Natural Highlights of the Madison Area

Map of
Madison Junction

The Madison Area’s natural attractions run the gamut from mineral terraces to waterfalls to mudpots.

Gibbon Falls
Gibbon Falls jumps off the remains of the Yellowstone Caldera rim in a stunning eighty-four foot display of beauty. Directly below the falls, a picnic area rests on an open flat.

Artist Paint Pots
Located just five miles south of the Norris Junction, Artist Paint Pots is a small area containing a variety of thermal features. Large mudpots, colorful hot springs, a few small geysers, and steam vents line the one-mile boardwalk looping through the area. The natural highlight also provides access to the Geyser Creek Thermal Area, Gibbon Hill Geyser Basin, and Sylvan Springs.

Firehole River
Renowned worldwide as one of Yellowstone’s most pristine rivers, the Firehole River steams its way south of Old Faithful before joining the Gibbon and Madison Rivers. Fly-fishing is allowed, and anglers are likely to find abundant populations of rainbow, brown, and brook trout.

Firehole Canyon Drive and Firehole Falls
Affording spectacular views of the impressive Firehole Canyon and the forty-foot Firehole Falls, the scenic Firehole Canyon Drive departs from the Madison Junction. As the road twists beside the Firehole River, sightseers glimpse 800-foot thick lava flows resting in the shadow of National Park Mountain. This scenic drive through a narrow canyon eventually links back to the Grand Loop Road. 

Monument Geyser Basin
Monument Geyser Basin is nestled at the top of a short, but steep, trail. Although now dormant, the basin is home to several geyser cones testifying to the area’s once active landscape.

Madison River
Originating east of the West Entrance at Yellowstone’s Madison Junction, the Madison River is born from the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers. After winding through Yellowstone meadows, the Madison River drains into Montana on its journey to form the headwaters of the Missouri River. The Madison River is world-renowned as a blue-ribbon stream full of prized rainbow trout and mountain whitefish.

Terrace Springs
A short boardwalk tour gives visitors a close-up view of the Madison Area’s most noted hot springs. Located directly north of Madison Junction, Terrace Springs is a small but impressive thermal region.

National Park Mountain
Legend theorizes that Yellowstone National Park owes its existence to this mountain and the 1870 Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition. After a day of scouting the region, the expedition party supposedly camped on this mountain and discussed the idea of turning Yellowstone into America’s first national park. Although the story is nice and provides logical testimony to the mountain’s name, no evidence exists to verify the tale. Regardless, the mountain is still impressive and is partially comprised of ancient lava flows that once covered the Madison Junction area in a sea of magma.

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