Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Life Zones

Marshland and Aquatic Community
These communities are found in streams, rivers, lakes and marshes, such as Yellowstone Lake, Lamar River and Willow Flats. Vegetation includes riparian grasses and plants. Wildlife including the bald eagle, trout, beaver and moose are present in the area.

Hydrothermal Community
The Lower Geyser Basin and other hydrothermal areas host a variety of plants and animals. Vegetation includes algae and a variety of grasses and sedges. Insects and animals that may be found in this area include flies, spiders, killdeer, bison, elk and mule deer. 

Northern Desert Community
The sparsely vegetated northern desert found near Mammoth Hot Springs and Gardiner, Montana, gets less than 15 inches of precipitation annually. Vegetation is mostly comprised of grasses, big sagebrush and Rocky Mountain juniper. Animals that frequent the area include bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer and pronghorn.

Sagebrush-Grassland Community
These northern grasslands are found in lower elevations where there is relatively warm, dry weather. The vegetation consists of shrubs, grasses and wild-flowers, while the most predominant animals are pronghorn, elk, bison, bears, wolves, badgers and Uinta ground squirrels.

Mixed Forest Community
The open woodlands are found between 6,000 and 7,600 feet. Look for them between Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower-Roosevelt. Vegetation includes Douglas-fir, quaking aspen and shrubs. Wildlife like the coyote, bear, wolf, elk, mule deer, bobcat and cavity-nesting birds may be found here.

Lodgepole Pine Community
Between 7,600 and 8,400 feet, these dense forests can be found across a broad area, particularly surrounding the Norris, Canyon Village, Madison and Old Faithful developed areas. The predominant vegetation is lodgepole pine. Animals and birds such as bear, squirrel, snowshoe hare, por-cupine and hairy woodpecker live in this area. 

Spruce-Fir Forest Community
Above 8,400 feet, this community is located on the upper slopes of the Washburn, Gallatin, and Absaroke Ranges, as well as the shores of  Yellowstone Lake. The vegetation includes Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir, and lodgepole pine, while some high elevation areas will support forests dominated by whitebark pine as well. Wildlife that may be spotted in these areas are snowshoe hare, bears, wolves, porcupine and woodpeckers.

Alpine Tundra Community
The summit of Mount Washburn and other above-timberline areas are home to this treeless plain (10,000 feet). Vegetation includes lichen, sedge, grasses, alpine buttercups and phlox. Wildlife such as the mountain bluebird, yellow-bellied marmot and bighorn sheep may be found here.