Sun River Fly Fishing, Riding, Exploration
One of more popular mid-summer trips. This trip goes into our Gates Park camp on the North Fork Sun River. We stay 4 nights at this location, with a wide range of activities available each day. This is a kick off to world class fly fishing on the Sun River. The water is gin-clear as all the melt off has left by this time. We start fishing really before anyone else is in this area, not that we ever really see anyone at all anyway. The early summer colors of wildflowers, mountain peak snowpack, and lush green make for stunning photography. For the non fishermen, we have quite a few day rides and hikes near by including Bear Top fire lookout, Sock Lake (under the Chinese Wall), Biggs Creek Meadows, and the lower Sun River valley.
Day 1: Pack up at the South Fork Teton trailhead. The ride over Headquarters Pass (elevation 7,700 ft) is truly a highlight of the trip - and it's only the first 2 hours in!! The trail from the basin below the pass begins a gradual descent along Headquarters Creek to the North Fork Sun River valley. Along the way we have wide open vistas. We often see wildlife along this ride as is a natural corridor for traveling elk, black bear, deer, and other critters. Camp this evening is our semi-permanent camp ont he Sun River at Gates Park. Riding distance 14 miles.
Day 2: No travel this day but plenty to do. If you're up for a day ride, we often go to Biggs Creek Meadows to explore and see some incredible views of the continental divide to the west and the Sun River valley in all other directions. Riding distance is 5 miles. For the fishermen, you'll want to get on the water right after breakfast and start dueling with the river trout. They get hungry around 10am and be ready for some amazing dry fly action and a LOT of fish. Our fishermen come back telling us they catch upwards of 60 fish a day.
Day 3: Non travel day. For day riders, we often go to Bear Top fire lookout which is the only remaining fire look out in the valley. The view up there are incredible. It's a good trail and we ride most of the way and hike the last 45 minutes. We eat lunch and chat with the fire watch person, and just soak in amazing 360 views. Total riding distance 10 miles. The fishermen will get going again in the morning. Often we can mix it up by taking fishermen downstream or upstream by horseback on an hour ride to get some different views of the river. It's pretty remarkable fishing no matter where you go on this river.
Day 4: Non travel day. Our last day to explore and fish. The ambitious horseback riders may want to go to Sock Lake today. It's about a 14 mile round trip ride, but it's so worth it. Sock Lake sits up in a little bowl under the Chinese Wall and is a stunning place to visit. For the fishermen, we give them some aspirin for their aching elbows (from all the fish pulling on the rods all day) and get them to the river for the final day of fishing. We try to hit a stretch of water they haven't seen yet just to mix things up.
Day 5: We pack up early and head out the Headquarters trail. We get an early start to beat the heat and the dust, and are eating lunch in the basin below Headquarters Pass. We often see mountain goats and bighorn sheep in the basins on either side of the pass. Our day ends at the South Fork Teton trailhead. We typically arrive in there in early afternoon. Riding distance 14 miles.
This is a superb trip for mixed groups of fishermen and non-fishermen. The fishermen will keep busy on various stretches of river easily accessed from camp by walking or taking short horseback rides. We can get you to any number of areas to fish depending on where the best action is. For the non-fishermen, we can keep you going with some day rides to outstanding points of interest including Bear Top, Sock Lake, and many other locations. For those wanting to do some hiking, there are a lot of options for this also. The farthest reaches of Gates Park (a very large meadow) will often reward you with wildlife sightings. Also, there are great trails going along Gates Lake as well as along the Sun River (which is about 1/2 mile from camp). The ridges near camp are open and easily navigated.
This is the beginning of our best fishing season, as the waters run gin-clear and cold. The fish are voracious feeders on top of the water and our fishermen often catch 60+ fish a day on dry flies! There are holes where you catch 10+ fish in rapid succession with each cast. The river is wild and beautiful and you will rarely see anyone else on the water during your trip.
Of particular interest, due to the absolute remote nature of the Bob Marshall, there is zero light polution, and near perfectly clear skies. The nighttime viewing of stars, constellations, the Milky Way galaxy, and numerous shooting stars make for a rare opportunity to see our night time sky in a way you've not seen it before. The days are long out here, so plan on staying up late as sunset is about 10pm.
This trip will start to see the hot weather set in, so plan for days in the 80's and nights in the high 40's. Heavy jackets are not necessary, but a sweater will be handy. Layers are always ideal as our temperatures change so much during the day. We don't typically get extended cold fronts or heavy rains this time of year, but we will have the ocassional thunderstorm move through. Also, the bugs start to come out in force this time of year so plan coverage accordingly. Our mosquito hours are quite short, but we have horse flies and deer flies during the heat of the day. More details on fishing and camping gear can be found below.