Yellowstone National Park is as wondrous as it is complex. Established primarily to protect geothermal areas that contain about half the world's active geysers, the park also forms the core of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. At 28,000 square miles, it is one of the largest, nearly intact temperate-zone ecosystems on Earth. It preserves a great variety of terrestrial, aquatic, and microbial life.
Natural processes operate in an ecological context that has been less subject to human alteration than most others throughout the nation—and throughout the world. This makes the park an invaluable natural reserve and reservoir of information.
Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Yellowstone is the core of one of the largest, nearly intact temperate-zones on Earth.
Yellowstone's plants include species typical of the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains, and the Intermountain region.
Yellowstone's climate is changing. A continued rise in temperature will fundamentally alter the ecosystem.
Fire is a natural process and shapes the ecosystem.
Life in Extreme Heat
Hydrothermal features are habitats for microscopic organisms called thermophiles: "thermo" for heat, "phile" for lover.
Research in the Park
All scientists in Yellowstone work under research permits and are closely supervised by National Park Service staff.
Last updated: August 24, 2018