Lake, Bridge Bay & Fishing Area - Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone Lake with a surface area of 132 square miles, is the largest lake at high elevation (i.e., more than 7,000 ft.) in North America. It is a natural lake, situated at 7,733 ft. above sea level. It is roughly 20 miles long and 14 miles wide with 141 miles of shoreline. It is frozen nearly half the year. It freezes in late December or early January and thaws in late May or early June.
Other natural highlights in the area include the Yellowstone River. The Yellowstone River is the last major undammed river in the lower 48 states, flowing 671 miles from its source southeast of Yellowstone into the Missouri River and then, eventually, into the Atlantic Ocean. It begins in the Absaroka Mountain Range on Yount Peak. The river enters the park and meanders through the Thorofare region into Yellowstone Lake. It leaves the lake at Fishing Bridge and flows north over LeHardy Rapids and through Hayden Valley. After this peaceful stretch, it crashes over the Upper and Lower falls of the Grand Canyon. It then flows generally northwest, meeting it's largest tributary, the Lamar River, at Tower Junction. It continues through the Black Canyon and leaves the park near Gardiner, Montana. The Yellowstone River continues north and east through the state of Montana and joins the Missouri River near the eastern boundary line of the state. The Missouri River eventually joins the Mississippi River, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean at the Gulf of Mexico.
Mud Volcano area offers a short loop from the parking lot past the Dragon's Mouth and the Mud Volcano which is handicapped accessible. The half-mile upper loop trail via Sour Lake and the Black Dragon's Caldron is relatively steep. Two of the most popular features in the Mud Volcano front country are the Dragon's Mouth and the Black Dragon's Caldron. The rhythmic belching of steam and the flashing tongue of water give the Dragon's Mouth Spring it's name, though its activity has decreased notably since December 1994. The Black Dragon's Caldron exploded onto the landscape in 1948, blowing trees out by their roots and covering the surrounding forest with mud. The large roil in one end of the Caldron gives one the sense that the Black Dragon itself might rear it's head at any time.
The Sulphur Caldron area can be viewed from a staging area just north of Mud Volcano. The Sulphur Caldron is among the most acidic springs in the park with a pH of 1.3. Its yellow, turbulent splashing waters bring to mind images of Shakespeare's soothsayers. Other features which can be viewed from this overlook are Turbulent Pool (which is no longer "turbulent") and the crater of a large, active mudpot.
The Hayden Valley is located six miles north of Fishing Bridge Junction. The Pelican Valley is situated three miles east of Fishing Bridge. These two vast valleys comprise some of the best habitat in the lower 48 states for grizzly bears, bison, elk, and other wildlife species.
Located just south of Bridge Bay Campground, it is an easy one-mile walk to the Natural Bridge. There is also a bicycle trail leading to the bridge. The Natural Bridge was formed by erosion of this rhyolite outcrop by Bridge Creek. The top of the bridge is approximately 51 ft. above the creek. A short switchback trail leads to the top, though travel across the bridge is now prohibited to protect this feature.
Lake Area is located in the southeast area of Yellowstone National Park.
Registered Historic Site, Trail, Visitor Service
Bird Watching, Fishing, Hiking, Hot Spring, Photography, RV Camping, Sightseeing, Walking, Wilderness, Wildlife Viewing