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Scenic views and native vegetation images from parks within Greater Yellowstone Network.

Air Quality at Yellowstone National Park

What’s in the Air?

Map of Yellowstone NP, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho
Yellowstone NP, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho

Most people who visit national parks expect clean air and clear views. However, Yellowstone National Park (NP) is downwind of significant pollutant sources, including power plants, agricultural areas, industry, and oil and gas development. Yellowstone NP, America’s first national park and home to the Old Faithful, is located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Here, even emissions of over-snow vehicles affect winter air quality at the park. Air pollution can harm the park’s natural and scenic resources such as surface waters, vegetation, and visibility.

How is air pollution affecting Yellowstone National Park?

  • Levels of nitrogen in wet deposition are increasing and may harm higher elevation lakes and sensitive vegetation in the park. more »
  • Regional manmade sources, and some of the park’s natural geothermal features, emit harmful contaminants and contribute to mercury deposition into park ecosystems. more »
  • Ground-level ozone concentrations are relatively low, however, plant species known to be sensitive to ozone are found in the park. more »
  • Fine particles of air pollution sometimes cause haze in the park, affecting how well and how far visitors can see vistas and landmarks. more »

What is the National Park Service doing about air pollution at the park?

  • Monitoring nitrogen, sulfur, mercury, ozone, fine particles, and haze to assess status and trends. more »
  • Evaluating the impacts of air pollution on park ecosystems. more »
  • Working with federal, state, and local agencies, industry, and public interest groups to develop strategies to reduce air pollution and protect and restore park resources through its Winter Use Plan and other efforts. The NPS also reviews plans for development that may increase air pollution in national parks. more »
  • Reducing emission contributions through landmark recycling efforts, using alternative fuels and hybrid vehicles, and developing an action plan to reduce emissions in all operations across the entire Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. more »

Featured Content

Impacts icon

Pollutants including nitrogen, sulfur, mercury, ozone, and fine particles affect resources such as forests, streams, wildlife, and scenic vistas. Find out how on our Yellowstone NP Air Pollution Impacts web page.

Studies and Monitoring icon

Studies and monitoring help the NPS understand the environmental impacts of air pollution. Access air quality data and see what is happening with Studies and Monitoring at Yellowstone NP.

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016