Ecosystem Facts about Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is a fascinating geographic and geothermal wonder. Attracting scientists for decades, this park features the “largest intact temperate-zone” ecosystem in the world. This diverse land features abundant wildlife, hydrothermal pools, lakes, rivers and even a petrified forest. The following highlights interesting facts about Yellowstone National Park.

  • Yellowstone National Park encompasses from 12 to 18 million acres, which equals approximately 18,750- to 28,125-square miles. These lands include ownership in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, with the majority of the park lying within Wyoming’s state boundaries.
  • The park itself includes state lands, six national forests, two national parks, three distinct wildlife refuges, private and tribal land holdings and land owned by the Bureau of Land Management.
  • The park is run by a combination of entities, including state governments, federal government, private individuals and tribal governments.
  • Yellowstone is home to the one of the largest elk herds in all of North America. They are also home to the largest free-roaming herd of bison in the U.S. Outside of Alaska, they have one of the few grizzly populations and visitors have even had the rare pleasure of seeing lynx and wolverine.
  • Yellowstone is home to 67 mammal species, 322 avian species, of which 148 make Yellowstone their nesting areas. The park includes 16 fish species, five of which are non-native varieties. The park also includes 10 amphibian and reptile species, more than 12,000 insects, which includes 128 butterflies. Scientists have also determined there are 1,150 native vascular plant species within the vast boundaries of the park.
  • Many of the park’s animal and plant species are rare and protected, which includes 100 plants, six fish, amphibians, 20 avian species, hundreds of invertebrates and 18 mammals.
  • The park’s ecosystem is driven by volcanic activity, which in turn affects the species that thrive in the area. With several different climate areas and vegetation zones, the park faces many challenges, including trying to preserve threatened wildlife species.
  • The park sees between 2.8 and 3.1 million visitors annually, with most people visiting between June and August.
  • Onsite campgrounds and lodges within the park are only able to accommodate 14,300 people, which is why many visitors opt for nearby Yellowstone RV parks. An excellent option includes Yellowstone Holiday, which is located just outside the West Yellowstone entrance. This resort is on the shores of Hebgen Lake, which is a fly-fishing paradise.
  • More than 90% of visitors to Yellowstone find it a peaceful, quiet area that highlights undisturbed, natural beauty.
  • It is important that humans understand their presence can disturb wildlife populations. Important concerns for the park include overcrowding, visitors having a negative impact on natural resources, air and noise pollution, displacing wildlife and putting human and healthy safety first and foremost.
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