Yellowstone National Park History
Yellowstone National Park, established by the U.S. Congress and
signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872,
is a national park located primarily in the U.S. state of
Wyoming, though it also extends into Montana and Idaho.
Yellowstone was the first national park in the world, and is
known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features,
especially Old Faithful Geyser, one of the most popular features
in the park. It has many types of ecosystems, but the subalpine
forest is dominant.
Yellowstone National Park spans an area of 3,468 square miles,
comprising lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges.
Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in
North America and is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, the
largest supervolcano on the continent. The caldera is considered
an active volcano; it has erupted with tremendous force several
times in the last two million years. Half of the world's
geothermal features are in Yellowstone, fueled by this ongoing
volcanism Lava flows and rocks from volcanic eruptions cover
most of the land area of Yellowstone. The park is the
centerpiece of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the largest
remaining, nearly intact ecosystem in the Earth's northern
Yellowstone is one of the most popular national parks in the
United States. Since the mid-1960s, at least 2 million tourists
have visited the park almost every year. In 2010, a record
number of visitors came to the park in July, 975,000. July is
the busiest month for Yellowstone National Park. At peak summer
levels, 3,700 employees work for Yellowstone National Park
concessionaires. Concessionaires manage nine hotels and lodges,
with a total of 2,238 hotel rooms and cabins available. They
also oversee gas stations, stores and most of the campgrounds.
Another 800 employees work either permanently or seasonally for
the National Park Service.
Park service roads lead to major features; however, road
reconstruction has produced temporary road closures. Yellowstone
is in the midst of a long term road reconstruction effort, which
is hampered by a short repair season. In the winter, all roads
aside from the one which enters from Gardiner, Montana, and
extends to Cooke City, Montana, are closed to wheeled vehicles.
Park roads are closed to wheeled vehicles from early November to
mid April, but some park roads remain closed until mid-May. The
park has 310 miles of paved roads which can be accessed from 5
different entrances. There is no public transportation available
inside the park, but several tour companies can be contacted for
guided motorized transport. In the winter, concessionaires
operate guided snowmobile and snow coach tours. Facilities in
the Old Faithful, Canyon and Mammoth Hot Springs areas of the
park are very busy during the summer months. Traffic jams
created by road construction or by people observing wildlife can
result in long delays..
National Park Service maintains 9 visitor centers and museums
and is responsible for maintenance of historical structures and
many of the other 2,000 buildings. These structures include
National Historical Landmarks such as the Old Faithful Inn built
in 1903–04 and the entire Fort Yellowstone - Mammoth Hot Springs
Historic District. An historical and educational tour is
available at Fort Yellowstone which details the history of the
National Park Service and the development of the park. Campfire
programs, guided walks and other interpretive presentations are
available at numerous locations in the summer, and on a limited
basis during other seasons.
Camping is available at a dozen campgrounds with more than 2,000
campsites. Camping is also available in surrounding National
Forests, as well as in Grand Teton National Park to the south.
Backcountry campsites are accessible only by foot or by
horseback and require a permit. There are 1,100 miles of hiking
trails available. The park is not considered to be a good
destination for mountaineering because of the instability of
volcanic rock which predominates. Visitors with pets are
required to keep them on a leash at all times and are limited to
areas near roadways and in "frontcountry" zones such as drive in
campgrounds. Around thermal features, wooden and paved trails
have been constructed to ensure visitor safety, and most of
these areas are handicapped accessible. The National Park
Service maintains a year round clinic at Mammoth Hot Springs and
provides emergency services throughout the year.
Yellowstone tourist stands on a precipice for a close-up view of
the scenery. Hunting is not permitted, though it is allowed in
the surrounding national forests during season. Fishing is a
popular activity, and a Yellowstone Park fishing license is
required to fish in park waters. Many park waters are fly
fishing only and all native fish species are catch and release
only.Boating is prohibited on rivers and creeks except for a 5
milesstretch of the Lewis River between Lewis and Shoshone Lake,
and it is open to non-motorized use only. Yellowstone Lake has a
marina, and the lake is the most popular boating destination.
In the early history of the park, visitors were allowed, and
sometimes even encouraged, to feed the bears. The bears had
learned to beg for food, and visitors welcomed the chance to get
their pictures taken with them. This led to numerous injuries to
humans each year. In 1970, park officials changed their policy
and started a vigorous program to educate the public on the
dangers of close contact with bears, and to try to eliminate
opportunities for bears to find food in campgrounds and trash
collection areas. Although it has become more difficult to
observe them in recent years, the number of human injuries and
deaths has taken a significant drop and visitors are in less
Xanterra Parks & Resorts operates campgrounds at Bridge Bay,
Canyon, Fishing Bridge RV Park, Grant Village, and Madison.
Same-day reservations can be made by calling: 307-344-7901.
Future reservations can be made by calling: 307-344-7311 or
1-866-GEYSERLAND (439-7375), or by writing: Yellowstone National
Park Lodges, PO Box 165, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190.
Contacting Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park - Website
West Yellowstone, Montana