Updated: December 2017

Yellowstone Lake Boat Rentals:

If you really want to enjoy all of what Yellowstone National Park offers, then we suggest renting a motorboat and getting out on Yellowstone Lake. The lake is massive with plenty of space to enjoy yourself out on the water. The lake sits at an elevation of 7733 feet and it has a maximum depth of 430 feet. The water is very cold once you get below the first foot or so, swimming is not really a great option. Boating, on the other hand, is perfect. They do offer scenic lake cruises, but our family decided that renting our own outboard motorboat would be our best bet. I would recommend going in the morning before the lake gets too choppy. We departed the Bay Bridge Marina at about 2PM and the waters on the lake were definitely not calm. We still had a good time, but earlier is better. Everyone in the rental boat is forced to wear a life jacket and no one under the age of 18 is allowed to rent a motorboat without a legal adult. The boat rental included the gas and there are no reservations accepted in advance.

Where is Yellowstone Lake within the national park? The West Thumb of the lake is near Grant Village but the main boat rentals are done by Bridge Bay which is about 20 miles from Grant Village and roughly 16 miles from Canyon Village. We drove down through Hayden Valley (beautiful place with bison all over) and had lunch at the Lake Hotel before heading out on the boat. You sign up for the rental at Bridge Bay and then get your boat at the marina. The 18 foot boat has 40 HP so you can get up to speed fairly quickly. There is a 'no wake' zone in and around the marina and the bridge you pass under while going out towards the lake. There are rules as to where you can take the motorboat - pretty much you are restricted to the zone near the north end of the lake. The day we were out in July 2012, we had the lake to ourselves. The rentals begin at 8AM in the morning and they are available from around mid-June to early September every year. Again, they are offered on a first come first serve basis. No single parties are allowed, you need a minimum of 2 and a max of 6 people. There is a page dedicated to rental boats on Yellowstone Lake online at . http://www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/rental-boats-1130.html. Rowboats are also available, but keep in mind the amount of work required to get moving - if you have kids the motorboat is a better choice to actually see more of the lake in a short period of time.

Cost to Rent Boat on Yellowstone Lake:

I thought the rates for the rental boat on Yellowstone Lake were very reasonable. We paid about $48/hour to be out there. They also only charge you a partial hourly rate after the first hour. We happened to be gone for 1 1/2 hours so our total cost was barely $72. You can see all the rates for boating and fishing in the area online at http://www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/Dates-of-Operation-and-Rates-1730.html. I have rented boats in other parts of the country and typically you are looking at an hourly rate of $75 minimum, so I felt like Yellowstone does a good job of getting families out on the lake at a fair price.

In Bridge Bay Marina looking back at the rental offices.

Some of the private boats docked in the marina.

Going towards the bridge that leads out to Yellowstone Lake.

Out on open water with the bridge in the background.

The lake is huge with very little boat traffic.

Coming back under the bridge - no wake zone.

My daughter on the dock - all the 18 foot motorboats are lined up.