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Yellowstone River

Contact Info
Bozeman, MT 59771

Year round


The Yellowstone River originates in the Absaroka Mountains in extreme northern Wyoming. Flowing to the north, the river enters Yellowstone National Park 15 miles from its headwaters and then into the southeast arm of Yellowstone Lake. About 30 miles downstream of the lake outlet the river flows over the Upper and Lower Falls, through Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, past Tower Falls and then through the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone. The first major tributary is the Lamar River entering just below Tower Junction in Yellowstone Park. The next major tributary, the Gardiner River, enters near the town of Gardiner, MT. North of Gardiner the river flows through approximately 15 miles of mostly privately owned land and then through Yankee Jim Canyon, a two-mile white-water reach that is within the Gallatin National Forest. The River through Yankee Jim Canyon varies between Class 3 and Class 4 whitewater during extreme high water in the spring.


Brown Trout
Cutthroat Trout
Rainbow Trout


Year round
Camping Info
Overnight camping along the Yellowstone River on National Forest is limited to Yankee Jim campground, which is 15 miles north of Gardiner along Highway 89. Overnight camping is also permitted at many of the state fishing access areas.
Additional Details:

The Yellowstone River between Gardiner and Livingston supports a nationally renowned cold-water trout fishery. In 1959, the Montana Fish and Game Commission classified the river from Gardiner, MT to Big Timber, MT as a "Blue Ribbon" fishery. This 103 mile segment comprises 23 percent of the Blue Ribbon waters in the state and is the longest single stretch of Blue Ribbon water. The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks currently classifies the Yellowstone River between Gardiner and Springdale, including Yankee Jim Canyon, as a Class 1 river according to the current rating system. Class 1 is the highest value rank possible and indicates an exceptional resource based on sport fishery potential, habitat conditions, species composition and other recreational values.

Most fishing in the Yellowstone River below Gardiner is done by boat. However, some bank fishing is possible at many of the fishing access areas. Please use extreme caution when fishing from the bank. The river is deep, fast, and the bank drops-off abruptly.

Some excellent fishing opportunities can be had on the portion of river in Yellowstone National Park. To fish the Park, a fishing license can be obtained from the Parks Service or local vendors in nearby communities.


Map + Directions

Basic Directions

National Forest fishing access sites with boat launching ramps include the McConnel access site 3 miles north of Gardiner, the Corwin Springs access site 6 miles north of Gardiner, and the Joe Brown access site near Yankee Jim Canyon. The Bureau of Land Management maintains an access site with a boat launch near the Carbella bridge, 1 mile downstream of the canyon. Many other state fishing access sites are located along the river throughout Paradise Valley downstream to Billings

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