View of the Lower Falls, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (1890) by Grafton Tyler Brown

Born in 1841 in Pennsylvania to free black parents, Brown was one of the first African-Americans who painted western landscapes. He was a famed cartographer, lithographer, and painter. In addition to painting Yellowstone, he also painted landscapes from Mt. Rainier and Yosemite national parks.

image via: Smithsonian American Art Museum

(via: Yellowstone National Park)

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@thedancingwind Captures the Yellowstone Most Tourists Never See

Explore more of Yellowstone through Stephanie’s eyes by following @thedancingwind on Instagram.

It appears Stephanie Baker (@thedancingwind) has free range of Yellowstone National Park. But in truth, she’s on the beaten path — only at an hour few tourists dare. “If you get up before the sun when it’s 15 below there’s literally no one there,” Stephanie says. “I have actually seen Old Faithful erupt all by myself. Being alone in the park is just a matter of getting up and out super early.” No challenge for the woman who moved from New Jersey to Driggs, Idaho, to be close to the park’s action — including its wildlife. “That’s what I try to do: show beautiful animals that are worth being preserved,” Stephanie explains.

River in the sky.

Thank you to everyone who’s bought a print over the weekend, it’s been great to have a conversation with you all, and encouraging to see so much interest in my photos. For prints: forrestmankins@gmail.com

Walking in the deep snow can be difficult. Bison use their strong necks to push forward and make a path, their shaggy faces keep them from getting too cold and they take turns leading the way. These adaptations allow them to thrive in the harsh winter conditions of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Photo by Jim Peaco, National Park Service.

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jim and jamie dutcher, determined to show “the hidden life of wolves”, lived for six years with a pack of wolves in the idaho wilderness of yellowstone. a constant but unobtrusive presence, the dutchers earned the unshakable trust of the wolves, and came to know them as complex, highly intelligent animals with distinct individual personalities, who are caring, playful and above all devoted to family.

“only a select few other species exhibit these same traits so clearly,” they note. “they are capable of not only emotion but also real compassion. this is the view of the wolf that we want to share. …it is an animal that cares for its sick and desperately needs to be part of something bigger than itself - the pack. the bond a wolf has to its pack is certainly as strong as the bond a human being has to his or her family.”

they add, “rarely did two wolves pass each other without playfully rubbing shoulders together or exchanging a brief lick. so often we would see two wolves relaxing together, curled up beside each other.” the dutchers also recount wolf behavior rarely documented: grief at the death of a pack mate; excitement over the birth of pups; and the shared role of raising young pack members.

but as the wolves struggle to reestablish their foothold in the american west, their public demonization continues.  say the dutchers, “as we see wolves, once again, being shot, trapped and poisoned, we recognize that our unique experience, living with wolves, is unlikely to ever happen again, and for that reason we feel that we have an obligation to share the lives of these wolves with the widest audience possible.”

it’s not just the wolves at stake, but the entire yellowstone ecosystem. wolves keep the elk gene pool strong (no other predator does this); they redistribute elk herds, allowing vegetation to recover along rivers and streams, which provides food for beavers; and they keep the number of coyotes in check, which helps to maintain populations of rodents, antelopes and birds of prey.

Think near-boiling water is too hot to support life? Think again. The geysers and hot springs of Yellowstone National Park host an array of thermophillic, or heat-loving, microorganisms that can tolerate temperatures as high as 175 degrees Fahrenheit. These bacteria, along with other microorganisms like archaea, create the vivid color palettes of some of Yellowstone’s famed springs and geysers, like the Grand Prismatic Spring pictured here.

The blue center is the heart of the spring, where nearly boiling water makes it impossible for anything to survive, resulting in a startlingly blue hue. As the temperature dips farther out from the hot spring’s superheated center, though, more and more kinds of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms are able to endure. The different rings of color emanating from the steaming epicenter represent different microbial communities that call the spring home.

The most heat-tolerant cyanobacteria dominate the still-extreme temperatures in the yellow-colored ring, while the outer, orange layer hosts an array of organisms that can’t stand the heat quite as well as their neighbors. The colors of these rings also change in response to the time of year and other environmental factors. The cooler outer rings, meanwhile, form ecosystems of their own, hosting flies, mites, spiders, and other animals. Ephydrid flies feast on the bacterial communities and lay their eggs there, while predators like wolf spiders and parasites such as mites are drawn here because of the presence of the flies.

Find out about more amazing species thriving in exceptional environments in the special exhibition Life at the Limits, open now through January 2016. 

This is a different kind of traffic jam at Yellowstone National Park. Bison weigh up to 2,000 lbs and can pack a lot of attitude. They can run up to 35 miles per hour, but these appear to be taking their time. We recommend patience. Photo by Allen Beyer (www.sharetheexperience.org).

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Steamy Winter Scenes

Mammoth Springs, Yellowstone National Park // Sony RX1r

Yellowstone is pretty locked down from normal car travel during the winter time. Nevertheless, there is still endless amounts of things to see and experience. I explored Mammoth Springs with Issa, which is just inside the North entrance of the park. I was not expecting such a vast and amazing place just steps inside the entrance. The shadows and soft diffused light was a great combination with the afternoon light.

Edited with Priime for Mac (coming soon)