Yellowstone Lake Area Yellowstone Lake is the largest lake in Yellowstone National Park. It is 7,732 feet above sea level and covers 136 square miles and boast110 miles of shoreline; and, is the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 feet in North America. In winter, ice covers much of the lake, except where shallow water covers hot springs. The lake freezes over by early December and can remain frozen until late May or early June. From its headwaters in Yellowstone Lake, the Yellowstone River flows under Fishing Bridge continuing for 670 miles to the Missouri River in North Dakota. It is the last free flowing river in the lower 48 states. From Lake Butte on the road from the East Entrance to Fishing Bridge, then south to Grant Village, approximately 35 miles of paved Park roads run parallel to Yellowstone Lake. That’s the big picture.
Lake Yellowstone Hotel, Lake Lodge, Fishing Bridge and the Bridge Bay Marinas Areas Lake Yellowstone Hotel is located in Lake Village on the northwest shore of Yellowstone Lake about 2 miles south of Fishing Bridge and just a few miles north of Bridge Bay Marina. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and in recent years has been renovated to its 1920s splendor. It sits on a hillside above the lake. The large Sun Room, offering great views of the lake, is the perfect place to relax following a day of adventure. Cocktail Service is available in the Sun Room and on many summer evenings guests are treated to a piano or chamber music performance. The Hotel boasts a very good dining room and reservations are often needed. For visitors looking for a less pricy dinner, try the cafeteria in the Lake Lodge located about a mile north of the Hotel. The Hotel is probably second only to Old Faithful Inn as an interesting example of the architecture of grand hotels from the early 1900s in Yellowstone Park. The area visitor center is located in Fishing Bridge just a few miles from the Hotel. Bridge Bay Marina, a few miles south of the Hotel, offers lake cruises, boat rentals, guided fishing trips, plus a full service marina for those who bring their own boats.
The Lake Yellowstone Hotel, Lake Lodge, Fishing Bridge and the Bridge Bay Marinas Areas have over night accommodations, a campground and an RV park, several restaurants (including cafeteria style), 2 general stores, gift shops, a medical clinic, a post office and an auto repair garage and service station. The lodging runs the gambit from very nice rooms with private bathrooms in Lake Yellowstone Hotel, modern hotel cottages, to rustic Lake Lodge cabins, some with shared bath houses.
Activities include hiking, animal and bird watching, photography, historic yellow bus tours, fishing, lake cruises, boating, and gawking at the wonderful views of Yellowstone Lake with majestic mountain ranges in the background. Three rewarding hikes include: Natural Bridge Arch, Storm Point Trail and the Old Boat House Trail. For visitors traveling with their dog companions, The Old Boathouse Trail is the only Park trail where leashed dogs are permitted. Following your hike, visit the newly renovated lake front general store for a delicious ice cream treat. This general store, with outside lake view benches, is just a short walking distance north of the Hotel. For visitors interested in viewing Yellowstone’s native wildlife, you do not usually have to venture far from the Hotel. Often, buffalo herds wander through the grasslands adjoining the Hotel and Lake Lodge. Deer are frequently seen on the Old Boathouse Trail. For a number of years, a grizzly bear has made the area his summer stomping grounds. Fishing Bridge over the Yellowstone River and the area along the road running east of Fishing Bridge for several miles affords a bird watchers paradise. No trip to the area would be complete without a drive to the Lake Butte Overlook located 615 feet above the Lake. From Fishing Bridge, drive east about 8 ½ miles on the East Entrance Road. A paved spur road takes you up a hill from the Lake to the Overlook. Recent fire damage in the surrounding woods presents an interesting perspective on nature’s regenerative powers. The views from the Overlook are magnificent. Plan to catch the sunrise or sunset over Yellowstone Lake and distant mountains.
West Thumb is located 21 miles southwest of Lake Village along the west thumb of Yellowstone Lake. Visitors stop to tour the West Thumb Geyser Basin, one of the most scenic geyser basins, with Yellowstone Lake and distant mountain ranges in view. The one mile loop trail, with a lot of boardwalk, puts you up close to numerous geysers, hot springs and considerable hydrothermal activity at lake’s edge. There is ample parking, along with a NPS Information Center & Bookstore, plus restrooms. Little evidence remains of the once bustling West Thumb Village that was in existence until the early 1970s. It had a Haynes photo shop, a Hamilton general store with soda fountain and grill, rustic cabins and a campground. In the early 1970s construction began on Yellowstone’s newest village and visitor center, located just a couple of miles south of West Thumb on Yellowstone Lake.
Grant Village, completed in the early 1980s, was named after President Ulysses S. Grant who signed the legislation in 1872 to create Yellowstone National Park. The village has lodging rooms, with private bathrooms, a campground, auto repair and service station, the Lake House Restaurant with lounge, a gift shop, a general store, a post office and visitor center. The Grant Village Visitor Center is located on the shore of the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake. It has an exhibit that interprets fire’s role in the environment, using the devastating 1988 fires as an example. The movie “Ten Years after Fire” is shown regularly in the summer. The Visitor Center contains a ranger information desk and a Yellowstone Association sales area with books and other interpretive materials. Activities include hiking, animal and bird watching, interpretive sightseeing tours and Park Ranger programs in the Grant Village Amphitheater.