The Five Regions of Yellowstone: Mammoth Country, Geyser Country, Lake Country
Canyon Country, Roosevelt Country
Yellowstone is divided into five distinctive regions, or countries. We’ll briefly go through each one and their attractions.
Mammoth Country extends south and west from Mammoth Hot Springs. It is known for its abundant hot springs, some of which have formed limestone terraces colored with brightly colored algae. The biggest and most impressive of these is Mammoth Hot Springs.
Mammoth Hot Springs
Known for its grace and beauty, Mammoth Hot Springs was created by mineral-rich water from deep in the earth's crusts leaving mineral deposits that built up tier upon tier of cascading terraced stone.
The process continues today as thousands of gallons of water deposit up to two tons of limestone a day.
Geyser Country is home to Old Faithful, the park's most famous site. It is also home to many other geothermal features, including fumaroles, mud pots, and hot pools.
Old Faithful is the best known out of approximately 10,000 hydrothermal features. It spews thousands of gallons of steaming water accompanied by thunderous noise into the sky with each eruption. Eruptions take place at an average of every 81 minutes.
Norris and Firehole River Geyser Basins
Norris and Firehole River Geyser Basins are 21 miles south of Mammoth Hot Springs. These basins contain the largest display of geysers, some of which erupt constantly, others only once in a long while.
Steamboat at Norris Geyser Basin is the world's highest geyser. Steamboat's infrequent eruptions can reach 400 feet and erupt for up to 12 hours with multiple steam and water phases.
Grand Prismatic Spring
Yellowstone's largest hot spring is 370 feet in diameter and can be seen from the Midway Geyser Basin boardwalk. The deep-blue color of the hottest part of the pool is offset by rings of yellow- and orange-colored bacteria on the cooler fringes, creating a beautiful prism effect.
Morning Glory Pool
Morning Glory Pool on the Old Faithful boardwalk resembles a morning glory flower. Although Morning Glory is still brilliantly blue, unfortunately it is not as blue as it used to be, as the pool's been partially clogged by debris thrown in by visitors.
Lake country is defined by the area surrounding and including cold Yellowstone Lake. This is a land of forests, native cutthroat trout, osprey, bald eagles, moose, bison, grizzly and black bear and more.
At 136 square miles, Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest alpine lakes, so large in fact that it forms its own weather (which means that storms can come up very quickly). Yellowstone Lake sits in and was formed by a large caldera (or volcanic crater) that was later carved out further and filled by glaciers over 12,000 years ago. Its 110 mile shoreline can be explored on foot or via canoes and other watercraft.
West Thumb Geyser Basin
On Yellowstone Lake's shore, West Thumb Geyser Basin offers a unique combination of lakeshore geysers, hot springs, and bubbling paint pots. The most famous site at West Thumb is the Fishing Cone, a partially submerged geyser that surfaces when the lake level drops in late summer. Fishermen used to catch trout from the lake and promptly drop them into the geyser's boiling water to cook.
Canyon Country includes the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Hayden Valley and its wildlife, and Lower Falls, twice as high as Niagara.
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
The turbulent Yellowstone River roars and foams along the 24-mile canyon sided with the golden-hued cliffs that gave Yellowstone its name. The river originates from Yellowstone Lake and passes over two major waterfalls, the Upper at 109 feet, and the Lower at 308 feet.
The broad rolling valley of Hayden Valley was once the bed of a lake. Today it's best known for its roaming bison, elk, bear, wolves, flocks of waterfowl and grassy expanses. The Yellowstone River meanders through creating excelent marsh habitat for swans, blue herons, Canada geese, and hungry moose.
Roosevelt Country best captures the spirit and feeling of the Old West better than any part of Yellowstone National Park. Roosevelt Country is a land of rolling hills covered with sagebrush, fir, pine, aspen, spruce, and sparkling streams full of trout. The Lamar Valley is world famous for being a great place to watch wildlife in their natural habitat, such as bison, wolves, grizzly bears and more.
Tower Fall’s 132-foot drop with volcanic pinnacles is a favorite attraction. The Bannock Trail, an old Native American route, also runs through this area.
A favorite of kids from all ages, Yellowstone "forests of stone" are the fossilized remains of ancient plants and standing trees from Yellowstone's tumultuous past. Sub-tropical and cold-climate varieties remind us of the ever-changing climate that Yellowstone has experienced over the eons.