We opted to take the scenic Yellowstone Lake Cruise before dinner one night and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The boat, the Lake Queen, departed close-by to the Lake Hotel at the nearby marina. On the cruise, the Captain & Mate told us some great stories and even spotted a grizzly bear off in the distance running along the shore.
Yellowstone Lake is immense! If you’ve never seen pictures of it, or read about it…think about this: It has 110 miles of shoreline and an average depth of 140 feet! At an elevation of 7,733 feet, it is the largest high-altitude lake in North America. The pure beauty of miles and miles of undeveloped landscape, make the Yellowstone Lake Cruise one of the most scenic experiences of its kind.
Our trip ventured out from the marina towards Stevenson Island, where the Captain told us of the trials and tribulations of failed entrepreneur, E.C. Waters. Mr. Waters ran the waterfront lake crises back in the early 1900s and in 1906 brought his 500-passenger steamship, “E.C. Waters” (so humble) to the lake. Having had many altercations with the park staff, Mr. Waters eventually was ‘evicted’ by the superintendent and he left his steamship, E.C. Waters, as a relic for future visitors to see. The ship was dismantled in the early 1920s and the boiler became the Lake Hotel’s heating plant for nearly 40 years. The keel and ribs of the former 125′ steamship can still be seen protruding from the bottom of the lake on the shore of Stevenson Island.
One other fact we found quite mind-boggling is that the lake is frozen over until late May each year! And the temperature of the lake, even with all of its geothermal heaters, is still just above freezing, at a chilly 45F!! So as appealing as the Lake seems for a mid-summer, dip…don’t do it. It was on the car ride after the cruise that the biggest controversy of our vacation occurred: We saw a swimming antlered animal in the water (pictured above) and of the 8 park rangers we asked (Moose or Elk?)…we had a hung jury of 4-4.
We also saw a grizzly bear in the distance along the lake’s edge…not far the Lake Hotel!!
The Lake Yellowstone Cruise was another vacation highlight for our trip and one I’m glad that we did. I really enjoyed the views from the lake to shore, the wildlife sightings, and hearing stories about the park’s history. If you have the time and are able to get the reservations…book the scenic lake tour!