Yellowstone Lake is the largest lake in Yellowstone National Park and one of the largest high-altitude lakes in North America. For those who visit the national park, it is well worth a visit. The surrounding snow-capped mountains and pristine forest, as well as the geothermal features in the Yellowstone National Park Lake Area, including the West Thumb Geyser Basin and other geysers and hot springs. The lake drains over the Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and the Yellowstone Fishing Bridge, near the mouth of the river, is a famous area to observe the fish population of the lake.
Near the north of the Yellowstone National Park Lake Area, near the mouth of Yellowstone Canyon, there is a visitor community that provides a variety of amenities. A campground, shops, picnic areas, restaurants, and hotels are located in this area. For accommodation, the Yellowstone Lake Hotel is the most luxurious option. More than a century old, this landmark hotel features graceful columns, balconies, and a beautiful and historic interior. For visitors looking for more affordable and more rustic lodgings, the Lake Lodge is a good choice—not as opulent as the Lake Hotel, but more comfortable than a tent, the Lodge is an excellent compromise between the two.
Boating in various forms is one of the most popular activities here. Canoes, kayaks, sailboats, and powerboats are allowed on Yellowstone Lake with a Yellowstone boating permit. You can use the boat launches at West Thumb and at Bridge Bay near the Yellowstone Lake Village. There is also a marina at Bridge Bay should you wish to engage in boating and water sports but did not bring your own equipment. Boating and canoeing at Yellowstone can be a great way to explore the otherwise undiscovered reaches of this beautiful alpine lake, including several backcountry campsites that are inaccessible by car. Hiking is also a popular activity at the Yellowstone National Park Lake Area, such as along the Nine Mile Post trail that runs along the shoreline and the Trail Creek and Heart Lake trails that lead from the lake to other parts of the park.
One popular attraction at this area is the Yellowstone Fishing Bridge. This log bridge traverses the northern tip of the lake near Yellowstone Falls, and in the early part of the twentieth century it was one of the best fishing and angling spots in the park. Declines in the cutthroat trout population due to overfishing led to fishing being banned from the bridge. Today, the Yellowstone Fishing Bridge is a great place to see if you can spot some of the trout in the water, as this area is a cutthroat trout spawning ground. The nearby Fishing Bridge Museum is a beautiful rustic building constructed in 1931, and it is a good place to obtain more information about Yellowstone Lake.
After stopping at Yellowstone Lake, many visitors will continue down the Yellowstone River, viewing the Upper and Lower Falls and Yellowstone Canyon, as well as the Yellowstone Mud Volcano area, where bubbling sulfurous mud pots are a steamy, awesome sight. The mud volcano used to be much more active than it is now, and in the early 1900s it would spew mud dozens of feet into the air. Now, however, this geothermal feature has calmed down somewhat, allowing visitors to get closer than before.