Northwest Wyoming, extending into southwest Montana and eastern Idaho, was established 1872. It is the oldest and largest national park in the U.S. Located in the central Rocky Mountains, it is known for its spectacular geysers, hot springs, waterfalls, and canyons. In the heart of the park is a broad plateau, which has an average elevation of about 8000 feet and is surrounded by lofty and rugged mountain ranges. The Yellowstone River traverses the region from south to north, flowing into Yellowstone Lake and then through the famous Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The river descends into the canyon in two spectacular falls about 110 and 312 feet in height. The yellow canyon walls rise abruptly from the river to elevations as high as 1100 feet.
The best-known features of the park are its more than 3000 geysers and hot springs, the greatest concentration of such phenomena in the world. Old Faithful is the most celebrated of the park's geysers. It erupts for about 4 min (at intervals of between 37 and 93 minutes) in a column of steam and hot water that rises as high as 170 feet; approximately 10,000 to 12,000 gallons of water are expelled at each eruption. Other geysers include the Giant, the highest, which erupts at irregular intervals, throwing up a jet of hot water more than 200 feet in height; and the Giantess, which erupts for more than 4 hours, about twice a year.
Hot springs in the park are even more numerous than the geysers. Minerals present in the waters of some of the hot springs have been deposited on the surrounding ground, building up cones and terraces. The most striking example is Mammoth Hot Springs, which contains terraces as high as 300 feet. Algae thrive in the pools of warm water that collect on the terraces, giving them a brilliant coloration. Also present in the park are mud volcanoes. These are mounds formed by the issuing from the earth of hot water mixed with fine rock matter. Other points of interest include Tower Falls (132 feet), Golden Gate Canyon, and Obsidian Cliff, a volcanic black glass formation (165 feet high).
Yellowstone National Park is one of the greatest wildlife refuges in the world. Among the many animal species found here are grizzly bear, elk, antelope, moose, bison, mountain sheep, lynx, and otter. More than 200 species of birds, including eagle, pelican, and the rare trumpeter swan, have been sighted in the park. Vast forests, largely coniferous, cover most of the terrain and provide an undisturbed wilderness habitat for wildlife.
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