• A bull elk bugles in Yellowstone National Park

    Yellowstone

    National Park ID,MT,WY

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  • 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 »

Colorful Water

Green algae grows in the hot waters of the geyser and hot spring runoff channels.
 

Many of Norris' features release acidic water. Amazingly, living organisms thrive even in the extreme environments of these acidic hot springs! The overflow channels of geysers and hot springs are often brightly colored with minerals and microscopic life forms. Hardy, microscopic, lime-green Cyanidium algae thrive in these warm acid waters. Orange cyanobacteria may be found in the runoff streams in Porcelain Basin. From a distance, these bacteria look like rusty, iron-rich mineral deposits.

These and other microscopic life forms are links to the emergence of life on earth billions of years ago. They are also a focus of research in the fields of medicine and criminal investigation. New tools for use in such complex areas as AIDS research and DNA "fingerprinting" have been developed from the microscopic thermal organisms found in Yellowstone's hot springs.


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Did You Know?

Summer Crowd at Old Faithful.

At peak summer levels, 3,500 employees work for Yellowstone National Park concessioners and about 800 work for the National Park Service.