Yellowstone River

I’m in the very early stages of planning a complete paddling trip of the Yellowstone River (stressing early).

Wondering if anyone else has paddled it end to end? Early attempts at looking for something online provided little information. Any tips or advice would be helpful…

Equipment will be canoes. Still deciding brand/ style. Likely will be 4 individuals. All with extensive tripping experience. Will run whitewater as necessary/ appropriate…i.e. we’ll be smart about it.

Any help or comments would be appreciated! Thanks.


Paddling Montana: A Guide to the State’s Best Rivers

by Kit Fischer

Padnet has an excellent report in Go Paddling as above…

there are 3 seasons

before melt

during melt

after melt

just looking at it on mapquest
and followed it winding around all over the place

Pretty sure you can’t paddle the parts in Yellowstone Park- so your beginning end would start somewhere downstream of the park

sounds like an interesting project/trip.

Watch out for Yankee Jim Cyn. I have thought of a long trip on the Yellowstone. Good fishing, and plenty of small towns for resupply. A really great undammed river.

Still Planning…
Thanks for the comments. I think this is going to end being a long project to plan out. I’d like to paddle it through the park but realize I would need “permission” to do so. And with so many tributaries it’s hard to decide on the best route. I’ll keep you all posted as to what get’s planned out…

Thinking also
I’ll have to start north of the park at Gardiner. Anything south (into the park)of that for me looks like one long portage. Then take out at Williston. Only looks like a few spots to carry…or swim.

I’m finding that the biggest hurdle will be the season issue. I’ll likely not make it 2016…maybe 2017? And I’m guessing the weather will be the ultimate factor.

I mean…it’s only 90 7.5-minute maps to cover.

more but shorter
Snake reviews are in Places to Paddle herein

The Lakes are sea-sonal: Padddling Yelowstone and grand teton National Parks by Don Nelson, pub. A Falcon Guide

Just paddled an overnighter on it
You can paddle Yellowstone Lake but not upstream of it in the Park. They are changing the rules, before you couldn’t boat on the streams but you MAY be able to, you may want to check. At Yellowstone Falls you would have to carry around. You don’t want to canoe Yankee Jim Canyon, that’s all whitewater, very nasty. you would want to start North of it. Depending on water lever its generally not bad.

There are 6 irrigation diversions downstream of Billings. In high water I’ve heard you can go around them. Low water you would have to carry around.

I just canoe from Reed Point to Laurel, Montana last weekend. Water if fairly low - water flow Billings - ~3600 CFS and Livingstion - ~2600 CFS. There were some BIG WAVES. I was soloing in a 17 foot Grumman, with light camping load and only took in a little water. I managed to go around most of the waves, but did get into some. If there werre 2 of us in the canoe, probablly could have missed more of the waves and/or taken on more water. I’m going to try to do a trip log in the near future.

I’ve been on the River when it was higher and it didnt seem as bad. The low flows were hitting the rocks and ledges better I think.

Alan Kessiheim has written about taking his family down the Rivet (in Canoe & Kayak Magazine I think). Its a fun river and I would like to do it all some day. For now just pieces at a time.

John enjoying life in Billings

Yellowstone River

– Last Updated: Jan-14-16 12:24 PM EST –

I have not done it end to end but I have been fishing and planning to for years.The book "Paddling Montana" has some good info in terms of diversion dams and hazards. This book also list the BLM (Bureau of land management) map numbers that pertain to the river if you wish to purchase or print them from online. The only white water is the first 20 miles below Gardner (yankee jim canyon). After that the whole river is class 1 or less during normal flows. Check water level before you go. Past livingstone a ways it becomes pretty mellow until the missouri river. at least the parts i've seem. Hope that helps. Good luck.

Bruce Nelson; heres link to his page

He is also on Facebook

You might check also with Norman Miller (facebook), lives in Livingston. He is in contact with many people who have paddled the river or parts.

train service

the train runs alongside for a shuttle service

There is NO train service along the river.