The Firehole River Swimming Area in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, is one of two places in the park that has opportunities to take a dip, the other being the Boiling River Swimming Area. Because the Firehole River is significantly warmer than other streams in the park, it makes for a fun place to stop and get wet on a sunny summer day.
Travelers who want to get in the water must have impeccable timing and a little luck. Due to high spring water levels, the swimming area isn’t usually open until the middle of summer and closes before winter.
Some years, the snow runoff and currents are too aggressive and cause the site to stay closed for the entire normally-open season. The only way to tell if it’s open for swimming is to check the “current conditions” page on the NPS website.
Know Before You Go
- The water temperature can go up to 86℉, which is still 10-15 degrees higher than others, but it’s nowhere near what someone would call “hot,” as alluded to in its name. In the winter, the temperatures are much too frigid to go in.
- Parts of the river can get pretty deep and have strong currents, so only those who are strong swimmers should venture to these areas.
- Inexperienced swimmers or waders should stick to the calmer parts near the beach.
- No lifeguards are on duty, so swim at your own risk.
- Organisms live in the river water, some of which might cause illness. Avoid getting in the water if you have an open wound, and don’t submerge your head if possible.
- Wearing swimsuit attire is required.
- No outside food or drink is allowed in the swimming area.
- Cliff jumping or jumping from trees is prohibited.
- Noodles, tubes, and water toys are not allowed.
- Soap products and lotions are prohibited, even if they are considered biodegradable.
Once in Yellowstone, follow the signage to the swimming area found just two miles south of the Madison Junction. There is no fee to swim in the river and no official parking lot. Most people leave their cars parked alongside the road, but the spacing is limited and often crowded.Go as early as possible during non-peak hours to ensure you get a spot.
To reach the rocky beach, take the wooden staircase down towards where the water is. If only some people in your group are interested in swimming, there’s enough room on shore to find a spot to sit and observe. Keep in mind that the only facilities nearby will be two vault toilets and some changing rooms by Firehole Falls, but many people change in their car.
Discover the Boiling River Hot Springs, Yellowstone’s other swimming area.
Address: Firehole Canyon Road, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190
Season: Mid-summer to late fall. Occasionally snowpack runoff doesn’t allow it to be opened at all