Known and loved by many through the exploits of the cartoon character Yogi Bear, the wealth and range of Yellowstone's natural heritage is worthy of more serious consideration and puts it in high on the list of the planet's protected areas. Here, together with coyotes and wolves, black bears and grizzlies live alongside elk, deer, bison and a host of other species. The park also boasts a wide range of land formations, with rivers, lakes, mountains, canyons and hundreds of waterfalls dotting this area of the northwestern United States that was already inhabited by native Americans over 11,000 years ago. Most of the park's immense expanse of mountains, forests and meadows is located in Wyoming, but it extends into Idaho and Montana, too, and is set atop a 'caldera' – the cauldron-like crater of a volcano. This caldera is the reason for the spectacular geothermal phenomena the area displays, including numerous geysers and hot springs.
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