Yellowstone, the world's original national park
Since 1872, Yellowstone, has been a national park and a symbol of the natural wealth of North America. Today it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Check out our photo gallery for a glimpse of the range of wildlife and scenery to be found in this, the world's oldest national park.
Known and loved by many through the exploits of the cartoon character Yogi Bear, the wealth and range of Yellowstone's natural heritage is worthy of more serious consideration and puts it in high on the list of the planet's protected areas. Here, together with coyotes and wolves, black bears and grizzlies live alongside elk, deer, bison and a host of other species. The park also boasts a wide range of land formations, with rivers, lakes, mountains, canyons and hundreds of waterfalls dotting this area of the northwestern United States that was already inhabited by native Americans over 11,000 years ago. Most of the park's immense expanse of mountains, forests and meadows is located in Wyoming, but it extends into Idaho and Montana, too, and is set atop a 'caldera' – the cauldron-like crater of a volcano. This caldera is the reason for the spectacular geothermal phenomena the area displays, including numerous geysers and hot springs.
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The Yellowstone caldera is the largest volcanic system in North America and accounts for much of the park's renowned geothermal activity. Two-thirds of all the world's geysers are located in the park, as well as many hot springs
Part of the vast Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, considered the world's largest intact ecosystem in the northern temperate zone, the park is home to numerous species of large mammals, including black bears, grizzlies, coyotes, wolves, elk, deer and bison
Yellowstone Lake is centred on a volcanic caldera; at an altitude of 2,357 metres, it is one of the largest mountain lakes in North America
There are around three hundred waterfalls in the park. The highest drop is that of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, at 94 metres. The Upper Falls plunge from a height of 33 metres
Bison have roamed the Yellowstone area since since prehistoric times, but the population reached near extinction with just 50 animals surviving at the beginning of the twentieth century. Now there are around 4,000, making this one of the great success stories of wildlife conservation
The park boasts over 200 geysers, the most famous being Old Faithful, whose waters erupt about every 90 minutes and rise to a height of nearly 40 metres. The world's largest geyser, the Steamboat, is also to be found in Yellowstone
There is a vast range flora and fauna and a great variety of landscapes to see in the park, including the vast Yellowstone Lake, the Grand Canyon carved out by the Yellowstone river, geysers, hot springs and fumaroles – the vents in the ground from which steam and gases escape from the volcanic system beneath
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