The legendary trout waters of the Madison River originate at Madison Junction in Yellowstone National Park where the Gibbon and Firehole come together to form the Madison. It was here in late summer of 1870 in what is known as National Park Meadows that the Langford-Washburn-Doane expedition conceived making Yellowstone a national park.

Just below Quake Lake the Madison turns from its westward course and begins a 50-mile run due north to Ennis Lake. The upper Madison, as this section is known flows between willow-lined banks, bordered on either side by miles-wide grassy benches. Above these benches, to the west, rise the magnificent 10,000-foot peaks of the Madison Range to serrate the eastern sky; to the east are the timbered slopes of the Gravelly Range. This section of the Madison is known as the "fifty mile riffle.

The Madison is Montana's river of superlatives, with a list including highest trout density, most consistent action, best dry fly fishing, and the most spectacular scenery. Not surprisingly, this southwestern Montana jewel is also the second most heavily used river fishery in the state.