Lesson 209: Winter in the Caldera: January in the Yellowstone Hotspot

Yellowstone National Park is our first, and one of the most visited national parks. In winter, access is limited, and visitors and wildlife are challenged by deep snow and fierce cold. The frozen landscape is utterly transformed from summertime, and its explosive potential is even more evident.

Learning Objective

Students will learn about what Yellowstone National Park is like during the winter months.

Social Studies Standards

People, Places & Environments C, H, K

Discussion Prompts

  • Yellowstone National Park is located, largely in the northwest corner of Wyoming and extending into Montana and Idaho. Discuss how decisions about the park are made since state and federal governances are major stakeholders.
  • In your opinion, what are some of the things that made Yellowstone Park the flagship of the National Parks?
  • What are some of the most important attractions of the Yellowstone Park that may lack in other national parks?
  • David Yetman uses hyperbolic language during his explanations of the different ecosystems in the park. What evidence can you find to support the statement?

Lesson Activities

  • Create a marketing tool (flyer, Tik-Tok, commercial, etc.) promoting Yellowstone to potential tourists outside the summertime.
  • The oldest national parks in the world are: Yellowstone Park, United States; Bogd Khan Uul National Park in Mongolia; and Royal National Park in New Zealand. Write about at least three features from the other parks that could be added to the Yellowstone Park to increase the number of visitors during winter months.
  • Create a T-Chart with pros and cons for winter, summer, and the season of your choice to visit Yellowstone. Add a paragraph summarizing facts and explaining when the best season is to visit the park.
  • Geysers are evidence of ongoing volcanic activity beneath the surface and change is part of this natural system. List at least five changes that may occur to geysers and Yellowstone Park because of the rises of temperature.


  • caldera
  • charismatic
  • crater
  • flagship
  • heterothermic
  • geyser
  • herbivories
  • microcosm
  • utterly
  • vertebrate