A map of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, shows the outline of the caldera of the massive Yellowstone supervolcano. The Yellowstone supervolcano last erupted about 640,000 years ago.

Illustration by NGM Maps

Download this file

  • Select Text Level:

    Yellowstone National Park is home to a supervolcano, a volcano capable of ejecting more than 1,000 cubic kilometers (240 cubic miles) of material. 
    The Yellowstone supervolcano last erupted about 640,000 years ago. When it did, it left behind a caldera, a landform created by the inward collapse of a volcano's peak.
    This simple map outlines the extent of the Yellowstone Caldera, as well as some basic physical features of the region. Study the map and the scale bar (which provides information on relative distance) to answer the questions in the "Questions" tab.
    Instructional Ideas
    Consult National Geography Standard 1.4 (4th grade)How to use maps and other geographic representations, geospatial technologies, and spatial thinking to understand and communicate information. The interpretation of geographic representations.
    Discuss how geospatial information is communicated. Methods might include:
    • a review of DOGSTAILS, or the elements of a good map, discussed in “Extending the Learning” in our activity “Important Places.”
    • the use of color in maps
    • identifying geographic features, such as lakes and mountains, in maps
    • estimating distance using a map's scale bar
    1. What does the blue on this map represent?

      Blue patches represent lakes, rivers, and streams. The only identified river is the Yellowstone River. The only identified lake is Yellowstone Lake.

    2. What do the brown and green areas on this map represent?

      Brown areas, usually with long lines, are mountains. Green areas are valleys.

    3. How many states are represented on this map?

      There are three states represented on this map—Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho.

    4. What feature is the far northern tip of the Yellowstone Caldera?

      Mt. Washburn, Wyoming, is the northernmost tip of the caldera.

    5. At its widest, approximately how wide is the Yellowstone Caldera?

      From the edge of the caldera to east of Lake Butte, the width of the caldera is about 65 kilometers (40 miles).

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    approximately Adjective

    generally or near an exact figure.

    caldera Noun

    large depression resulting from the collapse of the center of a volcano.

    Encyclopedic Entry: caldera
    lake Noun

    body of water surrounded by land.

    Encyclopedic Entry: lake
    map Noun

    symbolic representation of selected characteristics of a place, usually drawn on a flat surface.

    Encyclopedic Entry: map
    mountain Noun

    landmass that forms as tectonic plates interact with each other.

    national park Noun

    geographic area protected by the national government of a country.

    river Noun

    large stream of flowing fresh water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: river
    state Noun

    political unit in a nation, such as the United States, Mexico, or Australia.

    stream Noun

    body of flowing water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: stream
    supervolcano Noun

    volcano capable of ejecting more than 1,000 cubic kilometers (240 cubic miles) of material.

    valley Noun

    depression in the Earth between hills.

    volcano Noun

    an opening in the Earth's crust, through which lava, ash, and gases erupt, and also the cone built by eruptions.

    Encyclopedic Entry: volcano