Yellowstone River

The Yellowstone River originates in Wyoming on the very southern boundary region of Yellowstone National Park and flows north entering Yellowstone Lake in the Southern Arm. The river picks up again at Fishing Bridge on the north side of the lake and meanders through the idyllic Park setting of Hayden Valley before careening over the Falls at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Truly one of the most photographed and recorded natural phenomenons in the Park. One that shouldn't be missed. From here, the Yelly as locals may refer to it, continues its turbulent path through the Park as a relatively unapproachable river deep in the depths of canyons carrying monikers like Black Canyon of the Yellowstone. There is access, actually, via trails that do get you to the river and fishing can be truly amazing, but you'll pay for it on the hike out! Nearly a vertical mile of scrambling to get back to where you can see the Big Sky awaits you.


Emerging from the Park now on the Montana side, the Yellowstone flows right through the town of Gardiner. From the park boundary to Livingston, the river flows through Paradise Valley, flanked by the Absarokee Mountains on the east and the Gallatin Range on the west. It is here that anglers come from all over the world to ply their wit and skill against the river's many native Yellowstone cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout. Notable legends like Joe Brooks and especially Dan Bailey put the Yellowstone River on the top of the trout fisherman's list of "must fish" locations. Continuing eastward from Livingston, the Yellowstone flows through the heartland of southcentral Montana's mountains collecting many sizable rivers like the Shield, Boulder, and Stillwater rivers and many yet unheard of but trout filled streams as tributaries before racing out onto the plains of Eastern Montana.

The Yellowstone has survived as one of the last, large, free flowing rivers in the continental United States. Flowing some 700 miles unhindered by dam or impoundment from its formation all the way to the Missouri River in North Dakota. Lack of mainstem impoundments allows spring peak flows and fall and winter low flows to influence a unique ecosystem and aesthetic resource. From the clear, cold waters of Yellowstone National Park to the slow moving and huge streambed at it's mouth, the river supports a variety of aquatic environments that remain relatively undisturbed. The adjacent terrestrial environment, through most of the 550 Montana miles of river, is an impressive cottonwood-willow bottomland harboring many significant animal and avian species. The river has also been a major factor in the settlement of southeastern Montana, and retains much cultural and historical significance.
Stream Flows
  • Lamar River nr Tower Ranger Station YNP
  • Flow (cfs): 274
    Temperature (°F): 45.68
  • Yellowstone River near Livingston MT
  • Flow (cfs): 2180
    Temperature (°F): 32
  • Boulder River at Big Timber MT
  • Flow (cfs): 289
  • Gallatin River near Gallatin Gateway MT
  • Flow (cfs): 481
  • Stillwater River near Absarokee MT
  • Flow (cfs): 554
    Temperature (°F): 32
  • Madison River at Kirby Ranch nr Cameron MT
  • Flow (cfs): 959
    Temperature (°F): 48.02
  • Madison River bl Ennis Lake nr McAllister MT
  • Flow (cfs): 1390
    Temperature (°F): 47.84
  • Missouri River bl Holter Dam nr Wolf Cr MT
  • Flow (cfs): 4420
    Temperature (°F): 54.32
  • Big Hole River near Melrose MT
  • Flow (cfs): 758
    Temperature (°F): 32
  • Beaverhead River at Barretts MT
  • Flow (cfs): 118