The vegetation communities of Yellowstone National Park include overlapping combinations of species typical of the Rocky Mountains as well as of the Great Plains to the east and the Intermountain region to the west. The exact vegetation community present in any area of the park reflects the consequences of the underlying geology, ongoing climate change, substrates and soils, and disturbances created by fire, floods, landslides, blowdowns, insect infestations, and the arrival of nonnative plants.
Today, the roughly 1,300 native species in the park represent the species able to either persist in the area or recolonize after glaciers, lava flows, and other major disturbances. Yellowstone is home to three endemic plant species (including Yellowstone Sand Verbena), at least two of which depend on the unusual habitat created by the park's thermal features. Most vegetation management in the park is focused on minimizing human-caused impacts on their native plant communities to the extent feasible.
There are several vegetation communities in Yellowstone: higher- and lower-elevation forests and the understory vegetation associated with them, sagebrush-steppe, wetlands, and hydrothermal.
Quick Facts about Vegetation in Yellowstone
Did You Know?
Prior to the establishment of the National Park Service, the U.S. Army protected Yellowstone between 1886 and 1918. Fort Yellowstone was established at Mammoth Hot Springs for that purpose.