• A bull elk bugles in Yellowstone National Park


    National Park ID,MT,WY

There are park alerts in effect.
hide Alerts »
  • Craig Pass Closed for the Season; Mammoth to Norris, Expect 30-minute Delays

    The road linking West Thumb and Old Faithful is closed for the season—traffic should detour through West Thumb, Lake, and Canyon. More »


Many-flowered phlox (Phlox multiflora)
Many-flowered phlox (Phlox multiflora)

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

  • More than 1,300 native plant species
  • 1,150 native flowering species
  • Trees: seven conifers (lodgepole pine, whitebark pine, Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir, Douglas-fir, Rocky Mountain juniper, limber pine) and some deciduous species, including quaking aspen and cottonwood.
  • Shrubs: include common juniper, sagebrush (many species), Rocky Mountain maple.
  • Nonnative plant species: 218.
  • Hydrothermal areas support unique plant communities and rare species.
  • Controlling nonnative species, which threaten native species, especially near developed areas; some are spreading into the backcountry.

Additional Resources


Did You Know?

Fishing Bridge.

You cannot fish from Fishing Bridge. Until 1973 this was a very popular fishing location since the bridge crossed the Yellowstone River above a cutthroat trout spawning area. It is now a popular place to observe fish.