The history of Yellowstone National Park
Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park was inscribed by UNESCO on the World Heritage list in 1978. In fact, Yellowstone was the US’ first ever World Heritage Site, and the first National Park in the world.
Native Americans lived at the Yellowstone site for more than 11,000 years. Before the National Park was established, only mountain men visited the area. The Indian name for Yellowstone was “Burning Mountains”. Four tribes lived in the vicinity; the Bannocks, the Blackfeet, the Crows, and the Shoshones. They believed that the “Evil Spirit” lived around the hot springs and geysers. Due to this, and inhospitable terrain, the tribes preferred the valleys below what is now the park region, where hunting was also better.
The animals and landscape at Yellowstone
Covering nearly 2.2 million acres, 96% of Yellowstone National Park lies in Wyoming. The remainder of the park extends into Montana and Idaho. The park is famed for its geography, wildlife and culture. Staggeringly, half of the world’s entire geothermal features are found within this park, and it has the largest concentration of geysers in the world. There is an expanse of subalpine forest and it is home to wild ecosystems.
There is plenty of wildlife at Yellowstone, including several threatened or endangered species. Among the park’s wildlife are wild bison, grizzly bears, wolves, elk, moose and coyotes. You will also find a huge array of small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and birds.
Things to do at the Park
There is no shortage of activities to keep you busy at the Yellowstone. If you enjoy fishing, boating, camping, hiking or wildlife watching, this is the place to be. Sightseeing is a given due to the spectacular landscape here. A volcano, hot springs, geysers and the Grand Canyon can all be found at Yellowstone. There are canyons, lakes, rivers, waterfalls and mountain ranges. Explore the park yourself, or take a guided tour and learn about the history of the area while exploring.
When to visit Yellowstone
Yellowstone National Park is spectacular all year round. The park looks magical in winter, covered in snow and ice, with steaming geysers. In spring and summer the flowers are in bloom and the animals emerging from hibernation. The colours of autumn are breath taking. Whenever you choose to visit, you will not be disappointed by natural beauty as far as the eye can see. There are less crowds at Yellowstone from April to May, and September to November.
As there are no major cities near Yellowstone, it is not the easiest park to get to. West Yellowstone MT (Montana) is the closest airport. Alternatively, you can fly into Cody and Jackson WY (Wyoming), or Bozeman and Billings MT, or Idaho Falls ID (Idaho). These airports are a few hours’ drive from the park. It is best to hire a car to get around Yellowstone, as the park covers such a huge area.
It is clear to see why Yellowstone is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. It is definitely one to put on your bucket list.