Yellowstone Guide

Spring 2023

brochure Yellowstone Guide - Spring 2023

The Spring edition of the Yellowstone Visitor Guide for Yellowstone National Park (NP) in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Yellowstone Visitor Guide Spring 2023 National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior 1st Edition Welcome to Yellowstone National Park Spring in Yellowstone is a time of change. Cold and snow slowly retreat. With the thaw comes fresh life: flowing water, budding plants, and frolicking youth, like the bison calves shown here. Nicknamed "red dogs" for their color, they're born as early as late April. Travel Alerts SPRING ROAD OPENING Most park roads are closed to vehicles until at least April 21. They then begin opening in stages as weather allows, with the highest elevation areas (Dunraven Pass and the Beartooth Highway) opening last. See maps on back page. DELAYS POSSIBLE — PLAN AHEAD Traffic, wildlife on the road, construction, and harsh weather can all create road delays or closures. Plan ahead, leaving plenty of time to travel to destinations in the park. ROAD STATUS UPDATES You have multiple options to learn about the current status of park roads. Hotline Online Mobile alerts 307-344-2117 text 82190 to 888-777 See back page for details Inside This Issue Keep Wildlife Wild Contact Info, Facilities and Services Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Yellowstone is an incredible place to view wildlife. All the large mammals present when Yellowstone became a park in 1872 are here today: grizzly and black bears, wolves, mountain lions, elk, bison, pronghorn, moose, and bighorn sheep. Safety and Regulations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Things to Do Camping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Backcountry Camping, Boating, Fishing, Stock Animals, Swimming. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Day Hiking, Photography, Bicycling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Junior Ranger, Park Heritage, Authorized Guides. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Trip Planning Ideas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Learn About the Park Hydrothermal Features, Wildfire. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Wildlife. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Detailed Area Descriptions, Facilities, and Services Old Faithful Village . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Canyon Village, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Lake Village, Fishing Bridge, Bridge Bay, West Thumb . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Mammoth Hot Springs, Fort Yellowstone. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Grant Village, Madison, Norris, Tower-Roosevelt, West Yellowstone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Translations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Park Roads, Road Opening Schedule, Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Back • Wildlife are dangerous. • Do not approach, encircle, follow, or feed any animal. • Bison, bears, and elk injure and kill people. • Stay at least 100 yards (91 m) from bears and wolves. • Stay at least 25 yards (23 m) from all other animals, including bison and elk. • If an animal moves closer to you, move away to maintain the appropriate distance. • Do not stop on or block a road. • Use pullouts; stay in your car to watch animals. • Store food and trash securely. Backpacks are not secure. • Do not feed any animals, even birds and squirrels. Yellowstone National Park National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Emergency Information Park Entrance Radio Dial 911 307-344-7381 1610 AM Facilities and Services Medical Services Accessibility Cell Service Yellowstone emergency response A printed guide with accessibility information Cell phone service is very limited in the park and ambulance service: is available at visitor centers and park lodges. and surrounding areas. General cell coverage Call 911 Info is also available on the park website areas are shown on the map on the back page Text 911 is not available in Yellowstone. ( and in the NPS app of this guide. (see left). Park Tip Line 307-344-2132 Medical care, from emergencies to minor Emergency 911 service by cell phone is only To report a crime or criminal activity. needs, is available at STGi clinics: Qualified service animals are welcome available in coverage areas. Text 911 is not Leave as much detail as you can. Remain • Mammoth Clinic throughout the park and in all park facilities. available in Yellowstone. anonymous, or leave a name and number. 6/1-9/30 8:20a–5p daily 10/1-5/31 8:30a–5p daily Free National Park Service App Enrich your Yellowstone official National Park 10/4-10/11 8:00a–5p W-Su accessibility information, and detailed site Your provider may or may not roam on networks in Yellowstone. As a courtesy to others, silence your mobile 307-242-7241 • Old Faithful Clinic device while enjoying Yellowstone. 4/17-5/12 varies and service information. You can even 5/13-9/16 7a–7p daily download the content so you can use the 9/16-10/15 varies app offline. 307-545-7325 Follow @YellowstoneNPS During peak hours and periods of heavy visitation, the cellular network may be very slow. • Lake Clinic 5/15-10/1 8:30a–8p daily provides self-guided audio tours, control at all times. 307-344-7965 experience with the free, Service app. The app However, they must be leashed and under your Wi-Fi Available for free: To learn more or make an appointment, • Albright Visitor Center visit in Mammoth Hot Springs Data speeds are very limited outside of Mammoth Hot Springs. Wolf near Mammoth Hot Springs in late April. Lodging, Dining, and Tours As one of Yellowstone's official concession companies, Yellowstone National Park Lodges offers lodging, dining, camping, and a variety of tours and activities. Visit for the most up-to-date information. For reservations and information, ask at park hotels, or contact Yellowstone National Park Lodges: Phone 307-344-7311, 866-439-7375 Online Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. 2 Yellowstone Visitor Guide Safety and Regulations ! D G AN ER IFE DO N St DL PP IL OT A ay froat l m eas be t 1 ar 00 sa y nd ard w s( ol 91 and ve m at l s ) fro eas m a t 25 ll o the yards r an (23 ima m) ls ROACH W Safe Parking × × Unsafe Parking × × Watch Wildlife Safely Store Food Securely Park Safely Looking for Wildlife? • To conserve energy, most wildlife are active in the cool of dawn or dusk. • Animals are everywhere in the park, but it is easier to see them in open meadows and sagebrush than in dense forest. • Find a place with a broad view for your binoculars or spotting scope, and be prepared to wait. Do not feed any wildlife, including small mammals and birds. Eating human food is unhealthy and encourages aggressive behavior. Stopping, parking, or standing in the road is dangerous. Large vehicles have limited visibility. Other drivers may be distracted by wildlife and scenery. Stay aware of traffic at all times. All food, trash, and scented items must be kept inaccessible to bears at all times. Tents, truck beds, and picnic tables are not secure. In some areas, ravens have learned to unzip packs and scatter the contents. None of these items, even if clean and empty, may Protect Yourself and the Animals. Obey Park Rules. be left unattended at any time: • Spotlighting—viewing animals with artificial light— • Water and beverage • Food, including condiments, is illegal. containers even if in containers • Calling to attract wildlife is illegal. You may not bugle • Cooking or eating utensils • Cosmetics and toiletries to elk, howl at wolves, or make bird calls of any kind. • Stoves and grills • Pet food and bowls • Tracking wildlife with electronic equipment is not • Coolers and ice chests • Pails, buckets, wash basins permitted. • Garbage, bagged or not • Use pullouts to stop. • Park with all four tires fully to the right of the white line. • When your vehicle is moving, keep doors closed and arms, cameras, and children inside. • Do not stop your vehicle in the road or block traffic in any way. • Do not stand in the road or block it with tripods, chairs, or other objects. • If wildlife are nearby, stay inside your vehicle. Enjoy watching Yellowstone’s animals but STAY SAFE. They are WILD and DANGEROUS. Bison, elk, and other wildlife Bears and wolves 25 yards (23 m) Drones 100 yards (91 m) Firearms Pets Launching, landing, or operating unmanned Firearms are allowed in national parks pursuant to state Pets are not allowed on trails or boardwalks, in the back- aircraft (drones) on lands and waters administered by the and federal regulations. They are prohibited in facilities where country, or in hydrothermal basins. Where allowed, pets must National Park Service is prohibited. signs are posted, such as visitor centers, government offices, and be leashed and remain within 100 feet (30.5 m) of a road or some concession operations. Discharge of firearms is prohibited. parking area. ? Lost and Found Possession and use of weapons, such as air guns, bows and arrows, spears, and slingshots, is also prohibited. Details are avail- Do not leave a pet unattended, tied to an object, or without able at adequate food, water, shade, ventilation, or other basic needs. Call 307-344-5387 to report or retrieve items lost in lodging Owners must bag and dispose of pet waste. We recommend that facilities. In other parts of the park, call 307-344-2109 or look someone in your group remain with your pet at all times to per- online: sonally ensure their well-being. Spring 2023 3 Things to Do Camping Yellowstone offers many campgrounds with a variety of sites. During the park's busy season, from the beginning of May through the fall, all campsites must be reserved ahead of time. Due to high demand, we recommend making reservations as early as possible. A campsite at Pebble Creek Campground. No Overflow Camping No camping or overnight vehicle parking is allowed in pullouts, parking areas, picnic grounds, or any place other than a designated campground. If you don’t have a campground reservation, the nearest campsite or hotel room may be hours away. Check-In and Check-Out Yellowstone National Park Lodges campgrounds: check-in at 1p, checkout at 11a. National Park Service campgrounds: check-out at 10a. Length of Stay Camping is limited to 14 days from July 1 through Labor Day (first Monday in September) and to 30 days the rest of the year. Group Camping Group camping (tents only) is available at Bridge Bay, Grant, and Madison for organized groups with a designated leader. Fees range from $165 to $475 plus tax and utility fee per night, Discounts depending on group size. Advance resHolders of Senior and Access passes ervations are required at 307-344-5437 receive a 50% discount on camping fees or (excluding Fishing Bridge RV Park). Food Storage Boxes (see right) Quiet Hours Available at each campsite at Indian From 10p to 6a, no loud audio devicCreek, Lewis Lake, Mammoth, Pebes or other noise disturbances are ble Creek, and Slough Creek campallowed. grounds. Many campsites in other campgrounds are also equipped with bear-proof storage boxes. Food storage box Campground Features Campgrounds In Order of Opening Reservation Status Dates Rate Sites Elevation (ft/m) Features RV sites * Madison All sites reservable 307-344-7311 May 5 – Oct 15 $33 * 278 5,800 ft (2,070 m) A, F, D, G Call for availability Fishing Bridge RV Park Hard-sided only All sites reservable 307-344-7311 May 12 – Oct 8 $89/ $99 * 310 7,800 ft (2,285 m) A, F, H, S/L, D, G Call for availability Bridge Bay All sites reservable 307-344-7311 May 19 – Sep 4 $33 * 432 7,800 ft (2,285 m) A, F, D, G Call for availability Canyon All sites reservable 307-344-7311 May 26 – Sep 17 $39 * 273 7,900 ft (2,410 m) A, F, S/L, D, G Call for availability A F H V S/L D G SB Grant Village All sites reservable 307-344-7311 Jun 2 – Sep 10 $39 * 430 7,800 ft (2,285 m) A, F, S/L, D, G Call for availability Indian Creek All sites reservable Jun 9 – Sep 10 $20 70 7,300 ft (2,225 m) A, V, SB 10 sites are 35 ft 35 sites are 30 ft Lewis Lake All sites reservable Jun 15 – Oct 14 $20 84 7,800 ft (2,285 m) A, V, SB All sites are 25 ft or less Mammoth DATES TO BE DETERMINED Slough Creek DATES TO BE DETERMINED Tower Fall DATES TO BE DETERMINED Norris CLOSED 2023 Pebble Creek CLOSED 2023 4 Yellowstone Visitor Guide Rate does not include tax or utility pass-through Accessible sites available Flush toilets Full Hookups Vault toilets Pay showers/laundry onsite Dump station Generators allowed 8a to 8p Food storage boxes available Campfires are allowed only in designated grills or rings in park campgrounds, some picnic areas, and specific backcountry campsites. Fully extinguish all campfires—they should be cool to the touch—before leaving them. Things to Do Safely storing items at a backcountry site. Backcountry Camping Overnight backcountry camping is only allowed in designated sites and requires a permit. Detailed information on backcountry permits, fees, and advanced reservations is available online: From November 1 through May 14: available online at or in person up to two days prior to start of trip at the South Entrance. Fees required. From May 15 through October 31: available online in advance at or in person up to two days prior to start of trip. Fees required. Fishing Boating General fishing season opens May 27 and closes October 31, 2023. Some areas remain closed until July 15. Fishing permits are required in Yellowstone; state-issued fishing permits are not valid within the park. Anglers 16 years or older need a permit; younger children can fish for free with a permitted adult. You can purchase a fishing permit in the park, in local gateway communities, or online via Fishing regulations in Yellowstone protect the unique values of the park ecosystem and conserve native fish species. Copies of the complete park regulations are available wherever permits are sold and online at For current trail conditions, visit YELLbackcountryreport or visit a backcountry office. Possession limits and closures vary. Anglers are responsible for knowing the regulations in the area they are fishing and knowing how to tell the difference between species. Native fish must be released unharmed back into the water immediately. These include: • Arctic grayling • Cutthroat trout • Mountain whitefish Riding the Yellowstone River Trail. Horses, Mules, and Other Stock Animals These tackle and gear restrictions apply: • Hooks must be barbless. • Tackle and lures must be non-toxic. Lead tackle is not allowed. • Bait is prohibited. • Felt-soled footwear is not permitted. The boating season opens May 27 and closes October 31, 2023. All watercraft (motorized boats, non-motorized boats, and float tubes) must have a permit and be inspected for aquatic invasive species (AIS) by park staff. Any watercraft suspected of harboring AIS will be subject to a non-chemical decontamination treatment. CLEAN, DRAIN, AND DRY Aquatic invasive species are nonnative plants and animals that can cause irreversible harm to the ecosystem. New Zealand mudsnails, whirling disease, and lake trout have already resulted in loss of native fish or closure of some park areas. Preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species starts with you. CLEAN all plants, animals, sand, mud, and other debris from your boat, trailer, anchor, boots, and equipment before you arrive. Clean your boat and all gear as soon as you leave one body of water. Clean your gear before you leave the area where you fished. All equipment and foot gear, regardless of material, can carry AIS. DRAIN all the water from your boat, including the motor, bilge, live-well, and other compartments, before you arrive. Leave bilge plug out during transport. Do not dump water or organisms from one water body into another. DRY all compartments and equipment in the sun for at least five days before entering another body of water or use high-pressure, hot (120–140°F/50–60°C) water to clean your boat, trailer, waders, boots, and equipment. Traveling in the Yellowstone backcountry with horses, mules, or llamas is an exciting way to see the park. By their very nature, these large animals have the potential to leave great impacts on the land. Motorized boating is allowed on Lewis Lake and most of Yellowstone Lake. Only non-motorized boating is allowed on most other lakes. Only one river is open to non-motorized boating: the Lewis River channel between Lewis and Shoshone lakes. Permits are required for both day rides and overnight trips. To get a permit and plan a safe, enjoyable, low-impact trip, contact a backcountry office or look online at • Trails typically open for stock use July 1. Some trails may open earlier or later depending on trail conditions. • Proof of a negative Coggins test is required. • Hay is prohibited in the backcountry, and weedfree hay restrictions are enforced in other areas. • Stock may not be left at trailheads or kept in frontcountry, drive-in campgrounds overnight. Boating on Yellowstone Lake. Cutthroat trout. Gardner River below Osprey Falls. Swimming Park waters are swift and cold. • Swimming in hot springs or their runoff is prohibited. • Swimming in park rivers is not recommended. Currents can be dangerously strong and fast. • Swimming in Yellowstone Lake is not recommended. Average lake temperature is approximately 41°F (5°C). If you plan to boat in the park, familiarize yourself with Yellowstone National Park boating regulations and information about inspections and permits, available online at Certain Boats Banned Boats with ballast tanks or similar areas that can't be visually inspected are banned in the park to minimize the risk of introducing aquatic invasive species. Spring 2023 5 Things to Do Day Hiking More than 1,000 miles of hiking trails wind through Yellowstone National Park. Whether you hike for half a mile or more than 10, the backcountry can be an escape from the crowds and a chance to get in touch with the wilderness that Yellowstone preserves. Find hikes using the free NPS app (see page 2) or at has information on seasonal closures and trail conditions. Be prepared for wildlife encounters, hike in groups of three or more, carry bear spray on all hikes, and know how to use it. Hiking the Beaver Ponds Trail. Hiking in Bear Country Hiking in bear habitat has inherent risks. You are likely to be safer if you stay on roads and official trails, but your safety cannot be guaranteed. Federal regulations require you to stay at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears. Learn more: You can buy bear spray in Yellowstone where stores are open. Bear spray cannot be taken on airplanes or thrown in the trash. Canisters can be recycled in the park. Check locally or online for locations. You can rent bear spray from: Bear Aware North end of the Canyon Visitor Education Center parking area May 27–September 30 9a–5:30p daily Rentals include holster, hiking safety information, and instructions on proper use. The cost is $8 per day or $28 per week (5+ days) plus sales tax. For more information, visit Return items to the Canyon kiosk, Madison Campground, park gas stations, the Cooke City Visitor Center, the Jackson Hole Airport, and downtown Jackson, WY. Grizzly sow and cub. Photographers in Lamar Valley. Photography Yellowstone is one of the best places in the world to photograph wildlife. The Name of the Game is Patience To get the best shot, you will spend more time waiting and observing than taking photos. Look for patterns in animal behavior that can help you get a great shot. You may have to wait a while, so be ready. Know Your Camera's Limits A cell phone camera will not be able to capture the same resolution and detail as a more advanced standalone camera with large lenses. Good photography isn't about getting close to the animal for a close-up. It's about having the right equipment for the job. 6 Yellowstone Visitor Guide • BE ALERT FOR BEARS. • MAKE NOISE in areas with limited visibility. • CARRY BEAR SPRAY, one can with each adult, and know how to use it. • HIKE IN GROUPS of three or more people. • DO NOT RUN; back away slowly. Biking in the spring. Bicycling Stay Safe Behind and in Front of the Camera An unusual vantage point can add drama to your image, but you don't want to add the drama of a hospital visit to your trip. Never sacrifice safety for a photograph. • Be Aware of Your Surroundings Stay behind fences and guard rails. Never turn your back on wild animals. • Keep Children Close to You at All Times Never try to pose them with wildlife. • Stay Out of the Road Do not stop your vehicle in the road or stand in the roadway. Do not block any portion of the road with tripods, chairs, or other objects. Do not block the free flow of traffic. Bicycling, including the use of e-bikes, is permitted on established public roads, parking areas, and designated routes. Bicycles are subject to the same traffic rules as automobiles and are prohibited on trails and boardwalks. Park roads are narrow and winding with few shoulders, so regulations require cyclists to ride single file, and we strongly recommend wearing a helmet and high-visibility clothing Smoking Is Prohibited in geyser basins, on trails and boardwalks, in buildings, or within 25 feet (7.6 m) of building entrances. and using flashing lights on both the front and rear of the bicycle. Road elevations range from 5,300 to 8,860 ft (1,615 to 2,700 m), and services and facilities are far apart—typically 20 to 30 miles (37 to 56 km). During April, May, and June, high snowbanks may make travel more dangerous. Find information on the park website at Take Only Pictures Removing or possessing natural or cultural resources (like wildflowers, antlers, rocks, and arrowheads) is strictly prohibited. Things to Do The park's Junior Ranger badge. Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center. Yellowstone Forever Store near Roosevelt Arch. Become a Junior Ranger Explore Park Heritage If you're age 4 or older, you can become a Yellowstone Junior Ranger! Stop by any visitor center to pick up a free Junior Ranger activity booklet. Children and adults benefit by learning more about the natural wonders of the park and sharing the fun of becoming a Junior Ranger. Connect to Yellowstone's past. Visit Mammoth Hot Springs to walk the self-guiding trail around Fort Yellowstone that chronicles the US Army's role in protecting the park. Other historic sites include the Norris Museum, Obsidian Cliff, and the Old Faithful Inn and Historic District. Yellowstone Forever is the official nonprofit partner of Yellowstone National Park. Their mission The Heritage and Research Center, located just of engagement and support through philanthropy beyond the North Entrance in Gardiner, MT, is and education for the park will ensure Yellowstone home to Yellowstone's museum collection, archives, remains for generations to come. Programs about research library, archeology lab, and herbarium. wildlife, plants, geology, and history are perfect for Tours are available every Wed 4–5p from 5/29–9/4. curious adults and families who want to spend a day To contact, email or more exploring the park with a knowl­edgeable or call 307-344-2264. guide. To learn more, visit Become a Young Scientist! Pick up a self-guiding booklet at the Canyon Visitor Education Center (ages 10+) or Old Faithful Visitor Education Center (ages 5+). In the Old Faithful area, check out a Young Scientist Toolkit for the gear you need for your investigation. Authorized Guides Many authorized guides and outfitters are ready to show you the wonders of Yellowstone, and each has a unique approach. Make sure that your guide, tour company, or other commercial service is fully authorized by the park. Authorized providers are listed on the park website at Support Your Park Special use permits are required for certain activities including organized gatherings like weddings or church services, public assemblies and demonstrations, scattering ashes, some commercial activities like commercial travel, and some types of filming and photography. For more information, call 307-344-2722. Report unauthorized operators to a park ranger, or contact Concessions Management at 307–344–2271. Covered wagons at Yanceys Hole. Make the Most of Your Visit Yellowstone encompasses more than 2.2 million Only one day here? Two or more days? acres, most of it beyond the reach of roads. One could • Drive to the Old Faithful area and walk around the • Explore one theme, such as geology, in depth. For dedicate their entire life to experiencing the park and Upper Geyser Basin. example, visit Mammoth Hot Springs to see traverstill never see it all. Here are suggestions for mak• Visit one of the other hydrothermal areas like Norris, tine formations and view the sedimentary layers of ing the most of the time you do have. West Thumb, or Fountain Paint Pots. Follow boardMount Everts, then drive through terrain shaped by walks and maintained trails to witness hot springs, glaciers to the Tower-Roosevelt area. Tour early in the day to avoid crowds. mudpots, fumaroles, and geysers. • Visit Yellowstone Lake, the largest high-elevation lake Most people tour the park from 10a to 6p. Wildlife • Begin in Hayden or Lamar valleys to look for some of in the lower 48 states. Take in the spectacular views are most active at sunrise and sunset; arriving before the park's large animals. Bring binoculars or a spotof West Thumb and the Absaroka Mountains from its 8a improves your chances of observing animals ting scope, and enjoy animals from a safe distance. shores. Explore the hot springs, mud pots, and geyduring their active periods. Park entrance gates are • For a break from the road, consider one or two modsers of West Thumb Geyser Basin. Hike one of the open 24 hours a day. erate day hikes. Always carry rain gear, extra food local trails, such as the Scenic Lake Overlook near and water, bear spray, and other emergency equipWest Thumb. Visit a hidden gem. ment when venturing into the backcountry. • Slow down and try your hand at capturing the beauty Take a day hike, or stroll one of our historic walking • Have a picnic. Unpack your basket at any of the many of Yellowstone through journaling, painting, or simtours at Fort Yellowstone or Old Faithful. Explore picnic areas throughout the park. ply observing. nearby national park units, national forests, state forests, and state parks. The region offers a variety of public lands for recreation and enjoyment. Spring 2023 7 Famously Hot Features Yellowstone was established in 1872 as the world's first national park primarily because of its unparalleled collection of geysers, hot springs, mudpots, and steam vents. Stay on Boardwalks and designated trails. Do not touch any thermal features, and keep foreign objects out of springs. It can be windy, so cinch your hats, and secure your items. Unstable ground and boiling waters make hydrothermal areas extremely dangerous. Fumaroles, or steam vents, are the hottest hydrothermal features in the park, with temperatures well above that of boiling water. They are easier to see in cool weather. Geysers erupt with steaming hot water. Variations in each geyser's underground reservoir determine whether it is regular and predictable—like Great Fountain Geyser in the Lower Geyser Basin—or irregular like Giant Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin. Hot springs are the most common hydrothermal features in the park. They vary from frothing mochalike boiling water to clear and calm pools of tremendous depth. Mudpots are acidic features with a limited water supply. Their consistency and activity vary with the seasons and precipitation. Travertine terraces are found at Mammoth Hot Springs, where the interactions of hot water and limestone deep underground create chalk-white travertine terraces at the surface. Norris Geyser Basin. Wildfire Fires are a natural part of the Greater Yellowstone How does fire benefit Yellowstone? Ecosystem. Research shows that large fires have been • Some plants have adapted to fire. In some cases, they occurring in Yellowstone since forests became estabdepend on it. lished following the last glacial retreat 14,000 years • Fire promotes habitat diversity by removing the forest ago. overstory, allowing different plant communities to become established and preventing trees from growYellowstone's fire season typically lasts from July ing in meadows. to the end of September. Lightning may ignite doz- • Fire increases the rate nutrients become available to ens of forest fires during a single summer. Most of plants by rapidly releasing them from wood and forthem go out naturally after burning less than half an est litter and by making soil minerals weather faster. acre. Others torch isolated or small groups of trees, This is especially important in a cold, dry climate like become smoldering ground fires, and eventually go Yellowstone's, where decomposition happens slower out on their own. On rare occasions, wind-driven than in more hot and humid areas. fires have burned through large areas of forest, as in • Natural fires provide an opportunity for scientists to 1988, when multiple fires crossed more than 1 million study the effects of fire on an ecosystem. acres in Yellowstone and on surrounding federal lands despite massive efforts to extinguish them. Why aren't burned trees removed? Burned and dead trees contribute to the ecosystem. The National Park Service allows lightning-ignited Dead standing trees provide nesting cavities for fires to burn in Yellowstone provided they are not many types of animals. Fallen trees provide food a threat to human life and property. The park is and shelter for animals and nutrients for the soil. required to protect human life as well as the approxHowever, park managers will remove dead or imately 2% of Yellowstone's 2.2 million acres that burned trees that pose safety hazards along are considered developed (roads, buildings, other roads or in developed areas. infrastructure) while at the same time letting wildfire carry out its ecological role in the landscape as much as possible. A patchwork of trees left behind by the advancing flames of 2016's Maple Fire. 8 Yellowstone Visitor Guide Wild Lands and Wildlife Wolves in Yellowstone Yellowstone is the site of one of the most ambitious and controversial wildlife restoration projects in the world. Although wolves once roamed from the Arctic tundra to Mexico, loss of habitat and extermination programs led to their demise throughout most of the United States by the early 1900s. In 1973, the US Fish and Wildlife Service

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