Madison Campground Sunset
September 01, 2006 | Yellowstone National Park
This is a picture from the banks of the Madison River, right next to the Madison Campground at Yellowstone. After having pitched the tent I took a walk to the river and was amazed at the colors. The far hillside was burned in the 1988 fire that scorched so much of Yellowstone. I don't believe you can see it in this photo, but on the other side of the river is an elk sitting and enjoying the grass. The rest of the herd was up the river a ways.
Now a little more about the 1988 fire:
A series of lightning-derived fires started to burn large portions of the park in July of the especially dry summer of 1988. Thousands of firefighters responded to the blaze in order to prevent human-built structures from succumbing to the flames. Controversially, however, no serious effort was made to completely extinguish the fires, and they burned until the arrival of autumn rains. Ecologists argue that fire is part of the Yellowstone ecosystem, and that not allowing the fires to run their course (as has been the practice in the past) will result in an overgrown forest that would be extremely vulnerable to deoxygenation, disease, and decay. In fact, relatively few megafauna in the park were killed by the fires; and since the blaze, many saplings have sprung up on their own, old vistas are viewable once again, and many previously unknown archaeological and geological sites of interest were found and cataloged by scientists.
The National Park Service now has a policy of lighting smaller, controlled "prescribed fires" to prevent another dangerous buildup of flammable materials.