Yellowstone Lake located in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming is one feature visitors should take the time to see. Yellowstone Lake is at 7,733 feet elevation. The entire lake is spread out over 136 square miles, with 110 miles of shore. The lake will vary in depth, from 139 feet to 390 feet at its deepest spot. Yellowstone has the distinction of being the largest freshwater lake in North America at over 7,000 feet. To reach Yellowstone Lake in the park one can enter through any of the four entrances. The lake lies between the east and south section on the main road. It is between West Thumb and Fishing Bridge.
Grant Village Visitor Center or Fishing Bridge Visitor Center is located right near the lake for those who want to learn more about the lake and for recreational purposes. In summer boating and fishing are allowed on the lake; however swimming is not recommended due to the very cold temperatures. In winter the lake will have roughly 3 feet of ice in the coldest spots. Shallow water that covers the hot springs may not have as thick of ice as the rest of the lake, so caution is recommended. It should not be walked on during the winter months. The lake will typically freeze in December and remain so until late May or early in June.
Yellowstone Lake is very old considering that Native Americans used to populate the region for the water. Other indications have shown the lake to have existed in pre-historic times. The first European to see the lake was John Colter. John Colter was a trapper in the 1800's. Osborne Russell is another fur trapper who visited the lake in 1836. The lake was often on the path from one area to another for finding fur.
David Thompson and William Clark called the lake Yellow Stone, but the name Yellowstone Lake was not official until 1839. During North American history it was suggested that the lake have a dam. This occurred between 1920 and 1937 in which proposals were offered to congress. However, none of the proposals ever made it through, so the lake is untouched by a dam.
Geographically speaking the lake has numerous geysers, fumaroles, and hot springs nearby. Walking to the lake is entertaining for visitors due to the variety of flora and fauna, as well as the geothermal wonders. The area around the lake is open to the public. Visitors can see such places as West Thumb Geyser Basin while they tour the lake. The lake was formed when a magma chamber 600,000 years ago collapsed. The water from the north from Hayden Valley and Mount Washburn was able to flow from underground into the Caldera that was formed, eventually filling it and creating Yellowstone Lake. The Yellowstone River also helps feed the lake.
The boating allowed on the lake is via powerboats, sailboats, canoes, and kayaks. However, a Yellowstone boating permit is required for anyone who wishes to drop in their boat.
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