Keep your wallet in your waders

Yellowstone National Park

Because millions of sightseers flock to Yellowstone every summer, you're able to sample great Western trout fishing on the cheap. There are hotels, chain motels, and restaurants to suit every budget, many of them centered in the gateway village of West Yellowstone, Montana. Use the Internet (starting with westyellowstonechamber.com) to find and reserve an inexpensive room before your trip. Or you can stay within the park itself (307-344-7901; travelyellowstone.com), where the least expensive economy cabin starts at $45 per night. Save even more by using one of the in-park campgrounds, starting at $17 a night. ¿¿¿ Next, go to one of the many fly shops in West Yellowstone and buy at least a few flies to grease the flow of fishing tips. Favorite places include Bob Jacklin's Fly Shop (406-646-7336; jacklinsflyshop.com), Bud Lilly's Trout Shop (800-854-9559; budlillys.com), and Blue Ribbon Flies (800-646-7642; blueribbonflies.com). Any or all of these should offer plenty of advice on where and when to fish on your own. ¿¿¿ Then hit the water, either in the park or very nearby. The variety of fishing opportunity is extraordinary. The little Gibbon River, both upper and lower, is relaxing, whereas the Madison River browns can be rewarding but very tough. Hike up into the Slough Creek meadows or fish the storied Firehole River (which fishes best early and late in the season). Check out less-pressured water such as the Lamar River or South Fork Madison. Remember to watch for both erratically driving tourists and wandering grizzly bears. At times they seem equally dangerous.

Next Best: Teton River, Idaho If the Yellowstone crowds seem overwhelming, move a little west to the Teton River near Driggs, Idaho, on the Wyoming border. Fishing in the upper reaches is exceptional. Forest Service¿¿¿developed campsites start at $10 per night in the Teton Basin Ranger District. More info: Caribou-Targhee National Forest office, 208-524-7500; www.fs.fed.us/r4/caribou-targhee