Bull elk bugles in front of a building
The natural soundscape of Greater Yellowstone includes elk bugling associated with mating.

NPS / Jim Peaco


The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has many biological sounds with important ecological functions for reproduction and survival. Birds, mammals, amphibians, and insects often need to hear or produce sounds to attract mates, detect predators, find prey, and/or defend territories. The occurrence of sounds in a particular area forms the soundscape.

The natural soundscape of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem delights visitors during the fall elk rut, during birds’ spring choruses, along rushing streams, and in the still and profoundly quiet days and nights of winter. Natural soundscapes are a resource and are protected by National Park Service policies. Many park visitors come to national parks to enjoy serenity and solitude and expect to hear sounds of nature. Sounds associated with human activity, including road traffic, aircraft, and snowmobiles often impact these natural soundscapes and are an important and growing source of concern. Aircraft noise, which is the most widespread human-caused sound in the park, is heard on average for less than 10 percent of the day. Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks initiated a soundscape monitoring program in 2003.



Ambrose, S, and S. Burson. 2004. Soundscape studies in National Parks. George Wright Forum 21:1 29–38.

National Park Service Air Resources Division:

A smoke plume rises into a blue sky across a wide landscape

Air Quality

Yellowstone National Park is a Class I airshed. The largest source of particulate matter in Greater Yellowstone is smoke from wildland fire.

Night view of Milky Way and Castle Geyser

Dark Skies

Learn about dark skies, and the importance of darkness to humans and wildlife.

Last updated: November 6, 2017

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Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168


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