About Yellowstone

Exploring Yellowstone by the Numbers: Fascinating Stats and Facts

Yellowstone National Park, established in 1872, is not just America's first national park but also a treasure trove of geological wonders and ecological marvels. Spanning a vast 3,472 square miles (8,991 square kilometers), this iconic park is a playground for numbers nerds, offering an array of fascinating statistics and facts. Let's dive into the numerical wonders that make Yellowstone a truly unique destination.

1. The Vast Wilderness

Yellowstone's expanse is larger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. The park extends across three states:

  • Wyoming: 96% of the park
  • Montana: 3%
  • Idaho: 1%

2. Geothermal Extravaganza

Yellowstone is renowned for its geothermal features, boasting the highest concentration of geysers and hot springs in the world. Here are some intriguing figures:

  • Geysers: Over 500 active geysers, representing more than half of the world’s total.
  • Hot Springs: Approximately 10,000 hot springs dot the park.
  • Old Faithful: Perhaps the most famous geyser, erupts around 20 times a day, shooting water up to 184 feet high, with each eruption lasting between 1.5 to 5 minutes.

Lion Geyser in the the Upper Geyser Basin

3. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Carved by the Yellowstone River, this stunning canyon stretches approximately 24 miles (39 kilometers) long, with depths reaching 1,200 feet (366 meters) and widths up to 4,000 feet (1,200 meters). The river itself flows for 692 miles (1,114 kilometers), adding to the park’s dramatic landscape.

4. Wildlife Wonderland

Yellowstone is a sanctuary for a diverse array of wildlife. Key statistics include:

  • Grizzly Bears: An estimated 150 grizzlies roam the park.
  • Gray Wolves: Reintroduced in 1995, the park is now home to about 100 wolves across 10 packs.
  • Elk: Approximately 10,000-20,000 elk inhabit Yellowstone, one of the largest concentrations in North America.
  • Bison: The park's bison population fluctuates between 2,300 and 5,500, making it the largest free-roaming, genetically pure bison herd in the United States.

Bison and calf in Lamar Valley

5. Forests and Flora

Yellowstone is not just about geothermal features and wildlife; its lush forests and plant life are equally impressive:

  • Forests: Covering about 80% of the park, primarily composed of lodgepole pine.
  • Plant Species: Over 1,700 native plant species, including 186 species of lichens.

6. Volcanic Vital Statistics

Yellowstone sits atop a supervolcano, one of the largest active volcanic systems in the world. Here are some explosive facts:

  • Caldera: The Yellowstone Caldera measures about 30 by 45 miles (48 by 72 kilometers).
  • Eruptions: The last major eruption occurred approximately 640,000 years ago, with smaller eruptions around 70,000 years ago.
  • Magma Chamber: Estimated to be about 37 miles (60 kilometers) long, 18 miles (30 kilometers) wide, and 3 to 7 miles (5 to 12 kilometers) deep.

7. Visitor Statistics

Yellowstone is a magnet for tourists, drawing millions each year. In 2022, the park welcomed approximately 4.86 million visitors. This influx highlights the park's immense popularity and the need for ongoing conservation efforts.

Tourists on the Grand Prismatic Spring boardwalk

8. Trail Network

For hiking enthusiasts, Yellowstone offers over 900 miles (1,450 kilometers) of trails. These trails vary from easy walks to challenging backcountry treks, catering to all levels of adventurers.

9. Water Wonders

The park is home to an impressive array of lakes, rivers, and waterfalls:

  • Yellowstone Lake: The largest high-elevation lake (above 7,000 feet) in North America, covering 136 square miles (352 square kilometers) with 141 miles (227 kilometers) of shoreline.
  • Waterfalls: More than 290 waterfalls, the tallest being the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, which plunges 308 feet (94 meters).

Fairy Falls

10. Preservation and Staff

Yellowstone's preservation is a monumental task:

  • Annual Budget: Approximately $60 million is allocated for the park's maintenance and operations.
  • Staff: Around 800 employees work year-round, with numbers swelling to over 3,000 during peak seasons.

Yellowstone National Park is a place where numbers tell stories of natural grandeur, biodiversity, and conservation triumphs. Whether you’re marveling at the height of geyser eruptions or tracking the population dynamics of its iconic wildlife, Yellowstone offers an unparalleled numerical adventure for all who visit.

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