snake Rivers are near each other but on opposite sides of the divide. As a result, the waters of the Snake River flow to the Pacific Ocean, while those of the Yellowstone find their way to the Atlantic Ocean via the Gulf of Mexico.
There are many beauties of nature to be discovered from the main roads; but there are also small roads making one way loops leading to beautiful quiet places like the Virginia Cascade meadows. It was autumn and not many flowers in sight, but the small creek, the high grass and the trees are a very nice “blend”, making the nature lover happy! This road loop is located three km before Norris Junction, coming from the East.
There is not a real trail following the creek, but anglers leave tracks and it is easy to walk one or two kilometers upstream, listening to the running waters and smelling the perfume of the pine trees not far on the left shore.
Yellowstone is not very mountainous, but there are some canyons however; Lewis Canyon is not as famous as the great Yellowstone canyon, but the scenery is worth a stop as you are driving from the south entrance to Grant village. The Lewis River is an outlet from Lewis Lake and flows south to the Snake River.
The canyon is best seen from the roadside (signs, at about 25 km from the south entrance), and there are small trails leading to steep slopes and cliffs above the river which flows 150 m down; the scents of the pine trees make the walk pleasant; the cliffs are made of black volcanic rock (basalt) carved by the river which found its way out of the caldera ; the caldera is a crater made by a phreatic explosion (the water contained by rocks was heated by ascending magma and the expansion of gases lead to a huge explosion making a hole of 45 km diameter, deep of a few hundred meters); if you look at a map of Yellowstone you will notice the radial river pattern with rivers going away from the caldera and other flowing into the caldera; they feed the lakes and then, at some points manage to escape the caldera.
This was the least spectacular (from a walker or driver’s view point) feature of Yellowstone, but probably the most important volcanic activity result in terms of landscape building.
At the entrance of the park, Soda Butte Creek looks pretty placid... but further up, it turns into a real moutain stream. We found this isolated place on our way to Tower-Roosevelt. Not far from the road, but it felt like we were miles away from everything.
It is on the right side of the road between yellowstone lake and Fishing bridge( if you are travelling north). It is an quiet and beautiful spot .There is broadwalk along the Yellostone river. According to the the information board on the spot, you could see fish leep aganist the current of the river at this spot in July.
Running roughshod through the park with may falls and rapids, the Yellowstone River is a sight in and of itself.
Lost in the granduer of the park, is the fact that the Yellowstone River was a vital force in turn of the century America. It runs from Yellowstone Lake in the middle of the park to the Missouro River. Along the way it passes by many mining towns which drew their life's blood from the river.
View the the Yellowstone river from Fishing Bridge. By the way fishing is prohibited from Fishing Bridge. Duhhh!