Both walk-in and drive-in guided trips in Yellowstone Park will become available tomorrow, July 2, in the aftermath of the historic June 12–13 flooding. Access is still somewhat limited, but allows for a range of trips and fisheries. This post will be updated with the latest information as conditions change. We expect more and more options and more and more “normalcy” as the season progresses.
Drive-in Access Trips
Somewhat to our surprise, Yellowstone Park will be opening limited commercial access to the park from Gardiner starting tomorrow, July 2, via the old “Stagecoach Road” between Gardiner and Mammoth. While this road will not allow private tourist traffic, it will allow our guides to access the park. We will have two options to run guided trips inside the park for the summer:
Meet in Gardiner and have clients ride with our guides into the park to fish.
Meet clients who enter the park from West Yellowstone or another entrance (including those staying inside the park) at Mammoth, Norris, or another prearranged spot.
Our guides will be able to enter the park via the Stagecoach Road during very limited time windows, so only full-day YNP trips will be available. We are also looking into having our guides camp for a few days at a time inside the park, which would allow a wider range of trip offerings. The Park Service is going to allow guides to camp at closed campgrounds (Mammoth and Norris) to make this possible.
Public access to the “North Loop” reopens tomorrow as well. This allows fishing the Yellowstone in its canyons, most of the Gardner River, and a range of small streams, both with a guide and on your own. Access to Slough Creek and portions of the lower Lamar River should also be possible starting soon, but damage to the Northeast Entrance Road means that public access to the Lamar and Slough will not be possible. Only guides who understand the road limitations will be given access. No access to the Lamar Valley or Soda Butte Creek will be possible until at least autumn, for anyone.
Walk-in Access Trips
Walk-in public access from Gardiner is now possible. This allows guided or unguided fishing on the Lower Gardner River, just in time for its Salmonfly Hatch. Access to the lower Black Canyon of the Yellowstone River will also be possible once the Gardner River drops enough to permit fording it. The Rescue Creek Bridge which used to allow access to this water regardless of water level washed out in the floods. Fording the Gardner will probably be possible by around July 15 or July 20.
We are going to lose at least most and perhaps all of our tourist and guided trips business this season due to road damage inside Yellowstone Park and uncertain access to the Yellowstone River outside of the park associated with recent flooding. That said, we’ve got a shop full of flies, accessories, hats, and tee-shirts we are eager to sell once general road access to Gardiner is restored, and few tourists over the next few months to buy them! Please consider giving us a call at (406) 848-7314 or e-mailing us to place an order.
We have great inventory in the following items:
“Standard” flies for Montana and beyond from Umpqua Feather Merchants and Montana Fly Company: Chubby Chernobyls, Prince Nymphs, Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns… You get the idea.
Semi-local flies from Delektable Flies: Flies designed near Ennis for the Madison, Yellowstone, and other local rivers. Great stonefly and attractor nymphs!
Flies designed locally by our own Walter Wiese and tied by Catch Fly Fishing. We have almost the full range of Walter’s Flies: Bob Hoppers, Hazy Cripples, a couple soft hackles, many varieties of nymphs… Visit this link and scroll to page 105 to view all of Walter’s patterns.
A few custom flies tied by shop staff or designed by Richard Parks and Matt Minch, some of which are local-specific, some of which are broadly useful (Perdigons by Walter, for example).
Leaders, tippet, etc. from Umpqua, RIO, and Orvis.
Fly lines from Cortland and RIO.
Fly rods and reels from Orvis, ECHO, and Redington.
A huge selection of shop hats and tee-shirts.
Fairly limited range of rain gear, waders, and wading boots, but good stock of the range we carry.
Assorted other fly fishing paraphernalia (vests, packs, nippers, similar odds and ends).
We do not have an e-commerce store but are glad to do mail-order. We are working to get a limited e-commerce store set up and should have it ready to go tomorrow.
Walter just made an update on his own blog about current snowpack and likely summer fishing conditions. No need for us to reinvent the wheel.
Long story short, we anticipate a low snowpack and low water conditions this summer, with the quality fishing slanting towards late June and July. August fishing will depend on cooler weather; it is very likely we’ll see some 2:00PM fishing closures if summer is hot and dry, as (alas) is forecast.
Happy New Year, everyone. It’s very early to start making any assumptions about snowpack for 2022, but we still wanted to give a brief update.
Early snowfall through autumn and early winter was sparse in the region. Late November and early December in particular were warm and dry. At its lowest, snowpack in the region ranged from roughly 50% to 65% of normal for the date. Potentially catastrophic, in other words, especially given the 2021 drought.
Thankfully, conditions have improved markedly. While the big snows hitting the West Coast and Utah have mostly gone just to our south and west, we’re still in decent shape for the date. Right now, drainage basins within the PFS operations area are at 88% to 116% of normal for the date. The most important basins, the Yellowstone in WY and YNP and downstream in Montana, are at 97% and 88%, respectively.
Here’s a graphic, with our operations area circled in red. This map is updated daily at this link.
We are forecast to get more moisture this upcoming week, before week two in the long-range outlook gets warm and dry (for the time of year). The extended outlooks from NOAA forecast a return to cold/wet for the latter half of January and continuing through winter.
I think odds are good we wind up with a snowpack in the 90-110% range for most drainages in our operations area, absent an early warmup. With the region in severe to extreme drought after the low snowpack and blazing hot/dry summer in 2021, we would rather see 110% or even 120% of normal snowpack, to give us a bit of a cushion.
We’ll provide an update on the snowpack with more detail in early February.
Madison Dam Malfunction – Summary, Aftermath, and Impacts