by Joseph A. Sprince – Photography by Gerald B. Allen
The Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks Travel Guides are a resource for those planning to tour Yellowstone National Park and/or Grand Teton National Park. The adjacent national parks are typically visited at the same time and offer very different experiences. Yellowstone offers the world's largest concentration of thermal features such as geysers and hot pools. Grand Teton features one of the world's most spectacular mountain ranges. Both parks offer outstanding opportunities to view wildlife.
Lake Village, Bridge Bay, and Fishing Bridge are located on the north side of Yellowstone Lake. It is the busiest area of the park in terms of campgrounds, motels and lodges, stores, and other traveler services. This convenient but busy area is roughly equidistant to the Old Faithful area and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Yellowstone Lake is often considered the “jewel” of Yellowstone National Park. The beautiful lake with its deep-blue waters is the largest natural freshwater lake in the United States above 7,000 feet and one of the largest such lakes in the world. The lake is roughly 20 miles long and 14 miles across with a depth over 300 feet in the West Thumb area.
Fishing and boating are popular on the lake. You can launch your own boat at the marina or rent a boat. Guided boat tours and fishing trips are also available. The lake has the largest population of wild cutthroat trout in North America. However much larger lake trout, a non-native species, was illegally introduced to Yellowstone Lake and threatens the native cutthroat trout. Unfortunately Whirling disease is also present in the area. You need a Yellowstone National Park permit for both fishing and boating. See Fishing in Yellowstone (NPS) for more information.
The road from Fishing Bridge north to Canyon Village follows the Yellowstone River through Hayden Valley. Hayden and also Pelican Valley a few miles east of Fishing Bridge are considered some of the best habitat in the lower 48 states for grizzly bears, bison, elk, and other wildlife species. A few miles north of Fishing Bridge is the thermal area known as Mud Volcano and Sulphur Cauldron, a seething area of bubbling mud pots (photo right), fumaroles, geysers, and hot pools. The area is very dynamic with new features appearing as old ones becoming active or inactive. The Black Dragon’s Caldron exploded in 1948, uprooting trees and covering the nearby forest with mud. Mud Volcano’s most dramatic feature, the huge, seething mud pot known as “Gumper” is accessible only by ranger-led tours.
Lake Village, Bridge Bay, and Fishing Bridge
Day Hikes in the Lake Village, Bridge Bay, and Fishing Bridge Area
The are good hiking trails in the area, ranging from one to 7 miles. A six mile round trip trail penetrates the wildlife-rich Pelican Valley. It does not open until July 4th due to grizzly activity, and group hiking is suggested here. The easy Natural Bridge trail accesses a 51 foot natural bridge along Bridge Creek.
- Elephant Back Mountain Round trip 3.6 miles (5.8 km), moderately strenuous. Starting at a pullout 1.0 mile (1.5 km) south of Fishing Bridge junction, this trail climbs 1.0 mile (1.5 km) through a lodgepole pine forest before reaching a junction. Either trail leads in another 0.5 miles (0.8 km) to a panoramic view of Yellowstone Lake.
- Pelican Creek Round trip 1.3 miles (2 km), easy. Starting at the west end of Pelican Creek bridge, 1 mile (1.5 km) east of the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center, this easy trail travels through forest and along the lake shore.
- Storm Point Round trip 2.3 miles (3.7 km), easy. Starting at a large turnout at Indian Pond, 3 miles (5 km) east of the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center, this level loop crosses meadow and forest before reaching the tip of Storm Point, where you will find expansive views of Yellowstone Lake and surrounding mountains. The trail continues along the lake shore and through a lodgepole pine forest before rejoining the road.
- Detailed Map of Lake Village Area.
- Natural Features in Lake Village Area. Includes Yellowstone Lake, Hayden and Pelican Valleys, Natural Bridge, Yellowstone River, and Mud Volcano/Sulphur Caldron.
- Things to Do in the Lake Village Area. Official NPS guide.
- Day Hikes in Fishing Bridge and Lake Village Area. .
Services in area
Food and Lodging at Lake Village, Bridge Bay, and Fishing Bridge
- Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins. Mid-May to early October. Located on north side of Yellowstone Lake, about 30 miles from East Entrance. Classic hotel dating to 1891 which has been refurbished to its Colonial Revival heritage. Hotel offers Lodge, Standard or Lakeside King/Queen motel-style rooms, and Lakeside or Presidential Suites. Telephone, coffee maker, fan and clock included in rooms. Rustic 1920's Frontier cabins with private bath were recently refurbished. Televisions, radios, and A/C are not available. Casual dining and deli. Full services in village.
- Lake Lodge Cabins. Early June to late September. Located on north side of Yellowstone Lake, about 30 miles from East Entrance. Newly renovated rustic cabins (built in the 1920's) and larger motel-style cabins. All have private bathrooms. Televisions, radios, and A/C are not available. Rustic main lodge has main lobby with two fireplaces, cafeteria-style dining, lounge, and gift shop.
Camping at Lake Village, Bridge Bay, Fishing Bridge
- Fishing Bridge RV Park. Late May to early October. Located on north side of Yellowstone Lake, about 27 miles from East Entrance. Large campground with over 325 sites. Camping in hard-side vehicles only with a maximum length of 40 feet, no pull-through sites. Full RV hookups available. All traveler services (pay showers, coin laundry, dump station, etc.) located at the RV park or nearby. Reservations are available.
- Bridge Bay Campground. Late May to mid-September. Located on north side of Yellowstone Lake, about 30 miles from East Entrance. Largest campground with about 432 sites. Flush toilets. Bridge Bay Marina, stores, pay showers, and coin laundry located nearby. Half of sites in meadow area with no shade; others are wooded. Convenient but congested area so privacy is limited. Tent-only loops available. Generators are allowed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Reservations are available.
Nearest Visitor Center
The Fishing Bridge Museum and Visitor Center is located one mile off the Grand Loop Road on the East Entrance Road and is open late May to late September. The visitor center’s museum features a collection of taxidermied birds and animals and includes a Yellowstone Association bookstore. There are also ranger stations at Lake Village and Bridge Bay which issue permits and provides backcountry information.
Other services in area
Food services, medical clinic, general stores, gift shops, gas station, post office, and boat rentals and fishing charters.
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