Paddling to the Yellowstone Thorofare

I would like to know if anyone here has paddled to the south end of Yellowstone Lake? A friend and me are planning a trip to the Thorofare next summer and would appreciate any advice or information.

I’ve been paddling in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons for a few years now. My wife and I own recreational kayaks so we usually hug the shorelines and take our time so this would be something new. I know how rough Yellowstone Lake can be on a windy afternoon but all of my experience there has been in the West Thumb, the good side of the lake as far as wind goes.

I’m not a tri-athlete or anything like that, but I think I’m reasonably fit for my age (late 50s). And I’ve never even paddled a real touring kayak but have found a place in Jackson that rents them. But I would also love to have an excuse to buy one, so this could be it.

We would probably embark from Sedge Bay. My map shows that’s 18 miles from the south end of the South Arm.

So far starters, it is reasonable to think we could do that in a day?

There’s no open water crossings on our route but we would be on the wrong side of the lake if the wind kicks up, so that’s something that has me concerned.

So, does anyone have any thoughts to share?


Yellowstone Lake.
Ive paddled on it a few times including an 8-dayer along the whole south shore from West Thumb/Grant Village to Sedge Bay—the roadless section. You made the comment that “we usually follow the shore so this would be something new”…well absolutely just the opposite!! You will still hug the shore the whole way as its the safest, most scenic and more effiecient than NOT staying close to shore.

You might want to start at Grant and Go to Sedge. We did it in 8 days with 2 days as extra layover days etc. You could also get a boat drop in the S.E or SW arm of the lake and paddle out/back etc. It will cost you but you can do it. I think starting at Sedge you will have a lot of head wind. It can blow up around noon until eve and would be headon with you.

I think one day to the bottom of the lake is a long day but doable. I paddled two days out from the SE arm at the bottom to Sedge with 5-broken ribs due to a fall and paddled only on the left side for 2-days.

There are many nice camps with views. I dont have my camp numbers or spots in front of me but if you have an itin let me know and i can comment on it.

Ive seen the lake calm as glass and have crossed mid way down the Promotory to explore. Good hiking down there too from the bottom into the upper reaches of the Yellowstone River which you cannot paddle on.

Send me your email and I will forward some photos to you of our camps etc.

FIshing is good. YOU cannot keep any Cuttthroat Trout since they are being killed off by the Lake Trout. I think you are allowed to catch and are expected to kill all Lake Trout as they are non native. We caught many 20-28 inch 8 lb cutts using spinners etc.

There is a ranger station down in the bottom if you need any help.

Let me know your emaiil or any other ?


Paddling to the Yellowstone Thorofare
Thanks for the reply!

I think I worded something that caused confusion when I said that I have a recreational kayak so I hug the shoreline and this would be something new. I meant that paddling a recreational kayak would be new. I would still stay close to the shoreline. One of the reasons we don’t plan to leave from Grant Village, besides the increased distance, is the open water crossing at the South Arm

I know there is a Ranger Station at Trail Creek, but I wonder how often a Ranger is there. Two weeks ago I did a day hike to and from Heart Lake and the Ranger Station there was locked up.

A ranger did tell me that I would not be allowed to keep the kayak at the Ranger Station but must keep it out of site from campsites or other camps if I leave it to backpack. Was that an issue for you or did you only paddle from one site to another?

I would very much like to see any photos you are willing to share. My e-mail is

We just left out boats at the site when we went hiking etc. I will check on the status of the ranger station, i have friends that work in the park etc.

Yeah understand about crossing the arm in a rec boat. Every thought of a boat drop?

Will send you some photos.

It is sporadic that the rangers are at the station etc. Maybe once a week if that.


Paddling ystone lk
Yellowstone Lk is colder, rougher, and more remote than most lakes in the lower 48. I would stay even closer than usual to the shoreline. The Plateau is relatively open and subject to mountain-valley winds, differential surface heating, and large scale fronts. It is a windy place. Paddle early in the day. Plan for layover days. With no wind, 18 miles is a long day on flat water with loaded boats for most people. Add some wind and you will need the long daylight of summer days to make 18 miles.

Shoshone Lake is Better
Take a trip to shoshone lake. Stay along the south shore of Lewis lake, up Lewis channel, and into Shoshone. Camp there and fish for trout. Stay off the lakes after noon or so.

Shoshone Lake
I did paddle up Lewis Channel last year for a day trip. I went as far as I could before the water got too shallow in to paddle, so I hiked the rest of the way to Shoshone.

If the Two Ocean plateau is closed due to fires, bear activity, etc. then Shoshone would be our backup plan.