Sea Kayak Trips in Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, Grand Teton Wyoming Kayaking and Canoeing – Sea Kayaking and Guided Fishing Trips, Eco Tours in Yellowstone National Park Kayak Trips in Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, Grand Teton Wyoming Kayaking and Canoeing – Sea Kayaking and Guided Fishing Trips, Eco Tours in yellowstone National Park

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Yellowstone Fly Fishing

Geyser Kayak Tours is offering fly fishing trips to Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone fly fishing is widely recognized as some of the best in the Rocky Mountain region. The nation’s first national park is home to several famous wild trout fisheries that include the Madison River, Yellowstone River, Firehole River, Gallatin River, Lamar River, Soda Butte Creek and Slough Creek.  Guided trips will include both day trips by wading only and overnight kayak trips into remote back-country camping areas.

Angler kneeling in Yellowstone Lake and holding cutthroat trout with Absaroka Mountains in the background.

The fishing season officially opens the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and extends through and includes the first Sunday in November. A Yellowstone National Park Fishing Permit is required to fish in the park. Anglers 16 years of age and older are required to purchase either a $18 three-day permit, a $25 seven-day permit or a $40 season permit. Children 15 and younger may obtain a free permit that must be signed by a responsible adult; with this permit, a child can fish without direct adult supervision.


NPS approves Yellowstone Lake development plan

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — The National Park Service has approved a plan to manage future development of the lake area in Yellowstone National Park.

The area on the northwest shore of Yellowstone Lake is known for its spawning streams and grizzly bear habitat. It is also home to historic structures such as the Lake Hotel and the Fishing Bridge Museum.

The plan approved this month limits what development can occur at Lake Village, Fishing Bridge and Bridge Bay.

It addresses such things as how to deal with old water and sewer lines in the area and design standards.

It also builds upon management actions from the past several decades designed to reduce human impacts on grizzly bears in the Lake Area.


Yellowstone River Levels Rising Rapidly

The unseasonably warm temperatures, including the near-record high temperatures in late April, are already having an impact on the region’s river system. In particular, it is hastening the arrival of snowmelt from the mountains to rivers across the region.

“What we’re seeing now is actually that snowpack melting about a month early,” said Keith Meier, Meteorologist in Charge at the National Weather Service office in Billings. “The rises we’re seeing, and we continue to expect to see for the next few days on the rivers, is typical more of mid-to-late May.”

According to hydrographs drawn by the National Weather Service office in Billings, water levels on the Yellowstone River is expected to rise to 8.3 feet by Friday and is not expected to recede until Sunday. As of Wednesday evening, water levels on the Yellowstone River in Billings stands at around 5 feet, according to figures by the NWS.

Other rivers across the region are also registering similarly sharp rise in water levels. However, none of the rivers, including the Yellowstone, are expected to go past flood stage. Similarly, conditions are not ripe for a repeat of 2011’s devastating floods. The early arrival of snowmelt runoffs, however, may create water troubles down the road, Meier said Wednesday.

“In our part of the world, we kind of rely on the snowpack to melt at around the same time every year, and that’s when irrigators need it, and recreationalists need water. Water may be less available, as we get into July and August, when maybe some people may really need that extra water because it’s a usually dry time of the year,” said Meier.

Meier said, however, that it is still too early to tell if there will be drought conditions in the region for 2012 as spring rainstorms could bring more water and moisture to the region.


Early snowmelt hitting Yellowstone

On Saturday morning a gauge on the Yellowstone River at Corwin Springs picked up the first sign of major snowmelt in the mountains that feed the basin.

From a height of 2.3 feet, the river began to swell as it ran by the equipment set up just outside Yellowstone Park. By Tuesday morning, the river was measuring 4.56 feet.

Later Saturday, the Yellowstone began to surge at Livingston. By Sunday, waters were rising at Billings, and by Tuesday, river graphs were showing signs of a steep rise at Forsyth. It won’t be long before melt water begins to churn the river at Miles City.

Snowpack, even at the highest elevations, is starting to melt, said Tom Frieders, warnings coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service Office in Billings. And it’s coming out a month early.

No part of the Yellowstone, or any other river in Eastern Montana, is close to flooding, though many are running above average for this time of year.

“It isn’t even on my radar,” Frieders said. “Just be glad it isn’t last year. With the snowpack we had, if we had had this rapid warm-up, things could have been a lot worse than they were.”

Last spring, ample snowpack combined with a wet, cold spring to produce record flooding for many parts of the state.

At Billings on Tuesday afternoon, the Yellowstone was at 4.11 feet, up from 3.2 feet Sunday. Flood stage here is 13.5 feet.

An early melt was set in motion by March temperatures many degrees above normal throughout the state, the meteorologist said. In Montana, it was the third-warmest March on record.

Snowpack, which ranged from slightly below normal to slightly above normal, began to warm, especially in the mountains of Wyoming that feed the lower Yellowstone and its tributaries.

When the pack uniformly hits 32 degrees, it is ready to melt, Frieders said. With warm weather through March and much of April, the mountains heated to above freezing in the daytime.

And when temperatures at lower elevations start hitting the 80s, temperatures in the mountains stay above freezing during the night as well, a critical factor in sending melt water down mountain slopes, he said.

Billings set a record 87 degrees on Monday and tied another record Tuesday with a high of 85.

“In a lot of areas the rivers have jumped two or three feet in the last few days,” Frieders said.

If the warming trend continues, the snow could be melted out by mid-May instead of mid-June, he said.

Temperatures through Thursday are expected to remain in the 70s in Billings. But a system moving in late Thursday could stop or slow the snowmelt. Highs in the 50s through the weekend here will likely mean mountain temperatures during the day will be in the low to mid 30s. They will dip well below freezing at night.

“It may even add a little snowpack,” he said.

Just how much moisture the system will bring is uncertain, he said. Eastern Montana and far northeast Montana could see most of the system’s effect, Frieders said. Even if more snow falls on the mountains, it is likely to melt quickly this late in the year.

Snowpack percentages for this time of year are showing the effects of a warm spring. It’s at 83 percent of average for the upper Yellowstone Basin, the stretch of river from Yellowstone Park to Custer. Snowpack on the lower Yellowstone is at 69 percent of average.


yellowstone distance map


Free entry to Yellowstone and Grand Teton April 21-29

National parks across the country will open to visitors without entry fees during National Park Week April 21-29, and Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks will be open for the start of the summer season, but with limited visitor services and amenities.

Road crews are working to plow snow from roads in both parks, and if weather conditions allow, roads along the west side of Yellowstone National Park will open to automobile traffic on April 20. Visitors will be able to travel by car through the park’s north and west entrances to Norris, Madison, Canyon and Old Faithful beginning at 8:00 a.m.

The National Park Service and its official fundraising partner, the National Park Foundation, present National Park Week each year to offer visitors a chance to experience national parks without paying an entry fee, and to encourage citizens to visit all of the nearly 400 sites in the national park system.

Additional roads throughout Yellowstone will open in May. On May 11, travel will open to autos from the south entrance to Grant Village, West Thumb, Fishing Bridge and Lake over Craig Pass to Old Faithful. Also, Tower Junction to Tower Fall opens to autos. Park planners are expected to open the road from Cooke City over Colter Pass to the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway intersection to the Long Lake gate as soon after May 11 as possible. For information on roads outside of the park from Cooke City via the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, travelers in Wyoming can dial 511, while those outside of Wyoming should call 888-996-7623. Information is also available at the Wyoming Department of Transportation website.

On May 25, Dunraven Pass from Tower to Canyon is scheduled to open to autos. If weather permits, the road from Long Lake Gate over the Beartooth Highway to Red Lodge, Mont. is also scheduled to open. For information on the Beartooth Highway to Red Lodge, Montana, travelers in Montana can dial 511, while those outside Montana should call 800-226-7623, or visit the Montana Department of Transportation website.

In Grand Teton, the Teton Park Road from Taggart Lake Trailhead to the Signal Mountain Lodge and the Moose-Wilson Road from the Death Canyon Trailhead to the Granite Canyon Trailhead are expected to open May 1.

For recorded road information about Yellowstone, call 307-344-2117. For recorded road information about Grand Teton, call (307) 739-3614.

Lodges, restaurants and activities in Yellowstone National Park  will open in spring starting in late April with complete operations on board by mid-June.

Visitor services open in stages to coincide with increasing demand as spring gives way to summer.



Yellowstone Cutthroat Aid Plan

With illegally introduced lake trout swarming throughout Yellowstone Lake, approximately 90 percent of the native species, Yellowstone cutthroat trout, have been eliminated since the mid 1990s when the lake trout took hold.

This has led biologists and wildlife activists to unite to save the endangered species through a variety of plans, partly since fishing for the cutthroats in Yellowstone Lake and its tributaries has been a popular tourist activity. Also, the cutthroats are considered a keystone species in the Yellowstone area that effectively dictate how other species live. For instance, since cutthroats spawn in streams, they are a prime catch for backcountry bears, making the animal highest on Yellowstone’s food chain less likely to become problematic for tourists. Lake trout, by contrast, never leave the lake.

When efforts first began, things looked pretty hopeless, but experts have more recently identified a number of ways to harvest lake trout without hurting the cutthroats simultaneously. And the effort appears to be working. In 2011, about 220,000 lake trout were removed from the voluminous Yellowstone Lake, a huge improvement even from the previous year, when 150,000 fish were harvested. Meanwhile, 2011 was the first year in which the cutthroats showed an increase in population in more than a decade. Under current fishing regulations, fishermen on Yellowstone Lake are required to kill or keep lake trout while being required to release every cutthroat caught.

The newest attack on the lake trout endangering Yellowstone cutthroats involves technology more heavily than before. While previous efforts involved netting as many fish as possible among other angler angles, the new efforts attack problem fish before or shortly after they are born by identifying breeding grounds. Since carbon dioxide is toxic to newly born lake trout, one environmentally sound option would involve dropping weighted dry ice into spawning beds.

But the largest problem facing biologists is finding the spawning beds. Luckily, cutthroats spawn in streams and tributaries while lake trout spawn in the lake itself, meaning experts can attack the spawning beds without worrying too much about detrimental effects to cutthroats. But to find the locations heaviest with lake trout eggs, National Park Service biologists have begun to implant tracking chips that will cause so-called “Judas fish” to betray their species by leading biologists to their spawning grounds.

The program needs more funding to be most effective. Though the National Park Service has employed gill netting to the tune of $1 million annually, Trout Unlimited and the Yellowstone Park Foundation hope to raise $85,000 by May to install the transmitters and receivers that track the lake trout for a fuller distribution in the lake. According to the Trout Unlimited website, they are still $23,000 shy of the goal. Meanwhile, the Yellowstone Park Foundation made a $1 million donation to the program in February. The donation was matched by federal funding.


Bald Eagle Breeding Season and Nesting Begins

This time of year marks the beginning of the breeding season of the bald eagle on the Hebgen Lake Ranger District. Today, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem supports a dense, healthy population of breeding bald eagles, with the Hebgen Lake Ranger District being the only district on the forest where bald eagles nest and rear their young.

Have you spotted any bald eaglesBald eagle courtship peaks during the cold winter months of January and February, when adults build and improve upon their nests. In the Hebgen Basin, bald eagles nest in close proximity of Hebgen Lake and Quake Lake, where they can find a steady diet of waterfowl and fish to rear their young.

It can take up to five years for bald eagles to develop their symbolic adult plumage.

Prior to that time, they are often confused with golden eagles, but their yellow bill, legs and eyes are a dead giveaway, despite the lack of the distinctive white head and tail. Bald eagles are long-lived and will typically survive 10-15 years in the wild.

Bald eagle claws are as long as the canine tooth on a mountain lion, and their grasping pressure can be as strong as 1,400 psi. A fish, bird or small mammal doesn’t stand a chance once it finds itself in the claws of such a formidable grasp.

Several of the bald eagle nests on the Hebgen Lake Ranger District have already been confirmed as being occupied this spring. One of the nests that have been used for several years fell out of its tree over the winter.  We haven’t yet determined if the pair has attempted to rebuild a nest yet this year. As you explore the District in the next few months, keep your eyes to the sky and look for the silhouette of these birds overhead.


Winter is Back

The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center issued its latest avalanche advisory on Thursday, April 5, with the following advisories issued by Doug Chabot:

Mountain Weather: Temperatures dropped into the high teens on Wednesday night with one to two inches of new snow falling early Thursday morning. Wednesday, under partly cloudy skies, temperatures reached the upper 40s as west winds blew 15-25 mph. A cold front moved in on Wednesday night as winds speeds reached 40-60 mph. Light snow continued on Thursday and picked up intensity through Friday. Winds were westerly at 15-25 mph with mountain temperatures dipping into the low teens overnight. The spring storm was expected to deliver four to six inches of new snow.

Snowpack and Avalanche Discussion:

The Bridger, Gallatin and Madison Ranges and the Lionhead area near West Yellowstone: Winter is back for her encore performance. The current below-freezing conditions have helped the snow stability; Wednesday’s wet surface is today’s thick crust. Mountain temperatures dropped to below freezing for six hours before the snow started to fall. This allowed the snow surface to freeze, which will kill the chances of wet avalanche activity. Thursday’s main avalanche concern was wind-loading. At the ridgetops the winds scoured any snowflake that was not glued down. Moonlight Basin had wind slabs two feet thick pull out on Tuesday. One to two inches of fresh snow this morning with a few more inches today will be enough ammunition to create wind drifts. With a thick ice crust on many aspects, a high-speed “slide for life” tumble has greater odds of happening than being buried by an avalanche.

Not all slopes have a crust. A few shaded slopes are holding onto powder snow too. At the base of the snowpack is a layer of depth hoar. This layer has proven itself to be unpredictable and untrustworthy no matter if the snowpack is moist or dry. Triggering a deep slab avalanche is still possible from thinner spots on a slope.  Any avalanche that’s triggered at the ground will be large and destructive. I remain skeptical of this layer, even with a thick ice crust capping the snow. For Thursday the avalanche danger was rated moderate on all slopes since triggering wind-loads or something much deeper remains possible.

The mountains around Cooke City: Avalanche danger around Cooke City will be confined to wind-loaded terrain. These pillows will not be widespread or thick, but they will be reactive to ski cuts. Cooke City lacks the deep instability issues found in the rest of our region.

Consequently, for Thursday, the avalanche danger was rated moderate on wind-loaded slopes and low on all other avalanche terrain.


Yellowstone Firewood Collection Permits Available

Yellowstone National Park will be accepting public requests April 6-8 for those interested in receiving a 2012 firewood collection permit.

Excess firewood periodically becomes available in the park for a variety of reasons including reducing the amount of wildland fire fuel, trees knocked down by high winds, construction projects or hazard tree removal.

Those interested in applying for a permit are asked to phone Yellowstone’s Visitor Services Office at (307) 344-2116 between April 6 and 8 to leave their name and daytime telephone number. Permits will be issued in the order phone calls are received. Names left before April 6 will not be accepted. Successful applicants will be contacted as wood becomes available throughout the year.

Firewood permits cost $25 and allow up to three cords of wood to be collected. There is no guarantee that there will be three cords available for each permittee. Specific site guidelines and regulations, including hours and dates of collection, will be explained at the time the permit is issued.

For further information call the Yellowstone Visitor Services Office at (307) 344-2107.


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