|• location||Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming|
|Madison Junction, Wyoming|
|Length||21 mi (34 km)|
|• location||West Yellowstone|
|• average||307 cu ft/s (8.7 m3/s)|
|• left||Sentinel Creek, Fairy Creek, Little Firehole River, Iron Spring Creek|
|• right||Nez Perce Creek|
The Firehole River is located in northwestern Wyoming, and is one of the two major tributaries of the Madison River. It flows north approximately 21 miles (34 km) 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.
The Firehole River flows through several significant geyser basins in Yellowstone National 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 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 (86 °F) 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.
Significant tributaries of the Firehole are the Little Firehole River, Fairy Creek, Iron Spring Creek, Sentinel Creek and Nez Perce Creek. All these tributaries bring cool waters to the Firehole and provide refuge for trout in the mainstem during mid-summer high temperatures caused by geothermal activity.
The Firehole River is a famous and storied destination for serious fly fishermen. When it was discovered in the 1830s by American explorers, the Firehole was barren of trout above what is now called Firehole Falls. Brook trout were first introduced to the upper Firehole in 1889, while brown trout, the river's most plentiful trout today, was first stocked in 1890. Rainbow trout were not introduced until 1923. Mountain whitefish are native to the Firehole below Firehole Falls. By the late 19th century, the Firehole and Yellowstone National Park in general was a popular destination for fishermen. In 1955 all stocking programs in the park were discontinued and today's Firehole trout are completely wild populations. In 1968, based on increasing pressure on the Firehole, the Gibbon and Madison rivers, the National Park Service designated these waters as Fly Fishing Only.
Firehole River, 1894
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Firehole River.|
- Angling in Yellowstone National Park
- Fishes of Yellowstone National Park
- Fly fishing
- Tributaries of the Missouri River
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Madison River, USGS GNIS
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- Goldstein JN, Hubert WA, Woodward DF, Farag AM, Meyer JS (2001). "Naturalized salmonid populations occur in the presence of elevated trace element concentrations and temperatures in the Firehole River, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA". Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 20 (10): 2342–52. doi:10.1897/1551-5028(2001)020<2342:NSPOIT>2.0.CO;2. PMID 11596769.
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- 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. ISBN 1-55821-545-X.
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