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Firehole River, Yellowstone National Park

4.8
#20 of 33 in Nature in Yellowstone National Park
Water Body Nature / Park
The Firehole River is located in northwestern Wyoming, and is one of the two major tributaries of the Madison River. It flows north approximately 21mi from its source in Madison Lake on the Continental Divide to join the Gibbon River at Madison Junction in Yellowstone National Park. It is part of the Missouri River system.DescriptionThe Firehole River flows through several significant geyser basins in the park to include the Upper Geyser Basin, which contains the world-famous geyser Old Faithful. The river was named by early trappers for the steam that makes it appear to be smoking as if on fire.The Firehole contains three of Yellowstone's major waterfalls: Kepler Cascades south of Old Faithful, Firehole Falls and the Cascades of the Firehole in Firehole Canyon.The river is surrounded by geothermal features which empty water into it. One effect of the input of this water is to increase the temperature of the water. Temperatures in the river have been measured as high as 30°C and average 5 to 10 °C (9 to 18 °F) higher than areas upstream of geothermal influence.Water entering the river from geothermal features contains dissolved chemicals and minerals. Levels of boron and arsenic have been found to be above the standard limits for protection of aquatic organisms. Despite these levels, brown and rainbow trout live and spawn in the river.
To visit Firehole River and other attractions in Yellowstone National Park, use our Yellowstone National Park tourist route planner.
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Where to stay in Yellowstone National Park

As one of the U.S.'s most popular national parks, Yellowstone provides plenty of options for sleeping within its boundaries. Choose from lodges, inns, cabins, hotels, motels, and campgrounds throughout the park. Most of the structured accommodations lie in the park's most-visited areas, such as Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Falls, Old Faithful Geyser, and Yellowstone Lake. Staying on the northern side of the lake puts you right in the heart of the park, making it relatively convenient to visit other areas. Resorts, lodges, and guest ranches line the road just outside the park's east entrance, and a cluster of motels and hotels fills the town of West Yellowstone near the west entrance. You can also opt for lodges and inns to the north in Gardiner, Montana, or find nearly every type of accommodation to the south in Jackson, Wyoming. Staying outside the park is fine if you plan to drive through in a day and catch the highlights, but you'll want to spend at least one night inside the park if you plan to explore it more thoroughly.
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  • This river can be quite warm. Its name indicates that too! Why is it so warm? Deep down under this place, there is magma from an active volcano that heats the water. Every minute it pours 500 gallons ...  more »
  • We visited here last week when it was so very cold! This was one of our stops while snowmobiling around the park. So much snow and ice! Just breathtaking! I can only imagine how beautiful it is in the...  more »
  • Firehole River is a lovely river tucked away on a trail just off Grand Loop Road. There is a waterfall about 5 minutes into the trail. Before you enter the wooded area, there is a grassy plain perfect...  more »