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Norris To Mammoth Hot Springs - Yellowstone National Park

The Norris to Mammoth Hot Springs drive covers 21 miles (34 km) and drops nearly 800 feet in elevation. This is a gorgeous part of the park with several large mountain peaks of the Gallatin Range that can be seen to the west (Mount Holmes, Dome Mountain, Antler Peak, Quadrant Mountain, and Little Quadrant Mountain) and the Washburn Range to the east. Several small creeks flow from these mountains and are tributaries to the Gardner River. This drive provides ample opportunity to spot grizzly and black bear, moose, coyote, elk and other wildlife of the park.

Specific sites and experiences along the way include access to two large campgrounds, three picnic areas, two geological features, three notable geothermal features, six trailheads, four historical items, and a few beautiful secluded waterfalls.

Fly Fishing the Gardner River: The upper section of the Gardner River is formed by the merging of several small streams originating northeast in the Gallatin Range. In addition, there are several small tributaries (Panther Creek, Indian Creek, Winter Creek, Straight Creek, Obsidian Creek) that flow from the west eastward, and from the south northward, that also merge into the Gardner River near Indian Creek Campground. The campground provides easy access to the river. Passing by the campground this upper section then turns north and flows by Sheepeater Cliff and enters Sheepeater Canyon. This 6-mile long canyon is deep, and the 100-foot Osprey Waterfall is located at the halfway mark. Above the falls the fish are all brook trout. Fish with attractor patterns, Caddis, various other dry flies.

Below the falls, the middle section of the river begins. The fish are mostly rainbow trout reaching up to 12-14 inches in length with brook and rainbow further down the river. Fish with attractor patterns, Caddis, various other dry flies.

When the 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 (8 km) 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 dry flies. Ants, hoppers, and beetles late summer into fall.

  • Fall: Blue-winged olive, attractor patterns



Flies to Use by Hatch During the Early, Summer, and Fall Periods of Fishing the River:

Early/June: Usually running too high to fish

July/August: See by river section above

Sept/Oct: See by river section above

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