June 5th, 2022:
Entering Yellowstone’s East Entrance felt as if I was entering a hidden world; the thick forest cradles the ranger gate like a guardian, with the Absaroka Mountains fortifying the landscape with their snow capped peaks.
The twenty-seven mile road from Yellowstone’s East Entrance, to Fishing Bridge/Lake is defined by steep winding roads, alpine vistas and tranquil Sylvan Lake.
Driving the eastern road takes about an hour or more depending on traffic (vehicular and animal) and how often you stop for photo ops.
This stretch of road is thickly forested and traverses across the steep Sylvan Pass. This high mountain pass cuts through the Absaroka Range at 8,524 feet to nearby Sylvan Lake.
The canyon high valleys of Cody quickly shifted to high mountain winding curves and esses. As the alitude increased with each mile, the green dry valley floor turned to rocky dense forests covered in so much snow I thought I was in the North Pole.
The snow pack was deep and thick, although it had started to melt ever so slightly – creating temporary roadside waterfall mists.
I stopped briefly at Yellowstone’s Sylvan Lake, a natural high altitude lake, which even on June 5th was mostly frozen. Yellowstone high altitude lakes typically don’t been to thaw until late spring or early summer.
The area has had a lot of snow in 2022* (this unfortunately led to severe flooding days after I left the park)
The overcast sky reflected the chilly rainy air. It is important to wear layers when traveling in Yellowstone and other mountainous regions. The park temps and weather can change dramatically from one section of the park to the other. I’ve seen it go from seventy and sunny to 30 degrees and snow in a matter of hours. Be prepared. Layer wisely!
As I scaled down Sylvan Pass, Yellowstone Lake became visibile in the distance. The clear deep royal blue waters glistening through the shards of cloudy sunlight. With 110 miles of shoreline, Yellowstone Lake is a mini great Lake – it is huge – the largest high altitude lake in the US and one of the largest lakes in the world.
Yellowstone Lake gives birth to The Yellowstone River – which helped define the landscapes of Yellowstone’s famous landmarks like the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Hayden Valley and Tower Fall.
As you near the junction at Fishing Bridge, make sure to stop at Indian Pond – a gorgeous clear pond with an explosive past. From Indian Pond you can also hike the popular Storm Point trail. Just be Bear Aware – this trail is know for being a favorite of Grizzly and Black Bears.
Not far, you can also explore the edges of Pelican Creek and the Pelican Creek Nature Trail – it is one of my favorite spots in the park.
stopped briefly at The Fishing Bridge. You may remember reading about Fishing Bridge in my Yellowstone Discovery series earlier in 2022.
Fishing Bridge was built in 1902, over a popular fishing hole for cutthroat trout. For years anglers would lure trout from their spawning grounds at ‘The Fishing Bridge’ for the perfect catch. Unfortunately this decimated the native cutthroat trout populations and the NPS has since banned fishing from fishing bridge.
If this is your first time in Yellowstone I recommend a quick stop at Fishing Bridge’s parking lots so you can walk along the waters of Yellowstone Lake near Bridge Bay and learn about the natural and human history of the area. There is a great roadside museum at Fishing Bridge teeming with great exhibits. You can also grab snacks and souvenirs at The Fishing Bridge General Store.
There are some great area hikes near Fishing Bridge and the nearby Bridge Bay Marina – including the fairly easy Natural Bridge hike.
I was a little early in the season for boating – during peak summer months you can take a cruise of Yellowstone Lake from Bridge Bay.
From Fishing Bridge I veered south a few miles to Lake Village. As I mentioned in my Yellowstone Discovery series – The Lake Hotel is one of my favorite spots in the park. It has an elegance of a bygone era – the stunning views of the lake mixed with the graceful dining room make me feel as though Cary Grant could step in at any more.
And as architecturally stunning as Robert Reamer’s Lake Hotel is – it humbly takes a second seat ot the glorious natural beauty of ‘The Lake.’ *Seasoned Yellowstone visitors/workers simply refer to Yellowstone Lake as ‘Lake.’ West = West Yellowstone, MT (or for some West Thumb Geyser Basin)
I recommend stopping at the hotel for lunch or an afternoon drink – you won’t regret it.
Click here to learn more about The Lake Hotel.
While I was a bit hungry – the hotel wasn’t open for lunch this early in the season. I did however stock up on tons of great souvenirs and a warm fleece to keep me cozy in the cooler park temps.
To learn more about the history of the The Lake Hotel click here.