YNP_Gardner River

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Gardner River: 44.992210, -110.690819
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Gardner River
The Gardner River is a tributary of the Yellowstone River and enters the Yellowstone at the park boundary in the town of Gardiner, Montana. The Gardner can be divided into three sections. The upper river consists of meadows reminiscent of Slough Creek or Soda Butte, but contains plentiful brook trout instead of cutthroats. The middle Gardner is fast canyon water with long runs of pocket water interspersed with pools and runs. The lower Gardiner from Bolling River to the confluence with the Yellowstone is similar but with easier access from the Mammoth–Gardiner road. The middle and lower sections contain good populations of rainbow, cutthroat and brown trout. In the late fall, the Gardner is known for its annual run of spawning browns which travel up the river from the Yellowstone. The Gardner River’s pocket water, boulder-filled pools and runs offer good dry fly and nymph fishing, especially in the late summer and fall. Although high runoff can impair early summer fishing, the Gardner does get a reliable hatch of large stoneflies in June and July.

The Gardner River is formed below Cache Lake near Electric Peak, Yellowstone National Park’s highest peak. It winds its way through the park to join with the Yellowstone River near the park boundary in the town of Gardiner, Montana. The Gardner River is a must-fish for any Yellowstone Park angler.

Gardner River Description

The Gardner can be thought of in three sections. The upper river from the headwaters to the Sheepeater Cliff Picnic area consists of meadows reminiscent of Slough Creek or Soda Butte. Brook trout flourish in the headwaters and upper reach of the Gardner.

Gardner RiverThe middle Gardner is fast canyon water with long runs of pocket water interspersed with pools and runs. The Sheepeater Canyon and Gardner Canyon makes up this section of the Gardner River. The lower Gardner from Boiling River to the confluence with the Yellowstone River is similar but with easier access from the Mammoth–Gardiner road.

The middle and lower sections contain good populations of rainbow, cutthroat and brown trout. In the late fall, the Gardner is known for its annual run of spawning browns which travel up the river from the Yellowstone.

Gardner River Fly Fishing Tips

The Gardner river’s pocket water, boulder-filled pools and runs offer good dry fly and nymph fishing, especially in the late summer and fall. Although high runoff can impair early summer fishing, the Gardner does get a reliable hatch of large stoneflies in June and July.

Caddis hatches are the river’s best during the summer and fall. Mayflies and Pale Morning Duns make for good action too. Evenings are the best time to fish the Gardner in the summer. Terrestrials arrive in July and stay until October. Hoppers, beetles and ant patterns all provide great action.

Gardner River Access

Access to the upper Gardner River is primarily by trail. The canyon and lower sections of the Gardner river are accessible from the Mammoth area.

Garner River Fishing Regulations

Catch and release for all cutthroat and mountain whitefish. Check the Yellowstone fishing regulations for more information regarding the Gardner River.