Welcome to Yellowstone National Park. This audio-only described version of the brochure provides a detailed map of Yellowstone, its geographic features, and services. The opposite side of the brochure presents an overview of the natural and cultural resources of Yellowstone, a guide to park wildlife, suggested areas to visit, and the regulatory information you need to have for a safe and enjoyable trip through Yellowstone.
Photograph Description: A close-up photograph of Old Faithful Geyser in the central section of the park. This geological feature is a gently sloping, rounded dome, with a large amount of water erupting near the center and volumes of steam rising from around the formation. The outside of the formation is pale white rock. The sun is setting in the background giving a slight purple hue to the light filtering through the steam and water.
Source: © Patrick Leitz.
Yellowstone National Park inspires awe in travelers from around the world. New Zealand and Iceland are known for geysers, but nowhere are there as many as in Yellowstone. At the heart of Yellowstone’s past, present, and future lies volcanism. About 2 million years ago, then 1.3 million years ago, and again 640,000 years ago, huge volcanic eruptions occurred here. The latest spewed out 240 cubic miles of debris. The central part of what is now the park collapsed, forming a 30- by 45-mile caldera, or basin (see outline on large map). The magmatic heat powering those eruptions still powers the park’s geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, and mudpots. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River gives a deeper view of these forces: its waterfalls highlight the boundaries of lava flows and thermal areas. Rugged mountains flank the park’s volcanic plateau, rewarding eye and spirit.
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 center of what is now the park collapsed, forming a 30- by 45-mile caldera, or basin. The heat powering those eruptions still fuels the park’s geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, and mudpots.
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 (buffalo), elk, grizzly and black bears, wolves, trumpeter swans, and Yellowstone cutthroat trout.
PEOPLE also have been part of Yellowstone for more than 13,000 years. Many Native American tribes still have deep connections here. Discover your own connections to the park as you explore its wonders.
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This section features five different subjects: hot springs, geysers, travertine terraces, fumaroles, and mudpots.
This photo shows a blue and green pool with steam rising above the surface. The edges of the pool are scalloped with a whitish mineral. There is a forest of dark green trees in the background.
Source: © Fiona Donald.
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 water rises, cools, and sinks freely.
Photo: This color photo shows a river with a steam rising from a geyser on its bank. One part of the steam is a dense white cloud and the other is a narrow white column. There is white snow on the river bank and a dark forest behind the steam. A group of dark green trees grows on the river bank.
Source: NPS / Neal Herbert.
Geysers erupt with steaming hot water. They are hot springs with narrow spaces in their plumbing, 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 (199°F/93°C). The Old Faithful area has the most famous geysers; some eruptions can be predicted.
This photo shows hundreds of stone rock formations in the shape of fountains or shallow pools terraced and stepped over a steep incline. They form a gigantic rock staircase. Each formation is a ledge that has rock sculpted and dripped over its side. The rock sides are orange, brown, and a brilliant chalky white which contrasts against a blue sky with wispy white clouds. The formations are barren of vegetation.
Source: © Craig Voth.
TRAVERTINE TERRACES are found at Mammoth Hot Springs, where the interactions of water and limestone create chalk-white travertine. These terraces are among the fastest changing features in the park, emerging quickly and drying up just as fast.
This photo shows an area of rough and uneven ground on the side of a hill. Dark brown rocks are scattered on the lighter brown soil. There is steam rising from the ground and on the horizon there are the silhouettes of trees.
Source: © Patty Pickett.
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. Look for fumaroles in the major hydrothermal areas.
Photo shows a muddy piece of ground with at least four concentric circles of mud in the middle. One of the circles has a bubble rising from the center. The mud is brown with rusted mineral tint scattered across it.
Source: © Mark Wiltrakis.
MUDPOTS are acidic hot springs with a limited water supply. Acid from volcanic gases and microorganisms decompose the surrounding rock into clay and mud. Mudpot consistency and activity varies with the seasons and precipitation. You can see mudpots at Artists Paintpots, Norris Geyser Basin, Fountain Paint Pots, West Thumb Geyser Basin, and Mud Volcano.
This collage is an illustration of wildlife that can be seen at Yellowstone National Park including (from left to right across the page) osprey, coyote, mule deer, bighorn sheep, bull elk, wolf, grizzly bear and cub, bull moose, Uinta ground squirrel, black bear, American white pelican, bison and calf, lesser scaup, yellow-bellied marmot, pika, trumpeter swans, green-winged teal, and pronghorn. The following describe each species.
Image 1. In the upper left corner of the collage is an osprey. The osprey (a bird) is flying towards you on the page with its wings spread. Its back is brown and its stomach is white. Prominent dark brown patches are on the end of the birds’ wrists. Its head is white and the tail has horizontal strips of brown and white.
Image 2. In the bottom left corner of the collage is a coyote. At about half the size of the wolf, it resembles a medium-sized dog. The coyote is barking towards the sky and facing the left of the page. Its brown-gray fur coat is shaggy across its body and tail, with thinner fur on its legs and face.
Image 3. To the right of the coyote is a mule deer. The mule deer’s body turns toward the left of the page and its head is turned to look at you. The deer has twig-like, 7-point antlers that split off into two branches, with large ears right below them. Its muzzle is light beige with a black tip. The overall color of the mule deer is brownish-gray, with a white rump patch and a small white tail with a black tip.
Image 4. To the right and overlapping in front of the mule deer is a bighorn sheep, also facing the left side of the page. The bighorn sheep is as tall as the back of the mule deer. It has brownish-gray fur with a slightly lighter nose and black tip. The horns of the bighorn sheep are very thick at the base and curl back around the sheep’s head, below the jaw, resembling a helmet.
Image 5. To the right of the bighorn sheep is a bull (male) elk. The bull elk is double the size of the bighorn sheep with reddish-brown fur that darkens toward the face. The bull elk is facing left with its head slightly turned towards you sounding a call. The elk has branch-like 11-point antlers that are about twice the size of mule deer antlers. The bull elk is slightly taller than the mule deer. The elk’s face and neck fur is very shaggy compared to its body.
Image 6. Below the head of the bull elk is a wolf. The wolf is one-third the size of the bull elk and double the size of the coyote. The wolf is facing you on the page. The wolf’s ears are perked up with its yellow eyes looking forward. It has gray-tan fur throughout its coat, with a lighter stomach and nose.
Image 7. To the right of the wolf are a grizzly bear and cub. The grizzly bear is three times the size of the cub and slightly taller than the bighorn sheep when on all fours. The grizzly bear is turned to the left of the page with its head turned to face you. The cub is facing the left of the page and looking down at the ground. The bears both have shaggy fur in a light brown color with light tips. Both bears have a shoulder hump with their rumps lower than their heads. Their ears are short and rounded. Their faces are rounded with a "dished-in" or concave profile.
Image 8. To the right of the grizzly bear and cub is a bull moose. The bull moose is facing the left of the page and is slightly taller than the bull elk with thicker, palm-like antlers with 12 points. The bull moose has a long, blunt nose with a patch of long fur under its chin. Its shoulders are as high as the top of his head, though its back continues in a steady angle downwards to its rump. Its ears are about equal in size to the mule deer and stand upright between the two separate branches of antlers.
Image 9. Below the bull moose is a Uinta ground squirrel standing on its back legs, holding some grasses up to its mouth. The Uinta ground squirrel is facing the left side of the page and has fuzzy brown-gray fur with very short legs and a round frame and head. Its ears are very small and rounded; it has black eyes, and a small, pointed nose. The tail has thin fur and is shorter than most squirrels.
Image 10. To the right of the Uinta ground squirrel is a black bear. The black bear is about half the size of the grizzly and is facing forward and looking at you. The bear has a brownish-black furry coat that is full, but sleek. The black bear does not have a shoulder hump and its rump is higher than its front shoulders. The face profile is straight and colored slightly lighter brown-black with a black tipped nose.
Image 11. Above the back of the bull moose is an American white pelican, a large, white waterbird. It is facing the left side of the page with its wings spread in flight. It has a long orange bill with an extendable pouch for capturing its food. Its head, long neck, and body create an S-shaped curve. Its legs are short and its webbed-feet hang below it in flight. The pelican’s long, broad wings extend out with black trailing tips halfway down, while its tail is very short and broad.
Image 12. To the right of the bull moose and black bear are an adult bison and bison calf, facing the left of the page. The calf is about two-thirds the size of the adult and about equal in height to the grizzly cub. The bison’s dark-brown to rust-brown fur grows longer in the head and shorter in the rump. The top of its back is higher than its head and flows straights across with its rump slightly lower. Its nose is short and has fur flowing down under its head and chin. The bison has brown horns that curve up.
The calf is about half the length of the adult, and has fur in lighter shades of rust-brown. The fur is short in the face and rump and longer in the neck and mid-section. Its face looks more elongated than the adult, due to the lack of fur hanging from its face and chin. The calf has very small horns that look like small dots with black rounded ears above its horns. Both the adult bison and calf have a skinny, short tail hanging from their rumps.
Image 13. Above the back of the bison and to the right of the American white pelican is a lesser scaup (a medium-sized diving duck) flying to the left side of the page. Its bill and webbed feet are a bluish-gray color with a black head, chest, and rear. Its tail feathers are a medium to dark gray from outside edges to the midsection of its tail. Its wings have two gradations of light to dark gray feathers; one from its back to its mid-wing and one from mid-wing to tips.
Image 14. Below the neck of the adult bison and to the left of the calf is a yellow-bellied marmot standing on its back feet turned to the left side of the page with its head looking up. The marmot is a type of groundhog, a ground dweller with a large, stocky body. It is dark brown in color with light gold fur around the neck and shoulders and down its underside. Its legs are very short and the front paws hang in front of its body. Its tail is short and fuzzy. The marmot also has long black nails on all of its feet about the same length as its toes.
Image 15. To the right of the yellow-bellied marmot is a pika crouched down on all fours, facing you. The pika is about half the size of the Uinta ground squirrel and is a small, egg-shaped, short-legged, and tailless mammal. The pika is a part of the rabbit or hare family, despite their similarities to mice. It also has very round ears and a light grayish-brown fuzzy body of fur.
Image 16. To the right of the lesser scaup are two trumpeter swans in flight toward the left side of the page. The left swan has its wings above its body, the swan on the right has its wings below in a down-stroke. Their bills are black, half of their faces are dark gray. Their bodies are primarily white feathers with tones of very light gray throughout. The swans’ black feet are tucked under their tail feathers during flight.
Image 17. Above the two trumpeter swans a green-winged teal is flying to the left side of the page. This duck is small in comparison to most and has a very bright-colored pattern on its head and wings. Its head has a green patch on top, rust-brown coloring underneath, and a grayish bill. Its body is primarily tones of gray with specks of white and black throughout. The tip of the teal’s wings have a green patch with a thin yellow stripe above.
Image 18. To the right of the bison is a pronghorn turned to the left, with its head looking straight at you. The pronghorn is similar in size to the bighorn sheep and has a light tan back with white underside and legs. Stripes of light tan and white circle its neck, while its face and horns are a medium brown. In the Illustration, the horns look like long upright ears curved inwards at the tips, but are truly horns derived of keratin.
ILLUSTRATION: NPS / ROBERT HYNES
Fishing and boating require permits, available at ranger stations. Read the regulations! Many streams are catch-and-release or fly-fishing only; some are closed to fishing. Boating is allowed only on some lakes; they are dangerously cold.
Camp and build fires only in designated areas. Hike with others and check at visitor centers for current trail conditions. Trails can be closed because of bears, high water, or other dangerous conditions. All overnight trips require a backcountry permit, available at ranger stations. Vehicles are prohibited on trails; bicycles are permitted on a few designated trails.
Bear country! Grizzly and black bears are wild and dangerous. People have been injured seriously and killed by both. Bears may seem tolerant of people but may attack without warning. Always view bears from a safe distance.
It is critical to note that feeding wildlife is illegal—including birds and small mammals. Often, animals who get handouts become aggressive and have to be killed. To avoid personal injury, store food in your car, never in your tent. Dispose of garbage in bear-proof cans. Find more information in the park newspaper, on the official park website, and at any park visitor center.
More Information by phone: 307-344-7381; TTY: 307-344-2386; for road up dates: 307-344-2117. www.nps.gov/yell. EMERGENCIES: Dial 911.
Map description: This small map shows the primary roads and lakes of the park.There are eight small red circle numbered 1 through 8 that correspond (in order) with Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin, Midway Geyser Basin, Old Faithful, West Thumb, Lake Village, Canyon, and Lamar Valley.
This photograph shows a cottage-type house in a row of houses. The house is beige with a red roof that has a windowed dormer. It has a large covered porch with steps descending into a green-mowed lawn. There is a red circle with a number one that corresponds to the Mammoth area on the map.
Source: NPS / Neal Herbert.
MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS features ever-changing travertine terraces and historic FORT YELLOWSTONE. A self-guiding tour explores the US Army’s role in protecting the park in its first decades.
This color photo shows a landscape with steam rising above several blue pools. The ground around the pools is mostly barren of vegetation except a few dark green triangle-shaped coniferous trees tinged with white snow that are scattered around the pools. There is a dark green forest in the background. A red circle with a number 2 in the center coordinates with Norris Geyser Basin on the small map.
Source: NPS / Jim Peaco.
NORRIS GEYSER BASIN is the park’s hottest, most dynamic geyser basin. It includes Steamboat, the world’s tallest geyser. The
nearby Museum of the National Park Ranger showcases the history of these iconic public servants.
This photo is an aerial view of a bright blue round pool with steam rising from its surface. Extending from the edge of the pool there are concentric rings in a rainbow of orange and yellow and brown. Some of the colors extend far more then others creating an uneven flange. The ground is barren of vegetation. There is a red circle with a number three that corresponds to the Midway Geyser area on the map.
Source: NPS / Jim Peaco.
MIDWAY GEYSER BASIN hosts the world’s largest geyser, Excelsior, and the world’s largest hot spring, Grand Prismatic. Boardwalks take you past these features, and a nearby trail leads you to an elevated view.
Photo: Large deposits of white and gray-colored minerals form several large shaped deposits and create arched formations rounded at the top and arranged in the form a half circle. In the center of the shapes is a projecting mound shaped-pillar. Steam rises from the center. There is a red circle with a number four that corresponds to the Old Faithful area on the map.
Source: NPS / Jim Peaco.
OLD FAITHFUL is more than its namesake world famous geyser. You can view hundreds of other geysers and hot springs. Take a self-guiding tour of the historic district, which includes Old Faithful Inn.
This photo shows a wooden boardwalk with a partial railing. The boardwalk crosses above ground that appears white and orange and and has a small, shallow stream of water running over it. The boardwalk's direction is toward a large blue lake. In the background there is a dark green forest. There is a red circle with a number five that corresponds to the West Thumb area on the map.
Source: © Peter Dutton.
WEST THUMB includes mudpots, boiling springs, and geysers that discharge into the chilly waters of Yellowstone Lake. At the GRANT VILLAGE Visitor Center, enjoy the scenery while you learn about the role of fire in Yellowstone.
This photo shows a very large blue lake. In the foreground in a very shallow part of the lake is a large pair of white elk antlers with many sharp pointed tines attached to a skull. The antlers are lying on some vegetation in the water. In the distance is a dark green forest against the shoreline and a blue sky with long linear white clouds. There is a red circle with a number six that corresponds to the Lake area on the map.
Source: NPS / Neal Herbert.
LAKE VILLAGE offers vistas of Yellowstone Lake from the comfort of historic Lake Hotel. The lake is the largest high-elevation lake (above 7,000 feet) in North America. It is more than 400 feet deep with 141 miles of shoreline.
This photo shows the very steep, light-beige walls of a canyon with a large white waterfall in the center. The walls of the canyon are mostly barren of vegetation with some small green trees scattered along some of the less steep areas. There is a red circle with a number seven that corresponds to the Canyon area on the map.
Source: © John Strother.
CANYON AREA features the colorful Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River and the Upper and Lower falls from overlooks and walkways. Away from the rim, trails take you through meadows and grasslands.
This photo shows a blue stream with white clouds reflected in the water. The stream makes a gentle curve toward a long green meadow. In the distance are steep triangular peaks that are a purple hue from the sunset. There is a red circle with a number eight that corresponds to the Lamar Valley area on the map.
Source: NPS / Jacob W. Frank.
The LAMAR VALLEY has been a wolf watching destination since wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995. It is also home to herds of bison and elk, and many black and grizzly bears.
This photo shows a profile of large gray wolf facing the camera. The wolf is standing on white snow and there are dark green coniferous trees in the background. A piece of smooth, dead, gray timber rests nearby the wolf's head.The wolf's coat is mottled gray on the top and a lighter coat that fades almost to white under its underside.
Source: © Edd Martinez.
You have the rare opportunity to view animals that are wild. They behave like their ancient ancestors. They eat the same foods, they migrate along the same routes, 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 open areas, like meadows, where vegetation is shorter and more light is available.
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Look at dawn and dusk when many animals are most active. Be quiet and listen for a few minutes; you might hear animals before you see them. Use binoculars or spotting scopes to observe animals while staying at a safe distance.
This color photo shows a herd of about seventeen bison facing and walking toward the camera. The herd of cows and calves is split slightly with a smaller group to the left and slightly behind the larger group. The bison cows are dark brown and have horns and their calves are light red and close by their sides. The landscape behind the herd is a dusty green sagebrush and the bison are walking through a meadow of light green grass.
Source: NPS / Neal Herbert.
The animals living in Yellowstone are not tame. All of them are wild. Some seem to tolerate humans, but that can change without warning. We jeopardize their survival if we threaten their safety, the safety of their young, or interrupt their ability to get food. Yellowstone has rules to keep both wildlife and humans safe. Never feed animals, not even small ones like chipmunks.
Store all food properly. Keep food, cooking tools, coolers, and trash in a bear resistant container unless in immediate use. Animals who find food at picnic areas and campsites will come back, and can be dangerous.
Do not approach wildlife. You must stay at least 100 yards from bears and wolves, and 25 yards from bison, elk, and other animals. Pay attention. Move away if an animal moves closer to you or changes its behavior due to your presence. Be respectful. Do not surround, crowd, or disrupt an animal’s path of movement.
This photo show a large colorful fish in water with a red patch on the gills and a red stripe down the center of it's side. Its skin has black spots sprinkled across its orange and tan skin. The fish is swimming above many small stones in a stream.
Source: NPS / Jay Fleming.
Yellowstone National Park also has rules to keep you safe as you visit its hydrothermal areas: Stay on boardwalks and designated trails. Do not push or shove other people. Keep your children close to you. Keep hands and feet out of the water.
This illustration shows eight buses. Seven are black and one is a very light gray. Running along the top of the buses are arrows. The first arrow runs the length of two of the black buses and in the center of the arrow are the words "25 yards (23m)" and at the head of the two buses is a stick figure kneeling and photographing a silhouette of a bison that is in front of the third (grayed out) bus. The second arrow runs along the rest of the top five buses and in the center of the arrow are the words "100 yards (91 m)." The first arrow begins at the front of the first bus and the second arrow ends at the end of the final bus. At the end of the final bus there is a black silhouette of a bear.
KNOW YOUR DISTANCE. Use this guide to visualize the safe and legal distance you need to be from Yellowstone’s animals.
The backside of the brochure consists primarily of a large map of the entire park. A map legend indicates amenities and services within the park. They are, ranger stations, campgrounds, lodging, food service, picnic areas, stores, gas stations (some of which have auto repair), recycling, self-guiding trails and boardwalks, horseback riding and boat launches. Medical clinics are located at Mammoth Hot Springs, Old Faithful and Lake Village.
Five smaller inset maps detail the amenities close-up in these areas. They are: 1. Mammoth Hot Springs, 2. Old Faithful, 3. Canyon Village, 4. West Thumb and Grant Village and 5. Fishing Bridge, Lake Village and Bridge Bay. All of these and other areas within the park have a visitor center, educational center, museum and/or an information station. Information stations are also at the south and west entrances of the park and in the Mammoth Hot Springs area at the Albright Visitor Center, which is not far from the north entrance to the park.
Yellowstone National Park comprises 3,500 square miles. The majority of the park’s territory is part of the northwestern corner of Wyoming, with portions of the park boundary crossing through Idaho and Montana. Four national forests surround the park and Grand Teton National Park is south. Each of the eight developed areas in Yellowstone is located near a major point of interest, including Old Faithful Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone Lake, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
The park can be accessed from all sides and its five entrances feed into the park’s primary access route. The Grand Loop Road looks like the numeral eight and connects each of the eight developed areas of the park. Tracing the outline of the numeral eight, the developed area in the upper left section is Mammoth Hot Springs. Norris Geyser Basin is in the center of the left side. In the lower left section of the eight are Madison and Old Faithful. Along the lower right part of the eight are West Thumb, Grant Village, Bridge Bay, Lake Village and Fishing Bridge. Canyon Village is at the center of the right side of the eight. Tower-Roosevelt is in the upper right section. The five entrance roads link to the Grand Loop Road like spokes on a wheel, running from each of the park’s five entrances. Campgrounds, restrooms and other services can be accessed from Grand Loop Road; however, not all services are available year-round. Road construction and seasonal road conditions require closure of certain roads.
The map also includes an outline approximating the crater left by the last major eruption of the Yellowstone Volcano, called the Yellowstone Caldera. This crater is over 42 miles at its widest point. It is an irregular circular shape and is southwest of center in relation to the park as a whole. It encompasses all of the Central Plateau, most of the hydro-thermal areas in the park, and a substantial portion of Yellowstone Lake. It also encompasses the entire lower half of the numeral eight shape that makes up the Grand Loop Road
Yellowstone Lake occupies 132 square miles of the southeastern part of the park. Grant Village, West Thumb, Bridge Bay, Lake Village and Fishing Bridge are located along the lake. The Yellowstone River flows from headwaters outside the southeast boundary, through Yellowstone Lake, and eventually out at the north entrance. The river continues on until it reaches the Missouri River in North Dakota. The headwaters of the Snake and Madison rivers are also within the park.
The Absaroka Mountain Range is along the eastern border of the park. The Gallatin Range is in the northwestern portion of the park. The Madison, Pitchstone and Two Ocean plateaus are within the southwest and south sections of the park.
Text: Service and facilty dates listed in park newspaper and on www.nps.gov/yell.
We strive to make facilities, services, and programs accessible to all. Ask
for the free guide to wheel-chair negotiable facilities. Other details on park website.
Emergencies call 911.
On the left of the page is a photograph of Old Faithful geyser blasting high into the air. The sun behind it creates a dark shadow. Behind the geyser, black rolling hills are silhouetted against the light blue and yellow sky.
Source: © FRANK BALTHIS
Text: Old Faithful Geyser is the world’s best known geyser. Its eruption intervals have varied from 40 to 126 minutes. Find out the eruption times of Old Faithful and other large geysers at the visitor center.
In Black Sand Basin, bright colors of Sunset Lake and Emerald Pool attract photographers and artists. At Biscuit Basin, look for mineral deposits that look like biscuits. They are slowly regrowing after being destroyed by changes triggered by an earthquake. At Midway Geyser Basin, walk the boardwalk past the enormous Excelsior Geyser Crater and the park’s largest hot spring, Grand Prismatic. Firehole Lake Drive (one-way, northbound) loops off the main road to Great Fountain Geyser, Firehole Lake, and a variety of hot pools. Lower Geyser Basin features Fountain Paint Pot, where you can take a short walk past all four types of the park’s hydrothermal features. On Firehole Canyon Drive (one-way, southbound), you pass between lava flows and by Firehole Falls.
Roadside forests are mainly lodgepole pine. Along the West Entrance Road (west from Madison), you can see thousands of young trees that naturally regenerated after the fires of 1988. West Yellowstone, Montana, lies 14 miles west of Madison. From Madison to Norris you drive along the Yellowstone Caldera’s northwest rim and past Gibbon Falls.
Norris Geyser Basin is among the park’s hottest, most acidic hydrothermal areas. Visit Steamboat Geyser, the world’s tallest active geyser, to see its smaller eruptions. (Full eruptions are rare.) Descend into Porcelain Basin, the park’s hottest exposed area. Exhibits at the historic Norris Geyser Basin Museum explain how geysers work. The Museum of the National Park Ranger (0.8 mile north of Norris) explores this historic profession.
At Norris you can turn east toward the Canyon area (see next tour). Continuing north from Norris you pass Obsidian Cliff, a national historic landmark. Obsidian, a volcanic glass used for projectile points and cutting tools, was quarried here and traded across North America by Native Americans. (Collecting obsidian or other rocks is prohibited.) Upper Terrace Drive, two miles before the main part of Mammoth Hot Springs, takes you to overlooks of spectacular terraces composed of travertine (calcium carbonate). Gnarled limber pines on some dormant formations are over 500 years old. Continue to explore the terraces from the boardwalks.
Exhibits at the Albright Visitor Center portray the park’s wildlife and history, including the period when the US Army protected the park from 1886 to 1916. Park headquarters is in the buildings of historic Fort Yellowstone. The Roosevelt Arch and Gardiner, Montana, are at the North Entrance, five miles north.
This cross-section illustration shows how a geyser typically works. The top layer of the cross section shows the ground surface with (from left to right) a forested area, a hot spring pool, a geyser blasting, a mudpot filled with thick mud, and a fumarole blowing a thin stream of steam. Through the middle layer are channels that connect the features on the surface to the underground, which consists of a water-saturated porous rock. The channels continue down to the bottom layer, which is made up of more porous rock layers close to the heat source.
Text: Surface water seeps underground, is heated by a deep source of magma, and rises as superheated water. Geysers occur when underground constrictions increase the pressure of the water until it finally erupts. Hot springs have no constrictions, so water rises, cools, and sinks. The small amount of water in fumaroles flashes into steam before it reaches the surface. Mudpots are acidic features with limited water; the acid and microorganisms decompose the surrounding rock into clay and mud.
Source: NPS / ROBERT HYNES
Highlights are here; details available at visitor centers, in the park newspaper, on the park website, or by calling the park. Also contact Yellowstone Forever, the park’s official partner.
Driving in Yellowstone. Road construction is underway on park roads; check ahead for delays and closures. Speed limit is 45 mph unless otherwise posted. Drive slowly and cautiously to protect yourself and wildlife. Park roads close early November to mid-April, except the road between the North and Northeast entrances. Oversnow vehicles are allowed only during the official winter season and only on certain roads. Off-road travel is illegal.
Do not use this map. Trail maps available in the park. Permits are required for backcountry camping.
You must have a Yellowstone National Park fishing permit and follow park regulations.
For firearms regulations, check the park website.
Description: This section is mostly text but includes the logo for the National Park Foundation (a white arrowhead in a black square).
Yellowstone National Park
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Yellowstone, WY 82190
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Yellowstone National Park comprises 3,500 square miles. The majority of the park’s territory is part of the northwestern corner of Wyoming, with portions of the park boundary crossing through Idaho and Montana. Each of the eight developed areas in the park is located near a major point of interest, including Old Faithful Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone Lake, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
There are five entrances to the park that feed into a primary access route. The Grand Loop Road is structured in a figure-eight and connects each of the eight developed areas of the park. Those areas include Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin, Madison, Old Faithful, Tower, Canyon Village, Lake Village and Fishing Bridge, and Grant Village. Entrance roads link to the Grand Loop Road like spokes on a wheel, running from each of the park’s five entrances. Campgrounds, restrooms and other services can be accessed from Grand Loop Road; however, not all services are available year-round. Road construction and seasonal road conditions require closure of certain roads.
Overlying the other features on the map is an outline of the approximate edge of the crater left by the last major eruption of the Yellowstone Volcano, called the Yellowstone Caldera. This crater is over 42 miles at its widest point. It encompasses all of the Central Plateau, most of the hydrothermal areas in the park, and a substantial portion of Yellowstone Lake.
Yellowstone Lake occupies 132 square miles of the southeastern part of the park. The Yellowstone River flows from headwaters outside the southeast boundary, through Yellowstone Lake, and eventually out at the north entrance. The river continues on until it reaches the Missouri River in North Dakota. The headwaters of the Snake and Madison rivers are also within the park.