Celebrate the National Park’s Centennial by Visiting the Yellowstone –The First of the National Parks
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Beginnings of Yellowstone
Yellowstone National Park is one of the most popular and most famous parks in the U.S. It was America’s first National Park, established in 1872, leading the way for other parks to follow. The name derives from the Yellowstone River, at which the park rests at the headwaters. For thousands of years, Native Americans, explorers, and mountain men have lived and traveled in Yellowstone. Nowadays the park is still open and thriving, receiving thousands of visitors each year to explore and see its remarkable landscapes and beauty.
Where Is It?
The National Park is located in the Northern United States, mostly in the state of Wyoming. The parks 3,000 plus acres in the Northwest corner of Wyoming do extend to parts of Montana and Idaho as well. There are several entrance stations to the park, and they are located in the Wyoming and Montana states for access. Since this is a National Park, the entry must be through an entrance station so you can pay your fee.
Terrain and Features
Yellowstone is home to canyons, lakes, rivers, mountains, a volcano, and geysers. The Yellowstone Caldera, known as a super volcano resides in the park. Rocks and flows from eruptions have covered and create a generous portion of Yellowstone’s landscape. Major eruptions over the last million years have helped create this super volcano, and though it has not erupted in some time. Earthquakes are still reported, many undetectable to humans, leading researchers to believe activity is still ongoing below the surface. Geysers are related to this activity, and two-thirds of the world’s geysers are located right in the National Park. One of the most famous geysers in the world, known as Old Faithful, is located in Yellowstone and is one of the most popular attractions for visitors. The River has created two canyons, and one is known as the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. This beautiful stretch of canyon offers beautiful views and a stunning landscape for 24 miles. Don’t miss out on the colors of the rocks and cliffs to the view of the river below.
The variety of terrain provides home for an abundance of animals. Herds of bison roam the areas, and many visitors report sightings. Bears, wolves, elk, species of plants, fish, and reptiles have all been documented. The wolf population began when the population had been almost eliminated by livestock owners in the early days of the park. The park realized that the wolves are part of the ecosystem and had to be reintroduced. There are now approximately 400 wolves in the Yellowstone area. Be aware that bears have been known to attack, especially the Grizzly Bears. Some areas are called “bear management” areas, in which the public is restricted. These areas have a higher concentration of Black bears and Grizzly bears, and the closures allow them to thrive in peace, prevention human and bear interactions. Know the signs of bears, and go prepared. Bear spray can be purchased and used if attacked. Stay in your vehicle and do not approach any wildlife. Several attacks of Bison have also been reported. Any animals in Yellowstone National Park are wild. They are used to cars and people so they may seem friendly, but they will attack if provoked or frightened. Do not feed or approach any wildlife, please appreciate them from afar.
The summer months can be pleasant with temperatures ranging from the 70s to the 80s. This park and location do experience heavy snow fall, so the winter month’s roads can be closed or detoured. Checking the park website before traveling in those months would be beneficial before traveling. Fall can be the start of snow but is usually ok to move. The weather can be very unpredictable, with snowstorms in spring and early fall. During the dull winter months, some roads are closed, and snowmobile is the only option available. Checking the weather status and the park for alerts will allow you to visit the park safely.
Things to Do and Eat
Yellowstone offers many outdoor activities. Camping and hiking are available in various areas. Boating and fishing are available, don’t forget your permit. Guides tours are provided by the park rangers, and there is horse-back riding, snow shoeing, snow skiing, snowmobiling, and wildlife viewing. There are businesses and vendors besides the park rangers that provide these activities, tours, and more. There are over fifty picnic areas and twelve campgrounds. Several lodges are available if you do not want to camp, and some restaurants provide anything from snacks to fine dining experiences nearby and on site.
America’s First Park
As the Park Service celebrates the centennial in 2016, Yellowstone can take pride in the fact that it was the real leader as the first park established. A vast and beautiful terrain offers cliffs and rivers, plains and mountains. Many different types of animals survive and thrive in the park, and you may have the chance to see a bear, bison, or an elk on your drive. On your visit to the park, make sure to see Old Faithful, and see the beautiful Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. See the Tower Falls, a 132-foot waterfall, and also see the steam rising off the Mammoth Hot Springs on your trip, as these are unforgettable and a favorite for visitors.