Scenic USA - Wyoming
|Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website
Inset photos - Grizzly Bear, NPS - Bugling Elk, Tom Blanchard
Yellowstone ... it's big, awe inspiring, and unlike any other national park in the United States. Known throughout the world for its steaming geysers and great herds of buffalo and elk, Yellowstone National Park is much, much more than Old Faithful and close encounters with wildlife. Its two million acres of rolling plateaus, immense pine forests, lush valleys, thundering waterfalls and magnificent mountain ranges make up a land of incredible diversity. Its 370 miles of roads allow visitors to explore the unnatural world of boiling mud pots and smoking fumaroles, as well as the natural world of scenic beauty and unpredictable wild animals. While the timely 150 foot Old Faithful Geyser attracts a large amount of attention, the park's 1200 miles of hiking trails beckon to the adventurous to share a pristine wilderness with bugling elk, the eerie call of the wolf, trumpeter swans and one of the largest grizzly bear populations in the United States. Much of this park looks quite like it did over 200 years ago when John Colter first laid eyes on the astonishing caldron.
Circling around a Central Plateau, a half dozen rivers carve their way through mountain ranges and meander along scenic valleys. The Madison River flows westward out of Yellowstone National Park, joining with the Jefferson and the Gallatin rivers at Three Forks. There in Montana, the three rivers form the Missouri, one of the longest rivers of the West.
In the background of this photograph and throughout the park many dead and decaying lodgepole pines and other firs show the result of an enormous fire that charred 800,000 acres in 1988. In attempts to subdue the blaze, the Park Service resorted to the largest fire-fighting effort in United States history, costing 120 million dollars and employing 25,000 fire-fighting personnel. Today, the charred forest is a reminder of how important fire is to the cycle of life. Nutrients were returned to the earth, seedlings received much needed sunlight and wildlife thrived on new grasses and young plants.
The Madison River supports a wide variety of wildlife, and the elk graze here with no sign of alarm from the constant flow of tourist traffic.
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