YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
WYOMING (Montana and Idaho) (), ()
National Grid SD 774968 (parking area) 00o00´/00o00´ 898,318ha 3,462m (Eagle Peak) to 1,610m (lowest point Reese Creek) Middle Rocky Mountains, forest (80% of park, but much recently burnt), lakes and rivers
March to September (20.03.08)
Birding Site Guide
The first national park in the world, designated 1872. It is renowned for its stunning mountain scenery and geothermal activity which is expressed in 300+ hot geysers. The park is located on a plateau in the Middle Rocky Mountains Range that is at an average height of 2,400m, Yellowstone Caldera has a lake (35,220 ha) located at 2,357 m (the highest large lake in N. America) which is up to 120m deep and is considered to be a still active volcano and there are many earthquakes, sometimes with fatalities. Other hazards in summer include the wildfires, which help to maintain the ecosystem. The park is centred around the Yellowstone river and its Grand Canyon. There are two other canyons in the park: Lewis Canyon and Black Canyon.
Southern parts of the park are bisected by the continental divide (watershed) with Snake River flowing to the Pacific Ocean while Yellowstone goes to Atlantic Ocean. The whole park is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (8,093,712ha) which includes other protected areas and as such forms one of the most pristine intact wildernesses in the USA.
Apart from the geothermal interest there is also a large petrified forest to see and 300 waterfalls (highest being 94m). Winters are harsh with heavy snow falls and many animals could starve (there is some feeding) and summers are hot.
The park is famous for its Bison, but also hosts other megafauna including Wolves, Elk, Lynx (very rare but recently confirmed), Mountain Lion, Grizzly and Black Bears, Wolverine, Pronghorn, Bighorn Sheep and Mule and White-tailed Deer. The Wolves are re-introductions.
There are 311 species of birds (50% of which nest), 60 species of mammals, over 6 species of reptiles and 4 species of amphibian, 18 species of fish including the highly sought Yellowstone Cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri which has its stronghold in the park.
There are 1,700 recorded native vascular plants, with pines, aspens and willows being the commonest tree species. Yellowstone Sand Verbena Abronia ammophila is endemic to the park and there are special algae that live in the hot springs with their own unique invertebrate assemblages.
The area is outstanding for hiking, boating, rafting, fishing and camping.