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North Entrance to Mammoth Hot Springs
While this section of road is only 5 miles (8 km) in length, and the shortest in the park, it has some very interesting and unique features. The North Entrance to the park remains open year-round as it is the only access to Cook City, just outside the Northeast Entrance to the park. This allows winter vehicle access to the northern parts of the park for some amazing winter wildlife viewing. It is also one of the best, if not the best, place to spot bighorn sheep in Yellowstone as the eastern slope of cliffs of the canyon is a designated Bighorn Sheep Management Area.
The entire length of this section follows the Gardner River and provides access to a designated swimming area heated by a hot spring, a picnic area, trailhead, and Mammoth Campground.
Fishing the Lower Section of the Gardner River:
When the Gardner River passes under the Gardner Canyon Bridge on the Mammoth-Tower Road, it enters Gardner Canyon. This is the lower section which flows approximately 5 miles before merging with the Yellowstone River. Rainbow, brown, cutthroat, and brook trout, and some whitefish inhabit this section of the river. Their average size is between 8 to 14 inches in length, with migrating brown trout in the fall coming up from the Yellowstone River reaching up to 20+ inches in length.
Summer: Golden stonefly and salmon fly, caddis, various other dry flies. Ants, hoppers, and beetles late summer into fall.
Fall: Blue-winged olive, attractor patterns