Geode Creek and the Yellowstone River Bushwhack

A friend of mine, David is in town this week.  He was looking for a hike and a new place to wet a line with me.  So, we hatched this plan to bushwhack to the Yellowstone River via Geode Creek.  I had been on this mission once before in 2011, looking to catch some West-slope Cutthroat's and fish the Yellowstone but never made it because I sprained my ankle just before reaching the first meadow.  Even so, I caught some Cutt's but had to turn back because of the pain and never made it to the River.

You can read all about that trip here:

the meadow at Geode Creek far below...
I met David at 7:30 am. and off we went to the pull-out to hike in.  We skirted the meadow at Geode Creek and headed towards a small lake.  When we got to the lake we had to find the drainage off of it as this would lead us to Geode Creek and we would then follow it down to the Yellowstone River.  Oh, I forgot to mention that this hike was all down hill about 1500 feet over 2 miles to the Yellowstone as the crow flies.  Well, we picked the wrong drainage at the lake which lead to another lake.  On a rocky crag above this lake we could see the beautiful Yellowstone River far below.  But from "here" there was no good way to get down "there".  A look at the map showed that even if we did get down "there" it would only fish a short distance until we would get "cliffed-out"!

So, we had to go back to the first lake which was of course was all up hill.  When we got there we had to negotiate a rock field at the bottom of a mountain to get around the lake, where we found the drainage we had been looking for. By this time we were having our doubts about getting all the way down to the river and getting all the way back out of there, but we pushed on. The drainage was dry and not too bad to get down. But when we found Geode Creek, which by now was just a trickle of a stream, we had to rethink the plan. Looking down Geode at what lie ahead was a 300 foot drop over half a mile of narrow canyon rock walls and tons of blow downs.  We took a break and decided that these two old guys would opt to hike back up Geode to the meadow and fish there even though we knew that there would be little water.  We could live with having had a nice hike; beautiful scenery, finding tons of shed elk antlers and seeing some huge rutting bull bison.

the first lake and the mis-taken drainage in the background, center left... 

the second dry lake on the right...

This is where we turned around, it doesn't look like it in the photo but there was shear drop off cliffs except for the rocky out cropping in the distance that we thought we could reach but would have little room to fish once there.

I found many an antler along our hike...

The hike up and out of Geode Creek Canyon was nothing short of brutal with it's steep sides, blow downs and rocky footing. When we finally made it back to the edge of the first meadow we were shot and finally sat down and had our lunch and took a nice long rest.  After lunch we rigged up, ready to find some Cutt's in the meadow.  At the meadow the Geode held little water, just as I had feared. With the shortage of snowmelt this season all the area streams are low. Walking further, the Geode shrank till I could easily step across it. I did spot two small 4-5 inch fish which also spotted me as I stepped across the creek to follow a split as Dave stayed on the "main" part of the creek.  A little further and I was out of water entirely.  Just then Dave yelled that he had found a hole and had a hit. I started to work my way over to him when he said that he had one on and a pretty good one at that.  Dave had caught this Cutthroat in a bathtub size hole where for all practical purposes the Geode ended.  A nice fish considering, but there would be no more fishing as there was no more water to be found except for a small underground source of water bubbling up near the other end of the meadow and that was that. Here we packed it in and headed up the last steep leg of uphill to the car and a Coke-a-Cola at Mammoth Hot Springs. This had been one of the toughest hikes I had been on since coming to Yellowstone over the last 6 years...
Dave with the fish of the day... Ummm... our only fish of the day!

I think, after two very difficult hiking attempts to reach the Yellowstone River by bushwhacking via Geode Creek I'm done with it... no really, that's it, I give up!  Really!


  1. I wonder how come Westsloper are on this side of mountain. I believe they are native too, aren't they? There may be a few in Lava Creek too?
    I see Geode Creek Bushwhack is not as smooth as it's said to be.

  2. Satoshi - they are there because that's where they put them.... way back when. This year will be very tough on them.

    Yes the bushwhack is tough when Ben says he's done it once and would never do it again!

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