Our first national park, Yellowstone is the centerpiece of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem which is the largest remaining nearly-intact ecosystem in the Earth's northern temperate zone. Comprised of mountain ranges, canyons, rivers, waterfalls, and lakes, the park spans an area of about 3500 square miles.
The Supervolcano & Geysers
The largest supervolcano on the continent, the Yellowstone Caldera is considered an active volcano. As such, it has erupted with tremendous force several times in the last two million years. Lava flows and rocks from volcanic eruptions cover most of the land area of Yellowstone. Fueled by this ongoing volcanism, half of the world's geothermal features are in Yellowstone.
Flora: Plants, Flowers, & Trees
The park's vast forests and grasslands include unique species of plants. While July and August are traditionally the busiest months for visitors, those months also provide vast landscapes full of colorful wildflowers in bloom. Lodgepole pine is the most common tree in the park due in part to their shallow roots. In addition, some of their pine cones open after being burned so, when forest fires occur in the park, the forest naturally regenerates. The Visitor Education Center at Grant Village has an exhibit on forest fire and the lodgepole pine.
Fauna: Mammals, birds, fish, & reptiles
Yellowstone National Park is the largest and most famous megafauna location in the contiguous United States. Thus, hundreds of species of mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles have been documented in the park (several that are either endangered or threatened). Grizzly bears, wolves, and free-ranging herds of bison and elk live in the park. The Yellowstone National Park bison herd is the oldest and largest public bison herd in the United States. Also, Yellowstone is home to over 70 species of birds. As a result, bird watchers come to look for loons, pergrine falcons, golden eagles, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, trumpeter swans, and osprey. In addition, Yellowstone is known for several blue-ribbon trout streams for fly fishing in Yellowstone. Native Cutthroat Trout, Arctic Grayling, and Mountain Whitefish populate the waters along with non-native Brown, Rainbow, and Brook trout. Most rivers are catch and release and the scenery surrounding the rivers is breathtaking.
Touring Yellowstone national park
From before Yellowstone was a national park, to the time the Army was put in place to protect it, to the introduction of automobile travel, Yellowstone has continued to attract visitors. Yellowstone National Park is much bigger than most folks realize. You can spend one day or several decades exploring and still find more to go see. The majority of visitors to Yellowstone spend just a few days of their overall vacation in the park. With just two days, you can take in the highlights by spending one day on the Upper Loop Road and one day on the Lower Loop Road. If you have just one day, we recommend not trying to take in the whole park. You will better enjoy the visit if you spend your day on just the Lower Loop Road. World famous Old Faithful Geyser is on that loop along with the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the Fountain Paint Pots. Regardless, we always recommend taking a tour of the park. You will see more in less time instead of less in more time.