Lake Yellowstone is a real bonus sight. OK you come to Yellowstone to see the geysers and hot springs etc, but this beautiful stretch of water is worth a visit in its own right. Staying at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel we were in a great place to see it several weathers, rain and sun, and at various times of day, of which early morning was my favourite. None of my photos could capture the beautiful light on the hills beyond the lake, but I enjoyed trying!
Around the edges of the Lake the most famous sights are West Thumb Geyser Basin, Fishing Bridge and Steamboat Springs, all of which are well worth seeing – but do take time to appreciate the lake itself too!
The lake has a surface area of 132 square miles and is therefore the largest lake at high elevation (i.e., more than 7,000 ft.) in North America. It is roughly 20 miles long and 14 miles wide, with 141 miles of shoreline. It is frozen nearly half the year (late December or early January through to late May or early June).
After finishing our explorations of the adjoining Grand Teton National Park, we re-entered Yellowstone NP via its South Entrance for our last day of exploring before we had to get serious and drive back to Regina, Saskatchewan. We had already covered the north, west and part of the south in Yellowstone so, at 11 AM when we reached West Thumb on the shores of Yellowstone Lake, we headed east into parts we had not yet seen.
It was another beautiful sunny day and right off the bat we came across the West Thumb Geyser Basin. All along the lake are these small boiling hot basins with ‘no go’ areas marked around them in case you break through the thin crust of the earth and end up being scalded or worse. Maybe it was because I had been in Grand Teton so long that I forgot that little detail, but I walked right up to this one – it just looked so beautiful as two kayakers passed by off-shore. Sue gave me the old ‘what for’ when I returned to the car, but at least I had a nice view of the lakeshore itself (2nd photo) while I was being dressed down!
By 4 PM we had once more made the slow drive through the traffic in Hayden Valley (this time back to Yellowstone Lake) and then turned left toward our planned exit through the East Entrance of Yellowstone NP. But first, we made a short stop at Steamboat Point for one last look at this beautiful Lake. The depth of the lake is 390-ft (118-m) at its deepest point and it has 110 miles (117-km) of shoreline, making it the largest freshwater lake above an altitude of 7000-ft in North America. While I was admiring at the lake, Sue was busy taking one last photo of the wild flowers growing profusely above the shoreline (2nd photo).
We had a fair drive ahead to reach our accommodations in Cody, Wyoming but we were quite impressed by the rugged mountain passes we encountered along the way on our drive through the Absaroka Range (3rd photo). It had been a great trip to the amazing Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and the weather could not have been better!
Yellowstone Lake may not be on the modern park visitor's top agenda list but it surely has been a key feature to both Native Americans and early explorers in the area. As not only the largest body of water in the park but also the largest fresh water lake above 7000 feet in North America, it is a rare and gently beautiful sight that rarely fails to illicit deep feelings of awe on first viewing it. Perhaps it is the element of surprise or maybe it is the feeling of the people who came before you echoing in its very changeable waters. At 136 miles long and averaging only 140 feet of depth, it remains frozen for nearly half the years at its elevation of nearly 8000 feet.
It was obviously one of the park's main attractions back in the day as the first hotel was places on its shores in the late 1800s, The Yellowstone Lake Hotel.
The hole in the photo is a hot spring, a perfect place to fry the fish you might catch in the lake, without having to take it off the hook ( or so it says on a sign there somewhere...) . We didn't fish, so we did not actually try this out.
Yellowstone Lake is very cold, even with the hot springs, and looks beautiful. It is a lot larger than I had imagined. We saw several deer drinking at the shore when we went to the beach area on the other side of the road from our campground.
The road leading North to Lake Village and Fishing bridge goes along the western shore of Yellowstone Lake; there are a few places where it is possible to stop safely and have a look or even a short walk along the lake; there, you begin to feel you are in a National Park, in wild nature. Even in a hurry, it is worth to stop, look at the black sands on the beaches, the dead trees, the wide open landscapes. . . have a breath and a break, feel the sand under the shoes, and the cold water of the lake.
The actual Yellowstone lake is located in a small caldera imbricated in the big one, but it is difficult to identify from the shore.
One of the largest alpine lakes anywhere, Yellowstone Lake extends 136 square miles with a 110 mile tree-lined shore. This huge body of water creates its own weather, forming cumulus clouds during the day that sometimes turn to showers. The lake sits on a huge crater that was formed by a volcano, then carved by glaciers approximately 12,000 years ago. Nearby you may see moose and waterfowl, and the lake is filled with abundant fish
136 sq. miles (35,400 hectares) of surface area
110 miles (177 km) of shoreline
20 miles (32 km) north to south
14 miles (23 km) east to west
Average depth: 140 feet (43 m)
Maximum depth: about 400 feet (122 m)
Yellowstone Lake is the second largest high altitude freshwater lake in the world behind Lake Titicaca in South America. It is 136 square miles and its shoreline is 110 miles (177km). The lake is at 7,733 feet (2357m) in elevation and at that height it freezes in late December or early January and thaws in late May or early June.
The lake is up to 390 feet deep in places which pales in comparison to Crater Lake in Oregon at 1,932 feet (589 m), the deepest in North America. It is however, on the bottom of this lake where the lake differs from many others. The geothermal activity that occurs in many areas of the park also occur at the floor of this lake. Underwater geysers and steam vents create ecosystems unlike those in other lakes.
The lake is fed by many springs and small rivers. It exits the lake at the fishing bridge and the volume of water leaving the river is quite considerable. It eventually flows over Yellowstone falls and cuts the grand canyon of Yellowstone deeper before joining the Missouri River in North Dakota and ending up in the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River.
After we experienced the thrill of Old Faithful, we continued our merry ride around the park. Heading southeast toward Yellowstone Lake (approximately 17 miles), you'll cross the Continental Divide twice...at Craig Pass (8,262 ft.) and near West Thumb (8,391 ft.). The road is twisty and the scenery is filled with small lakes, alpine trees and awesome views.
Once reaching West Thumb, you'll want to get out and walk along the boardwalk to see Yellowstone Lake, the famous Fishing Cone, mud pots and other boiling springs which discharge their water into the chilly lake.
Yellowstone Lake is North America's largest mountain lake. At 7,733 ft above sea level, the lake is 20 miles long, 14 miles wide and 430 ft. deep (at its deepest point). Average August surface temperature is 60 degrees (Fahrenheit) while the bottom temperature never rises above 40 degrees (Fahrenheit).
This huge lake is in the southeast part of the park is formed by the inflow of the Yellowstone river. From here you can boat, fish, and swim. Its the largest body of water in the park covering 136 sq miles of surface.
After taking in the beauty, smells and sounds of the West Thumb area, we headed northwest (approximately 25 miles) to Fishing Bridge. Along the road, you have fantastic views of Yellowstone Lake and may even see different types of bird species (herons, bald eagles, ospreys and ducks).
Fishing Bridge spans the Yellowstone River and although closed to fishing (in 1973) offers the best wild trout spawning show anywhere on earth. When we got there, it was very quiet and peaceful but offered spectacular picture opportunities.
The highest elevation lake in the US, a 35000 hectare lake, this lake is amazing to behold. Located in the southern part of the park, here are some of the most beautiful serene views of the park I saw. Boating is allowed on the lake but there are all sorts of permits you need (for camping as well and fishing). We did nothing of the sort as we were solely on a sightseeing trip. I enjoyed this photo my dad caught of this tree reflecting in the waters. More info on permits for boating, camping and fishing go here