Copyright 2015 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Yellowstone River - Yellowstone National
The Black Canyon
The Black Canyon of the Yellowstone River is the last section of the great river inside
Yellowstone National Park. It is about twenty miles long. The canyon gets its name from the
dark color of the canyon walls. The Yellowstone River Trail follows the river the entire distance
of the Black Canyon.
The Black Canyon provides a great opportunity to fish a remote location for native cutthroat
trout without having to camp at a remote site or travel by horseback. It is just far enough off the
beaten path to keep most anglers away. Those that do want to camp and fish the river for a
longer time have plenty of opportunity to do so with little interference other than maybe a
Most of the water is heavy pocket water with fast runs, large plunges and rapids. There are
plenty of deep pools and even some cascades. The trout above Knowles Falls, which is about
seven miles from Gardiner, are mostly cutthroats with a few cutbows, rainbows and whitefish.
Brown trout exist below the falls.
Other than its upper and lower ends, the Black Canyon requires anywhere from a mile to a four
mile hike to reach. It can be done easily during a day trip but the longer hikes may leave a
short time to fish. Some trails to the Yellowstone River Trail would require an overnight trip if
you wanted to get a good day of fishing in. At several locations, the trail is far above the river
because sheer cliffs make it impossible for the trail to follow along at the same elevation of the
river. Because of that, there's a substantial amount of water in the Black Canyon that will never
The largest tributary stream to the Yellowstone River in this section is the Gardner River. We
have a separate section on the Gardner River so we won't include any information on it here.
There is a short section of Hellroaring Creek, another tributary stream, that lies within the
national park. It can be reached from the Hellroaring Trailhead which is about four miles west
of Tower Junction. You must travel down a short access road from the Grand Loop Road to
reach it. The trail drops about 600 feet in less than a mile to reach the Yellowstone River
Trail. The stream has a population of small cutthroats and a few rainbow trout.
The other tributary stream for the Black Canyon section of Yellowstone River is Blacktail Deer
Creek, another stream that we have a complete section on.
I might mention that other than bears, the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone River has some
rattlesnakes that you need to be aware of.
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