Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone named the first national park in 1872, is still as popular as ever. Probably its most famous attraction, Old Faithful is just one of the park’s many steaming geysers.

At the heart of Yellowstone’s past, present, and future lies a SUPERVOLCANO. Huge volcanic eruptions occurred here, the latest about 631,000 years ago. The centre of what is now the park collapsed, forming a 30 by 45-mile caldera, or basin. The heat powering those eruptions still fuels the parks’ geysers, hot springs, fumarole, and mud pots. The park’s ecosystems range from near-desert vegetation at the North Entrance to subalpine meadow and forest on Mount Washburn. They support a variety of habitats that sustain diverse wildlife like bison, elk, grizzly and black bears, wolves trumpeter swan, and Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

People also have been park of Yellowstone for more than 13,000 years. Many Native America tribes still have deep connections here. Discover your own connections to the park as you explore its wonders!

The Restless Giant

Hot Springs are the most common hydrothermal features in the park. They vary from frothing mocha-like boiling water to clear and calm pools of tremendous depth. Surface water seeps underground, is heated by a deep source of magma, and rises to the surface as superheated water. Hot springs have no constrictions, so the water rises, cools and sinks freely.

Geysers erupt with steaming hot water. They are hot springs with narrow spaces in their plumping, usually near the surface. The constrictions prevent water from circulating easily to the surface where heat would escape. The deepest circulating water can exceed the surface boiling point. The Old Faithful area has the most famous geysers; some eruptions can be predicted.

Fumaroles (steam vents) are the hottest hydrothermal features in the park. The small amount of water in fumaroles flashes into steam before it reaches the surface. Fumaroles hiss, whistle, or thump if the steam pathway is restricted at the surface. They are easiest to see in cool weather.

Travertine Terraces are found at Mammoth Hot Springs, where the interactions of water and limestone create chalk-while travertine. These terraces are among the fastest-changing features in the park, emerging quickly and drying up just as fast.

Mudpots are acidic hot springs with a limited water supply. Acid from volcanic gases and microorganisms decompose the surrounding rock into clay and mud. Mudpots consistency and activity varies with the seasons and precipitations. You can see mud pots at Artists Paintpots, Norris Geyser Basin, Fountain Paint Pots, West Thumb Geyser Basin and Mud Volcano.

Wildlife of Yellowstone

You have the rare opportunity to view animals who are wild. They behave like their ancient ancestors. They eat the same foods, they migrate along the same route, and they breed on the same cycles. When you watch animals in Yellowstone, you glimpse the world as it was before humans.

Animals are seldom seen in the dense, dark forest that covers most of the park. They are more easily seen in the open areas, like meadows, where vegetation is shorter and more light is available.

Useful Tips

  • Look at dawn and duck when many are most active
  • Be quiet and listen for a few minutes; you might hear the animals before you see them
  • Use binoculars or spotting scopes to observe animals while staying at a safe distance.
  • Never feed animals, not even the small ones like chipmunks

A few facts and figures:

  •  Yellowstone National Park is the world’s first National Park
  • 2,219,789 acres (Larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined)
  • Wildlife – 7 species of ungulates (bison, moose, elk, pronghorn), 2 species of bear and 67 other mammals, 322 species of birds, 16 species of fish and of course the grey wolf.
  • Plants – There are over 1,100 species of native plants, more than 200 species of exotic plants and over 400 species of thermophiles.
  • Geology – The park is home to one of the world’s largest calderas with over 10,000 thermal features and more than 300 geysers. It has one of the world’s largest petrified forests. It has over 290 waterfalls with the 308′ Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River as it’s a showpiece.
  • Yellowstone Lake is the largest (132 sq. mi.) high altitude (7,732′) lake in North America.

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