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.
The Madison Junction Area of Yellowstone is noted for the confluence of the Gibbon and Firehole Rivers at Madison Junction, forming the Madison River, a trophy fishing stream. The popular Madison campground is within walking distance of the river and is also in an area with good wildlife viewing. Look for grazing elk and bison.
The Artist Paint Pots is a scenic thermal area accessed by a one mile trail off the road between Madison and Norris. Gibbon Falls is along the same road. It drops 84-feet over remnants of the Yellowstone Caldera rim. The rock wall on the opposite side of the road from the waterfall is the inner rim of the caldera. Just north of Madison Junction, there is a short boardwalk trail to Terrace Springs. Just south of the junction, Firehole Canyon Drive leaves the main road for about two miles, offering a view of Firehole Falls.
The main feature is the Madison River. The Madison is a blue-ribbon fly fishing stream featuring brown and rainbow trout, and mountain whitefish. You will need a Yellowstone National Park permit for fishing inside the national park. See Fishing in Yellowstone (NPS) for more information. Outside the park, you would need a State of Montana Fishing License.
Madison Junction Area
Day Hikes in the Canyon Village Area
Besides the Artist Paint Pot Trail, there are two other trails ranging from one to six miles.
- Purple Mountain Round trip 6 miles (9.7 km), strenuous. Look for the trailhead at a turnout about 0.25 miles (0.4 km) north of Madison Junction. You climb 1,500 feet (0.47 km) in 3 miles (4.8 km) to a panoramic view of the Gibbon and Madison rivers.
- Harlequin Lake Round trip 1 mile (1.5 km), easy. Park at the third pullout 1.5 miles (2.4 km) west of Madison Junction on the West Entrance Road. Follow the gentle, uphill trail to a small lake.
- Detailed Map of Madison Junction area.
- Things to Do in the Madison Area. Official NPS guide.
Along the Madison River
The Madison River starts where the Gibbon and Firehole rivers come together at Madison Junction. The Madison River flows west 23 miles before exiting the park. Duration: 2 minutes 11 seconds
Services in Madison Junction area
Nearest Food and Lodging
- Old Faithful Inn. May to October. Located a short walk from the famous geyser, the inn, with 273 rooms, is the most requested lodging in the park. Consists of a rustic-style lodge dating from 1903-1904. with two wings added later. Simple, yet basic rooms in the Old House with either a private or shared baths. East and West Wing offers premium (view) or standard modern rooms with private bath. Semi-Suites with sitting area or Suites with sitting room/refrigerator (private bathrooms) are available. Some ADA accessible rooms available on first floor. Televisions, radios, and A/C are not available. Large towering lobby with a massive stone fireplace. Features a full-service restaurant, lounge, snack bar, gift shop and daily tours.
- Old Faithful Lodge Cabins. Mid-May to mid-September. Historic cabin facility located near Old Faithful Inn and includes a one-story main lodge built in the 1920′s featuring massive logs and stone pillars. Rustic cabins with private or shared baths. Televisions, radios, and A/C are not available. Lobby houses bakery/snack shop and cafeteria-style food court. Views of the Old Faithful Geyser can be seen from the lobby area.
- Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins. Early May to late October. Newest facility in the park. Lodge rooms with full bathrooms, telephones, coffee makers, refrigerators and hair dryers. Upscale and basic cabins include private bathrooms. Some lodge rooms and cabins are ADA accessible. Televisions, radios, and A/C are not available. Lobby houses a full-service dining room, quick service grill, and gift store. Winter season, open from December to March, with special packages.
Camping at Madison
- Madison Campground. Open: Early May to late October. Located 14 miles east of the West Yellowstone entrance and 16 miles north of Old Faithful near the junction of of the Gibbon, Madison, and Firehole Rivers. Large campground with 278 sites. Flush toilets. No utility hook-ups, dump station nearby. Campground away from developed areas. Generally open, level sites, lightly wooded. Tent-only loops available. River overlooks, fishing on Madison River (famous for brown trout) within walking distance. Generators are allowed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Reservations are available.
Nearest Visitor Center
The Madison Information Station is at Madison Junction in the picnic area, and is open early June to late September. Offers an information station, Yellowstone Association bookstore, and small-scale exhibits.
Other services in area