After the wettest spring I can ever remember here in the Northern Rockies and throughout Yellowstone Country, like clockwork, when the calendar hit June 21st, the warm temperatures and blue skies returned to our beloved. With a silly amount of snow still in the mountains, the 90+ degree temperatures of the last several days have sent muddied waters bursting through the river bottoms and streambeds across Yellowstone Country. I have attached a link to a You Tube video that I shot on June 24th, in the Lamar Canyon. If you are a lover of Yellowstone and admirer of its waters, I would highly encourage you to plan a journey to the park in early June (which is a more typical time for the height of runoff in the Lamar) so you can take a walk into the depths of the Lamar Canyon to see the river on full display. We did just that on the 24th and you can see for yourself, the power and immensity of the Lamar River just last week.
That very day, as I was finishing up my day in the field, leading a wildlife safari for a beautiful family from Seattle, Washington, the Lamar River which had been carving out chunks of the river bank, eroded its way through the bank supporting a section of the road coursing through the Lamar Valley, temporally shutting down through traffic throughout the valley while park service crews attempted to remedy the situation. Filled with nearly 16,000 cfs of life thrusting water on the 24th of June, and currently over 8,000 cubic feet per second pounding its way through the Lamar Canyon en route to the confluence with the Yellowstone River, the East Fork as it were once known, before being renamed officially as the Lamar in honor of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus our Secretary of the Interior in 1885, remains a significant and important tributary to the mighty Yellowstone and there is never a time that it is more impressive.
The historic max flow for this day at the gage station at Corwin Springs was in 1943 when 20800 cfs (cubic feet per second) of water burst its way down the Yellowstone River. At 6 pm this evening (after the water has already begun receding for the day) the flows were at 24,300 cfs. On the morning of June 30th, yesterday, the flows nearly topped 30,000 cfs at Corwin Springs. As a fly fishing guide who spends much of my summer perusing the waters of the upper Yellowstone from Gardiner to Yankee Jim Canyon, I assure you these are flows of epic proportions.
Local folklore tells us that Hellroaring Creek received its name during a tumultuous runoff such as what we are presently experiencing, for the hellish roaring that large glacial boulders would make while tumbling down the hurried torrents of yet another tributary to the Yellowstone. And I can attest, that when the wind is calm, one can sit on a quite night, beside the banks of the Yellowstone and from time to time, hear the grinding vibrations of what sounds like truck sized boulders rolling down the river bottom, bouncing and vibrating all along the way.
So here it is, July 1st, and we have certainly already experienced our fare share of fireworks in the form of violent waters wildly bursting their way to the overflowing banks of Missouri River…
~Michael Leach, Director and Founder
Over 28,000 CFS bursting through Yankee Jim Canyon. 6-28-11. And just a side note for those not accustomed to driving through Yankee Jim, but one cannot typically view the water while driving, but with these impressive flows a traveler can witness Revenge, Big Rock and much of Box Car, three of the most impressive Yellowstone River Rapids from the confines of their highway traveling vehicle. Wow.