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What is the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem?

You may have heard the term "Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem", but what does that really mean?

This area is 22 million acres (roughly the size of Maine), and protects the land in Yellowstone and it's surrounding area. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is the largest nearly intact temperate-ecosystems left in the world.

When Yellowstone National Park was created in 1872, boundaries were drawn to protect the Park's geothermal features--more than half of the world's thermal features are inside Yellowstone.

However, in the 1970's, protection was expanded, in consideration of grizzly bears' activity in and near the park-- the first theoretical boundaries of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Over time, the protection of the GYE has increased to nearly ten times the size of Yellowstone itself.

The Ecosystem now contains two National Parks (Yellowstone and Grand Teton), the majority of six National Forests (Gallatin, Custer, Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Caribou-Targhee, Bridger-Teton and Shoshone), the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, three National Wildlife Refuges (National Elk Refuge, Red Rock Lakes and Grays Lake), part of the Wind River Reservation, and a million acres of Bureau of Land Management "BLM" land.

Now why does that matter?

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is home to the same plants and animals that have lived in this part of the world since before settlers arrived in North America, and it contains the largest concentration of wildlife in the lower 48. The abundance and distribution of these animals is cyclical and depends on their interactions with each other and their habitats.

Being able to create a healthy Yellowstone is essential to the park's mission of preserving resources for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.

Or, for the benefit of the people and the plants and animals of the ecosystem alike!

Join Nomadic by Nature on a backpacking trip this summer and learn all about the plants and animals of the largest intact ecosystem in the world!


This guided backpacking trip offers hikers a piece of backcountry heaven. Slough Creek is a world-famous fishing destination with it’s clear and slow-moving creek nestled between two mountain ranges, far away from the busy parts of Yellowstone.

Eventually the trail leads you over the rugged and seldom traveled Bliss Pass, where you're likely to encounter few other hikers. After the steep descent, the trail drops you into another pristine meadow, before hiking out along Pebble Creek the next day. Following the trip, you have the opportunity to drive through the famous Lamar Valley and a chance to spot more wildlife.

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