The Gibbon River rises in the center of the park at Grebe Lake. It flows for a short distance into Wolf Lake. Below Wolf Lake, the river flows through Virginia Cascades into the Norris valley. It flows near the Norris Geyser Basin and through the Gibbon Geyser Basin. From there it flows through the Gibbon River Canyon to its confluence with the Firehole River to form the Madison River. Early maps listed the river as Gibbons Fork or the East Fork of the Madison River. The river between Norris and Madison Junction is paralleled by the Grand Loop Road. The river, along with Gibbon Falls, is named for Colonel John Gibbon, U.S. Army who participated in the 1872 Hayden Geological Survey of Yellowstone.
The Gibbon River is a popular trout fishing destination. The upper section of river has very difficult access being choked with thick forests and lots of downed timber. The fish, consisting of brook trout, rainbow trout and grayling are all on the small side, rarely exceeding 10 inches (250 mm). Below Gibbon Falls access is excellent and the river has a healthly mix of rainbow and brown trout. The lower river receives a good run of spawning browns in the fall.
The Gibbon River is fly fishing only and catch and release below Gibbon Falls. Above the falls, any grayling or cutthroat trout caught must be released. An unlimited number of brook, rainbow and/or brown trout may be harvested daily in the waters above the falls.
Back, Howard (1938). The Waters of the Yellowstone with Rod and Fly. New York: Dodd & Mead.
Parks, Richard (1998). Fishing Yellowstone National Park. Helena, MT: Falcon Press. ISBN1-56044-625-0.
Brooks, Charles E. (1979). The Living River-A Fisherman's Intimate Profile of the Madison River Watershed--Its History, Ecology, Lore and Angling Opportunities. Garden City, NJ: Nick Lyons Books. ISBN0-385-15655-3.
Mathews, Craig; Molinero, Clayton (1997). The Yellowstone Fly-Fishing Guide-A authoritative guide to the waters of Yellowstone National Park. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press. ISBN1-55821-545-X.
Brooks, Charles E. (1984). Fishing Yellowstone Waters. Clinton, NJ: New Win Publishing Inc. ISBN0-8329-0353-1.