yellowstone national park


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The human history of the Yellowstone region goes back more than 11,000 years. The stories of people in Yellowstone are preserved in objects that convey information about past human activities in the region, and in people’s connections to the land that provide a sense of place or identity.

Today, park managers use archeological and historical studies help explain how humans left their mark in times gone by. Ethnography helps us learn about how groups of people identify themselves and their connections to the park. Research is also conducted to learn how people continue to affect and be affected by places that have been relatively protected from human impacts. Some alterations, such as the construction of roads and other facilities, are generally accepted as necessary to accommodate visitors. Information on the possible consequences of human activities both inside and outside the parks is used to determine when restrictions are needed to preserve each park’s natural and cultural resources as well as the quality of the visitors’ experience.


Summer: Daytime temperatures are often in the 70s (25C) and occasionally in the 80s (30C) in lower elevations. Nights are usually cool and temperatures may drop below freezing at higher elevations. Thunderstorms are common in the afternoons.

Winter: Temperatures often range from zero to 20F(-20 to -5C) throughout the day. Sub-zero temperatures over-night are common. The record low temperature is -66F (-54C). Snowfall is highly variable. While the average is 150 inches per year, it is not uncommon for higher elevations to get twice that amount


Yellowstone is known for its red-tinged canyon walls and awe-inspiring natural wonders, like Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs, but you can't miss exploring some of the park's less frequented hiking trails and basins for striking views of the park's waterfalls, forests and alpine lakes. The park's attractions encompass everything from horseback riding in the backcountry to fishing at the lake, so plan to hit the sites that cater to your interests. Venture to Yellowstone Lake for a boating expedition and excellent wildlife-watching opportunities or head north to marvel at thermal attractions within the Mammoth Village area. And whatever you do, make some time to soak in the scenery as the sun rises in the morning or drifts down in the evening — both ideal times for spotting the park's magnificent array of wildlife, which includes osprey, moose and grizzly bears.


  1. The wildlife that visitors want to see the most in Yellowstone are Bears, Wolves, Moose, Elk, Bison, Badgers, Otters, Fox and any newborn critter. Gray wolves were restored in 1995; more than 370 live in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.. Wolverine and Lynx live in the park and are some of the rarest mammals to spot.


The vegetation communities of Yellowstone National Park include overlapping combinations of species typical of the Rocky Mountains as well as of the Great Plains to the east and the Intermountain region to the west. The exact vegetation community present in any area of the park reflects the consequences of the underlying geology, ongoing climate change, substrates and soils, and disturbances created by fire, floods, landslides, blowdowns, insect infestations, and the arrival of nonnative plants.

Today, the roughly 1,300 native taxa in the park represent the species able to either persist in the area or recolonize after glaciers, lava flows, and other major disturbances. Yellowstone is home to three endemic plant species, at least two of which depend on the unusual habitat created by the park's thermal features. Most vegetation management in the park is focused on minimizing human-caused impacts on their native plant communities to the extent feasible.


Yellowstone's ecosystems will likely change as climate change advances. Scientists expect increased temperatures and changing rain and snow patterns in the park. Effects could be:

  • The alpine zone, which begins at 9500 feet, may shift higher, with important species like whitebark pine almost entirely lost to the ecosystem.

  • Wildland fire in the western states generally is expected to intensify. However, scientific research is showing a different possibility in Yellowstone: fires may be more frequent, but smaller and less intense, than today.

  • Increased insect infestations in trees. Currently, two types of pine bark beetles and a spruce budworm are at work.

  • Declining wetlands, which will decrease essential habitat for frogs, salamanders, and many birds and insects.

  • Wildlife predictions vary. Bison, elk, and other grassland animals should be able to find suitable habitat. Grizzly bears will have less of their most valuable foods: whitebark pine nuts, army cutworm moths, and cutthroat trout.


Backcountry Camping & Hiking
Carry your backpack and stay in more than 300 backcountry campsites

Take in the view from the water

Enjoy the scenery on two wheels

Pitch your tent, or pull-up your RV, at one of 12 campgrounds

Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
Hear the crunch of snow under your feet

Day Hiking
Lace up your boots and explore more than 1,000 miles of trails

Cast your line for 16 species of fish

Guided Tours & Other Services
Businesses that have permits for day hiking, backpacking, bicycling, boating, fishing

Horseback Riding and Llama Packing
Bring your own stock or take a guided ride

Unpack your basket at 52 picnic areas throughout the park

Ranger-Led Activities
Join a park ranger for walks, hikes, and campfire programs

Snowmobiles and Snowcoaches
Take a guided tour
in the winter

Wildlife Viewing
Test your observation skills with 67 species of mammals, 330 species of birds, 4 amphibians, and 6 reptiles