Native Orchids of Yellowstone National Park 


When and where to find and photograph them             Photos and text by Colleen F. Moore  


There are reported to be 15 species of orchids native to Yellowstone National Park. I have found at least 10 of them. I hope this website helps you learn to appreciate wild orchids in their native habitats. Never try to transplant a native orchid. Many species require certain soil characteristics, so you'll probably just destroy the plant you are trying to love. Some are take nutrients from certain fungi and bacteria in the soil, and this makes it virtually impossible to grow them at home.

Link to orchids organized by:    Species      Locations and Habitats in Yellowstone    

  Approximate Blooming Dates    Links to more info  

 Downloadable pdf Trail Narratives with maps, GPS coordinates, and orchid photos:  

These are the trails where I have personally found these orchids. These orchids undoubtedly grow in other areas of the park with suitable habitat. The list below includes mainly popular trails and boardwalks near developed areas of Yellowstone. The detailed species pages describe the habitats a little more. GPS locations are in UTM coordinates. I hope that more publicity of the locations will yield better orchid conservation.     

Don't pick or dig!  It is illegal to remove plants or artifacts from Yellowstone. There is a double curse on those who steal orchids -- the orchids are lost from the wild and they die after you transplant them because your soil won't have the right fungi and nutrients.


Narrow Gauge Trail, Mammoth:   Find Corallorhiza striata (striped coral root) and Piperia unalascensis (Alaska rein orchid), Goodyera oblongifolia, and perhaps a Platanthera dilatata (white bog orchid). A source in the 1890s called the Alaska orchid "rare", and found them in Mammoth. Hike the Narrow Gauge Trail that starts between the Liberty Cap and the old building south of the restrooms. This is also the start of the Beaver Ponds trail, but to go left onto the Narrow Gauge Trail just before the second footbridge over Clematis Creek. After climbing a bit you come to an area of Douglas Fir trees, and the orchids are there. This is also a great trail to the upper hot spring terrace.  
More coming soon(er or later) !! Check back, this website is constantly "under construction" ....


Notes: 15 species of orchids are reported by Shaw & Shaw in "Plants of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks", 2008. 

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Native Orchids of Yellowstone by Colleen F Moore is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.