Hayden Valley Yellowstone National Park
This lush green valley is best known as a flourishing wildlife habitat teeming with grizzly and black bears; herds of bison, elk, deer, and moose; and coyote, fox, and wolves. The Hayden Valley was once filled by an arm of Yellowstone Lake. Yellowstone has been impacted by two ice ages in the past , years. As you drive along this beautiful, broad valley you are likely to see herds of bison, scattered elk and the occasional herd , and the occasional grizzly bear.
But why does this meadow exist in the midst of what is otherwise a high-altitude forest of lodgepole pine trees? This week’s contribution is from Mike Poland, Hayden Valley Yellowstone National Park with the U. The valley is home to an incredible diversity of animal life, including bears, wolves, and huge herds of bison that graze on the tall grasses and rest on the banks of the meandering Yellowstone River.
Public domain. The valley, named for Ferdinand V. Hayden, who led an expedition to the region inseems an oddity in Yellowstone. This condition reflects the geology of the valley. Yellowstone has been impacted by two ice ages in the pastyears. An ice dam also formed across the Hayden Valley Yellowstone National Park River just to the south of the current location of Canyon Village. The lake probably existed for several thousand years before aroundyears ago, since there is evidence that the Hayden Valley rhyolite lava flow, which formed at about that time, interacted with lake water during its eruption.
The presence of the lake means that fine-grained sediment accumulated on the lake floor. These geological conditions are ideal for grasses, which can outcompete trees for water in fine-grained soils. The lava flow is easily identifiable due to the trees growing on its surface. In fact, Hayden Valley itself is surrounded on all sides by tree-covered rhyolite flows. Yellowstone is a geological wonderland, and that geology controls the flora and fauna that visitors enjoy today.
The geologic conditions are shaped not just by volcanic eruptions, like the famous large explosions and lesser-known lava flows, but also glaciers and lakes.
Every landscape in the park has a story to tell! Related Content.
All the rivers, creeks and ponds in the valley are closed to fishing,. Two trails make the valley accessible for hikers—the Hayden Valley trail and the Mary Mountain trail. Jay Haynes photo,  Winter